Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mexico Week 45 -- Hope and Confidence

To my favorite people in the whole world!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Can you believe it’s already 2015?! Can you also believe I’ve been a missionary for a year?  Time flies when you’re having fun!

The truth is ... I want to share a ton of things with you guys this week! 

This adorable girl is Megan’s age.  She is the bishop’s daughter and she is a doll!  She is literally the sweetest. We have lots of fun with her.

Also, all of my favorite fruits are out of season so I have switched to tomatoes with avocados and salt almost every night. I LOVE THE PRODUCE HERE! 

 The pictures of me with the magenta shirt and yellow sweater are the last official pictures of 2014!

Big thanks to Angie Smith for sending this adorable Christmas package!  Ben’s letter made me laugh and almost tear up a little bit. 

 Also, big thanks to Sister Carroll ...  A Christmas letter from her also showed up this week. 

Our less active young men went to church this week!  They live with their mom but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the church. She has three boys and they are too funny. We were so happy to see them show up at church!

Okay I am going to tell y’all the coolest story ever. Tomorrow is Dia de Reyes, or when the wise men show up. They make huge cakes and the Nino Dios is inside.  Today at Walmart one of the workers wanted to pick my milk for me, and then tells me to cut myself some of the cake to see if it had the baby inside.  What do you know? I WON!! Ha! Ha!  They gave me free strawberry and chocolate milk. Classic. 

 Also, I had splits with Hermana Durnford this week!  She is a new sister training leader and she’s precious.  I had a great time with her!  She is so humble and I admire her a lot. I remember when she got here!  She got here one transfer after me and stayed in our house!  It is so cool to see these same missionaries again and see how much they’ve grown. 

Okay now for the people!  We are teaching a couple named Miguel and Jasmin.  They’re not married and they have a history of drug use, but they’re precious. They’ve been to church two consecutive weeks now! We had a lesson with them this week with a married couple that has recently come back to church.  The lesson was so special and wow, this gospel truly blesses families.  I feel so blessed to have grown up in the gospel. Their son Sammy, said the prayer, and he says “Please bless Hermana Rawe and … and ... the other Hermana.”  We were all cracking up and I just felt special that he knows and can pronounce my name.  He’s like four years old and is absolutely adorable. 

Another miracle this week was the Velazquez family.  We have been focusing on the grandparents and the kids because they show more interest.  The kids were precious this week!  They asked their moms for permission and were awake and ready EARLY Sunday morning.  Members picked them up and they LOVED church.  These two girls, Magali and Karen are adorable.  Hermano Jose took them home and they were telling their moms all about church and how they want to keep going.  We are hoping with their enthusiasm that we can inspire the rest of the house.  But I do love the kids!  The other three are Rubi’s kids that are friends with them.  They go to church, walking, every week by themselves.  The 12 year old gets them all ready and to church on time.  I am so amazed by the faith of some people! 

Hermano Jose just keeps progressing too! He received the Aaronic priesthood this week, visited people with the Elders, and fasted! We are so proud of him and for the incredible changes we have seen in their home. 

This week we really focused on service.  Washing dishes for pressured moms, jumping in and helping wherever we could and then sharing a message.  With one mom, who is an active member, we just listened to her as we ate.  We started asking questions and we find out her oldest son is second guessing a mission, has a girlfriend, and she has been praying and going to temple.  We talked about fasting and it truly was a special lesson.  I have made a big mistake in the mission.  I have just kind of assumed that the members are good to go, not perfect, but almost like they don’t really need the missionaries and regular reminders.  This week I learned so much about how to really love and serve even active members. Sometimes they too are really struggling with their faith.  It’s so important that we stay constant.  We hear the phrases: Daily scripture study; Daily prayer; Family Home Evening; and regular temple visits.  It’s because even active members can fall if we’re not constant.  BE FIRM AND CONSTANT ... even when sometimes we think we’re strong and don’t need it. 

I have been studying the Liahona from General Conference and just wanted to share some comments with y’all because I love our church and the chosen representatives of the Lord.  I LOVED the talk, “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence¨.  As I read the self-evaluation questions at the beginning, I began to feel terrible! There were so many things I need to work on.  Elder Klebingat says, “Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God.  The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme.  As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence.  Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy.  Above all, it is completely unnecessary!  The decision to change is yours—and yours alone.”

He mentions six steps that were just awesome!  At the end he says, “Brothers and Sisters, my counsel to this sister missionary is my counsel to you: Acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life.  No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.”

“Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings.  I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments.  I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy.  I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction.  I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

This talk touched my heart so much as I realized that our message and our way of life is happy, it’s hopeful, sometimes it’s hard, but we repent and move on.  We love the Lord and trust Him and allow Him to bless us. We have to let Him in and we have to let Him change us. 

I also loved Elder Uchtdorf’s talk for the women.  He says, “My dear sisters in the gospel, whether you are 8 or 108, there is one thing that I hope you truly understand and know:  You are loved.   You are dear to your heavenly parents.  The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you.  Yes, God loves you this very day and always.  He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you.  And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own.  He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!

Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?  He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.  More than you could ever imagine, He wants you to achieve your destiny—to return to your heavenly home in honor.   I testify that the way to accomplish this is to place selfish desires and unworthy ambitions on the altar of sacrifice and service. Sisters, trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ; keep His laws and commandments. In other words—live the gospel joyful.

It is my prayer that you will experience a renewed and an expanded measure of the beautiful love of God in your lives; that you will find the faith, determination, and commitment to learn God’s commandments, treasure them in your hearts, and live the gospel joyful.  I promise that as you do so, you will discover your best self—your real self.  You will discover what it truly means to be a daughter of the everlasting God, the Lord of all righteousness.  Of this I testify and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

This is what I’m learning here as a missionary.  This is what I want everyone to know and feel.  This love has motivated and moved me to change.  It has helped me to love myself more.  It has helped me to come to know and understand my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ more.  I love this gospel and I just want us to be happy.  I want us to joyfully live the gospel so that we can return with him as a family.  I know that I am a total nerd, but I am so ready to have my own family!!  The mission just gives me mommy fever!  Ha! Ha!  I am so excited for my life ahead of me.  I am excited to be a missionary six more months, I am excited to serve in many church callings, I am excited to study and work, I am excited to be a wife and mom, and grandma, and whatever else the Lord sends me. Be happy! 

I love you all too much! 

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