Monday, February 1, 2016

Final Week

Area: Leon Valley/9th Ward
Companion: Sister Nicholette Scott

Well, here it is... my final week in the mission. Who would have thought it would ever go by so fast? It's strange to think that in a couple days I'll be back in Utah where the weather is quite different than Texas.

There are a few scriptures that come to my mind as I conclude my full-time mission.

"So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel... For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."
Romans 1:15-16

"...I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
3 Nephi 5:13

"For behold, this is my work and my glory; to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
Moses 1:39

"And I was led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."
1 Nephi 4:6

"...let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part of which I feel."
Alma 26:16

"...I do not boast of my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."
Alma 26:11

Indeed, my joy is full. I have served the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. He is my God and I will continue to serve Him. I've put my hand to the plow and I am never looking back. How grateful I am for his loving hand in my life, and the lives of each of his children.

This has been a wonderful week! {M} is progressing swiftly, despite her health challenges. The goal for her baptism right now is February 13th. =) We taught her about the law of tithing and she had already been living it. She has such incredible faith. She has always been actively involved in her church and contributed much. She will make an incredible member.

Throughout this week I couldn't help but ponder on the love I feel for these people. I feel privileged to have tasted of God's love for them. As we sat in the dining room of a particular family, finally teaching the the restoration for the first time after many attempts, Dora spoke about the love she feels from God. They are in very humble circumstances, and are going through so much, yet she sees the hand of the Lord and recognizes his blessings. My heart swelled with an understanding of Heavenly Father's awareness of her and her family. Even though their understanding is very basic right now, the Lord is very pleased with their desire to come closer to him.

While we were taking a restroom break in a McDonald’s one bright sunny day, I was waiting for my companion in the lobby, and an older gentleman with long grey hair and a grey beard approached me and asked, "Are you a preacher?" For a split second in my mind I thought about our responsibility to preach repentance and I responded, "Yes, sir." He lit up and said, "Oh, I could just tell. By the way to look, I could tell." He squinted as he looked at my name tag and asked, "What church are you from?" I told him. He was pleased at the reply as he remembered years ago when young men in white shirts and ties came to him and talked with him. By this time Sister Scott came out and joined me in the conversation. We briefly explained the Book of Mormon and invited him to attend church with us. It was a delightful encounter. I just love when people notice that we're different and come to us with questions.

As I depart from the TSAM, this land and these people will always own my heart. With that said, I look forward to the next phase of life and I know that it is all a part of God's plan of progression. There is work for me to do that I cannot do here. And I am ready.

I am a servant of God, called of Him to declare Jesus Christ, who is my shepherd. I am, because of Him! I am willing to serve Him in all regards now and throughout eternity. My heart, might, mind, and strength are His. "For many are called, but few are chosen". (My personal purpose statement)

Your sister missionary, Sister Record

P.S. See you soon!


Sister Scott and I with the Rothstein's. He is one of our ward
mission leaders.

She also has a really good sad face... She doesn't want me to leave. ;)

Fun at Chick-Fil-A. Sister Scott has a great smolder, doesn't she? Ha ha!

Because of Him

Area: Leon Valley/9th Ward
Companion: Sister Nicholette Scott

It's official, I've passed 18 months... I can hardly believe I've been on my mission this long.

Words cannot express the joy I feel right now. We had the opportunity to go to {A}'s baptism last Saturday. The Johnson's took us and we brought {M} along to see it too. It was wonderful to see Valley Hi again. {A} has come so far, and has overcome so much to get to the point where she is at now. The moment we walked in, it was a joyful reunion. I could not wipe the smile off my face the entire service.

What is the gate that leads to the path of eternal life? Repentance and baptism. {A} is a beautiful example of one who has "[pressed] forward, that [she] might obtain the path which led unto the tree..." (1 Nephi 8:21)

After the baptism we talked about it with {M}, who also will be getting baptized soon. She told us that all her life there have been gaps that no one has been able to fill. But now as she is learning about the gospel, she recognizes that those gaps are being filled.

Our purpose is to "teach repentance, and baptize converts." This is who we are and this is why we are here. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ who paved the way for us to live in His presence again. It is only through Christ that we can be saved. It is because of him that we can become clean from our sins and enjoy his peace in this life, and the life to come. But we first must enter the gate. Repentance and baptism by one holding the priesthood authority of God. Moroni is a wonderful example of teaching repentance and baptizing converts. He said,

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."
Moroni 10:32

Because of Him

I love teaching the message of the restoration. It is true, and it fills even the most desolate heart with hope. As covenant Israel, we are the message. I felt an even deeper conviction of this when we stood outside an apartment and taught a man who we had met in passing. The power of the message sprang forth from our mouths and our hearts, and the Holy Ghost carried it into his own heart. As we stood there out in the open, listening to him and preaching repentance, we could see the light begin to grow in his eyes. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Once again, the spirit bore witness to me of the truthfulness of these things. We then boldly declared that we are servants of God, called by a prophet to preach our unique message to the world. He understood what we were saying, and asked a few questions here and there, signifying the hunger he has for knowledge. We will continue to teach him, as he has agreed to meet with us.

I never could have guessed that I would be capable of feeling such profound love for these people. It is a feeling I've never felt before. One that has changed my life, and has impacted me for eternity. I will forever be a servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ. My life is his.

Sister Record

Where's the Dumpster

Area: Leon Valley/9th Ward
Companion: Sister Nicholette Scott

Dear family and friends,

The weather here has been beautiful! The air is crisp and clear (though full of cedar, aka: allergens...) and the temperature has been fairly warm. Earlier this week on one of those bright, oddly spring-like days, we were in an apartment complex in which nobody was outside. After stopping by someone we had planned, we saw that there was a bag full of icky trash sitting outside someone's door. The clever idea to take their trash and leave a pass along card in its place popped into my head. It's fun to do spontaneous acts of service for people. The only problem was that as we entered the parking lot to find a place to dispose of the trash, we could not find a dumpster anywhere. We walked up and down and around that complex for a good 15 minutes. There was literally no dumpster to be seen. I have come to know that everything happens for a reason. I joined Sister Scott in laughing at our misfortune, but not without a suggestion that there is likely someone watching us from their window who will be touched by our efforts and seek to learn more about our church. They will open their door to the next missionaries they see. Or even simply feel the love of God and have a desire to be better.

After searching to no avail, we finally decided to knock on a strangers door and ask where the nearest dumpster was. When a bulky, grumpy looking man opened the door we asked, "We have a really strange question to ask you. Where is the nearest dumpster?" He softened and gave us directions. We tried to slip a pass along card in too, but he wasn't interested. Even with the instructions he gave us we still couldn't find it. Luckily, another man pulled up in a work van. He got out of his car, and we asked him. He was kind and pointed directly behind us where there was a trash compactor with stairs leading up to where we're supposed to put the trash. I've never even seen one of those in my life! We thanked him, gave him a pass along card, and FINALLY disposed of the trash.

Here is another funny experience we had: It was dark outside and we were trying to look for a house number. We couldn't find any house numbers on the two houses we were looking at. I said that I didn't know what to do. To which Sister Scott responded, "Well, we can cry, sit on the ground, and eat dirt." We chuckled. Then I added, "Or we could stand here and creepily stare at their house." Which was exactly what we were doing at the foot of their driveway. Suddenly the garage door opened and startled us both. We started walking quickly back to the car to avoid getting caught. We couldn't help but giggle as we walked. A Hispanic woman came outside and rushed purposefully across her lawn. We decided to still say hello and give her a card. She didn't speak any English though, and the only Spanish we know is what Sister Scott knows. Which is just enough to introduce ourselves and give her a card. This woman was very friendly and animated. Out of no where a red car pulled up and she got in and left, shouting to us "I love you mama!" Of course we were delighted to have briefly met her in such an awkward situation, and we had a good laugh about it in the car.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. Everything happens for a reason and when circumstances go different then planned, just know that someone is always watching and it is our choice as to how we respond. We might as well choose to respond with love and occasional humor.

I love the gospel, and I love to teach repentance and baptize converts. For that is who I am and why I am here. I was born to assist the Lord in his great work, and I am grateful for every minute of it. I know that the joy will only continue to grow when I move into the next phase of life.

{M} is still doing very well. She is progressing and has a wonderful understanding and comprehension of what we teach her.

Also, do you remember {A}? The investigator that Sister Risenmay and I met outside the church who longed to be a member? I just received news that she will be getting baptized this Saturday! I love hearing that those I took part in teaching are still doing well and progressing.

I love you all. Make it a great week!

Sister Record

Be Brave

Area: Leon Valley/9th Ward
Companion: Sister Nicholette Scott

My dearest family and friends,

God is so good.

"...In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."
2 Corinthians 13:1

"And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record"
Ether 5:4

We have been teaching an incredible woman named {M}. She is not from here, but came to visit her daughter. Upon arriving, she decided that she would stay for good. On her trip here, however, she lost her beloved bible on the train. The bible she had had for years, that was all marked up and pages curled from reading it in the bathtub. {M} is in her 60s and is a strong-willed, occasionally sassy baptist. She was online a couple weeks ago and saw that she could order a free bible. Of course she did, with the new found lack of God's word in her possession. That's where we come in. We received a media referral on our phone and quickly went to deliver this bible to {M}. She was delighted to meet us, and slightly surprised at the appearance of Mormon missionaries. She walked us over to the nearby park and talked to us for a good 40 minutes on the park bench. She loves to tell her life stories. The only thing we were able to get in is a copy of a Book of Mormon and an invitation for her to read it. She replied that she had read it years ago and never found interest in it, but that she was willing to try again. We asked her to read the introduction and then set up a return appointment.

A few days later we gave her a call. She excitedly told us that she had been reading! She went on to say that she had no idea the Book of Mormon was about the native Americans, and various other details that caught her attention. She even kept reading beyond the introduction and into 1 Nephi. When we went back to teach her the restoration she was eager to learn and had her notebook out ready to take notes on everything we said.

We asked her more about her Book of Mormon reading and she told us another story. She has been through a lot in her life. Including some serious health problems that brought her close to death a couple times. She told us that any time she went through a hard time in her life she would receive some sort of message from God in the scriptures, or from any random thing and the message always came in three. Meaning when it was something important it would be repeated three times. After reading the introduction, {M} came to the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, and was struck by the meaning that has had for her in her life. She looked up as though speaking to Heaven and told God, "Okay, you got me." She believes all of it.

Because of that experience she has been soaking up everything we teach her. She came to church this past Sunday for the first time and loved it! There is a sister in the ward who is perfect fellowship for her. When we asked this dear sister to come with us on Saturday and to give {M} a ride to church she humbly responded that this request was an answer to her prayers. Earlier that day she felt sad that she didn't have anyone to serve and prayed in the parking lot for an opportunity to serve. That same day, we felt prompted to ask her to fellowship {M}. And she has so kindly taken her under her wing. I am grateful for the meek and humble example of this member, and hope that I will always respond to opportunities in such a way.

The nearer I come to the end of my mission, the more I reflect on just how much I love my mission. It is something that has forever changed me. A legacy that will live on throughout eternity. One that will be instilled into the hearts of my posterity and inspire them to also serve the Lord. There is a song by Hilary Weeks called "Brave". I have changed some of the words in it to describe exactly how I feel about my life and my mission. I am grateful for my wonderful mother for instilling this message into my heart by the way she lives.

There were moments when I felt it and I knew,
Something amazing was happening within my soul,
And nothing could hold back what was inside me.

I let it move me, and lead my heart,
I chose not to be afraid to let myself believe in who I am,
I have become brave.

I am brave!
I let it come through and define me,
I was meant to be brave.

Each day I got my shoes, grabbed my courage, opened the door
And saw myself in a way I'd never seen before, and
Heaven was there beside me.

In the moments when the walls seemed way too high,
I trusted my instincts, prayed and started to climb,
I remembered, I have always been brave.

I am brave!
I let it come through and define me,
I was meant to be brave...

When I thought I couldn't
I was strong enough though I had fallen,
I remembered the words of my mother,
And was bold enough to stand and be... Brave.

There are moments when I will feel it and know,
Something amazing is yet to happen within my soul,
And nothing can hold back what's inside me.

I love you all! And look forward to reuniting with you soon. But for now, Sister Scott and I have work to do.

Love, your sister missionary,
Sister Record