January 9, 2017
This week has been so rainy here, and looks like it will be for awhile. This winter is supposed to be pretty rainy, which is such a blessing because of the drought going on. I think maybe it is what people are calling el nino or something, but everyone has their own opinions about that here haha. Point is, it is pretty rainy for awhile. It is hard because missionary work in the rain is tough, but nice because the clouds trap in all the heat so it has been a little warmer out. Of course it is California so it never gets that cold in reality, but I am thoroughly acclimated to the weather here so it feels bitter cold to me!
We continue to teach Lesley and small progress continues to happen. We love her family so much, they are so cute. She can be a shy person, and we feel like as she gets more comfortable with people from the ward, and makes some true friends, that things will start to progress much more quickly for her. This week her husband listened in to our lesson which was huge. The Spirit was there and we have faith it was softening his heart. We got some referrals (or miracles as we think of them) from Salt Lake this week and are still trying to contact them. These are people who went online and felt inclined to learn more from missionaries in their area after watching a video or looking around on lds.org. A self-referral essentially. These are very special, and we are so excited to get to meet both people as soon as possible.
We had our stake conference this weekend which was just amazing. I was filled with the Spirit. I always love going to big meetings like that, it is a time for me where I am so open to personal revelation. I receive so many answers, and strength to keep enduring until other answers can come in God's timing. One really sweet moment of the meeting wasevening at the adult session, Elder Clayton from the Seventy called all the full time missionaries up to the stand, and the whole congregation sang with us called to serve. I could barely sing because of the Spirit that filled the room brought me to tears. I felt so loved and supported, and I looked out over the crowd as we sang and saw so many families that I have gotten very close with in both the areas I had the blessing to serve in. Their examples of faithfulness and true Christ like love as I have gotten to serve along side them hit me so hard in that moment and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be apart of this stake for my whole mission. It was a really powerful stake conference.
Some fun things about this week was that Sister Kitahara taught me how to make sushi rolls. It was so fun and easy and delicious. We have been eating sushi rolls all week long. Alsoas we volunteered as usual at the senior center, we got to help them put on a tea party for the residents. It was an old Hollywood theme and they all dressed up with hats and fur coats. It was super cute and the residents loved it. I love getting to know the people there, both workers and the residents. They each have really special stories to share.
I am feeling very accomplished this week. I finished reading Jesus The Christ. There is so much depth to that book, I know I need to read and re read it over and over again. It has helped me understand better the teachings of Jesus Christ particularly from the Bible. And most importantly, it helped me get to know Him as my Savior and Redeemer in a closer, personal way. I also finished reading the Book of Mormon for the third time on my mission. As I start my study of it again, I am focusing on a single question, Who is Jesus Christ? This was inspired from my study and experience of reading Jesus The Christ. Also inspired from my study of the New Testament I finished a few weeks ago, I also posed this same question as I read through it and it was powerful. I just want to mark this fresh new Book of Mormon all about Jesus Christ. I want to know Him deeper and better. I am not exactly sure how to go about this to be honest, I don't feel particularly skilled in how to really focus my study effectively, but I have a desire and a willing heart. The Spirit will teach me the way as I just jump in and try. I'm going to not worry about "am I doing this right?" and just focus solely on what touches my heart personally. I feel like I am starting on a long trip and I am not sure where it will take me, but I trust I will end up closer to Jesus Christ.
The very first verse of the Book of Mormon is powerful and perfectly placed. Nephi starts out by saying, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. ".
Nephi had so many trails, that I am sure tore at his heart. He had to abandon his home and everything he knew, he had to wander in the wildness without much food which was physically painful, his family was constantly tearing apart, he was almost killed multiple times by the people who were supposed to love him the most. Yet Nephi says he feels still favored of the Lord. He still knows God is good. That He never left him once despite his low times. That message exactly is what the Book of Mormon does for me, and can do for all of us. Despite the sorrow and despair we may feel at times or the trails that stretch us past our flexibility, when I read the Book of Mormon I am reminded God is good. Christ is my friend, and never leave me to walk these paths alone. There is a purpose to our trails, and as we turn to Christ He will help us see them.I have a testimony that God is a loving Father. Although we can't usually see the full plan He has for us, or the means He uses to help us grow, we can trust as we keep following we will one day find ourselves at His side. If we could even catch a glimpse to all He has in store for us I am sure walking this path would not be so hard. But we are to walk by faith not sight here on earth and so we need to trust Him. The Book of Mormon gives me the faith and the courage to have that trust and remember always God is good.