I Will Encircle Thee

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This last week ended with a wonderful ‘bang’ so zu sagen… The temple! It was so wonderful to be there on the grounds and to feel the spirit of it. It’s interesting how quickly you can forget the spirit that resides there when you haven’t even seen a temple in over a year. I consider myself very lucky that Sister Smith and I got to go. It also reminded me a bit like Utah, being there again (if you get my hint?).
It was just so nice to be there again and to feel the peace that I have desperately missed in my life. If you have a temple in your near, go to it. Don’t wait till next week or till you think you have time, go while you can because it is AMAZING!
Seriously, I would not miss that experience for anything!
I’ll tell you a little bit about the craziness of Saturday morning:
So, we were anticipating transfer calls, waiting to find out the fate of us here in Singen. A benefit of having the Zone Leaders in your area is that they call you first if you’re staying, and they tell you if you aren’t on their list. So, Saturday morning comes and Sister Smith and I are running around like crazy people, trying to function because we’re so nervous. And so, off on our run (yes, I go running every morning-not something any of you would have suspected from me, and it is probably a major factor in the 35 pound weight loss on my mission) we got a text message from the zone leaders saying, `We’ve made all our calls’. 
Sister Smith stopped running and started screaming, ‘What? Why?’
And immediately we called the elders.
Because we had been running Sister Smith was out of breath and the poor elders thought she was hyperventalating. Elder Garrett sounded really worried for her and told her that she didn’t need to worry, we were staying together, someone else just had to call us.
It was less than an hour later that President Miles called us and told us that we were staying together, but that we would be the Sister Training Leaders in the Frieburg Zone.
That was unexpected. So, we’ll just be going to a few more meetings and doing a couple more austausches this transfer, it’ll be fun, but it’ll also be fast! This five week transfer is going to fly by!
 
It was shortly after we received our call that we were rushing to get ready and get downstairs to where the Gurney’s were waiting for us to take us to the temple. And then we commenced the two and a half hour drive to Bern to the temple. While we were there, we saw a member from Sister Smith’s first area, Neumarkt, who recognized us both and told us that the 12 o’clock session would be new. We were so excited, pulled a few strings and made friends with a few very nice temple workers and we got in the session at noon. It was so interesting! I love the temple and I am so glad that I got the chance to go!
It was interesting being in the temple because there were some workers that didn’t speak German or English. I was spoken to in French and Italian and I had no idea what they were saying. The only thing I understood was when they came over to me and said, ‘Session?’ in their varied pronunciations.

But it was just so wonderful and so peaceful to be in the temple and to know that I was there and able to feel the love of the Lord. 

It was while we were sitting in the Bride’s room, waiting for our session to start, that I picked up a Book of Mormon and I read one of my favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants, section six. And a few verses stuck out to me greatly:

“Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee becaues of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. 
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. 
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
-D&C 6:20-23

I just love these verses! They were so wonderful to read and to put my name in the place of Oliver Cowdry. (You can also put your name in there too, in fact I would recommend it!)

I just think about all the times that I have searched for answers to questions and I’ve asked the Lord and there was no obvious answer. It’s always in reflection that I realize that I have received answers to the questions that I have, sometimes the answers don’t come in an overwhelming moment of BAM! That’s the truth, or YES! that’s the correct path. But instead I just see a lot of moments that the Lord has spoken peace to me and I have felt comforted. 
I feel that those are the most difficult answers to recognize. And sometimes it’s easy to become complacent in our lives and not ask for answers when we know we may only get a small answer like this one, but honestly, knowing that you have the Lord backing you up, having Him send angels on your right and on your left, that should be what keeps you praying. 
THe Lord wants to help us, he’s waiting to give us answers, we just have to ask!

I love you all!
Love,
Lillie
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The Weakest Saint

Well, we had a wonderful P-day in der Schweiz today! In the beautiful city of Lauftenburg! Woo!Image

My hair is gone and I am all ready for the summery days that we’ve been getting glimpses of in the beautiful land of Deutschland. Unfortunately, they didn’t last for the weekend. 

But this week I have really been thinking about the atonement and what it means to me. I feel like I talk about it a lot…in fact, I feel as though in every email I’m talking about the Atonement. Simply because it means SO MUCH!

But I was just thinking about the hard times that we’ve been having lately in Singen with people we thought were doing so well and then suddenly took a nose dive. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s how it is…

And it’s always in those moments, when things seem to be going terribly, that I feel as though I’ve been hit to my knees and I don’t have any more strength to keep moving. (which, Sister Judd, if you remember the letter your brother wrote you with the Rocky quote, yeah, that’s still very much in my mind.) And so I sit there, driven to my knees because of the difficulty of the week or the day or the year even (been out in the field for over a year-say what?!), and I think about how much I cannot do this work on my own. 

But every night, when I, literally, fall on my knees to pray, I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine, “Satan trembles when even the weakest saint falls to his knees.”

I don’t know abut the rest of you, but I would say that I rank pretty low on the ‘Saint Strength Scale’. But still, we’re on the Lord’s side, the Lord, the Creater of the universe, the almighty God, the Father of our spirits-how can we lose?

This morning I read a talk that Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave in a CES devotional in 1997 and a particular part struck me deeply:

“I can tell you this as a parent: As concerned as I would be if somewhere in their lives one of my children were seriously troubled or unhappy or disobedient, nevertheless I would be infinitely more devastated if I felt that at such a time that child could not trust me to help, or should feel his or her interest were unimportant to me or unsafe in my care. In that same spirit, I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how deeply it wounds the loving heart of the Savior of the world when he finds that his people do not feel confident in his care or secure in his hands or trust in his commandments.”

The Lord wants us to come to Him with our problems. He suffered for them, He knows how it feels, He knows what we’re stuggling with and how to help us. We just have to confide in Him.

Another quote from this same talk said:

“Considering the incomprehensible cost of the crucifixion, Christ is not going to turn His back on us now. “

I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that I have been left alone. But thank goodness that Jesus Christ was always right there, helping me, even if I didn’t realize it. 

So whether you’re simply struggling with life and feel as though you’ve been left alone, remember that the Lord hasn’t forgotten you, perhaps you’ve forgotten Him. And if in this midst of doubt, or at any time in your life, you find yourself pushed to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray. Make the tempter tremble with your spiritual trust in the Lord. Jesus Christ died for you, show Him your gratitude. 

I love you all and I feel your wonderful support. 

Love,

Lillie

ABC

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Please read the above a little more carefully and consider the repercussions of the fact that the missing letter just so happens to be on a sidewalk in Singen because of the lack of public toilets in Germany. 

Today we were on the very famous high point of Singen, Germany- Hohentwiel.

It’s a really old castle that’s set up on a mountain in the middle of the city. You can see the entire city, over the Bodensee and into Switzerland. It was beautiful and it was a lot of fun. Because this isn’t America there were no restrictions or people telling us we couldn’t climb up on to the ruins. I will try to send some pictures in the next couple of weeks. We had a BLAST up there, running around and climbing up and taking some pretty epic pictures. 

We’re only slightly bumped and bruised, but thankfully no one fell from the highest of our climbing points of about thirty feet… 

But this week I just really wanted to talk about the Atonement, the Blessings we receive from it, and the natural Consequences of using the Atonement. It’s as easy as ABC. (get it?)

To start off with, before my mission I didn’t understand the Atonement, I’ll tell you right now that I think the Lord was a wise man for sending me off on a mission even if the only lessons I learned were about the many facets of the Atonement. 
 
Before I walked through those fateful doors at the MTC on 6.2.13 I thought I was the biggest spiritual giant that had walked the path of life. And now, 13 months on my mission I feel like I’m wandering among the dandelions. The humilty that came to me early on when I arrived on my mission allowed me to realize that I wasn’t going to schaff these eighteen months alone. It would be impossible to go through the most strenuous times of my life without a little bit of Heavenly help. 

 Once upon a time I would’ve told you that I know everything about the Atonement, I had used it enough in my life, so I would think that I would have known enough.  Today, I would tell you that I’m just beginning to scrape the surface of the great and eternal sacrifice our Lord and Savior made for us. 

I would like to share with you a few of those surface shavings, if you have the time to listen to my small insights on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the single greatest event in the history of mankind. 

I would have told you thirteen months ago that the Atonement was there so that we could be redeemed from our sins and damit (through it) we would be resurrected.  Which is true, but the over-arching power of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ extends far beyond transgression and giving immortality to every person who ever chose to receive a body. 

 Today, I understand it as much more than that. While the Atonement helps me to come clean from the things that I have done, it gives me the personal strength to continue to resist temptation so I don’t fall into those deceivings of the devil. 
But even further beyond that I understand the Atonement as a steadying force. 
The Atonement has become the glue that holds me together. It’s become something that I use when I’m sad, depressed, angry, hurting-physically, mentally, emotionally, frustrated, happy, confused, frustrated, desperate. The atonement goes beyond all comprehension how far it has carried me. 
I even learned this week that the Atonement can be used to help your stomach like certain foods, something that has come in handy on my mission. 
The atonement is not just for our sins, though we should not lose sight of that purpose, but it goes much further than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. 

The blessings that come from the Atonement are also a very special experience. We feel renewed, rejuvenated, and happy. It may be so that all is not well in the world, but all can be well in our hearts, amidst the storm of life that we all must navigate through. By utilizing the Atonement we are enabled, qualified, strengthened, and loved. The blessings of the Atonement are so readily available in our everyday lives, we just have to recognize them. Today, my challenge is that you try to count fifty of the blessings of the Atonement that you have seen in your life. You may have trouble limiting it to just fifty. 

The final thing that I wanted to talk about is the natural Consequences that come from using the Atonement. Just like the natural consequence of sin is guilt, pain, suffering, etc. The natural consequences of using the Atonement are happiness, freedom, joy, peace, etc. 
I had always considered it strange that the apostles and propheten spoke about the freedom of the atonement, but freedom is probably the largest natural consequence of using the atonement. 
By utilizing the atonement a change is wrought within us. We become new creatures in Christ, putting the natural man aside and working to become a disciple, a true follower of Christ. The freedom doesn’t come because the rules changed, the freedom came because we changed. 
When we use the Atonement in our daily lives, the Lord’s will becomes our will and eventually, we will only want what the Lord wants for us.
We may not reach complete unity with the Lord in this life, but, we believe in Eternal life don’t we? Eternal life is a lot greater than just plain ole immortality.
We’ve got an eternity to learn to be perfect, my friends, but let’s show God that we’re trying to be perfect on this earth while we still have time.

I love you all and I hope you understand that the Atonement is one of the sweetest aspects of this Gospel for me. The Atonement is the Good News that we preach to all the world because it is the cause of redemption for the whole world. Don’t just use the Atonement, enjoy it. 

Love, 
Lillie

Out of Nothing

As I was sitting here, getting ready to write my weekly email to ya’ll I got a phone call from the mission office and I got the biggest surprise of my life. Elder Carlson asked me, “Hey, Sister Hammock, can I have your dad’s email address?”

I gave him the email address and then he asked me, “Do you want to know why I need it?”

I admit, I was curious, but I wasn’t sure if they just needed the information for their own records. But I asked him why and he said, “Well, we’re sending your parents your release forms and travel information so they can make travel plans.”

I almost fell out of my seat! Didn’t I just come to Germany a couple months ago? Didn’t I just get off the train in Wels with Sister Judd to find the Weidmans waiting at Bahnhof for me? But holy crap! It turns out that time does fly like a banana! I’m still a little bit in schock that this is already happening. 

But I guess it’s the craziest times in your life when you don’t think about time. 

This week we had an AMAZING experience with Marina. Probably one of the BIGGEST miracles I’ve ever seen in my life! And it all happened in one believing woman’s heart.

We met with Marina on Tuesday and we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation. Marina told us that she believes in reincarnation and that she had lived many different lives before this one and would continue to live them still. But as we talked we showed her a diagram of the plan with little arrows pointing to where we got after each step. After we had laid out the whole plan and had explained it she looked at it and told us she had to pray about it.

So she began to pray, in the middle of the lesson. She asked God if this was His plan, that she wanted to know if it was the truth and she began to pray. She rearranged the arrows so that it was in a cycle that would be representative of reincarnation. She sat there and prayed saying, “Liebe Gott, I want to know if this is your plan, is this your plan?” And she sat there and prayed to ask God if reincarnation was actually His plan. 

She stopped praying for a second and then said, “Nein!” and turned the arrows back around so they were representative of the Plan of Salvation. When she put it correctly she started beaming. You could see on her face the moment she realized that it was actually the plan of God. That what we were telling her was the truth. And then, once she had realized it was the truth, called her ten year old daughter and her ex-husband over and showed them the plan and then began explaining all of the steps to them. She understood the plan so perfectly it was unbelievable! Then she pulled out her phone and took a picture of the plan so she could send it to her sister who we are also teaching.

It was incredible to see that Marina went through all four steps in Verkündet Mein Evangelium!  in just twenty minutes. 
1. She listened and learned. 
2. She prayed with real intent to know if what we were teaching her was true.
3. Once she received an answer she wanted to share it with the people that she loved. 
4. She taught the plan to the people she loved. 

This work is incredible! I just can’t tell you all how glad that I am to be a part of it. No matter how small and blundering that part is. 
But, at the same time, maybe that’s the key to this life. C.S. Lewis articulated this much better than I would ever be capable, so I’ll let his words speak for this part:

“For [God] seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to one of His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly that which He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye. He allows us to neglect what He would have us do, or to fail. Perhaps we do not fully realize the problem, so to call it, of enabling finite wills to co-exist with Omnipotence. It seems to involve at every moment almost a sort of divine abdication. We are not mere recipients or spectators. We are either privileged to share the game or to collaborate in the work, ‘to wield our little tridents’. 
Is this amazing process simply Creation going on before our eyes? This is how (no light matter) God makes something-indeed makes gods- out of nothing.”

I often feel that I am merely hindering the work because I can’t do it perfectly. If I had said this to this person, then they would have gotten baptized. If I had said this to this person they would have given us their information on the street. etc. etc. But the fact of the matter is, we have to fall down a few times to be made something great. God could have built Rome in a day, but instead, He let the Romans build it into a might empire over the course of many many years. And I think it’s the same with us. 
He’s going to let us do it, even though it’ll go faster, be better, and prettier, and fancier, and more than anything else that we could do, but that’s not His glory. After all, what did He say?
“Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
The glory of the Lord is not to have a perfect world with perfect people who never make mistakes and never learn. Instead, in order to fulfill the Lord’s shoes, we have to fall down a few times. After all, it is a commandment to repent. 
Every day is a miracle. We have the opportunity to work a little bit with God, to wield our tridents, no matter how small they might be. But I promise you, as a representative of Jesus Christ that we are on this earth to learn and to grow. And the Lord will not leave us alone in that task. He has never left us alone and He has ALWAYS promised us that He will be on our right hand and on our left to help us return back to Him.
We do not walk the path of discipleship that leads to godhood alone. We have a Savior and a loving Father in heaven that are holding us up the whole way.

I love you all, but my love for you is incredibly insignificant compared to the love our Lord and Savior and our Heavenly Father have for us. 

Love,
Lillie

:D

Well, let me just start by telling you that Singen is by far the most interesting place I’ve ever served, visited, or heard of. When I first arrived the Elders said, “Welcome to the craziest ward” Little did I know they weren’t joking. 

Where to start?

The GML (I think that means ward mission leader in English…?), Benji, is a British man who tells us that he’s going to ‘convert’ us to speak proper English. He does different dialects of English from the British Isles and I copy him. He LOVES it. He is SUPER loud, and has terrible German, but he ranks in my top five favorite people on my mission. He is incredible! He plays in a church band and they play mostly Beatles songs and an assortment of other rock classics. He is just the funniest person alive!

The assistent GML, Stephan, greets you with five different greetings all at once, “Hallo, Gruß di, Servous, wie geht’s, Servous!” As he pulls you into a bear hug. Every Sunday he wears three ties at the same time, each one a little longer than the one before. And I’m told that he has a bright pink suit that he wears frequently. I have not had the pleasure of seeing this monstrosity…but…soon enough…

Kim Joy is the Branch President’s daughter and she has down syndrom, but at the Elder’s baptism on Saturday, she was holding my hand the whole time, dragging me around and introducing me to her mom and she had me sit next to her at the baptism. She was so sweet! I love her!

I don’t remember if I told you about Marina, the investigator that we’re really excited about, well, she came to church yesterday, with her sister and her sister’s husband. We had met with her sister, Irina (they’re twins) and we hadn’t expected her to bring her husband. But after the meetings they asked for blessings and Benji and the Elders did the blessings.

They were some of the most powerful blessings I have ever heard. The promises in them were incredible! They were so powerful and so unique. The Lord promised them things that I am amazed and very excited about. 

We’re planning on setting a baptismal date with Marina tomorrow and then we’re also going to set up an appointment with Irina and Akim for later this week and get them baptismal dates as well. Then we’re going to get Marina’s daughter a date too and Irina and Akim’s daughter.

We’re STOKED! They are the most incredibly prepared people ever!

I just love Singen! It’s so incredible! I love it so much!

Today we were playing basketball with our distrikt and I just decided I was going to get fully into it after I got a few elbows thrown at me (by elders mind you, I did not start this). So then I just went head in and was jumping all over the place, blocking with my body, doing everything I could to sabatoge the offence. I even managed to get a couple shots in there too. I fell a couple of times and my legs flew up in the air every time and everyone was sitting there looking at me like, “Oh no! Sister Hammock is dead!” And I just got up, brushed myself off and then accidentally smeared blood on my face and kept on playing. I am by no means the best player, but I was definitely better than the elder from Holland. But, you can’t really blame him, he’d never played basketball in his life. 

This week I’ve really been thinking about things in the past, the long past. When you have a new companion you tell them your whole life story and they tell you theirs, and even though Sister Smith and I had known each other before, we hadn’t had the chance to really talk about life with each other.

But as we were talking about life and the things that had happened, I was telling her a story that had a huge effect on my life. I was shocked as I sat there and told her the story and realized that I was still hurting because of what had happened. I was still holding on to the fact that someone had hurt me and I couldn’t let go of what they had done. It was strange, looking back a couple years and realizing that I wasn’t over what did more than just damage to my pride or to my hopes and wishes, instead, it seemed to scar my soul. 

But as I sat there, realizing that I had been letting this sit there, for more than two years, I had let it curdle and seethe just enough to keep myself angry. I was shocked at the still present hurt and anger that was there, things that I thought I had left behind. 

That night I took a bit of time in my personal prayers to do some self reflection. I came to the conclusion that I had felt okay keeping that little bit of anger tucked away for a rainy day because I had been hurt. Legitimatly hurt. And I had told myself that it was okay to hold on to that because I was justified in my anger. 

But the more I sat there and thought about what I had let myself do, I realized the brevity of my lack of bereitschaft to forgive. Whereas I had been hurt by this event, by this person, I had hurt myself all the more by holding on to it, but letting it live inside of me and wait till Satan could use it against me. And he did. 

I sat there and I asked the Lord what I could do to extend the forgiveness in my heart, even if I would never have the chance to forgive her in person. I was reminded of a couple of things that I believe were inspiration of remembrance from the Holy Ghost. 

The first was from a BYU devotional that Elder Holland gave in 2005 called Remember Lot’s Wife. (If you haven’t read this talk I suggest you stop reading this now and read that instead. You’ll be left in a puddle of the Holy Spirit like you always are after reading a talk by Holland.)

The part that stood out to me the most was this:

“When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat”

I have struggled so much knowing that I would probably never have the closure of receiving an apology, or understand why, and I don’t know if this person ever repented, but I realized that I needed to give her the benefit of the doubt. How could I hold myself higher than her by refusing to forgive her?

Perhaps I hadn’t dug around in the sand and thrown it at her, but I seem to have dug it up and thrown it at myself. Which seems to be even more foolish!

The second thought I had was a quote from C.S. Lewis (who I am convinced has been baptized in the Geister Welt and is working to convert the entire population in Gefängnis!):

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you…This is hard. How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.” 

How can I hold something against her when I have been forgiven of so many things? I had been just like the servant in Matthew 18:

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants

 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to bemade.

 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and tookhim by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desiredst me:

 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

The Lord took this time to humble me and to teach me a little lesson on forgiveness. Instead of just working as hard as I could to forgive this person I held on to it and let it poison me little by little. 

I sat down with the Lord and I told Him my troubles forgiving and moving on, and the Lord was there with me and through the power of the Atonement, I have been able to find the strength to begin to forgive. 

I don’t know if any of you have anyone you’ve been struggling to forgive, maybe it’s even yourself, but my commitment to all of you is to forgive someone this week. Truly forgive them. Whether it’s yourself, the next-door-neighbor whose dog pooped in your yard and let it sit there for you to step in, or someone who hurt you very badly, I challenge you to forgive him or her. The feeling of forgiveness is one of the most incredible feelings as you work to utilize the Atonement. 

 

I love you all!

Lillie