Monday, January 27, 2014

Letter #60: "Hope you know, we had a hard time....but to be completely honest, I LOVE it."

I can't believe this transfer is over...I am really going to miss Sister Clayton. She is an incredible missionary and we had such a great transfer together! This week we had some very unique experiences as we saw how the world views "Mormons". We had the opportunity to hand out pass-along cards at the Book of Mormon musical; we also had the chance to be part of a sociology presentation at Miami-Dade college. (We were so grateful that the group had asked us to be guest speakers so that we could share TRUTH and bring the spirit into that class after a presentation that completely lacked the spirit and solely focused on polygamy!!)
However, the transfer did not end like either one of us were expecting or wanted it to. This weekend, we both had some of the most frustrating moments of our mission together.

This last week, we worked so hard to prepare Christina, Manuel, and Aiden for baptism. They are all amazing...Christina especially; she is one of the most solid people I have ever worked with on my mission. They were all set to be baptized on Sunday. Everything was good to go Saturday night, interviews were taken care of..... Then Sunday morning, Aiden texts us at 2 am and lets us know that he's not getting baptized. Long story short, Manuel and Christina went totally MIA and weren't there when their rides showed up and never came to church. 
Honestly, I have never felt so angry on my mission as I did on Sunday. I was ticked at our investigators, and as awful as this might sound, I was also angry at Heavenly Father. How could He allow this to happen to Sister Clayton, after she has worked so hard her whole mission? She truly deserved this! She loved our investigators so much. Baptizing them was the righteous desire of our hearts, we did everything that we could possibly do, we trusted that God would see us through and help make up the difference....and then nothing. Honestly, I felt totally abandoned by Him on Sunday. I couldn't understand (and frankly, still can't quite understand) why things would happen this way, especially as we feel like we truly gave everything we could on our part. 

I had a long chat with God that night and have been studying a lot about faith in my personal studies these last 2 days. I was reading from a talk Elder Bednar gave in March called "That we might not shrink" which I LOVE and it really helped give me some perspective on this current situation. In the talk, E. Bednar includes a lot of quotes from a young couple that were going through some very trying circumstances as the husband endured chemotherapy and cancer treatments...
"We learned we needed to gain the faith that the Lord is in charge whatever the outcome may be, and He will guide us from where we are to where we need to be. As we prayed, our petitions changed from, 'Please make me whole' to 'Please give me the faith to accept whatever outcome Thou hast planned for me.'...My faith was dependent on the outcomes I wanted. In a manner of speaking, it was one-dimensional." 
"Up until this point, I had a hard time reconciling the need for my faith in Christ with the inevitability of His will...'Why should I have faith if His will ultimately is what will prevail?' After this experience, I knew that having faith--at least in my circumstances--was not necessarily knowing that He would heal me, but that He could heal me. I had to believe that He could, and then whether it happened was up to Him. 
"As I allowed these two ideas to coexist in my life, focused faith in Jesus Christ and complete submission to His will, I found greater comfort and peace."

As I considered my reaction to what happened Sunday and read this talk, I realized how much my faith is dependent on outcomes. Sure, it's easy to have faith as long as things are going our way. But does our faith still remain strong even when things don't go our way? I love the idea that this type of faith is "one-dimensional." Today in my studies I wrote out what I think are the definitions of 1-, 2-, and 3-dimensional faith. And really, the faith that I want to develop is 3-dimensional faith.
3-dimensional faith: A true understanding of our relationship with God and Jesus Christ; complete trust that as we act in faith and submit to their will, all things will work together for our good; and a desire to assist God in creating and shaping our lives and our characters. We understand that faith is a principle of both action and power. We completely trust the Lord to keep His promises and that through the Atonement, all things can be made right. We constantly recognize the Lord's hand in our lives and seek to learn the things that He wants us to. We understand that the greatest attribute we can achieve in this life is the ability to allow our own individual will to be swallowed up in the will of the Father, and we seek to develop this.
Compare that with 1-dimensional faith: Dependent on the outcomes we desire. We have faith as long as things are going our way but it is not rooted strongly enough in our Savior to allow us to continue faithfully trusting in Him when things don't go our way. Faith becomes situational; we lack the ability to trust in God no matter the outcome.

Faith is something I really wanted to focus on this transfer, and God is giving me many chances to learn what faith really means and to cultivate it. Unfortunately these lessons aren't always learned the way want them to be....but I trust God enough to accept that everything will work out the way it is supposed to as we continue to move forward with diligence, FAITH, and obedience. It breaks my heart that Sister Clayton didn't get to be here for our investigators' baptisms and that we didn't baptize any one this transfer. It seems unfair. But I would much prefer to learn this lesson about faith now than learning it the way the couple in Elder Bednar's talk had to. I still have a LONG way to go in being able to completely accept the Lord's will for me....!

Luckily, our hard Sunday also had some tender mercies as well. Heavenly Father truly is so merciful, even when we are bratty. Sis Clayton and I went out to our car after sacrament meeting to grab something we'd forgotten when all of a sudden, a guy we'd met and invited the day before pulled up next to us. He had gotten lost on his way to church and had missed sacrament but had prayed to find the church and bam, all of a sudden there it was! Benny came for the last 2 hours of church and even got to witness a baptism. When we asked him how he felt, he said, "To be completely honest...I loved it." I told him, "You know that baptism you watched today? That's going to be you on the 29th!" He told me, "I know, that's exactly what I was thinking as I watched it." We had a powerful short lesson with him and a ward member, where both Benny and our member were in tears as Benny expressed how badly he needs a fresh start and forgiveness in his life. He is incredible and so elect. Even with all the ups and downs, this truly is God's work. He is in charge and as we learn how to better align our wills with His, we experience the greatest joy that there is!

Even though sometimes I just look up to God and say, "Hope you know, we had a hard time"...."to be completely honest, I LOVE it." I love my mission and I even love the heartbreaking, frustrating moments because of all that I learn during them.

I really am going to miss Sister Clayton so much, but I am excited for the next transfer with whoever my new companion will be! From the sounds of it, I will be training a new sister training leader and at this point in time, I have absolutely NO idea who she's going to be! Hopefully she loves baleadas, Cuban ice cream, and chasing down YSA in downtown just as much as Sis C :)

Sister Dougal

No comments:

Post a Comment

Few things make a missionary happier than getting letters! And...comments are kind of like comment away!