September 3rd, 2012
Wow it has been another incredible week on the fair isle of Taiwan. I've seen so many miracles and been so strengthened in the Lord. I love it here. I know I haven't been here long, but I already feel that my mission has completely changed the course of the rest of my life.
I want to talk a little bit about some things I have learned recently about repentance . . . I don't know why, I just feel like I want to. Today I wanted to read the conversion story of Alma the younger in Mosiah 27. It is such a beautiful testimony of the power of true repentance, the mercy and powerful healing of forgiveness. Alma has a pretty intense process of conversion and repentance. Afterwards, he he is filled with the love of God and with joy because of the mighty changes he underwent in his heart and mind.
"I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
[...] Marvel not that all mankind [...] must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
[...] they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
[...] and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more."
I love that Alma describes salvation as being "snatched". It's such a powerful image in my mind. God loves us so much, but He will not take away our agency. We have to choose to reach out and grab the hands that He ever extends to us.
In Mosiah 26:30 it says, "as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me." I really believe this is true! Repentance is not something we need dread or fear, it is a joyful thing! It is a precious gift and a chance for us to be swallowed up in the love of Christ and to be healed spiritually, to become new creatures, new people. I have felt this redeeming love in my own life, and I have been striving to be able to feel it every day. Being on a mission is so humbling because it makes you realize how much you really do need God to get anything done in this work. It forces you to reexamine your own testimony and faith. Can I really invite my investigators to start repenting daily if I'm not doing the same thing? If I don't really believe that Christ will take these burdens from me? No! Of course not! I am grateful that my understanding of repentance, and of many other teachings, grows every day that I'm here. There's a quote I love from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "The Laborers in the Vineyard" (last April General Conference) that says, "[...] however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you don't have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." I love that. And I know that it is true. Every day I have the chance to feel that magnificent love for the people I am privileged to teach, God loves them so so much. And He loves all of you too!
Ok sorry I don't really know what that was. Just something to think about I guess :)
Some things I wanted to share from this week:
* We started getting in touch with a less active sister a couple of weeks ago. This week we wanted to meet with her, and she invited us over for lunch . . . along with the relief society president (who is our little ward’s version of Judith . . . she's seriously incredible), one of the counselors in the relief society, and another less active sister we have been visiting with (we hung out with her 2 P-days ago...she took us to that crazy mall). It was an amazing experience. First of all the food was to DIE for. I ate so much. Also I'm pretty sure I ate a fish eye ball....it was about the size of a quarter. I couldn't look at it or think about the fact that it was an eye ball and I swallowed it down just fine. It was actually quite tasty.
After lunch we started talking about the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was so strong. I was just in awe that I could be in the presence of these really powerful women. I know each heart was touched and uplifted. It made me feel so good. I just kept thinking, this is why I'm here. This is why, instead of being in school right now, I'm on the other side of the world sweating my brains out trying to learn one of the hardest languages ever, to help people have this feeling. To remind them of their faith and to strengthen it. I love this work!!
* Yesterday we had stake conference, and I saw an Elder from my district in the MTC!!!! I got so excited I almost yelled at him across the room, but then decided I'd better be on my best behavior cause A. I'm a missionary. B. Our mission president was there. C. We had several investigators there. He came and found me after and gave me a hearty handshake haha. It was so great to see him. I could tell he was doing really well. He seemed very happy. I am so grateful I got to see him!
*One of our investigators who is having a hard time progressing had a good experience this week. She is only 17, but she always comes to church. She really wants to be a Christian and to learn about God and Jesus. She has so many questions, but not enough motivation to do a lot of work to find the answers. I was sitting next to her, and I thought it might help her to take notes during the meeting. I asked if she brought her notebook, and she said no. I gave her a little one out of my bag. Instead of taking notes, she wrote me a really sweet note. It was in Chinese characters though, so I told her I couldn't read it. She told me it said basically thanks to me and my companion for "accompanying her" and teaching her. She said she was really unhappy before she started coming to church and meeting with the missionaries, but she feels like her life is changing. She said we were her angels!! And then she told me I looked like a princess!!!! It was so sweet, and a testimony to me of how we can't give up on people even when they are slow to progress. She has a long way to go to build her own testimony, but her heart is pure, and she has felt the love of God. It's amazing to me that somehow I get to be a part of this amazing process of people changing their lives. This girl also asked me to share why I went on a mission. I wrote it down for her. I told her that I always felt I should go, but that I was too self-centered and decided I wouldn't do it. My life totally changed when I took a Book of Mormon class in college, and my friend read the book with me and helped me to understand it. After that, I realized I really believed the book was true, and it made me happier than anything else. I felt so full of joy that I couldn't just keep it to myself, I wanted to share it with other people. My story was simple and brief, but I think it really touched her. I leaned over to her and whispered, I know you can have the same experience with the Book of Mormon. "You're just like me!" she said. I think it gave her some hope that her prayers really can be answered. She just needs to start reading it consistently!!!!
Well that's probably enough blabbering for this week....I am happy and thriving. Every day is a dream come true, even when it's hard. God truly loves us, and we can have greater peace as we repent daily and read the Book of Mormon. Developing my relationship with God and with Christ has been the most worthwhile things I've ever done, and helping others to do the same is even sweeter and richer. Be true to what you know, and share it with others!!
I LOVE YOU!
Sister Coco Mack