Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - September 2, 2014 (A thought about hands)

So this week has been an interesting and introspective one for me.

Firstly, I just have to say I am still SO excited for this transfer!! I truly love Sister Faka'osi and am learning so much from her every day. At first I felt a little awkward because she's so quiet and I thought we might not get along or be unified or whatever (because we were kabahay for so long before) but the more I am with her the more I can see that she really is just the nicest and most loving and understanding companion. She is SO HUMBLE. And such a good missionary! She is teaching me how to be an even better Preach My Gospel missionary. And our work has been going SO well. We have found so many new investigators (about 12) since transfer day, and one even has a baptismal goal date already (he was taught by elders previously when in college but never baptized because he moved back here to Antipolo). 

I am excited for all the new missionaries in our district too. We had an AWESOME district meeting yesterday with our new district leader, based partly on Elder Holland's talk "Remember Lot's Wife" (one of my favorites) and partly on just having a positive attitude, the power and authority of our calling as missionaries, and how to really exercise our faith unto miracles. It was really fun. Elder Nelson's question for the day: "What am I going to do this transfer that I didn't do last transfer?" The answer that stuck out for me: I am going to work really hard to build up this area, not because it is MY area (the attitude I usually have) but because eventually it will be someone else's area, and I want them to be able to hit the ground running and keep going with all the progress that is taking place right now. I really am not trunky (I don't think), but I have been realizing/feeling more and more lately how little time I have left to do all I can for these people. I just want to know that, even though I will eventually have to leave, I can say that I have done all I can to equip my successors and help them to get the most out of their time here. 

We had a really good member lesson last Friday with a family that has been feeding the missionaries every week for ages but never really participating in member missionary work. We read from Preach My Gospel about How to Set Goals and talked about why we need goals/vision (1 Nephi 17:18) and they responded REALLY well! They committed themselves to pray as mother and daughter (the husband is a seaman) and set goals for their family. We had another good member lesson on Saturday with a family whose son is on a mission. We had the goal originally to commit them to send him spiritual thoughts from PMG in their weekly emails to him, but discovered that the mother is the only one who regularly emails (he's been out for about six weeks now), so that changed into a commitment just to email him! Even if he doesn't have time to respond (the complaint of one of the sisters). As we testified (as missionaries with a family at home) of the power of families supporting their missionaries, it really hit home for all of us there. The spirit was really strong, and overall, it just hit me once again how important it is to teach people, not lessons, and how important planning is, even for members who we see all the time. Having a lesson that we had planned specifically for their family and their situation was so much more powerful than just sharing a quick scriptural thought about missionary work before rushing home. (Sorry if this isn't the most relevant to all you non-missionaries, but I'm just kind of spouting things that stuck out to me this week, and that was one). 

In other exciting news, there are 3 kids who are cousins/neighbors of one of our really strong member families (the Martinez family). They were referred to us a couple of months ago and we have been teaching the kids, preparing them for baptism. On Friday, we texted our member to see if we could teach at their house and the response we got was "hindi po" ("no")----because the mother of the 3 kids had decided that she wants to be taught as well!! :D So we were able to go to their house for the first time and teach the mother. It was just another miracle to see how the Lord really is working in the lives of so many of His children and that there really is a right time for everyone. :)

You may be wondering by now what my subject line has to do with anything, since none of this seems to relate to it. Let's just return for a moment to the first line of this email....
I have been thinking a lot, as I said, about a lot of things. Mostly thinking back on all the experiences I have had on my mission that have really changed my life and taught me so much about what it means to be a true disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.
Last week, I accidentally stabbed by hand with the safety pin that I've been using to hold my bag together (the shoulder strap is getting a little sketch but I can't bring myself to spend the money on a new one for just two transfers). It happened to pierce, unfortunately, right at the base of my thumb on my right palm. At first it was like "Oh shoot. Bummer." But then as the week went on, I started to notice something I had never noticed before: HOW MUCH I USE MY HANDS FOR EVERYTHING. And how frequently I use alcohol (hand sanitizer). I noticed because it always brought a twinge of pain. As I was attempting to wash my hair yesterday (yes, lathering shampoo hurts too), I thought of what an interesting experiment/learning experience that was for me, and what a cool symbol in terms of our relationship with Christ. They say "we are the body of Christ" diba? We are His HANDS and feet here on earth. To me, that stuck out, because I realized how important we are as His instruments! It is awfully hard to wash your hair with one hand, let alone none. I have a testimony that every single one of us is important to the Lord's work! We missionaries (one "hand" if you will) might be able to survive without the help of the members (the other "hand"), but the result will definitely not be as pretty or as effective as it could have been if the two worked together. We really do need each other and the Lord needs every one of us on His team! 
In the symbol of hands, too, I thought of course about the Atonement of our Savior. How He allowed His perfect, loving hands to be pierced by the nails that held Him to the cross as He gave His life in our behalf. Those same hands that had brought light to the blind man, raised the "sleeping" daughter, wiped the tears of the sinner, and washed the disciples' feet. Those same hands that learned the carpenter's trade, taught the learned in the temple, and brought a faltering Peter to successfully cross the sea. In realizing how central hands are to the things we do each day, it somehow became even more powerful to me that Christ has chosen to retain in His the scars of His eternal sacrifice. I feel like, for Him, His hands were more than a tool for every day life, they are a living witness of His love for us and all mankind. He used them for good during His mortal life, and they are a symbol of His service throughout eternity. 
I feel like there should be a deeper or more powerful conclusion to this somehow, but I don't know what it is. Let's just leave it at the fact that I have been pondering a lot this week, and I invite you to do the same (maybe you can get out of this through the Spirit what I'm not able to put into words). 
All in all, as I stood in the temple this morning and reflected on all the time I have spent there since I came to the mission (essentially every other month, aside from my time in Morong), I realized how much I really have changed in the past 15 months. I still feel like a kid, in terms of the things of the world and having to go home and graduate and get a real job still scares me, but in terms of my spiritual progress, I feel like I've finally kind of "found myself." Ironically (as I should have already known), it really is true that the best way to find yourself, as Christ Himself taught, is to lose yourself in serving others. I believe that no matter what form our service takes, and no matter where we give it (as a missionary or not), what really matters is our attitude toward it, and whether Christ is really the reason and motivation for all that we do. 

I am almost out of time, so I will wrap this up now. I just want you all to know how much I truly do love and miss you, and how happy I am to be here serving the Lord in the Philippines Quezon City Mission as a missionary and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. :) I hope you all have a FANTASTIC week!!! "Good luck" and "have fun" to all those starting a new semester! 

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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