Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Get thee hence, Satan"

I am in a class called Christ and the Everlasting Gospel. It's a little funny because when I got home a couple of weeks ago, one of the first things that happened is that  people kept coming up to me and asking if I would keep writing a weekly spiritual thought to share on my blog because they enjoyed the ones that I sent from the mission field. A requirement from this class is that we write our thoughts about something that we studied and share it with someone. So here I am, writing a spiritual thought once a week again, and I'm excited! :)

It is common knowledge in the gospel that when we read a passage of scripture during different times and phases in our lives, it will strike a different chord in our mind almost every single time. I know that seems normal; however, every time it happens, I cannot help but marvel.

Sometimes, I leave a lukewarm session of studying the scriptures, and I hear President Uchtdorf's words in my head:

"Think of how you felt when for the first time you believed and understood that you are truly a child of God; that Jesus Christ willingly suffered for your sins so that you may be clean again; that priesthood power is real and can bind you to your loved ones for time and for all eternity; that there is a living prophet on the earth today. Isn’t that wonderful and amazing?"

And then he counsels, "how could it ever be possible that we of all people would not be excited about attending our Church worship services? Or get tired of reading the holy scriptures? I suppose this could be possible only if our hearts were past feeling to experience gratitude and awe for the sacred and sublime gifts God has granted us. Life-changing truths are before our eyes and at our fingertips, but sometimes we sleepwalk on the path of discipleship...We tread a path covered with diamonds, but we can scarcely distinguish them from ordinary pebbles."

I am loving this class, because it is reminding me just how precious the scriptures are, especially The Pearl of Great Price. In Moses 1, we learn important principles about Satan and who we are in relation to him. Satan comes and tempts Moses, saying: "Moses, son of man, worship me." Brother Griffin made the point that Satan takes away Moses' identity as a son of God by calling him "son of man" and then he steals God's identity for himself. Since Heavenly Father just spent the first few verses of Moses 1 explaining the divine identity of man, Moses isn't fooled by Satan and attempts twice to overcome Satan by saying: "Get thee hence, Satan." At this point, Satan "cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth," which caused Moses to "fear exceedingly." Here's the important part: Moses called upon the strength of the God and he received it. After that, he successfully overcame Satan by saying: "In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan." Heavenly Father never intended for us to use our own strength to overcome Satan. We cannot do it alone.

If we go back to Moses 1:15, Moses says, "Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me...I can judge between thee and God..." We obviously don't have the full glory of God with us all of the time, but we need to be grateful that we do have the spirit of God with us and therefore, we CAN and do discern between God and Satan. It's an innate ability. Jesus Christ himself was tempted three times by Satan in the wilderness.

 Of course, he overcame those temptations, but James E. Talmage wrote:

"It is not to be supposed that Christ’s victorious emergence from the dark clouds of the three specified temptations exempted Him from further assaults by Satan, or insured Him against later trials of faith, trust, and endurance. Luke closes his account of the temptations following the forty-day fast as follows:  “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” This victory over the devil and his wiles, this triumph over the cravings of the flesh, the harassing doubts of the mind, the suggested reaching out for fame and material wealth, were great but not final successes in the struggle between Jesus, the embodied God, and Satan, the fallen angel of light."

We are always going to need the spirit. We are always going to need to be able to discern. That's why it's so important that we live the gospel because even Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan throughout his entire earthly ministry. What makes us think that just because we did one good thing that one time that we are going to be good for the rest of our lives? The gospel and doctrine of Christ is here because it keeps us pure and worthy of the spirit. It's all linked to our true desire to understand and to keep the commandments. Not only do we have to take His name upon us and believe in Christ, we must be built upon the foundation of His gospel.

I love this class! I'm excited to continue sharing the things that I am learning,

Savannah

Sunday, December 24, 2017

I'm Back! Merry Christmas!

Hey Everyone! This is my talk from today. I'm posting it for all of those who couldn't make it to sacrament meeting. It's a blessing to be back in Dothan with my family and dear friends. I tried to capture some of the things that I learned and why it made me so happy to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This isn't exactly how my talk went, but it's the general outline and the stories that I shared. 
Homecoming Talk                                                                                              \
December 24, 2017
I realized when I was thinking about what to say today that a lot of people have been coming up to me and asking me how my mission was. I usually say something like “I learned a lot and it was awesome” and they’re pretty satisfied to know that I did actually learn something and I was happy while doing it. Then, I realized that basically this talk is the deeper version of the answer “I learned a lot and it was awesome.” However, even in writing this talk, I couldn’t contain a hundredth part of what I learned and how awesome it was.
I was thinking and I guess that might be why we don’t remember the pre-mortal life. If so, we would just go around asking each other about our pre-mortal lives and we would just say “I learned a lot and it was awesome,” even though that wouldn’t cover an infinite part of it. I guess short answers are easy to give, but doesn’t the human soul yearn for the deeper solution? That’s exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us.
Even though I was supposed to be speaking Russian on my mission, I had investigators who ranged from Finnish to Pakistani to Mexican and everything in between. One day, our Finnish investigator, Vesa, told us a joke to prove his point.
A priest walks up to the pearly gates and St. Peter tells him that they are running out of space in heaven. He tells him that he wants to talk to the next person in line before he decided to let him in. The next man was a simple bus driver, and St. Peter immediately let him in. The priest was rebuffed because he didn’t understand how he wouldn’t get let in for preaching the gospel for 40 years to his congregation. St. Peter told him: “I let the bus driver into heaven because when you were preaching, your congregation was sleeping; when the bus driver was driving, the people in his bus were truly praying to God for their welfare.”
Now, we know that that’s not exactly how it works, but the point is that our diligence and efforts cannot be entirely meaningful if they aren’t genuine, patient, and full of love and good intentions. There is always a higher and deeper level that we can be striving for in every aspect of our lives, especially prayer. As I was saying before, I believe that the human soul yearns for deeper connections, especially with our Heavenly Father. That’s exactly the purpose of missionaries, to help people find their connection to God, other people around them, and to their own divine potential.
One of the ways that I connected with God everyday was writing in my journal. I never missed a day for the entire 18 months.
President Henry B Eyring said: “I never missed a day for years, I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” as I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day.”
I knew a sister in the mission that would just look up at the sky after something good happened and vocally praise God, thanking him for that blessing, no matter how small. I saw the joy in her eyes, and knew that I wanted that in my eyes as well. I remember times when I was not so sure and not so joyful too. In fact, one year ago today, December 24, 2016, I was feeling nervous about the next day being Christmas, skyping my family for the first time, spending Christmas away from them, and basically being in such different circumstances than I had ever been in before my mission. Turns out, December 25, 2016 ended up being one of my favorite and most miraculous days of my whole mission. Our progressing investigator had come to church and sisters had been working with him for months to help him accept a date to be baptized.
This is what I wrote in my journal that day: “After church we wanted to show Michael the baptismal font. He was in a hurry, so he told Sister Christensen “As long as I see it before my baptism on January 28th, it should be fine, right?” Basically puts himself on date! So exciting. We showed him the font anyways, and Elder Karpukhno was telling him how it works. It was so awesome, I’ve never felt joy like that.”
Brothers and Sisters, that’s one of those obvious moments when you can look up at the sky with tears of gratitude in your eyes and thank your Heavenly Father for all of His tender mercies over you. Sometimes, we are in a moment, and the future is uncertain. I think that it takes courage in every single moment to trust in God and lean not unto our own understanding.
There is a quote from Galileo that says: "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."
 Revelation and understanding come in movement, not stagnation.
Speaking of revelation, I wanted to talk about the 3 main things that I learned on my mission.
1)      Miracles happen
I could list off miracles for hours, but I’m sure that you’re not interested in sitting out there for days. On my mission, I attempted to read Jesus the Christ, a book written by James E Talmage. It’s 793 pages of pretty deep stuff and pretty fancy language…This is my favorite quote from the book:
“In the contemplation of the miracles wrought by Christ, we must of necessity recognize the operation of a power transcending our present human understanding. In this field, science has not yet advanced far enough to analyze and explain. To deny the actuality of miracles on the ground that, because we cannot comprehend the means, the reported results are fictitious, is to arrogate to the human mind the attribute of omniscience, by implying that what man cannot comprehend cannot be, and that therefore he is able to comprehend all that is.” King Benjamin said: “Believe in God, believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth. Believe that he has all wisdom and all power, both in heaven and earth, believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”  2 Nephi 2:24, says: “all things are done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”
 I can share an example or two of this concept. One night, it was 8:45. Literally 15 minutes before we were supposed to be home and it was a 5 minute drive. We could have gone home honorably, but we decided to follow the spirit to a spot and knock on one house and then go home. We ended up in a culdesac, knocking on the door of a sweet Chinese family that ended up coming to church and happily receiving the lessons from the Chinese Elders. Did God send us a miracle so that we could just say that we found a miracle? NO! He sent us to be a miracle for that family so that they could receive the gospel. It was part of His purposes, and if we hadn’t have followed the spirit to that house, I don’t know what would have happened to that family. Just a couple of weeks ago, we ate with about 15 missionaries at Chick-fil-a. There was this amazing, happy, awesome woman there that brightened all of our day. She made an impact on me of just pure light and happiness. The coolest part is that me and my companion were driving through an apartment complex when we saw someone that we thought was Russian. When that happens, you park asap and get out to talk to them. By the time we got out, she was gone. We started looking for this woman, walking in the direction that would make the most sense. The whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking that we needed to turn around, go back the way we came, and check behind this random building with basically made no sense. But, we decided to act on the thought, and she was back there. She turned out to not be Russian, she turned out to be the lady from Chick-fil-a! It was such a cool “godincidence” or in other words, a miracle!
2)      God answers prayers
The prophet Alma says: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good. Yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when though riseth in the morning, let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s existence can be attributed to an answered prayer in which a 14 year old boy received guidance through a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith asked with a sincere desire for an answer, and he received one, what makes us think that we cannot receive an answer too? When I was in the last week before coming home, I was praying in my heart that I would find a way to have missionary opportunities in the airport and in the course of my travel home. The answer came in some unexpected ways. I want to share a story from the airport. We were sitting there, waiting to board our plane. I was with another Sister who was also flying to Atlanta. We decided a couple of times to either go to the bathroom or get up and walk around to pass the time. We went and sat down after that, and I opened up my scriptures to John, hoping to get in a few minutes of study time. You wanna know what happened? Heavenly Father straight up answered my prayer, because the lady next to me, named Lillian, piped right up, asking me if I was doing my daily Bible study. We then were able to have a 15 minute conversation about the importance of the scriptures in our lives. I shared several Book of Mormon verses with her and she shared Psalms 19 with me, which was the psalm of the day. We read it together right there in the airport. She was so excited about Light the World. God literally plopped the missionary opportunity into my hands, and she was the one who talked to me first! When does that ever happen? It doesn’t. Answers to prayers can also come through confirming feelings from the spirit. I remember a time when we were teaching an investigator and he just couldn’t get over his idea that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet. He really couldn’t believe that he continued to receive revelation from God for his entire life. After a slightly disheartening discussion with him, I went home that night and simply prayed telling him that no matter what had happened that day, I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I hadn’t asked for a confirming feeling, but I got one of the most overwhelming amazing feelings washing over me. I don’t think that we always get an answer when we want it, we get the answer when we really need it.
3)      Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World
There is a sweet story of a girl named Ariel. She is 5 years old. She has down syndrome, and I met her and her mom in the airport on Tuesday. There’s this certain feeling that you have when you’re a missionary. You feel a responsibility to inspire those around you. So, I was trying to smile, even though I was feeling a little sad after saying goodbye to everyone. Suddenly we hear the familiar “Oh Sister missionaries!! What brings you to the airport today?” Of course, Heavenly Father sent this amazing little family right to me when I needed that extra boost of happy. Ariel’s mom told me a story of Ariel at the visitor’s center of a temple. In the visitor’s center, there is a statue of Jesus Christ, life size, and you’re allowed to touch and go near it. She said that Ariel immediately started signing the ASL signs for Jesus Christ by touching her hands where there would be nail prints and saying “Jesus, Jesus” over and over and then she took tissues and began washing and kissing the feet of the Savior. It was a sweet and spiritual story, but the part that really gave me chills was the fact that Ariel’s mom told us that Ariel has never heard the story of the woman who washed and kissed the Savior’s feet from the Bible. Ariel was so perfect, so pure, and she had an inspiring testimony of Jesus Christ, even though she is only 5 years old. We’re not quite so innocent or perfect; therefore, we need the Atonement more than ever.
“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you don’t think you have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s atonement shines.”-Holland
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slum. Christ takes the slums out of people, and the they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
The atonement is really about change.
-Testify here and talk about this song:
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who've prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
He is the song for the suffering
He is Messiah, the prince of peace has come
In closing, I want to share my favorite chapter from the Book of Mormon. It’s Ether 6. I want to invite all of you to take out your scriptures or your gospel library and follow along, because I am going to change the words a little bit and apply it to myself. I’m going to start halfway down verse 2 of Ether chapter 6.
And, Sister Jenne came down out of the mount of Provo, Utah. And, she did put forth her scriptures into her suitcases, which were prepared, a Book of Mormon and a Bible and behold, they did give light. And, thus the Lord caused them to shine in darkness to give light unto all missionaries that they might not serve a mission in darkness. And it came to pass that when Sister Jenne had prepared all manner of rain jackets and Vitamin D pills that she might subsist in Seattle, and also skirts, and dresses that she might fashionably represent the Lord. It came the pass that when she had done all these things, she got aboard an airplane, and set forth to the MTC, commending herself to the Lord God. And the Lord caused that the furious Russian language drove Sister Jenne toward humility and thus she was tossed upon the waves of Russian grammar. And it came to pass that she was many times discouraged in conversations with Bible bashers and slammed doors because of the mountain of responsibility which weighed upon them and also the dark and dreary tempests of rain which happened in Seattle. And it came to pass that when she was buried in the deep, there was no man that could hurt her, her testimony being tight like unto a dish and also it was tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore, she was encompassed about by temptations, she did cry unto the Lord and He did bring her forth again upon the foundation of Christ. And it came to pass that the Russian language never did cease to drive her towards humility while she was on her mission and thus she was driven forth. And she did sing “I am a Child of God” to all of the babushkas and they did sing praises to the Lord. And she did thank and praise the Lord all the day long and when the night came she went to bed at 10:30 every time. And thus she was driven forth, and no apartment complex manager could shoo them away, neither were there any no soliciting signs that could stop their knocks and they did have light continually whether it was teaching the elect or being hardcore rejected. And she was driven 566 days upon the freeways of; Seattle. And she did gain an abiding testimony of her Savior, Jesus Christ and when she did this, she bowed herself down upon the face of the land and she did humble herself before the Lord and did shed tears of joy before the Lord because of the multitudes of his tender mercies over her.
Testify <3

Amen



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

the miracle of the mission (week 79)

"I cannot begin to put into words how I feel.

I cannot believe that a week from today I will be in an airplane that was most likely manufactured by Boeing, just a few miles from where I am sitting right now.

I cannot believe that I have gotten so comfortable surrounded by thousands of tall green trees.

It rains almost every day here. When the sun comes out, I wonder if I'm actually still in Seattle.

Bothell, Washington has become my home.

I believe in miracles; I believe in a God of miracles. The past 18 months has been miraculous.

The reason that it has been miraculous is because I now have a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. It has come slowly and steadily sometimes, and blindingly quickly in other moments.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a miracle.

I wanted to share some of the most important things that I learned on my mission:

My life will be successful and happy. Not because I won't have ups and downs, but because of the ups and downs. Because Jesus Christ experienced all that I have, am and will experience, I know that there is someone walking beside me, holding me up when things are hard and rejoicing with me when miracles occur. Happiness is more than our circumstances. God gave us the ability to be happy.

I can repent every day. Bringing my will in line with God's will probably won't happen over night. Repenting every day is an essential part of the sanctification process. It also brings more gratitude for the Savior's Atonement into my life and helps me remember Him.

I can serve every day. I can walk our the door and smile at someone. I can choose to talk to whomever I am near. God doesn't want us to float through our day, caught up in our own lives. I will grown more when I am invested and involved in the lives of His other children.

Through the sacrament, I can get better. I can improve through a real power. The power of the Atonement flows into my life when I partake of the sacrament worthily every single week. Church helps me renew and strengthen my testimony to be prepared for the temptations that are sure to come the following days.

The scriptures will bring answers and the spirit into my life. When I read and pray about the Book of Mormon, I know that it is true because of how I feel but also because of the experiences that I have had receiving answers through its words.

My worth is not based on self-schema. I must define myself as a daughter of God first and foremost, because it's the only thing that won't change...ever.

Love. I don't think I understood before my mission that love is the thread of all of the fabric of life. Without love, God wouldn't exist and therefore I would not exist because God is truly love. 

I love all of you, but mostly, I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He is the Lord of all Lords, the Prince of Peace, the Bright and Morning Star, the Name Above All Names, Redeemer, the Good Shepherd. He is the baby who was born unto Mary in a humble stable surrounded by donkeys, sheep, and cows.

He is the Light.

Have a blessed week.
Love always,
Cectpa Jenne"

I can hardly believe that this is it. She is done. In 6 days, I get to hug my beautiful cectpa. What a blessing!

Hammock + Jesus (Week 78)

"Attached is a lovely picture of the baby Jesus in a hammock. It's amazing. We went to the local festival of the nativity this morning, and we got to see 550+ different nativity sets. So beautiful and spiritual.

It was a great week this week. We saw a lot of cool experiences.

So...We were both feeling sick on Saturday, especially Sister DeVol. Se we called Sister Schofield, and she told us to go in and rest for an hour. It was 3:30 , and so we just decided to make that hour our dinner break as well so that we wouldn't waste time. This is important because it ended up being the perfect timing to take a break. If we had done it later, we wouldn't have seen the miracle!

We left and felt like we should visit a potential that we found last week. He wasn't home, and his dd couldn't talk in that moment. It was dinner time, so we know how that goes tracting sometimes...so we then went to the car and read off a list of names to see which one stuck out to visit. All of them were close except one. Guess which on stuck out? The 20 minute away one. That didn't feel effective, but we followed the prompting and went. Well...they weren't home and their neighbors weren't interested. Bummer. We didn't really understand why, but we drove back to Bothell. On the way, we missed a turn and that added some time onto our drive. At this point, it was feeling like we weren't going to get anything done that night. I remember wondering in my head why Heavenly Father would send us somewhere for no reason?

Lo and behold, there was a reason. We were driving on a road that we wouldn't have been on if we hadn't have left Bothell. And also important to note, if we hadn't taken an earlier dinner break, we would have been home eating dinner at this time. So I saw a van and I immediately knew that it was one of our investigator's van just driving along right in front of us. Miracle! We've been trying to contact him for a month, and it just never worked out, and I wasn't sure what to do with the situation. BAM God just places him right in our path, literally. So we followed him to the grocery store, waited a bit and then went inside and "ran into" him. I sounds small, but it was a huge miracle for us.

It makes me think of Jacob 5:22 which says: "And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit."

We aren't here to counsel the Lord. He literally knows everything. Why would we think that He doesn't know what He's doing? He sent us to a seemingly poor spot of ground ALL DAY LONG, but what happened? It was the perfect timing to find a miracle, later in the day. I testify of His timing. It is perfect, and it is right for everyone. EVERYONE. Trust in the Lord, and He will help you. I have no doubt in my mind.

We also had an investigator tell his friend about us and the Russian speaking group, and then he came to church! It was awesome. We have someone new to work with, and he is so open and ready for the gospel. I feel so many good things coming off of this week :)

We had zone conference with Elder Kopischke this week. It was incredible. He shared so many amazing insights that I would never be able to describe in an email. My favorite part was when he talked about studying the word of God.

He read D&C 88:43-45
43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.

44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

We can draw a few conclusions from these scriptures. First, we all know that if we want life, we keep breathing. It's an instinct; it keeps us from literally dying. If you want mortal life, you breathe. If you want eternal life, you heed. You have to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life because you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. The word is truth. Truth is light. Oxygen is for the body like light is for the soul. It's not the actually act of reading the scriptures that brings eternal life, it's the light that fills our minds and hearts that prepares us to live with God again. This is because the word of God has actual power.

Another important point that he made was that revelation and answers come through movement. Sister DeVol and I experienced that this week as we were going throughout our day and suddenly found ourselves behind our investigator in the car, as I previously mentioned. 


I testify of salvation that comes through the grace of Jesus Christ. When we allow Christ to heal us, we become more sensitive to the needs of those around us. To experience your life, you need to be vulnerable. Experience relationships with others. Experience heart break. Experience the joy of bringing the gospel light to someone. Experience personal change. And, most of all, experience the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I can promise you that... “Whoso receiveth you,
there will He be also, for He will go before your face. He will be on your right hand, and on your left, and His Spirit will be in your hearts, and His angels round about you to bear you up”... Because He is your Savior, and my Savior. He loves you, and He loves me.

I love you all!
Sister Jenne"

Pakisani Meatballs (Week 77)

"Hey friends!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know that I sure did. It was so great to be surrounded by a family, even if it wasn't my family. I sure am stuffed though. I still feel like I don't need to eat any more food for the rest of my life. This past transfer I've eaten a lot of Pakistani, Russian, Japanese, Guatemalan, and true American food (turkey & mashed potatoes). Last transfer I also ate Israeli food. I just wanted to say that because it was a really cool experience, and it was also really yummy! Yesterday we both got fed giant plates of rice and Pakistani chicken meatballs. It was very spicy and maybe a tad bit questionable, but honestly pretty yummy.

Sister DeVol and I have been thinking a lot about making sure that we are lead by the spirit this week. We were picking a street to knock on Wednesday, and we picked about 3 different ones and put them as back-ups to each other. The first 2 were a bust, and so we headed to the third street. It was such a blessing that we saved that street for last because it ended up being our "golden" street for the week. All except for 3 doors on the whole street of about 22 houses opened. All except for 2 of those who opened were open to talking to us. I think that part of the reason was that we were sharing about the joy of Jesus Christ in the Christmas season and who can say no to that? In our mission, we have this thing called the Festival of the Nativity, and it's a really big deal. We found out that we are going to be trained to be tour guides; super exciting! So we have that amazing event to invite people to. All of them accepted either a Nativity invitation or a LightTheWorld card.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE LIGHT THE WORLD VIDEO PLEASE CHECK IT OUT HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=P_VRN7hcL_8

There was one guy in particular who introduced himself as Brother Eric, took the Book of Mormon, read the cover and you could almost see a light bulb go off in his head. He read out loud "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" and then he looked at us with understanding in his eyes. We taught him about the story of the Book of Mormon, and he was excited to learn more. It was an hour and a half of tried and true missionary work that night! We truly brought light into the homes of these people. It's amazing to share the gospel when you have an incredible companion and nice people to talk to! That day we ended up getting 22 meaningful contacts which is definitely the most I've ever gotten in one day since we started counting meaningful contacts in our mission.

We were able to teach Tatyana about the Plan of Salvation, baptism and the Holy Ghost. I remember sitting there and thinking just how soft-hearted this little babushka is, sitting on her couch beside me, with Disney channel muted on the tv in the background, and her granddaughter drawing pictures for us every five minutes. My heart aches for her and her situation. She accepted the invitation to be baptized, but doesn't seem to believe that she would be able to come to church because she has to watch her daughter's children. Plus, her daughter and son-in-law aren't too happy that she's been letting us into the house in the first place. I feel like I've just found so many people on my mission who are soft-hearted and open to the gospel, but then their family members or situation will hold them back from being able to progress in the gospel.. We sang "Abide With Me," and as we were preparing to leave, she hugged Sister DeVol and told her "thank you for not forgetting me." We listened to a really beautiful version of Called to Serve and cried on the way home.

 Everyone who says a mission is hard is right. But, it's not hard for any type of bad reason. It's hard because we can't always help people as much as we wish we could. We can't always provide the perfect "fix" for their situation. People all around us are broken, and only the gospel can seamlessly piece them back together. The question is whether or not we can recognize that we are broken and desire to be healed. The hard part is good because it means that we are experiencing sorrow. It means that we are invested in the relationships and the people that we have developed. If you feel a connection with someone, that means that you are going to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, but also that you are going to rejoice with them and uplift them!
 In 3 Nephi 9, it says:
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.

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

Jesus Christ cannot heal us unless we allow him to do so. Hope and trusting in the Lord are the only way.

We started a new English class this Saturday! It was a success. 2 non-members came! It was so good to get them inside the church. We are hoping that it will grow. It should be double in size next week. It's a really good tool to get people to drive to the church and see that it's not a scary place, but a place of learning. We played hangman, and that was fun to explain to people who don't speak English haha!

We had a lesson with another lady. She has a good friend in our ward, and she's pretty unhappy with some of her current beliefs. But, she's so deeply rooted in the Catholic church, that she's scared to change. We had an emotional lesson about the Plan of Salvation. As we were leaving, once again, she was hugging us, and she said something really profound. "I always feel so good after you girls leave." Sometimes I think that non-members don't recognize the spirit. I get proven wrong over and over again. We are the representatives of Jesus Christ that He has personally sent. We are giving people a reason to hope. They can feel that and they can recognize that because they do have the light of Christ inside of them. Always. No matter how much it might seem like it's buried under years of learning about Catholicism or Buddhism or any other belief system.

Little funny side note--the only person that we could find yesterday who would talk to us long enough for us to invite her to bbe baptized ended up being less active. I asked her twice if she would be baptized by proper authority before I realized that she actually HAS been baptized by proper authority. Maybe we can work with her and her non-member family members though!

I am so excited for zone conference this coming week! A general authority is coming to the mission, and it will be my last zone conference. I am so prepared to learn so much!

I love and miss all of you!
Sister Jenne"

Week 76

"Hey everyone!!! it's been an awesome week!

I stumbled across one of my favorite verses in the Bible this week:

1 Peter 3
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Those who speak evil of Christ and Christ's gospel, will be ashamed. When the judgement bar comes and they are standing before Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, they won't have that foundation of faith that they could have had. They won't have confidence before God. I was reading a talk called "Remember Lot's Wife" by Elder Holland, and I changed my perspective on faith a tiny bit. It is a talk about faith, and as I was reading it, I was thinking about the perspective that we have versus the perspective that God has. We are in the moment, and we can see only a small part of what might possibly be in store for us. We set out to tract a street, and yes, we are expecting miracles, but we have no idea what's actually going to happen. We don't even know if maybe we aren't supposed to be there for as long as we thought, or longer than we thought, all we know is that we felt like we should go there and so there we are. All of the different forces that are in play may be in our favor or they may not be, but we showed up and we are ready to work. Rain or snow. (probably rain) Shine or gloom. (probably gloom) It doesn't matter to us because we are representatives of Jesus Christ and we have a light inside of us that can dispel gloom in an instant. Then what happens? We look back. Elder Holland said: "It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

So, as a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind."

We are actually usually pretty comfortable with what God has given us in any given moment. Not always, but usually. We have learned to live with it, or we have just accepted it, or we are really enjoying ourselves. Either way, it's going to be really hard to change, and yet...what does Heavenly Father ask us to do every single day? Repent. Change. Progress. Become perfected in Christ? Yep. Let yourself repent; let yourself grow; let yourself improve and change. It sounds simple, but it's really really hard. Hard is good. It means that we really have to want it in order to get it. It's not going to get handed to us on a silver platter. We don't just simply state that they believe and then the countless blessings flow in. Faith is important. However, we all have unbelief. I like to think about the story from Mark:

23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Help thou mine unbelief. Even in our own profession of faith, we need His divine help.

One more quote from Elder Holland: "Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past, but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us, and that Christ truly is the 'high priest of good things to come.'"

OPERATION REMEMBER THE FORGOTTEN (Week 75)

"I have an adorable new companion named Sister DeVol! She is fresh from the MTC, and full of greenie fire!  I am so excited for this transfer, because I can see how excited she is to be here, and that's always what you want to see in a new missionary. I've already seen taht not only is she willing to listen to me, our members, and our mission leaders, but she takes to heart counsel from the spirit.

We are planning to sing to everyone we meet (because she has an incredible voice and because singing brings the spirit like almost anything else).

There were a lot of times this week when I saw the hand of the Lord guiding us. For example, we went to go and visit a Russian potential, and he wasn't home. We had some extra time before service at the Food bank, and so we knocked around. Sister DeVol pointed to a door that had a cat sitting by it and said "the cat must be a sign." Turns out the lady that was living there has been taught by missionaries in the past and was wondering what happened to them and why they stopped coming by. We were able to refer them to the local missionaries. It goes right along with our transfer theme to Remember the Forgotten because unfortunately, a lot of people always end up falling through the cracks with missionaries getting transferred.

This week when I was studying, there were a couple of verses that really stood out to me.

Mosiah 28:18
18 Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; NEVERTHELESS it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice.

Those people had just read the history of the people from the Jaredite plates, and it made them really sad. It brought them sorrow, because of the iniquities and the destruction of the people. HOWEVER, more importantly, they did rejoice because of the knowledge that they received. There are a lot of sad stories in the Book of Mormon that we read every single day. Women and children were murdered, prophets were stones, people grew wicked and turned against God. All of those things bring us sorrow because we know that they truly happened. But the things that we learn from the scriptures are of much greater value. In hardships and sad stories, we learn about how to come to know God through our trials. I am always impressed by Alma and his people in Mosiah 24 where it says:

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

They knew that the Lord had these things in store for them, even though they were hard. Therefore, they were still able to rejoice. Trials are important. They bring us knowledge. It's up to us whether or not we are going to recognize and be grateful for that knowledge that we have received.

the other scripture that really stood out to me was Alma 25:14-16

14 And they did also bury their weapons of war, according as their brethren had, and they began to be a righteous people; and they did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe to keep his commandments and his statutes.

15 Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.

16 Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.

These people understood VERY well the difference between the Atonement and the Law of Moses. Commandments do not save us. It's only Jesus Christ who saves us. Our faith in him is how we accept his atonement. However, following the commandments is how we grow and develop our faith; therefore, it is VERY necessary that we are keeping the commandments of God if we are to be saved.

It was another fantastic week here in Washington, and I love my mission more than anything. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve and to learn the Russian language. I'm still not fluent, and I'm still not a perfect missionary; however, God helps me to do what I need to do to help His children. For as Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: " I rather suppose that he who sitteth upon the throne will choose his own ways to answer his children, and that they are numerous. Perfect prayer is addressed to the Father, in the name of the Son; and it is uttered by the power of the Holy Ghost; and it is answered in whatever way seems proper by him whose ear is attuned to the needs of his children."

Heavenly Father knows us and He loves us. I testify to that.

Love,
Sister Jenne"