Sunday, December 15, 2013

Letter #53: Putting off the natural man

Well, this month was one of those firsts that you DON'T want to happen. This was the first month on my mission that I haven't had a baptism. :/ 
Sister Johnson and I have gone over it again and again....why aren't we seeing the success we want to? What are we doing wrong? What more can we do? And it's been pretty puzzling. We are both working really hard and have been working with awesome people. And then....crazy situations happen. Or people get anti-ed. Or they just straight up disappear. It's definitely been frustrating. And the sad thing is that we've seen it with all of our sisters, too. 
It doesn't seem to make sense. Now that I'm an older/wiser missionary it seems like I should have figured it out at least a little bit by now. But in many ways, missionary work seems a lot harder than when I first started. I honestly do feel like there is a lot more opposition. Because the temple is so close to being completed, I think Satan is definitely stepping up his game and trying to impede our work as much as he can. I am so excited for the temple to be dedicated so that it can enhance the power of God on the earth and especially so His spirit can be poured out even more upon South Florida! (I sure hope I am here when that happens!) 
Anyway, today in my personal study I was studying Mosiah ch. 3 and reflecting on Christ's atoning sacrifice. I came to verse 19, where it talks about putting off the natural man and developing Christlike attributes. As I began to read the verse, the thought came into my mind, Oh boy, here we go...all those qualities I definitely DON'T have yet! As much as I love this verse of scripture, I have always fallen more on the "natural man" side of things than on the "submissive, humble, full of love" side of things. I've never been able to see myself in any of the virtues that it lists as desirable....I've just never been a particularly meek or humble person. 
However, when I read it today, the spirit hit me so strongly as I realized that I had become those things. Over my mission, but ESPECIALLY over the last month, I have become "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit" to put me through. It was amazing to me as I came to realize the amazing things that have happened over the last month. I didn't see the outward success that wanted to, but Heavenly Father was having a lot of inward success in me. Obviously I wanted to baptize all of Wellington in October and it didn't happen, but it is so incredible to me to see how God has been able to use my circumstances to change me into the person that He needs me to become. The atonement is such an incredible blessing! And it really does have the ability to change us. 

Even though we didn't baptize this month, I'm obviously still having a great time out here. God sends us plenty of tender mercies. We've been working a lot with a recent convert Darling in the ward, helping her with her personal progress and teaching her non-member family. On Sunday for one of her personal progress values, she had to write out a life plan. And part of her plan was to serve a mission and marry an RM in the temple! It was so touching and AWESOME, especially because when we first arrived in the area her testimony was pretty shaky. We also continue to have great relationships with ward members. The bishop's daughter told us this week that she wants us to come to her wedding one day (she's only 15 right now!). We taught part of sharing time in primary yesterday and afterwards, one of the primary teachers came up to us to tell us a funny story about her sunbeams. Apparently, one of the little girls Brooklyn had told her class, "Those are MY missionaries." And one of the other little boys (whose house we've eaten at for dinner a few times) said, "They're my missionaries too," to which Brooklyn replied, "No. They are MINE." Also Luigi's niece came to church for the second time yesterday and actually got to be a part of the primary program! This is a huge deal, as her mom was NOT welcome to us teaching the kids when we first started coming around to teach Luigi. So good things are happening. 

I'm definitely starting to feel pretty worn-out, though. This week I was thinking about the half-marathon that I ran on my birthday a couple years ago. The first 12 miles breezed by...they were easy and I was just feeling good the whole time. Then all of a sudden, WHAM! I hit that 12 mile mark. And that last mile was soooo hard. I knew the finish line was near, but I literally didn't think I could move anymore. But somehow, my feet kept moving. And then I crossed that finish line with a big ol' sweaty smile on my face and it felt soo good. 
That's kind of how I feel right now. 2 exchanges a week, ministering to 14 sisters, plus just missionary work in general has taken a huge toll on me and physically and spiritually I just feel exhausted. I feel like I've hit that 12-mile mark. And honestly, there are some days when I can't believe that my feet keep moving. But they do. And it's good. I'm so happy to be here. But let's just say I have a LOT of respect for elders who go on missions for 2 years. Because I don't know if my body could handle the extra 6 months!

Sister Dougal

PS- I did it. I wrote a letter to David Archuleta and it is on its way to Chile.


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