Monday, February 8, 2016

Week #77 - The Final Countdown!

Family, I'm really excited to see you. Keep going strong! Don't get trunky! ;)  

This week has been amazing!!! I learned about how God doesn't care so much about the speed, but rather, the direction we go in life. God doesn't measure us by levels, but rather, by trajectories. If we have a trajectory of righteousness in our life, God will be able to bless us and our lives. We will be able to live with Him again! How big of a blessing is that?

Sister Hebdon and I are doing well. We keep our faith high in the area and choose to remain positive. Our numbers were better this last week than they had been in a while! Bit by bit, we are going to find this elect family!  

We received a referral for a family who had a daughter serving a mission in Brazil. When we went over to talk to them, they were so excited and let us in immediately. Thinking that this was our amazing elect family, we set a return appointment after doing some H2BT with the nonmember mother. When we came back the next time to meet with the excommunicated father, unbaptized member of record child, and nonmember mother....they weren't interested in learning more about the gospel. We were so sad!! However, I did realize that our testimonies and our honesty with each other opened the door for later missionaries. If their daughter hadn't been on a mission in that moment, we wouldn't have even gotten in the door. God knows when these people are ready. We just have to find those who are ready to change and to become members of His kingdom. You all help them get there. Don't stop!!

I love you but I've gotta run! I write a really good "dying testimony" next week ;) 

Hna Lake

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week #76 - A Perspective on Everything!

 As I near the end of my mission, I reflect upon what it will be like when I no longer wear this tag and officially represent my Savior. It's a tearjerker...But one thing that I've been able to see is that I have been called to minister unto the people of this world. Hopefully, these emails are evidence of that.

 Before I sit down to write my weekly public email I fervently pray to my Father to know what to say. How I can touch the hidden pains of your hearts and bring a sense of peace to your souls. It has proved to be an enlightening experience! The words have flown from my mind and fingers into the ways of cyberspace and it has been humbling as I've received responses from those who have needed it. I am not the one writing these emails. When I come home, I will not be this fountain of wisdom and will not always have the answers. I have been the vessel, not the teacher! The Lord really does give special keys and authority to us as missionaries in order to help us with our calling. However, similar keys are held by your Bishop, Relief Society President, Home Teachers, etc. They receive inspired guidance in our behalf that helps us grow in an eternal perspective. I recently read a talk sent to me by a dear friend who talked about "Rising to the Height of your Calling". It included a story about a bishop, who just after being released, received a visit from a member of the congregation. This member sat down and said, "I know that we have a new bishop but whenever we would talk in interviews, you always gave me such great counsel. Could we talk once more?" The member explained his worries and then waited to receive the guidance he was looking for. This bishop stopped and waited for the thoughts, ideas and impressions to enter his heart. None came. He looked at this member and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you." He no longer wore the mantle of bishop. The bishop in the story illustrated how the guidance he had receive was due to the keys he held before and that he truly was a vessel for the Lord. This is something that I'm going to miss. These amazing people and Sisters whom I have served with have been such a source of joy to me as I've been led to know how to lighten their burdens and open their minds. Although I will still have that gift of the Holy Ghost after my mission, my calling will be different.

Each one of us have different responsibilities and keys in order to unlock the gates of heaven to pour out the revelation that we need for ourselves and those under our stewardship. The callings we hold, the children we have, our spouses, friends, etc. give us different responsibilities and therefore ABILITIES in order to fill what the Lord has called us to do. When God calls someone, they may be the imperfect and may even think that they aren't worthy, but the Lord refines us and prepares us in order to have the ABILITIES to fill our RESPONSIBILITIES. Never are we alone. NEVER!

We taught Elder's Quorum this last Sunday, or rather we taught a fake investigator about the Restoration so that they could see what we might teach their friends, and it was a really powerful experience. The EQ President testified of our power and authority as missionaries and wow....did it open my eyes. It humbles me to know of the power I hold as a missionary as he bore testimony to all of them of the spirit we bring and the testimony we hold. Missionaries are powerful representatives of the Savior! We fear no man!

Don't be afraid to ask the missionaries to come into your home. Whether it be for a meal, a lesson, a lesson in your home for an investigator, or to just to help with service. We are willing. We WANT to. Let's face it. WE ALL NEED IT! Take the time to get to know the missionaries in your ward. Ask them to be involved in your life. I promise you that it will help, enhance, enrich and bless you in ways you might not recognize right now. Invite an investigator to be taught in your home. It's the best thing you could do for your children. Invite a friend to eat dinner with the missionaries. You'd be amazed how easily they can feel the difference that we hold. We had someone call us "pure" yesterday. Can you imagine what your friends will say to meet us? 

Please take this seriously :) It's led by the Spirit and will be an answer to your prayers. This I testify! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Hna Lake

Monday, January 25, 2016

Week #75 - Sunshine!

This Saturday and Sunday were really hard days for me. I was struggling to just feel happy and motivated. It seemed to follow me around and no matter how much I smiled and worked, it didn't seem to sink into my heart of hearts. I felt very fake. It wasn't fun!  

But then on Sunday, I felt a strong impression to get a blessing from the Bishop. At first, I fought against it. I have been sick the past 2 weeks and had already gotten a blessing from the Elders so I didn't feel it was necessary. I didn't want to burden the bishop, etc. and  the list goes on. But I felt that distinct impression and decided to act.  

As the bishop began the blessing, I could feel of my Heavenly Father's love for me as all of my concerns and worries were covered within that blessing. I felt known and loved. Then the bishop said something that caught my attention. He said that I needed to allow Jesus Christ to be equally yoked with me. It really stuck out to me and that small sentence helped me realize something about myself and about life. As bishop talked to us afterwards, he mentioned something that stuck out to me.

 1st: WE ARE NOT ALONE. Our Savior Jesus Christ is waiting to heal.  

2nd: No one can help unless you let them. Bishop mentioned about how they were trying to assign other auxiliaries (like Young Women or High Priests) to do certain things or to have responsibilities. But he said that although it would be faster and easier for him to do it himself, they were trying to delegate! I'm the WORST at delegating. It's not like I don't like it when people help, it's just that I want so badly to get it done that I don't think to ask or allow others to. I'd been doing that in missionary work. I had run and run, worked and worked without allowing anyone to help me and had become quickly burnt out.  

3rd: WE NEED OTHER PEOPLE. Just face it. You can't do it all. You can't be superwoman or man without quickly running out of energy, patience and life. In the end, it is more effective to rely on others because the duration time is quickly tripled or even quadrupled. Once we understand and accept that, the Atonement is actually able to start working in our life......because we've allowed it to.
The greatest gift given to all mankind is often the most overlooked and unused gift of God's Son.  

 This morning as I read about Alma the Older I was struck by the amount of faith that he had. He prayed for the Lord to help his son come to a knowledge of the truth and when it happened, it was likely not in the way Alma the Older was expecting. Yet he continued trusting faithfully in the Lord and began praying that the Lord would use that experience to help the people gain a knowledge of the truth again. Servants of the Lord understand the bigger picture of God's purpose (eternal life and immortality of all men) and so they do not fret when something happens in the way they don't expect. THEY RELY ON JESUS CHRIST AND THE ATONEMENT! As soon as you understand you can't do it all, you are able to do ALL THINGS. As said in Phillipians, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me!"

I testify of God's love and His desires to love us into the eternities. I testify of the all powerful nature of the Lord. NOTHING is impossible for Him. As said by a woman we met a while back: "Don't put God in a box."

I love you all and I am happy to say that Hermana Sunshine is back and smiling in full force. You are wonderful! Be safe. : )

Hna Lake

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week #74 - God's Timing is always Perfect!

A woman, Caridad, whom we had invited to attend church 2 months ago, came to church this past Sunday! We had already left the building because it was Stake Conference and the time had changed. The Stake President found her and he called us to let us know. We had no idea who she was, nor where she lived or her phone number. We had no record of her either. This past Monday, we then felt to visit a former investigator, but when we knocked she wasn't there. As we knocked, we OYMed a woman with this little girl who said, "Are you guys from church? I was there! Yesterday!" We were shocked. We asked her to tell us where the woman was who had taken her and she led us right to her home. Caridad was found. God knew exactly where she was! God knows where His elect are and He guides us to find them.

I got into a car accident 2 weeks ago, YES I'M FINE, and we saw SOOO many miracles because of it. The craziest part....the accident was my fault.

Blessing: We met an officer who was really impressed by our honesty with all that happened in the accident. He mentioned that he had met many Mormons before and had always been so impressed by them and their conduct. He said he really admired Mitt Romney and wished that there were more people like us in the world.....He now has a card and will be getting baptized someday. :) We then went to urgent care JUST IN CASE - we are FIIIINE - and the receptionist had been praying that morning for guidance and she said that we were sent there that night. She asked us questions and why we were on missions, etc. She was SUPER interested! She has a bunch of literature of the church now and said she would go on Sunday!

I had an exchange this past week with a trio in my stewardship. As I prayed that night, I felt VERY strongly that I needed to go with one specific sister and that my companion needed to go with the other two. As we were out knocking, this sister (who had been in my stewardship last transfer and I knew very well) started talking to me about the trio. Twice, she looked like her eyes were watering but I didn't say anything. Finally, I asked if she was okay and she burst into tears. She told me about how hard it was for her because of some current struggles on the mission and how she felt she was a terrible missionary. I was able to give her a hug and talk to her about it. The important part is that this sister DOES NOT open up easily but for some reason, we clicked. I knew I needed to be there to help her right then. God sent me specifically to her.

I had another exchange with a sister who had been struggling in her area and her approach to the people. We were focused upon being happy and showing our love.  We met Amelia, who is of another faith. Amelia let us into her house and allowed us to pray with her. OKAY. HUGE DEAL. We talked about how her family was falling apart and  her relationship with her husband was awful. We testified of miracles that  I was seeing in our area with our investigators. Their relationships were also struggling, but as they've learned about the gospel, and applied principles, they've changed. I wish that I could show you guys what I experienced the day that they read the Book of Mormon and prayed together. IT was SO special. They were happier, laughing, joking around with each other and PATIENT. I hadn't seen that the whole time. Amelia is now investigating the church.
I KNOW that God loves us. He puts us where we need to be when we need to be there. I LOVE YOU!

Hna Lake

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week #73 - Come Unto Me

This week has been wonderful. Sister Hebdon is wonderful. We are working on making sure that we are equal in everything. I've noticed I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in what I am doing that I forget to involve my companion. I'm working on it. :)

Mission Leadership Conference, January 2016

Miracle: Raul has been smoking since he was a little boy. But this past week he has cut down to ONE cigarette a day! We've been praying so hard and he got a priesthood blessing. He is so humble and willing :) His family can't get over the change in him or the way he reads the Book of Mormon with such gusto! The Lord has truly softened his heart.

Dulce has been struggling giving up coffee and we've been praying for her heart to be softened. Then, the doctor told her she could drink it anymore because it was bad for her health and then Dulce randomly asked if she couldn't be baptized THIS Saturday instead of NEXT Saturday. NO more coffee or tea! God works miracles :)

Something I've been learning has to do with the heart and the mind.

Ether 4:14-15 "Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief."

"Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel."

Jacob 3:2 "O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."

Between these two verses, I was able to understand that wickedness, pride and blindness come because of our CHOICE not to believe. It is our choice if we want something to be true and choose to believe it. By believing, we have a willing heart (pure heart) and we will RECEIVE the word of God and FEAST on His endless love. If we decide we want this forever, we must decide firmly and we will for all time. The heart holds the desire and the mind makes the decision.

A statement that has really stuck with me is that the Godhead is made up of gentleman. They will never force themselves into our lives or make us do anything we do not want to do. They respect us and our agency in the highest degree. They would never do anything to take away our agency or harm us.

Therefore, it makes sense that if we want to listen.....we will be able to hear. If we want to see, our vision will be clear. If we want to understand, lives windows will be opened....But if we want nothing to do with God or his desires for us, we won't. Plain and simple.

There is Mormon Message about a girl (from Neon Trees) who said that she never had a relationship with God because she never wanted one. Plain and simple. I know that to be true.

There have been times on my mission where I have not wanted to know if there really was something I needed to change or if God wanted me to do something...even though I asked....kind of like asking a question without wanting to know the answer...just hoping it confirms what you hope the answer is.

It doesn't work that way!  

God has many, many, many ways to communicate with us....but he only can if we have a PURE HEART aka a WILLING HEART and a CONTRITE MIND. Meaning, we are willing to listen and act.  

The Heart holds our desires and our drives. When we learn truths, the Holy Ghost touches our heart, helps us know it is true and increases our desire to do x thing. However, Our mind is the control center that allows us to make the decision whether or not we will do that x thing.  

Choose today to have a TRULY open heart and a willing mind. It'll change the way your world works. You will be happier, healthier, less stressed and feel of your Heavenly Father's Love. You will FEAST on His love :)


Hna Lake

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week #72 - Staying Strong amidst the Gloom

As I type this letter, my hands are turning purple and they are numb. I HATE COLD! Florida has been freezing these past few days...granted, it's in the 60-70's but it's still cold!  

Speaking of Gloom, that's what it has been around here. No sunshine here in the Sunshine State! But we've not let that get us down. We pull out the cardigans we never use, blast the heat in the car and smile reeeeeeeeeeeeeal big so people let us in. We may look delirious....we may even be delirious, but at least we are smiling :) Truly, it's not that bad, but I'm sure to get some good laughs from you all in Idaho/Washington. 

This letter is from my heart; that's how all my letters are I guess, but I feel guided in this letter to talk specifically to someone who will read this. Who knows? It could be you :)  

I've never really understood God's timeframe or God's agenda. I know the end purpose, but I can get so frustrated because I don't understand the right NOW. But God also understood that. He knows.  

"The Lord’s thoughts and ways are higher than the thoughts and ways that come from men.

The Lord said to man: “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, … for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8–9.)"

Okay, we understand that. But it's still hard to focus on the end result when the now brings so much heartache, pain, or sorrow. I'd like to share a few things with you that I've learned.

I felt really alone at the beginning of my mission. I didn't like anything about who I was and felt like I was all wrong and that I'd never be right. SLOOOOOWLY, I came to recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I came to understand why I am the way I am. I came to love myself for my quirks and stumbles. Then, this past week I went on an exchange with a Sister who broke down crying because she felt like she was all wrong, her family had told her she was all wrong, she didn't like who she was, and she felt completely without hope. I was able to tell her there was a field of sunflowers...if she would only open her eyes. If she would only look at herself the way that God saw her. The Lord allowed me to suffer for such a small moment, that seemed like eternity,  so I could help open someone else's eyes.

It was an hour long exchange, but I look back and the only thing I could feel was gratitude that I was able to make a small difference. That God had loved me enough to make me work to find myself and that God loved her enough to put her in my temporary that I could share my heart with her.

Sometimes when the gloom seems to close in, when our hearts seem to fail us, when we want to pull up the covers and cry....God uses those opportunities to open our eyes to His greater purposes. There are only two options when you are going through a hard time. 1) Shut God out or 2)Let God in. One will create bitterness and discontent and the other will use the trial to help you to become better.

A missionary miracle to explain:

  We had been working with a family named Dulce and Michelle but had dropped them because of their STRONG opposition to the Word of Wisdom. This Sunday, we were running behind on time and kept trying to leave church; however, God had other plans. Dulce and Michelle walk into the church building. Apparently, they had called the members whom we had brought over the help participate in the lessons, inquired about church times, and came all by themselves. When we discussed the Word of Wisdom later with Dulce, she apologized and said, "I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ and I will be baptized...I just had some questions. But that won't stop me from going!"  I had been so sad that we had had to drop her, but God helped me se what SHE needed.

We also have been teaching Juana and Raul. Their daughter Elizabeth was baptized 3 years ago and her father, Raul, was completely against the church. (Miracle #1) Now, he is so excited to get baptized the 17th, and feels so much peace and that his faith is growing. Raul is very addicted to smoking and has cut down his usage to 10 cigarettes a day instead of a 20! We've been praying so hard and he has been doing it all by himself!! They've already clicked with the members and love church. God works so many miracles in this work!

God knows the work better than we do and we need to be willing to change in order to listen. I learned that we shouldn't be upset when things don't go our way. Instead, we should be grateful and excited because it is evidence of God's hand in our lives and of His love for each of His children. He really loves us. We don't need to convert everyone, just the elect. But we do need to love everyone because that's what Jesus Christ would do and we are His representatives.

Love to all!

Hermana Lake