Man, I cry all the time. Seriously.
Every day I see something that reminds me of how lucky I am. I get a hug from a friend, I see the light fill the eyes of someone who feels the Spirit for the first time, I feel the Spirit as I think about my family, and then… every week when I write this message, I read about how much I am supported and loved and good grief, I tear up again. Thank you, everyone, for giving me reasons to cry every day. I promise it’s (usually) a good kind of cry. Just like one of my favorite old friends, Pooh Bear, said,
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.
Saying goodbye before coming on my mission was hard. But being here is so worth every hard goodbye that was said, and every hard moment that is had.
I had the chance to experience what I can only call a miracle the other day. And if you would, allow me to define the word miracle:
A few days ago in the Visitors’ Center I took a tour with Sister Anthian. She is from Montreal and speaks French. We took a group of about 7 or 8 women through a few different parts of the center. We started in the Savior of the World room– a room that depicts the life of Jesus Christ with a series of paintings, several of them by Carl Bloch
. We asked the group if any had a favorite painting and why. Several stepped up to share. One, in particular went straight to the painting of Christ with Mary Magdalene after His resurrection.
- Mary and the Resurrected Christ
She said she loves it because it teaches us that Christ goes to the sinner first. I had honestly never thought of it that way. I’d never looked at the painting that way, but it touched me. It was and is so true. And it had obviously had an effect on the woman who made that observation. It struck me as such a beautiful perspective and later, as I reflected back on it, reminded me of this scripture from the book of Matthew: (Matthew 9:10-13
10 ¶And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, , and not sacrifice: for I am not come to the , but sinners to ..
Later on in the tour we went by the pictures that show the inside of the St. George temple. There is a display that talks about what happens in the temple
and why temples
are so important. We explained what happens inside the temple, what we learn, what we promise to do, and talked a lot about agency — the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves.
It felt important to explain and emphasize that all temple work is done to give the opportunity for people to choose to accept the gospel if they didn’t have that chance while they lived. No one is forced. Ever. It turned out that CHOICE to emphasize agency in relation to ordinances and covenants (or promises) was inspired. It played a huge part in the last part of the tour. And it struck me just how much of a connection there is between temple work and missionary work. Both rely heavily on and include completely the concept of AGENCY.
To conclude the tour, we took them through an exhibit called God’s Plan for His Family. It’s a presentation on the importance of families, and by golly, I cry every time I see it. The Spirit was already so strong. As we closed the video/exhibit, we were led to talk about choices and agency again. I honestly can’t remember all that was said, because of lot of it wasn’t just me talking: it was the Spirit. But I know we spoke of just how true it is that Jesus comes to the sinner. He comes to those that have reached the lowest of the low and He comes especially when we feel we don’t deserve it. He loves us. And He will love us no matter what we do; no matter what choices or mistakes we make. He has a plan for each and every one of us. That plan, put simply, is this: for us to be happy. Period. And He knows we will be happiest when we choose to do the things He has asked us to do. But He will never, ever force us to do those things. And He will always love us, no matter what we choose.
The Plan of Salvation
, or the Plan of Redemetion–the plan that God has for all of us that will allow us to find happiness now and have happiness forever–hit me clearly today as I gave that tour. I shared my testimony with them that I know this is not a gospel for perfect people. Christ did not need to preach to or minister to the perfect. His is a gospel for sinners, people are trying, every day, to be better. It is a gospel of second chances: a gospel of love.
At the end of that tour, we were all crying. Including me and Sister Anthian. And one of the women thanked us and said that those were exactly the things that they needed to hear. Now, I didn’t know these women. I didn’t know what to say to help them. That’s why I can’t take credit. It was the Spirit of God that worked through me and through Sister Anthian to share and say that things that would help and bring peace to those sweet women who uplifted and taught us. As a missionary, I feel like I learn far more from the people that I meet than I will ever teach them. And that’s a beautiful thing.
I can promise you that what I just wrote is true: This is not a gospel for perfect people. It is a gospel of second chances: a gospel of love. Christ comes to those who feel they don’t deserve love and help, to those who feel tired and weary and forgotten, and He lifts them. Please let Him lift you.
That’s the coolest thing about working in a Visitors’ Center. We have the opportunity to have really beautiful, uplifting experiences every day with new people. And every day I meet new people who I could swear are the coolest people I’ve ever met. And I tell people that. I say, “You are probably one of the coolest people I know.” And it’s true, every time. Because people are cool. And everyone is the coolest person ever because everyone is a child of God. And if that isn’t the coolest thing in the world then… I don’t know. It just is the coolest thing. Period.
So to all of you reading this blog, you are just about the coolest people I know. Thank you for being a part of my life and letting me have the HONOR of knowing, loving, and learning from you. You are spectacular and I know I am who I am because you’ve touched my life and taught me.
I just love being a missionary. Truly. And I love the feelings of joy that come from sharing what means more than life to me with people that I love instantly. It’s kind of weird, but I just love everyone! Because I see them the way God sees them. And that’s more love than I can really handle. But I love it. And I love being able to share the gospel and just be excited all the time! Well, not all the time, I have normal times, too.
One of my favorite Book of Mormon heroes had an enthusiasm for her faith that I want to emulate. Her name is Abish: (Alma 19:16-17
16 And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish , whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father—
17 Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it , therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people.
Abish was a convert, but she lived in a time and place where being a disciple of Jesus Christ was against
Abish ran from house to house…
the law and could get you killed. Bad news bears, I tell you. But Abish was faithful and worshipped her God and kept her faith strong in secret.
When people around her began to believe as well, she just about jumped out of her skin with joy. She “ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people…” that the gospel is real! That it is true! And I can’t imagine how liberated and light she must have felt.
That’s how I want to be every day. I just want to leap for joy at the opportunity I have to share this message every day.
So, I leave you, leaping for joy and trying harder every day to be a little better. That’s all we are asked to do. To try a little harder every day. I hope this finds you well and that you can find something in your life that makes you leap for joy. Go leap! And have a marvelous day!