I have a testimony that Heavenly Father loves everyone and has a plan for each us, that is very individual and personal. I know he provides a way for all of to have happiness in this life. It is hard and kind of disapointing when members and other missionaries ask "oh, why are you here?" Answering, the Thai language was destroying me isn't the best response to give so I say, truthfully "the Lord has a work for me to do here"
Members so far have only fed us once, my weekly funds are much lower here because it is anticipated that we won’t have to provide for all meals. Most days we choose to eat or accomplish our goals of 3 lessons a day and inviting 10 people a day. The mission president sent out a "standard of excellence" for becoming excellent missionaries. One is to be exactly obedient among others but the one that worried me the most was extending the baptism commitment during every first lesson. This checks for desire and among other things, such as what concerns they may have that we need to overcome early on etc. I would never do that in Thailand they don't even know how to pray, but I see why in the bible belt that is needed. It doesn't make it any easier though.
We have five new people with a baptismal date this week. WooHoo! But, in order for them to be baptized they have to go to church. If they don't go to church, they can not get baptized. Because after baptism we make a covenant to always remember Him and renew our baptismal covenants through partaking of the sacrament weekly. If they don't go to church they can not renew their covenants they made at baptism. If baptism was a drivers license then church is the DMV. You can't tell the cop you once had a drivers license and let it expire. Same with Baptism, in order to go to heaven we have to keep our Covenants or promises we made when we were baptized.
I am so blessed to witness and now hear (in english) the miracles. People still exercise their agency, for freedom of choice though. On Saturday a girl wouldn't let us into her home telling us we aren't the person she is looking for. I told her we prayed less than 5 minutes ago and testify about prayer, God, his love for us, and answers to our prayers. She was touched by the spirit and began to cry and told me about the day she had that God answered her prayer. Her sons skateboard was stolen and he was beaten up and a Mom in the neighborhood, no idea how they got it, returned it. Even after we brought the spirit and touched her she still refused to let us in. What could I have done more? I know no amount of education or beautiful sermon or anything that would let us into anyones home but only the spirit of the Lord will touch and soften someones heart. But even after we did that she still said no. I remember reading an article about agency and how God loves us so much he will let us go to hell if we choose. He lets us choose for ourselves to come unto him or to continue trying to achieve happiness on our own.
I know I am guilty of trying to find happiness in every thing but the gospel of Jesus Christ. I tried finding peace in computer time or Facebook. I tried finding an escape from stress in the TV. I tried having energy from Sugar and joy in shopping for material things of the world. I know those things worked for a quick jolt of relief but none are as lasting as the peace, joy and happiness I feel in the teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have never had more energy. Which is ridiculous because when we loose sleep as missionaries we don't ever take time to make up for it. I have never been happier in my life than serving, and laboring, on behalf of my fellow brother and sisters. We are all children of God and He loves us all. I find invisible hugs and peace in prayers. I find joy and energy in reading the Scriptures and the words or the prophet, modern and old. I love seeing the mercies of the Lord in all his children lives whether 400 BC or 2000 AD. He is the same yesterday today and forever. And this is what I get to share every day. How great is my Joy! It does sadden me though when people choose not to have this peace, joy, love, energy, relief and happiness that can only be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know what their life can become and what greatness they can have in their lives and they choose to reject it with a line of excuses attached. If they only knew that if they gave up those excuses they could have all the happiness in the world! How can I, as a missionary, daughter, sister, and friend express the anxiety of my soul for them?
This week in District meeting I shared what worked for us in Thailand how we got people to church. We had a record number of investigators who attended church for the district. Next week I hope to break the record for this mission!
I love this quote from Gordon B Hinckley from "Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley"- The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the phone and ordering groceries- we place the order and hang up. We need to mediate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another" I love this quote because I have said prayers like this. It is true I have listed thanks and blessings and close. Now I am finally getting to a point where it is no longer vain repetitions. It takes effort to pray and really "mediate, contemplate, think... then speak to the Lord"
In the Bible dictionary under "Prayer" it says, "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but are conditional on our asking for them" How many times have I on my knees and in my heart tried to have God align my will with his or change His? "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." It also says that prayer becomes natural and instinctive when "we learn the true relationship in which we stand towards God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children)" I never knew that when I didn't want to pray that I had not remembered this.