Thursday, January 31, 2013

"So looks like he's gonna suffer ...but he's gonna be happy about it..."

You may be wondering about the quote in the subject line. I will get to that.
I have made it to week 2 in the MTC! It is great. The whole MTC is great. Speaking of which, Sister Johnson and I made a goal this week to verbally acknowledge all the positive things in basically any and every situation. It is our goal to be more positive. You can never be too positive, right? Well actually you can, but I can get to that later. Every time we're feeling a little tired, we sing a little tune. Goes something like, "The whole MTC is great, we can do anything good, we like our teachers, we like our classroom, we like our roommates, we like our district, we like the Gospel, we like the whole MTC! We can teach anything good, yeah, yeah . . ." You get the idea. For those of you who have no idea where this is from, look up Jessica's Daily Affirmation on Youtube. She is quite the inspiration, let me tell you!
So, quick items of business/news! I ran into Elder Reynolds and Elder Hall this week. They are both very happy to be here! They say they are both getting in the hang of things (I just spoke with them a couple days ago) and they are liking it here. So you can pass it on to their families if you so desire; they both seem really happy! Also. I got the package! Thank you so much!! I love the zuchinni bread, so major points to my amazing cook of a little brother. Who is also hilarious. His letter had me practically in tears. But I digress. The boots are also wonderful! They are super comfortable, they fit perfectly, and they keep me warm in my walks to the temple. So thank you! They are perfect. One last item of business before we get to some more good stuff, I am leaving Tuesday morning! At . . .4:00 am. "4:00 am is great . . .I can do anything good . . . at 4:00 am . . yeah . . yeah. . ." But don't worry. I just have to report at 4:00 am, the flight isn't until about 7:15 ish? 7:20? You know, I'm not actually sure. But I will be calling from the Salt Lake City airport probably between 6:00 and 7:00 am. Isn't that great?! I bet all y'all are super excited to wake up that early to listen to me. And I wish I could give you a better time frame, but that's all I've got.
Sister Johnson and I have had a good week this week! Full of ups and downs, but always full of joy. We progressed one of our investigators to baptism, but he still has a problem understanding Priesthood Authority, but we're getting closer and closer! Grandma had a question about the TRC. Basically, the TRC is full of staff members and volunteers who pretend to be investigators to give the missionaries practice. We have staff on Mondays and Wednesdays, and volunteers (usually college students) on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Our staff member is a super good actor. I actually wonder whether or not he's a member of the church. They tell us some staff members are and some are not, so it's difficult to really tell if they do believe in the Gospel or not. Our staff member's name is Daniel, as I mentioned last week, and we've visited him twice but haven't been able to teach him anything because he has a tendency to kick missionaries out once they start testifying. Sister Johnson and I had a pretty good lesson prepared for this week, but sadly, they cancelled TRC on us! For the rest of the time we're here! Apparently, there are too many misisonaries. This made me pretty sad, because I was excited to teach him. It was interesting, though. Sis. Johnson and I were waiting outside a classroom door preparing to teach another progressing investigator (Gregory) when we saw Daniel walk by on his way out of the building. His shift was over and he was on his way home. I called after him, "The Church is true!! :) " He paused and turned around. "Is it? How do you know?" Sister Johnson and I then talked to him about how we knew it was true through the Spirit. He asked why he didn't know it was true. That caught me off-guard. We hadn't even talked about the Book of Mormon with this investigator before. I asked him if he had read it, he said he had. I asked him if he had prayed about it, he said he had. I asked him if he wanted to know it was true. His face fell and said, almost in a tone of desperation and sadness, "I just want to know the truth. Why do you know? And not me? Are you better than me? More righteous? The Spirit talks to you and not to me, why?" That really caught me off-guard. Something told me he wasn't acting. With as much faith as I could, I told him that the Spirit speaks to us all in very personal, meaningful ways, and sometimes it takes time for us to learn to recognize it's promptings. But as we keep at it, we will be able to feel its presence and know the truth for ourselves. I don't know if he was convinced, but he said a quick thank you and goodbye as he headed out the door. Now I'm REALLY sad TRC was cancelled. What I'd give to have 40 more minutes with him. The MTC is certainly an interesting place.
I have learned so much this week, and I have seen tender mercies everywhere. My brain is still not quite used to the 10:30 - 6:30 schedule. For the first week he was like, "LOL nope!" and didn't let me sleep. Like, at all. This week I think my brain finally understands I need him to shut off at 10:30. So I have been getting better sleep, and that has been a huge tender mercy. Though the other day I was so tired that I got a skull-splitting headache of a lifetime. Like a knife to the brain. It was right before gym, and I kind of just layed on the ground in agony, praying for it to stop. I got the impression to go upstairs and run around the track. When you're head is throbbing, and you feel sick to your stomach just because the lights are too bright, the last thing you want to do is get up and run around, let me tell you. But, one thing about the MTC is that you learn how the Spirit talks to you, and I knew it was an impression. So I went upstairs and started to run. And it was really painful. But after a few laps I ran into the beautiful Sister Day, who asked me about my week. We proceeded to have an incredible discussion about the things we've learned and the hardships we have overcome in the past couple weeks. I think I said some things she needed to hear, and she, in turn, said some things I needed to hear. The gym whistle blew and I realized my headache was gone. Does exercising help headaches? I don't know. But I learned to allows follow the promptings of the Spirit. By doing so, not only was I blessed physically, but I was also blessed spiritually by learning from this incredible sister in my district, and feeling the joy that comes from helping her Spiritually. Yep, the Church is true! And now matter how much you want to ignore it, NEVER put off a prompting. Just do it. You'll be glad you did!
So, I should probably return to the quote in the subject line. It's from Harry Potter, for those who don't recognize it. Ron is trying to read Harry's tea leaves and sees a picture of a skull I think? Which means suffering. And he sees the sun, which  means happiness. "So he's gonna suffer . . .but he's gonna be happy about it..." That line has been running through my head all week. Because I feel like that's kind of the epitome of a mission. At times it can get painful. I'm not even out in the field yet, but I know it won't be all sunshine and daisies the whole way. It's hard. The three nephites were told they wouldn't feel any pain, except it be for the sins of the world. And it will be painful when people will reject the message. It will be emotionally and physically taxing. It has already been physically taxing. It can feel overwhelming, and sometimes frightening. It's demanding. As is life. But we are promised over and over in the scriptures that we can find joy in suffering. The joy that comes from serving a mission is so much greater than any pain or suffering involved. Like Alma 36, we can feel joy that can exceed our pain as we center our hearts on Christ. Through Him we can find joy in the midst of tribulation. He asks us to "take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." He wants to help carry the weight. And He does. No matter how hard life gets, Christ is always willing to walk by our side and help us feel joy. This joy comes from knowing we are living our lives in accordance with His will. Knowing that has been enough for me to feel incomprehensible joy in the face of fear and sorrow. And I know that is what will carry me these next 18 months. And I am so excited for it!
Another thing I learned comes from the Bible Dictionary. I encourage all of you to at some point today look up the word "faith" in the Bible Dictionary. It basically says that Christ has revealed to us all aspects of His character so that all of us can have confidence in Him. How incredible is that? We know Christ's character because of the way He lived His life. We know His character as we study the scriptures. Shouldn't that give us confidence? Knowing that Christ is willing to suffer all the pains of hell so that we can be happy? He is willing to help us through every point in our lives, no matter how difficult. He is loving and patient. He will help us through. One thing Sister Day told me yesterday is that one of the reasons the ancient prophets had so much confidence was that they could see the end from the beginning. When we keep an eternal perspective in mind, with an idea of Christ's character and what He has in store for us, we have every reason to put all our trust and confidence in Him. He has revealed to us what He has in store. We know who we can become and the blessings that await us. And through Christ we can get there. What an incredible blessing. The people of the world need to hear it. I cannot be more humbled, nor more excited, to help bring it to them. That is my mission, to invite people to Christ, and help them along their way. I am so excited to get out in the field next week. It is going to be hard, but I know it will be the most incredible 18 months of my life.
Two minutes left! I have one other quick thought from the hymn, "Love One Another." I sing it so many times I forget what the words mean. I love the line, "by this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." God gave Adam and Eve, and all of their children, a way to recognize messengers from God. How do people know we are disciples of Christ? If we show love towards others. This is what sets us apart and makes us different. So many people will tell conversion stories that start with them noticing that Mormons are different. They're loving and accepting. That's what we need to be. By promising to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, we are promising to love one another. As missionaries, we wear His name every day, and all our actions should emulate His. But even if we are not outwardly wearing His name, we still need to take His name upon us and love others as He did. That is how we can help people recognize us as true followers of Christ, by the love we show and the degree to which our actions emulate His.
Time is up! 30 minutes is not long enough. I love you all! Thank you for the letters, packages, love, prayers, and support! I appreciate you all and will talk to you soon! Next time I write I'll be in the field!! AAH! Until next week! Let the adventures begin!
-Sister Fox

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