Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - October 16, 2013

Hello all!

We had our temple day this morning; hence my emailing on a Wednesday and not Monday. It's alright, though, because I have so much more to say and share now than I would have two days ago!! Maybe not that much more, actually, but I'm really excited to share some of my experiences this week. I apologize ahead of time if this isn't super exciting or inspirational--our lack of sleep is catching up to me this afternoon. Not that that's an excuse though--I'll try to keep this worthwhile. :)

Firstly, I was sick last week, which was a drag. Nothing makes you feel like a bad missionary more than not being able to work (or, wanting to go out and work, but feeling awful and knowing you really shouldn't, but then arguing with yourself whether staying home would be smart or just lazy, and thinking of the opportunity cost of a day spent at home--all the lessons you won't be teaching, and all the people you won't get to see until the next week--it would really be okay with me if I never get sick again).
But on the bright side, WE GOT TO WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE FINALLY!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D It was definitely the highlight of my week/month/transfer/year. I went into it with an attitude of wanting to learn (as always), but I decided to pay particular to attention to what the Spirit was saying, and not just the speakers. I know that's what we're supposed to do every time, but I decided to make more of a clear distinction in my notes of what was from the speaker, and what was just my own feelings/impressions. Initially, I didn't think I received very much personal revelation, I just felt very uplifted by all the messages that were shared, but then as I reviewed my notes, I realized that more than half of what I wrote was direction to myself, personal thoughts, or things I need to do. I am SO grateful for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in my life. And I'm so glad the Lord is patient with us as we strive to work on all the things we need to improve in our lives. :)

One of the biggest themes that stood out to me this conference was the message of obedience. Maybe because it was already on my mind, since we are trying as missionaries to be exactly obedient always (though we fall short a lot, unfortunately). The thing that inspired me most about conference though, was the emphasis on our ATTITUDE of obedience, not just the actions. We know that "the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). We know that he knows the desires of our hearts, and we know that our actions are a reflection of those desires. I also know that the Lord knows how imperfect I am. I know that He is aware of every effort I make, though, and I believe that even when I fall short, the fact that I WANT to be better is important to Him. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks talked about, the first of the 10 Commandments designate what (who) our highest priority should be--the Lord. If we are honestly seeking to put the Lord first, I think that is when we can ask for and expect His help, to become more obedient, to be able to accomplish more than we could on our own. That is when the Atonement can really take effect in our lives. I love what Elder Bednar said, that the blessings that come from obedience are "significant, but subtle." It's so true! The Lord is constantly as work in our lives, we just need to open our eyes to see it.
Another tidbit of conference love: Elder Russell M. Nelson talked about how miraculous our bodies are, and how when we get sick, our bodies develop antibodies to fight the disease and prevent similar illness from prevailing in the future. It struck me as I listened that that is a lot like repentance in our lives. When we are tempted, when we fall into a trap of addiction, depression, disobedience, or anything that weakens our spiritual "immune system", we have the gift of the Atonement and repentance. As we repent and begin to live and apply the Gospel, we become stronger. We are better able to resist temptation in the future and don't have to be subjected to the same struggles over and over. Not to say that they'll never afflict us again, or that we'll become impervious to temptation. As someone who gets multiple colds every year, I can testify that there are still things that will get us down. But it doesn't have to be life (salvation) threatening. As we continually repent, and as we make good choices (like taking vitamins to fortify us against future attacks), we will eventually reach a point where it's easier to make the right choices, instinctive even. Just as miraculous as human life is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ultimate source of Eternal Life.

I'm running out of time, so you might have to wait for my other thoughts (either next week, or when I get home). I hope you all had the chance to watch conference; if not, it's online at can read or listen to all or any part of it. :)  We are so blessed to have a living prophet on earth at this time, and inspired leaders who know how to help us become the best versions of ourselves as we strive to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ truly is our Savior. I know that He performed the infinite Atonement on our behalf, because HE LOVES US. He WANTS US TO RETURN TO LIVE WITH HIM. This Gospel is beautiful. Not to brag, but I really am so blessed to be here sharing the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of the Philippines.

I love you all so so much!!! I hope you have a great week!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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