I have now been on my mission for three whole months! Believe it or not, that’s a sixth of the way complete. That freaks me out. Time feels to be going quickly, and I know I still have so much to do!
London continues to be so great and being a missionary is awesome. On Thursday in the Visitors Centre, Sister Apiyo and I gave tours to people from Holland, South Africa, Italy, Czech Republic, Japan, Romania, and China! We also gave each of them a Book of Mormon in their native language.
Along with that, we had a ward Family Home Evening night, and it was a culture night! As I looked around, I noticed the people there were from Brazil, Hungary, Germany, Uganda, Albania, Japan, Jamaica, Australia, England (obviously), and more. I was the only American. I love all the nationalities here! It’s funny because everyone thinks I’m from Utah when I say I am from America, and no one knows where Wisconsin is.
We had a great lesson with Mike the Magician this week who is finally home from America! We discussed the purpose of the sacrament, baptism, and asking God if all this is true with real intent. The real intent thing really hit him. In the Book of Mormon, Moroni says in his dying testimony, “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” I know that when we truly pray to God with real intent, He will always answer our prayers.
Those were some of the main highlights from this week. We continue to work hard, looking for new friends to teach. I am still amazed at the work we get to do online as well! A beautiful family I am teaching that lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo attended church for the first time and sent me so many photos because they were just so happy. Who would have thought I would end up teaching people in Africa! I’m just so ecstatic!
As many have mentioned, my weekly emails conclude with a topic I’ve had lingering on my mind throughout the week. This week if I wrote down all the lessons I learned on Tuesday alone, I would have written a novel. It amazes me how much we are constantly learning, growing, and progressing and how much more there is to experience. So I’ll try to keep this short, but no promises.
“We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re gonna catch a big one. I’m not scared. What a beautiful day!”
I hope you all know this book, because the next line has been running through my mind nonstop. “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We’ve got to go through it.”
If you don’t know this book, the children going on a bear hunt face obstacles along the way in which they have to continue to go through. There’s no way over or under, only through. And my friends, we are all on a bear hunt and we have to go through the obstacles we face.
A friend of mine once told me, “You taught me that not talking about your problems or running away from them doesn’t solve anything.” I realized I’m really bad at taking my own advice. For the past while now, I’ve been trying to find every way possible to run, get over, or go under an obstacle I’m currently facing. This week I truly learned I have to go straight on through it.
Each of us face our own challenges, whether internal or external. These mortal experiences are difficult and it seems much easier to shy away from them. But really, the only way out and to overcome is to go through.
Sister Mullen told me about a time she was in a haunted house with her family. As they were in the haunted house, one of the children began crying that she couldn’t do it. Sister Mullen’s sister then leaned down to the child and said, “The only way out is through. But I will hold you close and sing you songs. We will get through this together.”
My dear friends, this is our Savior speaking to us. He lived a life as a mortal and performed the Atonement so He can say to us, “I’ve been where you are, I know what comes next, and I’ll help you through it.”
We cannot do it alone. Think of those children in the storybook going on a bear hunt. Going on a bear hunt alone would be quite dangerous, but the children also needed each other to push them through the long grass, deep waters, and muddy grounds. We don’t have to go through our challenges alone. We really do have a Savior who will hold us close and sing us songs. We will get through this together with Him.
Nephi in the Book of Mormon knew this as well. He said, “Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20). He didn’t say we can press forward, he said we must press forward.
Elaine S. Dalton said, ““Pressing forward” implies resistance. The scripture doesn’t say walk forward, or move forward, or simply proceed forward.” We will have bumpy paths that we will have to endure through. We have to go straight through, pressing forward with Christ, and He will help us. He will guide us. He will hold us.
I read an article by Robert F. Williams entitled, “Getting Past the Hurt.” He shared so many wonderful insights. Part of it was discussing a woman who experienced her own bear hunt and how she got through it.
He said, “She allowed herself to fully experience these emotions rather than running away from them. This experience required her to trust in the Lord’s ability to assist her in bearing the burden of pain she had believed was beyond her capacity to endure. She developed a greater testimony of the Atonement and a greater faith in the Savior’s willingness to comfort those in distress.”
I have much to still do to get through my own internal challenge. I think each day, “Why haven’t I done it yet?” But it’s a process! The bear hunt takes a while. That’s why it’s a hunt. Not a run or sprint or kill or whatever. It’s a hunt and it takes time.
But as we go through it, we have so much to learn. Through the long wavy grass, deep cold river, thick oozy mud, big dark forest, swirling whirling snowstorm, and narrow gloomy cave we go.
As we submit ourselves to the Lord and truly humble ourselves, we will have comfort and more faith. As we press forward, we will become stronger and also realise “there is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.” These challenges make the bear catch that much sweeter. The journey, no matter how difficult, is worth the end result our Heavenly Father has planned for us. The best is truly yet to be.
Try not to get so caught up in the mud or cold waters. Don’t let the dark forest or snowstorm distract from the ultimate goal. Yes, you may stumble and trip, squelch and squerch, splish and splosh, and swish and swoosh. But the Savior is there to help us tiptoe through. There is a plan for each of us, no matter how dark the never ending cave may seem. There is always hope and a catch to be found.
We all have our own individual bear hunt. But we’re not scared and it’s a beautiful day. We can go straight on through.
Ps- and as the Elders randomly shouted out to me one day, “Life is good! God is good! AND HE ANSWERS PRAYERS!” I love the people I’m surrounded by to always be reminded of that beautiful truth. Never forget it guys because life and God truly are so, so good and HE ANSWERS PRAYERS! 🙂