Sunday, February 23, 2014

Letter #68: "Because when you follow Him, you ARE a success"

We are continuing to see miracles as the work hastens with receiving member referrals! Yay! Tonight is the FHE activity that we are putting on. We are excited and hope that it goes well. Yesterday at church, a lot of people were talking about and we could sense some excitement about it as well. Perfect! We are praying that this activity can be the start of many more and that this can lead to greater branch unity.

Despite all the miracles, we have felt really frustrated also. We are meeting and teaching people who are incredibly solid, yet they are not coming to church!! It is so sad that "flakiness" has become a characteristic of this generation. I have been dealing with flaky 19- and 20-year-olds for 7 transfers of my mission now [yes, that IS how long I have been a YSA missionary], but yet I still continue to trust each one of them and it still breaks my heart every time they flake out on us! We felt like we had been doing everything we could to get people to church, including introducing them to their rides ahead of time, but apparently (and obviously) we can always do more. We have come up with some specific plans to make sure that this week, our investigators will be there!

I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who cares enough to send me guidance and answers right when I need them. Even though yesterday at church the fact that no one came and a pointed comment from our branch president had left us feeling pretty down, the relief society lesson we had was completely tailored to me and definitely helped lift me up again. I had jokingly told Sister Gordon after sacrament, "That's it, I'm done! No one came! Get me a plane ticket, I'm going home 3 weeks early!" Of course, our lesson in relief society was all about ENDURING TO THE END. The teacher even said during the lesson, "We can't ever just throw up our hands and say, 'That's it, I'm done!'" I found myself chuckling to myself. Thank you, spiritual chastisement. We also focused in the lesson on learning to turn our burdens and trials over to the Savior. As we discussed that, it hit me very hard that this is one of the final and most important lessons that my Heavenly Father wants me to learn on my mission and it is something He has been trying to teach me for a long time. I have never been very good at this, as I always feel like I can just carry everything and handle everything myself. So now I am really focused on learning better how to give things over to Jesus Christ.
Plus, church didn't end up being a total of our members brought a friend, and we set up a return appointment to see him tomorrow! Yay! #memberreferral #hasteningthework

I have also been struggling recently with COMPARISON. Not just comparing myself to others, but even comparing myself to MYSELF and to the past success that I have had in my mission. God has been talking to me a LOT lately about comparison, and how it is "the thief of joy." I have always had a hard time with this and have been really competitive my whole life. Today my Dad sent me an email that couldn't have been more timely. Just a snippet from it:

"...I'm talking about those who compare themselves with others and, in the process, encounter futility and depression.

I'm talking about those nights that you cry yourself to sleep, wondering why you're even there in the mission field in the first place. Wondering if you really can make a difference.  Wondering if He hears you in the stillness of the night.

Although you don't know me, take me at my word when I say:  He does.

You see, you bring a unique, individual gift to the mission and the people you serve.  It is your uniqueness, your combination of individual gifts--not shoehorning yourself into someone else's expectations--that makes the difference and makes the magic happen.

You need to know that if you will give it your best, the Lord will make up for what you lack...

The Lord will definitely use you in your imperfections.  He has a long, distinguished history of using truly imperfect people to bring about truly miraculous, awe-inspiring results.  On that note, elders and sisters should be asking the Lord where to go, where to turn, what to say and what to do.  Ask to be led to those that are looking for truth.  He is the ONLY one who will guide the way.  He always has, and always will.

Because when you follow Him, you ARE a success...

After all, even Peter sank into the water when he left the boat to approach the Savior.

Some see Peter's sinking as a sign of failure.

But he was the only one who left the boat in the first place."

Ah, yes. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I AM a success just for being here and for doing this work, even when the outward results aren't the ones that I want.

But, on that note, yesterday Vicki got baptized! So technically she is the other sisters' investigator (we have 2 sets of sisters in our branch). But for some reason, Vicki adopted me as her "favorite missionary sister" when she met me at church a couple weeks ago. This week, I went on an exchange to their area and we visited Vicki for her baptismal interview. She was THRILLED that I came! In her prayer at the end, she said, "Thank you for sending Sister Dougal, she is the BEST! I love her so much. Oh...and Sister S too." And then at her baptism yesterday, her whole family came and she was like, "Mom, mom, this is Sister Dougal!! You have to meet her!" Oh my, I adore her. She is absolutely precious. She already gave me all of her contact info so I can write her when I leave. We are writing a musical/movie script together about missionaries. haha.

Well, life is still fabulous. Sorry I haven't sent pictures in ages....will be sending a boatload today. Also, Elder Austin....seriously man, take care of that tooth. The last thing I want is for you to get some weird central American infection in your mouth.

Love you all!

Sister Dougal

Calle Ocho, her "most favorite street in the world"

"These were some of my emotions when I got "the last letter" from President. Basically I was not happy."

Vicki's baptism

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