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

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