The Best Decision I Ever Met

‘Well, this last week has been quite a trip. But the funniest thing that happened was on Saturday night. We had gotten a call from A, one of the Elders’s investigators. He’s the skinniest Pakistani man you have ever seen. He called us to invite us to his ‘Hochzeit Party’ (Wedding Party) and he wanted us to come and meet his new wife. We were really surprised that he got married, considering that he just turned eighteen a couple of months ago.

So off we went to A’s. And let me tell you, it is quite a little adventure getting there. We were with  the Elders and our GML, Benji, and we got as close as we could with the car, but then we had to walk. So it was through a large field and then up the mountain and through the woods. We finally made it up to the top of the mountain where he lived and then, when we finally got there, Benji collapsed on a couch that had been set up along with a few other chairs outside.

Sister Smith and I sat down on the couch later once we had gotten our food and then we were sitting there eating when S (A’s….something, surrogate grandmother?) came over to us and said, “In Pakistani culture it’s tradition that couple sits on the couch.”
We were mortified!

We apologized and moved and we were so worried that we had offended them, but it wasn’t that bad, I don’t think. Benji started laughing his head off when we told him later what happened. (There’s a video of Benji laughing on dropbox). But oh dear, that was quite a trip. Just a word of advice for the next Pakistani wedding that you visit, don’t sit on the couch!

Yesterday was a really hard day for the ward. The Gurneys, the senior couple in our ward here, had their last Sunday, we actually said goodbye to them this morning and sent them off to Munich. The ward was openly weeping as they gave their farewell talks and it was so difficult to sit there and to watch the member cry and to see the Gurneys cry and to see how sad everyone was.
It was in that moment that it hit me, as I sat there watching them bear their testimonies of this work and talk about how much they loved getting to know the people and how wonderful everyone was.It hit me like a ton of bricks.

One day this is all going to end.
I cannot tell you how sad that made me to think about that. Yes, I still have a lot of time, and yes it’s not time to start thinking about going home, but I just realized how sad it’s gonna be when that time does come.Elder Garrett tells us, almost everyday, that we’re ‘so tod’ (so dead). And it’s just crazy how quickly the time goes.

Yesterday we stayed after church with a girl from our ward so that we could help her with her English homework (even if she did get a little snootty about some of the things we were correcting-who’s the native English speaker here?) and we ended up walking home with her and her dad. I was walking and talking with her and we started talking about missions and how she wanted to go one day and I was thinking about my decision to come on a mission and I said to here, really only in a passing thought, “Coming on a mission was the best decision I have ever made.”

I said that and I was hit again how powerful and how incredible that is.

A mission is the best thing that has je happened in my life. For the rest of my life I will talk about my mission, I will think about the lessons that I learned here, in the Alpine German Speaking mission and I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to serve here and to be a missionary.

I get to wake up every single day at 6:30, sometimes grumbling and groaning as I do it, but every day I know I’m a missionary and I am so grateful for that.

I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people that I have met on my mission and the people that I will continue to meet.

There are people who I have met that have changed my life forever and I hope that I will continue to learn those lessons as I continue to go through my mission. But I just cannot tell you how grateful I am that I am still a missionary today and that I ever had the opportunity to come on a mission.

I remember when I was little my dad would come into my room and sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to me. I remember thinking it was the best song in the whole world and as I’ve listened to this song and realized what the Lord has done for me, that He found me, gave me a second chance to be the person that I could be, the person that I should  be, that, my friends is one of the greatest gifts. 

  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  4. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  5. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  6. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  7. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.

I know that this life is a blessing, and I am just so grateful that I have the gospel in my life. I am so glad that I have the faith and the hope to endure all things that come my way, regardless of how difficult they might be. I know that the Lord will carry us through our difficult times, whatever they may be.

 

I love you all!

Lillie

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Doubt Your Doubts

Well, yesterday, we managed to have an appointment with E, one of our investigators who is actually doing really really well right now. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and we set a baptismal date for the 22 August. We’re pretty sure that we’ll be able to get it sooner, but right now he’s working through some of his fears.

His biggest fear right now is not that the Book of Mormon might not be true, or that Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet, instead, he’s afraid that his 25 year-old daughter won’t come to see his baptism in the Bodensee. (If you want to see pretty pictures, google image that, I’m sure it’ll be real nice.) He’s a little worried that Jesus won’t accept that baptism because he has doubts that it could be a “bathing” and not an actuall baptism, but his main concern is his daughter. He was telling us that he talked to her about the Book of Mormon and he told us her response.

I will be completely honest, when I heard this, it took everything in me not to laugh.

E’s daughter’s response to The First Vision was that the people that Joseph Smith saw were not God the Father and Jesus Christ, rather extraterrestrials. Her argument was not that Joseph Smith was a crazy person, someone wanting attention and made them up, but instead, she suggested that they were aliens. And Erwin in all seriousness, bless his heart, was enthusistically describing to us why he knew it wasn’t extraterrestrials that appeared to Joseph Smith.

“I know it wasn’t these extraterrestrials that came to Joseph Smith because they would be humans, which means they wouldn’t be able to read the minds of the ancestors who put the gold plates in the ground!”

I have heard a lot of things on my mission, but never have I had an investigator come to his testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith because he knew that aliens didn’t direct him to the plates.

I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways and he knows all of us very very well.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about difficulties in believing certain principles of the gospel, whether or not you’re investigating the church or if you’ve heard the stories from the day you came out of the womb, everyone has doubts.

I think that idea is something that people reject quite frequently, the idea of having doubts. It’s okay to have doubts, but you shouldn’t let your doubts take over your life.

President Uchtdorf, in a General Conference address said, “My dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Doubts come in at us from all sides, and if we allow them to, they can keep us from great things the Lord has prepared for us. It’s a tactic of the devil to get you confused about what you actually believe.

Don’t lose faith and don’t lose hope. I promise that as you go to the Lord with your honest concerns with a heartfelt intent to find answers and peace to your questions and doubts, the Lord will give you that. There have been times in my life when I doubted everything that I had ever been taught was true. I thought for a while that the wool had been pulled over my eyes and that I had been deceived. For a long time I let my doubts get the better of me.

The only way that I found the faith and the strength to build a testimony was through diligent study, prayer, and church attendance. Our testimonies are built on a three legged stool, and if you lack one of these three things, scripture study, prayer, and church attendance, you could find yourself balancing a testimony in precarious ways.

I cannot express to you how important it is that you stay focused on the gospel, because that is what will bring you true happiness and joy. There is nothing in this world that is more important than the teachings of the gospel.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Pray. Cry. Plead with the Lord for help. I promise you that it will come.

I love you all, and I know that you can overcome any doubts and fears that you may have through the grace and mercy of a loving Heavenly Father who wants to give you great things if only you believe. But believing starts with a great big leap of faith into the darkness. But you won’t find yourself plunged into a long dark pit. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, you will always find your feet firmly planted on solid gospel ground.

I love you so much!
Stay strong!

Lillie

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​Yesterday, after we got home from our Mother’s day Skype, Sister Smith and I were walking home in the freezing pelting rain. As we were going we were half groaning and half laughing at our ridiculous situation. Before we were halfway home we were soaked head to toe in ice cold water. As we passed the half way point the dump of water calmed down a little bit and the sun began to peek though the rain clouds. As we turned a corner we looked to the horizon and saw the most brilliant rainbow I have ever seen. 
Unfortunately the picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was so clear and so crisp, and so PERFECT!

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It was perfectly over Singen and it was BEAUTIFUL!

we just stood on the corner and marveled at the beautiful gift Heavenly Father gave us after we had just trudged through the rain trying to get home.

As I stood there looking at the rainbows I was just reminded of how a rainbow is formed. Light enters into a single droplet of water and is refracted back out of the raindrop, which, in a prisim-like way creates the spectrum of colors.

It’s just incredible to me that light refraction can make something so beautiful.

But then I realized it’s pretty much the same thing as it is with the gospel. A single sliver of light enters into a single person which then refracts more light out into the world and it creates a beautiful rainbow for all to see.

Okay, so the parallel is a little weak, but I was just struck by the beauty of the rainbow yesterday and thought that I would share this little gift above the earth that the Lord gave us yesterday.

I would say that we are all rainbows in our own ways and in our own lives more than we would think. Everytime we give out something good in a positive way, by being an example or by simply practicing what we believe, then we are able to see miracles. Some as simple as a rainbow, but one that still gives joy and happiness to all who see it.

I love you all, sorry for the short email this week, but a picture’s worth a thousand words and you’ve got two! (And hopefully a video in dropbox)

Love
Lillie

Revelatory Experiences

Well, this week was quite a trip. We were away for most of it, which made it a little difficult to do some missionary work! But there was also an amazing miracle! One of the Elders’ investigators, Maria, got baptized! Finally! We had been there with the Elders for almost every appointment and it was so great to see her finally get baptized!

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Benji (our GML), Sister Smith, me, Maria, Elder Bartholomew, Elder Garrett

She’s so tiny and I had to hem the dress that she’s wearing-by HAND! ANd the slip as well! I was in a serious state of stress! But, it’s okay, everything worked out okay, and it didn’t look too bad. So, when you look at the dress, don’t judge the crooked hem-line. 🙂 Oh boy!

But this week we had Mission Tour in Zürich with Elder Timothy J. Dyches. He spoke in the General Konferenz before last. It was really interesting to see what he spoke about. And let me tell you, we got the marriage talk. From Elder Dyches AND from President Miles. So…that was interesting. Elder Dyches sent President and Sister Miles out of the room for a few minutes and then he asked us to list the attributes that President and Sister Miles have. He wrote them down on the board and called Pres. and Sister Miles back in and then showed them how much all the missionaries love them. Then he pointed to the attributes of President Miles and said, “Sisters, when you go home, you need to find a man with these attributes.” Then he pointed to Sister Miles’s and said, “Elders, when you go home you need to find a woman, preferably a return missionary, with these attributes.”

President Miles got up soon after and said, “Elders and Sisters, missionary work is the most important thing you can be doing. Right now. There is no greater work than what you are doing. Right now. One day you will go home and do something better and more important, but missionary work is what is most important right now.” It was just crazy! Sister Jaynes told me afterward that she knew what she had learned from Mission tour. She said, “I need to go home, get married, and have babies.” But there were some people who didn’t even pick up on the marriage talk. It’s really weird how that works…

On Thursday morning we headed off to Munich for a rather large finding day with Munich and Stuttgart Zones as well as the people coming in for MLC (Mission Leadership council) Which is why we, from the Freiburg Zone, were there. 

How exciting! Then two days of meetings and we were back on the road, a four hour trip back to Singen.

But something that stuck with me from Mission Tour or maybe it was MLC (have you ever noticed that we really like to abbr. in the church? Did you see what I did there?) Sister Dyches talked about all the meetings we go to in the church, especially as missionaries, and she said, that they shouldn’t be just meetings, they should be Relevatory Experiences.

I have been thinking about this a lot. In the church, and not just as missionaries, we are expected to go to a lot of meetings, church meetings, meetings for our callings, meetings for Relief Society, Young Women, Elder Quorum, Young Men, Primary, Chor, etc. And I know, personally, before my mission, that I thought of meetings as…well, meetings.

By raise of hands how many of us have ever dreaded going through another church meeting? In fact, sometimes I feel like the word was almost something to be abhorred. Meetings! How TERRIBLE! But, in the end, these meetings are inspiried. That’s why it’s a commandment to go to church, to be edified by the good word of God. These are not just meetings, these are opportunities to be relevetory experiences. And it takes the right attitude to enjoy that revelation.

C.S. Lewis said, “God gives where He finds empty hands” I would say that we can come to church with our hands still loaded up with all our worries and cares from the week. We’re still holding onto the bag of annoyance because the dishes didn’t get done, and we’re still cradling the zucchini of sleep because we stayed up too late watching TV. And don’t forget we’re glued to our smart phones playing angry birds or checking facebook.

Do those sound like empty hands to you?

We all have the chance to receive revelation, but we have to be ready for it. So leave your bags at home, leave the Zucchini in the garden and leave your phone in your pocket. 

My challenge to you is to sit in your next meeting and have a revelatory experience. Trust me. You’ll find you enjoy church more than ever before. I promise you that you will get more out of these meetings that the Lord has inspired for you. Answers to your prayers will come. Worries and sorrows will be soothed, and you will feel the love of God more abundantly in your life.

I hope you enjoy your revelatory experiences and that you realize that your empty hands give the Lord an opportunity to give you something better.

I love you all!
Love,

Lillie