565

565.  That’s how many days I have been set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE  That is a lot of days!  A lot of days filled with joys, tears, laughter, disappointments, miracles, and everything in between.  I have seen myself transform.  I have seen lives change.  I have seen people’s hearts soften.  I have seen souls come to light up as they realize with excitement that they have finally found the church Jesus Christ himself is leading.  I can say nothing less than that every single day has been nothing short of a miracle.

So why does it have to end?!  My answer came through the words of one of the Lord’s modern-day apostles:

In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.

Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.

The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.

How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Grateful in Any Circumstance

Amen, President Uchtdorf!  I am so thankful to know that just because I have come to the end of my full-time missionary service in New York, it does not mean that my service is over.  It does not mean goodbye forever to the people that I love.  Instead, it’s a beginning 🙂

New York, you will forever hold my heart!

Never forget, THE CHURCH IS TRUE!

And I’ll miss you! ♥

–Sister Kasparian

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Who Are You Passing By?

Here are some conversations Sister Newson and I have had with people on the street lately:

Sister Newson, holding out a card: Hello!  Would you like some Christmas cheer?

Man walking by: NO.

Sister Newson: Are you sure?

Man: Yes.

*keeps walking*


Me: Hello!  We would love to share this short video with you about Jesus Christ and the peace we can find from Him this Christmas season!  Would you say that He has played a role in your life?

Man: Nope.  Not whatsoever.  And I’m not interested.


Sister Newson: Hello!  How are you doing?

Man in his yard: Fine, thank you.  What are you two doing out today, going for a walk?

Sister Newson: We are!  And we are spreading the Christmas spirit about Jesus Christ!  We have this card that will lead you to a great little video about how He is the true gift of Christm–

Man: *walking away* I don’t have time, sorry.

Haha!  And there are more where those came from!  Seems like Rochester needs a little bit more of the magic of Christmas, wouldn’t you say?

As I’ve had many experiences like this lately, my heart has been hit with a kind of sadness I can’t really explain.  Not because people are rejecting me, but because ultimately they are rejecting Christ.

As missionaries for His church, we are literally called by a prophet of God to represent the Savior Himself.  And I just think, how would these people’s responses be different if Jesus Christ was literally right there asking them the same questions?

What would your response be?  Are you passing by Him without a second thought?  Are you too busy for Him?  Are you simply not interested in Him?  If He were here on the street, would you care to stop and hear His message?

I can’t imagine how the Savior feels, having literally suffered the pains, sorrows, sins, and afflictions of all humankind (2 Nephi 9:21, Alma 7:11-12) and having so many people simply not even care.

And the amazing thing?  Despite how many people reject Him, deny Him, ignore Him, mock Him, disregard Him, or think He simply doesn’t matter, His arm of mercy is still extended to ALL of them.  (Alma 5:33).  Every single one of them.  No matter what they have done, He still reaches out to every individual soul on this earth and offers them His healing hand if they will but repent and turn unto Him. (3 Nephi 9:14)

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever heard?!  I know it is for me!  I have felt His healing hand in my life and I know that His love is the BEST GIFT I have ever received.  It’s for that reason that we keep spreading His name.

So for those of you who already know and love Jesus Christ all the way to those who don’t care one bit about Him: Learn of Him.  Put in the time for Him.  I promise you, He is there.

This Christmas season, don’t pass Him by!

Small and Simple Things

It’s a Thursday afternoon.  The view out of the bus window is surprisingly sunny for Buffalo, NY, even though there are layers of freshly settled snow covering what seems like endless crunchy gray piles of ice.  The constant lull of the bus is calming, and aside from the occasional bump in the road I sit quite still, observing those around me.  Besides three of my fellow missionaries, the bus is relatively unoccupied–a few people sitting here or there, involved in their own lives, living their own realities. Anyone else might see these people as typical, ordinary people riding a bus.  I?  I look at these people and see divine children of God.  I see people who Jesus Christ suffered infinitely for.  I see people of value who each have strengths and weaknesses, trials and triumphs, and who would be blessed immensely by knowing that Christ Himself still lives and has a plan for their individual happiness and exaltation.

Kind of a big deal!

How much is one soul worth? (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)  Is anyone, then, simply ordinary?

Do you start to understand now why as missionaries we talk to everyone, wherever we go?

Out of the corner of my ear I hear one of the Elders we are with talking to the man next to him, teaching him about the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Gospel on the earth today.  I smile, thinking how amazing it is that God trusts us, these 18-25 year old kids, to declare His truth to the world.  As I observe the older gentleman listening to Elder Klumker, I notice another man covered in tattoos and piercings a few seats away in the corner by himself, quietly looking out of the window.  Hmm.  I wonder what his story is.

I tune in to the former conversation more intently. The man who had been listening declines the invitation to learn more; Elder Klumker just smiles at him and turns back to us.  No defeat, I think.  At least he gave him the chance. The bus ride continues.  The older gentleman comes to his stop and steps off to go about the rest of his day.  Moments pass, and the man in the corner turns to the four of us to ask, “Do you put on some kind of Bible study or something?”

Aha! I smile in my head.  I knew there was a reason we were on this bus today.

As Elder Klumker spoke with him, it turns out that he had been tuning in the whole time to their conversation.  He opened up about how he loves God and loves reading the Bible.  He has been going to a few different churches for awhile and was quite interested in learning about what we had to teach!  Without any of us asking, he wrote his number down, and later that day the two Elders met with him in his home, sharing with him perhaps the greatest message this world could ever hear: that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a young boy prophet and restored Their church once again to the earth in it’s un-corrupted form.

I KNOW THAT NO DAY IS ORDINARY.  I know that each and every one of us are precious in God’s eyes.  I know that more often than not, our miraculous experiences will begin with small and simple things–like a typical bus ride home on a Thursday afternoon.

So the next time you see an opportunity that may seem small and simple–take it!  You never know, it may just change someones life forever!

We Go In Two’s

Here’s a collage of some beautiful people:

IMG_2274(1)round     IMG_3446(1)round

IMG_3733(1)round     IMG_1614round

Okay, actually they are just awkward self-ies, but they will get the point across.

These are my lovely companions, Sister Dimick, Sister Roberts, Sister Tulande Vasquez, and Sister Rosemore! They are some of the finest women I have ever met in my life!  They are the perfect examples of charity, faith, patience, strength, happiness, and Christlike service.

So how lucky am I that for the last 8 months of my life, I have spent every waking moment with at least one of these sisters? SO LUCKY!  Yes it may seem crazy, but when you decide to go on a mission, you are also signing up to be around someone 24/7.  As companions, we pray together, study together, exercise together, eat together, teach together, travel together…the whole shebang.  Why?  Because that is the pattern set up by the Lord.

“And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:6)

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because I want to instill in each and every one of your hearts this eternal truth:

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE IN THIS LIFE.

No, you may not be with someone 24 hours, 7 days a week like I am.  You may not have someone physically there by your side at all times.  (And you may even be thinking, thank heavens for that!)

But, you DO have a Father in Heaven who is only a prayer away, and is there to listen to you and love you unconditionally.  You have a Savior who has promised that He–the perfect companion of all time–will never leave your side.

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
(Joshua 1:5)

Jesus Christ is there.  He has walked the loneliest path that anyone on earth will EVER walk, and He did it so that we would never have to be alone.  In the words of Elder Holland, “One of the great consolations… is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so.”

As a missionary, I am grateful that I have a companion that is called to serve by my side and support me in every phase of my work, just as I am called to serve with and support her.  Furthermore, as a child of God, I am infinitely more grateful that I have a Redeemer who has walked the path before me and has promised to always be my guide and my support.

Trust the words of the Prophet, who said “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask.                                                      As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you.” (President Thomas S. Monson, We Never Walk Alone)

So the next time you feel lonely, sad, or discouraged, look up, breathe in, and let the Lord whisper to your heart, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” ♥  (Matthew 28:20, Doctrine and Covenants 100:12)  ♥

When We Get Lost, Others Get Found!

It’s late morning on a Thursday.  We’re driving from downtown Buffalo, New York, to a park in Tonawanda where a man we met last week was holding a vigil service for a dear relative.

We’re completely lost.  We have no idea where the park is.   We ‘re 20 minutes late for the vigil service already.  On top of that, we’re short on mile-age this month so we shouldn’t even be driving around.

For some people, getting lost in this situation might be very frustrating.

For me, getting lost means that Heavenly Father simply has someone else He needed us to run into today.

So, we continue searching.

It’s near a street called Elmwood, so we find the nearest Elmwood Avenue and come to a park!  Looking, looking….nope, it’s completely empty.  Hmmm.

We park on the side of the road and I’m thinking, we have to ask someone where this park is.  I look to the left and see a green shingled house with a steep wooden porch.  Let’s knock there and ask, I think.  So we get out of the car, knock on the door, and a woman answers whose name is Kellie.  She knew exactly where we needed to go!  After pointing us in the right direction, she squints at our name-tags and says, “Oh let’s see..the Church of Jesus Christ of…oh, yeah!  My mom used to be Mormon.”   It turns out she had grown up in the Church but hasn’t been since she was a little girl.  She gave us her number and said if we could come back in the morning next week she would like to listen to us.

Moral of the story:  when life takes you on its twists and turns, instead of getting frustrated, think: where is God trying to lead me?

It turns out the park was actually in Kenmore, along a different Elmwood street about 15 minutes away from where we were.  What are the odds that we happened to get lost around another Elmwood street where Kellie happened to be living and we happened to park directly across from her and she happened to be the one to answer the door and recognize us?

No odds.  No “just happened.”  God is in the details, and everything happens for a reason.  BELIEVE IT!

This whole experience may seem like such a simple thing.  There were no grand blinking signs, no mind-blowing miracles, no people running out of the house saying “Come over here, I’ve been searching for eternal truth!”  But there was a simple confirmation that God is leading us where He needs us to be.

So next time life doesn’t seem to be going your way, just remember that you are in His hands.  Trust in His plan, and keep moving forward!

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

This past weekend I was blessed to witness one of the biggest miracles I’ve ever seen!

It all begins with Anne, and oh does she come with a back story.

Anne is a 60 year old Italian lady who is 4’11” and has more spunk than anyone I know!  She was born and raised in Philly and has lived a life of tragedy and horror, experiencing every kind of abuse you could imagine and seeing more death than I can keep track of.  Through near death experiences, a violent mobster husband, a broken family situation, addictions, suicide attempts, betrayals, trauma, and the sudden death of her second husband (the first person whom she had ever felt unconditionally loved by) her life spun her into a long search for the love of the Lord.  After years of hating God due to the bitterness and tragedy life had given her, her journey toward Him began at last.

This journey led her to a variety of different churches, each slowly building her faith but not fully satisfying her spiritual hunger.

Through a miraculous turn of events, one day she was driving home from her bible study with tears streaming down her face, hurt and confused by the words someone had said in her study group.  Desperate for someone to turn to, she drove past the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center and saw the Christus statue through the windows and the words “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” along the building.  Making an unplanned U-turn into the parking lot, she walked in and was greeted by missionaries with open arms.  Little did she know that this was exactly where God had been leading her all along.

Fast forward to a week later, when my missionary companion and I show up on her doorstep to begin teaching her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–“the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).  A few months of teaching led us to last weekend, where with tears filling her eyes and the joyous light of Christ shining in her countenance, she entered the waters of baptism performed by the proper Priesthood authority of God!

IMG_3127(2)

For someone who was led through a life of tragedy, abuse, and horror, she has come out refined, fortified, loved, and redeemed.  She has given me a whole new understanding of amazing grace— “I once was lost but now am found; I was blind, but now I see.”  She has found God, and He has truly found her.

One of my favorite things that she often says is that “God has been wanting me for a LONG time!”  She looks back in her life and sees how much He was fighting for her all along, trying to bring her into His loving arms.  “Well, He’s finally got me!” she exclaims.

We are ALL God’s children, and He wants ALL of us.  Every single one of us.

So…does He have you?  Are you willing to let Him into your life?

Think about that.

And never forget these two things: Miracles happen and THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!

Ann

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15)

Expect Miracles

As a missionary, you expect miracles.  You know that no day is going to be a normal day.  You know that the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is the work of salvation and that something amazing is bound to happen each time you walk out of your apartment.  And so, as a sister missionary in the New York Rochester Mission, I think it’s about time I started sharing those miracles!

For those who don’t know, the purpose of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Those are the basic principles of the Gospel and, put simply, the steps to lasting happiness!  And so, with these steps engraved in our hearts, we go forth on our journey each day to find those souls who are searching.

One day, Sister Roberts and I were planning to go knock on some doors.  Like we always do, we prayed to be directed by the Spirit which street we should go to.  Once we had decided, we went about the daily teaching and giving service.  We ended up meeting some members of our ward who gave us a referral in Shortsville!  That evening we went to contact their friends, who ended up not being home at the time.  As we walked off the porch, Sister Roberts asked if we should go to the street we had originally prayed about or if we should just stay where we were and tract those streets.  It wasn’t a moment later when we turned around and saw the street sign–it was the same street that we had originally planned on going to!  Coincidence?  I think not!

The people living in the first few houses were nice but not interested.  Eventually we came to a cute purple home.  We knocked on the door and a woman answered with a 2 year old boy hovering around her legs.  The conversation unfolded and it turned out that her child’s father, Michael, had been interested in learning more about the Mormon Church and had been hoping that missionaries would just show up on his door one day!

Miracles really are everywhere.  Yes, there will always be people that aren’t interested.  But you never know if the person behind that door is someone who has been hoping that missionaries will show up on their doorstep!  And if we are faithful and diligent, God will place us in the right place at the right time in order to find these people.

 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith. 2 Nephi 27:23