Monday, December 28, 2015

Week #71 - Gratitude is the Essence of Life!

This week was wonderful. It awesome to Skype with everyone at Christmas! I love you so much! 

I've been learning more about gratitude. My patriarchal blessing admonishes me a few times to be grateful and I struggle with that quality overall. SO, as I studied, I discovered that many of the things I am working on personally right now can be solved through gratitude. "Remembrance is the seed of gratitude which is the seed of generosity. Gratitude for the remission of sins is the seed of charity, the pure love of Christ." -Henry B. Eyring

I've been completely focused on the work here and be so committed to my purpose that nothing will prevent me from trying to achieve it. It is my #1 priority. Sister Alcazar is a wonderful example of that and has taught me much. One thing in particular that she taught me overall is that it's a choice to be committed. It's a choice to want something. It's a choice to be happy. If you don't believe me, choose to stick to that decision and see what happens ;)  

I've also learned that I can't be everywhere, do everything and be perfect this week. As STLs, We were on exchanges with a certain sister who I knew greatly admired me as a leader. I wanted to make sure that the exchange was helpful for her and I wanted to live up to her expectations. Yep. Nope. Didn't happen. EVERYTHING fell apart. We were late everywhere, members were so difficult, rain poured, doors slammed, investigators dropped us, we got locked out of our house, etc. I won't go on to save your eyes. IT WAS TERRIBLE!! When Sister Alcazar and I were together after the exchange, I confided in her all that had happened and how terrible I felt. I felt that I had failed. She then pointed out, in her faithful wisdom, that what God wanted to happen in that exchange, happened. He needed her to see that. As I sat there and analyzed all of the blessings that no doubt came to her because of what she saw....I was blown away by the Love of God for her and His understanding of her needs. It was really cool. 

At our Christmas Conference this last week, we watched the Nativity. Once again, I was touched by the Love of God. He does not leave us alone in times of trouble; He sends miracles to guide us, and to give us relief. He sends pillars of light to find Him, example: the star. The entire nativity story is filled with examples of Heavenly Father's love. Greatest of all being the gift of our Savior. I hope you all take a moment to try and recognize those small miracles in your life. I testify that they are there!

The area is doing well. I know that God truly does prepare people in His own time and pace. We are teaching a couple who are SUCH a miracle. They are the parents of a member and already read the Book of Mormon on their own and came to church last Sunday, without their daughter. God is working miracles in their lives. Members are able to come out, lessons happen, and investigators are found. I know that as we are dedicated to the Lord's work, involve him, and love the people, it all works out. 


 "President Spencer W. Kimball said “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.”

As you start to write, you could ask yourself, “How did God bless me today?” If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life."

I'm doing this. You should too :)

Hna Lake

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week #70 - Merry Christmas!!

Dear Family- 

I've been learning a lot about pride. Pride is the reason Satan fell. It's the reason we lose the Spirit as missionaries. I was reading 2 Nephi, when suddenly I decided that I didn't want to read it, that it wasn't important. Then Nephi threw down 2 Nephi 25 on me when he testified of the importance of the Isaiah chapters. I went back and read and was able to find some really cool tidbits that helped me in my understanding of the gospel and of myself. Yeah....that pride thing.... 

 “When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not." 2 Nephi 9:28  Ponderize this little guy... it will humble you!

I'm really grateful for my family. You guys have truly been a pillar of strength for me :) 

We had our ward Christmas party this last week and they asked us to talk about the life and purpose of Jesus Christ. Man, that was revelation for me. Truly, our Savior came to give us the gift of change. His entire legacy demonstrated to us the ability to be great and to achieve more than we may seem. Born in a humble stable, a simple carpenter changed the entire world of religion as we know it. He was a Son of God who listened to the will of the Father.  

Believe it or not, we are all children of God. We were born into different circumstances and yet each one of us is called upon to become something great, to be kind when no one else is kind, to smile when the sky is gray, to serve someone who doesn't wish you to serve them. Ultimately, we are called to do as our Heavenly Father would. We are called to listen to His will. If we truly hope to understand the purpose and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ, then we need to use it daily. We need to change, be better, sacrifice, and recognize the hand of the Savior in that change. I know that My Savior lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives. He lives. He lives who once was dead. Look for the Savior this Christmas. I promise, He has been waiting.

We went out to go see a potential after all our other plans fell through. We parked a little far away with the intention of knocking some doors on our way to her home. After the 2nd door, we found Orlando and Rosa. They were taught in Colombia by some Elders, had been to church many times and had read a little of the Book of Mormon. Even crazier, they had been talking the day before about the Elders and wondering where the Mormon church was in Florida! They've been committed to church, were so excited to get another Book of Mormon, and wanted for us to come back the next day! God sends us to where we are needed.

Love you all!

Hna Lake

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week #69 - Hogwash and Pollywog

I've been learning a lot out of the Proclamation to the World, my Patriarchal Blessing, and my purpose and blessings in this life. It has really opened my eyes to understand that God loves me so very much. Most of the responsibilities He gives to us are to help others receive the same blessings that we have. Truly, we are meant for the blessing and edification of others.

We had a full exchange with Coral Reef South sisters. As we knocked doors in their area, we felt to go down a certain direction. As we walked, we felt to knock a certain door. We met Jose. He said that he used to feel this closeness with God while he was serving in the Navy and now it was gone. He hadn't been able to find it again with any of the churches he has gone to and was searching to find it. He wanted it so badly. We said a prayer with him and he felt that amazing spirit. He came to church last Sunday with his wife and they are now set for the 26th of December. When you have that real intent to find people whilst knocking instead of just pounding on people's doors, God gives them to you!

Sister Alcazar was knocking in our area and found an amazing miracle! They felt to knock on a certain door; Victor. He was cool, they said a prayer but he denied church because of work. However, these Sisters are PMG missionaries! They asked for referrals and Victor told them to come back and pray with his mom. We did and met Gladys. She said she had left another church because it stopped "filling her" and no longer felt that strong spirit she wanted. When we said the prayer we told her to pay attention to how she felt and she said she felt peace. She felt FILLED! She said she wanted to come to church that Sunday. When we went by Sunday morning, she said she couldn't decide if she was going... Satan, Satan, Satan. We testified that if this was true, Satan would try to keep her from it and testified that what she felt was from God. SHE CAME!!!! She loved it. She said she felt so good and that the speaker really touched her heart. She is coming next week, too!

Sister Alcazar and I have been working with Maritza. She is an amazing Cuban lady with some serious sass and she knows it. We love her :) We've been trying to set her with a date for about 2 weeks and she always rejects it. She loved church, loves reading the Book of Mormon, feels such enormous peace after she prays to know it is true but always says the same thing when we ask her how she will act on her answer, "I will continue learning!" But this last time was different. We left her 2 Nephi 31:1-13 to read and when we came back to round her up for church, she committed herself to be baptized the 2nd of January. We left it in God's hands and He worked a miracle! God works miracles through the Book of Mormon.

Sister Alcazar and I have been praying so hard to find a Venezuelan family of 3 and this week, we found them! We finished all that we had planned and then our back ups (you need back ups for your back ups in missionary work) and decided to go visit a member who was less active and stood out to us on the list. We shared a prayer and then asked for referrals and they sent us down the street. As we were walking, Sister A said we needed to knock this door. Dulce answered. She said she didn't have time, but we were persistent and she let us in. Turns out, she avoids churches but she felt something different during our prayer and accepted to come to church!  When we went back to teach her she said that when she opened the door she saw a blonde girl with clear blue eyes and that she seemed to almost glow. She could feel that we had something different and could see it in my eyes. That's why she let us in!! God works miracles!

I love you family. I hope all our miracles make you stop and look for them in your life. They are there! 

Hna Lake 


Monday, December 7, 2015

Week # 68 - I Love being a Missionary!

Dearest Family- 

I love everything about being a missionary. It's so much fun!! You get to save lives out here. That's what it means to be in the work of Salvation right? 

I've been studying more about the 4th missionary this week and trying to also become more converted to our mission focus of baptism and dates for baptism. As I was studying on page 11 of Preach my Gospel, it clicked for me why it is necessary for us to baptize others into this specific church with this authority. Our purpose and privilege on this earth is to change to become more like our Savior. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the pathway we have been given to make that possible. We must have faith, repent and be baptized with His priesthood authority so that the Holy Ghost can be our Sanctifying Companion. Until we help these people accept the message of the Restoration, their true purpose in this life will be closed to them. Of course, the Spirit can touch them AT TIMES but the sanctifying experience that we all need to receive in order to complete our purpose here will not be available until they are baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

I have never been so grateful for my mission. It saved my life. I'm not being dramatic, I really do believe that my mission has saved my life spiritually, temporally, and emotionally. It's been one of the dang hardest things I have ever done; however, through my mission, my eyes have been opened to an understanding of the gospel, myself, my potential, and my purpose here on earth. With gratitude, I am learning more about the importance of baptism and it has made me want to bring it to all people. I finally understand more of who I am. I understand more about my divine nature, the love of a Father in Heaven and my potential. I understand the purpose of my life, the gift of the Atonement, and the perfect plan of my Heavenly Father. I WANT EVERYONE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I NOW DO! It makes it a whole lot easier to be committed to something when you know and understand who you should be. If you are struggling with your testimony of the gospel open up your scriptures, read the talks of men called by God to instruct you and stop trying to find God's answers from Satan's resources. I know that this is my Savior's church. I know it!
This past month at a Zone Conference, I had the opportunity to pretend to be the investigator of two sweet sisters (one of which was Sister Becky might know her?). They taught me the Restoration so simply and then asked me one simple question. "What would it mean to you if this young boy really did receive this vision?" One simple question. It completely dumbfounded me. I had to go deep within my heart to find the answer. I thought and then said, "It would mean this really is the church of my Savior!" Tears welled up in my eyes as the Spirit whispered to me that this was true. I knew without a doubt that what I had said was true. This is the best and only way to be happy, to find peace, to be relieved of guilt and shame and to progress in this life. It is the best and only way because it is our Heavenly Father's way.  

I received this answer slowly. Took me about a year. After studying extensively, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and through lessons given me through apostles of God, I came to the conclusion (intellectually) that this was God's church. It made sense. Everything fit together. There were similarities between then and now. "Sure, why not!" I thought. But then I realized that my testimony needed to be gained by faith. I began to pray, and to continue praying daily, to receive my testimony that this is my Savior's church and to grow in my faith. It's worth it. It brings so much goodness and joy!!

 We received a referral from a recent convert in Virginia this last week for a man named Luis. What a miracle that man is. His life is less than wonderful right now and he started drinking heavily. One day, his friend from Virginia told him that he was sending missionaries to his home. Luis stopped drinking that day. He hasn't drank for 3 weeks! He has such a hard time reading but when we committed him to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and to pray about it, he tried. He said that after he prayed, he felt such joy and happiness and wants to continue reading in the children's Book of Mormon. He is so humble and wonderful. WE LOVE HIM!


Hna Lake

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week #67 - The Atonement Changes Everything

Dearest Family!

What an awesome couple of days it has been. Sister Alcazar is my new companion, yet another dying Latin ;) I love being with missionaries who are about to go home. Either they have crazy fire or their lack of fire gives me more. Either way, we work hard! She has already taught me so much. One thing that she does super well is getting return appointments with people. I'm trying to be better at giving everyone a really solid chance to accept the gospel and having more faith in finding.

 I started reading the Book of Mormon once again with a special emphasis on what makes these prophets capable servants of the Lord. I love Nephi so much! As I learn more of Nephi and his trials I have been struck by his faith. Every single action or word he places leads him to testify that through God, nothing is impossible! It's been helpful for me to receive that witness as I've received a new calling to serve as an Sister Training Leader (STL). Knowing that through God I can achieve anything helps me to remember that He is on my side and that He wants to help these sisters just as badly as do I. I'm excited!

This was a miracle for me. I've been pleading to understand what God needs for me to do to be the leader He needs and as I've studied about the Atonement, I receive my answer. I recently read a talk by Elder Bednar:

"It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means."

And it brought to mind a passage in the White Handbook which states, "Opportunities to correct the attitudes or behavior of other missionaries are important teaching moments. When handled with love, these opportunities build faithfulness and effectiveness in those who may otherwise fall short of what the Lord expects of them."

I notice a similar theme. It is through the Atonement that we are able to achieve our true potential and in no other way. My job as an STL is to ensure that these Sisters understand and apply the Atonement in their lives. What better way than to give me responsibilities that I cannot handle in any other way except through the Atonement? 

Many times in our lives Heavenly Father will give us something that we feel we cannot handle; that we feel inadequate to achieve. God has never once called the prettiest, smartest, or most capable to achieve His divine purposes; rather, He has done just the opposite.

He chose a 14 year-old boy with no education to bring about the restoration,  one of the greatest masterpieces known to all mankind. A masterpiece that would bring salvation, happiness, and peace to all who obeyed it. He put all that trust in a 14 YEAR OLD!

He chose Moses to bring about the great liberation of His beloved people.

He chose me to be a missionary.

He chose you to be a Mom or Dad, Aunt or Uncle, Sister, Friend, Visiting Teacher, Relief Society Secretary, Bishop, Elders Quorum President, or Deacon's Advisor.

Long story short, He chose you and Heavenly Father does not make mistakes. I know that for a fact. He has made that obvious to me MANY times. I know it is through Christ that all these things are possible!

I love you all!

Hna Lake

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week #66 - Atonement, Repentance, and the Spirit

Dearest Family!

This week has been awesome! I've tried to notice more the spiritual promptings I receive and to follow them. It has proven to be a way to miracles.

We were out knocking and felt to go into this certain apartment complex but it was gated and with a canal around it. Literally, a fortress with a wall, guards and a gate. So, I'm sad to say my faith wasn't high enough and we walked away. But then, I saw a man stop in front of the gate, wait for a car to go through and walked in after it. No problem. I thought, "Heavenly Father, if You want us in that complex, provide the way!"

1 Nephi 3:7- "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

We walked up to the gate just as a car pulled through, then the gate stalled and stayed open. (No clue how?)  We were able to get in and talk to a former, and multiple potentials. The security guard drove by twice and saw us contacting...but left us alone. We just had a NEPHI EXPERIENCE! It was awesome. My faith grew as I recognized even more that this is the Lord's work and NOTHING can stop it from progressing. Where we are needed is where we will be as long as we have the legs willing to walk. 

Another Nephi experience was similar. We felt to go knock a certain apartment complex. When we got there, we couldn't get in because it required us to call a owner we felt that we should keep going. After knocking and praying with a 22 yr old doing her First Communion (Catholic Baptism) and looking for more God in her life (We needed to find her. We testified and left her a card. She was cool; her boyfriend was not), we decided we needed to go back. We got up to the doors and my companion called the office....AND THEY LET US IN!  We knocked one door and then felt to go up a floor, we walked out of these doors to go up the stairs....and we were locked in the stairwell....okay, awesome.... we go up the stairs and the 2nd floor is locked....okay.....go up to the 3rd floor and for some is open. We knock on the very first door and find Lynette.

Lynette is an older lady, 60's, from Puerto Rico. She lives with her husband and mother with Alzheimer's. She was looking for peace and a WHOLE lot of it. She used to be Catholic but didn't agree with the Pope. After we said a prayer, she said that she knew that God had sent us  and that she really needed us. We then taught about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and SHE LOVED IT ALL! She was so excited to read the Book of Mormon.  We won't be able to see her for a bit because of holidays but was so excited that she is going to read 3 Nephi 11-20 while she is seeing her daughter for 3 weeks. Turns out, Lynette is also the President of the Board....she let us in the building. She opened the door. She was completely inspired by God so that her chance for happiness could knock on her door.

GOD PREPARES THE WAY!!! We just have to be willing to follow it.

 I love you all. I know that God lives. I know My Savior is aware of my needs and wants. I know that They will do ALL possible to guide us.  I LOVE THIS!  

Hermana Lake

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week #65 - Drops of Awesome!

Dear Family-

This is one of the best blog posts that I have ever heard of. I can't read it but you all can, check it out. It's pretty much amazing.  

This past week has been characterized by the idea of drops of awesome. I feel really inadequate. I look back on my mission, the huge amount of time, effort and life spent....and think, "That's it?"...."Shouldn't there be more?"  Many times, I felt as though I was a failure, a terrible missionary and just plain discouraged. I would do something good and think, "Wow, I was able to do x thing! I'm so pleased with myself!" and then the thoughts would sink in.....

"So what? You also did this, that and the other thing wrong"

"Do you realize it's probably your fault that this happened?"

"How could you have been so dumb as to just forget something so important?"

"They are relying on you! You can't even hold up your responsibilities"

Etc. Etc. Etc.  

With each thought, I would become weighed down with discouragement as all my failures fell around me and I wanted to give up. It was the logical thing to do! I couldn't do anything right apparently...and in a SNAP that good, uplifting thought was gone.

How many of us feel this way? We feel like nothing we do turns out just the way we want or that our list of weaknesses is extensive. Well, let me tell you what I learned this week.

Life is not meant to be suffered through! Nothing is! There is joy in every footstep, a song in every breath and a light in every heart. We are children of Light :) Beings of Joy! We are children of God.

Moroni 10:8, "And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them."

Each one of us has been given certain gifts and blessings. Our blessing make us who we are and special in God's sight. We don't need to have all the gifts that Janet, John and Michael have. They might not be the ones that will PROFIT US.  But each one of us do have gifts. God has promised that. We just need to look for them.

These are our drops of awesome. These are the things that make up who we are.

Yes, there is opposition in all things. I'm not saying we are all perfect but I am saying that you are wonderful! You are special! You are needed! You might not be needed in the way YOU want, but you are needed in the way God wants. The way God wants always ends up being the better option.

 Focus on your talents, your successes, your achievements and allow them to give you the encouragement to tackle life with a smile. Life is too hard without you making it harder for yourself. :) Choose today to be optimistic.  

I've started doing something. Every time that negative, angry thought enters my head. I turn it positive. I point out the good, recognize the bad and move on. You can't change the past but you have a definite say in the future. :)  

I hope each one of you recognize your own drops of awesome. If they can be found within me, as flawed as I am, they can be found in you.  

I know that my Savior is there. He listens. He is aware. He tries to open my eyes to the way that He sees me. He knows and loves me for who we truly are.  

The greatest gift I could give you is to help you see yourself the way I see you

God loves us all so much!  

I love this gospel :)  

Hna Lake


Monday, November 9, 2015

Week #64 - Laughter Changes the Weather

Hello Family!

Not that we ever have a shortage of sun here in Florida but I'm thinking of all y'all in the wonderful winter wonderland :) Add a little sunshine to your life!  

One of my very wise resources of guidance for my mission gave me some great counsel. In the morning, get up, look in the mirror and force yourself to laugh. How ever long it takes until you start laughing for real. It does WONDERS!  It wakes you up, get some chemicals moving in your brain and overall makes you happier. Children tend to laugh (I think, don't quote me) 140 times a day. However, adults laugh up to 17 times a day.  No wonder children are happier, less stressed, kinder and have a better optimistic look on life. "Become as a little child" and force yourself to laugh once and a while. It'll do you good :)  

I was talking with my companion last week about what I could do to help make the work easier for her. Her response was, "I need to laugh". I sat back and thought.....and realized that I hadn't stopped or really laid back enough to really laugh. I'd become so, "Go. Get it done. Work!"  that I forgot to find the joy in what I was doing. My faith struggled. My happiness struggled. My stress level rocketed. Overall, I was a mess. My companion was a tender mercy to save me from myself.

Now, this week....was completely different. I woke up in the morning and would find ways to tease my companion or act like a goof. Soon, I was laughing because it was hilarious to see her reaction and she was laughing because I was being totally weird. It lightened everything and made all the difference for her. Then we would sing to each other, quote movies, draw hilarious pictures, take  pictures together, tell stories and overall, BE HAPPY!  It was night and day. Both us become happy, optimistic, calm, faithful and hopeful. Overall, the mission turned from hard to manageable! It was the best!

No matter the dimness of the sky with its heavy clouds of gray, somewhere shines the sun  just to brighten up your day :) But you have to push aside the clouds, search amongst the guck, to find your own ray of'll find it, trust your luck!

This week we found no new investigators. We have been trying to find people to teach with no luck. But, we remained faithful and prayed specifically for a miracle. We went on Sunday with a sticky note of all these plans we had for Miracle #1 and Miracle #2.

We get to church and there is a Part Member Family we've been trying to track down and the mother (nonmember) is crying during the lesson on Eternal Families. We are seeing them this Wednesday. Then we walk outside and see a member ,who was telling us about this woman she wanted us to meet earlier that week, with her friend! We were able to set up an appointment to see them this Saturday! God is good and He will never fail us. The miracle was expected but came in an unexpected way. :)

A beautiful day!
I love you all and I am so grateful for my mission and for this gospel. It has changed me and my life for the eternities. I know that my Savior loves each of us and desires our happiness. Nothing in life is meant to make us sad but merely to help us greater understand joy.

Hermana Lake

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week #63 - Buts, but no Buts

Dear Family(s)- There are just so many of you that I consider family that it's easier said this way :)

So I got humbled this week.  

That was really fun.  

It was exactly what I needed.  

This transfer has been a roller coaster of emotions. It's kind of like I'm going along happily and slowly, but then I start going uphill and then falling, FAST. It's up and down. I couldn't figure out what got me going in that direction until I stopped and thought about where my thoughts, actions, and desires were stemming from. They all started with ME. Or I. Our roller coaster of life begins the moment that we start focusing on ourselves. 

I'm not going to lie to all of you. This has been a hard transfer filled with many realizations about the future, my potential, my weaknesses and my destiny. None of us will ever know what the future holds but we can know how the actions leading there will prepare us.  

My mind has been seriously drawn to ponder certain gospel principles. I've felt within my soul that God has something for me and that it's going to be hard; therefore, I received a blessing from the Bishop this past Sunday....and was shocked by its content. 

God speaks to us. HE PREPARES US. Like you, He has provided me with given the tools, talents or experiences to help me to rise to the occasion or to overcome what I've been given.  

Last transfer, President told me that he had a special assignment for me this transfer and that I needed to prepare for it. I spent last transfer pushing myself to greatest of my capabilities and trying so hard to prepare. When my interview came right before transfers, President looked into my eyes and told me I was ready. I asked, "Should I be scared?" He said, "No, but you should be ready." Then, I got a new baby and transferred to a new area. Well, SURPRISE! Oh wait, not at all a surprise.  

God loves His children and desires their greatest happiness. I love you all! 

Hna Lake

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week #62 - Driving on Autopilot!

Man! This week has been so crazy. Godly sorrow and recommitting are a strong couple.  I allowed my focus to slip a little - but the atonement is wonderful and repentance is an ever reaching gift.
Sister Evans is the BEST! She has true desires and has been writing herself little reminders and encouragements to keep her focus. She is awesome :) She has started leading companion study and also knocking sessions. She is diligent and faithful. Everyone can be baptized! She bears her testimony at every opportunity and is always willing to be corrected on her Spanish. I am amazed by how willing she is to change and to be led. I can't imagine a better teacher for me :)

Our area is doing well. We are going to be breaking out our bikes (Sister Evan's idea! :D) and finding all those prepared for us. We've become a LOT more committed to our goals and want to get 4 by Thursday and 7 by Sunday SO BAD. It's the Lord's standard that our mission president has given to us. We know that we can get it! There are people everywhere on the streets of Miami. I'm going to find them!

This week I've been trying to learn more about doing the Lord's will.
My scripture to ponderize is 3 Nephi 9:13-14:

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

I've been frustrated because of all my imperfections. I get so sick of messing up or not being all here and getting tired. I just want to WORK! But reading this chapter has helped me to realize that when I choose to do something halfway or not do what God wants, I'm allowing Satan into my life and into my mind. I'm not choosing to follow Him and that was a big enough motivation for me to put up a greater fight. I don't need any of that! Jesus Christ has said He will heal us. We just need to accept His Arm of Mercy and turn towards Him. I'm trying to understand more about the atonement and the nature of God. Mercy seems to be a hard concept for me to understand. It's like, "You'll forgive me if I'm really penitent? Okaay, and what else do you want?" It just seems too good to be true, sometimes. But that's the thing. IT IS TRUE! The atonement really does change us and make us better. It works at our level and with our needs. It pushes us but doesn't overwhelm us. Jesus Christ really is our Savior and really does love us infinitely. Why else would He give his WHOLE LIFE to us? He is so merciful. No one is exempt.

We've tried to be more grateful in our finding sessions. Every time we find someone or we see a little miracle, we say a gratitude prayer. This lead us to Pilar! We OYMed her and she is so elect. She wants a strong family, to find the true church and to strengthen her relationship. We are so excited! :)
We are also teaching Manny. Our little humble seeker. (He is a grown 48 yr old. We love him :D) He is trying so hard to find truth. He came to church on Sunday and liked it. I think that our church is more different than we think. We are more reverent than most. It'll be a blast to have him come the 2nd week...we've broken him in already! :)
I love you all and know that this is our Savior's church. Sometimes you don't realize how much you know until you bear it. We were teaching Pilar this last week and after I bore my testimony and we finished the Restoration, she looked at me and said she could tell I knew it was true by my conviction and by the way I talked. I didn't realize it until she said it. I know this is TRUE! This has become so sacred to me. The gospel is my greatest companion and confidante. I Love it!

Hna Lake

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week #61 - Welcome to Miami!

That's right folks. I'm in the wonderful city of Miami. Drivers are terrible, everyone speaks Spanish and there are people to talk to every 2 feet. Needless to say, I'm in love. I never want to leave here!
I LOVE BEING A TRAINER! This is pushing me to be at my best 100% of the time and I love it. Sister Evans is adjusting well. She loves knocking doors and wants to get to know everyone that we meet. She definitely excels in the "Teach People, not Lessons" category. She oymed someone by herself yesterday and did a wonderful job. She is a SPONGE! Everything that we say and do, she absorbs. She is always asking questions and loves to improve. I love her to pieces :)  

Sister Evans is from Kaysville, Utah (surprise, la fabrica)  She is full of laughter, energy and is ALWAYS hungry. We have a constant supply of snacks because she can't make it an hour without eating ;) Makes sense, she is 6 ft and teeny tiny! She is my first companion that has been taller than me. When we knock on doors, people just see two tall blonde warriors ready to convert them on the spot! I love missionary work. I'm doing very well. Pinky promise! Training is more responsibility but I am thriving under the hustle and bustle and constant to-do list. This is the busiest I've been and I'm in love with it. It's been a blast to get to know a new area and meet thousands of Cubans!

Miracle: Yesterday we were out knocking doors in this certain area and when our time finished, we felt we should continue knocking more. It was about 8:15 and some people were a little angry but when we prayed for guidance, we felt we should be more careful about the doors we knock and to keep going! The last door we knocked was Tony. He has been Catholic for years and warmly accepted a prayer. Afterwards, we testified of the Book of Mormon, the Restoration and invited him to read it. When we called him this morning, he had read the chapter, prayed about it and felt wonderful! Sadly, he chooses to follow the tradition of his fathers BUT we planted a deep seed. When we told him he could keep the Book of Mormon, he was so excited so that he could continue reading. We will be following up in a few weeks to get him baptized! :)

 Moral of the story: Be Aware. Be Diligent. Don't allow Satan to dictate your choices.

We were walking down the street one day and suddenly an image popped into my mind of a tall, strong, seemingly determined warrior. I could see within her eyes the unwavering decision to fight. She emanated a powerful presence of confidence and strength. She seemed to say "Try me. I know what I want and why I am here!!!" Then the image was gone. At first I didn't understand where this came from or why I thought of it but it seemed so real and so tangible. Each one of us are powerful, strong children of our Heavenly Father. As we live worthily of the Spirit, we will become these amazing beings of confidence and strength. The Spirit is the great refiner. It can change hearts. Minds. Worlds. It is the greatest gift that God could have given us for our time here on earth.  

I know that the Spirit is the greatest and easiest pathway to change and to happiness. Live worthily of it and you will be at peace. There is no greater joy than that!

Hna Lake

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week #60 - My Baby's got a Blue Chainsaw

The title is a tribute to Sister Stewart.

So family! Your daughter is once again TRAINING! I'm transfer training. I'm stoked. I can't wait to find out where I'm going. They are opening a new YSA in my baby area so I'm praying that I get to be sent there with my baby. PLEASE!
This week has been amazing! We had interviews with President This last week. That interview was much needed. He gave me such a cool idea! We were talking about Captain Moroni and the reason behind his success as a leader and a son of God. He controls his thoughts! Satan cannot tempt what he does not have.

"All the evil in the world
The darkest kind of sin
Can never hurt you
Not one bit
Unless you let it in!"

President is a Harry Potter fan and attributed this thought cleanse to when Dumbledore puts his wand to Harry's temple and pulls out a "memory" and puts it in a flask.  I have already implemented the "Dumbledore Swish and Flick" for my thoughts and it works wonders. I'm throwing all sorts of stuff out! It has bothered Sister Estrada and I to realize how often Satan attacks our minds and how to be more like Moroni and push against those things. I love it! If you find negativity, sadness, doubt or anything you don't want coming into your mind, try the Swish and Flick. It's a physical action that brings about spiritual blessings!

We've seen so many miracles this week. On Sunday we heard about Tender Mercies in our Sacrament Meeting and then our investigator, Maleigha, received a priesthood blessing afterwards and we talked more about miracles. Miracles are daily things. They CAN be big things but most often, they are small and specialized to us. This last week I was emotionally exhausted. I silently prayed and asked for help to be loving and be a true disciple of Christ. That day....I'd never had so many nice people talk to us! Everyone was kind, we met multiple people who had previous contact with the church and many accepted a prayer. No one wanted to learn more about the gospel, which was saddening, but I felt like God gave me a small miracle that day. He watched out for me even though He put me here so these hard things would make me grow. I know Heavenly Father loves me.
We met this great lady knocking doors who is a devout Catholic. She mentioned that something was missing and that she wished to figure it out. Well. That's the priesthood. It is SO amazing. I sat in a room watching Maleigha receive a priesthood blessing and was so grateful for all the amazing priesthood holders in my life and their worthiness.

I've also been learning more about Faith. Before, I struggled understanding why every time I felt like I knocked doors with firm faith and determination.....we found no one. I learned that we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and to understand that His purposes are always for our good. We need to trust him. But we also need to HOPE! I've never fully understood that connection. But faith is belief in concrete things - like our Heavenly Father's love. Hope is a belief that because of that love, He will give us what we need, when we need it. I stand hopeful for the many miracles to come with my baby in my next area. I'm so stinkin excited!!! :) I hope I go Spanish again!!
I love you all :) 

Hna lake


Monday, October 5, 2015

Week #59 - Once there was a Snowman

 I'm doing OUTRAGEOUSLY well. I've picked up a new love for iced tea, thanks to our southern investigator, Maleigha. "But Sister Lake! TEA?!?" Don't worry. To help Maleigha overcome her addiction to tea, we put a spin on it and made Chamomile sweet tea. It is surprisingly delicious and has the potential to give you cavities within a week. Yum! Maleigha asked me how I can handle drinking any kind of tea without sugar or honey in it and I explained my childhood. She looked at me with horror in her eyes. "You poor dear! You only had dessert ONCE A WEEK?!?" I just died. Apparently, I was abused as a child because my mother kept me from thousands of cavities.
THANK YOU MOTHER! #lakefamilyprobs
Can we all just stop for a moment and realize how amazing are our mothers? It's true. They truly do bear so much for us.  

This conference taught me a lot about the Atonement: 

Are you sure??

Come on, there has to be another way?

You're playing with me aren't you?

But there is no way!!!

"Not my will but Thine be done"

OKAY! You're right, you're right. 

How often have we had this conversation when we try to make God change His answer for us, "ARE YOU SUUUUUURE??" comes His loving reply.  I can remember SOOOOO many times my mother saying, "My answer isn't going to change no matter how much you wish it!"

God gave me an answer this last week that was really hard to handle. It was big, scary and I knew it was going to push me more than anything else. I think I asked these questions, time after time after time. Finally, He just stopped answering. The silent treatment is as good as, "It's not going to change! I already told you the answer!"   

As I watched those selfless men and bear testimony to eternal truths, I felt my heart stir in remembrance of my Savior and all that He, too, gave for me. When our dear prophet, Thomas S. Monson, looked as though he would collapse right at the pulpit, my heart split in two. It was so striking to realize that this man gave EVERYTHING for us. He looked determined that he would not fall, he would not go down and that he would share this message from his heart to the world. When he did that, I envisioned my Savior bent over in the garden, pleading that there be another way and yet doing the Father's will.  It helped me to understand the Atonement better. 

"If ye love me, keep my commandments" That is my scripture to ponderize. It reminds me, "Do I really love my Savior enough to do X thing? " "Am I really committed to follow Him?". "Can I follow through with the covenant I have made?" We made promises that we must now break. When fear smacks ya in the noggin, remember this: If we truly love the Savior, we will do as He has asked. No sacrifice is too much for the Savior; yet, He will help us make that sacrifice!

 Finally, I accepted it. I'm listening now. I'm sorry for being stubborn. I still don't get it. I'm still a little scared. But, I'm trusting you. I will listen. 

1 Nephi 3:7- I will prepare a way for you to do all things that I have commanded. Stop worrying!

I love you. 

I love you too.  

God calls those who are weak and simple. It's scary. It's a little daunting. But it's possible. Just let Him in. "LET THE EARTH RECEIVE HER KING" So, when are you going to do it? Do what you may ask? RECEIVE. God is waiting. Receive His will and let It change your life.  

Miracle: Ronald is amazing! He came to conference, LOVED it and took a page and a half of notes. When the session finished, he asked one question about the structure of the church and that's it. THAT's IT?! His mother shows doubts and Ronald stood up for a church he has known for a week! He testified to his mother of truths. He knows this is true!! He can't wait to be baptized on the 18th and the ward has really stepped up to help him. Wow. I'm stunned and inspired by this 18 year old. He has such a good head on his shoulders. I wish you all could meet him!

I love you!

Hna Lake

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week #58 - Power is not Limited to only the "Strong"

Wow. Just wow. This has been a really good week. Our faith has been higher, our endurance stronger and we are trying to be on the Lord's errand. Saturday, we had no one committed to church and we REALLY wanted to get people there. We went out with faith high that we could find someone and we were led to a family of 4 that wants to hear the gospel. THEY CAME! The son, Ronald, has been searching for truth and is trying to make sure he knows what he is doing is the right thing. After church, we asked him how he felt and he said, "I feel like this is the place I want to be". HE WANTS TO BE BAPTIZED!!  

2nd Miracle: I've been scared out of my mind to set people with baptismal dates. But, we decided to push our fears aside and confronted an investigator, Maleigha, who had still not committed. She said it was because she wanted a sign that these things were true. We asked her about what she did believe. She stated that the Book of Mormon was true and that the Plan of Salvation made sense. We explained that we were the only church that taught those principles, shared personal testimony, and read with her from Alma 32: 16-18.  

16Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

17Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.

18Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. 

She is now getting baptized on October 10. Satan wants us to believe that we can't do it, to paralyze us with the fear that we will mess it up and therefore, they'll say no. He wants us to believe that our personal talents and abilities cannot be magnified to do the Lord's work. That's bogus. We are given power and authority from God to preach His gospel. We receive individual revelation for our area, our investigators, and for ourselves. DO NOT BE DECEIVED! We can win; with the Lord on our side, we will! Now, I can recognize a little better whose voice is in my head and choose what I need to.  Mom insert: We must recognize the voice of the messenger.  

We are warriors in our Savior's army. Each life that we touch for good is added to our army. Each life that we bring a little closer to the Savior becomes a member in the fight for good. We are not alone. We are not defenseless. We must stand firm. We will stand for truth. We will not forfeit our eternal birthright for a cheap imitation of Celestial Glory. We want truth. We want to be servants of our Lord and Savior.  We serve in our army with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. We are grateful. We are patient. We trust in the Lord when the battle begins to look grim and await the Heavenly support we have been promised. We do not sway under the scorn of the world or words of unrighteousness. We are valiant leaders in the fight for virtue and godliness. We are sons and daughters of God and must accept no less. 

My mission has taught me to be firm in my convictions and beliefs. It has taught me that when it really comes down to the bare minimum....there are no maybes, halfways, or could be. It is yes or it is no; it is do or die. Either we choose to follow our Savior Jesus Christ or we do not. God doesn't dabble in confusion. He is one or the other. Be STRONG! We are divine! We are royal! 

Remember that family I mentioned? Well, they brought their 3 yr old daughter and she wanted to bear her testimony in church yesterday. At first, I wasn't sure about time. So I told her we could next time. She just deflated. I became determined to get her up there if there was any space. The last one finished, bishop stayed sitting so I shot up with this little girl and we were up there in a flash. She got up to the microphone...and froze. She looked to me for help and I told her simple truths that I knew she knew. "God loves me. I love Jesus. I'm a princess. I want to follow Him" Many ward members came up afterwards and told us that her sweet testimony changed the meeting; this 3 yr old changed the meeting. The simple truths that "God loves me and I'm his daughter" are POWERFUL and everlasting. 

Testimony of these things are not limited to anyone in particular. If you want to know for yourself, get down on your knees and ask God, "Am I really your daughter? Do you really love me?" I PROMISE that He will give you the perfect assurance that He does and that you are His. He has done it for me - I know that I am His daughter and that He wants for me to return to Him. It is no different for any of you. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN! Don't miss out. Take the challenge left to you from God, the prophets and apostles, women leaders, and me. ASK HIM! Please, let something as simple as this firm knowledge shape the rest of your life.  

I LOVE YOU ALL! I know my Savior loves me and desires my success. I know that He supports me in my trials and waits for reasons to bless me. I know my Father in Heaven is aware of my needs and that everything in my life is for a reason. I know this is the everlasting Gospel. DO NOT WASTE IT!

Hna Lake

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week #57 - The Plan for our Salvation


Today was a really good week. I've been pushing myself to work harder than ever and have surprised myself with the endurance that comes through prayer. We had an awesome miracle because of it! We were out knocking doors for hours and I was so exhausted. No one wanted to listen, we kept getting doors shut in our faces and it was definitely a struggle. BUT I kept praying in my heart and asking God to keep me strong and faithful. We wanted to keep going; we wanted to keep trying. So, we did. Then we felt we needed to go to a specific area. The first door we knocked opened up to Maleigha and Charles. Charles kept telling us we came at exactly the right time and that he had lost sight of God in his life and he needed to get back. We said a prayer and the Spirit was strong. We asked to come back the following day to teach them about the Restoration.  We returned the next day with a member we felt prompted to bring who bore the PERFECT testimony to help us know Maleigha's desires and to help her to progress. She already believes in the Book of Mormon, came to church last Sunday and will be setting a date tonight! GOD IS A GOD OF MIRACLES. But we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith.

The view our apartment!
We are called to be fishers of men!

True to the Faith pg 117: "The glory you will inherit will depend on the depth of your conversion and your obedience to the Lord's commandments."

If we can't even handle the lower law (mission rules) and cannot convert ourselves to our missions (jump start for real life), we will not be worthy of eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Discipleship is not for the weak in heart. God's presence is not for the weak in heart. The Celestial kingdom can only be reached by becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ and choosing NOW to follow him.

 Alma 26:12-Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; Endure! Be strong!

 Joshua1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for  the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

 I am, by no means, perfect in this area and cannot call upon others to give up their everything to the Lord when I still haven't. But I can say, and bear a firm testimony, that I KNOW this is true. Our Father in Heaven does not leave us comfortless. He will be our strength and our path. He desires our salvation and will do what He can to help us. We are weak and falter but through our Savior Jesus Christ, we can do ALL  THINGS.

 This is how I know. As missionaries, sometimes there is confrontation. Not contention but we are definitely presented with challenges. Each time, if we pray in our hearts and plead for help....the words are given to us.  We testify of our Savior Jesus Christ. That He lives. That He loves us and desires our salvation and happiness. That we are children of God. Always, ALWAYS the Spirit confirms of these truths and the confrontation is dissipated. This has forced me to hold on to the truths of the Gospel with all that I have. It has forced me to stand up for truth and righteousness and to make no apology for what is right. That was really hard for me. It really challenged me. But God has never once left me alone. We are WARRIORS in the battle of life and God stands as a rallying general against sin. PUSH ON!

 I love each of you dearly and have so much faith in you. If I, in my crippling weakness, can do can you :)


 Hermana Lake 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week #56 - Jupiter!

I'm doing well and really love my new area. We've been working a lot more with members in order to find people to teach and it's amazed me how the Lord lets it all fall into place. We've been finding member referrals popping up all over the place. We have gone from having NO ONE to teach to then finding all these miracle potentials, I'm amazed at the grace of God. How weak are His servants and yet how infinite is His forgiveness and goodness.

 Crazy fun this week:

 1) I walked/pet a goat. There is a family in our ward who had two goats that they treated as dogs. The owner even asked it for a kiss! 

2) I discovered that I'm scared of thunder. We've been caught in multiple thunderstorms and have had the joy of jumping into my companion's arms each time it sounds like there are two giant cymbals being smashed together in the sky. Granted: We are usually hiding under a door ledge but hey, still surprising. Who'da thunk? I always tell my companion that I was just surprised by it to save face....yeah, who said fear was logical?  

3) We bike all the time here! I LOVE IT! I'm learning to OYM all over again. Sad that it left after 2 weeks. 

We went over to a member's home for dinner yesterday and afterwards asked that she drive us so that we could find a media referral. Apparently, the address was wrong! Great. But then, she decided to show us where some other members lived. We ran into these AWESOME members who gave 3 referrals of potential investigators. It was such a miracle. They really wanted to get involved and were willing to host us in their home for a FHE.

We were out knocking doors and felt that we should knock a certain door. This is the dialogue of the Spirit with our companionship:

Spirit: Knock this door

Us: Yes sir!

 Knocked once. No answer.

Us: Okay, should we knock again?

Spirit: No. 

Us: Okaaayy, should we leave a card?

Spirit: No. Just wait.


Spirit: *silence*

Then we heard footsteps and looked up to see a beautiful Asian girl walking down the steps. We OYMed her and began talking. Turns out, she met a Mormon at college, works with many of them at her job, and is super interested in learning more. We gave her a card with our number on it, contacted all the other members that work with her and have them invited them to fellowship. She is here alone and lives with all atheists. She needs love and friends! She needs the gospel and, even better, SHE WANTS IT!

Us: Thank you, Spirit.

Spirit: You're welcome :)

God has miracles that sometimes pop up without your knowledge or even idea that it could happen. As long as we TRUST IN THE LORD, it'll all work out. We don't have time to try and control our's all in God's hands and we just need to live worthy of the Spirit.

I love you ALL!

Hermana Lake

Week #55 - Scavenger Hunt of Life

Well, this has been a crazy past week. Surprises!

#1: I did not tell you - I've been transferred....TO AN ENGLISH AREA. But, my companion is from Guatemala so we speak Spanish in the house and to each other. It's super fun. 

#2: We are "pink washing" an area. Translated, there used to only be Elders here and so we are the first sisters to live in this apartment in 22 years. 

#3: EVERYWHERE IS A SURPRISE. We have found hilarious pictures, drawings, and other little goodies that only Elders would think of. For example, we found a giant Nerf sword (like the one Jambo and Eli had) with "THE SWORD OF LABAN" written down the side. Basically, I've never had so much fun cleaning an apartment.

#4: My companion's name is Sister Estrada and she is AWESOME. I love her to pieces. 

#5: I ate dinner with 2 Jehovah's Witnesses and hugged them. It was one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences I've had with friends of other religions.  One of our members invited us over to meet with a less-active and she just so happened to invite her Jehovah Witness friends as well. :) 

#6: We had an amazing miracle. We knocked doors this past week and for about 2 hours and it was, *knock "We are missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ. We came to share a prayer with you today"......"No thanks", *slam. But we kept going and kept knocking. We had prayed about the area and we KNEW someone was there. Finally, we knocked this last door and a man came out as we were about to leave a Restoration pamphlet on the door. He seemed a little standoffish but we were kind and extended the same invitation to him. He stated he was a preacher and that he believed our views on Jesus Christ were very different. So, we pried a little and he told us his beliefs about the Savior. They were the exact same. Then he brought up polygamy, Book of Mormon, etc. Basically, trying in ANY WAY to confound us in our words and prove our doctrines incorrect but we stood firm in our faith and bore testimony of these things, of the truthfulness of the gospel, and how he could know for himself. We offered to come back and give him a BoM but he said no. The Spirit was SO strong.  Afterwards, Sister Estrada and I were DUMBFOUNDED at the words that had come from our mouths.

Often times when people confront us for our beliefs my heart decides to start break dancing in m chest, my stomach gets a little wobbly, and I get a little scared. I'm sure many of you have felt similarly. It's scary! But there are some amazing scriptures that have helped me a lot:

D&C 100: 5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; 6 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.

1 John 4: 6-8 "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error . Beloved, let us love one another: For love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Mosiah 28:3 "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble."

PMG 118: "Charity, like faith, leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself."

If we go to the source of this miracle, we can realize something critical for life. “As members of the Church … , I believe that we ought to go home determined to carry out the responsibility that is upon us, not merely because these brethren have urged us to do so, but because we have it in our souls to do it." -David O. McKay

Mosiah 5:2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. 

I started out this week with the goal and thought to get new investigators, baptismal dates and to get this area progressing. But very, VERY quickly, I saw that this was not what God wanted for us to do. The moment when we started giving ourselves to God and going where He needed us to be, we saw success. 

LOOOONG STORY SHORT: As long as we love them, we will succeed.

I know that this is true and have seen it many, many times. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Hna Lake

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week #54 - Attitude of Gratitude

This week has been very...interesting. It gave me a chance to be truly grateful and to reflect on what I have as a missionary of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As you all know, we are human personages subject to sickness and my companion, Sister LeBaron, has been a little under the weather. We were forced to take 2 days off in order to allow her to rest and God used that time to teach me.

As my companion slept, I sat contemplating my calling as a missionary, I came to the realization of how much I missed it. It had been a DAY and I was already dying to get back out and work. Sometimes as missionaries, we can get caught up in the hard nature of our calling. At times, the physical, spiritual, and emotional demands of our calling cloud the simple beauty of what we do. We are representatives of the only perfect Man who ever walked this earth. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people that we will likely never see again when we just stop to give a card or a smile; sometimes we are met with rejection. I feel so much love and gratitude for these people and to my God for letting little, imperfect me preach the feelings of my heart. How great is our calling! How precious our responsibility. I couldn't explain to you in words the way I felt when I began knocking doors after two days of "rest". I felt whole again. I felt right. It just felt good.

Mosiah 26:39 And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray‍ without ceasing, and to give thanks‍ in all things."

Why Gratitude and Prayer? Why is this commanded of us?  

Gratitude forces us to be positive and to recognize the Lord's hand in our lives. It helps us to feel hope within ourselves for the future of good things to come as we notice the good we already have. We are naturally led to a greater humility because of the recognition of our Father's hand and will be greater instruments for His purposes as we learn to recognize Him more.  

Prayer invites us to be positive and to recognize the Lord's hands in our lives. It helps us to feel heard and understood. We may be grateful for our circumstances but we also need the reassurance of a Father above listening to our words of pain, discomfort, or joy. We don't always have a complete understanding of WHY we are passing through certain things - whether good or bad - and humble prayer leads us to answers. We can never know of spiritual truths unless we plead for it from our Father in Heaven. God's character does not change. If we desire to understand our lives and your Creator. 
Caught in a deluge!
A darling child of our investigator!

Together, these small and simple things bring about one of the hardest, greatest, and most rewarding changes in our human life. That of HUMILITY.  

When we are grateful and turn to the Lord daily, our lives are calmer. More organized. We have hope that when we do all we can, He can fill in the rest. Even when we offer our all to God, He gives us so much more in return. How often do we misinterpret our struggles for a punishment or lose sight of the reason for why we have them? God gave us the blessing of the Book of Mormon to bring our sight back on track.  

Alma's people in Mosiah were a righteous people. They fled from the wicked King Noah and desired refuge through the Lord's gospel given through His prophet, Alma. They fully repented and were baptized. Later, Lamanites came upon them and placed them in bondage and put heavy burdens upon their backs.
Mosiah 23:21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten‍ his people; yea, he trieth their patience‍ and their faith.

 22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust‍ in him the same shall be lifted up‍ at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.

Gratitude doesn't change the situation or fix the problem but it does give us understanding that comes through humility. God will send us hard times. God will give us a lot of challenges; however, He has promised that if we humble ourselves and allow God to "take the wheel", we will be happier, healthier, and a much more relaxed. AND heck, it's about the journey not just the destination....lighten up!  Look for one blessing everyday and I PROMISE it will make a world of change.

I love you!
Hna Lake

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week #53 - Sacrifice

I invite you all to join me on a journey.
We are floating. Calmly. Peacefully. The breeze through your hair tickles as you breathe in the warm, comfortable night.

You see distant dolphins frolicking playfully and the ocean waves lap over your toes.

The cushy floating tube, in which you recline, offers a cloud-like escape and yawn suddenly overcomes you.

What more could you ask for?

Does this not seem like Paradise? Being able to relax and forget about the world. Just focusing on the things that are in front of you. Right? 

Now a question: How long before this Paradise becomes stale? Until our toes are raisins and we start to feel the rumble of thunder coming from your hungry stomach?

Paradise is only paradise for a moment and then it becomes....normal. For example, the people here in Florida eat avocados from the tree in their backyard. It's just normal life! I'm still geeking out about the fact I can eat them everyday and that people will give them away.....for free!! Nectar!

Now think of this is whole scenario and apply it to your spirituality. After a while, reading the scriptures is an everyday thing. Praying is something we do all of the time. Church comes every Sunday. Visiting teaching happens once a month. Those people asking for priesthood blessing do it constantly and it becomes routine. Each day we live can be the same thing, if WE let it be. But I've better learned this week how we can break out of that and help our lives become FULL. I would like to share it with a story.

People, I only have 6 months left in my mission. I know it's taboo to even make mention that time has passed in missionary work but we need to realize that time does move on! That we are constantly progressing or digressing.  

I began to notice that the small rules I obey everyday started to become a little less important. I started to let it slip just a FRACTION. I had allowed myself a little more lax time to float in my cushy floating tube. It began to be rote. I began to get a little bored. The work became harder. I started to struggle. We received a training in which they committed all of us to be exactly obedient and to pay close attention to the little things. I recommitted myself to be a representative of Jesus Christ and obey with exactness. I adapted my drive to be exactly obedient so that I could listen to the Spirit and find the people that need me. I wanted to really SERVE! 

I had a miracle!! 

We were out knocking doors trying to find a Less Active when we knocked on Marvin's door. He is NEVER home at that time of day. He had become "less active" from his own church due to some things in his past. Because of that, he was rather against going to any churches or really religion in general. We testified that God had sent us to his door, that this message and church would fill the hole in his life and that God had a plan for him. We left him a Resto pamphlet and invited him to church. The next day, I'm sitting at the piano and I see Marvin walk in just after sacrament with one of our kindest and friendliest members. Apparently, she had come late to church that day (which she never does) and met Marvin outside. They began talking and Marvin felt comfortable. After the service we asked him how he felt. He said he felt good and also that he felt something different. He really liked service and says he will come back next Sunday! #exactobediencemiracles

“Conversion means consecrating your life to caring for and serving others who need your help and sharing your gifts and blessings. …

“Every unselfish act of kindness and service increases your spirituality. God would use you to bless others. Your continued spiritual growth and eternal progress are very much wrapped up in your relationships—in how you treat others. Do you indeed love others and become a blessing in their lives? Isn’t the measure of the level of your conversion how you treat others? The person who does only those things in the Church that concern himself alone will never reach the goal of perfection. Service to others is what the gospel and exalted life are all about.” 

If we want to progress and to be happy we need to make those sacrifices. Smile at someone in the store. Forgive someone for cutting you off. Laugh when your child throws spaghetti on the couch. Help a sweet mother with her children in sacrament. YOU WILL CHANGE LIVES! including your own.  

I love you all! 

Hna Lake

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week #52 - Gratitude is Gratis!

Buenas Familia!

Funny Story: As mentioned, we've become a little creative with our OYM techniques and it is fun! One day we biked a "GreenWay" next to our canals, we see a little bump on the road. No bigger that a small cookie. We screeched to a stop and backed up to find our adorable little friend, Jimsley. Jimsley is baby turtle that almost became a pancake on a GreenWay. Why JIMSLEY? Well, we were quite worried for his welfare as many other people bike that path and would likely not see our cookie-sized friend. As we debated throwing him back into the canal, another biker approached. We called out to him and asked for his opinion as to what we should do with our little reptilian friend. This man's name was Jimsley and kindly advised us to just put him back. Jimsley then accepted a card and truly felt the Spirit as we testified his life could be so much happier through the message of the gospel. Maybe we didn't get a return appointment for the Elders but we strived to make a difference in someone's life...all because of a turtle.

I am converted to OYMing! Seriously, so many miracles happened this week and I loved it. OYMing people was really awkward at first but I talked to my brother in law (shout out to Brian)  who had served in multiple bike areas, and got some great ideas. We came up with ways to break the ice with people and dispel the feeling that we had stopped to talk to them just to convert them to our church...I mean, that is our purpose but I want people to know that we genuinely love them! It worked really well and we saw amazing fruits of laughter, rejection, and tender hearts touched. Truly, when we are in the service of our fellow man, we are in the service of our God. Or better said, the truest way we can serve God is by serving our fellow man!

Sister LeBaron and I were reading out of the 4th Missionary this morning and came across a quote that I love. "The more you pay attention to your conscience, the more your conscience will demand from you." It made me realize that when we give ourselves "a break" in missionary work (or life) to prance around in the daisy fields of sin and distraction, Satan makes it so we want it more and more. It is so much more effective to work, work, and work! There is no other substitute. As members, we sacrifice a lot; however, we also receive 100 fold what we gave and the benefits are ten times better anyway. Who needs daisies when you've got roses? The thorns may prick and draw blood, but the aroma, color, and flower itself is so much sweeter.  

"Lost" means unable to be found. If I want to work, I need to give my ENTIRE self to God and turn outward. Every time I felt the loss of the Spirit (just a bit) or have felt frustrated in the work it was because I started turning inward. If we turn outward, WE WILL BE HAPPY! Just like President Gordon B Hinckley says in Preach My Gospel. It is so true!

It is the same with each one of you "normal citizens."  You guys are POWERFUL everyday missionaries. You may not wear a nametag but you have the Spirit. You weren't set apart but you were baptized. You don't live a missionary schedule, wear nice clothes while riding bikes, or use turtles to talk to people on the street - BUT YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD! As a child of God, you are given the sacred privilege, and right, to help your fellow man, get out of yourself and to care about someone else. It's hard - I won't deny that - But it is SO worth it. I promise you will be happier. Pinky promise with a double cherry on top!

Miracle: Sister LeBaron and I had planned out our day perfectly and set out to achieve our goals. But everything fell through. It was as if the Lord was saying, "You thought you had a plan huh? Well, try this one. It's better :)" Truly, it was better! We went to go see a referral and they told us to come back in an hour, so, we decided to knock doors close to the home. As we followed the Spirit, we found a complex that was FILLED with Latins. We began knocking and within and hour had 4 NI. One is already going to the LDS church in Riverside with a friend and the others are also VERY Christian and became additionally interested in what we believe. God knows what is best! When we returned to contact the referral, they wouldn't answer the door. God knew that would happen but He let us plan that anyway so we could find His other children. As long as we do all we can and try our hardest, He will always work out everything to be for our gain. Rain or Shine, it'll be good for you! 

I love this gospel and I am so grateful for it. My testimony has increased by small increments my whole mission and now...I can truly say I know this is God's church. This is the truth! We have it and therefore, we need to share it. The missionaries, leaders of the church, and God is telling you to open your mouth. I PROMISE you that the first time is the hardest and then it becomes easier and easier. Just try it! Give one person a card this week or just share a quick testimony of God's love for us. Pick something you really feel is true and share it! You will change lives :)  

I've stopped asking God for New Investigators, for baptisms, or for the work to go my way. Instead, everyday I ask God to let me be in the place where I am needed; to let me know who needs us, our smiles, and our message. Even if they don't accept it, we will gladly be there to lift them and help them. I've noticed the change it brings into missionary work and I testify that it will unlock a new level of joy and fulfillment in your life.

I love you all! Be safe and go share your testimony!

Hna Lake