Monday, March 31, 2014

Patience and Mercy

Hey Y'all!!

I! . . . Don't really know what to write about this week. Other than that this week was much better than last week. My brain has been running around in circles though, so I apologize if this email is going to look incredibly scattered.

I had a dream last night that everyone was making fun of me because I was so tired that I couldn't think or talk straight. Hmm. Can't be long now before that one becomes a reality.

Guess what?? Nobody out here has seen Simon the Lamb. Nobody! And! They all think I'm crazy when I tell them what it's about! I loved that movie as a child! What's so abnormal about a lamb that is socially rejected by his peers because he turns blue due to a tragic accident of an angel spilling blue paint on him in an attempt to paint a blue stripe on a rainbow? But it's okay because in the end the aforementioned lamb wins the hearts of his fellow lamb friends after he unintentionally saves them from a blizzard because the penitent little angel shines a flashlight on him.

I've been having some very random flashbacks as of late.

So. . . Mom and Dad went vegan. At first I thought that was really weird. And then I started thinking about my diet. And I realized that, when I'm not being fed by ward members, I totally eat vegan too. So we can be vegan together! Hooray for earth!

JASON! It's your birthday this week! Happy birthday my most favorite younger brother of them all! Nobody is a cooler younger brother than you are. I hope it's the best of the best. =D

I have an adorable new niece! I'm loving these pictures. =D She's so precious!! So excited to see that cute little girl in person!

So I kind of forgot what happened this week. I do remember a few highlights though, so that is what y'all are gonna get. :)

Monday we had a zone party to say farewell to the missionaries leaving the zone. There were a ton! We got several new sisters in the zone this transfer, and we said goodbye to many dear friends. We said goodbye to our district leader, which was actually fairly tragic, because he was awesome. Our new district leader is awesome too, though! This transfer is going to be good. My last one in Soddy Daisy. Sigh.

Monday night we dropped in on Daniel and Olivia because it has been forever since we've seen them. We're still finding ways to help them come to church. They'll get there!

Tuesday we actually saw Tori again. It was like visiting a long-lost friend. We had to put her on the back burner for a while because her life was getting really crazy and she didn't have the time to meet with us. We talked about eternal families and she said she still is really interested in learning more. It's just hard for her to focus or find the time to meet with us. It'll be slower than I initially expected, but she'll get there. :)

We also saw Ronnie on Tuesday! I don't know if I've mentioned Ronnie. Sister Day and I OYMed him while he was checking his mail. He as a pretty strong Christian background and wants to learn more! We've gone over a few times and he has agreed to be baptized!! He reminds me of Sherman a lot, actually. He's an interesting fellow, to say the least. He may or may not have ring-checked our member team-up like your average student in Provo. We were worried about his having real intent, but we've been bringing over couples as team-ups and his testimony has grown so much more since. I think he'll make it! We had a really neat lesson with him Saturday, actually. We talked about the importance of keeping our covenants, and how baptism is not just an action, but a lifelong commitment. He said he wanted to change his life around to follow Jesus Christ, and agreed to quit smoking and drinking. He's so humble and we're so proud of him! He has come a long way, that's for sure!

We also saw Shirley on Tuesday! She is well on her way toward the temple! We're so happy for her! I love finding the long-lost sheep. :)

Tuesday and Friday we met with Charlie, another new investigator of ours. He is pretty golden except for the fact that he's moving to the Philippines tomorrow. That kind of throws a wrench into things. But! We had a great lesson about the Restoration with him, so we're hoping we planted that seed deep enough in his heart for him to act on it once he moves. We told him he could request missionaries and that we have churches all over the Philippines. The coolest coincidence would be if Sister Beus got to teach him. I have no idea where he's moving to in the Philippines, but if she ended up teaching him, I would probably pass out, because I would share a common investigator with my two childhood best friends. Who knows? I've learned to expect really neat, non-coincidental miracles as a missionary.

Thursday we saw our recent convert, Angela. She's doing a lot better, which made me happy! Her life has been nuts, but she wants to get back into church. We taught her boyfriend while we were there, and he seems fairly interested! That would be exciting. There is still so much potential in Soddy Daisy; we're just trying to ignite the spark to get the blaze going. It's coming, though! Miracles are happening every day!

Friday we met with the Smith family. They are trying to get back into church, and we had a fantastic lesson the Restoration. We watched the First Vision together and the Spirit filled the room. They requested we come back next week and watch a movie about the construction of the Salt Lake Temple with them. We were excited about that!!! This family is coming along in strides, and before we know it, they'll be able to go to the temple together!! Families. They're the best. =D

This email has a lot of emoticons in it.

Saturday we tried to accomplish a lot but didn't accomplish much. Days like that happen fairly often, but it's always a learning and growing experience. We had the best time at the General Women's Meeting though!! It was so inspiring. I loved how October's had an emphasis on keeping covenants and this one had an emphasis on helping others keep covenants. No matter how old we are, we can link arms with our friends and fellow-saints and help them make and keep sacred covenants. I loved how unifying that meeting was. The line that stood out to me most was, "You are surrounded by people who are under covenant to help you." As a missionary it is so easy to feel alone, and although I was in a small little chapel with five other women in the congregation, I felt completely taken care of. That is a blessing we all enjoy in this Gospel; we are never alone. We always have our Savior Jesus Christ with us. We can surround ourselves with people who have also made a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ, who have promised to lift, bless, and serve His children. As I thought about that statement, I turned it around and thought that I, too, am under covenant to serve those around me. People need my help to make and keep their covenants, no matter their age or their life experience. No matter where we are in the world, once we enter that building marked with "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," we are among family. We are never, ever alone in this gospel.

Sunday we saw Ethan! He is coming along in strides. He is so fun to teach; I love teaching kids. We taught him the importance of attending church, reading, and praying. His mom has been reading his scriptures with him, which is fantastic! That's the miracle we were praying for. Now she just needs to bring him to church! Fingers crossed! Their family is always in my prayers.

Well, the spiritual thoughts that have come to my mind this week have been all over the place, so it's hard to know what theme or title to choose for this email. I guess the biggest theme that has stuck out to me this week is mercy as a principle of patience. As I've been working on patience, I've realized that it's a little easier for me to be patient with myself or with circumstances, but when it comes to being patient with others who are falling short of expectations, I really struggle. I struggle to be patient with them simply because I love them so much. I try all I can to teach them and they still don't understand. They still don't keep commitments. Naturally we grow impatient with people who do not accept the things that are so near and dear to our hearts. It's hard to be patient with people who are unknowingly shunning the answer to all their problems. Chelise wrote me a lot last year about mercy, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Mercy really is a principle of patience. Mercy is what helps us be patient with others. All of us nurse some kind of spiritual wound. None of us are perfect; all of us have some kind of pain, weakness, or suffering. To have mercy on others is to acknowledge their spiritual wounds and choose to heal them rather than widen them with labels or with our choosing to ignore them. To label someone is to take the path of least resistance. They're falling short of expectations; they've wounded us in some way. So instead of reaching out to help these people, sometimes we tend to label. "Oh she's just so lazy." "He's so flaky." "They're always like this." "What a jerk." What we fail to realize is that if we label them, we're pushing them outside our realm of influence. We cognitively accept the lie that they are "just that way" and that they are beyond our help.

Mercy is shunning labels and seeing people for who they really are, whether or not they are transparent with you. Acknowledge the pain they hide and choose to love the package all the way through. Only then can you truly help them reach their potential, and your heart is changed in the process.

"For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

That's what I've got this week. Thank you all so much for your love and prayers!! Have a week full of fun and adventure!

-Sister Fox

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