November 02, 2015

Email No. 42


This week was quite uneventful. Mostly due to the fact that I was lying on my death bed the whole week. Fevers, chills, aches and the fountain of youth (or mucus lol) coming out of my nose. In summary, no bueno. I spoke with the mission nurse and informed her of my deadly disease and asked her to tell my family goodbye for me (#drama #iknow) to which she assured me that, no I wasn't dying and that over half the mission had/has what I had. It was apparently not the Black Plague, but rather a pretty nasty cold virus that was sweeping over the whole of New England. I still like my story better that I got the Black Plague. Unfortunately, all of the people we are teaching got it, so no one was at church. Major bummer. Now, as expected, Sister Hoopes caught it and is sick.

Even though nothing happened this past week, there is something that is coming up that I am beyond pumped about. We have a special zone conference coming up this Friday! Elder Nielson of the Seventy and his wife will be visiting our mission! Awesome, huh? Details on that next week. Stay tuned...

As I was contemplating what I should write, considering nothing happened this week, this story really stood out as one I feel everyone will benefit from.... So Halloween night is not a night that missionaries stay out. So our mission does something called "Deep Clean Halloween" where everyone has to be in by 5 and we spend the next four hours deep cleaning our apartment: throwing out old stuff, organizing, etc. I have been wanting to do that since I got here, but never got around to it. So we cleaned and it looks amazing now. During part of the cleaning, we found twinkly lights. I love twinkly lights. So we hung them up in every room and now, we don't use our lights anymore, we just use the twinkly lights. It is awesome. It is so much more peaceful. Moving on, every Sunday night, our district leader calls us for "call-ins". It is a call where we give an accounting of the week's work. So during call-ins last night, I was the one talking because Sister Hoopes was dying. As I was speaking with Elder Iverson, I saw a shadow move near our twinkly lights way up in the corner. I looked up there and saw nothing, so I kept talking. But then, moments later, the biggest shadow of a giant bug appeared on the wall. It was at least six inches long. We didn't see the bug, but we saw its legs and antennas twitching around, so I immediately started screaming and pointing and then Sister Hoopes saw it and started screaming and Elder Iverson was oblivious to the whole event because he was sick and couldn't hear and we were freaking out and then the bug moved away from the light. And we saw it. It was a ladybug. It. Was. A ladybug. A LADYBUG. Needless to say we freaked out about nothing. (What do you expect when two redheads are companions?!) So we both started laughing at ourselves, but since we both still have a nasty cough, we both started coughing and then we were laughing about that and then continued to cough. It was pretty funny. Oh! You thought that story was going to be an amazing story? Nope. Tricked ya. Pretty funny though, right? Okay. Here is the real cool thing: 

So because my marching orders were to not leave the apartment, I had a lot of time to study. There are a couple of things that I learned  In preparation for the zone conference, we were given a couple of talks to study, ponder and pray about. One was "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality" by Elder Bednar in the April 2012 Ensign (which I haven't gotten around to reading yet) and the other was the conference talk by Elder Bednar "Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease" from April 2014. Last night, I studied the last talk. It was probably one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I kid you not. Sister Hoopes was asleep and so I had a cd playing by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "This is The Christ". And the Spirit kept telling me to read the talk, so I did. Reading an amazing talk + listening to songs about the Savior = most amazing experience ever. Let's just say I took eight pages of notes on it. Open the flood gates of revelation. It was beautiful. I wish I could adequately describe everything that I learned, but most of it was internal. Bear with me as this is long. But here I go: 

Making and keeping sacred covenants is central to us being able to more fully access the Atonement. Covenants are promises that we make with God. One covenant that we make is made at baptism. At baptism we promise to take upon Jesus Christ's name and "always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given" (see Moroni 4:3). When we we make covenants, we become yoked to Christ (see Matthew 11: 28-30). Elder Bednar explains that "A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals that enables them to pull together on a load. A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task." 

Pause. I have been typing and retyping, trying to convey the message that I so long for all of you to hear and know, but I am not successful. So I ask for your forgiveness. I realize that I am inadequate, so I pray that the Spirit teaches you what you need to know. 

Anyways. Elder Bedanr explains the principle of covenant-making and the importance of it this way: "Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. ... Note the centrality of covenants to the promise of deliverance. Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21)." 

So. To all those who have made covenants: keep them. To those that haven't: do it. There is greater peace and greater blessings that come. Life is easier and so much better that way. Getting along with others becomes easier. Knowing how to parent your children becomes easier. Your relationships become more meaningful. Your views of the world become soften and the ability you have to endure hardships will increase. Covenants aren't just something we do because it is a commandment. It is a commandments because Heavenly Father knows that that is how we can come back to Him! Thus, commandments are a manifestation of God's love for us, not a way to tie us down to rules and regulations to make our lives miserable.  

As a missionary, my purpose is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism,  receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end." A big part of what we do is bringing people to the waters of baptism. But it is not just us going around saying, "Hey! Get baptized or else you are going to be miserable!" It's more than that. All missionaries everywhere are helping others become yoked with the Savior so that they can become everything who God intends and knows we can become. To me, now my purpose has more meaning. 

Another thing I learned is in regards to prayer. I want to preface this by saying that I have never truly understood prayer. I just didn't get it. I would pray occasionally, but I didn't like to because I didn't feel anything. I didn't get the point. I have studied prayer my whole mission, but it wasn't until yesterday that I got it. I get it now. And here it is. 

This month is common for people to want to not ask for anything in their prayers. They want to be more grateful. But, I also know that Heavenly Father wants to be a part of our life. There are children we want to ask for guidance how to help. Friends who are struggling that we want to pray for. Parents who are ill. Things for we don't understand. So my biggest questions was, how can I be grateful, but at the same time not ask for things even though I am in need and need to pray for our investigators? Here is what I learned and hopefully may help some of you: we don't have to ask for things during our prayers. For example, instead if saying, "help me to have greater patience." We can say, "What can I do to develop greater patience?" This shows greater desire to act on the revelation we receive and greater faith, Heavenly Father's answer will be a lot more clear if we do this. So don't ask for things. Ask for guidance. This is more grateful. 

Now. We know that things don't always work out the way that we think they should or expect them to despite us following the revelation that we received. So. Give an accounting to the Lord, through that you can receive further guidance. But we must remember that we will not receive the answer right away. Let Him know that you will keep trying. For example say, "Heavenly Father. I followed the counsel you gave, but I still don't understand. But I'm going to keep trying." We must also recognize that we cannot and will not ever change the Lord's mind or will. In the Bible Dictionary we read, "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." 

Another thing. I think the reason why prayer is becoming more understandable to mess because I am understanding on a deeper level my relationship with God. "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship." Never forget the relationship that we have with God. He loves us. He just wants to be part of our lives. 

Brothers and sisters. I love my mission. I'm becoming who God knows I am. I am coming to understand myself and the role that I have. I am also learning all that about others as well. Remember last conference when they spoke on how there is a difference between knowing the dance steps and hearing the music? (If you don't, go to website at the bottom) Well. I'm hearing the music. And it's the most beautiful song I've ever heard and I will never be the same. 

Love you all. 

Sister Grace Sewell

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