Monday, January 27, 2014

Letter #65: Eternally Grateful

Sister Stegelmeier sent me an email today and she said what I am feeling so perfectly that I figured I'd just quote her instead of trying to rephrase it myself...

"What an incredible week it has been. I love being a missionary and I absolutely love exercising my faith and trust in God by being obedient each and every moment. I am so grateful for the opportunity that we have to serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength. Time really flies when you lose yourself in the Lord's service."

I really had the opportunity this week to recognize the amazing blessing that I have been given of having been raised in the gospel. I cannot imagine my life without it! It is such an amazing feeling to be able to help others receive this incredible gift, but over the course of my mission I have been able to realize just how difficult it is to transition into this new world of accepting Christ's restored gospel. I had never even thought about it before, but being here has allowed me to witness it firsthand. For these new converts, it is an incredible and life-changing journey, but it is hard. This week a recently returned missionary in our branch invited us to his homecoming luncheon so that we could meet his family, NONE of which are members of the Church. His family members were all wonderful people, but as I sat there at his house, I just found myself being eternally grateful that God didn't ask me to be the pioneer in my family. I honestly don't know if I could have done it. It takes so much strength. I have become so much more grateful for my mother and for her amazing example. She, too, to this day is the only member of the Church in her family. Because of her decision and strength, I was able to blessed to be raised in the gospel! Wow. 

And as missionaries, THAT is what we are bringing to these people--the opportunity not only to change their lives, but the opportunity to change dozens, even hundreds of lives in the future. As they remain strong in the gospel, their future families will be blessed. As a YSA missionary, we do not often get to see the blessing of baptizing whole families. However, each YSA we baptize has their ENTIRE life ahead of them to bring others into the gospel, and that is an exciting thought. Many of those that we bring to Christ now will also serve missions, such as our recent convert Remington who is SO excited to serve a mission next year. They will have the opportunity to find and marry others who hold their same beliefs and bring children into a family where the gospel is taught from birth. What a blessing it is to be a part of this great work!

I have become a lot more in-tune with the Spirit over the course of my mission, and it has been amazing to see the miracles that occur as we just listen to and act on promptings. This week, we saw some awesome harvesting miracles as we found those who were ready and waiting for answers to their prayers! On an exchange, Sister L and I went to a street that I had picked on the map the night before. We weren't having much luck finding people at home and had talked about maybe leaving and going somewhere else, when we turned the corner and saw a beautiful yellow house. We knocked on the door and the woman, Barbara, let us in without hesitation. After the prayer, she was in tears and asked if she could give us hugs. She told us, "You do not know how needed that prayer was. You don't know the things that you said and how I needed to hear them. People from your Church have never knocked on my door before. I know God sent you here!" Moments like that have happened frequently on my mission, but every time, it is a miracle. I love being a missionary! I am praying so hard that I will still be able to see daily miracles like this when I go home!

Sybil continues to be ABSOLUTELY AMAZING....this week when we visited her she asked, "Where can I get a Doctrine and Covenants?" and "What's a patriarchal blessing?!" Keep in mind, she hadn't even been confirmed yet! She received the Holy Ghost on Sunday and can already see the amazing changes in her life. She sent us a text telling us about how powerful her prayers on Sunday night were and how all of her daily activities just seemed more fulfilling. Wow! She is incredible. I have learned so much from her.

Well, I definitely never thought I'd get to this point on my mission....but I did. I only have 6 weeks left in this wonderful and amazing adventure. It's really a painful thought...especially since I am leaving just a little three weeks before the temple open house. I guess I just have to trust that God needs me home instead of here at that time, otherwise He would have sent me out on my mission a few weeks later! It's still hard though. I honestly feel like this IS my life. And I don't want another one! I promise I still love you all....don't be offended if I don't really want to come back to you. :)

Love you all,
Sister Dougal

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