February is absolutely flying by. It’s been a crazy week getting back into the swing of things after poor Sister Wallace’s sick week. It never feels like we have enough time! But time is man-made and this is God’s work so we know all things are possible. And here are just a few of the ever so awesome miracles all in God’s timing.
(Warning: long email again but there’s just too many things to share!)
Lorraine: This week we began to teach our new friend Lorraine. We visited Lorraine a couple times and things were going great! So we invited her to be baptized and she said, “Well I’ve already been baptized.” We asked her in what church and she said, “You’ll never believe this, but in the Mormon church.”
What?! Turns out she was baptized 38 years ago. When we first met her she mentioned how Mormons continue to show up in her life and she wasn’t sure why, but felt it was because God was trying to tell her something. She is truly an amazing lady and joined us at church on Sunday!
Rafael: Saturday night a man came into the Visitors’ Centre explaining that he’s been to our church a couple times in California. He just moved to London and for the past two weeks he has been searching for the church. He was ecstatic when he found it and asked us, “How can I join the church?”
We then showed him the baptismal font in which he got super excited about. Next we talked about temples as he knew about the Oakland California Temple. Pointing to the picture of the temple Rafael said, “I’m going to go inside there someday!”
Sister Wallace and I explained that we would send his number to the missionaries that lived near him and he announced that he was looking forward to receiving a call from them. We said goodbye and Sister Wallace and I ran to call our Zone leaders, Elder Metcalf and Elder Santiago. We told them to give Rafael a call so they did, and Rafael told them how he’s really enthusiastic to learn more! They saw him Sunday evening. He’s a true miracle.
Yasmine: Remember Yasmine who I taught in November but had to move back to Algeria? It’s been so wonderful to be with her as she’s been visiting London again the past couple weeks. She stopped by the chapel Saturday night to say goodbye and shared with us that she may have a job and place to stay in London now and is hoping to come back as soon as she gets her visa renewed! Now this is a big deal guys. When we first met Yasmine, she didn’t believe in God because so many bad things had happened to her. But Saturday evening she told me, “If I knew all these good things would now happen, then I wouldn’t have been so upset before.”
I shared with her a favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:6. “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
I then explained to her that at first she didn’t see the good that could come and had a trial of her faith. But she began to search for God and read from the Book of Mormon. She held onto a small particle of hope that she didn’t always know she had. And then the witness came. Prayers have been answered. There is still some work to do, but that was a witness to her that her trial of her faith was worth it and that she has a loving Heavenly Father.
Adriana: As you have become aware, I LOVE online teaching. I seriously get to teach people all over the world. This week a sweet woman from Ghana came online saying how she wanted to learn more about the church. Now we know there must be opposition in all things, and so my darn contact list was not working and I could not send her information to the missionaries, which was really sad. But I quickly sent her the missionaries number and asked her to try contacting them.
Within that very hour, she had called the missionaries and they visited her. They had a powerful lesson and she messaged me just thrilled. Adriana said how she was beginning to understand Jesus Christ and she believes the Book of Mormon can help her understand God the Father and Jesus Christ more. She went to church and oh, she’s now getting baptized next Sunday! Can I please visit Africa already?
Other highlights included eating good food, hanging out with the coolest Scottish couple, always loving life with the Africans, becoming an official fire marshal, and seeing numerous miracles through online teaching. I love this work. I really, really do.
Now we all know tomorrow is the lovely Valentine’s Day. Or if you didn’t know/forgot, you might wanna go get a card for your significant other or if you don’t have a significant other, well then I’m sorry for reminding you that you’re single on Valentine’s Day. You and me both my friend!
But it’s a great time! And it’s interesting how this week I’ve felt all my studies and thoughts have related to love and hearts. And I’m not even one for crazy lovey dovey stuff! (Though I am a sucker for chocolate and red roses…Thanks mom for always being my Valentine and providing even from an ocean away. True love right there.) Anyways, hearts and love is the topic for today, but without the romance, so now that this paragraph is getting confusing and quite dumb, let’s move on.
In John 21 we read the conversation between Christ and Peter as Christ asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” I wish I could put my thoughts into a grand collection of words, but Elder Jeffrey R. Holland always does better than I, so let’s just leave it to him. (If you read anything today, let it be this)
“After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, ‘Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?’ Peter said, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee’ [John 21:15].
The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, ‘Peter, do you love me?’ Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee’ [John 21:16].
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, ‘Peter, do you love me?’ By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically–but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, ‘Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee’ [John 21:17].
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: ‘Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples–and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do.’
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: ‘Did you love me?’ I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all–‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind’ [Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37–38]. And if at such a moment we can stammer out, ‘Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,’ then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ [John 14:15], Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.”
Boom. I think this is the perfect time for us to reflect individually. Do we love Him? Love is not just a word or a declaration, but the first and great commandment, a commandment that demands action.
Now let’s turn to the Book of Mormon. I just started reading again from the beginning and so I am only in 1 Nephi. But I’ve already noticed how often it speaks about the Lord delivering the people. But something stuck out to me this week- if our hearts are open, that is when we can truly be delivered. That is when we can be freed. That is when we will no longer be confounded.
I feel as though lately I’ve hardened my heart in an effort to close and protect it. However, throughout the scriptures we are warned to not harden our heart. Christ tells us that if we just open our hearts to Him, then our hearts will be healed. I think it can be scary to open our heart at times. But I then wondered am I willing to open and give my heart to Him?
Which once again leads back to “do I love Him?” If I do, I’ll open my heart to Him. If I open my heart to Him, not only will I be healed and delivered, but I’ll be following the first and great commandment to “love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart.” Not just part of my heart. It must be all of my unhardened, open heart.
And if I give my entire heart to Him, I will then be able to feed His sheep through service and love. Loving God leads us to acting on that love. If we love Him, we will love others. We follow the commandment to feed His sheep. We begin to feel the love of the Savior for them and for us.
Isn’t it great that those concepts all work together? So I would invite each of you to ask yourselves these three questions:
- Do I love Him?
- Will I open and give my whole heart to Him?
- By giving my heart, will I then show my love for Him through serving others?
I can promise you that as you love Him, give Him your whole heart, and serve others, you will then feel His love for you more abundantly and then love Him more. If your heart is troubled, it will be healed. If you are afraid to love others, your courage will increase as you feel His love. I am a witness to this that as we trust the Lord with our heart and give it to Him, we feel His love and therefore want others to feel His love. And oh how much happier life then is because as posted all over London, “All we need is love!”
This Valentine’s Day I hope you can not only love those around you, but also reflect on your love for the Lord, thy God. As you do, you can embrace more love for His children. And you can then answer with an astounding, “Yes Lord, you know I love you,” as the Savior asks, “Do you love me?”
I sure love y’all!