Saturday, August 5, 2017

Do you believe in aliens? (week 60)

"My talk from sacrament meeting:

"Recently, I was looking at a box of crayola markers when I noticed that the slogan on the box reads: "Washability You Can Trust" in big bubbly letters. In small print on the back, it says: "Wash promptly in hot wash cycle. Repeat laundering may be required."

In Moroni 10:32-33 it reads [paraphrased a bit]
Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him and deny yourselves of all ungodliness. If ye, by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not His power, then ye are sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins that ye become holy, without spot."

So, how can we know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ offers the same promise of "Washibility You Can Trust?" We know that our Good Shepherd and Brother, Jesus Christ, finds joy in seeing His sheep progress toward healing. The slogan is clearly stated in the scriptures that we will become "holy, without spot" through Christ's grace.  However, the path to perfection might require some "repeat laundering" before we reach it. Here in church, we celebrate victory; we celebrate the completion of our own search for peace. But, we didn't simply read a slogan, repent, and become perfect overnight. We learned from experience that becoming is a lifelong process. I don't know about you, but I've had to have my own experiences with ink stains to know that it can, with a little effort, be washed away.

The Lord has asked us to "Go forth from Babylon. Flee from the Chaldeans and with a voice of singing, declare: the Lord hath redeemed His servant." Heavenly Father doesn't speak in secret. He has spoken to all. I know that if you sacrifice the time and effort to pay the price of revelation and to know with a surety that the Lord hath redeemed you, then others around you will begin to trust the power of the Atonement to wash away their fear, doubt, shortcomings, guilt, and regret.

Missionary work beings with our own conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that greater light has entered my life through testifying of Christ. To become a shining star in the kingdom of God, we must first allow our own light that is inside of us to shine. As we try to repent daily and purify ourselves, we can trust that the Lord will be there when we don't know what to do or what to say. President Nelson said: "When you reach up for the Lord's power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him-when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw power into your life-you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do. When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done beofre, His power will flow into you."

Sister Anderson, I and the WML all gave talks in sacrament meeting yesterday. We all left the ward with the commitment to "share goodness." It was a cool experience to talk in church. I actually haven't given a formal talk in church my whole mission. I've borne my testimony, but that's not the same. It's interesting how much I have changed when it comes to talking to a group of people. The goal is more to actually help the audience FEEL something, rather than just fill time.

We had a miracle this week! We met a man a few weeks back who was interested, but he was going to move to Bothell. But, he texted us and told us that he's probably going to be staying in Duvall. We took a walk with him yesterday and we talked about the Book of Mormon and what it would mean to him to become Mormon. It was such an interesting conversation. He is concerned for his son's future, and he wants to make sure that he has answers to his questions when he grows up. I feel like he is sufficiently humble, and I'm sooo excited to see that these people with whom Sister Anderson and I have made relationships are starting to be more solid. I love being here in Duvall!

I had my second Pioneer Day on the mission. This time last year, I was in the MTC. This year, I'm trying to memorize the Rapstoration. I've come so far. Yes, we do have a recording of someone rapping the message of the Restoration.

We met a man who told us he ws a preacher and doesn't agree with us and then sat there, pouting with his back to us while we made friends with the rest of his family, but we could tell that he was listening the whole time...intently.

We were having a lesson with a Finnish man who was embarrassed that his house wasn't "neat," so he and a member sat on the porch steps while we sat on the concrete in the hot sun, in skirts. I'm really glad that I shaved my legs. As we were discussing the beauty of the Restoration of Jesus Christ, he would suddenly ask questions like "So where are the gold plates now?" "Do you believe in aliens?" "What do you do if you pray and the answer that you get contradicts the prophet?" "What if someone does something that hurts someone else and then they say that God told them to?" "Can't I just find revelation on my own, in my own house?" "Why didn't God just let Laban drown instead of asking Nephi to kill him?" "What happens if a prophet is disobedient?" In moments like these, we missionaries like to do something that blows minds. We find their answers in the Book of Mormon. This guy has already read through 1st Nephi, and he definitely has a questioning soul. It's a good thing that the Book of Mormon answers questions of the soul.

I got called a racist by my district leader because I told him that we grow cotton in the south. I need someone to send me a list of cool things about Alabama because everything that I say ends up being used against me.

That's about it folks. Love,
Sister Jenne"

Morning Glory (Week 59)

"Morning Glory; by: Sister Jenne and Sister Anderson

"His words were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords."

Imagine big, glorious, white buds popping through the emerald green. Hundreds of them cutting through a sea of leaves. As the golden afternoon sun glimmers through the petals of the flowers, a feeling of peace fills the hearts of the pedestrians. The shadow of the Duvall visitor's center coats the ground, and the only break in the monotonous darkness is the pure snow-like blossoms. The average passerby doesn't even consider the fact that these lavish flowers are slowly sucking the life out of all remaining vegetation. Rhododendrons shrink and shrivel in the suffocating grip of curious curls of luminous vines. The strips of scarlet roots tangle and twist just beneath the surface of the other leaves, slowly cutting off all nutrients. Hands grasp and gut out the twist of twigs from the bushes. The gardener disrupts the virus from spreading. But with each pull and tug; leaves tear, vines break, and the once magnificent bush is left tired and slightly toppled over.

One might venture to ask, "why wait til right before suffocation to rescue the bush?" "why not just cut the weed off in the beginning to save the branches of the Rhodies?"

Nephi counsels us: "He [the Devil] is the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever." Just as Morning Glory sneaks small tendrils of vine along stems of healthy plants, Satan patiently guides many, even believers, far from the straight and narrow. Rather than shooting up overnight, like other weeds seem to do, it creeps up, unbeknownst. The thriving nature of this plant is completely parasitic. Without other plants to wrap around, growth would be stunted. Without a gardener, there is no hope to overcome.

How often do we fail to recognize our own complex vines and traps, twisting slowly and steadily around our feet and legs, working their way toward our very soul?

We need to do like Elder Andersen counsels and "beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes".  "Temptation will fall in our way without our seeking, and evil will present itself even when we desire to do the most right." (Talmage) When the tangles of the devils binding cords slither towards us we will one day be strong like Christ and be able to say "Get thee hence, Satan..." The prime protection comes from the fervent repetition of pulling the weeds while they are young. Stopping the temptation early on. No matter what dirt you plant it in, or what weed killer you spray, the weeds will come; but we are promised: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13)    "The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of his light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come." (Uchtdorf)

So, friends "what shall we then say to these things? For if God be for us who can prevail against us?"

Thanks to the counsel of modern day prophets and apostles, we know that "however many chances  you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." (Holland) When the sheer blackness seemingly distinguishes the light, when hopelessness creeps into the corners of our testimonies, when it seems the sun will never shine in Seattle, the adversary grins. Of course, we will face injury and trial. Of course, we will experience numbness and pain.  When "the temptation to evade sacrifice and suffering and to follow a more comfortable way," (Talmage) presents itself, faith overcomes obstacles and endures through discouragement.

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. No matter how many weeds grow, Christ, the perfect gardener, can, in fact, destroy every one, allowing flowers to take root and blossom, unhindered by the suffocating kiss of the Morning Glory.  

The End.

Yes, Sister Anderson and I wrote an essay together this week. We were discussing Satan as we pulled out morning glory from among the Rhododendrons by the Duvall visitor's center. See if you can guess which parts I wrote and which parts she wrote. We have different styles of writing for sure. That's about it, folks!

I discovered that there is a restaurant here called "Pickletime" and anyone who comes to Washington with me after my mission will be eating there with me.

I love you all!
-Sister Jenne"