It was such a good week in Citrus Heights! I've grown so much this week and seen people's lives change through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is one of the most amazing things you could ever see. It is such a sacred and beautiful experience to see firsthand how the fullness of the Gospel brings so much peace and happiness to wonderful children of God.
BIG NEWS: Got my visa! I fly to Mexico next Monday, the 12th! I am so excited you have no idea. I've been amazed how much more God knows that I do, in the last few weeks, and that if I just have a bit of faith, I will be comforted to know that God knows what is best for me. I'm going to the originally assigned mission for me on the exact same day I was originally assigned to go there, and the experiences God had in store for me in the last six weeks have been so much more than I could have ever experienced all by myself.
We had quite a few lessons this week, ten more than last week! It's so great to be able to have people interested in increasing their faith in Christ through the knowledge this Church contains. I have been able to share with several people this week the truth of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. This truth proves just how much God loves us, to give us prophets and more scripture: the Book of Mormon. Because of the Restoration of this Gospel, we can come to know for ourselves just how much God loves each one of us, and its teachings give us purpose in life.
In Citrus Heights, there are so many people here ready to receive our message! It's so exciting to see. I'd like to share a bit about two lessons we had this week. On Saturday, we had a lesson with a great family of seven, they already have so much love for each other. They're kids are between ages 5 and 13, and we have been already been able to teach them "La Familia: Una Proclamación Para El Mundo" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World) and on Saturday we had the privilege to teach El Plan de Salvación, or better named, the Plan of Happiness. This lesson discusses the doctrine that families. Can be together forever, and that this life is not the end. The Spirit was so strong in this lesson, because as a companionship we truly grew to love this family, and desire to see them progress and have the opportunity to accept this Gospel. I helped them understand how this knowledge will change their life. How wonderful is it to know that God has a plan for us, and He wants us to succeed, and also to know that we can live with God and our families for eternity. Knowing this helps me recognize that death in this life is sad, but that it should also be a reason to rejoice, because we know that they are that much closer to God now! I can just see this wonderful family all dressed in white, to be baptized and make covenants with God, and receive the blessings God wants so badly to give them.
The other lesson was with a 22 year old man. I hadn't been able to meet with him because he was never home when we dropped by, but we had a lesson with him on Friday and then last night. We read some scriptures with him and talked about faith. He has been keeping commitments, he came to church a couple times, and last night we invited him to be baptized on the 31st! And he said yes! It was so cool to see him accept the Gospel, he has so much faith. I bore my testimony to him of the blessings that come from this Gospel and how much it will change his life. It's so cool to see how our hard work and faith really does pay off. It's also amazing to see how we as missionaries are being used as tools to change people's lives through the Spirit. I am so excited to be able to see his example, it helps increase my faith in Christ.
We also had an incredible opportunity to hear from the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his Apostles, and other Church leaders this past weekend at General Conference. It was so amazing! I received so many answers to prayers and answers to questions that I had. I could talk about it all day, but I especially liked two talks that were back to back, which talked about obedience to commandments. Elder Von G .Keetch and Sister Carole M. Stephens spoke about this topic. Elder Keetch shared a story about a barrier in the water, which kept surfers from going out to the bigger waves, and a man explained, "Don't be overly critical of the barrier, it's the only thing keeping you from being devoured." So often we can see commandments of God as old fashioned, inconvenient, or embarrassing even! But they are blessings and an incredible source of protection. Sister Stephens shared an experience she had with her granddaughter, who didn't understand the importance of seat belts, so Sister Stephens explained how it keeps us safe, and her little three year old granddaughter said, "Grandma, you want me to wear my seatbelt because you love me!" This really got to me, not only does God give us commandments to keep us safe, but it is because He loves us! The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly allows us to see that God can make much more of us than we could ever do on our own.
I'd like to close with something somewhat personal to me. This is something I was able to share with a less active member who we taught this past week, who doesn't understand why bad things happen to good people, and even when we are faithful, why bad things still happen! I honestly don't know why bad things happen to good people; we are taught that we should learn from these things, but that isn't the only reason. The plain and simple answer that I have found is that we live in a fallen world. We experience both good and bad, we see happiness and sadness. But you cannot know happiness, without feeling sadness. There are millions of people everywhere who everyday struggle, like my wonderful mother. She has great faith, yet she has a very hard life. I've asked myself that same question of why does this have to happen to her? I hate to see it happen, but I cannot imagine how much God pains to see this. He doesn't want to see us struggle. But I do know this: if we have true, real faith in Christ, no matter how hard our life may be, we can be happy. And to add to that, we can have hope. I would like to add my testimony to Alma's, who says,
"for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
I know that as we trust in God, amidst the most daunting trials, we can know we will have help. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we know that,
"He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities."
Jesus Christ suffered for not only our sins, but every single difficulty we experience. You are not alone in your trials. Trust in God and you will never be alone.
I love you all so much! Have a splendid week!