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! 😀

Trusting in God’s Promises

Lately I have been thinking about doubt.  Let’s be honest, we all experience it sometimes.  Whether it is doubt in our own abilities, doubt in other people, doubt in answers to questions, even doubt in God.

However, I’ve also been thinking a lot about promises!  And not just any promises, but God’s promises.  One definition states that a promise is a commitment to someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.  It is something we should be able to trust in, and something that should usually bring us a sense of hope and assurance.  

Now, not everyone keeps their promises.  But the Lord and Master, our Savior Jesus Christ, DOES.

I have recently learned a lot about how trustworthy He really is.  This past summer, all the missionaries in the New York Rochester Mission read the entire Book of Mormon together in just under 9 weeks.  We marked every reference to Christ–His attributes, His words, His names, His doctrines.  It was the best challenge EVER!  I made some connections as I found myself in its pages:

People in the Book of Mormon, just like today, were faced with extreme difficulties and trials.  They struggled with their faith, they experienced profound disappointments, they saw families torn by discord, and there were times when they were in spiritual or physical bondage.  There were many of them who faced doubts.  There were many times when things just didn’t make sense.  Yet despite all of these struggles, there were those who remained faithful to the Lord and trusted that His promises would be fulfilled.  Despite how at times everything seemed against their favor and they were perhaps wondering how God could possibly be answering their prayers, they held fast to their trust in Him and never doubted that He would fulfill His word.  Often His promises were not fulfilled until much later than they had supposed, and yet for those who kept His commandments and remained close to Him, they always were fulfilled.

Think for a moment.  What are the promises that God has made to you?  Do you know them?  Do you truly understand the promises that He extends to all those who are faithful to His name?

He promises that He will be with us and never forsake us.  He promises us that in our hour of trial, He will not leave us comfortless.  He promises us that whatever we leave behind for His sake, He will give us a hundredfold in return.  He promises us that despite whatever challenges we pass through, we will find a fullness of joy as we endure righteously. He promises us that we will have all that His Father has.  Ultimately, He promises us everlasting salvation and eternal life.

And these are just the beginning.  What greater promises could you have than from the Creator of all things?  His word NEVER fails!  

So if you’re confused, discouraged, doubtful, or starting to question whether God really hears your prayers, don’t worry. Be patient. Because “God is powerful to the fulfilling of all His words. … He will fulfill his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.” (Alma 37:16-17)

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)