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


Monday, August 10, 2015

Week #51 - Old Cuban Men Can Change your Life

Hello friends and family!  

"Dios, dame valor para aceptar lo que no puedo cambiar, fuerza para cambiar lo que yo puedo, y sabiduria para saber la diferencia"  Translation: "God, give me courage to accept what I can't change, strength to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference" 

There are a lot of things that happen in our lives that we truly cannot change and we are forced to turn it over to God; but we need to ask for God's help to do so.  

I've been learning about how I can convert myself more to OYMing people. Now that we are on bikes, it takes a lot more time to stop the bike and talk to someone in your path. It just seems so awkward and weird. But, I've been trying to follow the counsel of leaders and have seen miracles!

D&C 33:8-10

“Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.
“Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.
“Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”

Sister Rowley, an amazing STL, has taught me much from these scriptures. I've stopped to consider my journey through the gospel. How did I feel in the beginning compared to now? Everyone has a journey of conversion, whether they were born into the gospel or whether they found the truth through friends and family. I can distinctly remember the way I felt when I had the gospel but didn't utilize it or have a strong testimony of it and the way that I feel now. It's night and day, people! Sad and lonely, to joyful and serving; hopeless to hopeful! Why should only we have this privilege? Why not the rest of God's children? Why would I not open my mouth??

#1:We were on an exchange with Sister Rowley and getting ready to bike home which was about an hour away. As we were riding, I felt the impression to go back and go see a member which I logically knew would not be home; however, the farther I rode, the worse I felt. We turned around and went to their house - no one was home! Confused because I was will to follow but I did not understand God's purpose, I suggested that go a quicker direction home. As we got to a stop light, a black man walks by and I OYM him in English. He responded. "No speakie English". I started speaking in Spanish and he became so happy. Apparently, he was visiting from Santo Domingo and when he found out we were Mormons said, "I've visited your church many times! I go there all the time!" It turns out that he was an investigator there! We spoke a few minutes more, gave him a website to check out, and went on our way. I don't know why God needed us to talk to him but it was a testimony builder for me that God is ALWAYS aware of His children's needs. He stopped His missionaries and sent us in the opposite direction just so that this man could know....something. I still don't know what - but I KNOW that God had us meet him for a reason.

#2:On this same exchange, we went and taught our sweet Marcela. SHE IS THE COOLEST! Anyway, as we are biking out, we see this lady and as I was about to bike past her....I just couldn't. I stopped my bike and asked if we could give her a card in English. Once again, "No speakie English". We started talking to her in Spanish and it turns out she has been in United States for a month from Colombia and looking for a church. MIRACLES! She committed to come and was so happy that we had talked to her. She did not come this week but I have faith that either she will come very soon or we are going to run into her again!

#3:We were out knocking doors last night and we walked past a house about 4-5 times. I felt like we should knock but, of course, logically explained why we shouldn't. He is white, on some random computer game, probably a lame YSA (no offense!), it's 8:30 and we need to leave, obeying the rules is more important, etc. But gently, God gave me a reminder of something I learned on my exchange:
A sister in my mission had OYMed and prayed with some drunk guy in a park. She left him a card with their number and told him to call them. Next day, they get a call from him saying he wants to change his life. This man was later baptized a member of Jesus Christ's true gospel weeks later.  Each child has the potential to change, and we are not qualified to decide "When"  for them?  Back to my story ...we knocked the door and Rany, who is the sweetest South Korean I've ever met, opens the door. He tells us how he has had some serious anger issues in his life and has been hurt so deeply in the past and just cannot let it go. How said that he wants to let God into his life and help him move on. My heart melted. We testified that this was Jesus Christ's gospel and that through learning about it, he could be free of these burdens and pains in his life.What would have happened if I had ignored that prompting? Would he have met the missionaries? How would he find what he was searching so desperately for if we hadn't knocked his door?

Long story short: We are children of God; brothers and sisters. Some of us came to this earth WITHOUT the benefit of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through us that others can receive the gift may not know that they are yearning for. Your efforts can be as small as giving a card to someone, bearing testimony to the love of God, or serving someone in a nearby grocery store. NO EFFORT IS EVER WASTED. There will be those who will not accept our message; however, true disciples of Jesus Christ do not allow that to discourage them from trying. JUST TRY. You don't have to go on a mission to know how to share your testimony. You do it once a month or more! Have courage. God has given you the promise that if you open your mouth, it will be filled!! I know and testify that it is true. It's just as hard for a missionary to open their mouth, believe me. But, we still must do it. You have been called as member missionaries. Allow yourselves to believe it and to magnify your calling :)

I love you!

Hna Lake

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week #50 - Miracles!

FAMILY!! So I love you people, a lot. It's true.  

Galatians 2:20- "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth‍ in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith‍ of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Today I was making a planner and had used this scripture. The front picture was one of a stonecutter, beating small pieces of rock away to make something beautiful. The back was a picture of Jesus Christ calling to His disciples. This scripture really hit me because of the message it carried with the pictures.
Jesus Christ had his hands and feet pierced by stakes quite like those used to chisel away rock. As the Master stonecutter, He uses trials and tribulations to shape me. As this occurs,  I am truly crucified with him. I give my heart, mind, might and strength to my Heavenly Father just as the Savior did.  But truly, that is when Christ can work through me. "Nevertheless, I live" What a call to courage and battle!

This week we saw SO many miracles and I have been dumbfounded with how often I have been able to feel the spirit leading our companionship.  

#1: We were knocking in a apartment complex and after knocking for about 1.5 hours, we got in the car and drove away. As I was driving, I felt uneasy and asked Sister LeBaron how she felt. We both decided to go back because we felt that we hadn't found the person we were meant to find. We knocked for about another hour and then knocked into Marcela. She is AMAZING. Loved the restoration and is diligently searching to know if it is true for herself because she wants to be baptized if it is!

#2: We went over to go a Less-Active family and had come with a certain scripture in mind as to what they needed to hear. As we sat down and began talking to them, we asked to see their scriptures because they had Doctrine and Covenants. We began turning to D&C and just knew that it was wrong. That wasn't what we were supposed to share. So we followed the Spirit and turned instead to 3 Nephi 22:14-15. We read it with them and immediately, both of their faces were shocked. My companion and I were a little apprehensive thinking we had just offended them or something. The mother then proceeded to ask how on earth we decided to share that scripture. We explained how we had planned another but felt prompted to instead share this one. The mother looked at us and explained some of the hardships they had been going through due to hostility from members of their family. This was exactly the scripture that they needed to hear. During the rest of the visit, Vanessa (the mother) couldn't stop exclaiming on the miracle it was.

#3: We went to go see a former (who skipped out) and so we decided to knock doors in the area. We knocked through one building and felt it wasn't right. We felt we needed to go farther back. As we walked back to the farthest building and began knocking, a man walked out of his apartment. We began talking to him and the conversation quickly turned towards the Book of Mormon. He was so interested and immediately asked to read it. We gave him a copy and set up a time to come back. When we came back, he had read the chapter and was ready with questions. We then explained the Restoration and he committed to be baptized as soon as he received his answer the it was the truth. Miracles come from just following the Spirit and opening your mouth!


The Savior works in mysterious ways....but He never works in a way that will not bring you happiness. All the He does is for our good. Period.  

Hna Lake