Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lengthen your Stride

SAN DIEGO — Let me start out with a funny story or two. You know me, and mom has taught me well (about cleaning). What a difference it makes to have a clean home so that the Spirit can be there.

I have taken that advice seriously my whole mission and am proud to say, Mom, you could come into my apartment and be really happy. 

The other night, to my dismay, Sister Miller and I finished planning and were sitting on the floor to write in our journals, when a little "stuart little" came running from under the couch across the floor to the kitchen.

Surprisingly, we didn't scream, but boy, did we get on top of the couch and chair as fast as we could! We were telling Sister Affleck about the story and she told us a pretty funny thing that happened to her just before she came on their mission. 

She was up late studying for an anatomy test and earlier that day had watched Stuart Little with her grandson. All of a sudden she saw a little mouse climb on top of the counter and start nibbling on the bread bag. With Stuart Little on her mind, she whispered, "Hey mouse, you gotta get out of here!"

The little mouse looked up at her. "No, I'm serious little mouse, if my husband comes down and finds you, your dead!" 

Then she heard Elder Affleck ask, "Karen, what are you doing?" 

"Just talking to this mouse. I told him if he didn't leave, you would get him". 

Then she said, "sure enough, 10 seconds later, he was being flushed down the toilet, dead as a door nail!

Anyway, I thought that was cute :)

Many of you asked about Ryan's baptism on Saturday. Let me tell you how it went:

September 29, 2012

Today was an incredible day. My mind keeps rewinding back to the moment that Ryan came up out of the water, his face shining, his smile wide, and my heart full of the assurance that he felt clean, new and at peace.

I was just sitting on the couch pondering a moment I had a few days ago at our missionary training day. President Clayton brought the three zones that were together out in the parking lot. Imagine just that: 40-50 missionaries forming a solid line across the lot, our mission president at the head of us, like a modern day Army of Helaman. 

He asked us to start walking. We did. Then, he asked us to "raise our sights" immediately, 50 heads raised to the heavens. Then he called, "lengthen your stride." Quickly we covered more ground...march, march, marching across the lot. "Quicken your pace!" The urgency of the work hit my soul and I wanted to sprint across the parking lot to find the imaginary soul waiting to be found.

Sitting on the couch, having just witnessed Ryan's baptism, I imagined the missionaries all over the world. Just think — eyes raised to the heavens, our strides lengthened, and our pace increased. It hit my heart to think of how many of God's children made a covenant with God today. In President Hinckley's words. "It is good, but it is not enough!" How true that is. 

I may be in the army of Helaman, but Helaman's army wasn't the only one that helped win the war. There was still Antipus, Moroni, and other captains that made a difference. I wish I could help all the members in this world raise their sights, lengthen their stride, and quicken their pace. There is so much work to be done!

I would never have thought before my mission that talking to a guy on the street heading to the bus stop would have meant anything. Boy, was I wrong, It meant EVERYTHING. That is something I don't need to be a missionary to do.

Our whole journey with Ryan is flashing in my mind.
  •  Walking along the busy street, getting directions from Ryan, and talking about the Restoration, exchanging numbers literally as he was on the bus steps driving away
  • Sitting outside the church in the parking lot, teaching him about a Plan that would bring him the peace that he desperately needed as he was full of a pain that was eating at his heart since the death of his father
  • Kneeling in the middle of a lesson at church, asking him to pray to God to know if the Book of Mormon was true.
  • Feeling the crush of my heart as Ryan expressed he wouldn't keep his baptism date.
  • Finally, sitting next to Sister Miller, my arm wrapped around her, as someone we have grown to love and care about, walked into the water and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was and has always been so amazing to feel the Spirit rush into the room and touch everyone's hearts. THAT is a testimony of truth, something no one can deny. Ryan's mother was there. I looked at her and knew that she felt the peace and the comfort that comes when the Holy Ghost is testifying of truth.

To end everything perfectly, the Rockwells (A senior couple missionary in our ward) bought Ryan a birthday cake as today was also his birthday. We hung up a birthday banner. Ever since his father passed away, birthdays haven't meant much to him and he hasn't really had one. As everyone was talking, we turned the chalkboard around with our birthday banner and brought out the cake, while singing happy birthday. I can't express how happy I was to see our ward, our mission president, Ryan and his mom as we welcomed him not only to the church, not only to a new life, but to a family.

It truly hit me tonight that this is really what it is all about. This life is a time to prepare to meet God, and spend the rest of eternity with our family.
Thank you all for your prayers. This gospel is so true. It is so real. It is so important!

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