Hello from my own little corner of the world. I apologize profusely for my lack of writing. Things have been a little crazy as of late and I just haven't found the time to write to you all. My great news of the week: Transfer calls came and went and our phone stayed blessedly silent. So... I get to stay on Jeju for another transfer! This also means that I have broken my streak of having my companion dump me every transfer. I'm so excited.
Thanksgiving was of course this past week and I might have been the only one on this island who cared. However, all it takes is one enthusiastic celebrant, so it turned out pretty good. Since I was the sole missionary determined to suffer for food’s sake I cooked. I made us some stuffing and an apple pie in our little toaster oven. I may not have previously mentioned that Koreans do not bake as a general rule, so we do not have ovens. This has been the most difficult cultural practice that I have had to adapt to. Since my toaster oven could not fit a turkey we ordered some fried chicken. Anyway, I felt very festive, and it was a beautiful affair.
As it has been a time to ponder all that I have to be thankful for, I have been thinking this past week about the many wonderful things in my life that I am grateful for. While I have been on my mission I have been daily thinking about the guidance I receive from my Father in Heaven and how much of a blessing that it is.
It has been particularly evident on my mission that we need to look for inspiration and guidance from our Father in Heaven in order to receive it. In tuning my mind and soul to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost I have learned something a little better about how to recognize that guidance, and that is that it doesn't come without our work. Also, it doesn't always come at the beginning of the path; sometimes we have to walk a little bit in darkness before the light gets turned on.
There is a wonderful quote by Elder Dallin H. Oaks about acting before guidance comes. It says, "We will get promptings of the Spirit when we have done everything we can, when we are out in the sun working rather than sitting back in the shade praying for direction on the first step to take. Revelation comes when the children of God are on the move." (Ensign Aug. 2013)
There are many examples of this direction in the scriptures, but I found one in particular especially meaningful to me right now. In Ether, when the brother of Jared prays to receive guidance of where to go the Lord gives him specific directions of what to do and then instructs him, "And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward. And there will I meet thee." Ether 1:42
The Lord gave him a task and then promised that after this had been done he would meet him. After the brother of Jared had done his part and worked on his own. Then he received the further help.
If you are like me then sometimes when I am reading the scriptures I think “of course the Lord is instructing prophets, they are leading nations and peoples, but why would He care about my issues as they seem so insignificant”. I think one of the greatest opportunities that my mission has offered me is to travel. Traveling allows you to recognize how small you really are in a vast world. It shows you that your troubles are just a drop in God’s overflowing bucket of troubles–so many of which are proportionally greater than my own. If I can quote Oscar Hammerstein, “In my own little corner in my own little chair”, I know He still cares about mine. I have received comfort, knowledge beyond my own capacity, and inspiration to guide my daily life. This I cannot deny. And it testifies to me that even though I am a drop in an unfathomable pool of need I am recognized and loved as an individual. As I sit in “my own little corner” of the world He needs me to seek out my own personal inspiration, because this is the designated way that I can share my testimony of the Savior, and it is the way the message of Christ is spread–one drop at a time, to another drop, slowly filling the sea, and reaching every “little corner”, of someone else’s testimony.
It is through our struggles that our testimonies grow. However, in order for them to grow we have to build them, and in order to build them we have to seek instruction, and in order to seek instructions we have to study the scriptures and pray, and it is through searching for divine guidance that we recognize our blessings, and it is through recognizing our blessings that we become grateful, and it is through our gratitude that we share the message of the Savior and His love for us with others…in their “own little corner”.
My greatest struggle, as I am sitting in my own little Korean chair, has been to learn the language. It has been a blessing that my companions have all been able to speak Korean fluently. I do not know what I would do if I had to navigate the language on my own. I have often thought about the Apostles who went to preach of Christ to what was considered the ends of the earth at that time. They went alone and without an interpreter. I have thought how powerful their desire must have been to spread the news that “He is not dead–but lives!” It puts into perspective the training and guidance I have received to prepare me to serve in a foreign land. One major bonus I have is a companion who speaks the native language. But if my companion were to take care of me all the time, speak for me, read for me, figure everything out for me, I would never learn the language for myself. I would never have to struggle to share my testimony, and I would never be required to meet the lord half-way there. When your words are limited it really makes you think of exactly what you want to say about the gospel. It forces you to define your testimony. This has been one of the unforeseen ways that my testimony has grown. This has helped not only in my personal progression, but it has strengthened my testimony of the Savior. It has shown me that when I do all that I am asked then the Lord will "meet me there" and fill in the gaps. It is the same in our lives. Sometimes God allows us to struggle and work on our own so that we can learn and grow. I also know that although we often feel like we are in our corner–facing the corner–in our chair–feeling a little punished, He will help us turn out and see that we are part of a room that encloses all of humanity, where each one is numbered and each of us is counted in His Kingdom ..."and there [He] will meet [us]". I am grateful for the scriptures and thankful for the opportunity to seek personal revelation, which guides and directs me in my daily life.
I love you all and hope that you recognize the love of your Savior in the small things. I wish you a wonderful holiday season!