Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Trust in the Lord, and do good" Psalms 37:3

Its time to say hello to a new transfer! I can't believe another transfer has ended. However, I did not get transferred, but I did get a new companion. She is a native Korean sister and she is wonderful. This is the first companion to whom I speak Korean to full time. It's pretty amazing, partly because it's made me realize that I can spend an entire day speaking Korean and get along just fine. It has certainly made me feel better about how much of the language I have actually learned, because it's still easy to feel completely Korean challenged. Sometimes a stranger will say something to me and I have absolutely no idea what they say, but then magically I remember, "hey you talk to your companion in Korean every day and you understand her, so you can do it." I just give myself a little pep talk and almost magically I can figure out what I am hearing. 

This past transfer was a little bit rough. Beginning the very first week in the area everyone started to cancel their appointments with us. It seemed as though our investigators, who had been so reliable in the past, dropped off the face of the earth. It got us a little down, but we tried our best to do everything we could to find new searching souls and keep the area progressing. Unfortunately, all of our best efforts seemed to come to naught. At times that made it a little bit harder to keep going every day. We were trying as hard as we could, and I kept trusting the Lord that if we would work and strive to do our best the Holy Ghost will reward us. It may not be immediate, but I have faith that it will come.

 I was able to see this magnified this past week. The Saturday or Sunday before the transfer ended the elders in Sujeong gave us a number of a woman who wanted to learn English. Honestly, my thoughts might not have been as positive as they should have been. They may (or may not) have gone something like this, "great, another investigator who wants to learn English but has probably zero interest in the gospel." However,  we were still thankful for the referral and called her to set up an appointment for this past week. When we met her and came to get to know her we learned more about her. She has had some struggles in her life and wants to make a new start for herself. As we talked about her religious background we learned that she had been to a few different churches in the past but none of them really felt right. A few days later we met with her again and she told us some of the things that she struggles with. She wonders about why we are here and worries about where we will go after this life is over. She said that people tell her that it is senseless that she worries about these things, but they constantly trouble her. I couldn't believe it. Every question and concern this sister had expressed was one that could be answered through this gospel. I marveled that I had answers for her, ones that quieted her fears and calmed her worries. I feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to teach her about the Plan of Salvation. I felt this was a miracle. 

There wasn't any big show or sign but I still recognized the miracle, and it reminded me again that Heavenly Father is aware of me and sees my efforts. I also know that it was just not my miracle, but hers too. She was the one who was searching for answers, wondering if she would ever find them. We were only the hands that delivered the message. I hope you all can come to realize and recognize the small miracles of hope that you receive in your own lives. I know that each of us can see the hand of the Lord in quieting our soul and lifting our spirit toward a brightness of hope. This is true for everyone, but we must “trust in the Lord, and do good” to see it for the miracle that it is. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week. 

Sister Annie

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Offer your whole souls as an offering unto him." Omni 1:26

Again, it's been a while since I have written. (I had such noble intentions when I entered the mission home.) Again, I am going to excuse myself by saying time has simply flown by. I suppose I might be starting to sound like a broken record but every week it amazes me that the dates have once again moved forward. P-Day (preparation day), comes along and yet it feels like I wrote just a couple of days ago. Anyway, I have been doing well (besides being a sweaty wilted mess all the time). My new area is in the heart of the city. Busan is so large that there are a couple of different areas assigned just within the city limits. My hometown, Pleasant Grove, is not completely out in the boondocks, but it is definitely not a big city. If I use Busan as a guide, Salt Lake even pales in comparison in both geographical and population size. I have traveled to metropolitan cities before, but my parents were always navigating, I just had to trust and follow them around. Living and working in a large city has been quite an adjustment for me and I will admit that sometimes it still stresses me out a little bit. However, I am glad for the experience. If nothing else, I am owning my own responsibility for where I find myself at sometimes (does that make sense?).

If I am being honest (and I think that is best), I will admit that this transfer has had a few disappointments. From the first day I arrived most of our days have been filled with cancelled appointments; and justifiably so, that can get a sister down. It makes me feel like the girl who gets stood up on a blind date, it's not a good feeling. I feel rejected, without the ability to let them see what I have to offer (if they only knew how wonderful my message is). But, we have kept plucking along (that is a farm reference, and I reserve the right to use it even though I am not a farmer, because I come from farmers just two generations back.) I am fairly confident in saying that every missionary has experienced times like these. Having previously experienced some level of both rejection and acceptance in the past I know that hard times always come to an end. That doesn’t make it any easier to bear at the moment, however. So I am just trying to enjoy the journey, because that is where the wonderful moments are found.  On the bright side, as we walk from place to place at least we are enjoying the outdoors.

As the inevitable end of my time as a missionary is drawing closer, it has caused me to consider more and more exactly what it is that I have learned through this experience. Something I have been thinking about lately is sacrifice. Everyone says that a mission is a sacrifice, and I understand why they say that. Missionaries obviously give up many things to be able to serve a mission. However, recently I have been wondering if we treat that word too casually?  To be considered a true sacrifice, it is necessary that nothing be gained in return. So again, if I am being honest, a mission is not a sacrifice, because I have been given so much in return. In fact, I think that when all is said and done I will realize that I actually received more than I gave. I know that the “things” that we give up to serve a mission are not the things that matter in the end. So what makes a true sacrifice? I found a quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell that I believe offers a good answer to this question. He says, "Real personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar, instead it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed." In essence, sacrifice for the Lord isn't giving up "things", but it is giving up those parts of ourselves that are acting contrary to what the Lord would have us do. This is what I am hoping to give to the Lord for the remainder of my mission. I definitely have a long way to go, but I have three more months to practice "true" sacrifice. I know that as we align our will with God's will our lives (and our testimonies) will be guided to places far better than we could ever dream of. 

I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Sister Annie