So first off to share some in the moments thoughts and feelings. Your letter that you sent from December 17 came last Monday. That to me was one of my greatest blessings I had as I pretty much got an instant answer from you to my email in the same day. It's interesting as well that President Blickenstaff today in reply to my email from last week echoed similar if not the same thoughts and feelings that you did. He talked about becoming so busy in the work and involved that it doesn't give time to think about myself or worry over myself. To lose my life in the work. . He did say he appreciates my desire to consecrate myself though. Now to pull it back to missionary work. I feel that I have the struggle with putting expectations on myself, particularly to the point that there is no room for errors, that it is people's souls, and that I cannot make a mistake. Maybe in part this then makes me nervous and scared to move forward and act because I don't want to mess up. But I realize that that is not what the Lord wants for us. He does not want us to receive a talent and then hide it in the earth. What sometimes makes life more difficult is when I have leaders that say I need to be doing more, or doing this better, or giving more. In part it makes me feel like what I have been doing is not satisfactory at all and that's where the perfectionism kicks in and starts to degrade me.
So I realize and understand that a lot lately emails are just about me. Don't misunderstand me. I really want to lose myself in this work and to really share about what happens and experiences. The hardest thing though is that flat out here in Fengshan we have just been having rejection after rejection. That investigator who we had been meeting with last week when we called told us that he can't meet with us right now because his mom wants him focusing on learning ice cream, business, and management. So he will have to wait until February to be taught. Another investigator in all reality has not improved really ever since Elder Dailey left. He still smokes 5 cigarettes a day. His mom still opposes. He definitely has an understanding, testimony, and faith. But his faith is not enough. Granted I understand that over the past month his younger brother has been in the hospital for some unique disease so that he has been having to work extra at their family restaurant as well as himself getting a cold. But he hasn't come to church in over a month, we finally went to his family restaurant last week (been probably 3 or 4 weeks since we met with him) to sit down and talk. Of course we have been calling him and caring for him. But last week while we were talking with him I just opened up plainly to him saying if you really had faith you would quit smoking, you would express to your family the importance of attending church (his family wants him working on Sunday during church time), as well as expressing your faith and testimony to follow the Savior by being baptized even if your mother opposes. He has as well developed a twisted view about if a doctor tells him to drink 100 cc or tea or beer or smoke a certain amount of cigarettes each day he will do it but he won't accept any more from other means (like friends or himself going out to buy more just for the pleasure). He then feels that to repent and it will all be good. The doctor tells him to do this because it will help him live and if he doesn't do it he will die much sooner. We have taught and testified to him of how this is not true and repentance doesn't work that way. But yeah that is pretty much his situation. As for other potentials that we have we have met with several people once, but then when we try to set up again to meet they say they are too busy with work or they don't know what their schedule is like. So pretty much it turns into this cycle of trying to call people to set up and in the moment they can't talk because they are at work or school or that when they can talk they don't know when they have time or simply say currently I am busy. Lots of people lately have been telling us to call after Chinese New Year or that they aren't in 高雄 right now and will be back after Chinese New Year. Then many people who we contact don't want to exchange information. But we do get several that we get information and refer outside our area (because they don't live in our area). Most importantly of all is that I keep just trying my best each day even though at times it has been hard and caused my drive or testimony to wane. But right now I feel the roller coaster rising and going up and feeling more motivated and pumped to move forward. I really am praying and striving to consecrate myself to be better. Our mission right now is going through a purification process to really consecrate ourselves.
So as well today I am going to a coin store I found this past week to check it out. I guess I will get some practice as well to try and haggle.
Now to what I wish to share today. So over the past 2 days I have been pondering and studying over humility or humbling myself and grace. I wish to share with you what I have written in my journal. Pull out your scriptures as there are several I have found that have taught and uplifted me.
Humility and Grace
It's a funny thing that when you become proud and arrogant as well as trusting in yourself rather than trusting in God how greatly Heavenly Father can bring you to your knees in humility. Truly I need His strength and help with the divine grace of Jesus Christ each day. This spiritual manna is a necessity each and every day, and Heavenly Father has brought me down to the depths of humility that mine eyes might be opened, that I may trust undoubtingly, that I may declare with fervor the truth and divinity of the Christ, and by this supplication each day for and trust each day in divine help I may be made strong and reach my potential.
To begin our quest we start in Ether 12:27
Weaknesses are normal. Every person has them. And of a necessity, they are needed. Without them we would not grow, would not develop, and ultimately Heavenly Father's grand plan would not work. By our weaknesses we are humbled and become teachable (if we are honest with ourselves and come to acknowledge the imperfections in our lives). By this humility we come to recognize the need for a Savior and accept His grace.
Continuing on to Jacob 4:7
Again by our weaknesses we come to see how dire it is to have His grace. It is by His grace and His great condescensions (not just one, but many, as many as the sands of the seas, as He stooped, literally suffered, to stoop lower than any man, woman, or child to take upon Himself our weaknesses and our sins by coming down from His divinity and dignity to lower that any human) that we are capable of doing anything in our life, including the greatest of any goal, obtaining eternal life.
So what is grace and what does it entail? Turning to the Bible Dictionary (read the whole entry on grace) we find "the main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
“This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
"However grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient."
We find how much of a necessity there is for this divine help, but even more importantly that it doesn't come until after we expend our own best efforts. Of these efforts required, humility is a major factor towards receiving this divine grace or help and strength
Now to Doctrine & Covenants 19:29-30
As a missionary myself (and as every member is a missionary, it is applicable to everyone) I have the solemn calling to preach, to declare glad tidings that all may see. But in all honesty (and something, a realization, made more and more aware to me and recently brought me to my knees in humility) is the necessity of the Lord's hand in my life to do this work. I am weak. I have already complained, gone on in rote murmuring, and voiced my hurt and pain from my weaknesses. The Lord has heard but has applied different means to answer by bringing me down so that He may build me up. Never before has there been so great desire or need to be humble and to trust in the Lord with all my heart.
Continuing on to Doctrine & Covenants 54:3
So in addition to all I have been taught by friends and family to become a clean and virtuous man, to escape my enemies, whether they be literal or figurative, I need to continue to repent and truly humble myself. Acknowledge my imperfections and weaknesses. Expend my greatest efforts. But most importantly turn to the Lord each day。 No care or concern for my own dignity, but willing to acknowledge I am weak, willing to be taught, and trusting in the divine grace with all my heart that strength will be given to do the seemingly impossible.
So why is it even important to humble ourselves? Well if none of my previous words have answered this for you, look at Doctrine & Covenants 61:37
"The blessings of the kingdom are yours." All that the Father hath, He is willing and wants to give to you. He asks that we humble ourselves. If you have a hard time imagining what the blessings of the kingdom are, I can tell you with certainty and understanding that some of those blessings include returning to live in our Heavenly Father's presence with perfect bodies, our family will be eternal meaning that death or anything else will not separate us and we can continue to abound in each others love and presence, and that we very much have the potential to become like God.
Now to Doctrine & Covenants 112:10
A specific invite with a specific promised blessing. As we are humble, we will be led by the hand. And who shall lead us? God Himself. In addition we will receive answers to our prayers. Now God leading us by the hand can be interpreted how you wish. To me and my understanding, it is said in the scriptures that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are One God. Not is the literal sense, but as their wills and their goals and purposes are all the same with no difference, the expression One God is applicable. So very much when Heavenly Father works through the Holy Ghost, He can lead us by the hand and answer our prayers.
To me that is what being humble entails. We work with our greatest efforts, acknowledging and understanding that we are imperfect and have weaknesses that cause us to fall short. But as we come to acknowledge, to recognize these facts of life, we turn towards that which is the answer, that which is the key, that which is the way, Jesus Christ. By our faith and trust in Him, we become strong. By our faith and trust in Him, we have the energy to carry on. By our faith and trust in Him, we can do the impossible.
This becomes possible to us each day by means of the Holy Ghost. The Lord will place little spiritual spheres of light ahead of us each day to help us navigate in our life to arrive safely at the shores of exaltation. We simply need to hear and listen to the Spirit. And so it comes all back to becoming humble and trusting in the Lord to do the impossible.
I love you Dad! I love you Mom! I love you Allisa and your family! I love you Allaina and your family! I love the puppies most of all! I miss you all the time but now is the time to humble myself and turn my life over to the Lord. To lose myself in this work!