Monday, September 28, 2015

It Isn't a Sin To Be Weak

"Sister Shannon" one of our investigators took US on a
 tour of the Visitor's Center and Temple. She told us
 she took a picture of the first moment she touched
 the Temple and said we should too. 
Our tiny district at the Temple!

What a fantastic week!

We had the opportunity to go to the Portland Temple on Tuesday with our district! It is GORGEOUS. I love going to the Temple! The rest of the week was full of service and lessons! 

Saturday was a busy day. A lady whose father passed away in our ward asked if we could get some Elders to come and help her move some boxes and dressers into a u haul that morning. Apparently that was the day everybody decided to move because all the Elders in our zone were already moving other people! In the end, Sister A and I went over there and moved all the stuff for them. Never doubt the strength of a Sister! However, we also had a baptism and so we had to rush over and change at the church. Previously, we had filled up the font and when we came to check up on it before the service, we found out that there was a mix up in scheduling the building and there was another baptism at the same time! Luckily we sorted it all out and had a combined baptism. It was a crazy morning. 

We had the opportunity to go to the General Women's broadcast and a potential investigator came! We met her at the Stake Women's triathlon last Saturday and invited her to come. She said she would and she kept her word! She loved it and we hope to see her again this Saturday! The session was so amazing!

In the April 2015 Ensign, there is a talk titled "It isn't a Sin to be Weak" by Wendy Ulrich. As I read this talk, I came to find that this was exactly what so many of us need to hear. Sister Ulrich defines sin as "a choice to disobey God’s commandments or rebel against the Light of Christ within us. Sin is a choice to trust Satan over God, placing us at enmity with our Father." And she defines weakness as "a limitation on our wisdom, power, and holiness that comes from being human." I am definitely human...

The second week I got here I had so much anxiety and homesickness (something I know a lot of missionaries these days have). I had never in my life felt these emotions so strong. In the morning the alarm would go off and before I had even opened my eyes, my heart was racing a hundred miles an hour and I thought that I couldn't possibly do this for 18 months. At the time I thought I was going to feel this way my whole mission. I didn't even know what these extreme feelings were until someone told me that it was anxiety. The rest of the day was a "just get through it" kind of deal. This went on for a straight week. It was the hottest week so far, I didn't know anyone yet, I was still adjusting to the missionary life, and I had this weight on my shoulder. It was the darkest time in my entire life. 

I wondered everyday "why me?" Why, while I was on my mission doing what the Lord called me to do, did I feel like I couldn't do it? Why was I so weak? Was I wasting my mission by "just trying to get through it"? Was I just weak? 

Sister Ulrich goes on to say, "Human weakness plays an important role in [the] essential purposes of mortality. When Moroni worried that his weakness in writing would cause the Gentiles to mock sacred things, the Lord reassured him with these words:

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27)

The implications of this familiar scripture are profound and invite us to distinguish sin (encouraged by Satan) from weakness (described here as a condition “given” to us by God)."

I had a weakness and I felt completely alone. How was I ever going to make it the whole time? Then the answer came: pray. All I literally could do was pray every day, every second. I don't think I have ever prayed so dearly to my Heavenly Father than I did that week. I needed His help and I knew that He would help me. I needed to turn to Him, lean on Him, and learn from Him. It was the only way. But nothing happened over night. I didn't suddenly become strong and my weaknesses were not taken from me. I was able to overcome my challenges and weaknesses through Him. I fully turned myself to our dear Father in Heaven who gave me peace in knowing that could make it, one day at a time:

"While Satan is eager to use our weakness to entice us to sin, God can use human weakness to teach, strengthen, and bless us. Contrary to what we might expect or hope, however, God does not always “make weak things become strong” unto us by eliminating our weakness. When the Apostle Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” Satan used to buffet him, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 9).

There are many ways the Lord makes 'weak things become strong.' While He may eliminate the weakness through the dramatic cure we hope for, in my personal experience this is somewhat rare. For example, I see no evidence that God eliminated Moroni’s weakness in writing after the famous verse in Ether 12. God may also make weak things strong by helping us work around our weaknesses, gain an appropriate sense of humor or perspective about them, and improve on them gradually over time."

I found my way. It was the hardest week of my life but the most humbling. We later found out that we had taught 29 lessons that week. For our mission that is a very high number. How could we have possibly have done that, especially that week!? It was through the Lord. 

I know that He cares for each and everyone one of us so much. He loves us and knows our struggles. Go to your Heavenly Father and humbly ask for help. You don't have to go through ANYTHING alone. He will help with even the tiniest of things. I know this to be true. I have a huge testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that it has been restored upon this Earth through Joseph Smith. I know that our Heavenly Father and Christ love us now just as they loved the people back in the day. I know that because of this love, they not only had prophets then but we have prophets now. Prepare your hearts and minds for General Conference this week. I encourage you all to go into the sessions with a question. You will be amazed by the way the answer will come to you.

-Love, Sister Waite

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear John

Friends, countrymen, hipsters!

We had zone conference this week! That was fantastic! President and his wife are always so inspired. This was the day that Sister Barlow, all the way from New York, sent out a group email. In it, she talked about having faith in your investigator and setting baptismal dates that show your confidence in them. After having read that, we went to a lesson where we were going to set a date with our investigator. We chose to invite him to be baptized and he said yes! This is someone who previously was invited to be baptized and told the missionaries not to come back. Thank you Sister Barlow!

"Dear John (Bull Mountain Sisters),
I have been reading and praying and have decided that the LDS is not for me."
-our "Golden Investigator"


Sister A and I got this text on a bright and beautiful morning and our hearts were crushed. We were going through the breakup blues and it was a terrible feeling. During this time, I received a miraculous package from Grandma Clark that I wasn't aware was coming! In it, Grandma told Sister A and I to hang in there and to look to the scriptures when we were feeling low. We took that literally. Sister A and I said, "we are feeling pretty low, lets listen to Grandma Clark!" we kneeled down right then and there and said a prayer then opened up our scriptures to a random page. I turned to Alma 36 and sure enough, it was just what we needed! This chapter is when Alma is testifying to his son Helaman and explains his conversion story. In verse 18 it reads, "...O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death," and verse 21," ...there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains..." Gall of bitterness? Yepp! Bitter pains? Check! Okay, so maybe we weren't encircled by the chains of death but we sure felt devastated! What did we do wrong?? The more we read, the more it opened up our eyes. In verses 23-25, and 27 it says:

23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.

 24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

 25 Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors;

 27 And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.

Yes, missionary work is already hard as it is but it is even worse when someone tells you that they no longer what to see you. But as we listened to Grandma Clark and the words of the prophets, we realized that we can do this. The Lord knows our efforts and he knows when we need strength. By the time we were done reading, we were on our feet ready to go get back to work. How great the scriptures are! They help with everything! I have a huge testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that it does contain the Christ's Gospel in it. I testify to you all that it is the word of God and encourage you all to read it everyday. I promise you that as you do so, you will be filled with strength to carry out the work that you need to do. It can help you with your problems and fill your soul with "exceeding joy."

I want to thank all of you that support me and help me carry out the Lord's work. Those little words of encouragement and inspiration really are so helpful and keep us going. Thanks Grandma Clark for helping Sister A and I get back on our feet. I love you all!

Remember, the gospel is true and the book is blue! 

-Sister Waite  
-during weekly planning: as if there weren't enough of us
hooligans running around, here is two more of us!

-before zone conference

Friday, September 11, 2015

Angels, Investigators, and Cook Park

-I found my middle name! Got a piece
of my grandmas in Oregon!

Sister A and I in the actual Cook Park 
and our "white stallion" in the background
I have been dreading writing this email because there is SO MUCH to update you all on. First off, the zoo was fantastic! Sister A and I saw some great miracles this week from our finding efforts the week before. When we tracted two Saturdays ago, the last door we knocked on we kind of were sick of tracting and gave them our card and ran off for dinner. From the moment the family closed the door I knew we should have set up an appointment to come back but I didn't know how to go about it. I just pushed that prompting aside and we left. Finally after being pestered by the Spirit for a few days, I told Sister A that we had to go back. Then we almost died.. crazy story but all you need to know is that I could have been dead except an angel literally steered around us in the car. 5 minutes after this incident, we knocked on the door and walked away with a new investigator. Then 15 minutes later we had our SECOND investigator. This second investigator is golden. She told us that she has always wanted to be Mormon and sometimes she watches general conference on for fun. She is 28, just married, and completely AWESOME!

So that is the Angels, and investigators part.. now here is Cook Park:
On Thursday, after a super fun dinner with our Ward Mission Leader and his family, we recieved a text from the Cook Park Elders which we immediately dismissed (Elder Jacobson and Smith who are our really good friends).. and underneath that we had two texts from President.You know things are pretty serious when President texts. Turns out that a missionary broke his leg and another missionary is sick or something and so they took the Elders from Cook Park and WE HAVE COOK PARK NOW. We had a week and a half of one ward bliss and now it is time to go back to work. (: We weren't sure if we were ecstatic or overwhelmed by this. But it has been great and they have some of the best investigators and family! Bonus: we get 10 hours of church again!! Speaking of church...

"You have to share a testimony to gain a testimony." -Brigham Young

Fast Sunday was yesterday and during the testimony meeting I felt impressed to talk about testimonies. As Bishop Glazier said yesterday, "my testimony is fragile." I think we can all agree that our testimonies are fragile and we must do all that we can to nourish them and keep them in one piece.

 I like what it says in True to the Faith about testimonies:
"Having obtained a testimony, you have a duty to nurture it throughout your life. Your happiness in this life and throughout eternity depends largely on whether you are 'valiant in the testimony of Jesus.' The quest for a testimony begins with a righteous, sincere desire."

In the words of my father, "It is easy to teach someone a correct principle.  But unless they put effort forth the effort of studying, praying, pondering, and obeying it, it is difficult to gain a testimony that will change there lives." He also likened it to being spoon fed the gospel. If you are just being told what to believe, your testimony will only go so far before you begin to break under the weight of Satan's forces. And you better believe that he is working harder and harder on us all these days. We are powerful children of God with more potential than we might realize at this moment.

It goes on to say that it is through the quiet influence of the Holy Ghost that testimonies come and through experiences your testimony will grow. What I want to focus on is "your testimony will increase when you share it." Do not wait for your testimony to be fully developed before you share it. Part of a testimony's development comes when it is shared. In fact, you will find that when you give what you have of your testimony, it will be returned to you-- with increase."

Don't wait to share your testimony with others. You have one for a reason! Don't be ashamed of it and hide it away. It is powerful and amazing, as well as fragile. Tenderly take care of it. "Your testimony will be most powerful when it is expressed as a brief, heartfelt conviction about the Savior, His teachings, and the Restoration." -True to the Faith I know that personally I was always very active in the church and I thought I was doing pretty good, but it wasn't until I came here on my mission and put my whole heart into this work that I realized I wasn't doing quite enough. I wasn't actively doing my best to learn, to grow, and to nourish my testimony. I might have been doing what I was supposed to but I wasn't doing it effectively. I was allowing myself to be spoon fed the Gospel. I listened and I did believe but I wasn't applying. My mission has changed that all. It has changed me. And it has only been 2 months...

You don't have to serve a full time mission to gain a strong testimony. Turn your hearts and souls to Christ. Move full speed ahead as you search the scriptures, actively look for missionary
opportunities and ways to serve others, do what He would do. Start in the home, then work to the rest of your home. Nourish what you have and gain more.

I love you all! Have a great day!

-Sister Waite

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

God changes plans


What a week. On Friday, President asked us all to fast and then to designate Saturday as a day of finding. So we were all able to do a mission-wide fast! What holy ground this mission was on that day! We were blessed with rain on Saturday and a beautiful breeze throughout our finding which was so nice. As far as mine and Sister A's finding, we did A LOT of tracting and nothing really happened immediately, we found a few potentials here and there, but we know that our efforts are never wasted! We know that God's timing is much better than ours. Plus, when I saw that our ward is called Bull Mountain, most of our ward literally lives on this steep "mountain" and we tracted that practically all day so we are in tip top shape, sore, and hoping to see those blessings!

Speaking of God's timing, He performed another sign for us! During weekly planning Sister A and I sunk our ipads and then I looked at our calendar. I was the one who put in the plans for the day and so I was confused when I looked down and saw a man's name, all in caps, in our plans. I asked Sister A about it and she said she had never seen his name before, yet there he was, in blue (meaning he was a teaching appointment) and the time was set specifically for 5:15 AND he was tagged in the appointment which is something that takes an actual person to do. There was no way that anyone else could have gotten into our ipads and put that in. We knew in that moment that God had literally changed our plans around.. AGAIN! We did go over, but unfortunately the wife was home instead and said they weren't interested. As Sister A and I walked away we wondered why, if there hadn't been any miracle response, we were supposed to go there. We wish we could ask, but for now we have to be patient and trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. Perhaps we just weren't supposed to be somewhere else at the time. Hmm..

A lot of people have a hard time with the Fall of Adam. They can't understand why we believe that it wasn't a bad thing, but in fact a great thing, that Adam and Eve partook of the fruit. The Lord never leaves us comfortless. Our kind and loving Heavenly Father allowed his son and daughter to step away from his presence and grow on earth. Once they were led out, they were given direction and guidance as they were taught the Plan of Salvation once again. We can receive that same direction and guidance when we turn to Him.

 One Jehovah Witness lady even tried to convince us that we were sent into Satan's domain because of Adam's decision. How could such a loving and just God decide to send us into Satan's domain? This is earth, not hell. Heavenly Father created, through Jesus Christ, this beautiful world that we live. No, this is not purgatory. The Fall of Adam was indeed part of the Plan. It always was, it always will be.

I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, ever unto the end of the world. - Mosiah 4:7
Christ was ALWAYS part of the plan from the very beginning. Had Adam and Eve chosen to live in the Garden of Eden forever, there would have never been any reason for the Atonement, and we would not exist. But the best part? The atonement is the center of the Plan of Salvation. Agency is a huge component also:
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. -2 Nephi 2:27

Adam and Eve were given the choice in the Garden because agency is part of the plan. Christ chose to suffer for all mankind. Through his actions, the Atonement was created and we can all be cleansed from our OWN transgressions. We might not be accountable for Adam's sins, but we do have personal responsibility. The Atonement is there but Christ will not heal or cleanse us against our will. That is still our choice and what a fantastic one! The Atonement is there, do we choose to access it? Or are we allowing ourselves to be comfortable in our trials and sins? What choices are we making with our agency? Are we giving all of our time and talents to the Lord?

This is the time to do so. Don't let yourselves become "retired Mormons," even if you really are retired! There is work that needs to be done, right here, right now, maybe especially at 5:15.
I have never been so happy in my entire life than I am on my mission. There is so much joy in coming to Christ and proclaiming to everyone that He lives! That the true gospel has been restored upon this earth! You don't have to be a full-time missionary to know these things for yourself. Ask Him! Don't just hear His word, READ IT!

I love my life, I LOVE Oregon, and I LOVE MY COMPANION.
I hope you all take a few moments to think about your own life and how you can add even more happiness to it. I love you all and thank you everyday for the prayers you send my way! Have a good Monday, now I am off to the zoo!
Love, Sister Waite
Sister A and I right after some great tracting and some beautiful weather
One of the steep hills we tracted.  What a beautiful view though!