Once again, trying for a shorter letter this week. We'll see how that goes. :)
This was a really good week. We did a lot of service. We helped out at the food pantry downtown on Tuesday and Wednesday, they needed a lot of help this week. And we helped Bro Beyer move a bunch of stuff into a storage shed. They're moving pretty soon and they're starting to get everything packed away, but they're just moving down the street so it's not too big a deal.
Also, we finally finished entering all the former investigators in our area book into the iPads. That's been a huge pain, so I'm super glad it's done now. :)
On Wednesday Phil and Marylou got married!!! :) Haha it's about time. Missionaries have been trying to get them to get married for ages, since long before I got here. At least a year. It's funny, he's super stubborn and if it's not his idea to do something or if he feels like someone else is trying to get him to do it he's not going to do it (sound familiar Mom and Dad?). When we decided to back off of the whole baptism subject and teach other, less directed-at-him lessons (that were secretly marriage-oriented, and definitely inspired by the Spirit), all of a sudden he proposed. And now they're married. This is huge progress, guys, seriously. I am so excited, in case you can't tell. :)
Also, Shasta got baptized this weekend!! :D It was great. There were a lot of people there, and it was a good experience. I think a lot of people felt the Spirit. I know I did. She asked her uncle, our ward mission leader, to baptize and confirm her. I think it was a really good experience for her family as well as for her, they have just come back to church after years of inactivity and avoiding the Church, and now they're active again and doing really well. I think this was a really good experience for them. This has been a blessing for us too, I'm grateful that we got to participate in this. Really this was such a handout blessing from the Lord, we didn't do anything to find her or even persuade her to be baptized, she just decided she was ready to be baptized and we were just there to teach her the lessons.
Lately we've really been getting in with the youth in the ward, and in the city. I didn't really realize that's what's been happening until like yesterday. Last week we played basketball with some guys downtown who are always playing on the public courts, and we've been asked to substitute teach the youth class at church for two weeks now, and a bunch of the youth have been involved with the lessons with Shasta, and on Friday we got permission to go to the Rockwood/Kingston high school football game (big rivalry, and both cities are in the ward) which was super fun, and we hung out with a bunch of the youth and met some of their friends there... We're friends with the youth now, and it's awesome. I realized yesterday that the youth have more non member friends than any of the other active members of the ward, because of school. And member referrals are the best, of all the ways missionaries find people, member referrals most often are what lead to new converts.
Crap, now it's getting long. I'll get to my message.
There is a Mormon Message I saw this week, and a line in it really got me. It's President Russell M Nelson talking:
"For the individual who is weak in the heart, fearful in the heart, be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life. Don't demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference. I'm so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that allows me that kind of strength in these tumultuous times."
I love that. I am so hard on myself, basically always. I beat myself up over past transgressions, shortcomings and failures, and basically because day after day I am still not perfect. Elder Nelson reminds us that we must let go of perfectionism because being perfect in this life is not our job. That was Christ's. Our job is to use Christ's Atonement to become clean from our sins and to improve ourselves, and allow Him to perfect us over time.
I loved the thoughts my mission president shared in his weekly email to the missionaries this week:
I promise you that as you let go of perfection, forgive yourself, and allow the Lord to take your life into His hands, you will find He gives you peace and happiness in this life, and shapes your life, and you, to become like He is, and gives you Eternal Life in the world to come. That's something I'll be working on this week. I've got a lot of things I have to let go of, a lot of favorite demands I like to beat myself with. It's going to be hard to give those up to the Lord. But I've realized I need to. I challenge you to do the same. :)The following thoughts I have compiled from one of my favorite authors Wendy Ulrich.I would like to start by asking you each several questions: "Does God really mean it when He promises the gift of forgiveness? Is it okay to forgive ourselves? Can we afford to trust that even our most terrible sins are within His reach?"As you ponder the above questions would you consider the following from the scriptures?"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12)"But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven." (Moroni 6:8)"Behold , he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more ." (D&C 58:42)And finally, here is one of the most powerful statements anywhere on the consummate power of the atonement, from President Boyd K. Packer at he November 1995 general conference of the church:"Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ. When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay the "uttermost farthing" (see Matt. 5:25-26), the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts. I repeat, save for the exception of the very few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. This is the promise of the atonement of Christ."God's promise is clear and oft repeated: when we repent, He forgives.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Sheesh, every time I start I'm like, man, I've got nothing to write, I better start fluffing, and by the end I'm like, dang, when did this get so long?? Sorry again for the long email guys. Haha
Love you all! Make yourselves a great week!
1) Mawwage - Phil and Marylou after the wedding :) I didn't get any pictures before she changed out of her dress, but I'm asking for some from other people, so hopefully those will come soon. Also, Phil cried when she was walking down the aisle (he seems gruff and rough and cantankerous and grumpy on the outside but he's secretly a sweet old teddy bear on the inside. I love him). And typical of them, instead of "I do," he said "Yes, ma'am" and she said "...yeah, I will." Haha :)