Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Week 29: Happy Valentine's Day

Hi everyone!
I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day! We had breakfast at our Bishop's house and it was a lot of fun! That's kinda all we did for Valentine's Day though haha.

Okay, so I've definitely been going through a hard time right now. I knew that missionary work would be difficult, but lately I've been wondering why it's this hard. But then I read a talk called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and it's so perfect! He said:

"You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.

The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Oh my goodness! I just cry every time I read that last paragraph! Seriously, being a missionary is one of the hardest jobs ever! But oh my goodness it is so rewarding! And the coolest part about it is, like Elder Holland said, missionaries and mission leaders stand right next to the Savior. And a lot of times he carries us through this work. But He's there every step of the way and He knows exactly how to comfort you and help you to move forward.

This morning I had a super awesome personal study! I was reading in Alma 37 and starting at verse 38, Alma starts talking about the Liahona. So the Liahona guided Nephi and his family through the wilderness and on the sea, but only when they were being righteous. Then I love verse 45, which says, "And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." I love this verse so much! The scriptures are so powerful! And they truly will "carry us beyond [our] vale of sorrow"! I have seen that so many times in my life. The scripture have just what I need and they always help to uplift me. I know that the scriptures can help you in your daily life, so please study and feast upon the scriptures daily! 

Lately I've been studying the hymns, and it's super cool! I read the text to "Zion Stands with Hills Surrounded" (Hymn #43) this morning and verse 3 was exactly what I needed today!

In the furnace God may prove thee, Then to bring thee forth more bright,
But can never cease to love thee; Thou are precious in his sight.
God is with thee, God is with thee; Thou shalt triumph in his might.

Oh I love those words! And it reminds me of a scripture in Romans 8 that I also love! It's verses, 35, 37-39. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." God will never stop loving us! Just because we have trials in our lives doesn't mean He loves us any less! He gives us trials because He loves us and He wants us to learn and grow! 

Yesterday at church we had a brother and a sister speak. The brother just got home from his mission in Houston, TX and the sister leaves soon for her mission in Finland. The brother talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement. And he said that everything we experience in this life is pertinent to our salvation. Then this morning I read Hebrews 11 and the JST for verse 40 says, "God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect." I love this verse! We have to go through trials; it's part of the Plan of Salvation. But we can become perfect through our trials. We can become who God knows we truly are through our experiences. 

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us so so much, and that His plan for us is perfect. I know that the Atonement is real, and that through the Atonement we can achieve our divine potential. I know that our trials are for our progression and perfection, and that God will always provide a way for us to overcome those hard times. I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
Love, Sister Harper

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