Hello my beloved family and friends!!
Well first of all I am so happy for Britt and Erik!! Just so you know I totally just went and got a 711 slurpee to cope with my sadness of not being there at your sealing. But all was well :) we had a great day Saturday and your being sealed just made me want to work that much harder.
And also HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH TO TAYLOR AND COLE YESTERDAY!! I was sitting there during church yesterday thinking about how 10 years ago I remember sitting in the hospital room holding them right after they were born. And how I can't believe you are 10 already!! I love you both and I hope you had a great day! :) and Happy Birthday to Stephanie this week!! I love you sister!! And I will send you something soon, but you can't know what it is because it is a surprise :)
Well this week was pretty interesting. First of all on Wednesday was when we got our mini-missionary!! She arrived at about 9pm on Wednesday and when I say we got a mini-missionary I mean she was actually mini, like she was smaller than me! Haha like barely though. Anyway her names is Sister Menezes. And she is from Manause, (i think that's how you spell it?) Brazil! Her family moved to philly though when she was a baby. She spent a few days with us to see what missionary life was like, and oh man did we have some interesting experiences while she was with us haha.
First of all we had district meeting the day after she got here and District Meeting was amazing! We talked about receiving personal revelation through prayer and it was nothing short of amazing! I learned so much and definitely have a testimony of the power of prayer. I honestly do not know how I would survive without prayer. Nor would I ever want to. I am just so grateful for the sacred form of communication that we each can have personally and individually with our Heavenly Father each and every day. I was reading In the Missionary Handbook and it was talking about prayer and I realized that our prayers often show and demonstrate how close we are with our Heavenly Father. I know that the power of prayer is real because I have seen many many answered prayers on my mission :) I just love prayer :)
After District Meeting we had the opportunity to have lunch with the Stake President, President Sikahema and his wife, cousin and aunt. As we ate lunch with them President Sikahema talked about how he and his aunt served in the same mission. Many years apart but he talked about how he remembered that when he came to his mission everywhere he went he heard about his aunt and the good that she did for the people that she served. People loved her and revered her for the missionary that she was. He started to tear up as he admonished each of us to live and serve our missions and throughout our lives and to leave a legacy behind, and more importantly to leave a legacy that others would like to follow. When he finished he asked his aunt to talk about what her mission meant to her. She started to cry just thinking about it and the first thing she said about her mission was this, "the greatest thing that I remember when I think about my mission is my love for the people that I served." She then went on to talk about how there was a time on her mission when she was in a trio and how both her companions were "hard to deal with" she said. She spoke of writing to her mother about it and when her mother wrote back she simply told her this, "don't complain about your companions problems. Instead try to serve them in whatever way you can. Love them as the Savior would Himself if He were there." She said that that hit her pretty hard and got her thinking. And then she told us something else that her mother wrote to her in her native language of Tongan, she said
"The amount of service you render to others, is in direct proportion to how much Christlike love you feel."
I love that. So much so that I wrote it down and stuck it on my wall of quotes and pictures right by my desk. And I thought long and hard about that. We are always constantly learning, studying and applying the Christlike Attributes. One of which is Charity. And I love Charity. That's why my favorite Scripture in Moroni 7:47-48 talks about Charity...
"47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."
I love how this scripture talks about charity.
What is Charity?-It "is the pure love of Christ,"
How can we attain it?-By "pray[ing] unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love,"
What is the result of having Charity?- "that when he shall appear we shall be like him...that we may be purified even as he is pure."
Because Charity is the pure love of Christ it motivates us to serve others as the Savior Himself would. Now I'm relating it back to the quote by President Sikahema's Aunt, I realized that in how much we serve others the pure love of Christ truly is manifest. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of Charity because he loved others all His life and He served them. And sometimes it is hard for us mortals to do that. But the more we try to attain those Christlike Attributes, like Charity for example, the more we are becoming like the Savior. So let me rephrase that quote to how I understood it...
"The amount of service you render to others, in direct proportion to how much [you are like the Savior]."
As missionaries and as members of the church we are truly representatives of Jesus Christ. And as true followers of Him we must keep all of His commandments and try our hardest to be like Him if we are to truly represent Him.
This also reminds me of an experience we had after District Meeting on Thursday. We went to go and try to visit a less active who we had not been able to get a hold of for a while. And when we finished talking to her we started walking back to our car. And this random creepy guy in a a mini van starts slowly following us down the road as we are walking to our car. (Mind you we also have our mini-missionary with us at this point and it is only her first day) this man parks on the other side of the street and rolls down his window and inquires as to who we are. Standing as far away from him as we could we yelled across the way that we were missionaries for our Church. He asked what church and we replied loudly "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." He asked if that was Mormon and we said yes.
He then started to tell us about how he was so worried about us sweet, young, innocent and sincere girls, because we are being deceived. Right then I knew what this guys intention was and I immediately thought to myself "oh brother" he then went on to tell us everything false he had ever heard about The Book of Mormon, and said a lot of other negative things about the Church.
I had no intention of engaging in any kind of conversation with this guy but when someone has the nerve to come up to me and try to tell me that everything I believe is wrong, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut...which isn't a good thing sometimes haha anyway this guy just would not stop. I knew that there was no use and no point in trying to "prove" anything to him because his heart was already hardened against the truth. And he was already bagging on everything that is true so obviously the spirit wasn't going to be there. And he was just reciting off the safe verses from the bible and saying the same things that I recognized from every other bible basher I've come across.
Anyway, as he was doing this I wanted to do something just to stop him from talking and so I pulled out a pass along card and walked right up to him and invited him to church! (Side note: this week our goal for our Zone was to invite 10 people to church everyday) and so not only did he help us to fulfill our goal for the day but it also completely threw him off haha. I said to him "sir, I don't know where you are getting your information from but whatever it is, you're looking to the wrong source. And the best place to actually learn about the fullness of the Everlasting true gospel is at church. It starts at 10 AM on Sunday and we would love to see you there." He told me that he was a preacher from another church, and he continued to bash on everything that I hold dear and sacred. Specifically he tried to tell us that we were wrong for trying to "earn [our] way to heaven by doing good works." And that was the biggest thing he couldn't get over. He asked me if I knew if I was going to Heaven, and I said "I know that as long as I keep the commandments and I keep my covenants that I have made with God then yes I will be going to Heaven." He went on and on about so many other things but before it could get out of hand I again did the only thing you can do in that situation....
"19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them."(Alma 4:19)
So I simply bore my testimony, of the only true and living gospel and of my Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement and of saving ordinances that allow us to return to our Fathers presence. And so did our mini-missionary! And with that we turned around and left. We didn't confound him, we didn't stump him nor did we try to but we did bear witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the best way that three teenaged girls could do in that moment.
But the next day as I studied I was reading from The Book of Mormon and the Bible and the spirit confirmed to me again that this the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only entirely true church on this earth. And I remembered some of the things that man said about us trying to "earn our way to heaven" by doing good works. To that man he said it doesn't matter what you do as long as you accept Jesus Christ you are saved." And I thought "oh no, this man doesn't understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
And with that a line from one of my favorite talks came to my mind. It is a talk by Brother Brad Wilcox called "His Grace is Sufficient" and in it he spoke of his Christian friends who believe that we Mormons are trying to "earn our way to heaven" by trying to be and do good. To which he said this:
"No, we are not earning Heaven. We are learning Heaven. We are preparing for it."
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we are saved that is the absolute truth. But we still have a part to do. This life is not a competition to see who can try and be and do the most good, this life is a conversion process so that we can progress and try to become more like our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. As we keep the commandments that God himself has given us, and through making and keeping sacred covenants and promises we become sanctified or in other words we begin to change and we begin to be more holy like Our Savior. In other words we are preparing to live in Heaven with them.
We are commanded to be perfect. "48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48) But we can't be. We are imperfect, we sin, and mess up. And because of our sins we become unclean. And it is our sins that keep us away from Heavenly Father but the whole purpose of this life is to enable us to live with them again...."19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end."....but just like the rest of this scripture states as long as we accept and apply his atonement, repent, keep his commandments, and continue in faithfulness or endure to the end then we will live with God in His presence again.
Brother Wilcox said in his talk, "scriptures make is clear that 'no unclean thing can dwell with God.' But Brothers and Sister, no unchanged thing will even want to."
If we are to live with them we must live like them. The Lord loves us. He wants us to return to live with Him again. And He wants us to enjoy all of the blessings that He does. That's why He requires so much of us. Because the commandments and covenants we make are to make us better than we now are. My testimony has grown so much of the Atonement and of the saving ordinances of the gospel and I know that they are meant to protect us and help us to become more like our Savior. One more quote from Joseph Smith he said,
"The Prophet Joseph Smith said he was frequently asked the question:
“Can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances, etc.?” I would answer, No, not the fullness of salvation. Jesus said, “There are many mansions in my Father’s house, and I will go and prepare a place for you.” House here named should have been translated kingdom; and any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1949], 6:184.)"
The Lord has asked us to do certain things that without we would not otherwise be able to return to live in His presence for eternity. That is why we make covenants and promises because we love the lord enough to do ALL that he asks of us, and I can testify that these things are true of myself, and I KNOW them independent of any other person. Ah I have so much to say and so little time!
I pray each and everyday that we will all be able to strive to keep the covenants that we have made and honor them in all we do. I love you all so very much! Remember to say daily family prayer and have scripture study :)
Love you all!!
~Sister Amy Callaway~