Monday, April 28, 2014

No such thing as a Coincidence

No such Thing As A Coincidence
This last week I had the privilege of being on OSU campus for three days. For all you Buckeye fans...I can now see why you are Buckeye fans. I loved it there. I loved the people, the campus and the football stadium was incredible. 
While riding the bus to campus one of the mornings I happened to look over at a bus stop we were passing and saw my friend Allyson Arulanantham from high school! (the only one I know who goes to OSU). I was devistated I was on a moving bus and was not able to jump off to say hello to her. I prayed to my Heavenly Father and asked for another chance to see her.  The campus was packed, students frantically racing to class and  finals, and I had seen no sign of Allyson. As we were walking back to the church getting ready to call it a day I looked over across the street and there she stood! Now you could say that was a coincidence but I firmly believe that it was an answer to my prayer. Out of the thousands of people that attend that school I was able to see Allyson.

 I know my Father in Heaven was mindful of me and knew I needed that testimony builder. He listens, He hears our cries, He knows when we are in need, He answers us.
This week we have witnessed many tender mercies. We have been able to find 5 new investigators. Our Mission President met with us this week along with a couple other zones and basically told us that we need to step it up. He said, "we are living so far beneath who we are at best. We need to raise our expectations and make it happen." If that wasn't a wake up call I don't know what is. So Sister Hicken and I decided we needed to step it up. Yesterday we had a goal of finding two new investigators. We agreed that we would not come in until we had accomplished that task. President has challenged us to find at least one new investigator a day. It was around 8 o'clock at night and we knew we would almost have to call it a day, but we still didn't have our two investigators! We prayed, we really didn't know where to go. After our prayer we ended up leaving the area we were originally going to tract and went to visit a man we had met named Amani and guess what, he and his wife were made into investigators!
There is a great difference in being a believer and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to suffer, willing to take upon themselves the name of Christ, willing to act and not be acted upon, and willing to take upon their own individual cross for Christ's sake. I want to be a disciple. May we all take a little more action to be a little better this week, to be a disciple and not simply a believer.

I love you guys!! Have a great week!
-Love Sister Mathis

Monday, April 21, 2014

Springtime in Columbus

Happy Easter One and All! I hope everyone enjoyed their day and you were able to spend time with the ones you love and reflect on our Savior Jesus Christ. My Easter was great. We were able to have dinner with such an amazing family, and I felt at home even though I know I am so far from home.
For this weeks email I am just going to tell you some of the funny stories that have happened this week, because everyone needs a good laugh, right!
So this past week Sister Hicken and I were taking our lunch break at a nearby park. As we were eating and enjoying the warm weather a bunch of middle school aged neighborhood kids came up to us. I saw they were carrying a basketball so naturally I challenged them to a game. One of the little twerp boys looks at me and said, "with those shoes, and that dress on?" I said, "yep..lets do this." It was way fun, right before Sister Hicken and I had to go, I asked one of the boys if I could shoot one more. One of the kids looked at me and said, "you're never gonna make that." Well my prayer was answered because that ball swooshed right in. I shot him a look like "oh really?" walked over to the park bench grabbed my Book of Mormon and walked away. It was pretty sweet!
Here's another good one. We were out tracting...something we do lots, and we were knocking on this one man's door. He opened the door and his dog came bolting out. Well within seconds Sister Hicken and I were running around the neighborhood in our skirts trying to chase down his dog. Sister Hicken finally grabbed ahold of the collar of the dog, and somehow the collar slipped off so then the dog was running free as Sister Hicken was standing there holding the collar. We both were looking at each other and thinking well now what? The man was finally able to catch his dog and put him back in his house. Needless to say,  the man did not want to hear any more about the gospel.
And the last funny story of the week. We had an Easter musical fireside so we thought we'd invite our African investigator who loves music to join us. He was very excited to come but about 45 minutes into the fireside he was nowhere in sight so went sent him a text and asked him if everything was okay. He responed "Hey sisters this is sad news. I have just gotten a flat tire and the police pulled me over and gave me a ticket." Let me just throw it out there that I am not a big fan of Satan! After more of a difficult week Sister Hicken and I could not help but to laugh at this situation.
You go through lots of ups and downs on a mission, and really just in life in general, but I have found that having a sense of humor through it all makes all the difference.  Brad Wilcox said, "If we can laugh at it, we can live with it." He also went onto say, "humor can impove our pespective and lighten our load." So laugh a little this next week, have fun, make the best out of your situation. President Gordon B. Hinkley said, "In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed not just endured."
Have a fantastic week! Love you all! Sister Mathis

PS Thanks Sister Hardy for the Easter cookies!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

This is The Testimony Last Of All Which We Give Of Him...That He Lives.

With Easter approaching and while being a missionary, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the Savior Jesus Christ. I just want to share with you my testimony of Him.
I am so grateful our Savior Jesus Christ lived and lives today. I am grateful for the perfect example He set. I admire His obedience to the Father. In the premortal existence He said to the Father, "Here I am, send me." He willingly came to earth knowing what He would have to accomplish. He went about healing the sick, raising the dead, and causing the blind to see. He blessed the children one by one. He prayed for them, He taught them how to find happiness and purpose in their lives. He sought out "the one" who was lost or suffering. He completed the atonement. He suffered in the garden of Gesthemene taking upon Himself, my pain, my sorrow, my hardships, my struggles, my sicknesses, and I know He did the same for you. He bled from every pore. No mortal man would be able to carry out that ultimate sacrifice of love. When He was on the cross, He was being a missionary teaching wicked men about the gospel. Up until the very last moment of His life, He didn't once think about Himself. He prayed for those who were so despitefully cruel to Him. He turned outward when most of us turn inward. On the cross he cried out to the Father saying, "Abba Abba" which could be interpreted as daddy, daddy. One cannot imagine the pain Heavenly Father must have felt in that moment that Jesus Christ was so utterly alone. It took sacrifice on both sides. I know Jesus Christ lives, what joy this sentence gives. I know that because He lives, I too can live. I know God loved us so much He was able to send down His own Son. I love my Savior. He does not make up the difference. He is the difference. It is because of Him I can experience true joy. May we all remember Him this Easter season and always.
Have a wonderful Easter. Thank for all you do to uplift me. I love you guys!

Monday, April 7, 2014

I'm Getting Used to being a Missionary

Six months ago I remember being in the conference center listening to the leaders of our church giving their powerful testimonies of the gospel. I remember sitting there loving what I was hearing, but still undecided if I was going to serve a full-time mission. During this conference session it was announced that there are over 83,000 missionaries currently serving around the world.  A shiver shot through my body when I heard those word- 83,000 missionaries-was I to be one of them? 6 months ago I had the privilege of listening to conference I had no idea where I would be now, but I know now that I could not have made a better decision than the one I made shortly after that conference, to serve a mission.

This week has been my favorite week of my mission thus far. Nothing too spectacular happened. We didn't baptize anyone, we didn't find a million new investigators, but I think I fully came to realize and comprehend that I am really out here serving a mission. At first it felt so surreal. I didn't know what I was doing.  It felt almost like a vacation with a lot of hard work. Now I realize that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been set apart to represent Him. What a great gift that is! I went to bed with the biggest smile on my face. I told my companion, "I think this was my favorite day so far." I told her I didn't even know why, but I just couldn’t stop smiling.  It finally just felts right and it felt like I belonged. My companion looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I am so grateful you decided to serve a mission. You have helped me."

Now I don't want to be here to toot my own horn. I am nothing too exciting, but I know that one of the best decisions you can make in life is to serve a mission. That is something you will never regret. You never hear of people coming home from their missions saying, "Man, I wish I didn't do that." No matter what the circumstances a mission is worth it.

There's no words that can describe when you kneel down with a person who has never prayed before. There's no words to describe the changes you can see in a person. There's no words that can describe the joy that comes from serving your brothers and sisters. I am grateful for this year and a half I have to serve. It doesn't seem like enough time, which is crazy because when I first got out here I thought to myself man of man...a year and a half!? That's so long! 

We have met people from all over the word, from Ghana, India, Sierra Leon, Iraq, Mexico, and Syria, and we all unite together to worship the same God.

I hope many of you had the chance to watch General Conference and to find methods and ways to increase your faith and become better. I know I did. I loved President Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude and how we must remain grateful no matter what the circumstances. We should not wait for something good to happen to give thanks, but must give thanks in all things. I also loved Gary Stevenson's talk and where he mentioned. "This life is our four minutes." We have prepared before we came to this earth for our four minutes of fame. Our life here on earth is our big Olympic performance. After we pass on we will have an eternity to think about the decisions we made here on this earth and the performance we gave. If that isn't motivation I don't know what is!

Please read preach my gospel like Elder Balland invited everyone to do. Email me what you have learned and we can learn together! We are all missionaries!

So I thought I'd end this email with my confessions for the week

#1 The fried chicken here is probably the best thing in the whole entire world so if I come back obese, you now know why

#2 I accidentally tried to donate money to the church (which is against missionary rules) when I wanted to buy a pair of earrings at a ward auction activity. Don't worry a member of the bishopric saved me and bought them for me for 3 dollars.

#3 Last night I had a dream I was swimming with sharks. The night before I had a dream I was skydiving. I guess I haven't had as much adventure as I have wanted to yet...

For those of you who are having a hard time, hold strong to the rod! The future is as bright as your faith! Be grateful everyday no matter what the circumstances, and remember "the gospel is not weight. It is the wings. It carries us."

Love you all so much!

Love Sister Mathis

The Book of Mormon is Living Water

Recently I had the opportunity of finishing the Book of Mormon, which for those of you who don't know is another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is a Book that will bring us closer to our Savior. It goes hand in hand with the Bible. They complete each other. It helps to answer those questions that are left unanswered in the Bible and also helps to support the Bible. The Book of Mormon provides an account of when Christ came to the Americas.

I love the Book Of Mormon. I love what it teaches us, and I love coming to truly know my Savior through reading it. Although it was written years and years ago, it is for our generation. When I read it, I will have questions answered that I did not even know I had.  I find comfort and strength reading it especially from some of the most amazing examples of missionaries talked about in the Book Of Mormon. 

In Helaman we read about Nephi. After being discouraged because of the wickedness that was going on and nobody accepting his message, he was ready to call it a day and return home. Often times as a missionary I feel like that. But it was at this moment that the Lord reached out to Nephi and said, "blessed art thou Nephi for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearingness declared the word." I hope that one day the Lord can say to me, "blessed art thou Lauren for the things which thou hast done." At the end of the Book of Helaman we read about Samuel the Lamanite who is a tremendous example of faith and courage. The people would not accept his teachings so what does he do? He gets up on the wall and speaks to them. Arrows and stones are cast at him but he never once stops declaring his message. That is the type of missionary I want to be.

And then the crowning event of the whole Book Of Mormon comes in third Nephi when Christ comes to the Americas, and blessed and prays for the children. One of my favorite verses that helped me to know how mindful Christ was of me is 3 Nephi 17:21-22 and it reads, "And when He had said these words, he wept and the multitude bare record of it, and He took their little children one by one and blessed then and prayed unto the father for them." Christ weeps over us. He prays for us. He knows what we are going through because He too has walked that road.

As said in the introduction to the Book Of Mormon, "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book Of Mormon. To ponder in their hearts the message it contains." I invite you to read it and find out for yourself by praying if this book is true.

I know the Book Of Mormon is true. I have prayed about it and have received an overwhelming feeling of how true it is. I am eternally grateful for the guidance it gives me in my life. It provides me with everlasting happiness, strength, courage, and most importantly I have come to better know my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the best book in the whole wide world! How grateful we are to have it in our lives.