Monday, August 17, 2015

Be Thou Humble

What a rainy week!!  It's been a constant down pour with out a stop.  Always drenched from head to toe ;)  Luckily, it's felt like Spring all Winter long and enjoying it as ever!  

This week we had an awesome zone conference and it was focused on the Atonement and the grace of God.  This was so interesting because yesterday at church many talks and gospel doctrine classes were focused on grace and love.  We even shared a scripture this week with a sweet new active member ....

1 John 4:16-21
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
...and we did an activity with them where we gave them 1 minute to think about 3 things they love about each other.  It was the sweetest thing ever!  Especially because they are two little grandparents ;)  Okay, so we visited Liliana this week and when we got to her house, we caught her reading "Gospel Principles" book which I gave her last Sunday and she just loves it!  She came to church once again yesterday and she asked to see if she could be baptized the 22 of August!  She's been putting so much effort into quitting smoking and has only smoked 2 cigarettes this week!  She also went to the dentist 2 days ago and when you have a new cavity, they usually just pull your teeth out.  Well she had to get all of her top teeth pulled (permanent).  And now has to have replacements.  The doctor said, "try not to smoke for 15 days because of all the procedures they have to do", so my companion and I were shouting for joy! haha  We called to remind her about church and she said, "I'll come but I won't smile and I won't laugh and if it do, chow!!  Haha, poor think!  She came to church with us yesterday without teeth and with tanto pain, but had tanto will power to stay and finish all three hours of church.  She is such a sport and a huge example to me.  I couldn't believe her faith.  After church, I thought wow, she came to church without teeth, severe pain in her jaw, and was suffering from cleaning out the nicotine from her system.  A woman with her eyes directed in the right direction.  We also had such a wonderful lesson with Cristian, always rapping!  I'm trying to help him learn English to rap in English ;)  Haha  We taught him lesson 1 about Joseph Smith and he absolutely loved it.  He is now reading and praying every night!  Whoo Hoo!  This week we've also been teaching a family that we found in the streets.  About 3 years ago they had lessons from the Elders, but need to be married and the Dad, Jose, smoked.  Well guess what????  Married and smoke free!!!  We are so excited to visit them this week and work with them!

As our conference was focused on the grace of God, it reminded me a lot about a talk given in General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, as he shared a story about Simon the Pharisee:

Luke 7:36-40
36 ¶And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it,he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
It Teaches that Simon was always a worthy upright man who followed and obeyed the commandment, but didn't fully do it with his whole heart like the women did.  I love the questions asked in this talk, "Which of these two people are we most like?"  "Are we like Simon?" "Are we confidant and comfortable in our good deeds, trusting in our own righteousness?"  "Are we perhaps a little impatient with those who are not living up to our standards?" "Are we on auto pilot, going through the motions, attending our meetings, yawning through gospel doctrine classes and perhaps checking our cell phone during sacrament service?" or "Are we like this woman who thought she was completely and hopelessly lost because of sin?" "Do we love much?" "Do we understand our indebtedness to Heavenly Father and plead with all our souls for the grace of God?" When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, please for God's mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption?"  This week, I want to study more of grace and the love of God, but to act and make it a part of my life.  To be more like the woman by giving my heart and mind to God.  I learned that obedience is a huge key to love/humility.  As we follow God and His commandments, we become  happier and we find freedom to our burdens.  We feel a new physical and spiritual well being inside us.  I know that as we follow the Lord's steps and be obedient, we understand more fully His atonement and after God gives a gift, "grace" comes after all that we can do.

Homework:  Read the talk, "The Gift of Grace", by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Zone Conference

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Lord Looketh on our Hearts

Tanto Tiempo!  So these past two weeks have been a little crazy.  First of all we had emergency transfers and I'm now with 2 companions, Hermana Godoy from Paraguay and in Balcarce and Hermana Machado from Uruguay who is in Mar Del Plata (Pompeya).  I will be traveling to other areas every week to do divisions in other areas with Hermanas.  Already I've worked in Mar del Plata central and Pompeya and I've loved every moment of it.  It's been a ton of traveling and lots of work but It's been an amazing experience thus far.  I got my first interview with our new mission president and they are super! awesome.  I've had such a connection with them already and can feel the spirit so strongly around them.  They've got such great personalities and love to take "selfies"  Haha :)  They have such an amazing vision for this mission and have done wonders already.  There have been so many changes to the mission and more will be coming our way.  They really want to focus on temples and what it really means to be a converted member, but more importantly converting his missionaries first.  Hermana is also top notch!  Her Spanish already is super great.  I have so much confidence in them and they have such powerful spirits.  They have given us a goal to get a picture of our families with the temple to share with those we teach and my companion and I have had so much success already!  My favorite part is watching people's reactions and their urge to know more.

So we had a "super p-day" with our zone on Monday and slept over in an apartment with 6 hermanas!  (Sleep over party)  In the morning we hiked up a mountain called, The Serras, with our zone.  It was super fun and we got to study on the mountain and see the view of the city.  I don't know if we'll every do it again though for all the walking we do every day all companion, poor thing, has a flat tire!! ;) (worn out)

On Domingo, we had lots of success, we had an investigator Cristin come, a boy who loves to rap and beat box, and another girl named Jenifer whom we found this week, Liliana who only smoked 1 cigarette this week and 2 less active families!!! ;)  One whom we've been visiting for 2 weeks now name Cynthia, who came with her daughter and she calls her a "terrible 2". Haha  Well, I got the privilege of sitting next to her during sacrament and the little girl did not want to cooperate what so every and we tried giving her food, books, toys, .....for a distraction.  Well, she finally had just about had it and found a book, walked down the isle and threw it at a member.  Luckily he knew what it was like with kids and from experience caught it right before it smacked him in the face ;) Haha.  I couldn't believe it!  Gotta love kids :)

This week, my companion and I have really been pressing to help our investigators to progress and a key to do so is repentance.  This week I've learned a lot about the atonement and the importance it is in our lives and the lives of others.  Something I love about it is that it's unconditional love the Savior has for us.  The other day, someone got on the topic of hugs and I thought what would it be like to get a hug from our loving Savior.  I've absolutely gown to love the hugs I get from friends, family, loved ones, children, etc.  But the most wondrous hug of all is the Saviors embrace.  It is one we should desire above all others.  It is an arm of mercy.  The Savior extends to all of God's children, especially those who have feeble knees and are humbled unto repentance. 

3 Nephi 9:13-14
13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
 14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

He was sent here to help the broken hearted, to preach repentance, heal the sick, and to embrace those in comfort. 

D&C 6:20
20 Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.

Without repentance, without God's love, there is not real process or improvement in life.  Pretending there is no sin does not lessen it's burden and pain we carry on our backs.  Through repentance, we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation!  It's an act of humility!  And Nephi "saw that Jesus was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world" (1 Nephi 11:33)  The Shepherd making the ultimate sacrifice for the eternal safety of His sheep".  He invited us to move forward and experience His embrace.  He gives an invitation to ALL men, not just a few but to ALL. 

Alma 5:33
 33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.

I know that God loves each and every one of us and that He wants us to remember Him and His grace.  To come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  With a willingness to repent no matter the cost of pain.  As we abandon that sin, He give us freedom, confidence, peach and we then become swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness ;)

Homework:  Watch the video (Mormon Message - The Savior Want to Forgive)