What an amazing week! Our friend Lonie entered into the waters of baptism this weekend and she had so much support from members and friends! She has gone through so many trials and challenges that the adversary has just been bombarding her with these last few weeks. But she’s held on and now she’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Sister Hafer and I could not be happier that she has received the gift of the Holy Ghost and will always have that companion of peace and guidance throughout her life. She already has so many members supporting her!
We had an opportunity to invite our friend Michelle to Lonie’s Baptism. Michelle is also on date to be baptized at the end of this transfer! Not this coming Saturday, but the following. Michelle loved the feeling she had there and she also already has so much support from the members of our ward. She’s already started to make friends and really connected with one of our members that joined a lesson with us. They both love Snoopy and both of their husband’s were/are in hospice so they were able to find a connection to their trials.
It brings me so much joy to see Michelle’s progress over the last few weeks. She and her husband have been so prepared to receive the gospel. Though due to her husband’s physical state, he is progressing slower as he is in and out of lessons, but she is teaching him when we aren’t there and he’s asking questions! She’s so excited to be a part of this church and ward and for the messages we’ve shared with her. She has such an earnest desire to know. I love finding that desire in people.
I know I haven’t really talked about any of our friends (at least by name) before, but I’ve really just been waiting to get pictures of them lol.
This week has definitely been hard in a lot of ways, but as I’ve put my trust in the Lord and put effort towards doing what I can and making the work creative and fun, He has given me more strength than I’ve had for a while. We’ve faced rejection, trials, a LOT of ghosting from friends, and other challenges as missionaries here in Spring Lake. We’ve had struggles as a companionship. We’ve struggled in our goals. But over the last two weeks, I have had my testimony grow so much in several places. I have seen so many miracles and joy come from following the guidance in the materials we’re given as missionaries (Preach My Gospel, Safeguards For Technology, Adjusting To Missionary Life, The Book of Mormon, General Conference talks, etc.)
There is so much confusion in this world. So many challenges, tragedies, disputes. So much anxiety. Depression. Anger. Judgement. One of my favorite hymns helps remind me of how we can overcome the things of the world:
Where Can I Turn For Peace?
Where is my solace,
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart,
Anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul.
Where when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand,
To calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching,
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds,
For my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
I especially love that second line in the first verse. When every other source of comfort and peace in our lives seems to fail in filling a hole in our lives, Jesus Christ fills that hole.
Something the Bennetts talked about when they came to Michigan and spoke to us was that we made a choice in Heaven to follow God’s plan for us through Jesus Christ. We must choose between the light Christ offers and the darkness Satan tries to force on us. The Bennetts told us something that really stuck out to me:
The amazing thing to me is that it’s still a choice to let the light in, but Satan does not want us to be able to choose. He wants to make the darkness seem enticing and better than the light. However, there are always consequences whether they come immediately or in time. And when those consequences catch up to us, the Adversary leaves us behind and delights in our suffering and misery. Even then, God does not force us to accept the light of His Son, Jesus Christ. But Christ is always reaching out.
…for every one of them is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.2 Nephi 19:17
Michelle and Lonie have chosen to actively invite light into our lives. Not that you have to become a member of the Church to invite light into your life, but this choice brings us ever closer to Heavenly Father and bringing lasting joy and light into this life. Wouldn’t you want everyone to have that? I believe this is one of the reasons our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson has told us that this is the greatest work on the Earth today. I truly believe Heavenly Father desires lasting joy and happiness for all of His children. And what a plan He has given us to attain that! But He still leaves the choice to us, as He did in the premortal life when we lived with Him.
I have faced many challenges over the last two weeks especially. It’s probably been the hardest two weeks of my mission so far. But I’ve also experienced great joy in reaching out and grabbing that hand. I could have made the decision months ago to pack up my bags and go home. But as I mentioned a few weeks ago, if my mission was easy, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.
It’s hard to leave people who have rejected the gospel behind because of the joy I know it has brought to mine, that I couldn’t have received any other way. Some of our friends are struggling right now and are not progressing. I pray that I can know what to do to best help them, and just be there for them. Everyone deserves to be loved.
I’ve learned some hard lessons here in Michigan, but I wouldn’t have learned them at this point without my mission. I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and the challenges I have faced, and the joy I’ve experienced.
As always, I love to hear from ya’ll back home. It helps me to be strong. Thank you for all of the support I’ve gotten from you guys. It means so much to me.
Some fun, but random “news:” I got to go to Costco this week! I’m sure a lot of you are thinking,”okay Costco. Not really a big deal.” But Costco is not in our area! I only recently discovered there is a Costco in Grand Rapids where we do district council most of the time, so we went to the food court afterwards last week. It reminded me of home, especially with the drier weather lately. Still 50% humidity, but it feels like the west after being swamped with 100% so often! I got a churro of course, and it’s the first churro I’ve had in soooo long. Definitely miss Alibertos. Mmmm. Probably enough about food!
I’m still working on my painting, but it’s going to take me a while so you guys will only see updates periodically. I hope you all have an amazing week!
Sister (Katie) Malan