Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016

Today is the one month Mark since I left home! It's been a month! Wow. It feels like forever, but yet it also feels like I just left. I'm doing better. Your prayers and your fasting for me are working! I just got a lot of your mail finally today, it was like Christmas I felt so happy getting letters. 
So I have an amazing experience to share with you from yesterday the whole first half of my day for me was amazing. So first of all that morning we had studies, that was really good. Then we had some time, and I watched a lot of great videos. I spent a lot of time searching and watching lots of different videos on the Mormon Channel. I listened to some great songs to and added some to the USB drive I still have. I was feeling very inspired, I was definitely feeling the spirit. Then later after lunch we went out to go see people. One good experience today was with Hank. I guess the Spanish Elders had tracked it into him and referred him over to us. The first time we had met him he was all for hearing from us, we gave him a book of Mormon and he was excited to read. So yesterday when we went by he had read the introduction and the first four chapters of Nephi! He had some questions about it for us. We talked about baptism because he had been curious about what steps it takes an our church to be baptized. We invited him to church, he didn't know if he could yet, but we had a really good talk with him. He could turn into a really good investigator. Then we visited a very interesting lady, a less active member of the church, sister Hearan. She probably has at least 15 cats living in her home with her and a few teenage kids. Anyways, she's been having a really rough time lately physically, and her family, medical, personally, financially, etc... So it's really difficult for her right now. She started crying because she felt so inadequate. We shared a thought with her and tried to strengthen her. Then we had an appointment with sister Hilquist, they're a less active family. This was a highlight of my day, maybe week. But oh, before I go into that I have to tell about the talk I read on our lunch break. It's called the fourth missionary it was given at a mission conference long ago by the mission president to his missionaries. Wow... It changed my life forever. You have to go read it! I don't know if you guys can find it somewhere, if not, let me know and I'll send you a copy. It's called "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawrence E Corbridge given June 22nd, 2002. It doesn't only apply to missionaries, you can apply it to anyone's life.. Go read it. Wow. So anyways. In it, it explains four different types of missionaries: the first two types are disobedient, the second 2 ( 3rd and 4th) are obedient. It talks about how most missionaries are the third missionary - they go through their whole missions obedient, worthy, hard-working, faithful, and change lives, but withhold in their hearts... As in, wants to follow God's Will, and does, but still in their hearts truly want to be doing what they want to be doing... I realized that is me. Entirely and completely. I am the third missionary exactly. I'm doing what God wants me to do, but I still have the desires of what I actually would rather be doing in my heart. I haven't really given up my wants and desires and giving God my whole self to be a missionary and to truly align my life will with God's. I need my mission to change the lives of many others. But when I get home, I need my mission to have personally benefited me. Not just even learning good skills, but really having changed myself from it. I need to be the missionary that "unconditionally surrenders"  my time, talent, energy, but most importantly, myself. So as I was reading this talk I thought "I know I am definitely the third missionary... That is obedient and trying hard, but my whole heart is not in it. And I don't know how to, God... But I really really want to be, and I need to be the fourth missionary - the missionary that unconditionally surrenders myself. I know it's the only intelligent thing to do. But I don't know how. God, please please please help me." And I knew then, that I had started the hardest quest of a lifetime. Also the night before, I had been praying to find joy in my work and to acquire confidence and to be bold. And the quote from the movie Evan Almighty popped into my head. It said, "when people pray for their family to be closer, does God zap them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" I knew God reminded me of that. God is giving me many opportunities to be bold, to share the gospel, to help people... I just got to stop being a scaredy-cat and take those opportunities. So as you see from these experiences I'm just struggling with submitting my will truly to God, and understanding had to be the best missionaries that God needs me to be. 
So now, back to Sister Helquist. So they're less active and really want to come to church, but they have four younger kids and her husband crazy days/ hours always on weekends, its just hard for them to make it. We went in talked with her and she gave us snacks, and just for a long time we simply talk with her, got to know her and had a good conversation. Then we asked if we could share a message. So we shared parts of the introduction the Book of Mormon and told and reminded her of its importance and challenge her to read often. Sister Thomason asked her why the Book of Mormon is important. Sister Hilquist is a convert by the way. She has so many things to say about it importance and she said she'd started trying to read again the other day when sister Thomason had her turn to the introduction she said "looks like God is trying to tell me something, because just yesterday I had started reading the introduction to the Bible to start with the Bible and Book of Mormon, what a "coincidence"." My companion continued to tell her how we can get so much out of the Book of Mormon and how we can feel the spirit so much when we read. The whole time while she was talking, some thoughts entered my mind that I needed to say the importance of reading your scriptures and obeying God shows him what you want. To say when you follow God, He blesses you. That's all my thoughts were. So as sister Thomason ended her thoughts mostly, I took over. I told her that not only do the scriptures help us and we can feel the spirit and get answers, but as we read them, since God has commanded us to, it is showing God what we want. By obeying God, showing him we want to do as he says, not just by saying so, God can bless us. And then just as I said that, this scripture popped out of my mouth, and I had no idea that I even thought about saying it: "I the Lord am bound when you do what I say but when you do not what I say, you have no promise." And I kind of paused. I didn't even remember that I had the scripture memorized, and at the time I didn't even know the reference. But it's Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. I continued to explain that as we obey and truly try to follow him, He blesses us and helps us, he has to, and he wants to! But if we don't do what he says, and we just simply claim that we'd like to be doing God's will, he doesn't have to do anything for us, and he can't. I paused, and I could see there were some tears In her eyes. She then said " oh my gosh... That scripture that you just quoted was the scripture that missionaries read to me the moment I committed to be baptized... And no one has ever said that to me since..." I felt the spirit flood me. She said: "wow, that's no coincidence... Seriously that exact scripture." And we all just sat there kind of in awe. I knew that God had "given me in the very hour what I should say." We then testified of the Book of Mormon in our lives and she said she'd try to get to church because her husband won't work weekends starting next month, and then we left. I couldn't believe what just had happened I really had followed the spirit, and had been an instrument in the Lord's hands. I'm so grateful for that experience, and hopefully I can continue to help sister Hilquist, and continue letting the Holy Ghost speak through me. 
So yeah, I'm sorry this letter is so long, I just had to share that with you. I felt really good can't wait for General Conference, then can't wait to talk to you guys on Mother's day, I miss you so much! Keep sending pictures and keeping up with everything that is happening! I love you all so much! Love, Courtney

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