Thursday Happies!

OOOOOOOk! Time to make a list of thankfuls and things that made me so so happy these past few weeks! On Sunday we went to a birthday party lunch for a family at church. I can't hear the sound in this video because I'm at the computer lab at the library, but here is the best card EVER that B got for his birthday. Doesn't it just make you so happy?? A DINGO ATE YOUR BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!

Hrmph. I put the video on here and it was messing everything up. And now it won't load. So sad! Some day I'll go a-youtube hunting again to share the card. But until then, here's a picture of my best friends.

Speaking of best friends, my best friend K sent me a letter this week that was..wait for it....16 pages long!!! I haven't really heard from her at all since I left on my mission 4 months ago and I was thrilled to get an envelope stuffed with wonderful pages of letter! Missionaries crave mail. It's the sustenance that keeps us going. False. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and my understanding of the Plan of Salvation are what really keep me going. But mail is really super awesome.
I don't have a picture of the massive letter, so one of us together will have to do!

This picture of my ADORABLE brother L. Isn't he just the sweetest?? I love my family so much and I've only been able to meet this little one a few times. Being on a mission has taught me just how important families are!

We went to the Nashville Temple last week! When I walked into the temple I felt the stress and frustration I've had for a long time disappear. For a few hours I was completely free of that weight. This picture is fun because we were looking up at a bird that was perched on the Angel Moroni's trumpet, but it looks as if we're gazing heavenward. So much joy!

Have you ever made mini popsicles out of soda in an ice cube tray with brite crawlers as the popsicle stick? I highly recommend it. They are delicious and make lots of good memories and giggles. Ah! And the word for giggle in Spanish is "risilla" learned that one recently!

I keep thinking about this sign that's back home at our institute building. I just wish sometimes that people would walk up to the church just begging to be taught! But that's not how the work goes. Actually, sometimes it does! A few months ago a woman walked into the church building on a Sunday thinking, "hey this might be a nice place to attend church!" She was quickly introduced to missionaries and she was baptized two weeks ago! Is that a miracle or what?

And the most exciting wonderful cherry on the top of the month thing ever??? New music to listen to!!! Have you ever heard of the Nashville Tribute Band? They have these three wonderful CDs each with a theme about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One is Joseph, about the prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The second is called Trek, about the pioneers and the sacrifices they made as they crossed the plains. The newest, Work, is all about missionaries and what it's like for us to leave our families for 18-24 months to devote all of our efforts to the Lord. Keep on reading because I'm pretty sure I'll have more to say about this music.

So, overall, things are so great. The work is hard but the blessings are amazing!

My Happiness Boost

I want to introduce you to my favorite little brother and sister duo T & W. These children are the sweetest things you'll ever find! Last Sunday was our ward primary program where all of the children sing and testify of Christ. This year's theme was "I know the scriptures are true".  We went over regularly to see T & W and we practiced the songs with them. It has been so sweet to hear their testimonies through song!

When we were taking these pictures T said "Wait wait! Will you take one of me praying?" He says the sweetest most heartfelt prayers and you can just tell he knows that he is talking with his Father in heaven!

When we left their house yesterday Sister Valentine turned to me and said, "Aren't they just wonderful? They are the happiness I need in my day!" Its so true. Children understand that the simple joy in life comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ! They are so humble and they understand the love God has for them. There is so much we can learn from children.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

(click HERE for a list of scripture songs. I ALWAYS sing the one for Mosiah 3:19 in my head when I read this verse!)

 We give countless pass along cards to kids that we see every day and they are thrilled to have a picture of Jesus! W has one glued in the front cover of her Book of Mormon from the first time she met missionaries!

Forget Not

Please allow me the chance right now to be the most corny and stereotypical Mormon blogger as possible.

The highlight of the General Relief Society broadcast this week was President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk about the things we should never forget. Click right HERE to watch it!
Yes. I think that it was extremely cheesey of me to make this little picture (and yes, I did do it with picnik! How did you guess??) but it really is a great reminder for me.
My heart was touched by the words that this Apostle of the Lord shared. Sisters we are often too hard on ourselves!

So the part of the talk where he mentions Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was probably my favorite. I grew up loving Roald Dahl's stories and I will now make it a goal to not focus so much on finding the perfect moments in life [golden tickets!]

And instead enjoy the life [chocolate!] that those moments are found in!

I know this little comparison is funny and I haven't had much time to really write out any deep or profound thoughts, but if it is good enough for President Uchtdorf then it is sure good enough for me!!

This weekend is General Conference, an opportunity to have 8 hours of wonderful spiritual upliftment just like this talk. Absolutely everyone is invited to attend or to watch via live streaming on the internet! You better believe it when I say that future blog posts are going to blossom from things I hear this weekend!

A Thought On Repeat

This scripture has come to mind over and over for the past few days.
The Lord has always allowed us to have trials. They really are a gift to us because they make us do a few things.

1. Turn to Him for support
2. Readjust our lives to His will
3. Prepare us for success!

Plans For the Weekend

Saturday is the General Relief Society Meeting! It is held every year in Salt Lake City, UT and broadcast for all of the women in the world! I am so excited to go and listen to the talks that will be shared. They are always so uplifting and I need a spark like that in my week! If you're in the Nashville area come join us at the Green Hills building --> 4304 Hillsboro Pike. If you're not here you can find the closest chapel to your home by searching right HERE! It will also be broadcast across the interwebs and you can find out more info at the church website HERE. 

Truth On Earth!

Sister Valentine and I just watched a 20 minute version of this movie with a woman we have been teaching for a few weeks.  At first she said to us "Well sure, I guess we can watch the movie but in 15 or 20 minutes I have to leave to go pick a little boy up from school, so this better go quick!"  As soon as we put the dvd in she said "That isn't going to work! The sound hasn't been going through for a few weeks now" We knew that it was divine inspiration that we even found this dear lady at home this afternoon and we had planned to share the video with her. We were not going to give up because of a technology malfunction! Sister Valentine fidgeted with a few wires and It looked like she reached over and unplugged it.  Needless to  say, it worked!  The sound resumed on the TV and we were able to share this incredible movie with her about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith.

The miracle of this day, there was nothing special about how Sister Valentine went about fixing the plugs and cords. She and I were both at that moment saying a prayer in our hearts, pleading that she would be able to fix the dvd player so that we could share this touching video with her.

I know that God answered our righteous desires because  this sweet lady needed the message we shared. When it came to the climax of the movies, the vision that Joseph Smith had of God the Father and Jesus Christ she had the biggest grin on her face and she was just gasping in delight at the beauty of it. She told us afterwards, "How sad it is that people reject this because it is good and it is from God!" She just bore this simple sweet testimony that she knows God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.

I want to invite anyone who reads this to take 20 minutes and go to the link above, or even better, this video below is only an hour. Watchi  it. Pay attention to how you feel as you watch it. And Pray to ask God to Know that it is true. Absolutely anyone can receive the witness that this woman we are teaching has had. This is true. God has restored His church through His prophet!!!

It Just Takes Time

So far today I haven't been very happy. And there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be. I live a blessed life and I spend every moment of every day with one of my best friends teaching people about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

But apparently I'm not very good at taking my own advice. And I'm being a grumposaurus.

While I was doing my personal study this morning I found a scripture that I thought would be excellent to share in lessons. Now I'm thinking that I needed it more for myself.

"But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever."
                                   -2 Nephi 9:18

I feel kind of like a hypocrite for writing blog posts that are all about the happiness I find in missionary work and then saying that I'm not really kickin' today. But I am being honest. And I do love the work. So much. My testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ has grown more in the past 4 months than at any time in my life.
And this is not a lasting feeling. It is a case of "wrongsideofthebeditis". I will take 2 doses of scripture study and teach lessons all day and call the Lord regularly.

Where Do You Find Your JOY?

Happiness is:

A bottle of Mexican Coca Cola!

A snack size jar of Nutella!

Umm...probably not the best mottos in the world. Those things sure make us happy but its an instant gratification, something that we can only enjoy in the very moment we are tasting the sugar rush!

For the past 4 months I've cut out almost all of the things that I thought made me happy so that I can have a full force dedication to missionary work. That means no movies, dating, quilting, crafting, countless hours on the internet, late nights or phone calls home to my mommy at the end of the day. I was worried that I would just find myself curled up in a ball at the end of each day crying about how miserable life was. I'm here to tell you that my fears were not a premonition of what was to come. In fact I'm more happy now than I have been in the past year of my life, maybe the happiest I've been in my ENTIRE life!

Seems pretty ridiculous that cutting out things that brought me joy lead me to so much happiness now. That's because I haven't told you what I replaced those things with! I spend 2 hours every morning studying the scriptures, one hour by myself and one hour with my companion Sister Joy Valentine. I then spend the entire rest of the day (minus 2 hours for lunch and dinner) teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

So yes, there is a little bit of irony that this post talks about Joy and that is the name of my current companion but she's a constant reminder to me of real delight in living each day! My happiness that I thrive on comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and following God's commandments!

Ye Olde Camera Cord

It hath gone missing.
Sometimes that's what happens when you move.
So the blog post I have been working on for the past few days is holding it's place until said cord can be found.
Be excited?

The Parable Project

For the next 6 weeks the missionaries in our zone (all of the missionaries in the Nashville area) are focusing on parables found in the scriptures. I love that Christ taught in parables so the principles He shared would be understood only by those who were searching for truth. Remember when I wrote about ships and how I love the nautical stories in the Bible? Well I'd like to share another parable that I love!

This painting of the parable of the 10 virgins has always inspired me because it holds so much symbolism! One semester in college I took a course called Spirituality in Art where we analyzed symbols in paintings, sculpture, architecture, and music. Go click on that link to learn about the symbolism behind this great painting by Gayla Prince!

Have you read about the 10 virgins before? It is found in Matthew 25. At the time Christ told this parable it would have seemed to the Pharisees that he was just telling a story about some silly bridesmaids that didn't have light on their way to a wedding feast. What I love is that with further understanding and study we find that each one of us is one of those virgins on the path to the Savior. The oil in our lamps is our effort and preparedness. If there isn't enough oil in my lamp I'm not going to be prepared to meet the Savior at the end of my journey!

I'm going to do my best this week to apply the parable of the 10 virgins to my life so I will have oil in my lamp!

Maybe My focus Isn't That Great

I've recently written a post about baptism and I'm already kind of losing steam on the mini-series (why does that always happen??) So click HERE to go back to the post about baptism :)

Some suggestions for scripture study are 2 Nephi 31:4-8 , Matthew 3:13-17 , and Moroni 8:25-26

White As Snow

Ok kids! Sorry it took me so long to get this next post out. Do you want to know why? Because I've moved! I'm in Nashville now!! And it is just wonderful. I haven't even been here a full day but I can see how great the work has been going here and I know there are so many miracles to come.

(No time for pictures on this post so I thought I'd find one of my new home!)

So back to the plot of the story here. Are you ready for the Gospel of Christ topic #2? It's repentance!
What is a definition of repentance you ask? It is a way to become clean from sin, or how we ask God to forgive us of the things that we do wrong. We all make mistakes. I probably make more than the average person. I know that repentance has been an immense blessing in my life and it has shaped me into the person that I am today.

There are a few steps that I want to cover:

1. Recognize that you've done something wrong.
(Because um, why would you try to change if you didn't think you had done anything wrong in the first place?)
2. Pray and Ask for forgiveness. (A really great scripture to read about this step can be found in D&C 58:43)
3. Make Restitution, or in other words, if you've offended someone, go apologize. If you've stolen something, pay for it. If it is a serious sin go to the Bishop and he can help you through the repentance process.
4. Don't Do It Again! What an important step of repentance! You've done this great work to try to give up a sin and become clean from it so do everything you can to never do it again! You may slip up, sometimes taht happens. But it is so important to show that commitment to God to promise to never make those same mistakes again.

I know that these steps seem simple and so basic. A quote from our manual Preach My Gospel says "repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves and the world. When we repent we feel godly sorrow, then we stop doing things that are wrong and we start doing things that are right." That pretty much sums up the basics of this entire post. In two sentances. What an idea, that we can form a fresh view of God and our entire lives just through giving up our sins through repentance.
Ah, it feels so good!

 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Faith Is Like A Little Seed

Alright, here we are at post #1. Faith. Something I should know a little bit about considering the title of my blog and my current full time work as a missionary. But then again faith is something that is always changing, growing, and extending! 

The lessons we teach every day come from a manual called Preach My Gospel. You can go ahead and click on that link and read it yourself if you like. I know that it helps me so much in my scripture study and as I have come to understand basic principles such as faith and prayer my testimony of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has grown to a point I never even knew it could be. Here's a quote from the manual that explains why that is. 

"When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son."

Faith is an action word! Did you notice that about those words in bold? Accept, apply, trust, obey, those are all things that require action on our part! Faith is not just a nice complacent thought, it's acting upon our understanding of God's plan for us! 

In the Book of Mormon there is an excellent parable that is like an equation; try this thing and then you will receive an answer! You can find it in Alma 32:26-36. In these verses the prophet Alma compares the word of God, or the scriptures, to a seed. If scripture study is treated like planting a seed what does that require? When I have gardened in the past it has taken constant daily care to make sure the soil is good, there is enough water, sunlight, no weeds are growing, no bugs are getting to the leaves, it's not exactly like you just thrust a seed into the ground and expect tomatoes or flowers the next day! 

It's the same idea with growing a testimony of the Savior. First you have to just open the scriptures up to get to know what Christ even teaches in the first place! Then application becomes necessary. Try out some teachings! 

Time is short and I have to run. Remember how I said this was going to be a mini series? Well it's going to require some action. Go read that scripture in Alma and when you comment let me know what your plan of action is!