Why Does Jesus Like Sheep So Much?

Man, these last few weeks have been crazy! Life as a missionary is pretty insane! You don’t realize how quickly the time goes by when you’re going through the day, but every single day I feel like I’m either waking up or going to bed! It’s crazy! 

The last couple of weeks we’ve been pretty much RUNNING to and from appointments trying to make everything on time, which is really great. The work gehts tapfer vorwärts! (The work goes bravely forward!)

This last week I was in Munich on Austausch so time was even more confused for me this week. But it was good in Munich, we wandered around, got a little lost, and had an awesome experience!

Sister Ackerman (my Austaush partnerin) and I had a theme for the Tausch, it was “Salvation on a Bike” We were committed to contacting people on bikes and bringing them to salvation. Well, we did it! We found a man from Senegal who gave us his information and is anxious to hear from the Sisters again. It was a very exciting time!

Otherwise, Augsburg is hopping! We had a blast working with so many people this week, we’ve been working with Less Actives as well as investigators and it’s been GREAT!

Unfortunately, my shoes have completely fallen apart. On Thursday the sole of my boots separated itself from the shoe and was flappy freely and happily like the crazy hippy it was all the day long. Then an investigator couple we had a lesson with taped it together again, which helped it to survive for another couple of days until yesterday the tape disitegrated and my shoes are beyond repair. And, of course, it had to snow four inches overnight. I’m currently wearing my Toms…we’ll see how long this works out… 😀 

But it’s just been really great, Sister Armstrong and I get along really well, and as we’re coming to the middle of our third transfer together we are working harder and more efficiently than ever. Which is probably why we’ve been having so many lessons. 

I’m really sad, because it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m leaving at the end of this transfer. I’m not sure where, somewhere in the Freiburg zone probably. My Austrian visa expires at the beginning of April and I don’t think they’re gonna put me in there for only one transfer and I doubt they’re gonna wanna pay 150 euro for a new visa, so I will likely remain in Germany for the rest of my mission. Which is fine. 

The highlight of the week came on Saturday, when we were teaching Kamanda. 

We gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read because he pretty much accepts anything in writing as truth, and it makes more sense to him when we read with him. But after the lesson, we gave him the Restoration pamphlet, which has Jesus cradling a lamb in His arms. 

Kamanda looked at it and said, “Why does Jesus like sheep so much?”

Sister Armstrong and I could NOT stop laughing! It was just the funniest thing of my life! He said it so matter of factly and in such a serious manner that it was impossible not to laugh. 

Completely unconcerned with our laughter, Kamanda merely said, “I think it’s probably because He was born in a stable and the shepherds came and talked to Him.”

Oh, it was just SO FUNNY!

 But it really got me thinking. Jesus does talk  A LOT about sheep, but as I went through and looked at the examples of sheep in the scriptures, and it gives us a really great answer to WHY Jesus loves sheep.

“He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”

-John 10:4

The Shepherd knows each of His sheep by name. And when we realize that we, His children, are His sheep, then we realize that He knows all of us by name. How many times in the scriptures has the Lord or one of His messangers called individuals by name? Adam, Abraham, Sarah, Samuel, Daniel, Mary, Zachariah, Joseph, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdry, Martin Harris, you, me. 

Perhaps our experiences with the Lord are not published scripture, but our patriarchal blessings and our personal interactions with the Spirit are individual evidences that the Lord DOES know us personally and He loves us. And when we are His sheep then we realize that we know His voice.

One of my favorite quotes by President Eyring says something to the effect that we will be surprised how well we know our savior when we stand before Him. 

I would personally like to know the Lord well at that final day.

There is also a story I found recently, given at Conference in 1980: 

Sometime ago a great actor in the city of New York gave a wonderful performance in a large theatre, at the close of which there were rounds of applause. He was called back again and again. Finally someone called to him, “Would you do for us the Twenty-third Psalm?”

“Why, yes. I know the Twenty-third Psalm.”

He recited it as an actor would, perfectly, with nothing left to be desired as far as a performance was concerned. When he was finished, again there was thunderous applause. Then the actor came to the front of the stage and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, there is an old man sitting here on the front row whom I happen to know. I am going to ask him without any notice if he will come and repeat the Twenty-third Psalm.”

The elderly gentleman, of course, was frightened. Trembling, he came to the stage. Fearfully he looked out over the vast audience. Then, as though he were at home only with one, he closed his eyes against the audience, bowed his head, and talked to God, and said:

“The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Then changing to address the Savior directly and intimately:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

When the old man finished, there was no applause, but there was not a dry eye in that house. The actor came to the front of the stage. He, too, was wiping his eyes. And he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I know the words of the Twenty-third Psalm, but this man knows the Shepherd.” 

Jesus loves sheep because WE are His sheep. Whether we’re His sheep in the pasture or the lost sheep in the mountains, the Lord loves all of us. And because He loves all of us, we know His voice, it is familiar to us.

I do not know where we all stand, in green pastures in the comfort of our Lord’s presence, or in rocky slopes because we’ve decided we know a better way, the Lord loves us. And He will ALWAYS bring us back. 

I love you all, and I hope you all trust in the good Shepherd. 

Love, Lillie

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus

This week, Sister Armstrong and I went to work and we reaped the rewards in leaps and bounds! We got six investigator lessons, two less active lessons, and found several potentials. It was just an awesome week! We were both SO proud to show our progress record to the bishop and our GML this week in GMK. It was double sided and it was just really rewarding to show them the work that we had put into the week. 

It’s just so incredible that there’s so much of the Lord’s work to be done here in this little corner of Augsburg and it’s just so wonderful. I just was so grateful to see that the Lord does know what His children need and gives them the chance to accept the gospel and the lessons that we teach. They may not make progress as fast as we would like them to, but they are still being enlightened by the word of the Lord. I just think it’s so incredible to see their progress as they work through questions they have or as they develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It’s just a really unique experience and I’m so grateful that the Lord has given me a little glance into His work and His Glory.

This morning I read a talk by Elder Robert D. Hales, a talk from the 2011 November General Conference titled “Waiting on the Lord: Thy Will Be Done”. 

Elder Hales talked a lot about Christ’s sacrifice for us, and the fact that He exercised His agency in EVERY aspect of the Atonement. I think this part of Christ’s life is often easily overlooked. That Christ not only DID the will of the Father, but He WANTED to do the will of the Father. 

I feel that many times I view Christ’s sacrifice as something that He had to do, and in some ways He needed to do it, to save the entirety of mankind, to make the resurrection possible, but, I always seem to forget that Christ chose to do everything that He did. 

He chose to suffer, to die, not just because it was the will of the Father, but because it was His will too.

But as I was reading this I just kept thinking about my goal on this earth. Ultimately I want to be perfect, which I know will never happen, seeing as I am human, but there are steps that I can still take to get perhaps a little closer than I was before.

I really liked the assurance that Elder Hales gave in the middle of the talk: 
“Let us remember that as we wait upon the Lord, we are becoming saints through His atonement, … submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon us, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

We are becoming saints. This life is not a moment will determine your destiny life, it’s a process. A process of making decisions, a process of making mistakes, repenting and using the Atonement. This life is a process of becoming. 

Elder Hales concludes with “To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.”

This life is hard, no one is going to deny that, and if they are, they’re lying to themselves. But the trick in this life is not to lose hope. Ether 12:4 promises us that when we have faith in the Lord then we can have hope for a better world and that this hope will serve as an anchor to us throughout our lives. 

We all need anchors in this stormy wind-tossed sea we call life. We can’t do it alone, and thankfully we don’t have to, because someone already did.

Christ trod the winepress alone, He walked the blood stained path of the road to Gethsemane and took upon Him OUR sins, OUR weaknesses, OUR troubles, OUR fears, OUR pains, so that we wouldn’t have to be alone. 

None of us will achieve perfection in this life, which is okay. But we should always be actively striving to be like Jesus Christ, because He is the perfect example that we should pattern our lives after. 

I really like the song, “I’m trying to be like Jesus” And I feel the words of the title are very poigniant. I’m trying to be like Jesus. I’m trying every day, and I imagine so are you. I guess that’s the idea to this life. If you keep trying every single day then it’s okay. It’s okay when you make a mistake, because we’re trying, we’re doing what we can to become like Jesus. 

I love you all! 
Lillie
Just when the caterpiller thought it was the end, it became a butterfly. 

Steadfastly Minded

Have you ever literally handed someone eternal happiness and they just threw it back in your face? 

I have.

This week we gave one of the less active families we teach a “Weg Zum Tempel” plan paper so they could write out their goals so that they could go to the temple. A few years ago they’d had the opportunity and they had all of the necessary paperwork to go, but because of external circumstances, they were not able to go. They feel bitter, angry, and hurt by this and they have let it color their view of what is possible for their family.

Sister Armstrong and I have been praying to know what we should talk to this family about, what we should do to help them to come back to church and to feel the wonderful blessings that they are keeping themselves from. And this was our answer. 

Going into the lesson we knew that there was the potential of a conflict, and, being honest, there was more than a little fear on my part. But I was hopeful, I knew that this lesson was what the Lord wanted us to talk about and I knew  that this is what they needed. 

And so, with all the hope and the faith I had we presented it to them. We watched a video about a family’s backbreaking efforts to be able to go to the temple and that no sacrifice was too great to experience those blessings. We gave them the paper and bore testimony. 

I sat there and began to bear my testimony of Eternal Families. The blessings that it brings, the security of knowing that things will be okay, some way, some how, if you’re sealed together in the temple. I bore my testimony of the blessings and I couldn’t hold back the waterfall as I spoke of my personal experience and that it was still possible for them, even if it hadn’t worked the first time. 

The mother began to cry too, the two kids (who are always running around, screaming, and fighting) were perfectly still and quiet and listening intently. 
But the father was stoney faced. 

We spoke as representatives of Jesus Christ, promised them all the blessings that He wants them to have and it was all thrown back in our faces.

The slap of the softly spoken daggers was a physical blow. 

I have always had a difficult time loving people. Letting them into my small little comfort zone of a heart and letting them feel the fact that I love them overwhelmingly. I believe one of the greatest reasons I came on a mission was to learn to love people, and I feel that I have. 

I have felt such great love for these people and to have every invitation, spoken out of love, tossed carelessly back, was a heartbreaking experience.

In that moment I felt as if the pain I felt was greater than any I had felt before. I cannot describe the level of grief I felt to know that this family would not be able to go to the temple. Not because of any particular worthiness issues, but simply because, they wouldn’t take the steps necessary to taste of the tree of life. 

It wasn’t until later that night, after another upsetting call with Frau H who told us she has no time and no more interest, that I realized why my grief was so great. 

President Henry B. Eyring, in a talk he gave in a 2011 General Conference spoke about charity. He said, when we serve others, the Lord lets us feel charity, which we know is the pure love of Christ. When we keep serving, and keep working to love others, then charity becomes a part of us. 

I have only been serving the Lord diligently for a few months and my small growth of charity is still small, but the charity I feel for this family was overwhelming as was the pain I felt for the rejection of the Savior’s offer. 

It was that night that I realized that the pain I was feeling for this family was probably nothing in comparison to the pain that Christ probably feels for this family not taking the opportunity to go to the temple. And in that moment, I began to feel the Atonement working in ways that I had not previously experienced. 

The healing and the comfort, that is still working in my soul, was not because of my sins, or because of a personal loss, but it was a comfort of empathy. Because, probably for the first time in my life I had felt a completely selfless love for someone else. 

I had planned this week to talk about a scripture in Ruth, which I will still talk about, but not in the way I had anticipated. 

For months I have carried a post-it note in my planner that says. 

“SHE WAS STEADFASTLY MINDED TO GO” -ARE YOU? Ruth 1:18

When I came on my mission last year I came to fulfill a purpose of my own creation. But that original driving theme was lost somewhere along the way and I found myself stranded in the ocean without a motor and a pasta strainer for a paddle. I couldn’t push myself forward to greater paths, I couldn’t turn back to the path I had just left, all I knew was that there was a whole lot of ocean ahead of me, and I was too far out to turn back. 

And so I drifted for a while. A helpless captive of the currents, allowing them to take me where they so pleased. I couldn’t make progress because I was at a loss for what I should do. 

But then I realized I had to make a decision. I could either stay in the boat and maybe wait for something to happen, or I could get out and swim.

I made the hard decision to leave the warm boat and I got out into the water and started to swim. It was hard, and it was long and there were days and sometimes even weeks when I thought I wans’t going to make it. But I kept going and I kept working and I kept trying despite the difficulties, because I was steadfastly minded to make progress. I didn’t have a purpose, but the Lord. I convinced myself that If I just kept holding onto the fact that that was what He wanted for me, then that’s what I would do. And I started to swim and I started to push myself harder and I got stronger. 

It wasn’t till just recently that I realized that what had become my temporary purpose, to do the work of the Lord because it was the work of the Lord, became my permanant purpose. But intsead of just a vain thought of “I’ll do the work because I’m supposed to do the work.” It has become, “I’ll do the work because I want to do the work.”
 
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, His representative on the earth to declare to the people of Augsburg, Germany the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ. I am a servant in the vinyard and I will do this work because it has become my work as well. 

I have realized that the difficulties we face in life to reach our goals, whether they be reaching the goal of the temple, finishing a mission, or enduring to the end, are never too much for us to handle. If we have a goal, we should stay focused on it, and continue to try. We may even need to reevaluate our motives, our desires to achieve our goals. 

My childish dream of coming on a mission because I was the only girl in my sunday school class when I was seven was enough to carry me into the mission field, but not enough to sustain me. I am grateful for the Lord Jesus Christ, and for His ability to give me a new heart, to give me a new purpose, to give me a new hope for this life and for my mission. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Spencer W. Kimball, “It doesn’t matter to the Lord why you came on your mission, but why you chose to stay”
 
I love you all and I am so thankful for all of your prayers I feel them everyday.
Thank you!
Lillie

The Errand of Angels

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Wow, this week went by in a blur!!!!!
To start off, I am staying in Augsburg for a fourth transfer, beginning it today with my 11th month mark!
This week was a week of miracles! We set a baptismal date for one of our investigators Steven who is from Sierra Leone. He’s really excited, the biggest thing that’s going to be holding him back is the language barrier. He speaks English, but he has a hard time understanding us sometimes.
We had a fun Silvester (New Years Eve in Germany) celebration with Sister Müller-Kladiwa, her mother and her grandkids. We got permission to stay out late and we were out late!
You know you’ve been a missionary for a while when your contacts start falling out of your eyes at 10:45 PM…Which then resulted in blindness…which then resulted in Schw. MK pulling out four pairs of glasses and then tying them together so I could see…which then resulted in everyone laughing at me…which then resulted in picture taking…(picture in the next email you’ll receive…) But this is what you get for being blind.
Then we shot off fireworks, which resulted in minor injury. Not on my part, keine sorge! But it was very fun!
We had several lesson with several people, set a baptismal date on the first of January (what a great way to start the year!) and got back in contact with Frau Hasenauer (we have an appointment with her on Wednesday). Frau Fokidis came to church (but only for Relief Society because she’s terrified of men…) Olivia Schneider and her mother also came to church, which was a very very big surprise!

It was a very good week.

It was a little stressful near the end because of transfer calls. Normally we get transfer calls on Friday morning, but this time we had to wait till Saturday morning. And so, on Saturday at 6:33, while I was still praying, the phone started ringing, saying that we were both staying!
Four transfers in Augsburg and three with Sister Armstrong. This is going to be an awesome transfer, we’re on a roll!
 
Yesterday was a very interesting day. I translated live for the first time on my mission…or really, ever. Our ward has a translation system set up and we have a couple of Africans that come and a small family from Utah that just moved in for a few months that only speak English.
Translating is hard.
But I did it. I made a few mistakes and lost some of the transitions, but we’re going to practice translating conference into English from German live this week. Probably will have to translate next week too. But I’m excited! This is something that I want to do!
 
After church we drove out to our bishop’s house where we ate a large meal and then watched a movie. We only watched it after much bullying on the bishop’s part, mostly because we weren’t sure if it would be okay to watch the movie, even if it is about Sister Missionaries in Austria…
 
And so, we watched the Errand of Angels, which is truly, MUCH funnier when you speak German. Sister Taylor has TERRIBLE German, except for her miracle German when she speaks to the little girl at the door when she leaves Graz, then she magically speaks Schwebisch, a dialect that you can only hear in Germany, Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart…
But it’s just really really good. A really good feel good movie. 
But it got me thinking. 
 
The movie got it’s title from the song As Sisters In Zion that goes: 
 
As Sisters in Zion we’ll all work together
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek
We’ll build up His kingdom with earnest endeavor
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak
 
The Errand of Angels is given to women
And this is a gift that, as Sisters we claim 
To do whatsoever is gentle and human
To cheer and to bless in humanity’s name.
 
How vast is our purpose how broad is our mission
If we but fulfill it in spirit and deed
Oh, Naught but the Spirit’s divinest tuition
To give us the wisdom to truly succeed
 
I have never really liked this song before, I thought it was silly, but once I looked through the words and I really thought about what they mean, I realize how wonderful this song is!
As sisters in Zion we’ll all work together
             I feel really close to a lot of the Sisters in this mission. I’ve felt that way for a while now. We’re all here to do our special part in the Lord’s work. There’s a reason the world is being flooded with Sister missionaries. People are so surprised when they see us on the street and they’ve only seen the Elders.
 
The Errand of Angels is given to women, and this is a gift that as sisters we claim
              More than once on my mission have I been called an angel, mostly by old women, but the principle still remains. There are times on my mission when I have seen someone’s prayer answered through my words or have seen someone’s life affected because I was the messenger that brought the gospel to their lives. But whatever influence I have had on anyone, it has simply been through the Lord’s influence. The Lord’s love has been able to work through me and help people. Angels are the messangers of the Lord, and I am so very grateful to be a messanger of the Lord.
 
How vast is our purpose how broad is our mission
              There are so many missionaries serving in the world, but the amazing thing is that you don’t have to wear the black name tag to be an angel. So long as you carry Christ’s name on your heart you have the power to affect the lives of the people you know and love. Perhaps even people that you don’t know yet, or don’t love yet. But that’s the greatest thing my mission has taught me, is how to love people.
 
I left on my mission and I thought the greatest challenge would be the long hours, the strenuous schedule. But I quickly discovered that it wasn’t the schedule or the time or the work that was stopping me from being the best missionary I could be, but the fact that I didn’t know how to love people. I have never been one to be openly affectionate or to express love, but on my mission I have told many people, people who are practically strangers with genuine sincerity that I love them. My heart has been opened and I have learned to love the people the Lord has allowed me to teach, because I have felt the love He feels for them.
 
I am so grateful for the Love that I have felt from home, for the prayers you have sent my way, I have felt them every single day of my mission. I have felt their influence and I am so grateful for them.
 
I love you all, and I say that from the deepest depths of my heart,
Lillie