Light the World: Part 2

I hope you all had the best Thanksgiving! Mine consisted of a fancy breakfast, 3 different dinners and a major food coma afterwards 🙂 It was great.

I’m still in shock that Thanksgiving actually already happened and that Christmas is just around the corner! Some of you may remember the Christmas Initiative that the church put out last year. It was called "Light the World." If you missed it last year, don’t worry because it’s happening again this year! Below is a link to the intro video and it’s awesome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_VRN7hcL_8

Starting December 1st, there will be a new video released daily with an associated challenge of service. You can share via social media how you #LightTheWorld the whole Christmas season. What better way is there to come to know Christ than by following in His footsteps and doing as He did? Taking the light the world challenge will help you and your family to have an even greater sense of the Christmas spirit in your homes, and you’ll be able to do so much good for so many people in need.

I’ll be posting updates of how my companion and I light the world this December and I’d love to get any updates from all of you on what you’re doing too! For more info go to mormon.org

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Una Alma Llena de Felicidad y Gratitud

Thanksgiving is this week!? What!? Does time on the mission ever not feel like it’s flying by way too fast? I can hardly believe it’s turkey time again already! Things are going great here in Rio Grande with Hermana Garcia. I have so much in my life to be thankful for, both here in the mission and back at home. This year I feel particularly grateful for the happiness found in gospel living and for the chance I have to get to share it with others.

We recently met the coolest lady! She was taking her trash out so we stopped to help and ended up talking for a bit. We introduced ourselves and explained what it is that we do as missionaries. With a big smile on her face she told us her name, Alma, and asked when would be the soonest time possible for us to come back and visit her. We set up a time for the next day and left her with a scripture and a prayer.

When we went back, she was still all smiles and welcomed us in with great big hugs. Over slices of pumpkin pie, we taught her the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was SO happy. There was a real spirit of peace in the room as we talked with her. She told us that she had felt such a strong sense of that the night before as well and that all morning she had been telling everyone she knew all about it. She’s been looking for a roommate, and asked us if there was anyway we could possibly just move in with her because she wanted to feel that happy all the time. It was so sweet.

We explained what the Book of Mormon is and then gave her a copy. I didn’t think it was possible for her to smile more than she already was, but she did as she exclaimed, "Wow! For me? This is my very first Book of Mormon!"

We are so pumped to keep teaching her and see where things go. We’re pretty sure Alma is a secret mormon and just doesn’t know it quite yet. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving! Love you guys!

El Libro de Mormon

Recently I’ve felt a stronger desire to gain a more firm testimony of the Book of Mormon. It’s becoming clearer and clearer just how essential it is to receive a personal witness of the validity of this book. Everything I teach as a missionary boils down to whether or not it’s for real. If this book actually is what it claims to be- the word of God, then Joseph Smith really did receive permission and power from God to be able to translate it. If Joseph Smith really had God on his side, then he really was called to be a prophet, a modern day Moses. And if that’s true than Joseph Smith really was given the task of restoring Christ’s church, teachings and power back here on the Earth again. That’s a big deal, something worth investing the time and effort into fully investigating.

I feel like little by little I’m coming to better trust in it and in it’s teachings. Not from sticking "the Book of Mormon" in a google search engine nor by placing stock in it’s reviews, both those of it’s critics and it’s supporters. But by taking up the invitation found in the introduction of the book: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of it’s truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

I think too often we think that coming to know the Book of Mormon is true is a one time event, a single life changing answer received after a heartfelt prayer and boom you just know it’s true. Maybe a single prayer to find out what’s up works for some people, but that’s not how it’s been for me. The handful of times when I’ve directly asked in prayer, "is the Book of Mormon true?" and then sat and waited to get some kind of immediate, grand answer, nothing has happened. I feel the strongest about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon when I’m sharing with others the effect that it’s had on my life. When I’m studying it and trying to live by the principles it teaches, that’s when I think of what Christ said about how "by the fruits" you can know whether something is good or not.

I’ve still got a ways to go, but the way I feel and think about the Book of Mormon has come a long way from where I was a year ago at in the beginning of the mission. At least now I’ve actually read it enough to know what’s in it! I know it’s a good book that teaches good principles. It talks about Christ (a whole lot) and how we can be happier people. The writings are powerful. Reading it makes me feel at peace and helps me want to change and be a better person.

The last time President Monson addressed the church, he said, "the importance of having a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated." He challenged us all to study and ponder the Book of Mormon everyday, promising that doing so would put us "in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives." Those prophetic promises have motivated me to more diligently study it everyday, to fast and pray to gain a stronger conviction of it’s divine origin and the truthfulness of what’s written on it’s pages.

I want to work harder to know with even more surety because through out my life, I’ve said and heard the words "I know the Book of Mormon is true" many, many, many times. But until now I haven’t actually put all that much thought into what that means and entails. What are we trying to say, that what we learn from it is true? That it’s a true historical record of the people in ancient america? That the story of how it was obtained is true? All of the above and more? I think having a clearer understanding of what saying "the Book of Mormon is true" actually means, will help it to be more than just words repeated. As we put a little more thought and effort into it, as we take action and put the challenges to practice, as we study the Book of Mormon, pray about it, test out the principles taught and pay attention to what we feel and think through out the process, that is when clarity is obtained, surety is achieved and truth is revealed.

Try it. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s that there is infinitely more to gain than to lose by reading this book. Any sacrifice made will be outweighed by the worth of the prize won. Because of the Book of Mormon I’ve come to better know who my Savior is and what He did for me. I’ve felt an increased measure of His love. I’ve been comforted in times of sadness, lifted in times of discouragement, reassured in times of doubt, guided in times of confusion and enlightened in times of searching. I don’t have all the answers I’d like to have, but I know enough to leave the rest to faith. The Book of Mormon has deeply impacted my life for the better and it can do the same for anyone that is willing to make room for it in their lives. You don’t have to take my word for it, read it. See what it can do for you.

Dia de Los Muertos!

Well another transfer has come and gone (way too quickly)! I’m staying here in the Rio Grande ward and my new companion will be Hermana Garcia! She is awesome and I’m so pumped! She’s been serving in the Valle del Norte branch (my first area) since I left it, and we’ll be the sister training leaders that get to do exchanges with the hermanas in Valle del Norte this transfer! It’ll be great!

In other news: I’M A GRANDMA!!!! My "daughter" (the hermana I trained) got a training call and is going to be a "mom" which officially makes me a grandma!!!! WOOOO!!!

Hermana Thompson is headed home this week. She has been one incredible missionary and we are all so sad to see such a spiritual giant leave the mission. I’ve learned SO much from her. It was like getting trained all over again! I’m really going to miss her, but I know she’s going to do great things at home and that she’ll be able to touch so many lives there too. The only redeeming part about this is that when a missionary goes home it’s mission lingo to say that they’re "dying" and Hermana Thompson just so happens to be dying on Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Haha 🙂

Happy Halloween and Feliz Dia de Los Muertos!

JULIO GOT BAPTIZED!!

HE DID IT! HE GOT BAPTIZED! JULIO GOT BAPTIZED!!!

This past week I got a phone call from an old companion in El Paso. I was confused by why she would be calling and so shocked when she told me that she just wanted to let me know that she was at a baptismal service for Julio. I cried and danced around and honestly cannot remember the last time I’ve ever been that happy.

We started teaching Julio back at the beginning of the summer and he has been one of my all time favorite people that I’ve met out here. One of the hardest parts about leaving Montwood was leaving him and his girlfriend, Idarly. She’s a member of the church and one of the best people I know. Idarly introduced Julio to us and was a huge help in all of the lessons. She was the real missionary in all of it. When I left, Julio had come to the point where he knew everything he needed to know to be baptized, he had received answers to his prayers and he wanted to be baptized. All he had to do was just decide for himself when he felt right about going for it.

I’m so happy and so thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know Julio and Idarly, and to have gotten to play a small part in such an exciting time of their lives. He is so changed. He wasn’t ever a bad guy or a sad person– he was a awesome from the start, but it was really cool to see the light in him get brighter and brighter. He is on a good path, one that brings lasting peace and real happiness.

Mission life is the good life.

“Soft Joy”

I’m back in Albuquerque and loving it! The last few weeks have been so good and have gone by way too fast. I love this new area and my companion is one of the best missionaries I’ve ever seen in action. I’m learning a ton from her and just trying to do my best to keep up!

This past week we had an awesome lesson with a new investigator named Luis. My companion, Hermana Thompson, was his translator at a city service project we volunteered at a little while ago and we ran into him again last Monday while we were emailing. No coincidences, this guy was so ready to take the discussions and a divine hand was at work to make sure it happened.

Luis is very smart and had great insights. He was so touched by the message of the Restoration. He was amazed to learn that Priesthood authority had been brought back and he loved that it was Peter, James and John who had come to ordain Joseph Smith. He was so excited to have his own copy of the Book of Mormon. He told us that when he had woken up that morning he had felt a very strong spiritual impression to "bundle up." I can’t translate what he said with all of the eloquence he used, but basically he expressed that he felt like the Book of Mormon would give him a way to protect himself from the harsh winds of life. He’s pretty much the coolest. He prayed at the end of the lesson and afterwards we paused for a moment to talk about what he was feeling. We had been speaking in Spanish the whole time, but right then he looked around at all of us and said in broken English, "I feel like, how you say, joy. Yes, soft joy.’" I think that might just be the very best way to describe what there is to gain from a knowledge of restored truth: soft joy.