I Add My Own Witness

I have found that, just like I am always ready and anxious to curl up with a good fairy tale or a good book, I am always in the mood for a good miracle. Unfortunately, this miracle doesn’t involve heroic rescues or knights in shining armor. (Sister missionaries stand out enough, we don’t really need to be toting swords or shiny helmets… Looking like Jehovah’s Witnesses is bad enough, we don’t need to look like we belong in a Medieval fair.)

But that’s not the point of this particular sword, the point is that Sister Smith and I experienced an amazing miracle this last week. It was Sister Gurney’s birthday this week (She’s the wife in the ehepaar in Singen) and we had grand plans to heart attack the inside of their house. So, off to DM we went to print off a birthday card for Sister Gurney. 

As we were printing it off, a woman that worked there came over and asked us, in English, what we were doing here. She pointed to my name badge and she was really nice. She asked us a lot of questions and asked where she could learn more. We both felt like we couldn’t ask for her information, but she said that she’d seen us around, and we’re in DM almost every week, so we were sure we would meet her again. 

So we headed off to Müller to find paper to cut out into hearts. While we were in the store we heard, “Mormonen, oder?” I’ll be honest, I chose to ignore it. How many times on my mission had someone tried to pull me into a fight by egging me on with those very words to get my attention. But then the man said it again. I couldn’t ignore him now.

I asked him how he knew about the Mormons and he said that two boy had shown up at his door a couple of years ago, had given him a book and then had never come back! He said that he had read the Book of Mormon (and he called it by name) and he said, “Ich habe immer noch interesse.” I still have interest. And then he offered to give us his phone number! We called him last night and he didn’t answer, but this morning he called back early and was very excited that the “Mormonen” had called him. 

This experience was so cool to me! I have never really been contacted in a store before, and I just think it’s so incredible that the Lord puts us in the right place at the right time. Especially since Sister Smith and I had been planning to go to Müller first and then DM. I know that miracles happen! 

A second large miracle that happened this week was with Erwin, one of our investigators. He comes to church every Sunday and has a bromance with our GML(Ward Mission Leader?) Benji, and he’s just awesome. Erwin has told us, in very straight terms that he has no intention of getting baptized. None. But this last week we met with him a couple of times, and he said that he would get baptized in the Bodensee this summer if his daughter got baptized on the same day. So…this Sunday we’ll be praying and fasting that his daughter will be open to meeting with us and to one day getting baptized with her father. He’s made incredible progress and he’s just been doing so well. He’s even started reading in the Book of Mormon and told us for about ten minutes how much he loves King Mosia.
 
Another miracle happened at an Ausstellung in a city called Überlingen on Freiday. It was a huge success. I’m not sure how it is in other missions, but it was so incredible for us when we gave out over twenty Books of Mormon out to people on the street in just under two hours. It was incredible just to see the willingness of the people that we talked to. 
I never realized before my mission how important the Book of Mormon is to missionary work. I actually didn’t even realize the significance of the Book of Mormon in my life and the effect that it has on you when you diligently study and pray about what it says. 
 
This morning I read a talk by Elder Holland called Sicherheit für die Seele and it was so incredible. This talk has been made into a Mormon Message and you can watch it here: http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages/topics/book-of-mormon?v=911029448001 I would ask that you take four and a half minutes of time now to watch it, because Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord has the ability to give testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon with eloquence and power in a way that I could never hope to achieve.

But I would like to add my witness of the Book of Mormon, to be written by angels in heaven and to be placed among those of Joseph & Hyrum Smith, the apostles and prophets of these latter-days, and to all those who have borne testimony of it’s truth. I know with a surety that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have read it, I have pondered it, and I have prayed about it. My answer came and I know of it’s truthfulness and divinity. I know that the Lord inspired the writers of the Book of Mormon so that it could come forward in these days, to touch this lives of millions of people. 
I am convinced that the Book of Mormon contains the answers and the peace to these questions and worries of life. The answers are within the pages of that Book and I promise you that as you read it with real intent, you will find out for yourself the truthfulness and the incredible witnesses and testimonies of others before you will be proven. I know with absolute surety that the Book of Mormon was translated by the word and power of God. And I know, that Joseph Smith, an unlearned farm boy from New York was a prophet of God. 

I may never have to give my life for my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I don’t think that will ever be required of me. In fact, I think the Lord has given me, and perhaps most of us, the responsibilty to live our testimonies of the Book of Mormon. Let people see the difference in you and let them understand that you are different because you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wear it PROUD! Stand up for what you believe in and be BOLD when you speak. 
Your testimonies, no matter how simple they may be, can touch the hardened hearts of battered men. Trust in the Holy Spirit to take that knowledge to the hearts of those who will listen and you will witness miracles. 

I promise you that, if you haven’t already received a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, if you get on your knees right now and ask God, you will receive an answer that it is true. And if you’ve already received your witness, I can promise you that if you get down on your knees right now and ask God for an opportunity to share your testimony of the Book of Mormon you will receive that chance.

I invite you to do whichever is applicable to you now. 

I leave my testimony with you, a testimony that I proclaim, freely and proudly because I have received my own witness.
I love you all!
Lillie

For Us

This past week I was left in a tizzy, never sure what was going to happen next and I ended up seeing the world from many different, and not always so many comfortable perspectives this week. 

I guess you could say this week was hectic-in it’s simplest terms. 

Monday our p-day ended a little early because we had to go wish our Relief Society President ‘Happy Birthday!’ and then it was off to Oma Voigt’s for Family Home Evening and Mandarin Orange-Quark (kfark) dessert (YUM!) Then it was home again home again and we fell into bed only to wake up the next day to a crazy crazy day!

We went to and appointment with the Elders, and to get there we had to hike, literally, a few kilometers from the closest train station to get there. (I seriously doubt these people were found dooring.) After we had some very interesting wild plant pasta cooked by a hippy we headed out and managed to make our train to get to Lahr. We even had enough time to print out our train tickets without having to struggle. When we got on the train we found the Schwenningen Elders and were chatting and catching up when the ticket controller came around and asked for our tickets.

Now, a little education on how the German train system works. You can buy a ticket by kilometers, but most of the time, it’s a lot easier AND cheaper, when you simply by a ticket by the state. In Bayern (Bavaria) you can buy a Bayern ticket. In Badden-Württenburg, you can buy a Baddy. Sister Smith and I both spent four transfers in Bayern and, even now, in a different state with different tickets, we refer to them as Bayerns. 

The Elders had joked with us a little bit when we called our tickets Bayerns, but it turns out that we weren’t lying. We did, indeed, have Bayerns in Badden-Württenburg. 

Do you see where this is going?

So the train controller came over, looked at the ticket and in a very sing-songy Schwäbisch dialekt declared, “You’re not going anywhere with this ticket.” We hadn’t realized till this point (once we had already been on the train for half an hour) that we had the wrong ticket! If you’re caught with a wrong ticket then you get heavily fined, at LEAST double the amount you should have paid. So Sister Smith and I stared at each other for a moment and I stared at the ticket in disbelief. I wanted to die from embarrassment. 

THANK GOODNESS we are obviously foreign! The man was very nice and just let us buy the Baddy on the train (which is not something every controller will do). So Sister Smith and I started scrambling to find any euro bills we could find. We managed to pull together the amount necessary and the man went along his merry way. I suppose we were even more lucky that it was apparent that it was a mistake, and they had been ordered by the office, sonst there would have been no way for us the purchase a Bayern. 
But once we completed the two hour and twenty minute trip to Lahr we realized that the ticket we had ordered for Thursday to tausch back was also a Bayern, which left us out ANOTHER 27 euro. 

Once everything was all figured out Sister Brinck and I hopped on the train for our two hour and twenty minute trip back to Singen. During which Sister Brinck got a shocked look on her face and said, “Oh no, that’s not good.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. 
Sister Packer and Sister Smith were in Lahr without a phone.

Luckily we had decided to tausch back the next evening, and after a fallen out appointment we were back on the train on Wednesday for the long train ride out to Lahr and back. Yes, I spent over eight hours on a train last week, just going back and forth on Austausch. I was going stark-raving mad being cooped up in a train for so long. 

But, no worries, Sister Smith and I ate McDonald’s and it temporarily solved the stress of the wrong tickets and other things.

Then Thursday we arrived at the church for interviews with President and Sister Miles and a few more fallen out appointments because of Easter, and then I realized, late Saturday night that, in the stress of the week, I had forgotten to write my talk for Sunday. 

I quickly wrote a talk, told myself it would have to do and hoped and prayed that the Lord would make it be okay. 

(I was secretly hoping that they would somehow forget about my talk, or that they would somehow they would realize that the language I had been speaking to them in was actually Klingon…or something. But alas, Horst Schäffer checked with me three times to make sure I remembered that I had a talk to give. 

So, I gave my talk.

I have to say, Easter is my favorite holiday, simply because of how much meaning it carries. 

The sacrament song they sang was, ‘I Know That My Redeemer Lives’ and I looked out into the congregation and the Gurney’s son, who speaks no German, began to cry while the song was being sung. I was struck by this and began to cry while sitting up on the stand. Thank goodness I had the entire sacrament to pull myself together, but unfortunately, it was all too soon that I had to get up to give my talk. 

What I said in Sacrament meeting yesterday is not important, because I simply want to impress upon you what I learned in my hurried preparation for this talk and in my desperate prayers and contemplation during the sacrament yesterday morning. 

In Ether we learn that when we have faith in God then we can hope for a better world, even a place at the right hand of God. But how is that possible when one day, we will all die. 

If you believe in Jesus Christ then the answer is easy. Of course we’ll be resurrected. But you would be surprised at how many people don’t actually have that assurance. The knowledge that we have a loving Heavenly Father, one who sent His Son to the earth, to be persecuted, betrayed, tortured, and nailed to a cross on Calvary after having carried all of the pains, all of the sorrows, the lonliness, the sadness, the guilt, the depression, and every other possible  horror that humankind could experience just a short time previous, is not common knowledge. 

Jesus Christ came to this earth so He could suffer for our sins and pains and everything else possible, just so we could live again. Jesus Christ died for us. He died so that we could be freed from the chains of sin and hell. And how grateful are we all for that wonderful, all powerful sacrifice.

But, perhaps more important than His suffering in Gethsemani and the completion of the Atonement on the Cross of Calvary, is the fact that Christ lives.

Without His triumph over death, the Atonement of Jesus Christ would have been for naught. 

So, yes, Christ died for us, but more importantly, He lives for us. Now. 

I give my testimony to you of a Living Christ. Who made it possible for me to live again and to be freed from the chains of sin, of hell, and of death. 

Doctrine & Covenants 42:46 it says, “And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them.” We all will be resurrected and death will not sting when we believe in Christ, who lives, today. For me, for you, for us. 

I just wanted to end with the lyrics to what is now my favorite song. 

The Way He Was Raised
Josh Turner

He always wore those worn out flip-flops
Spent hours in his daddy’s workshop
He loved being on the water
Fishin’ with His friends

He always listened to the old folks
When they’d tell stories and crack jokes
Didn’t talk back to his mama
When she got onto Him

Oh, thats just the way He was raised
Had to finish all His chores fore He could go outside and play
They always went to church, thats where He learned how to pray
And that’s just the way He was raised

He grew His hair out when He got older
Grew it clear down to His shoulders
Started hangin with the outcasts
When He went off to town

Some called Him a troublemaker
Even some said a lawbreaker
No matter how they talked about Him
He never put nobody down

Cause thats just the way He was raised
When people start to gossip He’d just walk away
He always loved His neighbor no matter what they’d say
Oh, that’s just the way He was raised

On a cross, on a hill
That long haired boy was killed
All our sins washed away
When He walked out of that grave

Oh, thats just the way He was raised
There’s no way we can measure the sacrifice He made
He knew He had to die for our debt to be paid
Oh, that’s just the way He was raised

It took the hand of God to roll the stone away
And that’s just the way He was raised
Yeah, that’s just the way He was raised

 
I love you all so much!
Love,
Lillie

http://easter.mormon.org/

Unto Me

Well, life as a missionary goes on here in Singen Germany. I unfortunately have no exciting pictures from a crazy p-day today, but living in the land of castles is not always a fairy tale. Or maybe it actually is, just not the part that you would like to read about. 🙂 Every fairy tale has to have it’s lack of dramatic moments doesn’t it? Or have I just been living life wrong?
The highlight of this week include that we managed to get a couple of appointments with Marina-finally! The only problem is that she believes she was baptized by Jesus…I think it was a great oversight of whomever put Preach My Gospel that they left out the section titled What to do if Your Investigator Thinks They Were Baptized by Jesus in a Previous Life. A great oversight indeed. But if any of you lovely folks have any suggestions on how to deal with that, please, let us know. We’re kind of at a loss…
We also got a new investigator, Christel, she’s HYSTERICAL! She has a beard and has a TERRIBLE Schwäbisch dialect. It’s almost impossible to understand! This is what happens when you travel to small towns near the boarder of Switzerland. It’s a troublesome place…
That’s pretty much it for all the excitement, things are about to pick up these next couple of weeks with Austausch, interviews, Mission Tour (with Timothy J. Dyches) in Zürich, and then the end of a very short five week transfer. 
 
Yesterday, in Sacrament meeting the Choir (which the missionaries in every ward are ALWAYS a part of) sang ‘Ein Armer Wanderer’ in Englisch: ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief’. I remember the last time I sang that song was on January 13th 2013, the day of my farewell talk. I believe this is my favorite hymn simply because of the story it tells. (And many of you know how much I love stories!)

Don’t worry, I’ve got the lyrics all ready to go for you!
 
1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief 
Hath often crossed me on my way,

Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why. 
 
2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.
 
3. I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.
 
4. ‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
 
5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
 
6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
 
7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
 
I think this song is one of the most descriptive and most beautiful hymns that we all know and all love, but are afraid to sing because of how long it is. This song has spoken peace to my soul more than once on my mission and throughout my life as I’ve gone through difficult times. I am not the only person who enjoyed this song or who used it in times of comfort. This hymn was sung shortly before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail. It was the Prophet’s favorite song and it held several parallels to the Prophet’s life. 
But I have no intention of comparing the Prophet Joseph’s life to this song, instead, I have every intention of comparing our lives to this song. I would venture a guess that we all have many opportunities presented to us throughout the week to help others, to help them to be better, to be lifted up and to be brought a little closer to our Heavenly Father. This moments will likely be small, likely insignificant and unnoticed by those of the world, but there is someone who will always see the good deeds we do, however small they may be. 
The last verse of this song does me in every time, “Of me thou hast not been ashamed, These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
 
When, in the last day, our judgement day, we stand before the great Creater of the Universe, the Almighty God, the Redeemer of the world, what will He say to us? “Well done, thou hast served me all thy days?” I would like that to be the words that come from Him on that mighty day. We should follow the wise words of King Benjamin when he said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.”

Every good deed we do, is unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the flip side of this coin, every bad deed we do is also unto Jesus Christ. 

I am convinced that the greatest reason the Lord sent me on a mission is because I needed to learn charity toward my fellow men. And I can promise you that you will find that charity is not an action, it’s a lifestyle. Charity infuses your body and your mind and you desire to help others to be happier and to do better. I can promise you that as you seek out ways to serve others, selflessly, then you will find the richness in the words of the Savior in Matthew 10: 
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
 
I promise you, that as you seek to selflessly serve others you will find greater peace, happiness, joy, and love in your life. As you lose yourself in the service of others, those people that need it most (cause let’s be honest, the person you would be willing to take a bullet for is usually the one standing behind the gun), those who are struggling, you will find your life. I ask you all to spend a little time today, or even tonight and ask the Lord to give you someone to serve. 

Though this promise was extended in the spirit of tithing, I would like to ‘redress’ it a little bit. I believe that if you go to the Lord today, in honest, sincere, and humble prayer to find someone to serve, the Lord will pour out the blessings of heaven upon you. As it says in Malachi 3: “…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Try the Lord. Prove Him. 

Test your faith and ask the Lord to give you this opportunity to serve and it shall be well with you at the last day.

I love you all!

Lillie

Made Perfect in Weakness

This week everyone of us that watched conference was edified and uplifted. And if you weren’t you should’ve been. And if you didn’t watch, you should’ve. 

So if you haven’t watched conference, I suggest you go to it right now and watch something that has the potential to change your life-literally.

My idea for my weekly email this week changed this morning as I received some news that distrubed me and I realized why the greatest emphasis I receieved from conference was different than what I expected.

This weekend while watching conference I was struck by how many messages of strength were given. Strength in difficult times, strength in good times, strength in times of doubt, and strength in times of knowledge. 

I was impressed throughout conference about the need to stay strong in the gospel and stay that way. 

I have heard of too many experiences on my mission, from my mission and from back home of people leaving the church, getting caught up in other things, reading something that turned then away, or getting offended because someone forgot to say hello to them at church on Sunday.

I have been sitting here for the last few minutes typing something and then erasing and then typing again and erasing because I am not sure how to articulate this to you because of the brevity and importance that strength in the gospel, despite social factors is vital. 

There are a couple of main reasons that I have seen why people choose to leave the Church they are as follows:

1. Got offended

2. Found ‘scientific evidence’ that contradicts doctrine

3. Slowly lost their testimonies

4. Dreged up some historical ‘fact’ that causes them to doubt. 

5. Were confronted with an argument that was too good not to be true
 

My answer to all of these questions is simply this: 

There will always be questions we will not be able to answer in this life, but the answers will one day come. On the list of qualifications for eternal salvation there is no where that says that we need all the answers to all the questions. Before my mission I always pictured salvation and the entrance to exaltation came in the form of a rigorous testing period here on the earth where we were to learn all that we could and be the best people we could be (which is true to this point) but I thought that, if after I died I had not lived a perfect life, or as perfect as I could get then I would be denied entrance. But then, I thought, that, if by some miracle I managed to make it through this life as a perfect person  then I would still be confronted with the multiple choice question test and then the lengthen short answer section (timed of course) followed by an essay explaining why I deserved eternal exaltation and entrance into the celestial kingdom. And then if I managed to survive a second death after the timed test I would have to stand before Christ and have to listen to him flip through sheet after sheet of every single little sin I had never repented of from the age of eight till I died. 

I would then have to hope that the Lord would be merciful enough to maybe give me entrance into the Terestriale Reich. Maybe

I always had so much fear for death and for judgement because I felt that I was not doing enough. There was no way that Lillie Marguerite Maren Hammock would be granted entrance into the Celestiale Reich after she had live a horribly unperfect life because she was so terribly weak and didn’t know how to follow Christ as exactly as He required.

My dad always told me that there were two reasons why people didn’t do things. Fear and pain (granted he was talking about tests and studying in school, but I think it can be stretched into an eternal principle). And I guess you could say that I was afraid of the pain that would come to me if I didn’t live a perfect life and so I decided that it wasn’t worth working so hard and then failing in the end anyway. I was so terrified of my own personal weakness that I had already decided my own fate. Luckily I was saved from my own fear and my own doubt, but I came close to giving up entirely.

There are so many voices in this world that will tell you that you aren’t enough. 

You aren’t rich enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not tall enough, not skinny enough. And sadly, there are people that believe it. 

But there is always Someone telling you that you are enough. The Lord Jesus Christ is one of the voices cheering us on, telling us that we can keep going and telling us that He’s waiting for us there, at the end, to pull us into His arms and tell us that He loves us. He’s going to give us strength and carry the burden with us, because He experienced it already.

Christ is always going to be telling us that we can make it, He’s always going to be rooting us on, but it’s our decision of whether or not we choose to hear it. Just like we can turn up the volume on a speaker, we can turn up the Savior’s influence in our lives. But we can also turn it off. We have to be so careful because His voice isn’t going to come in over the radio yelling at us, it’s going to come quieter and softer and we have to be willing to constantly listen. 

We are all weak, Heavenly Father knows that, but He gave us His son so we could live again, so we could return, not so we could fail. 

I’m not sure what will happen on judgement day, but I’m almost certain that there will be no test, no essay questions, and no listing of our fauts. Instead I believe the Lord will simply ask us if we loved Him and if we tried our best to follow Him.

I know that the questions the world throws at us to cause doubt in our minds can be terribly damaging to us, especially because many times we are so weak. But I know that the Lord will strengthen us. 

 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We can be made strong in our weaknesses, but it’s our choice if we choose to trust the Lord, or trust the world. If you trust the Lord then you will know that you will have eternal salvation. I will take that over anything the world could ever give me. 

Stay strong, and if you’re not as strong as you would like, get strong. Go to church, read the scriptures, and pray. The Lord wants to help you, let Him.

I love you all!
Lillie