Lessons Learned

Today I am reminded of William Saroyan’s words, “Everybody has to die, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case.”

At the beginning of my mission the thought of writing my last letter home seemed impossibly far away. I always knew that missionaries go home, but I guess I never realized that it would one day come to an end. That’s something that’s been really hard for me to grasp the last few days. At the beginning I couldn’t wait to be done, now, I just wish I could go back to my time in Singen. I just wish I had six more months, but I know that if I had six more months at the end of that time, I would be begging the Lord to give me more time. Time is such a fickle thing. A missionary who went home about a year ago said, “Time is so unforgiving to a dying missionary.” I cannot tell you how true that statement is.

Sister (Michelle) Jaynes wrote me a letter in which she described the sensation as “a rollercoaster” and all you want to do is “get off and throw-up.” Das stimmt, Bruder! oder…Schwester…

Today we spent our P-day with Oma Voigt. She’s the most adorable, loving, sweet woman that I know, and I am going to miss her so much! When we were eating lunch at her house I was crying because of how sad I am that I am leaving on Thursday. But I have the opportunity to see her again on Thursday morning (she’s going to bring us to Bahnhof with all of my bags). I have met so many people that I am going to miss and that I will forever remember in my heart. I will always keep these people close to me because they have become family. Granted, I am so grateful for the people that I have left at home, the people that I will be seeing on Friday and those that I will be hugging and freuing myself to see.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the back of the chapel, translating for Wisdom, a member who just moved into our branch, when Präsident Frank asked me to stand up. Everyone in the chapel turned around to look at me, some knowing why I was standing and others beginning to realize. Präsident Frank told the branch that I had successfully completed my mission and that I would be returning home to my family on Friday. Then with tears in his eyes he asked me to come up and bear my testimony. I could feel the weight of sadness and grief weighing on my shoulders as I went up and stood at the podium and I felt the tears forming in my eyes. I looked out at all the faces that I had come to know and love and the people that had found themselves so deep in my heart that there would be no way to remove them.  I stood there and with teary choked German told them how much I loved them. I started crying harder as I saw the tears in their eyes. But the comfort of the gospel of Jesus Christ is something that will get us all though. Because for the faithful, for the righteous, and for the strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are no true good-byes. Only bis aufwiedersehen.

But to move away from the things that make me sad about leaving, I am so grateful that I get to go home and to see my family. I have missed them, but I know that the time that I spent away will only make this reunion all the sweeter.

I decided that for my last email, I would simply share with you all the lessons I have learned on my mission. Lessons that I am so grateful I learned, even though they were difficult.

As I thought about this these last few days I realized that there were many lessons I’ve learned, many things I had to learn the hard way because I was too stubborn to learn it the easy way. But however I learned these lessons, I am eternally grateful I met the decision to go on a mission.

I could list off all the things I learned in this refiner’s fire, but instead I think I’ll stick to the greatest lessons the Lord could have taught me, the lessons He presumably sent me here to learn.

Before my mission I was short-tempered (I’m not sure how much this has really improved, but I would say there’s been some definite progress.), easy to offend, and one of the most prideful twenty-one year old you had ever met. I came on my mission assuming that I would be enjoying a nice vacation baptizing twenty or so people, coming home with stories of a miracle filled mission that would one day end up in the Liahona and would be talked about in General Conference. I assumed I would be the most proficient at the language and that I would have the ability to communicate with people about the gospel and show them the way to baptism with grace, poise, and ease.

I do believe the Lord sent me on my mission to humble me.

The Lord knew, when He was inspiring the apostle assigning me to my mission, that I would need to have some hard times, I would need to struggle and I would need to work. Hard. And that’s why He sent me to the Alpine German-Speaking mission. And it was the greatest decision that He ever made. And here I am, a humbled servant of the Lord. I have learned that the miracles aren’t always going to come in grand flashes of heavenly fire, or sixty five people getting baptized in the Bodensee. But I am so grateful for that lesson of humility. I have learned so much about being grateful for the small and simple things, the small things that before I never noticed. Now I am just so grateful if someone will give me the time of day on the bus! But the Lord is so wise, and He knows His children very well.

I would say the second important lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me was patience. Oh how glad I am that the Lord taught me PATIENCE! Granted, I am still anxious and antsy for certain things, but I had to learn that the blessings that I want won’t always come on my timeline. The Lord has His knowledge, His plan and His way. And thank goodness cause it’s a lot better than mine. I have had to learn to leave that in His hands, and it’s something I’m still learning.

But the most important lesson that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn on my mission was how to love other people. I will admit that I did not know how to love people before I came to do the Lord’s work that REQUIRED love. “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” (D&C 4:5) Thank goodness the Lord qualifies those that He calls. I needed some major qualifying and I needed some help figuring out how to love people. And I can tell you that if I hadn’t figured out how to love these people, I would not have enjoyed my mission like I did. And I am so grateful that the Lord was able to take the time and the patience to teach me such an important lesson. Because He wants His children to be loved and He’s going to prepare people that will love them and I am so grateful that I have been, and hopefull will continue to be, one of those people.

I had to learn that there is good in all people and you can always find a reason to love someone. Even someone who has wronged you, hurt you, or ignored you. My capacity to love has grown so much and I have, on more than one occassion, felt a little like the Grinch as he stood on Mount Krumpet and felt his heart grow three sizes. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the sizes of heaven, my heart has grown twelve sizes. ANd how grateful I am for that growth.

I wish I could tell you everything that I had learned, but the time is short, and I have a lifetime still to tell you everything. Just know that I love you all and I am so excited to see you on Friday. Thank you for the LOVE you have given me and the ways that you have supported me. I have felt your prayers and your love from accross the world. There have been times on lonely buses, surrounded by people, or alone on my knees in a train bathroom, that I have felt your prayers and your love crossing the boundaries of space and time, and I have felt so much peace in those moments. The Lord has let me feel the love and the support you have given me and words in any tongue cannot express how eternally grateful I am for that. Thank you so much!

I love you all.

Sister Hammock
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The Ninth Pair

Well, this week was an adventure! We went to Rhein Falls on Monday for P-day and that was quite fun! Switzerland!

Rhein Falls in Switzerland

Tuesday was Zone Training, which was successful and was followed by an Austausch. I went to Lahr with Sister Hemmi (this is her first transfer in the field) and we were talking about how their suitcases had been stolen out of one of their hall closets in their apartment building and she showed me the closet that had been broken into. Someone had basically pried the door open wide enough to get past the deadbolt and had gotten away with a passport, internet passwords, etc. As we were looking at the other closet in the hallway that also belongs to them, we noticed that this door was open, and lo and behold, the burgler had come back that day and had opened up the other closet door. So Sister Hemmi and I spent the next few hours at the police station. Most of the time we spent in a tiny locked room (see picture below). It was quite the adventure. 

DSCN4500

Friday we went to a Relief Society activity that was…veryEuropean. I’ll tell you all about in two weeks, but suffice it to say, it was not something would find the members of my home Relief Society doing. 

On Saturday there was a baptism for the Schaffhausen Branch in our Stake. It was a part-member family and it was all in Spanisch and Swiss German. It was so very spiritual and everyone of the family members who were there for the baptism were so happy that he was getting baptized. The Lord works miracles on the hearts of the people here in Europe. There are people being prepared, we just have to find them. 

Yesterday we went to a Romanian birthday party and that was…well…interesting. I will be very excited to enjoy BBQ that is done the American way: warm, fresh off the grill, and has more meat than fat. I  love Europeans, but they just don’t understand the concept of grilling. 

 
This week I decided to share a poem that I wrote recently. I love my mission so much. It means everything to me and I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to be a missionary in this beautiful part of the world. It has never been einfach, but it has always been worth it.

THE NINTH PAIR
I remember the day I walked through the doors

To 18 months of dreams on distant shores.

A pair of brand new shoes on my feet,

Carried me further than I could ever think.

Those shoes carried across the sea,

Walked the beginnings of the journey with me.

Through rolling hills and crowded streets,

We talk with everyone that we meet. 

But soon enough the soles wore down,

My feet touching the frozen ground
A small price to pay to preach the word,
I only wish my shoes had endured.

Purhaps a hundred miles, maybe two,
The next pair wore out much too soon.
With a heavy heart and a weary mind, 
I wish I didn’t have so much time. 

Each step marks another day,
Out in the heat, always on our way. 
I spent many long and sleepless nights,
Crying and praying with all my might. 

I felt abandoned and oh so alone,
I couldn’t help but wish I was home.
Back where I was comfortable,
But the decision to leave was impossible. 

And then through the darkness came a light,
That gave me a reason and a purpose to fight. 
With renewed evergy and a newfound hope,
As I read the words an apostle wrote. 

So on again with a brand new pair,
Before the frosty chill joins the air.
And as the fall creeps in again,
Those shoes aren’t as nice as they once had been.

Unworn boots crunch fresh fallen leaves,
And the passing of time brings a bit of relief.
But the people aren’t always so kind
And all our efforts seem undermined.

And before I know the water comes in,
The world is against me, there’s no way to win. 
The holes in those shoes are too much to bear,
Even the seams have begun to tear. 

Stomping your feet to keep the cold at bay,
What I would do to stay inside all day. 
So I buy a new pair that locks the cold out,
And makes it easier to be out and about. 

But all too soon the cold breaks through,
I tell my father, “I should have listened to you!”
Before the winter’s chill is past,
 I find a pair I know will last.

The winter’s snow melts and fades to spring,
And finding new shoes is no small thing.
But off again in the work of the Lord,
The soles fell off as I was preaching the word.

We say all souls will be resurrected one day,
But for shoes I’m not sure it works the same way.
With a good-bye to the shoes that carried me so far,
I prayed the new ones would be up to par.

I’ve learned more than once that life is hard,
But you have to finish what you start. 
So others could know what’s truth and right, 
A new pair of shoes came into my life. 

The time is so short, now where did it go?
It seems like yesterday that we had snow.
And as time goes on so cooly unforgiving,
I pray to Heavenly Father in desperate yearning.

I wish for the days that never seemed to end,
The days when I had no more energy to spend. 
I long for the days in Austrian hills,
And long winter nights with unbearable chills. 

For the Bayern blue that feels like home,
The friendliest place I’ve ever known. 
To walk those streets and hear those sounds,
To cound the cobblestones on the ancient ground. 

For the Bodensee with waters so deep,
And the picture perfect view that makes me weep.
With people I could’ve never loved more,
Who I will continue to love, of that I’m sure. 

I’ve learned time moves much too quick you see,
And it’s going on, with or without me.
Now my heart yearns for days long gone,
As another new day breaks into dawn.

And as the day grows steadily nearer,
Some things become somewhat clearer. 
I think of all the lessons I’ve learned,
And all the hearts the Lord has turned. 

I remember an eager little girl,
Who set out to save the world. 
Her heart and mind so full of dreams,
Found out the work was harder than it seems.

And through the steady flame of the refiner’s fire,
That girl gave up all the Lord required.
And now in the ninth pair of worn out shoes,
I’m coming home, back to you.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your support and love. I feel it every day!

Alles Liebe,
Lillie

The One

We said goodbye to L yesterday. She’s going back to China this week and she is very sad to leave. At the beginning of our time together she told us that she was looking for home. Yesterday she told us that the church feels like home. ​I’m going to miss her, but thank goodness for modern day technology.

.Lillie and Lily

This last week I have been an emotional wreck. I just have moments of realizing that I’m almost done with my mission and then I freak out. There are times when I talk about how excited I am that I’m going to see my family usw. BUT then I start crying my eyes out cause I’m so sad I’m almost done. For the most part though, it doesn’t feel real. But every time a plane flies by someone will always say, “How far away do you think that plane is?” And then I KNOW what’s coming! “It’s about three weeks away.” Oh man. It’s just a rollercoaster. 

But I’ve just been thinking about my mission this last week and everything that’s happened and all the people I’ve come in contact with, L in particular. I just couldn’t help but feel a little entäusched that L wasn’t able to get baptized before she went back to China. The Lord had directed her to us. He had sent her to Germany, put her on a bus where we would be and ruined the vacation weather so it would be unpleasant for her to go out and do things so she would want to meet with us. I just had this moment of wondering why the Lord would go through so much trouble and then have it not work out that she could get baptized now. And then I had other questions and worries about my mission and why I had been lead to all of the places that I had and why I had experienced all the things I did. And It took me a few minutes, but I realized that the Lord cares so much about the one. 

The Lord tells us as much in Luke 15:
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing
“And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

So why is this principle to understand in terms of sheep and not in terms of ourselves? Perhaps we aren’t all lost sinners, wandering from the fold of God, but we all need individual attention and the Lord will prove to us over and over again that He will orchestrate miracles for us to feel like we are cared for. 

In my endeavor to read the Standard Works on my mission I am almost finished with only a few books of the New Testament left. Yesterday, while reading in Hebrews, I had a huge moment of realizing that the Lord cares about me as an individual, as the one. 

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10

I felt as though this was a moment of the Lord telling me, Lillie, I’m proud of what you’ve done so far, you’ve done my work, you’ve done good work. And then the next verse was an additional reminder that the Lord is conscious of all of His children. So conscious of us, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lord inspiried Paul to write these verses where he did, in the order that he did so the Lord could organize the fate of the cosmos so I would read it at this point in my life:

“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”

This hit me like a wall of bricks. I realized that yes, the Lord is pleased with my work, but He wants me to keep working. Keep going. Endure to the end. 

The Lord just knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it and He will do everything to make sure we get it. Sometimes it’s easy to view the Lord as some untouchable being. The Great, the Almighty, the Creator of the universe. And although He is all of these things, we learn about His priorities through the principles He teaches us through His modern day prophets. James E. Faust said, “Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine attributes of our Father in heaven.” Our Father in heaven is our father, and His greatest joy in life is not in all the worlds He’s created, not in all the marvelous power He has. Instead, His work and His glory, is us. The greatest Being in the universe wants us to be happy and to return to Him. 

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He is willing to organize any means and any people, to get us to come closer to Him, to return to Him. How great is it to know that we warrant, not only the attention of the God of the universe, but also, that He cares about us so much as to seek after each of us individually so we could return to live with him. 

I know our Heavenly Father lives and loves us. He wants to hear from us, He wants to show us that He cares and that He’s there. Trust in the Lord. Try prayer. Your Father wants to hear from you.

I love you all!

Lillie

Do It Heartily

This has been quite the week. We’ve been the joint teach for the Elders for one of their investigators J. She’s from Kenya and she’s BEAUTIFUL. One of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. But she’s also progressing really well in the gospel and she’s so sweet. She has a baptismal date for the 16th of August and she loves the missionaries and the ward members. She is so great and when she gets baptized she’ll be doing really well on the whole staying active front.

On Tuesday we met with L. We were worried that she wasn’t really grasping what the restoration means and we were worried that it wasn’t going to go anywhere, but when we met with her later in the week we realized that she understands more than we realize because of the cultural/language barrier. (I never learned any gospel words in Chinese). But she’s doing really well. I’m not sure if she’ll be ready to take that step of baptism before she goes back to China, but we’ve been in contact with the Church in China to get her set up to still go to church and be a part of a ward. She just won’t be able to be baptized until she comes back out of China. But I have hope that she was led to us for a reason and that the time will come when she is ready. SHe told us that she believes the gospel is true, she just doesn’t understand it. Which is okay. We want her to feel ready before she gets baptized. But I was seriously impressed on how much of the gospel that I don’t fully understand per se, but I feel like I believe it enough to feel that it’s true.

Sister Henry and Sister Hammock

We were also in Zürich on Tuesday with Präsident Blaser, the Stake Präsident for a coordination meeting with the Zone leadership from both Zones. Präsident Blaser is a prime example of an inspired leader. He cares so much about missionary work and is truly one of many people that I admire and respect on my mission. He has done so many good things for this Stake and he is just so in touch with the Lord’s inspiration.

On Thursday we were back in Switzerland for Zone Konferenz where we met Präsident Kohler and his family. It was just so strange to see the difference between him and Präsident Miles. While we were sitting there listening to Präsident Kohler speak I just had this overwhelming rush of sadness/jealousy come over me for all the missionaries that get to have more time to be with Präsident Kohler. His vision for this mission is incredible and I am just so jealous that I don’t get to experience where this mission is going to go. But I know that the Lord called me on my mission at this time for a reason.

The Fourth of July was a fun day. We met with Schwester Kautz, one of the members here in Singen who loves America and Americans. So we brought an American flag, no bake cookies, and sang the star spangled banner with her. She loved it. We also had a night with the Zimmermans, well two of the Zimmermans, Antje and her daughter Joyce, and we hung up the flag, ate hamburgers and watched part of the Germany v. France game. Of course, Germany won. It’ll be interesting to see who wins against Brazil. I’m honestly wondering if Germany does get to the final game if we’ll be allowed to watch it. That would be awesome!!!!!

We’ll be going to München this week for MLC and I’ll get to see Sister Smith!!! But it’ll also be really interesting to see what President Kohler is like in these Leadership meetings. I’m really interested to see the changes that he makes to the mission, if he makes any this early on.

Well, this week has been quite the emotional rollercoaster for me. I’m torn between so many thoughts and things and I just don’t know what to think. Most of the time I just don’t think about it because it just confuses me. It doesn’t feel real and I still feel like I have four or five months left. But this week as I was reading in the New Testament, in my desperate attempt to finish the entire standard works before the end of my mission. (For any future missonaries, begin this quest at the begining of your mission and not when you have about eight months left. It’s a bit knapp.) And while I was reading I found a scriputre in Colossians 3 that says:

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

This really hit me because I had been so worried about what other people were going to think about the legacy I left behind as a missionary, and if I talked about home it would be a bad thing, but I do believe I have done my mission heartily. And I sincerely hope that when I am on that plane home I’ll be able to look out over Europe and feel Heavenly Father’s acceptance of my mission.

But I know that this scripture doesn’t just apply to me as a missionary, but it applies to all of us in whatever our daily ventures are. We can always find reasons to be happy in our lives, even if everything seems to tossed hap-hazardly into a handbasket and sent on down the road in a unicycle to the pit of fire waiting for you. That’s something I’ve learned in these last seventeen months, that even when things are hard, there is always a chorus of angels standing off to the side cheering you on, lifting you up when you can’t go on any further.

I have such a strong testimony that the Atonement of Jesus Christ extends further than we realize. If we let it, His Atonement can permeate itself into our lives and can give us the little extra umph to our try and that makes all the difference.

There will always be difficult times that enter into our lives. Always. If there is one that we can count on in this world it is that we will have hard times. But I’ve come to learn that whenever a hard time comes my way, it’s the Lord’s way of showing me that He’s trying to make me into something or someone better.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still struggle though these horrible times of trial, it’s just really easy to write pretty words while you’re sitting at a computer, but when you put life into practice it works you hard.

I feel a lot like the man that God put in front of a large boulder and told him to move the rock. The man, being obedient to the commandments of God, pushed the rock as hard as he could and for eighteen months he pushed that rock and had absolutely no success in moving it. Not even an inch. And after eighteen months God visited the man again and the man said, “Lord, I have tried my hardest to move this rock and nothing has worked. I have pushed and pushed with all my might all these months and I have seen no results.” The Lord in turn looked at the man and said, “My son, if I wanted to move the rock, I could. Instead I asked you to move the rock so you could grow and become strong. Look at yourself now, after eighteen months of pushing this rock, you have grown strong and steady.”

Sometimes I feel like God put me in front of a rock and told me to push, and that’s what I’ve been doing for seventeen months with little to no success. But I can see the spiritual growth in myself and in the way that I am and the person that I have become. And for that I am so grateful fro all the difficult times when I was on my knees pleading and asking the Lord, “Why!” I understand maybe just a little more than I did before about why the Lord wanted me to come here to be a missionary.

Alles liebe,

Lillie

The Refiner’s Fire

Well, this week was quite the adventure! On Monday we went with the Elders to visit a less active, Schwester B, who is always really medicated so she is always here and there and getting up and doing something else, turning on Romanian music and dancing, and then falling asleep in the middle of her sentences. It was quite the adventure. We met with her a couple more times during the week and the adventures just get more interesting.

But on Tuesday we went to distrikt meeting, like usual, but on the bus a woman from China started talking to Sister Henry and asked her where she was from and what she was doing here in Germany. When we got off the bus we took the woman to the church with us. I was able to talk to her in Chinese a little bit, though I have lost a good deal of what I once had, I still sound good enough for her to respond to me. But for the most part we talked in English.
Her name is Lily, yes, I know, but it gets better. Her Chinese name is the same character as my Chinese name, which is really crazy. And, Lily is really excited because we have the same eyes. Which is random, because a lot of Chinese people have really dark eyes and mine are hazel leaning on the green side and Lily was really excited when we were giving her a tour of the church because she decided we have the same eyes.

Lily lives in Shanghai and goes to Christian churches there. She has a strong faith in Christ and believes that everytime she’s having a difficult time in life, the Lord always gets her to church. She told us she’s looking for home, looking for something that feels right. She said that people in China think that she’s only half Chinese and she said that she feels that she doesn’t fit in there. When we showed her the Restoration DVD she said that Joseph Smith’s story was a lot like hers. She said that she was searching for something, but wasn’t sure what it was.

We talked with her on Friday about coming to church on Sunday and she said she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to make it to church because she is on Vacation, but we promised her that if she came to church she would feel that it was good and that it was for what she was looking. But she told us she wasn’t sure.

So on Sunday, Sister Henry and I decided to fast that she would come to church, but I’m gonna be honest, I wasn’t sure how much faith I actually had that she was going to come, it was more of a hope that she would show up. We tried to call her on our way to the church, but her phone was off, and I was convinced that we weren’t gonna be able to get her to church.

I should know better than to doubt the Lord, because twenty minutes into combined Relief Society/Priesthood I heard the high heels clicking that only a funky Chinese doctor would wear. I turned around and lo and behold, there was Lily.

She LOVED church! She said that it felt so good and she felt comfortable. We met with her after church and the lesson was so spiritual and when she prayed it was SO powerful! She started crying she felt the spirit so strongly and Benji felt it too. It was just so incredible how the Lord works His miracles among the children of men.

We asked Lily if she would be baptized and she said she needed a little more time, which is find for now, but she doesn’t have a lot of time. She goes back to China on the 18th of July, so we’ve gotta get her baptized BEFORE she goes back. But I have confidence that the Lord has been preparing her for this and that she will be able to join the church and participate (just like Herr Ding, if you remember him) as a full and active member in China.

I talked a little bit about Schwester B, and well, we visited her twice in Reichenau, a clinic in the near where she is being treated. And that was quite interesting. It was a bit scary walking through the streets of the open area past buildings and people that were much too pleasant to be Germans. As we continued on we found a set of several chairs in an open field, all of them progressively more sunk into the ground. Strange.

This week I have been thinking a lot about missionary work and how difficult it is. It demands a lot from you. Full obedience, a complete bending of your will to the the Lord’s for eighteen months to two years. You are asked to leave everything behind, to forsake all of your hopes, your dreams, your desires, for that time and change yourself. I thought a lot about this unexpected demand from the missionary work. You think it will be easy to go out there, day in and day out , to talk to people about the gospel, to talk to people about why you believe in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, everything. It all seems so easy to wake up at 6:30, put in fourteen hour days and then get pleasantly into bed at the end of a satisfying day. You expect that people will stop you on the street, that you’ll have many opportunities to teach people and to talk about all the incredible things you know, but instead, you’re in for a surprise.
Everyday you drag yourself out of bed and kneel down on the cold hard floor to pray for the strengh and the energy to do the work that day. You fight to stay awake during studies and then you go out only to be rejected, shut down, yelled at, cursed at, have doors slammed in your face, and get rained on. And if you’re lucky enough to avoid the rain, you end up getting soaked by your own sweat. And then, when you finally make it through the day, you kneel down on the floor again, and try not to fall asleep on your knees. Once you’re done praying you fall into bed, hoping that you’ll be able to fall alseep quickly, but the humidity keeps you awake, cooking in your bed until you fall asleep from pure exhaustion.
So why has every missionary said that it’s the best eighteen months or two years of their life? Why does every returned missionary wish that they were back in the mission field?Because every day you wake up, roll out of bed and speak with the Creater of the universe about your plans to help His children for the day.  Then you get to study the words of the Lord, to gain inspiration, guidance, and personal revelation. Then it’s off in the work of the salvation of souls. Speaking with the children of the Almighty about their loving Father who wants them to return safely home. You feel love and sorrow for those that reject the opportunity to hear the gospel, but you keep going on in the hope that someone, somewhere will be willing to listen. And so you press on, through the heat, the rain, the snow, the wind, the rejections, because what you’re doing is more important than the natural man. You push forward because there could be someone waiting around the next corner that could be ready to hear the gospel. The person on the bus next to you could be go through the temple in a year and a half, but you have to talk to them first. And then, at the end of the day, you come home, sweaty, tired, but happy, satisfied that you did your best. And again, you have a chance to sit and talk with your Heavenly Father to talk about all the things you did that day. To thank Him for His help, and for all the times you saw His hand in the work that day.

And you keep going throughout your mission, doing the work of the Lord, thinking that you’re doing it to change other people’s lives, and although you are, the greatest reason your there isn’t for the salvation of the souls of other men, rather, for the salvation of your own soul.
Every day in the work of the Lord is another day in the Refiner’s fire. And eventually, after eighteen months to two years, you realize how much has changed since you were first dropped into the unexpected blessing of missionary work. And you understand, that the Lord had planned to make you what you could be all along, it just took that time to make you what He wanted.
I have noticed in the last sixteen and a half months of service in the Lord that I have grown in ways I never would have imagined. I have come to understand the meaning of the scripture in 2 Corinthians: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I still have a lot of time to continue to change on my mission. Plenty of time to continue the refining process. But I’m sure that though the Lord has taken some serious efforts to refine me on my mission, I know He will continue to do so throughout my entire life. I am just so grateful I have had, and continue to have the opportunity to lose my life for the Lord’s sake and the gospels.
I love you all, and I am so grateful for all of your prayers. I feel them every day.
Thank you!
Lillie

We Are Sent

Transfer weeks are always really interesting. It involves a lot of running from member appointment to member appointment, saying goodbye, and then getting everything packed up and ready to go. Sister Smith and I left our apartment at 6:45 on Thursday morning to catch our train that left at 7:21. And, of course, it was a holiday, so we had to plan around that. We drove up to Stuttgart where I said goodbye to Sister Smith for three weeks and she continued her journey to Munich and eventually down to Graz. I stayed with the Stuttgart Sisters and worked with them for a few hours while I waited for Sister Henry to come on her train. It was really fun to work in Stuttgart, the people are really nice and it has a small town feel. I am still grateful I only worked in small towns. 

Sister Henry and I got home at about 9:30, we made the Elders come and take her stuff to our apartment, which is on the complete other side of town from where they live, but it was a holiday, so there were no busses.

We taught Erwin again this week, he’s making slow progress, but he’s progressing. He’s a funny guy, he’s really cleaned up since Benji told him to take a wash. This is Benji below. He’s the funniest Englishman I know! He’s great. One of my best friends on my mission. 

We took this picture at the Überlingen Finding Day where we gave out 30 Books of Mormon! How cool is that? (Unfortunately I couldn’t get the computer to recognize the picture.)

Image

Sister Henry and I in Stuttgart Bahnhof. 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” -Romans 10: 13-15

 

I read this scripture this morning and I thought it had a really great application to missionary work, because it’s talking about missionary work!

There are so many people in this world who have never even heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before, and they have no idea what we believe, what makes us different, why we are indeed the true Church of the Living Christ. There are so many people who just need to learn about the gospel to accept it, and as missionaries, we have this wonderfully unique opportunity to do it full time. But there are still opportunities in every day life. All we have to do is look for them. The missionary opportunities we have may not necessarily come in the form of finding a non member family who is willing to hear about the gospel, but perhaps strengthening the neighbor that’s having a difficult time with their testimony.

 

A lot of times we misunderstand what it means to be ‘sent’ in our daily lives. Missionaries are ‘sent’ to specific areas of the world to teach people for a time, but members are ‘sent’ to specific wards, or to specific people to help those people in ways the Lord has planned. We just need to be sensitive and willing to listen to those promptings. I am so grateful that for this time I have been able to work where I have been sent, but I also know I’ll be getting a new call soon. I have to accept the fact that where the Lord sends me is where he wants me. After all, the work of the Lord goes on in all parts of the world. 

I love you all!

Lillie​

 

The Same Church; The Church of Jesus Christ

The sounds of screams, excited whistles, and the boom of speakers can be heard outside. Tonight is the first Germany game of the Welt Meisterschaft. Quite a trip I must say. The city has a jumbo screen set up in the middle of town to play the game so that everyone can watch it. The Germans are VERY patriotic when it comes to soccer. President Miles has told us that we can watch two games, so a lot of the missionaries will be waiting for the Germany v. America game and then a semi final or final game. It’ll be really intense to see what the Germans do when they win, or when they lose. There have been people wandering around decked out in German flags and soccer jerseys.Football is big everywhere, but in Europe it’s a totally different game.

We received transfer calls this week, on Friday, from President Miles. I will be ending my mission in the beautiful city of…Singen! With Sister Henry. We will continue to be Sister Training Leaders which is great, because Sister Smith is going to the beautiful city of Graz, to work with Sister Smith. Yes, that’s not a joke. I imagine this is how their contacting will go down:

“Hi, I’m Sister Smith, and this,” gestures to companion, “is also Sister Smith and we’re talking to people about Joseph Smith.”

But it will be great because they will also be Sister training leaders in their neck of the woods and we’ll see them in a couple of weeks for MLC.

Well, this last week we met with E again, and he’s doing alright. We’re still talking to him about baptism, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. We talked about tithing on Sunday. A lot of people are against paying tithing, even though it talks about it in the Bible. I remember an investigator in Wels who would always ask us who Melchizedek was. I was always really glad to say that I knew who he was. Melchizedek was a High Priest of God, the man to whom Abraham paid his tithing.

But as I was thinking about Melchizedek and the reflections of this aspect of the ancient church in the Bible and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I thought it quite interesting that our church really is the same church from the bible. Granted, we also believe the Law of Moses to have been fulfilled with the coming of Christ, which is a part of doctrine that is often over looked.

But I think it’s really interesting ALL of the similarities that our church has to the Church of the Bible, perhaps because it is the exact church,restored to the earth?

1. The Church in the Bible was organized by Christ, and the true church must be as well, to cut down all the confusion and the wonderings of the doctrines. But the true Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, would be His church, organized and led by Him. Sound familiar?

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

-Ephesians 4:11-14

2. The true Church of Christ would be His, it would bear His name, He would direct its doings and would tell His people how they should live.

“Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” -Ephesians 5:23

3. The Church of Jesus Christ would have a foundation of Prophets and apostles, having been called of God. They would strive to do the will of the Lord for the church.

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

 “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” -Ephesians 2:19-20

4. The true church of God would have divine authority from God.  The prophets and apostles would have been called of God to do His will and not to glorify themselves. They would live quiet lives striving to serve the Lord.

“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

“So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

“As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

“Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 5:4-10

5. Those who work in the true Church of God would serve without payment. They would serve because they wanted to serve God, because they love him.

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

“Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” -Acts 20:33-35 (see also: 1 Cor 9:16-18; John 10:11-13)

6. Baptism by immerson.

“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

“But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

“And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” -Matthew 3:13-16

7. Receiving the Holy Ghost (after baptism) by the laying on of hands

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

“Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

“(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” -Acts 8:14-17

8. Healing, having been ordained with the power and authority of God (also by the laying on of hands)

“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

“And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” – Mark 3:14-15

9. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Gost are three separate beings

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” – John 17:11

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” -John 20:17

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:16-17

10. God and Jesus Christ must have bodies of flesh and bone.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:1-3

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” -Genesis 1:26-27

11. Those who are in the Church, bust be called of God.

“And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.” Exodus 28:1

12. Revelation from God through prophets.

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” -Amos 3:7

13. There must be missionaries called to preach to the world!

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20

14. The true Church must be restored not reformed.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.” -Amos 3:19

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” -Amos 8:11

15. Baptisms for the dead

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” -1 Corinthians 15:16, 29

“Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20

I would say that the fruits of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the fruits of the true Church of Christ. I give my testimony that this is the true and RESTORED Church on the earth. Christ leads and guides this church and His prophets and apostles.

I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a representative who carries His name and I can testify to you, that this is His church, the only true and living God is in charge and He is pleased with all those who search for the truth, and find it.

I love you all!

Lillie

Come to the Well

Well, it is HOT!!!! I’m sitting here cooking in the internet cafe. I am sitting in a puddle of my own sweat in this leather chair an it is humid. I’m just so grateful I’m not an Elder. One of the Elders was asked today if he was sweating because he was wearing long pants. Skirts are no fun in the winter, but I am so grateful for them in the summer! Rough Sailing Captian!
Yesterday we had the opportunity to watch a broadcast from Zollikofen (where the Bern temple is) at which Elder Niel A. Anderson and Präsident Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke. The broadcast was to all of the Swiss Stakes and it was a great opportunity to listen to these apostles speak It was interesting because President Uchtdorf spoke in English, but his English sounded a little rougher and a little less polished as it usually does. After talking it over, Sister Smith and I came to the conclusion that he had been speaking in German and switching back into English must have been a little uncomfortable for him. But it was just incredible to see and to hear their words. And, at the end, we got to hear him speak a few words in German. His German is really one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard! True Hoch Deutsch, with absolutely no Dialekt. It was BEAUTIFUL!

This week I wanted to share one of my favorite songs with you. I consider myself lucky that my trainer, Sister Judd, at the beginning of my mission introduced Christian Rock to me. One song, and it’s description have stayed with me my whole mission.

The song is called ‘The Well’. It talks about how we run around looking for satisfaction in life, but never find it because the source they’ve chosen is of the world. They still thirst because their sources of water are physical and not spiritual. 

This song was inspired by the New Testament story of the woman at the well. The woman talked to the Savior and begged him to give her this water that He spoke of, water that would keep her from thirsting and would make her life a lot easier. But she, like a lot of us, misunderstood what well the Savior was talking about. When the Savior speaks of living water, He is talking about himself, the gospel, all good things that come from God. Those are the things that will keep us happy and keep us spiritually sound. I just think what the author of the song said is so interesting about the story of the woman at the well:

“This woman thought she was standing by a well and talking to a man, but really she was standing by a hole in the ground and talking to the Well.”

I have what you need,
But you keep on searchin,
I’ve done all the work,
But you keep on workin,
When you’re runnin on empty,
And you can’t find the remedy,
Just come to the well.

You can spend your whole life,
Chasin what’s missing,
But that empty inside,
It just ain’t gonna listen.
When nothing can satisfy,
And the world leaves you high and dry,
Just come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more,
And all who search will find what their souls long for,
The world will try, but it can never fill,
So leave it all behind, and come to the well

So bring me your heart
No matter how broken,
Just come as you are,
When your last prayer is spoken,
Just rest in my arms a while,
You’ll feel the change my child,
When you come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more,
And all who search will find what their souls long for,
The world will try, but it can never fill,
So leave it all behind, and come to the well

Leave it all behind

The world will try, but it can never fill… leave it all behind

And now that you’re full,
Of love beyond measure,
Your joy’s gonna flow,
Like a stream in the desert,
Soon all the world will see that living water is found in me,
Cuz you came to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more,
And all who search will find what their souls long for,
The world will try, but it can never fill,
So leave it all behind, and come to the well

Casting Crowns

 

Sorry it’s so short! But I love you all! 

Love, Lillie

“Ich Weiß der Herr Euch Liebt”‏

Well, this week was quite an interesting one. We were in Munich Thursday to Friday for Mission Leadership Council and that was quite an adventure. On the way there Sister Smith and I were so proud of ourselves because we had gotten out of the apartment with all of our stuff and we were at the bus stop with two minutes to spare! It was completely stress free! We were going to get to Bahnhof a little early, but that was okay because we had a few things to check on the Deutsche Bahn Machines.

While we were waiting at the bus we were getting a little antsy because the bus was a little late (as usual) but we both kept feeling like we were forgetting something. And so, we ran through a mental list of all the things we needed, checking it against each other, but couldn’t think of anything. 

It was while we were going through the list that we saw the bus come up and then pass the street it was supposed to turn onto. It was then that we realized that instead of the number three it was the number two and wasn’t our bus, the only problem was that the number two wasn’t supposed to run at that time. 

Sister Smith and I looked at each other and we both knew it. It was a holiday. 

In Germany, forty days after Easter is Christi Himmelfahrt (Christ’s return to heaven) and therefore, the buses run at different times. So, knowing we had just missed the only bus that would take us to Bahnhof in time, we started to run to catch our train. We left our apartment at 10:47 and arrived at Bahnhof at 11:05, a trip that usually, when we walk, takes us about forty minutes. We must have looked ridiculous  running with two suitcases (one of them completely empty), in skirts down the street. 

Earlier in the week the sole had come off my good walking shoes and I was wearing a pair of worn out ballet flats that are too big for my feet (imagine that). it was quite an adventure, but we made it in more than enough time for our train which left at 11:19.

The trains to Munich were relatively uneventful, we found a woman from France who is living in Augsburg on the train and we gave her a card with the number from the Sisters there. It was so nice to drive through that city again. Just thinking about it makes me happy. 

Once we were in Munich we headed down the the S-bahns and rushed onto the S7 to get to Solln. I hopped on, Elder Garrett came right after me, and so did Elder Mickelson, but those darn doors shut on Sister Smith’s face and left her there on the Bahnsteig. And I had the phone. 

The only thing was that we had to make that S-bahn to make it to our meeting in time. When we got to the next station I said, “We should get off here.” Elder Garrett wanted to leave Sister Smith back on that Bahnsteig without her companion. “Sister Smith is going to be waiting on the Gleis” I said, getting off the train. The Elders would have left me there alone to go back to get Sister Smith, but they ended up getting off the train and it left without them so they decided to come back with me and get Sister Smith. And just like I promised Elder Garrett (even though he didn’t believe me) Sister Smith was sitting there waiting for me to come back. 

We were about a half our late to our meeting, but we got a ride from the S-Bahn station to the church.

On Friday President Miles pleaded with us, weeping, that we would talk to people on the street, in trains, in buses. He was begging us to do it, not because of numbers, but because of love. Because this is the Lord’s work and because this is what He wants us to do, to bring souls unto Christ. It was one of the biggest slaps to the face for all of the missionaries there. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers as a missionary, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to bring people unto Christ, to baptize people and to help people get to the temple so they can live with their families forever. It certainly changed my perspective on my work. 

Then it was back on the train to Ulm, which we were all thankful was an ICE. ICE trains are really nice and fast and look like the clones from Star Wars. We got all of our stuff into one cabin, our once empty suitcases filled with packages of heavy Books of Mormon and we settled in for the nice long trip. As we were on the train a man came and sat in the cabin and started working on his computer and kept to himself. Once we hit Gessertshausen (a place in Augsburg’s area) the train stopped and policemen started going up and down the aisle outside of our cabin. We’re still not sure what was going on. But as we were stopped in Gessertshausen the man turned to us and, in perfect English asked us what we did here in Germany.

This started an interesting talk about the First Vision and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. This man, Karim was from Tunisia and had seen a documentary about the Mormons on television. He said that the documentary hadn’t been so nice, but that he was excited to hear the information from the actual sources. He asked us so many questions and many of them were deep insightful questions and we were able to provide answers that left him wanting more. 

By the time we pulled into Ulm Bahnhof we had been talking to him for a considerable amount of time. We got his information and the missionaries in Munich will be visiting him in the next few days and as soon as we all got off the train we knew that the train’s unexpected delay was just for Karim. 

Unfortunately, because of the delay we missed our connection, and the other two trains we took to get to Singen were both delayed ten to twenty minutes each. We got home around 11:30 that night. 

The next morning we got up so we could go to Schwenningen, a branch in our Zone so we could be a part of a finding day that their Relief Society put on. We split up with the members of the Relief Society and talked to people on the street for a couple of hours. It was so good for the members that came and they were all so exicted to share their missionary experiences with everyone afterward. 

But Sunday was the best. Every Fast and Testimony meeting Kim Joy, a girl in our branch with Down Syndrome, is always the first to give her testimony. She walks up from the front row, her arms full of books, scriptures and manuals, and opens them all up and then says the same thing every time. “My talk today is about the temple and I know that the Lord loves all of you. I know the Lord loves all of you. It says in the scriptures that the Lord loves all of you. And I give testimony that the Lord loves all of you.” And then she closes all of her books and then goes and sits down. 

Kim Joy has a very special calling in this life and I believe that we can all learn a lot from her. She gives affection freely and every Sunday I either get a running hug accompanied by the sound of “HAMMOCK!” or I hear from the Branch President or his wife that Kim Joy is waiting for me in the other room. And during Relief Society she cuddles with me and scratches my back and gives me hugs for no reason. 

Kim Joy is the epitome of pure unselfish love.  

I would say that we all need to learn a little bit about loving people like she does. She doesn’t care who you are, what you look like, how well or how poorly you speak German, she doesn’t care if you’re beautiful, rich, handsome, or well educated because she understands something that I think we all forget a little too easily. She knows so deeply and so internally that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and that He loves us. And because He loves us we should love others. And Kim Joy is a fantastic example of that. 

I would challenge all of you this week to see people as children of God. Try to see them as God sees them. And maybe tell a few people that. Because it never hurts to hear that someone loves you.

“Ich weiß der Herr euch liebt”

-Kim Joy

I love you all!

Lillie

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