Monday, May 21, 2012

Give It All You Got!

You all must forgive me for not writing a mass email last week.. I didn't have a ton of things to say and time was short- but I have repented of my ways and here I am. Haha ;)

Well this week has been great, just as all the other past weeks of my mission. I feel like I have had so many different thoughts lately that I don't even know where to start. So I'll just start with Friday, May 18.. 

As my mom would say, "It was the best day of her life when I came into the world.." Haha jk mom, I really don't know what you would say. Yes Friday was my birthday and boy was it a good one. I woke up thinking, "Ok, what are we doing today, who do we have to see? What do I need to study?" And then suddenly I remembered I was born on this day, but I'm a missionary and missionaries don't celebrate their birthdays. Haha so I just went upstairs for some breakfast and Sis Edwards had made cinnamon rolls for me and got me a turqoise watch (which I'm wearing right now, I love it) Sis Stoker even sneakily had Sis Edwards get me some earrings. It was pretty sweet. I thought my day was made at that point.. I was wrong. Before lunch we helped Sister Edwards clean up because she was having a scrapbooking party. She's all, "I don't know why I do this to myself, make myself so busy when I have to make your birthday dinner tonight too.. " and I was thinking, "Ya, I don't know why you do either?" Haha. Well, before her scrapbooking party people came over, I went downstairs to take a little nap during lunch time. 10 min later, Sis Edwards comes downstairs and says, "Can you please come upstairs and meet my friends?" And so I was like, "ok I'll be up in a minute," and she said, "well.. can you come up now and say the prayer?" 

So I said Ok and started coming up the stairs when I turned around and saw that many people from our ward were there standing by the staircase. They all yelled, "SURPRISE!" Haha, I was totally tricked. I had NO idea that Sis Edwards was planning a surpirse birthday party lunch thing for me. S Edwards kept laughing and saying how I helped clean and bake for my own surprise party. Haha, it ended up being really fun and I felt extremely loved that so many sisters in the ward would show up and support me on my little ole' birthday. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day! When we went out for the day we even found a new investigator who is pretty awesome! He has a 10 year old daughter and he really wants to get back into church. That was the best birthday present, finding someone that the Lord had prepared to hear the gospel. That night, when we got home for dinner, Sis Edwards made a scrumdidliumptious dinner and cheesecake for dessert :) my fav. I had letters and a package from my mom awaiting me. It was a joyous day to behad. I never thought having a birthday in the mission field could be so fun, and rewarding! 

having fun
Saturday, we went over to one of our investigators house to help her do some yard work. (Service is the best excuse to wear some regular clothing. I love it!) Haha. So I was mowing the lawn and I had put the car keys over the top of my tshirt.. Well somehow while I was mowing the lawn, I dropped the keys and when we were ready to go, I had no idea where I could have dropped them. It was a pretty big yard. So the search was on, and I felt like we were looking forever. Finally, I stepped into her garage and said a little pleading prayer to Heavenly Father. I knew He had to help us find the keys because we had an appointment we had to get to, and it was the mission's car and so the spare keys were all the way in Independence. I kept looking and still no sign of the keys... I told myself not to freak out, but to just stay calm and the spirit would tell me where I had dropped them.. Well, right after that thought, sure enough, there they were by the edge of the lawn by some trees. I was so relieved and so grateful to Heavenly Father for helping me to stay calm enough that the spirit could guide me. I know that's such a simple story, but it was a really big lesson/testimony for me on the power of prayer through our trials, even the tiniest ones. Heavenly Father is so aware of us as his children and He knows our stresses. I know that whenever we need an answer to something, if we just wait patiently and stay calm, all will be well, and He will answer us- but we have to be sure that we don't just sit around waiting for the answer! We must go and do! This is the only way we will qualify for those answers. I know that is true. Faith without works is dead. 

Yesterday was a very special day for me. Not only did our cute little family of 4 that we started teaching last week all come to church dressed and ready to go, but we were able to go to the Liberty Jail where they hold a President's Devotional every 3rd Sunday for all the recent converts in the area. Sister Stoker and I went with Beth and her boyfriend BJ, and met Benedict and his girls there too. When Benedict got up to share his testimony he talked about how dark his days were when he was a child in Africa and how by meeting with us and learning about the Gospel he felt light again, and that he knew without a doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet and did Restore Christ's gospel. He said, "When I heard about all the persecution that the prophet went through, and that he died because of what he taught and testified to be true, I knew there had to be something more to this religion. I knew that it was more than just another church. I knew that it was something that I needed to hear about and be apart of." It was a very tender experience for me. Then Beth went up and shared her sweet testimony too and I couldn't help but get choked up. I sat there listening to our recent converts and felt so grateful, so honored, and so humbled that the Lord had allowed me to be involved in His great work. I know I have said this before, but I felt like a proud parent listening to my children share their testimonies of the Restoration of the Gospel, knowing that I had helped them to build their foundation on the Savior. It makes everything worth it, everything- How did I get to be so blessed?

After the devotional, we came home with Beth and she stepped inside for a moment and we started talking about her plans for the future. She started to tell us how grateful she was for the gospel but also how hard it was for her sometimes to get over past mistakes she had made, feeling like maybe she wasn't completely worthy of all the blessings she's been receiving. Sister Stoker looked to me as if to say, "Go ahead, tell her.." So I began to share with Beth that there have been many times I have felt that way, especially on my mission, and how there have been many times when I have remembered past mistakes and felt like I wasn't good enough. I told her that a good friend told me, "Whenever a bad thought of a past sin comes into your head, you say 'thank you Satan for helping me to remember that I am not that person anymore and that I am better than that..." We read her some scriptures about how the not only forgives us of our sins, but he remembers them no more. Truly, what a blessing that is and a testament of the power of the Atonement in our lives. I love Beth so much and if all I did was come out here to meet her and help her along her path, than my mission would be complete. She is a far greater example to me than I ever could be to her.    

Something that I have been thinking about a lot is, where are my priorities and my focus? I want to be sure that I am focusing all that I can on this work and making sure that I make every moment count. I would hate to stand before the Lord one day and have to tell him that I wasted this precious year and a half that He has given me. Granted, I am not perfect, but I just want to be and do the best I can. I know that there are many other missionaries who are far beyond me and where I'm at, but I've come to realize that we all learn and grown at different rates and levels, and Heavenly Father knows that. He just wants us to do the best WE can, and we will be judged accordingly. I read a talk this morning by Elder Oaks that talked all about focus and priorities. He gave a quote that went something like this, "“Three things never come back—the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity. We cannot recycle or save the time allotted to us each day. With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever." How true that is. Never take time for granted. Use it up all you can.

Well, tis true, transfers are this week. :( I love this area so much. I really do not want to leave, nor do I want to leave my beloved companion Sister Stoker. We have been such a good team and have had so much fun and made so many memories. I feel as though she has really helped me to define myself and become a better daughter of God. She is, in my eyes, the missionary we all aspire to be. I love her guts, and will be sad to say goodbye. However, I know that with change comes new memories and more blessings so I am excited to see where the Lord would have me go next. Who knows- maybe I will actually go to an area where my little spanish I do know will be challenged. The Lord has a way of keeping us humble right? Haha, well I love you all so much and thank you for all the letters and packages. They mean the world to me. Shout out to my awesome mom for hers! And to the Sevier's too. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much! Love you all!

Love, Hermana Conrow
(p.s. if you're writing me, send it to the mission office, I don't know where I'll be come thursday!)

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