Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - July 23, 2013

Hello all!!

So, as you may have noticed, we didn't have P-day yesterday. That's because our day to go to the temple was scheduled in August when the Manila temple is closed for cleaning. So we talked to the mission president last week and he approved for us to have it this week. So yesterday was a work day, and our zone got to go to the temple this morning and have P-day today instead. Temples are seriously the most incredible gift from our Heavenly Father. I've been blessed to have gone to the temple twice this week (I'll explain in a second), and I am realizing more and more how blessed we are to be able to have those sacred experiences while we're still here on Earth.

So this is why I went to the temple the first time (Saturday). There is a family in our branch that was less-active for a long time. They are all members (the boys are 14 and 13), but the parents weren't married in the temple. About a year and a half ago, they started coming to church again, and over the past year have been working with the Branch President to become worthy and prepared to enter the temple and be sealed for Eternity as a family. Last Saturday, they were finally able to go to the temple, and we were invited to go with them (the missionaries have been working with the family for a while, so we've gotten to know them) and be there for the Sister who received her endowment and then witness the sealing. It was already an emotional day for me--I had been sick the two days before and just really worn out, and hadn't been to the temple since leaving Provo (which was only 3 weeks, but that's the longest I've been without going to the temple since January), and just in a weird mood, I guess. But the temple was exactly what I needed. It honestly was the perfect thing to put everything into perspective for me. As I was sitting there, watching this wonderful, sweet, humble sister, who had worked so hard for so long to be ready for that day, I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of the Gospel and the Lord's plan for us.

It struck me that THAT is what missionary work is all about. As Paul says, "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Cor. 1:17). Our goal isn't just to get people to baptism. It's so much more than that! Our purpose as missionaries is invite others to Christ by teaching the Lord's Gospel. To teach His doctrines of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. Baptism is only the midpoint. It marks the end of an old life, and the start of a new one. But not just a new life, a new life with a whole team on your side. The Holy Ghost, the members of your ward or branch family, and most importantly, our Savior Jesus Christ. And then we get to progress even more! We talk a lot in the Church about ENDURING to the End. While it's true, and many times it is a struggle, and enduring feels like the only accurate description, it's also an incredibly joyful experience. As I sat in the temple, I realized that that is what Enduring to the End really is. It's staying faithful, and reaping the blessings associated with that faithfulness. It's gaining the additional knowledge, insights, and growth that the Lord has in store for us. It's a process of BECOMING, not a list of things to DO. And the best part is: it's a custom-designed program. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much, that He has hand-picked every experience in our lives in order to help us grow and become who He knows we can be. Every time I think about how hard this mission is, I just remember that, and I am so grateful. If I weren't on this mission, I would never be able to learn the things I am learning, or become the person I am becoming. Never before have I been so grateful for hard things!

Another cool thing I've noticed/learned here is just from traveling. There are little taxi things called "Trikes" which, like they sound, are motorcycles with sidecars. As we were riding home one night last week, it occurred to me, there really aren't speed limits here. I don't think I've seen a speed limit sign at all, actually. Maybe in the city or on the highway they exist, but at least where we are, wala (there are none). But there are speed bumps EVERYWHERE. And that's what regulates traffic. I was thinking about that in terms of life and our experiences and trials. We're all just driving around. Some people may seem to be moving quicker; maybe they have a nicer vehicle or more horsepower or fewer passengers. It might seem like they're going to reach their destination so much sooner, and we still have a long time. But regardless of what our "vehicle" (or "lot in life", if you will), EVERYONE has to go over speed bumps (trials) at some point. There are some that can be dodged if you're paying enough attention to swerve around them, but others are unavoidable. The key is just to learn patience, and learn that speed bumps are just a part of life, and their not so bad if you just slow down and patiently endure, rather than trying to hurry over them (super bumpy). So I guess that's the moral of my story today--even though life is hard sometimes, don't stress about it. Just turn to the Lord. Ask Him for help, and ask Him to grant you patience and strength, to be able to make it through the speed bumps. Because eventually, we'll make it Home. And there will be no more speed bumps. No more traffic. Just peace and joy and happiness and Eternal Life with the people that we love.

I know with my whole heart that this Gospel is true. I know that it is a divine plan, given to us by our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can ever comprehend. I know that it is a recipe for happiness, in Eternity, and here on Earth, too. I know that, because our Father loves us so much, He has called a Prophet to lead and guide us, and answer the questions specific to our time. I know that revelation is real! Even (especially) personal revelation! I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that reading it is the number one way to feel the Lord's presence in our lives. Most importantly, I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. He lived, He suffered, and He died FOR US. So He could know us, and so He could be able to help us. He CHOSE to do that, because He loves us so much. And all He's waiting for now, is just for us to acknowledge His offer and accept His gift. To accept His invitation to "be converted, that I may heal you" (3 Nephi 9:13). He has the power to give us strength to overcome ANYTHING. No matter how hard it may seem. We just need to trust Him. :)

I love you all so much!! I pray for you every day! Please stay strong, through anything that life throws at you. I know it's worth it. :)

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

P.S. I'm working on finding/trying new fruits. We found some crazy looking fruit that tastes like an oversized grape. They're more work than their worth, in my opinion, though, so I'm going to find something new. I still just really want some mangoes!!!

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