September 07, 2015

Email No. 34

Family! And friends!! 

This week was 50 bajillion times (yes, that's a technical term) better than last week. It is amazing to me how the Lord blesses us with challenges and then uses those challenges to help us grow into a person that we never imagined we could be. I know that it is completely the Lord who helped me grow and have greater faith than I never thought I could have. 

As usual, we taught Bernie twice this week. He is an absolutely hoot. He always has a joke to say and is one of the most giving people I know. We talked about how we need to hold to the rod (specifically the Book of Mormon) in order to make it through the mists of darkness that we all go through. I can't really describe the Spirit that was there because it wasn't really anything that we said, but rather the feeling that made this lesson so so special. Even from the time that I have been here, I have seen Bernie's heart soften even more (didn't know that was possible!). Usually, Bernie will crack a joke every other minute, but this time he was almost completely silent. It was the kind of silence that you could tell that he was truly listening and that the Spirit was really working with him and testifying to him of the truthfulness of what we were saying. He gave the closing prayer. Oh! I wish everyone could hear Bernie's prayers! He doesn't just pray to God, but he talks to God. He always talks about how much he loves the gospel and how he knows that this church is true. He loves the church and everything about it so much. Oh man! I just love Bernie! Our second lesson with Bernie was equally amazing. We talked about trusting God. Again, this lesson wasn't anything that we said, but rather how we felt. Afterward, he made is pizza and we sat out on his porch and ate it. It was absolutely beautiful out. 

I don't know if I have told you about Andy. Andy is an investigator who the sisters before Sister Jensen and I found while tracting. He loves the Book of Mormon and he absolutely loves reading it. He is honestly so kind and such a sweetheart. I have only met with him once my whole time being here because we just haven't been able to find a time to meet. But, we have kept in contact. This past week, we called him on Tuesday and asked if we were still on to meet that evening. He hesitated and said very politely that he didn't know why, but he just didn't feel good about meeting with us. He explained to us that he was thinking about it an he just didn't feel good. But, he said that he still loves the Book of Mormon and is still reading it. He also asked us to continue to send him the "Daily Teaching" texts that we do because he really enjoys them. After he has said all this, we just asked him if he had prayed about it. He said, "No, I guess I haven't. I didn't think of that. I will do that." We told him that we would follow up with him. The next day we texted him and asked if he was still praying and he said that, yes, he had prayed twice already today. We then called him on Friday and had a very pleasant talk with him. We asked if he felt that his prayers had been answered. He said that he didn't fell like it yet, but that he planned on praying that night and asking again. We left him with a couple of chapters on faith to read and he said that he would. We will be following up with him next Saturday to see. Please pray for Andy that he will receive his answer and that he will feel at peace about meeting with us.

We also met with Marcia this week. Oh! It was a gorgeous place that we met. She called us and said that she had a very special place that she wanted to meet: Tidal Falls. It is a very pretty place where the ocean rushes in. The water is this gorgeous turquoise color and there are some rapids just by the shore. I guess it is what is called a "reversing fall" because when the tide is coming in, the current (and you can totally see the current) goes one way, but when the tide goes out, the current goes the other way. Anyways, it was a way cool place and we sat under this ginormous tree at a picnic table. She said that she wanted to meet there because it was a place she would always  go to have peace and to pray. Sister Jensen and I were grateful for it because we thought it was very fitting to be down by the water because we were planning on committing her to be baptized. The lesson went amazing and we asked her to baptized and she said that she just couldn't commit to that right now. We asked her what is holding her back and she said that she really didn't know, but would definitely pray about it. The Spirit was so strong and we were able to see that she was sincerely searching for truth and really wanted to know. 

Marcia also told us a very cool story. She told us that she remembered it this week and that she just couldn't wait to tell it to us. Years ago, her friend invited her to go to a Pentecostal church with her. Marcia did go and ended up sitting next to this woman, who I guess always prayed to herself in Hebrew. During the whole time, Marcia could hear this woman praying throughout the whole service. After the service, one of the members of the congregation mentioned how this woman, who Marcia sat next to, could never be understood. Marcia then told this person that she could understand every word that that woman said. Marcia told us that she knew that it was God that translated what that woman was saying. She told us that she couldn't remember exactly all that the woman said except that this woman was praying and that she opened her prayer saying "Dear Heavenly Father" and was closing "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." Marcia said that this experience was a testimony to her that everything that we are teaching her is true because it seemed to familiar and that it connected to this spiritual experience that she had. 

As I mentioned in the beginning of my letter, this week was one for the books. I will prelude everything that I am about to say by stating that this was a week where I feel that my testimony has exponentially grown. I pray and hope to be able to convey adequately all the feelings and emotions that I felt this week into words that help you all feel them as well.

First off, I have to say that I have such a love for every single one of you that read my letters. I recently discovered that there are a lot more people reading this than I thought did. Even though I don't know the extent to who reads this, I will say that I truly do love every single one of you. I feel of your prayers and love. I don't know how missionaries in general, and me specifically could make it through this journey without your love and support. Know that your prayers are being answered and that I feel them and to say that I appreciate them would be an understatement. 

For those who didn't read my email last week, I had a really rough week the past week. Don't you worry about me, it happens and it is all good. Well, specifically what I was struggling is with faith. I didn't have faith in God. I didn't understand the "why" of everything. I wanted to know. I didn't get why we couldn't know. So yes! Even missionaries struggle! (I was under the impression, before my mission, that missionaries were perfect, but now that I am one, I can tell you with surety that they are not.) Well, I got over my initial breakdown, I suppose you could call it, but I was still feeling a little down and out (#selfishpityparty #ithappens). So what did I do? I prayed and prayed and prayed and basically just asked Heavenly Father to help me get out of this funk. In the mean time, I just applied the principle of hope (see previous emails) and moved on forward in the work of the Lord. So Wednesday came around and we went to Book of Mormon class as usual. Only Matt and Marsha showed up and of course the elders were there as well. It was their turn to teach so I had the privilege of sitting and listening and participating where I felt prompted to. Well, it was about half way through and I was tuning out hard core for about the past 5 minutes, absorbed in my own thoughts. The elders were teaching about the apostate Zoramites and how their trials made them humble. But after a little bit, I tuned back in and noticed that Elder Dortch was talking about faith. Something inside me went, "Hey! Listen up! This is for you!" (No doubt that was the still, small voice telling me) So I did. Pause real quick. You know how they portray in movies Southern Baptists in their services just silently saying, "Amen, amen, amen" shaking their head with their eyes closed. Or they like jump up and say, "Praise the Lord!". Yes, well this was one of those moments. It's like a big red brick of revelation hit me in the face and I just thought "Oh! I get it!" What he said will forever change my life and how I look at faith. He said, and I wish I could say it exactly like he did because it was absolutely beautiful. He said that before we came here we proved to our Heavenly Father that we would follow Him when we knew. But now is the time to prove to our Heavenly Father that we will follow Him when we don't know. That's why faith is so important. That's why we don't know. I already showed Him that I would follow Him with knowledge! Now it is time to show that I will without knowledge. And you know how I mentioned that this was a Southern Baptists moment? Well I tell you that that actually happened. I audibly gasped and everyone looked at me. And I just started testifying to everyone there that the prayers of my soul had just been answered. And I would bear that testimony to all of you: never in my life had an answer to a prayer come to me so unexpectedly, so real, so pure. I knew in that moment that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I know that He is aware of my struggles and trials and questions and that He answers them. I know it. I know it. I know it. 

I also had my testimony of the Book of Mormon grow. I can't even pin point a certain event, but I know that it is true. I know that it is the word of God. I know that in it is the truths that are required for salvation. I know that more than I ever have in my life before. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith and that event which we so reverently refer to as the "First Vision" did in reality happen. And in that moment, in that singular event, the whole world changed. 

I love this gospel. I love my Savior. I love being His representative and sharing His gospel though people may ridicule and mock and make light of it. It is, as Elle told us, "a great honor" to be His missionaries an the ones He has called to be His missionaries. I am sad that I am almost half way done, but I will hold fast til the end because this work is true and this gospel is true and I can it deny it. 

Our Savior lives and He loves us. I know that more than I know anything. To me, right now, it is the only truth that matters. Everything else is just an added bonus. 

I love you all. 

Sister Sewell

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