Albania ♥

Albania ♥

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2/8/16 "Think what I for Thee have done"

  "All of our Heavenly Fathers Planning and preparation, all of his interest in his children and all of his desires for them, all of his aims and goals for the entire universe came down to a singular moment in a specific time and place on this earth in a garden called Gethsemane."

     As I have read, heard, and have been taught about the atonement my whole life, never before has Jesus Christ's sacrifice touched my heart as much as it has this week.   As we went to Macedonia this week for zone training we discussed the main points we had learned from our last mission conference with President Kearon and the things we learned that stood out to us. Our zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders hit on one point which actually happened to be one of my favorite topics of the conference.   Which was "Don't worry so much, just work hard" and our leaders, along with President Weidmann and President Kearon discussed that the best way to worry less and work harder is to come to study and understand the atonement better.  So as a commitment and invitation, the whole mission was invited to study the atonement for at least 10 minutes everyday and to restart the Book of Mormon again, reading  it from cover to cover  and this time marking everything having to do with the power and blessing of the atonement. along with this we heard a clip from the talk Missionary work and the Atonement Given by Elder Holland at the Missionary Training Center and I want to share a piece of it with you because it is safe to say that it softened our hearts and brought tears to our eyes. At least it did mine.  

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,”  then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I testify that the living God is our Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is His living and only Begotten Son in the flesh. I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, lives. The whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He does, so will we.
I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world."

     Along with our commitment we received a picture of Christ as a promise to our Heavenly Father that whenever times get tough and whenever we feel like we are too tired or too sad or angry or upset to go on that we will look at that picture of the Savior to give us the strength to keep going. 
     I tried it out this week actually. When I was having a particularly hard/ tiring day. I remembered the picture that I had in my pocket.  I pulled it out and I just looked at it.... I just looked at it for a couple of seconds and the moment I did, an overwhelming feeling of love and understanding and comfort surrounded me as if I had angels strengthening me. With tears in my eyes, I put the picture back in my pocket and I wasn't tired anymore.  I wasn't thinking about anything else but the Savior and his love for me and my love for him and all I wanted to do was share it with everyone.   
     As I've been studying the atonement more I've been given the spiritual strength I need to do anything the Lord puts in my way and I'm willing to do it.  I know that nothing I can do or go through compares to Jesus Christ and the time he spent in Gethsemane atoning for my mistakes and my sins. I know he understands me and I will never be able to understand him and all he went through, but I do know that he loves me and that's enough.
     My companion and I have ran into this man on the roads a couple of times now while street contacting. He is always really respectful and nice and we can tell that he just sincerely wants to know the truth. He has many questions for us every time he comes and we are able to answer every one of them with help and guidance by the spirit. The last time we talked to him he said he wanted us to find him a scripture in the Book of Mormon when Jesus Christ says he is the Son of God and Sister Lakaj and I did just that.  When we saw him again last night we were able to read with him from 3 Nephi 9:15-18 which is Christ speaking to the Nephites and he says: 

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

 16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.

 17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

 18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
When we read the verses to him he stopped for a second and he was silent and then he smiled and he said "That is the most beautiful thing I have ever read" And it is.  I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he loves me and sacrificed his life so that I could be happy.

"My three countries."

"Matisse ♥"

"Elder Rigby serving in Macedonia.  (He is the one that knows Garth)

"I don't know what has gotten in to me letting people
cut my hair...the mission has changed me haha"

"The finished product. Doesn't look different but that's the point :)"

"Cute companion"

"Macedonia!  These are the best pics I could get of Macedonia while driving through haha"

"They have double decker buses for days :) Also, a little something written in Macedonian."

"Ready for our drive to Macedonia...obviously."

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