Man oh man oh man.
I just realized I only have about three weeks left in the great land of Oklahoma! And that's hard to imagine. It feels like, and has felt like, I'm never going to leave. But it kind of sunk in this week. We had interviews with our President, and before I even sat down he said, "are you gettin' nervous?" I hadn't thought too much about it. But in a way, I am. Not in the ways I thought I would be, though. I figured I would feel like I hadn't done enough. I figured I would be fearful that I would fall into old habits upon returning home. But to be honest, I really don't feel that way at all. My mission has been the most rewarding event of my life to date, but it's taught me skills that I will use to continue to progress throughout all of my life. Everything from work ethic to how to repent.
So the scariest part of that to me is how to retain all of that information. How can I take the countless lessons I've learned in Oklahoma and apply them wherever I may be? Then I realized, my desires are different. My mentality is different. I can recognize the spirit, I can feel whether something is right or wrong, and when I need to get out. The best way to keep those feelings of the spirit is to heed them. Diligently. When you ignore the promptings of the spirit, they get quieter and quieter until they dissipate altogether. This is the Gospel. Living the Gospel, being obedient, striving to be more Christlike each and every day will change a person. Not just the things that they do, but ultimately the way that they are, and then the things that they do will reflect that.
I shared some of this with President Walkenhorst. He shared with me a series of scriptures that were all spot on.
D+C 38:30: "...If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."
He asked, "Ultimately, who's in charge? Who makes sure you can't fall too far?" I smiled, and he pointed up. "He has a plan not only for you, but for everyone that you know. Your family, your friends, do you believe that?"
I do. Because I've always been taught that. And it's easy to see that God has a plan for His children when we spend so much time hearing miracles about how so-and-so prayed that God would send someone to help them, and then the missionaries knocked on their door. In fact, that's how we found Amber! But sometimes, even with all those witnesses, it's hard to personalize that promise. That he has a plan for ME individually.
President peeled open his scriptures again (he's good at that). He shared Acts 17:26 "+ [He] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, + the bounds of their habitation."
He created us, he sent us to Earth exactly when we were supposed to be here, + He will not let us step outside of the boundaries that have been set for us. We have our agency, but He knows us better than we know ourselves. He's not going to let us get ourselves in a situation that we can't get ourselves out of.
D+C 122:7-9 also illustrates this point really well. Christ, addressing Joseph Smith about his hardships, says,
"if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good....Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."
I was appalled at how personal this scripture is when I read it. If we are prepared, if we are obedient, NOTHING anyone else can inflict upon us will ever be a set back. All things give us experience. Everything. People always ask the age-old question, "why do bad things happen to good people?" Because that's the purpose of coming to Earth in the first place! If bad things never happened, our faith would never be tested. All things are for the benefit of mankind. ALL things. Too many people take to hating God, or ignoring Him when he allows hard things to happen. We can't always see the full picture. We can never see what He sees, and we will not always be able to identify how something that happens is for our good. But we have His promise that it is.
It reminded me of Alma 42:29. "And now, [insert your name here], I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance." It makes no sense for us to agonize over that which we cannot control. But we can control our own obedience and worthiness, and that is the only thing we're responsible for.
We teach Amber that principle pretty frequently. That she is only responsible for her own decisions, and as she sets an example, her family and friends will follow. She's been working hard to resist temptation, which I can imagine is incredibly difficult; she's surrounded by it. But she came to church yesterday with her sweet niece Mia and her son, Julian, and they announced her baptism. She's so excited. She's getting baptized this Saturday at 2!
Jayme is also taking great strides of progress! Her husband, Brother Anderson, got ordained to be a priest yesterday! So he can finally baptize her! It's kind of a long story why she's not getting baptized this week (aparently they paid a bunch of money to fly in this Japanese karate legend for some karate workshop... I don't even know), but she's getting baptized the 25th. :) And Jayme let us rip up all of her packets of sweet tea and throw them in the trash. (all 140 of them...)
We met a new family this week as well (the continuation of prayers answered) Maleah was a referral from one of the Moore sister missionaries' investigators. There's some solid work happening over here. Maleah met this girl at rehab, I think they were roommates. She's thrilled to be able to turn her life around. As we talked about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, she said that she felt "spiritual goosebumps". The Lord has definitely prepared her to receive the Gospel at this time.
So, anyway. This was a really long week. I keep having a flood of memories come back to me, but trying to document them is getting out of hand. Let me tell you this, though: The Lord knows us. So much more than we think. He listens to our prayers. And because they're a conversation with Him, He tries to talk back to us. So listen for that. The spirit heals all wounds. If ever you're going through a tough time, do all you can to feel the spirit.
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
I love you all.