This last week I had the divine privilege of finishing the Book Of Mormon. How grateful I am for that book. A book I would be completely lost without. A book full of history, a book of Jesus Christ. Never before have I had such an appreciation for this book. In fact I wish study time was longer in the morning because I have a hard time putting down the book when it is time to go out for the day! I read a neat quote this week that said, talking about the Book Of Mormon, "all of this is only marks on pieces of paper. It has no intrinsic value unless it becomes you."
I know that the Book of Mormon has become a part of me. I feel such a desire to share it with those around me. I couldn't help but smile last night as I read the last words of the determined and faithful prophet Moroni. I was filled with pure joy, and there's no way I can really describe it, other than I just felt good and peaceful. In the Book of Mormon "Mormon message" the narrator states, "I want this book to fill the world man!" Just like him, I want this book to fill the world. It can bless anyone and everyone. It was written for anyone and everyone. It is very much written for our generation and I echo the beloved prophet Joseph Smith when he said, "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
Every time I read the Book Of Mormon I learn something new. And every time I read it I find my questions being answered. I feel as if God is speaking directly to me as His daughter. Each time I read it new characters stand out to me also. This time as I read it through I loved developing a strong connection to Alma and the sons of Mosiah and more specifically to Ammon. If you remember, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah were referred to as the "vilest of sinners." They went around persecuting the church, and were tempted and deceived by the power of the adversary. Hearing the prayers of Alma's father, an angel visited them in the midst of their wrong doing. This was a turning point for them and from there they sought no more to do evil. They became some of the most amazing missionaries. They feared no one and they cared about each of God's children with an unfailing love. In fact in the scriptures they say, "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." That is the kind of powerhouse missionary I want to be. I want to care so much about the people around me, that I can not bear that any one of them should perish. The sons of Mosiah not only taught the gospel, they taught it to some of the most wicked and vile people of their time. I think I would be terrified, but they did it with courage because they knew the Lord was on their side. In turn thousands of Lamanities repented and joined the church. As a missionary I have loved Ammon and the legacy he left. One of my favorite verses in the Book Of Mormon says, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." Just like Ammon I know that my strength is nothing in comparison to the strength the Lord gives me. He has the power to make weak things become strong and He has the power to perform miracles. In closing I end with the words of Ammon when he says, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." This gospel is incredible, happiness comes through reading the Book of Mormon and truly coming to know Jesus Christ. He is just as much my Savior as He is yours and I promise you as you read His Book, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Christ you will come to know Him.
Please, if you haven't already seen it, watch this Book Of Mormon Mormon Message and share it with your friends! Everyone is precious to our Father in Heaven, and we need to do our part to spread the gospel, the joy, the good news with those around us! Just like the Sons of Mosiah we should have the attitude that we cannot bear that any human souls should perish. Love you guys! Thank you for uplifting me! I feel your prayers and am so grateful for them and for YOU!
So I'm going to be completely honest with you, because I learned something last week. This last week has been a tough, probably one of the hardest weeks on my mission. A week where many times Sister Schauers and I wanted to give up, where we could have broken down at any minute. We were physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. A mission is a lot like a roller coaster. Something great will happen and you are at a peak and then Heavenly Father has to humble you again and you feel like you have to start from ground zero. All you returned missionaries out there know exactly what I'm talking about. We were out knocking doors in the great hot and humid weather of Ohio and we were spent, but we looked at each other and said let's try just one more door. We went and knocked. I tried to wipe the sweat off of my face, stand tall and not look too exhausted so the people on the receiving end would open the door. Guess what, the door opened and out came a man who was an answer to our prayers. He was enthuastic and excited to hear more about the gospel. Somehow we were given strength. Somehow we knew what to say in order for him to want to learn more. It was a miracle in a time that we desperately needed it. I know that if we are willing to go that extra mile and knock that one more door, Heavenly Father will bless us. Sometimes we are pushed beyond our comfort zone and sometimes we feel we may not be able to carry on, but I promise you that just like the Footprints in the Sand poem, "it is then when he carries us." I truly feel the Savior is very much apart of this work. He is our third companion guiding us, and uplifting us along the way. I keep learning, and although at times it is hard, I am so grateful to be a missionary and to grow spiritually every day. I have never before felt so close to my Savior.
A quote I heard this week, that I loved from the Life of Pi talks about the Savior and says, "I couldn't get Him out of my head. I still can't. I spent 3 solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me, the less I could forget Him, and the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him." I too never want to leave my Savior. He is everything. This is His work, I am just an instrument in His hands. I am so grateful to be here and
to be staying in Delaware for at least 6 more weeks.
I just have to thank all you amazing people for making my birthday special. I felt incredible love and strength from all of you.
I am emotional just writing this email this week. I can't express how grateful I am for this gospel,how grateful I am for my Savior Jesus Christ, and how grateful I am for the Que family. This last week Sister Schauers and I had the privilege of watching Cesar and Gabbie enter the waters of baptism and make that important decision that will change their lives forever. Gabbie and Cesar and their two beautiful kids are an amazing family, one that I loved immediately. I knew they were special and I knew how much potential they held. They were earnest and diligent in their efforts to learn more. In fact we would often tease them that they would play "stump the missionary" which included them asking us very deep soul searching questions that Sister Schauers and I would have to take a moment to ponder before responding. We as a result felt our testimonies growing right along with theirs. A few weeks ago when the date of June 14th was announced to them to be baptized, they thought about it and responded with the most sincere yes I have ever heard. They knew what they were getting into and they knew how it would change their lives, but it was something they desired to be apart of. On Saturday as I watched them participate in this sacred ordinance, and as tears filled Gabbie's eyes, I was overcome with pure joy. I knew how proud their Father in Heaven was of them and this decision they had made. I embraced Gabbie after and although she was dripping wet I felt so warm and comforted and knew she felt the same. I know it is a decision that will effect their family for eternities. After they were baptized they each took a few minutes to face a crowd of people and bear testimony of the things they had come to know with certainty. Cesar stood up at the podium and expressed his love for his Savior Jesus Christ. With absolute surety in his voice he proudly exclaimed how he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet and how this is the true church once again established on the earth. The rest was in Spanish so I couldn't understand much (wish I had paid more attention in high school Spanish class) but the spirit was strong and powerful. Gabbie bore a powerful emotional testimony of the gospel which reduced me to tears as she looked us in the eyes and thanked us for teaching her family. Everyone in the room was touched by the spirit that dwelt there and the spirit Gabbie and Cesar brought with them. Yesterday as they were confirmed, permanent smiles radiated across their faces. I had never before seen them so happy. I know this gospel can bless your family just as much as it blessed the Que family. I know we can all be strengthened from living the teachings and receiving the ordinances of Jesus Christ.
A few days before the baptism Cesar looked me in the eyes and asked me, "Why Ohio?" Before I could even answer his brother in law chipped in, "Because of you guys!!" I have been touched by this family and their desire to follow our Savior Jesus Christ's example in every way possible. I know they are one of the biggest reasons I have been called to serve here in Ohio. I am forever grateful for them and the examples they are to me. In just a short month they have been married, baptized, confirmed, and are now looking toward being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. They have waited a long time for this, I am grateful for the blessing the gospel will abundantly pour into their lives. I know they will be blessed beyond compare for striving to do what's right although it is not always what is easy. They are amazing. I wish you could all meet them. I love them. They feel like family to me out here.
We have been blessed beyond compare. A scripture I read this morning in 4th Nephi states, "and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus." I know that because of Him miracles can happen. I know that because of Him we can all experience this pure joy that comes through Him and following His example. I wouldn't trade the experiences I have had out here for anything. It is so humbling to have the opportunity to be a witness of Jesus Christ-- to physically stand in His place and perform His work. It is a sacred calling, a calling that I am forever grateful for. I love this gospel. This church is the Lord's church. I love you all and want to thank you for the positive and uplifting encouragement you provide me.
Being a missionary is the coolest thing in the world. This week has been incredible. So packed full of activity, and a week where I truly had to depend on the Lord and His hand in the work.
Yesterday I was praying and fasting for a miracle. I knew we needed one. I was not able to sleep Saturday night, thinking about the following day and hoping and praying Gabbie and Caesar would show up to church. I had to exercise my faith and believe in good things to come. I was physically and spiritually exhausted, and somehow the Lord gave me strength as I fasted for a specific purpose. A few minutes into church Gabbie walked in with her two sweet kids, but Caesar was no where in sight. Keep in mind Caesar had to be at church yesterday in order to get baptized this upcoming Saturday. I panicked. I thought maybe this baptism won't happen after all, and I began to lose hope. I prayed and I prayed again for him to show up, I looked back at the door and hoped with all of my might to see Caesar walk in. Literally moments later, he came in. Sister Schauers said the excitement on my face belonged in a movie. I knew right then and there that this beautiful family was prepared and ready. They have made sacrifice after sacrifice to be at church. I know this baptism is going to happen this Saturday. We had a lesson with them earlier in the week, and Gabbie shared with us an experience she had. A friend of hers had messaged her on facebook congratulating them on the wedding. The friend said to Gabbie, "you look so happy." Gabbie responded, "I am happy because I am going to be baptized." The friend then asked what church she would be baptized into. Gabbie said "The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." The friend added his two cents, and in a way shot down the church, but Gabbie without even being a member yet was bold and declared to him what she believed in. Gabbie in a previous visit had explained to us that she has struggled to find her testimony. However on this particular night she told us, "I think I found my testimony, I was telling him things that I didn't even know I believed in, but I now know they are true." Gabbie and Caesar know this is the true church. I have learned so much from them. They are examples to me and I have truly grown to love their family. Last night as we were going over the baptismal interview questions I was blown away but how pure and sweet their testimonies are. I look forward to hearing them bear testimony after they have entered the waters of baptism.
We have been extremely blessed this last week. We have literally seen miracle after miracle with this family. I want to thank all of you for praying for me and for the missionaries around the world. I know your prayers are answered. I know my prayers have been answered in ways that I didn't even think possible. Prayer is a powerful resource. It is direct communication with our Father in Heaven and should not be taken lightly.
I testify that our Savior lives. He loves us more than words can describe. He has filled me with His love. As a missionary I am His agent in this sacred work. All things are possible because of Him.
Funny Moment of the week: We were out tracting when Sister Schauers said to me, "umm Sister Mathis your skirt is broken." I turned to look where she was pointing out and it turned out there was a hole the size of a watermelon on my backside. Luckily the skirt had two layers so don't worry folks, I wasn't running around flashing anything.
Heartwarming moment of the week- Jack saying to me, "Mathis, I was praying you would come today and you did."
Crazy fact of the day- I will no longer be a teen next week! I'm going to be 20!!
Scripture of the week- Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Go out, be an instrument in the Lord's hands, share the good news with our brothers and sisters. I promise that as you do this the Lord will lend you His strength.
-Every first Friday downtown they have booths where people sell things so Sister Schauers and I did a free booth for the church!
So the biggest highlight of this last week was-- my companion and I threw a wedding!!! Who knew that I would go on a mission to be a missionary and a wedding planner. Luckily we had some amazing ward members to help make it possible. It turned out so great. The wedding was for two of our amazing investigators who have been investigating for a little over two years now but have grown up with family members in the church. They were both so appreciative and happy and this was a huge step for them to be married. They came to church the very next day as a family, all dressed up and looking beautiful! Now we are looking toward baptism in two weeks, and really helping to set their eyes on the temple so that they can be sealed together as a family with their two adorable children. It was such a fun weekend, but also exhausting. Hopefully no more weddings for us in the near future.
This past week I have been thinking a lot about the principle of obedience and how important it is. I have reflected a lot on the Savior's obedience. He was exactly obedient. I was thinking about where I would be if He had not carried out the incredibly difficult and painful task, a task a mortal man would find possible. If He had not been obedient, we would be hopeless. There would be no way to return back to live with our Father in Heaven. The world in a very real sense depended on the Savior's obedience to the Father. I thought about my own life, and how people here in Ohio are dependent on my obedience, people that have waited years to hear the gospel. It changed my outlook, and made me want to try each day to be a little bit better.
The Ensign cover with my precious cousins
I love my Savior. I have felt how real He is especially this last week. We were teaching one of our investigators named Jack and I was overcome with emotion and love as I was teaching Him. During that moment I felt as if Heavenly Father had lended me His love, because I was able to reach and connect to Jack in a way I had never before felt. It is incredible feeling to be able to love someone so much that you have just met. I know that love comes from Heavenly Father. He is so very real and aware of the details of our lives.
The scripture of the week that has stood out to me is in Hebrews 12 verses 1-2:
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily besetus, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher ofour faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the righthand of the throne of God.
May we all run with patience this race called life. Let us look to Jesus Christ, His sacrifice and His example, in the hard times as well as the easy times. I love you all. It is hotter than blue blazes here! I love being a missionary!