Learning to Face Reality

Here's the first guest post in our wrapping things up series! Its from my dear friend Sister Franson. We were companions at the very very beginning! I hope you enjoy her "gems" of what she's learned.

This was from way way back towards the beginning....
A few days ago I asked what it means to be blessed. When it get's right down to it, a blessing is 'something good.'

Well friends, now I have come to see how a blessing is so much more than simply a good thing. It truly is a gift from God. I know that my mission has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever been given in this life. 

I've kind of been in denial in some ways. I have so many mixed feelings about going home. Regarding what I could post, I have thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it. I think that even if I wrote the most elaborate, tear-jerking, emotional post, it really wouldn't do justice to my whole experience as a missionary.

Over this process and pondering, I have come up with a small handful of gems:

There are some things in life that cannot be gained in any other way but by experience. I can testify that a mission is one of those things! Gaining a testimony and spiritual knowledge of the Jesus Christ and His gospel is another. I am told that motherhood is another one, and I know there are many other examples. If you have the opportunity to go on a mission, I can promise you that serving a mission will bless and positively influence every other major life event you will encounter. Ask the Lord, and you will have your personal witness testify to you of the importance of your call to serve.

People are real. This might come as a shocker to some. I have been able to see real people, living real lives, overcoming real challenges. Having a companion 24/7 has also taught me a lot about myself and how I build relationships with others, and I am so grateful that I have learned how I can build and strengthen relationships with friends, family, and others for the rest of my life. This principle has also taught me much about Jesus Christ and how real He is, and how He thinks about us. Think about what you are doing right now, or what you will be doing ten minutes from now. How would Jesus Christ do it? How would the home of the Savior look? How would He feel if he saw what you have done so far with your day and with your dealings with others? The Savior is more than just a man who died for our sins. He knows each of us, and He knows us well. So does our Heavenly Father.

The Gospel is TRUE. I have also come to know what it means to be true. I have heard many philosophical comments and I have read many talks and listened to sermons that say truth is subjective and relative. I am here to testify that truth is NOT subjective, nor is it relative. There is indeed perspective in this world, but actual events and reality cannot be altered. I don't know if many Christians realize what they are saying when they casually say that the church is true. I can't even do it justice to describe what it means. I suppose that the adjective that I go to most is real. God is real, He is tangible, Joseph Smith really did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. The Book of Mormon is an actual account about a real ancient American civilization. Faith is an actual principle given to us by God. Repentance works, baptism is essential and powerful for the remission of our sins, the Holy Ghost does in reality communicate and protect us, and once a man or woman knows this, the gospel cannot be forsaken, neither should spiritual progression be stopped. That is not the plan of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints truly is God's church and has the authority therin.

There is always a choice. I love to change. I can also testify that change can be difficult. It can require the difficult challenge to humble one's self before God and sometimes our fellow brothers and sisters. Try to change though! If you are upset, just smile. Try to sincerely smile. President McKee has often said that we can change our attitude as easily as we can change what we wear. I KNOW that we cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to what happens to us, and when we do that in a manner pleasing to God, then we are on the path to mastering and overcoming the natural man. 

Only the Savior knows how we feel. This kind of ties back in with the first point. I have come to... strongly dislike the phrase, "I know exactly how you feel." No one does. Our lives and personalities are so unique that no one can possibly know but God. There are some that may be able to empathize or relate, but it is not possible to know exactly how someone else feels. Instead, I have learned that the best way to handle a delicate personal situation is to just say to the person, "I can understand why you feel that way" or "I have felt similar (not to be confused with exact) feelings like that before" and then you can bridge that situation to the gospel. This default in life is part of God's plan. We need to turn to the Savior and no one else to feel completely consoled and light from our burdens. Time is also an essential part of God's plan. If we could go back in time or remember things perfectly, we would learn much less and rely on the Savior very little. 

I have learned so many other things. My understanding and knowledge of Christ's church and His gospel has expanded in a way I couldn't have predicted or understood a year and a half ago. I understand better the why of the gospel and how I want to exercise and use each principle in my life and with my family. I have also learned how I can have greater faith, and I have learned the importance of waiting... a lot.

So, dear friends, this post isn't goodbye. Yet. I still have a small handful of weeks. As a dear friend of mine reminded me, although my service as a full-time missionary is coming to an end, I am not going back to my old life, but I am looking forward to a new life with many wonderful opportunities, and many more blessings to look forward to and be grateful for.

Dear friends, the church is true. I can promise you that. I hope that you will take the time to find out for yourselves.

I pray that each of you will have an action-packed, blessed day! 
Love, Sister Franson

Sisters who Serve

I wish you could have seen my face the first weekend in October when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the age requirement of missionaries had changed. WHOA! For years young men have been preparing to serve God as full time missionaries at the age of 19. In one simple historical announcement from a Prophet of the Lord the age of acceptable service was lowered to 18! Young Women, like myself, have no obligation to serve missions but the Prophets have repeatedly told us that we are a valuable assest to missionry work and they welcome our service. The age requirement from young women was lowered from 21 to 19!

Me & Sister Franson 

Sister Anderson & Sister Bishop

This announcement wouldn't have made a difference in my choice to serve because I didn't leave until I was 22, but it makes a HUGE difference for the missionary program! Did you hear the follow up news of the increase in mission applications? The number of applications started each week increased by 471% !!!! 471!!!!!! There was an average of 7,000 out of 58,000 full time missionaries who are sisters. More than half of the new applicants are going to be sister missionaries! That is more than 4,000 new sisters!!! (Can you tell that I'm just a LITTLE excited?)

The pictures above are the 4 of us sisters who began our missions together in May of last year and will sadly be finishing up our full time service next month. We have each had incredible experiences in the Nashville Tennessee area and over the next short while we'll each be sharing some highlights of our service. I hope that what we share will not only inspire other sisters to prayerfully consider service as a missionary, but that it will also intrigue those who may not know much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Before we take off on this adventure I want to share one of my ABSOLUTE favorite quotes on Sister Missionaries:

"Many young women are serving missions. Many are preparing to serve. Not because they aren't married or have nothing to do, but because they have a desire to serve and are therefore called to the work. The reason so many are going is because in the next generation Heavenly Father will be sending his Priesthood Army to Earth and wants to send them to mothers who have been properly trained and taught in the Gospel. What better training can a Young Woman have than a mission?"--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Thankful for Turkeys

November means we all intensely focus on things that we're thankful for. Get off to a great start with this prompt!


Let’s not just talk about counting our blessings—let’s do it! Write a list of 100 things you are thankful for. If that sounds like it is too many, try this:
Write 10 physical abilities you are grateful for.

Write 10 material possessions you are grateful for.

Write 10 living people you are grateful for.

Write 10 deceased people you are grateful for.

Write 10 things about nature you are grateful for.

Write 10 things about today you are grateful for.

Write 10 places on earth you are grateful for.

Write 10 modern inventions you are grateful for.

Write 10 foods you are grateful for.

Write 10 things about the gospel you are grateful for.

When we make a list like this, we discover that a list of 100 doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the things God has given us.
Sometimes in life it's easier to see the things that aren't going right, vs. the things that are. But when we look at the blessings we DO have, life is so much happier! :)