|We did it!|
|A whole solid year!|
Most days joy fills my heart to the point of bursting. I have seen the most awe-inspiring changes in the lives of those around me and in my own. Others, my stomach clenches in frustration at times when those around me aren't willing to change or even when I myself fight against swallowing my pride and submitting to the Lord's will. Some days I feel so happy as I look back at my days as a missionary and see the times I did well, others I feel regret when I think of the days when I could have done better. Sometimes I feel sad when I think of everything else I could be doing, Others I am so happy in what I am doing. Most days are filled with happiness, some nights I cry into my pillow in exhaustion or frustration.
There is so much contradiction and it can be very confusing and hard at times. There are these powerful magnets pulling either side of you in opposite directions. I love my mission but sometimes it really hurts. I imagine our own Savior felt an extreme amount of contradiction when he cried, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." The contents of that cup were so vile and bitter yet He loved His Father. Sometimes we face a lot of trial and opposition. But for some reason we push right on through it anyway, I believe there is a greater love that drowns out all of the noise, that makes everything worth it in the end. I think that during this life we would be much better off if we would look at each opposition as an opportunity. Take Ammon, for example. As a servant to King Lamoni he was sent forth to watch the King's flocks. Not long after, some of the Lamanites came through and scattered them. Think about it, that had to have been terribly frustrating for him. Those around him said, "That's it, we are through, the King is definitely going to kill us." Ammon, on the other hand, stood amongst his co-servants --who were all in tears-- and thought, "Wow this is going to be great! I'm going to get all of the sheep back and maybe Lamoni will be so impressed he will actually listen to what I have to say!" He then proceeded to casually chop off all of the arms of his enemies. Ammon in our day is something like a General Authority with a part-time hobby of body-building. Favorite food? Protein powder of course. A spiritual and physical giant. What were the ramifications to a single change in thought-process? "Thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord." Pretty amazing, and all because one man decided to look at opposition as an opportunity. "Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only: to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like Him."..."Without opposition the plan would be frustrated, you could not progress and the purpose of life would be unachievable."
Our trials are truly understood better in hindsight. We may not understand the reasons "why" in the opposition we face today. But I know that tomorrow-- or even years from now-- we will. Take my case for example. A new, energetic, ready-to-go young missionary in Morropon. We were told that we needed to either baptize or increase church attendance by 30 people to keep the branch and area open. In my mindset I thought, "Oh this is going to be the best success story!" We were fasting, praying, and working hard. My mom was even putting the names of my investigators on the temple roll. How could it possibly go wrong? In the end what happened? Church attendance decreased and in 3 months a single investigator came one Sunday leaving without ever wanting to return again. Almost a year later that branch is still shut down and there are no missionaries there. There were many, many moments when I thought, "why me?" But now thanks to hindsight I can look back full of gratitude for all that I was able to learn from that experience, everything that has helped me in the areas that followed. Each opposition is an opportunity.
My mission is not at all anything like I had expected. It has been full of opposition, in forms more than just hard companions and lack of success. There have been times when I have felt like my mission has punched a big emotional dent in me and I couldn't possibly bounce back. Yet somehow I do. Sometimes, I'll admit, opposition comes and I think, "In what way could this ever be an opportunity?!" --we all have times like that. But I know that we have the most perfect, all-knowing, and all-loving Personal Trainer that is constantly giving us just the right amount of weight so that we can become our very best selves. "We shall emerge from all of these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them."
In the scriptures we read, "The God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Abraham." -Those must have been very personal and intimate relationships for Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham to be able to say, "Yep that's my God." My mission has really helped me to figure out who the God of Hannah is and where I stand in that relationship. I think that of the literal ocean of things I have learned on my mission the biggest and most important is that I know that my Redeemer lives. I've learned what that phrase means to me personally and what it can mean to those around me. It brings hope, it lets me know that I am never alone, it makes me happy.
Con mucho amor,
Points from the week:
-we rode bus cama to piura, they mopped the floors in there the night before then left the windows open. Which also means the mosquitos had a hey day. 6 missionaries vs 6 thousand mosquitoes and the possibility of getting dengue. We fought for our lives.
|Fighting for our lives!!! We got BUS CAMA! (like 1st class busses)|
-President gave us permission to ride on the boats at Puerto Pizarro! We made sure not to fall in...
|Zona Tumbes float in on a boat (with permission....don't worry mom)|
|Adriano enjoying the ride! Leydi's (convert) son|
-Jose informed us that because Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, every time we eat apples, we are cursed with an adams apple, "and that's why I don't buy apples, I don't want it to get stuck again!"
-Yesterday Elder Meier had me sit by the crazy evangelical lady that comes to church every once and while, its an adventure.
|President Rasmussen in the greatest!|
|We love Hermana Rasmussen|
|The Queen in her element|
|Hermana leaders and tacos|
|Leadership of the Peru North Mission- (aka Tumbes and Puyango)|
|Look who I found! Her first words in English, "I am chubby"|
|And they're off! Elder Biedleman and Harris, mission accomplished|
|Teaching Jose! (convert)|
|"Hna Lazo! (pensionista) put Pepe by the calendar next to our year date!" *slaps him right on there|
|One of my favorite families!|
|For a second we thought Tumbes was pretty|
|Flowers and the market|
|"Someone poke it with a stick"|
|"This is our crocodile Sassy, she's got a bit of an attitude problem"|