As with every single week in the mission, this last week was a week of growth. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord knows exactly what we need and will help us grow into whom we want to become if we let Him.
My studies this last week were centered a lot around “Love” in the Topical Guide. A few months back, Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy came to our mission and spoke. The entire meeting, he had been able to reference the scriptures like I’d never seen before and understood the doctrine better than most anyone else I had met. During one portion of his presentation, he opened up for a Q & A portion. Someone raised their hand and asked him how he had been able to do this. He told us that when he wanted to know about a topic, he would start by studying the Topical Guide. This last week, I felt the strong impression that I needed to learn a bit more about love (and I agreed), so remembering that bit of advice from Elder Grow, I turned to the Topical Guide.
So far, I’ve studied the references from Genesis through 2 Samuel. The portion that touched me the most is found in Genesis 22. Most of us have heard the story of when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and in the end, in the very moment Abraham was faithfully carrying out this assignment, the Lord stops him and provides a ram for him to offer as a sacrifice instead.
I love the way the Lord stops Abraham from sacrificing his son. In verse 11 he says, “Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.” The words “Here am I” touched my heart when I thought of the whole situation. Here was Abraham, commanded to offer up Isaac, his only son, as a sacrifice, and when the Lord steps in and informs Abraham not to proceed any further with the sacrifice, the reason He gives is: “Here am I.”
Christ (whom we know to be the God of the Old Testament) was telling Abraham that he did not have to sacrifice his only son because He himself–He who would be the Only Begotten of the Father–would be offered up as the sacrifice.
In Interviews with President Reynolds yesterday, he asked me what part of my testimony had grown the most over the past 6 months. I responded that it was my testimony in the Atonement. The love Christ has for us was His motivating factor behind the Atonement. It’s this same love that can make all the difference. Here in Far Rockaway and Arverne, there are so many who have been beaten down by life. There are so many who we talk to that have no hope for a brighter purpose, no greater goal. It’s at these times when I really yearn to share the love I have felt from God, because I know it would make all the difference. I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loves us, and this love has made the difference between success and failure for me.
Some people are awesome. And others are more awesome. (Profound words, I know.) There is a sister her who is one of those more awesome people. She is a mom and loves the missionaries! For a while, she was inactive. In fact, for years the missionaries have been going over, and now she is active! She is one of my favorite people to visit here, because she asks the perfect questions and really tries to listen and accept our answers.
Recently, she asked us about the Celestial Kingdom and how that all fits in with the scriptures. After we opened the scriptures and explained it, she told us that the reason she asked was because one of her close friends had confronted her about that certain point of doctrine. She related that her friend–who is very well versed with the scriptures–really tried hard to convince her that this particular teaching was false. But you know what she did instead of caving? She kept bearing her testimony! And you know what the end result was? Even though her friend had been quite contentious and on the offensive the entire time, in the end this sister’s testimony was what held strong. This allowed her to later ask us to help her understand. She truly ‘doubted her doubts, before she doubted her faith.’
This last Thursday through Friday, we were on exchanges with our Zone Leaders. I sure love them! I was with Elder Sundet this time, and wow. He is so charismatic. There is not a single person that we met that did not warm up to him really fast. I watched in fascination each time we talked with someone and he just connected instantly and was able to teach effectively. Just wow.
Thursday night, we had an appointment with an investigator whose son is getting ready to finish his mission soon. The lesson itself was incredible. It was in Spanish, so I had to think a little bit more before I could ask questions and such, but it was super enjoyable. The topic was “caridad”, or charity. As we talked about Christ’s love and sharing our love with others, this man said he had a hard time loving others because they didn’t appreciate it. It was super special to feel the Spirit teach as we discussed about Christ’s ministry, about the love He shared and expressed, and then about the way His people received [or didn’t receive] Him. By the end, we all had a better understanding that charity isn’t about those around us, it’s about what’s in our heart. I’m really grateful for that lesson. 🙂
As busy as I sometimes feel during the week, Sunday always proves to be beyond busy. At least from a couple hours before church to a couple hours after church. From Branch Presidency Meeting to Branch Council Meeting to greeting investigators and members to making sure Gospel Principles is taken care of to all the various clerk responsibilities to rushing to set appointments with key members immediately following church, we are always moving. And I love it!
Recently, we had our Branch combined with the Spanish branch, which was actually a tender mercy–it reminds me of Hampton Bays. 🙂 (I rave about everyone in the Hamptons pretty much every chance I get–I love the Hamptons, and especially the Branch there!!!!! Every single person in that Branch is incredible. Seriously.)
Another week in the mission field. In case anyone is interested, tomorrow is 8 months since I entered into the MTC. Honestly, I had no clue until someone asked me how long I’d been out and I had to think about it. I thought I had only been in New York for a few months. It is so easy to get lost in the work, and I could still do so much better at losing myself completely in it! In my interview with President, his advice to me was to turn outward and leave everything else behind. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I am so grateful to be in here in New York! I never knew that “I Heart New York” would be so real. It sounds cheesy, but it’s still true.
I hope everyone had a great week! God bless you all and have another good one!