Sunday, March 10, 2013
the ridiculously huge blessings from a particle of faith- January 20, 2013
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKK. i have way too much to tell you as per the usual. does everyone remember in alma 32 when alma is talking all about faith and he says "if ye will AWAKE and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words" (alma 32:27). great so now that i've refreshed your memory let me just take a moment to tell you all that this is so true. we've watched the movie "finding faith in christ" with a few investigators recently (the one we always watched in sunday school with the lady who looks EXACTLY like mom. i was so mad when my teacher first said that but it's totally true. and lazurus's sister is quita and mary [the one weeping at Christ's tomb] is aunt sage. it's ridiculous.) and in it they show a bunch of Christ's miracles he performed during his mortal ministry.
in one instance a man brings his son to Christ to be healed. the little boy has some really severe ailment and Christ asks the father if he believes his son can be healed. the man cries out desperately, "lord, i believe!" and then says "help thou mine unbelief". i feel like this has been a major theme of my mission.....little me....desperate to do good and to be what God wants me to be and i'm running faster and further and higher than i ever dreamed i could on a tiny little motor which is fueled by a particle of faith.....i don't know if i can ever fully explain this feeling. i feel like it is a total miracle that i am here and blessed to take part in the Lord's work. i wanted for years to get here but couldn't fully commit myself to it but God brought me to the promised land (i am certainly not here by my own willpower. i was guided and carried by God Himself and also by Him through the cherished people in my life). it is a miraculous thing to feel my faith grow and to prove to others (and myself) over and over again that this gospel works. i am waking up and God is blessing me with faith to be mighty in the small and simple things i do.
alright enough, enough i say! let's have some stories or this email is going further
downhill than all the other ones before!!!!! in our mission we can send referrals to missionaries in other areas through this service we have on our cell phones (pretty nifty, eh?) so i was calling some of the home phone numbers we hadn't contacted yet, using the church landline (which is very special because you can't press the numbers to dial, you have to push the hang up button. push once for "1" twice for "2"....10 times for "0" it's very fun :) ) and one of the women i called is apparently not only NOT in our area, but is already meeting with missionaries. but we were already talking so i just kind of asked her how it was going. she sounded uncertain. she said she really wanted her son to be baptized and to keep learning but she wasn't sure if she really believed it. i told her about some of my own experiences with prayer and i said "you know, you can pray anytime and anywhere, and you can pray about anything! you can even ask God to give you more faith." she seemed a little surprised to hear that so i said "can we pray together? right now?" she said yes and i asked her to pray. it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life sitting in the church in taiping, taiwan, praying over the phone with a total stranger as she asked God to help her understand. she and i pray for the same things, i felt so close to her in that moment and it was the highlight of my entire day.
our district started having a book of mormon class once a week for investigators, members, and less actives....there hasn't been crazy good attendance or anything but it has been really great so far. last week it was mine and sister t's turn to team teach 1 nephi 2. we were both kind of freaking out cause the elder who taught it the week before was totally creative and amazing and struck us all to the core with the spirit. sister t. and i focused on the theme of sacrifice...we started out by playing the sacrifice game. everyone made a list of their 10 most important things and then we drew pictures of them and stuck them to the whiteboard. sister t. then chose 3 of the pictures and told everyone they had to collectively agree to sacrifice one thing. it was really fun and people were getting really into it fighting about whether they should sacrifice the cell phone or the bike and stuff like that. finally it got down to choosing what to sacrifice out of family, the book of mormon, and Jesus Christ.....the room went completely SILENT. it was so cool. after sacrificing the book of mormon they had to choose between Christ and their families. sister liu (a less active we've been working with recently) cried out in the midst of the discussion: "WITHOUT CHRIST WE WOULDN'T EVEN BE HERE!! none of us would be here." they chose to keep Christ. the point of the game is that
when we choose to follow Christ completely and are willing to sacrifice anything for Him, all the other blessings come too. it was a really great and powerful discussion.
as we read together we asked people to pay attention to what things lehi sacrificed at the beginning of his journey.....sister li (our recent convert of about a week :) ) said "safety". other people commented on how he lost the respect or trust he may have previously had with laman and lemuel. brother jiang (this really sincere guy who can't walk) said lehi sacrificed his time. i was so touched by all the insights and so grateful for what we could see beyond his sacrifice of wealth, land, and social status. brother and sister xu (our ward mission leader and the relief society president) were so adamant the entire time about choosing God...i felt so empowered...i want to study the scriptures like that for the rest of my life!!!!
another miracle we saw from exercising a particle of faith. remember last week how i was like "i hope zhou meimei gets baptized"? well...she did!!! sister t. and i prayed and fasted at the beginning of the month to hit our baptismal goal because we were invited to do so. neither of us have ever hit it before and it was an incredible feeling of God listening to our prayers. at first we weren't sure if she would get baptized cause she wanted to wait for her mom but we asked her to pray about it....i called her last week and said "do you feel like heavenly father answered your prayer?" and this 10 year old child said "yes. i feel like i know in my heart." her service was so beautiful. sister t. and i went out in a frenzy and bought her a skirt (which she did not even wear to church the next day cause it was "too long" but she was wearing a skirt sister t. gave to her mom and her mom was wearing a skirt i gave her. it was so classic.) after she came out of the water she told us she felt really happy and then in her testimony she thanked everyone for coming (hardly anyone came but it was still really special) and then she said "i really hope everyone can come when my mom gets baptized"!!!!!!!!!!!! i almost died it was so tender. we asked her mom to say the closing prayer...it was the best prayer we've ever heard. she thanked heavenly father for her daughter being able to get baptized and then asked Him to help her get ready for her own baptism. we have been working really hard with her and praying like crazy that she can quit smoking. i told her that story from dax's mission...about the man who had tried and tried to quit smoking for like 20+ years and then as soon as he started reading the book of mormon he was able to quit (that is a true story, right? that really happened? i hope so cause i've told it to several of my investigators now and it has really helped them a lot....).
sister zhou is striving so hard. she was taking notes during the talks in sacrament meeting yesterday and afterwards i said "did you learn a lot" and she looked at me thoughtfully and said, "yes. a lot." she's so sweet. i've only known them a few weeks and sister zhou has a lot of challenges in her life but i love them....i LOVE them so much i feel like i could burst. i'm so grateful to be bound up in their lives in this way :)
"in conclusion" (as brock once said) God loves us....this week in 1 nephi i read something that really caught my attention....1 nephi 17:39 "this earth is his footstool". one of the references leads to d&c 38:17 "i have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again i will stand upon it." i really like the image of the Lord standing upon the earth...it makes me think of that one really famous statue in....brazil?? (don't make fun of me just tell me what it's called!!! the giant one of Christ with His arms outstretched. what a glorious day that will be when He stands upon the earth again.
that image also makes me think of that verse in mosiah 4....that talks about remembering our own nothingness....and that talk by elder uchtdorf...we really are nothing compared to God....yet "while against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. we have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation--worlds without end--within our grasp. and it is God's greatest desire to help us reach it. .....the most powerful being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love." ahhhh......it is too divine. He loves us. He loves ME. I've never felt it so much or so frequently as i have on my mission...and i know it's because i'm trying so hard to live close to Him. I'm so grateful. so grateful i am learning how to do this....learning to put God at the center. i've gotten so many beautiful emails and so many precious letters lately....such tremendous expressions of love. you have no idea what it means to me....you cannot know. the people in my life are the wonders of my world! i can never do anything to deserve any of you but it is my lifetime pursuit to endeavor to be worthy of such great love.
sister t. is leaving me and i feel like i might die. this is probably our last week together and we are FREAKING OUT. it has been an exquisitely joyful 12 weeks. i've just been....happy. so so happy. she really sees all of me and makes me strong and brave and helps me to be more than i am. she trusts me and believes in me. she is so great. SO GREAT. i can't wait for you to meet her. keep smiling. keep building up the waste places around you and giving light and hope
and a reason for living to the people sitting in darkness. they need your goodness. i am so thankful that i have it :) love you love you LOVE you.
wo ai nimen.
PS lately i've been having some really terrifying dreams about horses......total nightMARES (BAHAHAHAHAHA. sorry. really lame puns are kind of my thing now). but really they are horrifying. they always start out innocent enough and then in an instant things get serious and deadly. in the most recent dream i was with you guys and we were feeding some horses stuff that looked like dry dog food. mom picked up a little girl (my daughter? i don't know who she was but she was a victim) and was kind of raking the food around with her pink boots because she insisted that that was the proper way to feed them. a big black stallion was observing the whole thing and seemed very offended. i told mom to stop but she wouldn't listen. they got out of the pen just in time as the horse charged them and then he started to talk and said that the game was on and we had 48 hours to find a hiding place and then he and his herd were coming after us!!! it was to be a great race of life and death!!!!!! it was so scary. we moved to arizona. he found us. the point i'm trying to make here is that horses are violent. they are beautiful but they are powerful creatures. you have to be careful if you cross them because sometimes it's hard to tell at first if their hearts are evil or not. that is all.
PSS ok no i won't end on that dark and sinister and freakishly random note. (i just wanted to make you laugh. ARE YOU LAUGHING??!?! don't think i've gotten boring now.) kudos to mom for perfect timing...so many of the letters and poems and awesome stuff you send me always come at the exact right time. for me AND my companion. i got so excited in your last letter when you said we could talk for hours and hours.......it'll be the best. aaaaand HOLLA AT MA GIRL DAVI FOR THE YOGURT BOX!!!!! davi sent me a yogurt box a couple weeks ago....full of magical things. she is way too thoughtful and i felt so guilty that i shared everything inside it even though in my heart of hearts i wanted to devour everything myself! MY REESE'S TREES! MY PRECIOUS!!!!!!!!!!! but some of my skirts are a little tight so that made it easier for me to want to share. i'm still learning, ok?