It is officially June gloom weather. It is overcast most of the time. The nice thing is it is still warm but you don't have the sun beating down on you. I am hoping that I am still able to get a little color through the clouds. It would be embarrassing to come home from Southern California pasty white. I am sure I will have some horrific tan lines to figure out #missionaryproblems.
Anyway, it has been a terrific week. The learning never ceases.
I have been thinking about my mission a lot this week. I was thinking about all of the mistakes I have made. I was thinking about all of the miracles I have witnessed or been a part of. I was thinking of all the amazing people I have met and created lifetime relationships with. I was thinking of the good times. The bad times. The funny times. The spiritual times. And everything else in between. But in the end all the natural man in me really focused on was all of the missed opportunities. All the things I could have done better. When the clock is ticking it makes you second guess things and wonder if you really are "returning with honor". Like countless times before the Lord opened my eyes and helped me to see all of the good I have done. He blessed me with multiple tender mercies. Many of them small but of great worth and significance to me.
I would like to share a couple of those experiences with you:
1.There is nothing quite like someone complimenting you. Especially when you are feeling a little down in the dumps. I think that most of us get a little uncomfortable or awkward when they are being paid a compliment. I know I do. But the feeling of joy that accompanies it is so great. My companion Sister Wilkerson and I don't always get along. But we love each other. We are both strong willed and stubborn. But we are also willing to point out a strength when we see it. As we got back into the car after a lesson she just sat there for a minute and then said, "You know what? You are an amazing teacher. You just connect with people on such a genuine level. You are real. You don't fake it. You teach them what they need. You listen not only to the Spirit but to them. You have a gift for teaching and connecting with people." I am getting emotional as I type this up. What an amazing compliment that I am not sure I deserve. But it came right when I needed it. Right when I was feeling like I wasn't making a difference. I am the biggest believer in Spencer W. Kimball's idea that many times the Lord answers our prayers through other people. That was very true in this instance.
2. There has been a lot of stress in the mission. There are a lot of people in SoCal. There are so many opportunities to baptize. But the work is hard. Not everyone is interested. We have a lot of missionaries with extra needs. But there are still Standards of Excellence (goals produced by the mission president and assistants) to uphold and pressure to bring people into the waters of baptism. Sister Wilkerson and I were out walking around a nature park right across from our church buildingbefore church talking to people. No one was interested. Everyone was busy biking or hiking. We felt kind of useless. We found a boulder in the shade and went and sat down on it. We sat there in silence for a good 15 minutes just thinking. Then out of no where the 1st counselor in our mission presidency, President Ellis shows up. I have worked pretty closely with him and grown to love and admire him a lot. He told us what an awesome idea it was for us to be sitting out in the park. He went on to talk about how there is a lot of stress in the mission because our measure of success is skewed. When Elder Anderson was here he talked about the importance of lifting the faith of those around us. He talked about how we never know what influence we are going to have on people. A lot of times a simple hello or acknowledging that someone is there goes a long way. P. Ellis told us how we are being missionaries when we are just out and about wearing our namtags loud and proud. We will never know the impact we will have on someone's life. Often times we freak out thinking if we don't talk about the church right away the opportunity is lost. But maybe all that person needs is someone to talk to. Isn't that true for all of us? In many ways we want instantanious results. We want a baptismal committment within 10 minutes of talking to someone. We challenge the will of the Lord with our personal wants. The Lord will do his work on His timetable. We are asked to invite, to love, to lift faith. If we are doing those things the Lord will bring the miracles and he will guide His children to us or us to them when the time is right. We need to stop trying to do it our way and do it His way. It was a blessing from heaven that day to talk to P. Ellis. He put a lot of things into perspective. And while we were sitting there feeling lame, he complimented us for being out and allowing others to see us. It all has to do with out motives and perspective. Sometimes the little things are the things that have the most impact.
3. Sister Wilkerson and I were talking about pride. So often we allow Satan to get into our heads and distract us from what is right in front of us. This has definitely been true for me many times in my life and specicially with all the negative thoughts about my mission. Along with that there have been fears of going home. Worry of what it will be like. Will all of the things I have planned for myself work out. And so on. What we realized is that all of these thoughts are selfish. We came to the conclusion that the past doesn't matter because of the Atonement. Every day we can repent and have a fresh start. The future is out of our control and when we worry about it we forfeit our faith. We get so caught up in thinking about the past and the future that we miss the present. Now is the time to learn and grow. All the yesterdays are turning us into the person that our Heavenly Father wants us to be in the eterneties. There are always things that we can do better and that is what the tomorrows are for. When we fear things our trust disappears. I have realized that fear is natural. So it is kind of dumb to say "I am going to overcome fear all together." Instead the frame of mind should be I want to develop the natural response of turning to the Savior any time I feel that fear. We can improve how quickly we do that. It is something I have been working on my whole mission. I am still far from perfect but I have made a lot of progress and the best part of all is I am a lot happier. We don't know everything. But God does. Trust in Him and have hope that it will all work out in our favor. Beacuse with His help it will.
Pitty parties don't get you very far. Feeling sorry for yourself just leads to unhappiness. But using the Atonement and prayer do work. They bring a new found sense of hope and peace. None of us are perfect but we are all enough in the Lords eyes. He loves us and accepts us regardless of our shortcomings and faults.
I encourage all of you to compliment someone this week. Say hi. Smile. Serve. You never know the impact it will have and it will make you feel good.
When we make time for the Lord, He will make time in our own schedule for ourselves. We can still get it all done. We just have to sacrifice to show Him that He is worth it.
I hope you all have a great week! I love you!
:) Sister Kimball