Monday, March 11, 2013

Prayer and Reincarnation?

Hi family.

Thanks mom for the letter this week. You amaze me with everything you do--working at CarMax, quitting CarMax, doesn't matter; you are doing your 100% best to follow the Lord and so He blesses you and the rest of us and I'm grateful for that. I want to be just like you when I grow up :)  
I didn't remember that prayer that we had as a family. Thank you for telling me about it. The power of prayer has probably been a theme of this week. (Prayer and reincarnation... this frustrates me to no end... I am not a good missionary--loving, understanding, able to teach with the Spirit--when people say that they believe in Christ and reincarnation... but that is not a story(ies) for this moment.) Anyways...
I didn't remember that prayer, but I do remember our Sundays changing. I used to just want to spend all my time alone on Sunday and at one point that changed. Sunday became relaxing and fun and just pleasant to be around each other (for the most part... nobody's perfect). So this is just one more testimony to me of the power of sincere prayer.
Yesterday after church we had a lesson with two of our investigators together. These two investigators have very very different doubts and questions, but the thing that stood out with both of them was that in every area that they have sincerely asked God in prayer to understand or to be guided, they have found a response. Now they both just need the desire to pray about the rest of their doubts and I am certain that God can and will answer them in just the right time. Its made me wonder if I really use this amazing gift of prayer to its full extent. When I've had a doubt or desire how many times have I just relied on my own powers and abilities to achieve it. How many times has Heavenly Father just been waiting for me to ask for His help in sincere prayer and I kept on struggling along all alone? 
Not that He doesn't continue to help me when I am stubborn and forget to ask, or that He likes to watch me struggle, but He knows how important it is for me to learn to rely on Him. And that skill can only be learned when I learn to pray sincerely, to talk with Him, and then see His answers, His blessings, His mercies daily. 

This quote that a friend sent to me is really long but really good. so yeah..

"[A student said to me], 'I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best....I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?' Finally I said, 'Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.'...Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice....The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists."

Happy Monday.


p.s. I love you all. very much. Mom, Dad, Hannah, Paul, Tom, Jeremy, Will, Katy, and friends:)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Last Week's Letter

Hi Family!

As always it is so great to hear from you! And to hear from Jeremy finally!!

Your letters and lives are so inspiring and I am so happy to hear from you all.
This week has been a bit more of a struggle, but as always, comforting to see the ways that the Lord helps us overcome our weaknesses little by little, always pushing us to do and be a little bit more. This week I really needed what jeremy said to me in his letter, so I hope he won't mind me sharing: "all of that struggle I have endured has been me pushing forward as hard as I can with God removing just enough of the resistance that I can become stronger...I can thank God for not making it easy for me, but for helping me just enough that it can strengthen me."
This isn't necessarily a new concept, but seeing it applied in the lives of people I know and my life as well, it means a lot more. You have to start learning it with you heart and not just with your mind."I can thank God for not making it easy for me, but for helping me just enough that it can strengthen me," I want to have the strength to be able to say that everyday and everyday mean it--to everyday feel grateful for my challenges and for how the Lord is changing me. There is a song that we listen to almost every morning "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" that has a line "chasten my soul til I shall be in perfect harmony with thee." And I am learning how that process works. This is the plan that we came to the earth to live, the plan that is only possible through our savior and the plan that we can spend every day sharing with our friends and families and everyone around us. I was reading a talk by Pres. Eyring this morning, and at the end he said that this phrase of scripture can more or less sum up the plan of salvation in our lives. "And if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high." Endure it well. Part of the challenge is learning what that phrase means. Its not just sitting through hard times, its staying faithful, continually striving, and knowing that God will give us success, either now or in the life to come--knowing that no effort is wasted.

And just so you know jeremy. You can't be king of the nerds... you can't have a gym analogy and be king of the nerds... sorry, you are and will forever be cool. You have as mom would say, the John cool factor. Man, that phrase is just so mom. Ha ha.

Hannah! you are gorgeous as usual and your faith is even brighter :) New York! That will be amazing. better start saving ;)
I'm glad you taught yourself as you were wrtiting this week because you taught me too. Your crystal clear particle of truth for the week to me was this "God knows where it's going and that of I'm faithful I can fulfill the measure of my creation."

Woohoo!! mom is selling cars! you can do anything. And Dad coaching lacrosse? my family can do anything. I bet Paul loves having you in practice. I will be praying for your interviews to go well this week.
I love you all very much. Keep the faith.


The gospels true!

Fight the Good Fight!

Ola Família!

Como estão?

It is raining a lot today. Which is good because I like rain when I get to stay inside and today is P-day so I don't have to be walking around in the rain very much. Hopefully (and probably) it will dry up a bit before we hit the streets again.
Oh man, the Portuguese are really influencing me--I am genuinely talking about the weather. when I only have about 15 more minutes to email my family. People here are good at talking, which definitely has its ups and downs. Ups in that you can get to know someone really quickly and downs in that ... mostly ups I guess. :)

I like the phrase that Dad used at the end of his email this week: fight the good fight.
If we are really living the gospel to its fullest, if we have a sincere testimony that this life has a purpose and one of the most grand purposes is to become better, to be happier, by learning through our challenges and by constantly striving to be more like the Savior, a lot of this life will be a fight, a struggle, and one full of the peace and rest that only comes from giving our hearts and souls over to the Savior.
That phrase at the end of dad's email made me think of this quote from a talk called "a consecrated missionary":
"Parley P. Pratt was such a consecrated missionary. He had served as a missionary for more than 25 years of almost constant labors. He had just returned from his latest mission in Chile. He was hopeful that he could now remain home and enjoy his family, but such expectations were short-lived. President Brigham Young called him to serve yet another mission—this time in the eastern states. One can imagine the feelings that must have swelled up in Parley´s heart. Perhaps he thought, “Haven´t I given all that a mortal could be expected to give? Don´t I deserve to spend some time with my family and friends? Can´t I just relax for a while?” But Parley P. Pratt was a consecrated missionary. On September 7, 1856, shortly after learning of his call by Brigham Young, he offered the following tender reflections and prophetic insights: “I have desired, after travelling twenty-five or twenty-six years, mostly abroad, to stay at home and minister among the people of God, and take care of my family; but God´s will be done, and not mine. If it is the will of God that I should spend my days in proclaiming this Gospel and bearing testimony of these things, I shall think myself highly privileged and honoured. And when the Spirit of God is upon me, I think it matters but very little what I suffer, what I sacrificed—whether I secure the honor or dishonor of men, or where I die, if it so be that I can keep the faith, fight the good fight, and finish my course with joy. I have all eternity before me, in which to enjoy myself.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. xxv.)"

He doesn't really talk about, or try to explain the reward in the moment, the blesing of feeling the approval of your Father in Heaven, the rest and peace that comes to your soul as a witness that you are doing your best and that you are forgiven for the things that you can't do or don't do quite right and that its ok. I can´t really imagine what it would be like to serve for so long so far away from every normal comfort of life. The daily challenge for me is to remember on a daily in-the-midst-of-your-daily-routine level what the source of our joy should and can be--the Savior and His Atonement.

On a lighter note, happy almost birthday to mom (next week) and to dad later this month. I sent you guys some cards last week so they should show up in the mail in a few days.

I realized once again that I never include details of what is actually going on with the work here... I'm kind of terrible sometimes...
so I will just include the little\big miracle of the week that I sent to Pres. Fluckiger.
Miracle of the week: One of our investigators who was progressing the most disappeared for about a week. Then on Thursday he finally answered the phone and told us that he had stayed home all week with out leaving the house or really talking to anyone to quit smoking and he decided to do this after we had a lesson where we invited him to batism and prayed with him about the date. He didn't accept baptism with a date, but he started taking the steps necessary to be baptized on that date. So even if we didn't know what the results of our efforts were, the Spirit worked on him and helped him see what he needed to be doing.

I love you all so very much!!!
Have a great week. Fight the good fight. I let the Lord fill your heart and life with His love. Its worth it :)