Tuesday, September 25, 2012

He said Yes!

SAN DIEGO —It has been one of those roller coaster rides for sure. I only have time to tell you one of my experiences this week, but it has been one that spanned the whole week, and will be a lesson I will NEVER forget.

September 21, 2012

Yesterday we had a lesson with Ryan at the Mormon Battalion. We met in the teaching room to talk about some of the concerns he had. 

He didn’t understand the Atonement, which is a big deal, as the Atonement is the very center to everything. We were lucky to have the chance to re-explain the precious gift that the Savior Jesus Christ gave to the world. I felt my lips moving as I looked him in the face, but the words were not my own. 

The Holy Ghost whispered as I spoke: "Ryan, Jesus Christ knelt in the Garden and suffered for you. He experienced how it felt when you had to watch your Father slowly fade from the earth. His heart was pierced the same way with the last memory you have of your father, a memory that haunts you to this day, He experienced living day after day year after year with anger building up in your heart, eating away at you. He will be on your right and on your left, and will be there to bear you up." 

After testifying of the Savior's Atonement, we committed him to keep his date of baptism for Saturday. He stared at me, this time with dark, smoldering eyes and said, "I’m sorry, but no." 

If the sound could be heard, the room would have been filled with the sound of two breaking hearts. 

Not broken out of him pushing his date back. My heart felt broken because he didn’t use the Atonement. I don’t even want to ever feel how Heavenly Father feels when we refuse to use the gift of the Atonement. It's the gift of change. 

I know how I felt at that very moment. That, I know was only a glimpse of how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ must feel. I was once told not to cry for others who are given the chance to use the Atonement, but only cry when they refuse to use it. 

After saying goodbye to Ryan, Sister Miller and I sat down in the theater. I rolled down in my chair, looked up at the ceiling and began to cry. Sister Miller grabbed my hand and we cried together. Then we knelt in prayer and cried and prayed some more. The Spirit filled my soul as Sister Miller asked if Ryan wouldn’t have the faith to overcome fear, please let our faith be enough. I know in God's timing, Ryan will enter the waters of baptism. Oh what a sweet and beautiful day that will be...."

September 23, 2012

"Sat with Ryan in a lesson today. He got out everything that has been bothering him. It is amazing to know that no matter who you are, where you come from, the healing power of Jesus Christ is real. 

Now that Ryan is ready to use the Atonement, I feel as if I want to jump for joy! We committed him to visit his dad’s grave, and to pray to his Heavenly Father as well so that he can feel the peace and comfort that comes from repentance..."

September 24, 2012

"Ryan came to the Battalion today. My heart has been in knots all week thinking about him. I care about him so much, and know that in order for him to find true happiness here on earth and to return to live with God, he needs to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost

I don’t think a second has gone by between Saturday and today that my heart has stopped praying that everything will be okay. We talked and talked about so many things: about eternal families, about the temple, about baptism. And here again, the Holy Ghost said, "Sister Newman, you recommit him to be baptized."

Again, I committed him to make a covenant with God. The silence between my question and his reply was unbearable, I thought my heart might collapse from what it's been through this week. He looked up at me, his eyes warmer today, brighter, free from guilt and shame, and said, "Yes". 


His life will be changed forever. Despite the bad, the hard, and the ugly in this world, a Heavenly Messenger of God can protect him...

I don’t care how bad this world gets. We are on the Lord's side.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Iron Rod

SAN DIEGO — These computers are so super slow! But hey at least we have them. So first let me just individually answer some questions/write you something. -->

I know it’s a bummer about when I come home. I only had 2 choices. December 29 or Jan 1. Since they are barely any different, I just thought I would make it easier on President. I love you so much! And time will go by so fast, can you believe its already September? I’m sprinting to the end, and also so excited to see you all. It’s a weird feeling, being on the downhill slope of a mission.

As for this week, what a week it has been! Sister Miller and I received a referral from the missionaries this week. Daniel has a friend that is a Mormon and introduced him to institute. He sat in on some of the classes and then begged the missionaries to teach him more.

That’s where we came in.

He lives in our area, so we met him at the temple for our first visit. It was amazing! He is such a nice guy, with the purest heart you can imagine. We taught him the Restoration and he felt the Spirit so strong. He used to go to another Christian church, but he felt that something was missing. As I was telling him that God has established His church and His teachings throughout history by giving a man that he trusts the priesthood authority to act in God's name for the salvation of His children, Daniel lit up. He kept saying, "I know its true. I know its true."

Overnight, he received an answer to the truth of the Book of Mormon. Our next lesson, we wanted to make sure that he understood why the priesthood even mattered. His eyes brightened up and he said, "Well, all I can relate it to was at my old church where they had a barbeque and then just dunked us in the pool. I know that didn’t have God's approval. I want to have my baptism have God's stamp of approval. "

We met him on Sunday for his first sacrament meeting. It was so neat. One of the hymns was "The Iron Rod". Sister Miller told him that soon he would reach the part in the Book of Mormon that talks about The Iron Rod. Yesterday we met him, and he was so excited because he started reading about Lehi's vision.

Just this morning, I decided to reread Lehi's Vision, and this time as I read, It wasn’t Lehi and his family I saw, but it was me. 

I was the one that followed "the man in the white robe" through the dark and dreary waste. (1 Nephi 8:5-7) The waste that I saw was the city of San Diego, the place I have been living in for over a year, but this time I really saw it. People running from place to place without direction, putting everything on the things of the world, the people were there, yet they weren’t. It was as though they were "past feeling". Kind of what you would imagine in a zombie town in a scary movie.   

As I continued to read in the scriptures, it was me that began to pray (1 Nephi 8:8) because I didn’t know how to help these people. I wanted them to be happy, and the darkness, the eeriness of the city to be gone. As I imagined myself praying, I saw the tree of life, and I knew that the fruit on the tree would change the souls of San Diego and would bring happiness to everyone around me. I wanted that fruit, and I wanted to grab a bucket, start picking it off the tree and handing it out to everyone I saw.  As I "cast my eyes round about" (1 Nephi 8:13) I discovered my family — not my family that I have left back home in Utah, but the brothers and sisters that I have helped find the Gospel. I saw HR and Todd, Oliver, Cameron, Casey, Ryan, Robert, and Daniel.... I begged them to follow me to the path that would get us to the tree. (1 Nephi 8:20-21). Some of them came with me, others walked away wandering through San Diego and were lost.

The story is still being told. We all have this life to prepare to meet God and to help others along the way. If we want to help others that are lost, we have to continually hold onto the iron rod. (Verse 30) Just clinging (verse 24) or briefly catching hold of the rod WILL NOT DO. The world is getting darker. 

Just take an inventory of your life. Are you one of the "Clingers"? Do you occasionally catch hold? Or do you continually hold onto the iron rod?

We are tools in God's hands. Just like a surgeon who uses precise tools to perform surgery, if His tool is acting up or being difficult, he may try for a while to use it, but eventually he will lay it aside and use a different one.

We are all instruments in God's hands. If we do not give our will to Him, he will lay us aside and use someone else.

Love you all! Let's run the Lord's errands!

Pray for Daniel! And Robert! And Ryan! And Jereon! They are so close!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

You are special

SAN DIEGO — Can I tell you all that I LOVE YOU? Seriously, families are the best! We are all so different, yet we come together and help each other, and love each other, and are patient with each other, and no matter what we do, we still are together forever!

One of the lessons I learned this week is that being unique is a beautiful thing. Families are a beautiful thing.

Let me explain: On Saturday, we had Casey's baptism. Those are always a little stressful as missionaries, especially because it was my first one in a new ward and Sister Miller's first one, period.

Things were a little bumpy to get started. One of the sisters that was giving a talk went MIA two minutes before the baptism was supposed to start, leaving Sister Miller and I frantically running around the church trying to find her. Then our musical numbers got mixed up, and one of the sisters did both of them instead of Casey’s fellowshipper, who had prepared a piano piece.

Then, after Casey was baptized and we were doing the intermediate part, the person who baptized him was trying to unplug the font making all sorts of noise as we were trying to testify of Jesus Christ. To top that off, as Casey was sharing his testimony, we heard this splashing noise, we turned around thinking someone had a drink they spilled, to look in horror: a little girl peed her pants.

Surprisingly, I sat there with a complete calm (those that know me, you know that is definitely something that would raise my blood pressure a notch or two!). I asked Heavenly Father to help me see what He was seeing as He watched Casey’s baptism. I looked around the room and saw God's sons and daughters, all sorts of different — different cultures, backgrounds, hobbies, hairstyles, ideas, goals and dreams — all gathered to be there for Casey as he was baptized.

My mind flashed back to him going under the water and my heart was filled with love and joy, only I know that the love and joy I felt is only a glimpse of the love and joy that Heavenly Father was feeling for Casey at that moment. We sat there as a family, pulled together to help Casey feel loved.

Family truly is a beautiful thing.

The other day we had a training meeting and they read us the book, "You Are Special". That is a simple, yet powerful truth from heaven.

I hope you take time after reading this to think about yourself. You are unique. The Master created you. What brings true happiness is going to Him for happiness, for acceptance, and for love.

"The worth of souls is great in the sight of God"

I want to testify to all those that read this blog: the family is ordained of God. There is power that comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It not only strengthens individuals, but also families as we all strive to develop stronger relationships here and in the eternities.

God, who is our loving Father sent us here in families. I was just taught this week in a small room, in a church in El Cajon that no matter who we are, no matter what background we come from, God loves us and He has sent us here to help each other succeed. Don't let anyone or anything diminish who you are. You are children of God. You are creations of a King. YOU ARE SPECIAL.

Let's pull together no matter who we are, No matter what culture, religion, race, ethnicity, backgrounds beliefs. 

We are all God's children. 

And He wants us back.

Being unique is a beautiful thing. Families are a beautiful thing. I know it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The feature film of life

SAN DIEGO — Happy Birthday, Juli and Dad, I hope your BBQ/ Birthday party was good.

I can’t believe football season has started. I can’t believe things are cooling off for you. I can’t believe summer is over. This is where time starts getting weird for me, because as the seasons change in Utah, things just stay hot here, and I feel like I am stuck in summer. Time is going by too fast though. I can’t believe it. It honestly makes my stomach hurt sometimes!

There is a song yesterday that Sister Miller and I were listening to. It was just an instrumental song, but one that was upbeat and you could easily feel the story it was trying to express through the notes (Me not being very good at music, I appreciated that I could visualize a story without it having to tell me the words). This tune made me have a flashback through my mission.

You know how in the movies, they have images flashing across the screen during a dramatic part, or when someone is remembering something and they have music playing telling the story instead of the actors saying anything? I felt like if my mission could be made into a feature film, I would want that tune playing while I flashbacked through over a year of experiences.

(Editor's Note: Here's a Church YouTube video with the "flashback" method.)


FLASH: The first time I went up to a lady in the parking lot all by myself and street contacted her.

HR looking at Sister Nelson and I, after he told us he felt that he had been forgiven

Running away from the scary, frothing, monster of a dog, positive I was going to get my legs chomped off

Sitting in the living room at the Bryant's with Sister Kennington as the Spirit testified to Cameron of the Restoration

Painting sheds with Sister Tanner for a widow in our ward

Finding Ryan at the bus stop and asking if he would let us teach him


The images kept flooding through my mind. I have a feeling that is what it will be like when we pass from this life.

FLASH: Easy Going years of childhood, playing, and imagining, and laughing

The many hours stuck in the library studying for exams and tests

Becoming parents

Memories of fun and laughs with our little kiddos

Helping the neighbor shovel her walk

Digging down deep and kneeling in prayer to get through yet another trial that life brought your way

Growing old and watching others take the same walk


I’m grateful for these precious moments. Just the other day, I had one of those memories I am sure would be a flashback during my "feature film of my mission". Sister Miller and I sat in the church teaching Ryan the gospel lesson. It was a rough start, and I started praying that we could ask him the right question. I’m not sure what I asked, but his reply was that he wasn’t sure he wanted to ask if the Book of Mormon was true because he knew he would get an answer.

Sister Miller was so inspired and asked him to pray right then. The room was filled with an intense silence as we knelt in prayer. He started his prayer saying that he would have been too scared later to ask, but that he wanted to know right now if the Book of Mormon was the word of God. He ended the prayer and we sat there, neither of us wanting to move, to breathe, to interfere with the Holy Ghost teaching and answering Ryan’s prayer. 

He got up and started pacing and then sat back down holding his heart. I looked him in the eye and asked him what he felt. He said he didn’t know. I knew that was not true. He did know. He did feel the Spirit. God did answer him. As I told him that he knew the Book of Mormon was true, he shook his head and said, "Yeah, I do."

It was so amazing to see how God has guided Ryan to find the truth.

It is true that God is preparing people in our path who know not where to find the truth. Who is on your path?