Transitions

This past weekend marked the official one month that I have returned home from Rochester, New York to Salt Lake City, Utah, marking the end of my full-time service as a set apart missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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A month ago today, I never would have believed the change I’ve seen in my life since the moment I walked off that plane.  Coming back to regular life has been full of excitement, trial, relief, heartache, happiness, struggle, and everything in between.  It has been such a wonderful yet bittersweet journey!

love being able to see my family again.  I love being able to communicate often with so many friends that I care about in my life.  I love that I’m able to go to college and work toward having a bright future.  I love being able to drive around in my car and blast the music to my heart’s content. 😉

But every so often it feels like something is missing.

I miss the little things.  I still find myself feeling my right shoulder for my name tag.  When I write messages online or on my phone, I still go to turn to my companion for their input and then realize that no one has to proof read what I say.  I still have an urge to stand out behind the car to back someone up out of a parking spot. (Haha!  Sometimes out of habit I still do and then I realize what I’m doing and awkwardly get in the car and pretend like nothing happened!)

But I also miss the big things.  I miss having the increased sense of purpose that comes from knowing exactly what God wants me to do each day.  I miss teaching people about Jesus Christ everyday, and helping people know that God is their loving Heavenly Father who wants them to be happy.  I miss not having to worry about anything else except for the gospel.  I miss going out and hitting the streets of Rochester, talking with everyone I see and sharing with them my testimony of the eternal truths that I would never want to live my life without.

However!  I was inspired by Sister Beckham, a leader in the church, who said,

“Remember, we will return to [Heavenly Father] by moving forward, not backward, and in the process we will become changed. Our transitions make possible that change.  Every transition, every change, gives us a chance to choose again to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the principles of his gospel.”

And so, while a part of my heart still lies in Western New York, I’m thankful that God has given me this time to transition home.  Coming home has given me a chance to choose again to have faith in my Savior.  I have spent the last almost 19 months of my life helping others to make decisions out of faith in Him, and I’ve realized that now is the time to really put that to the test in my own life.

Besides!  We’ve all been given a promise in Alma 37:44, 45:

“Give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss.  …For the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.”

THAT, my friends, is what I trust in!  Whether you are a missionary or not, the words of Christ will always point toward eternal bliss.  They will always carry us through life’s transitions and lead us to the greater things of eternity.  They will always help us find a sense of purpose, peace, and direction in our life.  Why? Because our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, will always love us and they will never leave us alone.

So go out!  Like my stake president said, “You are never released from being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Name-tag or no name-tag, go help someone find the Lord today! 😀

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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

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!

Facing Anxiety With Hope

You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins.
~Preach My Gospel, A Guide to Missionary Service

Okay, does anyone feel like that’s a pretty big deal?  Because I feel like that’s a pretty big deal!  To be honest, I often feel a constant sense of anxiety as a missionary because there is so much on our heads and so much we need to be doing for the people we are called to serve.  It can be hard to deal with, and when it gets too overwhelming I pray that the Lord will take those feelings of anxiety and replace them with calm and confidence in Him.  I have indeed felt His help as I live each day; but so far those feelings have not been taken away!

So, I started looking at anxiety from a different angle.

As I’ve read through the Book of Mormon, I noticed many of the prophets speaking of the anxiety that they feel for their people:

…mine anxiety is great for you… (2 Nephi 6:3)

…am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls… (Jacob 2:3)

…this he did because of the great anxiety of his people… (Mosiah 28:12)

…I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words… (Alma 13:27)

And I started noticing a theme.  Anxiety is not always a bad thing!  It actually seems to be something that naturally follows a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  However.  The key is that this anxiety doesn’t lead to a sense of hopelessness or depression but instead to humility and trust.  As followers of the Savior, we have a love for all those around us and we are concerned for their welfare.  We worry about how to help them.  We want them to feel happiness.  In my case as a missionary especially, I want them to have the restored gospel and have their eyes and hearts opened to its truthfulness. Those are all things that can cause a sense of “anxiety” in us, especially because we can’t control others’ actions.  Even if what we are feeling anxious about isn’t necessarily other people but about future events, careers, finances, etc… there is a lot out there that might contribute to our worried feelings!  But, instead of getting overwhelmed with these concerns, if we turn them over to the Lord and trust Him, He will speak peace to us.  If we let “righteous anxiety” lead us to humble ourselves before God, realizing we can’t do it on our own, and then ask Him for His help, I know that He will ease our minds and lead us to what we can do to best help His children or succeed in our own lives.

So even though missionary life (and life in general) can be stressful and overwhelming, take heart in that there will always be peace.  Because no matter what, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is peace.

Turn to Him, and He will give you relief ❤

And have a beautiful day!

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)  ♥

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!

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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)