We’ve had an amazing week here in West Branch! So many small miracles, but miracles nonetheless. We are seeing some of the fruits of our labors and they are sweet.
Have you ever read the parable of the vineyard in the book of Jacob (chapters 5 & 6) in The Book of Mormon? It comes to mind as I think about the week we’ve had, and my mission as a whole.
Near the beginning of my mission, I was asked to pick a scripture that inspired me to serve, was the reason for my service, my "why" for staying out, etc. I had three scriptures picked out, as I never had a "favorite scripture" and couldn’t decide. I sent the three selected scriptures and left the decision to someone else. That week, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the scriptures and how much it applied to me at that time and what I was going through. I’ve quoted it a couple times as this is the scripture I decided on and frantically made sure was the selected scripture the following week.
"Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day."
The scriptures often refer to this work of gathering scattered Israel as a harvest. And who leads this harvest? The Lord of The Vineyard. The Lord of The Harvest. The Householder. In Matthew 20:1-14 the parable of the Householder hiring laborers to serve in His vineyard talks about how the Lord is always stretching forth his hand. In Jacob 5 & 6 the allegory of the wild and tame olive trees. I love throughout the chapter how we see how much the Lord loves this vineyard, and the trees and fights desperately to produce a good harvest.
"What could I have done more for my vineyard?
Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard." (Jacob 5:49-50)
And then that scripture in Alma 26 about how those people that have been gathered are in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest. What could be more comforting to someone sharing the gospel?
I can’t begin to express how much it means to me to be able to tell people a few things when they learn I am a missionary:
- We don’t get paid to be a missionary
- There are no "benefits" we recieve from bringing people into the church (besides overwhelming joy and happiness for them)
- We leave our families, college opportunities, dating, etc. behind for 18-24 months
Why would these points matter to me? I think these things show a testimony in and of itself of the importance to me personally of serving a mission. I don’t have money. I don’t get paid to be on a mission. I don’t get anything for being a missionary (other than overwhelming and lasting joy, peace, and happiness). Even then, I don’t feel I am sacrificing maybe as much as other missionaries. Other missionaries have put a pause on school. A pause on relationships (or an end lol). The most I was doing as far as school was a "pre college" program, and I’ve never been in a serious….-a relationship lol. But the hardest thing about coming out here was leaving home for the first time. Leaving my family. Leaving friends. Leaving my dog. 😶😗 But this is my sacrifice to the Lord and if it was easy, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice. And you know what? I have found SO. MUCH. JOY. From laboring in the vineyard. From continuing my conversion to Jesus Christ.
There is no other work more important than gathering scattered Israel on both side of the veil. Here and now, and for those passed on. I think sometimes we can separate the two. "Oh! The missionaries will take care of everyone here on Earth, and we’ll take care of Ordinances for the dead." 🙂 At least, that’s kind of what I’ve thought in the past. But I don’t want to stop after my mission. I’ve been in Michigan for nearly 9 months. (9 mo on Fri the 7th) I only get to be focusing on nothing else for 9 more months. Then, there’s going to be more to add onto that. Work, school, family, friends, etc. I have never been happier. I’m not giving up the one thing that has brought me so much joy. My faith, this gospel, and sharing it with others are the BIGGEST priority in my life, and will be for the rest of my life. God comes first, and I’ve finally learned what that looks like. I have learned so much on my mission so far. I hope it continues throughout my life.
I’m low on time, and have had an amazing week, so I’ll briefly go over it. This week we’ve been able meet with so many wonderful members here in the West Branch Branch. The work is moving forward with the members help. We need each other to do it. This week was fast and testimony meeting and we had a brand new friend meet us at church for the first time. She LOVED the meeting and ended up bearing her testimony. She brought the Spirit so strongly to the meeting and the members were reaching out to her in so much love. She said she’s coming back next week, and I just can’t begin to express how happy I am for her and all of the things she’s going to be able to learn. Do I get anything from this? No. But I am so grateful to be here to watch the change in someone’s life. There’s nothing sweeter than watching someone’s life change for the better because of the love of God that they feel.
There are so many miracles happening right now. And the miracles have little to do with me. All of these miracles, all of the things that come from the build of momentum come from God. I just have to be a worthy carrier of the Spirit so the Lord can do his work.
There is nothing sweeter than serving the Lord wherever you may be. You do NOT have to be serving a mission to do this, but I can testify of the joy and peace that will enter your life should you have an opportunity to serve.
I love you all so much. Happy New Year. Stay safe. I pray for you. YOU are essential in this work, and the Lord wants YOU.
Sister (Katie) Malan
Pictures! (Once I Built A Snowman!, Me • Steve • Sister Mullen, I Painted a Book of Mormon! >:3, My New Preach My Gospel, Member Meme, Jesus LOVES You)