Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - October 27, 2013

Hello all!!

Today is a great day and I am excited to share some of my thoughts with you! (I tried to prepare a little bit so hopefully I can type it all in the short time that I have to email).

1) Our week this week was amazing. We set our goals last Friday during our weekly planning session, and prayed very sincerely for help in reaching them (both Sister Garcia and I are sincere believers in setting high goals and exercising faith in the Lord to help us reach them). As the week started, we had next to no lessons. It was pretty sad, actually. Through a series of events, all of our most promising investigators that we want to help progress toward baptism started falling through, and by Thursday evening we'd only actually taught 3 lessons to investigators. We had just slightly more success on Friday evening and Saturday, but Saturday evening as we looked at our plan for Sunday, we had no idea how we were going to reach our goals (we only had 4 of the desired 10 lessons with members present). Fortunately, we didn't have time to worry too much about it, because we had also been asked that morning to speak in Sacrament meeting on Sunday so we quickly tried to gather our thoughts for that so we could be prepared. At the end of church, two of the young women came up to me and said that there were 4 of them that wanted to work with us in the afternoon! As we went home for lunch and to prepare, I was just so blown away by this miracle that the Lord had provided for us. Long story short, Sister Garcia and I were able to go on splits (which I have grown to really dislike--it's so hard teaching when you're the only missionary and aren't actually fluent in the language and don't have anyone to translate or explain to you when you get lost), and we ended up being able to have 5 of the 6 member present lessons that we had hoped for! I'm still overwhelmed and so humbled by the Lord's abilities to work miracles in our lives if we just exercise a little bit of faith in him. And on top of that, our week this week was truly incredible! All of our other member-present lessons were with less active members who have been introducing us to their neighbors, and as a result, we have 15 new investigators this week, 5 of which are actively progressing and keeping commitments!

2) A thought that I had about covenants as I was studying last week about Baptism. We know that covenants are a two-way promise between us and the Lord. We promise to Him (to follow His commandments, to stand as witnesses for Him, etc) and He promises us (blessings of the Spirit and continual guidance and assistance in our lives). As I was reading about Baptism as a necessary ordinance (act), I started wondering why it is really such a big deal. When we invite people to be baptized here, a lot of them try to tell us that it's not necessary, because what matters is just our faith, our relationship to God, or the way we live our life. I had a bit of a (possibly economics-inspired) revelation, though.
I decided that covenants are like CDs (Certificates of Deposit in banking/investment). There are different ways to invest. We can put our money in a bank (i.e. savings account), where we are free to access it any time, and as long as we leave it there it will earn interest. Or we can put it in a CD account, where we promise to leave it for a long time, and it will earn more interest at a higher rate.
When we choose to follow the Savior and live righteously, we receive blessings (interest). However, if we are willing to show our commitment to follow Him for a long time (forever), we can make a covenant with Him (through baptism, for example) and receive many more blessings for the same righteous acts. Christ is not just concerned with our actions, but the state of our heart and our character. When we give our whole selves to Him, He not only is able to bless us more abundantly, but the change of heart we experience is, in itself, a profound blessing.

3) We had our zone conference/interviews last week, where the mission president comes and meets with each of the missionaries individually, and in the meantime there are workshops for all the other missionaries. One thing that was on my mind all day/week was being an instrument for the Lord and letting the Spirit work through me. Reflecting on my feelings, I realized that being an instrument in the Lord's hands is really kind of scary for me. It's scary to give up the control that I think I have and to let the Lord take over. It's like driving and hitting a patch of ice or stepping off the high dive--it's exhilarating, but super scary and I just want the security back.
So then I was thinking about how following the Spirit is like SLEDDING! (I'm becoming an analogy addict, if you haven't noticed, though my analogies never work very well for Filipinos) It's tempting to leave our feet outside the sled so we can try to steer or slow ourselves down if we go too fast. It's scary to pick up our feet and just go--giving up our control--but that's what being an instrument in the Lord's hands is all about. We just need to get out of His way and we will accomplish so much more than we ever imagined possible. :)

I'm so so grateful for the chance to be a missionary. We may not have Thanksgiving here, but I am definitely catching a spirit of gratitude as I reflect on all the blessings and miracles that the Lord gives us every day. I never could have imagined when I accepted this call how much serving a mission would teach me about myself, my relationship with the Savior, and His role in my every day life. I just want to help everyone I meet to feel the way I have come to feel about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gift of His Atonement.

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

Sister Emma Franks

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