July 17th, 2012
Sister Coco Mack
MTC, Provo, Utah
Wow....ummmm.....has anyone else noticed that in THREE weeks I will be headed for TAIWAN??????? WHAT THE?!??!!!! It's so crazy! I feel like I have been in the MTC for so long and it's like I kind of forgot there this is so much more to my mission after this part....I still can't wrap my head around it. I'm terribly excited, but I'm really loving the MTC and I will miss my zone and especially my district so much when we all take off. It's rather exciting though...I feel we are on the precipice of tremendously great experiences that we cannot even begin to fathom.
This week I was studying the Christlike attribute of hope: xiwang. It's funny that whenever I focus on some specific attribute I find that that is what I struggle the most with that week. I am not going to lie to you, last week was kind of hard. I just got really stressed out about Chinese and the fact that there's such a long way for me to go and how will I ever know enough and blah blah blah. I was being such a brat but thankfully Heavenly Father helped me find my way, just like He always does. Unfortunately I decided to turn inward and feel sorry for myself a little bit when things got rough instead of turning outward, remembering why I'm here and why I'm doing the things I am doing. I am here because I love God. His love has changed and saved my life and continues to do so. I know He loves His children, and He wants them to come home, and He wants them to feel His love. I want them to know that too. It's pretty amazing how forgetful I can be, and how easy it is to be selfish when we are put to the test of the limits we set for ourselves. I read a really fantastic talk this week by President James E. Faust called "Hope, An Anchor of the Soul" (Ensign Nov. 1999...go look it up...it's fanTASTIC). Here are some cool tidbits from his talk:
"The reason for some of these trials cannot be readily understood except on the basis of faith and hope because there is often a larger purpose which we do not always understand. Peace comes through hope."
"No one has a certain answer except perhaps in circumstances where higher purposes are served. We must walk in faith."
"I believe there is great hope for everyone! Sometimes we ask God for miracles, and they often happen but not always in the manner we expect."
"Hope is trust in God's promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future."
He also quotes a woman named Sister Joyce Audrey Evans who talked about hope after she lost one of her children: "I knew why I couldn't give up hope in spite of all the circumstances: you either live in hope or you live in despair. Without hope, you cannot endure to the end."
Aaaand one more: "The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death. [...] His presence can be known unequivocally by the Spirit if we continually seek to live under the shadow of His influence."
Also go read Ether 12:4...that's where it talks all about hope being the anchor of our souls. Isn't that an incredibly beautiful image?
I hope some of President Faust's words can touch you the way that they touched me, penetrated my soul, and helped me to get back up and go back to work. There is so much power in having hope. Having hope, as I learned in my studying this week, is inseparably connected with faith. We cannot have faith if we do not have hope. Hope gives us the strength to lift our heads when it would be easy to droop down in exhaustion and defeat, it gives us power to overcome our selfish tendencies and to say "I am here and I am ready to learn Chinese and I know that I can do it!!!" It gives us the patience to deal with challenges that come our way. Let's remember to look forward with hope, because like Sister Evans said, "you either live in hope or you live in despair." We truly choose to be happy. We can carry our own joy. I am grateful God is ever-patient in teaching me and re-teaching me these simple things to make me a better servant.
I was also really touched by a scripture in 3 Nephi 11 this week...verse 14: "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world."
Isn't that magnificent?
I feel so full of love when I read this verse, and it pricks my heart. I've been really trying to have more meaningful experiences when I take the sacrament and I wonder if I can't have this kind of experience as I partake of it and remember my Savior? He asks us to come unto Him and when I imagine Him saying that to me it is such a tender and precious feeling. He wants me to come and feel His wounds, to repent and begin again to follow Him and be more like Him. To serve and love God's children. He wants me to know through His atoning sacrifice that He is my Savior. He is your Savior too, I know that. Allow me to speak boldly because as I try to receive Christ into my life every day and as I try desperately to change myself to become more full of love, patient, humble, and faithful I feel my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior expand so greatly. I feel them in my life. I feel them reaching out for me as I reach out to them. Having a relationship with God and Jesus Christ is the most important pursuit I have ever strived for. Thank you all for helping me get here so I can have these experiences to make me more ready to serve the people of Taiwan. To reach out to them in friendship and love. Missions are so cool.
Well what else can I tell you? Oh yeah I got called as the Relief Society Coordinating Sister for my zone/branch. It's nothing too fancy, just a couple of extra meetings on Sunday and I go visit the new Mandarin-speaking Sisters each night which is really really fun. I will admit that I did not want the calling at first because I was being a selfish pig and wanted more free time on Sundays to study and write in my journal and stuff but I had a really meaningful prayer with my Heavenly Father and then when the second counselor in my branch presidency asked me to I felt great about accepting the call. Isn't it amazing that when God asks us to do things it's really a chance for US to receive more blessings?? He is so merciful and so giving...these blessings never seem to cease and I am awed and blessed. I really love being able to connect with the Sisters and to be an example for them. It pushes me to be better and helps me to remember to have faith and hope. Yesterday I shared Isaiah 58:12 with them...go check it out ;)
God bless and keep you all.
Wo zhende ai nimen,