Is this really the last email I will write while sitting in San Diego? I have come to love this place with all my heart.
I love the people.
I love the missionaries.
I love the sights.
I love the experiences that will forever be in my heart.
Sister Kennington always says, "San Diego is my sacred ground." I am beginning to understand exactly what she means.
At the beginning of this last transfer, I struggled A LOT with "what ifs" and "should have beens":
"What if I spent five more minutes each day studying the scriptures?"
"I should have done this or that for my companion."
"Why wasn’t I more patient with people?”
I felt this blanket of regret weigh down on my soul. Just as I began to let myself think I have not made a difference, I realized something —If I hadn’t messed up with teaching, patience, loving, working, listening and all of the other things I could have done, I would NEVER be the person I am today.
Those trials, those moments of 'failure' were God's tender mercies to help me live the Atonement. through Jesus Christ, I have been able to change, to learn, and to grow. And THAT is something I have come to realize will never end. I will forever be learning, and growing, and becoming more like the Savior. I will forever embrace my inadequacies and trials, for they are what are refining me. What a beautiful thing that there is no expiration date to progression.
I have thought a lot about the lessons I have learned. I suppose if I were to make a "top ten list" It would be something like this:
1. Stay Pure in heart2. Be the best version of yourself, not a bad version of someone else3. A leader takes take the lead, he makes the lead4. Exact obedience brings exact blessings5. To prove to God you are worthy to take care of His prepared one, talk to EVERY one.6. Work hard AND work smart7. The Holy Ghost will not prompt a messenger that will not act8. Specific Prayers get specific answers.9. By small and simple things, great things come to pass.10. Love people into doing what’s right.
I want to share one last experience I have had this past week. I have taught a Young Single Adult (we will call him Bill) for my whole time in the Helix Ward. He has had so many ups and downs, twists and turns, trials and triumphs. Every time I teach him, there is something in my soul that tells me I promised him I would find him. He has a special place in my heart. I hope as you read this, you too can feel what I feel as I have taught him.
December 13, 2012
Just again tonight, I saw as the powers of Heaven helped me in this amazing work. Sister Jarrett and Crawford were together having their own adventures in the boonies of Jamul while I was with a member teaching Bill.
We started talking with him, as I did my very best to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. There was a somber feeling in my heart. I could almost hear the hosts of heaven holding their breath, waiting to see what happened at this lesson. This is the first time he has met with us for over a month since we last spoke and he felt he needed time to himself. I felt the need to give him an overview of the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and Gospel.
After, he said, "When I was learning from you at first, I just thought you sisters were full of crap, but I just kept listening because you were cute, but now my heart feels different. I know it, and I want to keep learning."
I asked him what living the Gospel to him even meant; his reply was the generic, "Be a good person, live right...."
My heart felt like shouting out —WHY CAN'T YOU JUST GET IT?????
Calmly I told him, "Bill — that is what every Christian church teaches. We are not like every Christian church. What makes us different?" He thought for a minute and then said, "What I love about you Mormons is that you live what you believe."
HOORAY! My spirit took courage as I realized the Holy Ghost was enlightening his mind.
"You are right, Bill. We do live our religion. The reason we do is because we make covenants with the Almighty God that obligate us to follow and bind us to Him. Unless you make those covenants, you might as well go to any other church you wish."
I looked at him and told him that the whole time we have been meeting, from what he has been saying it sounds like, "Well God, it's a great plan, but I just don’t trust you."
By this time I was shaking in my boots, I couldn’t believe the Holy Ghost wanted me to say all of this! Then, this thought came so strong: "Bill, your test is to trust God. We will have the baptismal font filled next Saturday, we will meet with you every day, and if you trust God, I know he will prepare you to be ready to make a covenant with him. What do you say?"
The room was dead silent. We knelt in prayer and he asked God to give him the strength to trust him. After the prayer, He looked up at me, and said. "Okay. I think I can do this."
That was a sacred experience for me. I want you all to know that I have seen the powers of heaven this past year and a half. I know that will continue.
I have heard and seen and felt Heavenly Father in my life. That doesn’t have to stop.
I have learned lessons that are preparing me to return to live with God. I am learning heaven, not just earning it.
This work is true. It is our responsibility to learn it. Live it. Love it. And share it.
"That is your mission, my brethren and sisters of the Church, that is your responsibility. Freely, you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely share with his other sons and daughters theses glorious truths. We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter." - Joseph Smith
I testify of the truths I have shared with you today and the past 18 months and end this chapter of my life in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
May you all continue on in this cause — Courage brethren, forward not backward and on to the victory!