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

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