Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work

Hey y'all!

Guess what? This email is going to be a bit short. For several reasons, but the biggest one is that this week was *painfully* slow. But. I learned a ton, so it goes to show that slow weeks are still good for missionaries. Yeah. Still good.

Monday and Tuesday I don't really remember. I remember sleeping and writing letters on Monday. I also had the opportunity to introduce Sister Day to Daniel and Olivia! We had another good lesson with them. I think I wrote about it last week. Everything in my mind is kind of a blur. Tuesday was really slow after emailing; I honestly don't remember a single thing that happened. Ah well, stuff that happened that day will probably be important in the long run.

Wednesday we had a fairly good day. We teamed up with Sister Ward, who took us to see her friend Nina. She wants to learn more about the Gospel! We taught her about the Atonement and how the Restored Gospel helps us access the powers of the Atonement to be made clean, to have our burdens lifted, and ultimately qualify for eternal life ('Cuz that's what the Gospel is about, right? Took me 9 months to figure that out). We asked her what she was looking for in a church, and her answer was a perfect fit to our our message! So we're gonna go back and teach her. Pretty exciting!
Wednesday afternoon we proceeded to drop 3 of our investigators. And I'm really attached to all three. That was kind of painful. I learned a lot this week about yielding one's heart to God, and accepting His will with His timing. Sometimes when investigators don't progress you have to drop them. It's kind of heart wrenching, but necessary. I also learned if you show God you are willing to follow Him, even when it's painful, good things follow. :) Still waiting on those good things, but I know they'll come. It is the Lord's work after all.

Thursday every appointment fell through, though we did have another ministering to "the one" moment with Austin's mom. She has been going through a rough time and we helped her know that God loves her and is mindful of her. She will be moving soon, so we're going to be giving her to the elders, but I'm just glad that she appreciates us and wants to learn more about the Gospel. That's all that matters.

Friday we had a really good lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a less-active family. That lesson has been working wonders with our less actives. It really is the doctrine of the Atonement that changes lives. Once people gain a greater understanding of the Atonement, their motivation to walk the path of righteousness increases. They wanted to make it to church yesterday, but they overslept. It happens. Hopefully they'll make it next week! They're coming along pretty well. We also had a lesson with Hayes again. He loved coming to church last week and wanted to come yesterday. I'm not sure what stopped him. We only had one person come yesterday out of the expected ten. At least one came!

Saturday we went to man a church booth at the local Emergency Preparedness Fair. We handed out surveys to non-members to fill out about their interest in learning the Gospel. It is a really easy, pressure-free way of inviting people to learn the Gospel. We had three people from Soddy-Daisy express interest, so we have potential! We'll be contacting them this week. Fingers crossed we add new investigators to the teaching pool! Saturday night we taught John and Teresa again with the Johnsons. John is actually pretty far along. We talked about the difference between immortality and eternal life and put an emphasis on baptism by priesthood authority in order to obtain God's greatest blessings. He said he would be baptized once he got a spiritual confirmation that this is all true, so right now we're helping him obtain that confirmation. He loves the Book of Mormon, so he's coming along quite nicely! He works a ton, so we don't get to see him very often. I can see him accepting the Gospel within the next few months though. He's in our prayers!

Yesterday we had another solid lesson with another less-active family about the Atonement. If any of you are struggling with less-actives, study the Atonement. It really works miracles within the walls of their homes if you can get in the door. Then we had an awesome lesson about the Restoration with Ethan, our 9-year-old investigator who is anxious to be baptized. He is so cute. It was a long, slow, hard week, but Ethan made the entire week perfectly worth it. :) He has so much energy and had me cracking up the entire time! We brought a cup visual to help him learn the Apostasy and he was SO excited. He saw the stack of cups and started bouncing up and down on the couch. His grandmother asked him if he would be able to pay attention. His eyes got all wide, he got up close to her and said in a serious tone, "Maayybeee....." It was. SO. Funny. I love this kid to pieces. I love working with kids in general. It's the best thing ever.

So, honestly and truly, that was my week. That's as exciting as it gets. Most of the week was painfully slow, but we had some good things. I learned so much though. So that's what the next half of this email is going to be about.

So, this transfer this mission is going through a sanctification process where each of us is striving toward exact obedience. They tell us "exact obedience brings miracles." Thus, we are calling this transfer, "The Transfer of Miracles." It seems that many companionships have seen instant results. We have a companionship in our district that committed 6 people to be baptized just this past week. Well, no such luck here. Instead we have lost almost every single one of our investigators, and the rest aren't progressing and are headed down that same path.

So, I thought this week about what was missing. I thought maybe I should study harder for investigators. Nothing really happened. Maybe I should pray more sincerely. Nothing happened. I'm exactly obedient. Nothing's happening. Maybe I should improve my planning. Nothing happened. So now by the end of the week one of us is getting a little frustrated. Where are the miracles? Where's the success? I got down on my knees and asked God, "What am I missing?"

Immediate answer. One word. Patience.

As I said a couple weeks ago, I've been praying for patience. I've learned that praying for patience is scary. I've also learned that praying for patience really isn't that scary at all.

The scriptures say that the trial of our faith is what works our patience. So we tend to think that when we pray for patience, trials will rain down upon our heads so that we are compelled to learn how to face these trials calmly and hopefully. Well. Sometimes that happens. But that's not the only way to learn patience. And praying for patience goes a little deeper than just praying for trials.

I've studied a lot this week about what makes us impatient. Sometimes we are impatient with ourselves. We have these weaknesses, fears, and anxieties we can't seem to let go of. And we feel like we should. We should be better at this. So we get impatient and want this change instantly. Because really, we feel empty. Our own shortcomings leave us empty. And we want this emptiness to be filled, and we want it now!

Sometimes we are impatient with others. Sometimes they are harsh, cruel, or impatient with you, uncaring, unforgiving, or apathetic toward things you love. Their shortcomings create empty spaces of unmet needs within us. So we tend to get angry or frustrated with these people. We wish they would just comply, cooperate, or be different so our needs can be met. Or even so their needs can be met. We want this emptiness to be filled, and we want it now!

Sometimes we are impatient with our circumstances. Life just doesn't always go the way you want it to go. Frustrating, right? You have righteous desires, why aren't they happening? Aren't you doing everything right? Stealing this thought from my favorite sister of mine, sometimes we look for a magic button to get us out of this maze and to a place where our needs are all met (I just want ONE. BUT-TEN! THAT'S IT!). We think there's one answer that will fix all our problems overnight. Maybe we need to pray more. Or study more. Or be more obedient. Really, we can be doing everything right and still not see results. Life sometimes leaves us empty. We want this emptiness to be filled, and we want it now! But we have to learn patience.

President Uchtdorf's talk, "Continue in Patience" is exceptionally good. I would recommend it to everyone.

I've learned this week that patience is more than simply waiting. It's more than suppressing or ignoring thoughts of anger, frustration, or anxiety until our needs are met. Instead, patience is all about applying the Atonement in our lives. And that's why praying for patience isn't really scary at all. When we're praying for patience, we're praying for a greater understanding of the Atonement. We're praying for the ability to turn to Jesus Christ and lean on His atonement when outside forces leave us empty, until that ability becomes a natural response.

Patience, Hope, and the Atonement are all related. I've talked a lot in the past about hope and how important that principle is to me. Hope comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of the Atonement, we know that we really have nothing to worry about, as long as we follow Jesus Christ. Patience is the same; it comes from the Atonement. Romans 8 says, "If we hope for that we see not, then we do with patience wait for it." When we truly have hope, we have patience. We know everything is going to turn out okay, so we have the ability to wait for it.

Right? Wait. We know things are going to be good. But they're not good right now. Still empty. What good does patience do me?
I learned this week that patience is what fills the emptiness. Patience isn't just succumbing to those empty spaces created by yourself, others, or undesirable circumstances. Patience is relying on the Atonement to fill those empty spaces. It's turning to Jesus Christ for healing. James 1:4 states, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Wanting=lacking. When we are patient, we aren't lacking anything. There are no empty spaces. There's a scripture in Romans 5 that states that trials work patience, which lead to hope, which "maketh not ashamed." Hope fills the emptiness. When we are patient, we are relying on the Atonement to fill our empty spaces and bind up our broken heart. We are relying on the Atonement to meet all our unmet needs. Because it meets every need if we let it.

Now I'm not really talking about the ability to wait in line at the grocery store or not swear at a driver who cuts you off on the freeway, but eternal perspective can help in those cases too. Whenever you feel empty, abandoned, hurt, or impatient, know that the Atonement will fill those empty spaces and Christ will give you the strength to overcome all things. In the words of Paul in Phillippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me."

So, there ya have it. Praying for patience isn't all that scary. It's actually pretty important. Because when we're patient, we are never left empty.

That is all for this week family and friends! Thank you all for the prayers and support. I appreciate everything all of you do! I love y'all so much and wish you all the best. Missionary work is still the best thing ever and I love nothing more than being out here and serving God every day, no matter what it entails. God bless you all! Until next week!

-Sister Bri Fox

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