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