So sorry about last week. Transfers were very crazy because it was Halloween and we had a different Preparation Day schedule, I was being transferred, and my companion was flying home that transfer, it was hectic so I wasn't able to get a proper email written to y'all. But now that I'm settled in to my new area, here we go!
To start, I have been transferred out to Tyler Texas, technically Bullard, Texas and Whitehouse, Texas are my areas (also cover Jacksonville) but Tyler is the nearest big city people would know. So I'm in east Texas, and I LOVE IT. I have a car, which is awesome, we had 4 baptisms this week, which was even better, the shower actually works good, which is exquisite, and my companion is excellent. I love it here! I'll put some pictures of what it looks like out in east Texas, SO much better than the big city with all its traffic and such.
This week I want to share with y'all something I wanted to share last week, something that I realized and grew to be thankful for. I had been seeking since the MTC to develop the gift of faith. I wanted to do it so I asked for help on the matter in prayer, and though your specific situation might not be the same, the principle stands. As I sought to develop this, there has been some of the greatest and most difficult trials these last 5 months and I was really having to grit my teeth and keep moving. I knew serving a mission would be hard, I knew it would be a growing experience, but I didn't understand why things were happening the way they were. Just before transfers, it all fell before my eyes. I could see then and remembered, that I had asked God for help in developing this gift of the spirit. Well we know that "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." As I pondered and thought on the matter of the trials and how to overcome them and what I needed to change about myself to be humble and endure, those words entered my mind and I remembered in essence asking for such trials! I reviewed my mission so far and realized, my faith has been growing immensely! I may not have noticed it in the time, nor did I see the Lords hand answering my prayer, but it was there nonetheless and my prayers were being answered! Now I was faced with the question, why am I not happy, why am I downtrodden and miserable? Well my mission President gave a Zone meeting that talked about what our motivation is and how though our circumstances don't change, we change and it is up to us, through our motivations whether we are the miserable missionary, or the joyful one. True doctrine understood changes behavior, so I sought to understand this because the whole meeting was as if it was directed to me. I found my answer, I found what I was missing. In the words of Elder Nelson from last general conference, "When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening--or not happening--in our lives." I understood I was doing this for Jesus Christ, but I didn't understand the doctrine of why I was, of the motivation behind the why. I saw then that when I had prayed for help in development, I had prayed for trials, for hardships, I had prayed for change and change is hard. But there is joy to be had when we understand the why of our motivation to do it for the Savior. To do it with a focus on Him and His gospel. I invite you all to seek the why behind your motivation, to find the joy in the journey of refinement, if you are struggling and miserable, I promise you there is joy. "Seek and ye shall find..." I know it. I know there is such joy that is placed before us to be taken. To be enjoyed, we are not here to suffer, we are here to prepare to meet God through his plan of HAPPINESS. It's not the plan of suffer and then eventual happiness, it is simply the plan of happiness, and that happiness can be had all along the way. I promise it. What a joy my life has become as I understood the why and changed my motivation, as I understood my Savior's atonement and sought to change. "...His hand is stretched out still," take it, let him change you, and find the joy from such.
So this week we had a unique experience. We volunteer at a food pantry where we were invited by a Methodist pastor there to come get some food at their fall BBQ. We dress in service clothes when we go so they hadn't seen us in our shirts and ties. We decided we would go because hey, free BBQ. So we arrive at the church building and begin to think how weird this is going to be, two dressed up Mormon missionaries walking into a Methodist building where out here we aren't particularly loved. But like I said, free BBQ. We step foot in the door and everything goes kind of quiet from the original ambiance. Everyone's heads turn and stare at us with the face of confusion as to why two Missionaries would be in their building. Well I decided to introduce ourselves so I held up our tickets and said how grateful we were to be invited and that we were excited to meet them! Then the guy who invited us came over with his wife and told them we worked at the pantry with them and everyone turned back to their plates satisfied and everything resumed, from that point we got our food and had a very fun time talking with everyone as we ate. They were very very nice and though we still got confused looks of people who came in later, it was very fun and we got free BBQ which you just don't pass up. Very awkward, but very awesome too.
I love you all and hope all is well!