This week was crazy. Lots of changes for the Moncton Ward. Elders Wolsey and Sloan went home, who were replaced by the zone leaders, Elder Roberts and Elder Jason. Elder Erickson left for Bathurst and was replaced by Elder Collett. Moncton is about to be knocked out, the new district is hitting the area even harder than before. I'm the least experienced missionary out of all of us. The district is comprised of zone leaders, sister training leaders, district leaders, and missionaries who have been out for more than a year. Bring it.
The quotes of the week are Elder Wolsey's and Elder Sloan's parting advice to missionaries that they left us with the night before they left--
Elder Sloan: "Missions are not intended to make you perfect, they're intended to teach you how to live your life to one day become perfect."
Elder Wolsey: "Keep your stick on the ice. Don't lose focus on your purpose."
Words of wisdom from the retired missionaries.
Sister Olson and I have been focusing (both in our companionships and with all our sisters) on what it means to work hard. I think it's sad how few people really know what that means and do it. Hard work isn't giving in as soon as you face opposition, like I talked about last week.
So we worked hard this week. There were some heroic moments and some weak moments. It ended up being a pretty successful week, and we felt pretty good about our efforts. We found 3 new investigators, we taught tons of lessons in French which really pushed us, we talked to lots of people, we did remarkable things. But there were also the weaker moments that we're working on overcoming.
Which is why Sister Olson and I have committed ourselves to make this week the hardest working week of our missions.
That's a hard thing to do. It's hard to do the absolute BEST you can all the time. But this morning I was studying La Sainte Bible (and I'm sorry, you'll have to forgive me because I only have French scriptures right now) and my eyes were opened to how that's supposed to happen.
I was flipping through, trying to find a different scripture, when 1 Corinthians 15 caught my eye. I glanced over a few verses and was suddenly sucked in by the following. Paul is writing to the people of Corinth, and he's talking about how he and the apostles saw Christ resurrected.
7 Ensuite, il est apparu a Jacques, puis a tous les apotres.
8 Apres eux tous, il m'est aussi apparu a moi, comme a l'avorton;
9 car je suis le moindre des apotre, je ne suis pas digne d'etre appele apotre, parce que j'ai persecute l'Eglise de Dieu.
So basically here he's acknowledging his weaknesses--he used to persecute the Church and was against it, and that's why he's not an apostle. He goes on to say:
10 Par la grace de Dieu je suis ce que je suis, et sa grace envers moi n'a pas ete vaine; loin de la, j'ai travaille plus qu'eux tous, non pas moi toutefois, mais la grace de Dieu qui est avec moi.
I find that so powerful. "By the grace of God, I am what I am." In other words, everything great about us is because of God. Without him, we are His enemies, but with Him, we are great. In other words, He is completely the works behind any good quality we have. It is really Him, not us, because we are naturally enemies to Him.
And then he bears his testimony about how he worked hard BECAUSE of God.
Sometimes, my companion and I will become really motivated and ready to work our hardest. And it's amazing. We see incredible miracles happen, and our area is excelling and we feel great. We worked as hard as we could, and Heavenly Father blessed us with His grace so that we could achieve those miracles and see more than what we thought was possible.
And then suddenly we're burnt out. It's hard and we're stressed and we're tired. And I guess I've always kind of wondered why that happens. Why just when people are on top of things in their lives, they burn out and become exhausted. And here Paul explains why: we start thinking that it's US who is producing those good things, not God. So for in our situation, sometimes my companion and I might start thinking, "Yes! Our area is doing great! Now the other sisters will be able to see the example! We're doing great!" or "Man! We're really figuring this out! The numbers for this week will really reflect on our capability and dedication!"
But Ammon teaches an important lesson about this in Alma 26:
"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom. But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing. As to my strength I am weak. Therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God. For in His strength I can do all things. Yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise His name forever."
And by taking these two lessons into consideration (and it turns our Sister Olson and I accidentally independently studied this this morning during personal study), it helped me to understand what God is capable of.
If we don't get prideful about "our" abilities, which are really the Lord's, then we don't burn out. Because when we see miracles happening and we're accomplishing more than we thought possible, that's the Lord's grace--the enabling power of the Atonement--working through us. And as soon as we become prideful and think that it's US who can accomplish so many great things, God's grace can't be there any more to strengthen us, and we feel physically and spiritually weak and exhausted. Because that's how we are naturally, without Him.
Paul goes on to testify about the resurrection, and why that's the most important thing to have a testimony of:
14 Et si Christ n'est pas ressuscite, notre predication est donc vaine, et votre foi aussi est vaine.
In other words, if Christ doesn't live today, everything we do is in vain. Nothing comes of it.
17 Et si Christ n'est pas ressuscite, votre foi est vaine, vous etes encore dans vos peches,
18 et par consequent aussi ceux qui sont morts en Christ sont perdus.
If Christ doesn't live today, everything we do is in vain, and we stay an enemy to God forever.
We can't overcome anything, we are lost to death. We are weak and we are tired and we have headaches and we wonder how we're ever going to get through this and we just need a nap and we need this day to just be over and we need a break from our kids and we need someone else to take care of our responsibilities for once.
Because that is how we are without His grace. We can do absolutely nothing.
It is only because of His grace and His power that we can do anything.
When we push aside our pride and remember the most important testimony of all: that He lives, we are blessed with his empowering grace, which helps us become more than our natural, tired, stressed man.
I've been studying Elder Christofferson's last general conference talk, "The Ressurection of Jesus Christ." He says:
"...We have the incomparable ministry of the risen Lord to ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. In the land Bountiful, He descended from heaven and invited the assembled throng, some 2,500, to come forward one by one until they had all gone forth, thrusting their hands into His side and feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet."
I think about how much time it would've taken the Saviour to let 2,500 people receive personal witnesses that He lives. It must've been worth standing in front of them for hours and hours while each one finds out for themselves. A personal testimony of the Resurrection must be important for us. He goes on to say:
"Consider for a moment the significance of the Resurrection in resolving once and for all the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth and the great philosophical contests and questions of life. If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected, Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected, Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father."
I know that Christ lives. I am sure of it. I can feel it within myself. "O, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God... I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."
I'm grateful I get to bear witness that Christ lives. That it is because of Him we are able to do any small, good thing. I feel blessed that I've received that personal witness for myself--that I know He is resurrected. I love the Lord. In Him my soul delights.
And hey, I guess I love you too:) Have a good week!
|Isabelle back in Moncton :)|
|The Elders being awkward about Sister Olson sitting next to them haha.|
|I call this the "Missionary Trap." We were knocking, and this was the porch,which was super sketchy and I felt like it was gonna break.|
|Mother's Day flowers|
|My lovely Moncton|
|Some guy's cool yard|
|The old Dieppe Elders. Miss this companionship :( (Yes, we accidentally street contacted at the same time in the same spot again...sorry elders)|
|Cutest kids. I taught them how to make the ugly face.|
|My French tag finally came!!!! Unfortunately, the elder one came, not the magnetic ones I wear... :(|
|I had a craving|