We just got back from what is called a "sisters retreat", where all of the sisters in the mission met at the Clayton's home and had lunch. We learned from President, Sister Clayton and the training sisters. Sister Clayton spoke. I don’t really remember what she said, but the tears rolled down my cheeks as I looked around at the beautiful scene of a roomful of Sisters in Zion. My heart hurts at the thought that my time is almost finished here in San Diego. What an amazing journey this has been.
I sometimes get the time to ponder about the plan God has for us. I have had a few of those moments this week.
The first thing I was pondering about was the love Heavenly Father has for us.
Yesterday, I was teaching a man who doesn’t leave his home, he plays video games all day, and does drugs and alcohol. His father is Mormon, so he asked if we could come and teach him more about the Church. At first glance, my immediate reaction was, "There is no way this man will accept or live the gospel." The Spirit kindly chastised me, and I cringed thinking, "Who are you, Sister Newman, to say who can and cannot be changed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ?"
I said a silent prayer, and pictured him being sealed to his future spouse. During the lesson, I told him that I knew we didn’t know about him, but we cared about him and loved him. He surprised me by saying. "How can you?" Heavenly Father opened my heart, and somehow, some way, he helped me love this man just as He did. That is how I know that God loves all of us.
I was also pondering a lot about agency this week. Agency is such an important part of the Plan of Happiness. God will not and never has forced us to do anything. I have seen that this week with many of our investigators.
Selina watched the Joseph Smith movie and explained that she knew she needed to read the Book of Mormon to find out it was true, only to tell us this morning that she would be too busy to learn.
Lupita, whose sister is a Mormon, is sitting in lukewarm water, not caring either way if the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored again.
Celeste decided that she felt too much pressure and won't answer any of our calls.
Every single one of them, just prior to their decision to ignore and turn away, had a spiritual experience as the Holy Ghost testified that what we were saying was true. As much as it hurts my heart, I know that they have to be able to choose. I wait patiently for the day in heaven, when I can sit by their side, wrap my arms around them, and tell them how grateful I am that they are here.
Lastly, I have come to realize how perfect this plan is. We just taught Brady the Plan of Salvation. At the end of the lesson, Sister Jarrett asked what he thought of the Plan of Salvation. He smiled, rubbed his chin and then replied in his Chinese accent, "Well, I think the Plan is perfect!" He is a sweet, sweet soul.
My conclusion for this week's experience is that I am just a tool in this perfect work. The pain, hurt, frustration, and tiredness can be taken away if I could but trust in Heavenly Father. He’s in charge! Why worry so much? If I am just where I need to be doing what I need to be doing, I can have complete trust that Jesus Christ will make sure that the work is moving forward. The Atonement is so real. My heart is changing. I know yours can, too.
We can be made whole through this perfect plan. Holy smokes, it is so great. I love Heavenly Father so much. Sometimes, I get so homesick for Heaven. But boy, am I grateful for this time on earth to learn, love, and experience the joy of living.
There is joy in this journey!