August 17, 2015

Email No. 31

What. In. The. World. I am seriously freaking out. I had a serious reality check this past week, that caused me to shrivel up into fetal position and just stare and nothingness: by the end of this next transfer I will have half of my mission left. It hit me on Friday. Friday was my 7 month mark. I cannot believe that my mission is flying by. I feel that the monster of time is shoving me along and I am pushing back, but to no avail. I came to the decision that if I focus on the finish line, I won't be able to enjoy the journey. (See President Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude). 

I came to that decision yesterday in Sacrament meeting when a dear sister was talking about having gratitude. So. I am going to focus a day at a time on how I can best serve the Lord, in that moment, and then, by the time the end of my mission comes, I will be able to say that I had done my best to serve the Lord. 

This week was fantastic. Again, I apologize that I start out my emails the same, but I seriously don't know how else to tell you how absolutely FABULOUS my weeks are going. I love the work here in Ellsworth, Maine. It is a beautiful coast line here, where rocks grow. I love it. If I was going to live anywhere in Maine, it would be here. Because I have the coast, and all the people I love are within a short distance away. (Milo is only 2 hours away). Anyways. I just love it here. It will be a very sad day when I have to leave. Oh! That reminds me! Transfer calls are this Saturday! So I will find out if I am staying or leaving, or if Sister Jensen is staying or leaving! We will see! I will for sure let you know next Monday! 

This week, we met with one of our investigators, Marcia. I'm not sure if I told you about her before... I just recently realized that I was spelling her name wrong, so apologies. If you get her confused with another Marsha, who is the recent convert. So Marcia, our investigator, has been taking the lessons from missionaries for about 2 years, off and on. She has been dropped, and then picked up over and over agin by elders, but it wasn't until a couple transfers ago, when sisters came into the area, that Marcia really started progressing. Previous to this, she has always had a really hard to time with praying. She always thought that you prayed only when you needed something. She then realized, on her own, that you are to pray for things that you are grateful for. I guess, in summary, she has had a significant softening of heart. This lesson we talked about gratitude prayers and the importance of them. As we were about to commit her to read a specific chapter in the Book of Mormon, she piped up and said, "Logan (who was the member) every week the girls give me homework. And every time that I do my homework, I have a great week. Every time that I don't, my week goes horrible. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but every time.... There is no coincidence. So, ladies, what do you have for me this week?" It was so awesome that she, of her own volition, has decided to keep the commitments we leave with her. Which is fantastic because, if she doesn't keep her commitments, how can she possibly progress? Anyways, that was a way cool miracle this week. 

We also taught Lin this week! She gave us a Chinese dessert, which was fantastic. It was the same texture as fudge, but made with green peas and sugar. It was way super good. Last time, we met, we committed her to read a conference talk. She did and when followed up with her about it, she told us that she had read it several times and listened to it several times while doing house work. She told us how much she loves the general conference talks and she wants to read more of them! Who hoo! She still isn't coming to church, but I know that as she continues to read those talks, that the Spirit will enter her life and the the Spirit will tell her to go to church. After that, she need only act on it:).

We taught another less active, Matthew. He is a way cool guy that grew up in California. He is in his late 50s/early 60s. This week we talked about "thrusting in our sickles" and keeping our sickles sharp. While we were talking about this, he told us that he had a sickle and another farming tool called a scythe. They were so cool! Hands on farming pictures to come. 

Friday was a nut-so crazy day. We had 7 lessons lined up and only one fell through. It was super super awesome. We were super blessed that day. 

One of those lessons, was Bernie's . We have really been trying to help him gain a testimony of Joseph Smith. He was on date for baptism on August 16th, but obviously it didn't happen. So we wanted to help him have another goal to work towards. In our companionship study, we planned to extend a baptismal date to Bernie, but we didn't decide on one. Anyways we came into the lesson and read Joseph Smith's testimony with him. He said that he had read it several times. He told us that maybe his answer that Joseph Smith's answer won't come in a bolt of lightening, but slowly and surely. We told him that, yes, sometimes answers come like that. We then felt inspired that then was when we needed to extend a baptismal date. Sister Jensen said, "Bernie, we want to help you fulfill the desire that you have to be baptized, will you work towards being baptized on October 24th?" It was quiet for a little while, while Bernie was just sitting there, grinning at us. He then said, "How did you know? That is my mother's birthday." We told him that we had no idea and said that the Spirit just then, right now, told us that he needed to be baptized on that date. We asked him if that was part of his answer that Joseph Smith was a prophet and he said, "Yes, indeed it was." Amazing, right? 

I ALMOST HIT A FOX. It was crazy. We were on a backroad on the way home from a dinner appointment. We stopped on the side of the road and were looking over at a giant pile of wood (pictures to come) on the way & when I started driving again, a little fox, jumped out in front of the car and I hit on the breaks in just enough time to let it pass. It was crazy. Well during call-ins later, we told our district leader and he said, "Well what did it say?" Lolololol. It was hilarious. 

Also, another funny story. We were having a lesson with Marsha. Oh! Real quick. So she totally looks like the fairy godmother from Cinderella, so we call her our fairy godmother. Anyyyywaaays. We were having a super spiritual moment and we asked her if she had any questions. She looked off into the distance, really pondering, and then she said, "Yes. I really do. Sister Jensen, what kind of mascara do you use?" Hahahah it was hilarious! We started dying laughing. 

I wanted to share something with you about what a brother in the branch spoke about. He talked about the Jaredites and how much faith they had. He said a few things that I really liked, but I wanted to talk to you about what I got from it. It is an incredible story about perseverance and trusting in the Lord. I hope and pray that I can adequately express the emotions and feelings I felt as I pondered on this lesson. 

For those who aren't familiar with the story of the Jaredites, I will give you the Sister Sewell version of what happened. There was a group of people, who were commanded by God, to leave their homeland and take off into to wilderness. They didn't really know where they were going, but they knew they were commanded to leave. So they did. They went into a wilderness filled with beasts and predators and all manner of afflictions. They were tried, they were in unfamiliar terrain. But they made it to the sea. There was, I like to think, a period of rejoicing. But it wasn't to last. They then were commanded to cross the sea. These people, who have probably never even sailed before, were commanded by God to essentially hop into boats, that were like footballs, with no light, let alone any steering and just trust that God would carry them to a promised land that they knew not of. To make matters even more unfavorable, they were told that they would be driven to the promised land by way of "great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind." How frightening! To trust God, and say, "Okay Heavenly Father, we don't know how we are going to get there, but we trust that Thou wilt bring us there." It was said of their journey: 

"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind. ... And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind." 

Aren't our lives like this? We are told in this gospel that there is so much joy to be had in the next life and in this life, even when hard times are upon us. We are all brought to a point in our life where we feel that the very fibers of our life are being torn apart, that we are drowning, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that we will never be joyful again. We feel lost, confused, angry, sad, depressed, weighed down , discouraged. There are times when we feel like crying out at God and ask Him why He, in His infinite love, would ever make us go through difficult times, why He would cause such terrible things to happen to us and to those we love. Don't we, at times, feel "buried in the depths of the sea"? Don't we, at times feel that "the [winds do] never cease to blow?" I am reminded of the first two verses of the beautiful hymn, "Master the Tempest Is Raging":

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o'ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat'ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken, and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control. 

What can we learn from this story? A group of people so lovingly "[commended] themselves unto the Lord their God]" yet they knew, they knew, that it would be a long journey, one that would last longer than a year! A journey filled with heartache, fear, hunger, fatigue; no control, barely any light (which was provided by the stones given unto the, by the Lord), knowing that the only way they would get to their destination was through frightening storms. Yet, they trusted Him. Do we have faith like the Jaredites? We knew that this life would be full of anguish and hard times, times that would bring even the very elect to their knees, yet we came. We came and we must endure. We can. There is light. We may not be able to see it at the present moment because we are "buried in the depths of the sea", but it is there. We are all, very similar to the Jaredites, being driven towards a promised land we know not of. We are being driven by was of tempest and hard times. But the beautiful thing is that it will end. The time will come when we will enter into the presence of God and we will be able to, with the apostle, Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith". Then coming from the Man who committed no sin, our Savior and Redeemer, the Man who cannot lie will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." May we live for that day. Hold on. Don't give in. Don't give up. There is joy! There is happiness! One day, we will be able to sing the third verse of the hymn:

Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth's sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven's within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blessed harbor
And rest on the blissful shore. 

Sistah Grace Sewell 

2 minutes away from our apartment (Previous 2 pictures as well)

Althea, (Elle's Granddaughter) Elle, Sister Jensen, ME

Ocean on the way to Bar Harbor

Brother & Sister Rand.  They are the sweetest.

Marcia, our investigator.

The Elders we are serving with In Ellsworth, Elder Hannig & Elder Bradley (I came out with Elder Bradley)

Our sickles.

Crazy Face.  We treated ourselves to ice cream because we had 9 member present lessons.

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