Monday, November 24, 2014

Are We Not All Beggars?

Hello Friends and amazing family!!

How grateful I am for this holiday season and the precious time we have to reflect on all the many blessing our Father in Heaven has bestowed upon us. I had many instances this past week where I had to humbly kneel and thank my Heavenly Father. He is blessing us every hour of every day, whether we recognize it or not.

The first grateful moment happened as I was on exchanges with another sister in the zone. As a Sister Training leader we are to go on exchanges with all the sisters in the zone and teach them through example. Being only in this area for 3 weeks, I was very nervous for this exchange and was praying everything would go according to plan. Let me just put it on the record that you don't realize how much your companion does until they leave the area and you are left to fend for yourself with a companion who doesn't know the area at all. 
I was stressed, but was grateful that the sister I was on exchanges with was an incredible sister. We were trying to find the home of a less active member of the church and the GPS led us to a complete dead end. I was frustrated and didn't know figuratively and literally where to turn. As we pulled over for a minute and discussed what we would do, I just so happened to look over at a house on my left-hand side. Outside of the house was a big sign that said  "Mathis!" I told my companion we had to go knock on this door! We got out of the car and walked up to this house, I didn't know exactly what I would say but we knocked on the door and prepared for the best. When the door opened, there stood an elderly man who looked more than excited for missionaries to be knocking on his door. He immediately welcomed us and let us in. I told him how we had found his home and I expressed to him how it was no coincidence we were led there. We laughed as I told him that he stole my last name! He has the best sense of humor I have seen, and can make anyone laugh. He lost his wife 5 years ago and as we briefly told him about the plan of salvation a light came on inside of him. He has 59 great grandkids and grandkids mixed together and is practically already Mormon.  He became a new investigator that day and we are thrilled to be working with Mr. Mathis. Elder Holland said, "When making decisions, God expects us to pray, trust, and be believing and then not give up, panic, or "jump ship" when something doesn't seem to be going right." I am grateful we were led down the perceived "wrong road" because if we had not been led down that road we would have never found this amazing man.

I am grateful for the example of a Sister Missionary here in this mission. About a week ago an incredible sister missionary named Sister McIntyre, who entered the field when I did, suddenly lost all feeling in both legs. She was paralyzed from the waist down and there were no given signs or triggers that seemed to cause it. She was hospitalized immediately and doctors began working to find out the problem and attempt to solve it. As a mission we came together and fasted and prayed for her. The night we started our fast we all joined together as a mission on a conference call. During that call we were able to hear Sister McIntyre bear testimony. She is a beautiful girl and an incredible missionary, and here she was talking on the phone in the hospital being told she may be paralyzed for life. Instead of being down and discouraged when considering her circumstances, as it would be easy to do, she sounded as lively and happy as ever. She told the mission how even though she is being held up in the hospital, she has not missed an opportunity to share the gospel. In fact in the ambulance ride on the way to the hospital she had talked to the nurse all about the Book of Mormon and had arranged with someone to bring this nurse a copy of the Book of Mormon. That to me is an example of being grateful IN your circumstances. She has so much faith in the future and she knows the Lord will provide with whatever the outcome will be. I was so emotional as I listened to her and my testimony of gratitude was strengthened.

I started this email with one of my favorite questions in the Book Of Mormon. Are we not all beggars? Brother and Sisters, Family and friends, I echo the words of King Benjamin. Are we not all beggars, do we not all depend on the same God? May we see each other through the divine eyes of our Heavenly Father and His beloved son Jesus Christ who see us all as equals. May we be a little more giving especially during this holiday season. One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible says,  "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Elder Holland in the most recent conference titled his talk, "Are We Not All Beggars." One of his points that continues to echo in my mind is "although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother, or sister, and “because I have been given much, I too must give.”'

Because I have been given much, I too must give!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so so grateful for all of you who continuously lift me up.

Love Sister Mathis

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Walking in a Winter Wonderland"

This morning we woke up to quite a few inches of snow in this beautiful Ohio land. For p-day we are going to get together as a zone and have a snowball fight! Sounds like some serious fun to me.

In every assignment we are given in life there is something to be learned. After being here for a few weeks, I have learned more about the love of God. I have learned how perfectly he loves ALL of His children, and how that love is pure and infinite. There are many people who struggle here, many who feel abandoned and out of reach for God's love and as a servant of the Lord I feel so privileged to extend a hand as the Savior would and to try and lift these people up. Everyone in life sins. If we didn't we simply would not be here. But I love one of the leaders of our church who said, "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you." Although sin is never ok we are taught to hate the sin, but love the sinner. In my life I have had times where I am quick to judge someone else and I think that is one of the reasons I am here in this area. The Lord is helping me to overcome my weaknesses and in just a few short weeks I have felt the Lord fill me with His love. There are people I have been so grateful to meet, people that I can now view through the eyes of the Savior. I have been reading the New Testament recently and I have been fascinated with the relationships the Savior has with those He comes into contact with. He seeks out the beggar, the blind, and the broken hearted, and as a missionary I am grateful to find those lost sheep and bring them back into the fold. I am grateful for our Savior's love, and I am grateful to feel somewhat of the love our Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ have for all of these people.

On Sunday, after having quite a few weeks of not having any investigators at church, we had the privilege of seeing 5 of our investigators attend church and partake of the sacrament. You cannot deny the Spirit when you are in a house of the Lord and as you partake of the sacrament and remember Him and our investigators pointed out how they had felt this way. One of the members of our ward who is a soccer coach here in town gave a great talk on our responsibilities. He talked about how after you play a game or run a race the pain comes not from what we did, but what we didn't do. I completely could relate to this statement. In high school running many races I would often evaluate and criticize my efforts. I would say things like "if only I ran a second faster, or If only I scored a couple more points for the team." So it is with life, the pain in life comes from what we are failing to achieve. Our time here on earth is short and one day we will stand before the Savior and be judged according to our works here on this earth. I do not want to approach that day with doubt and fear in my heart wondering if I have done enough. Our Savior and our Father in Heaven depend immensely on us to bring the lost souls unto them, to help our brothers and sisters become eternal families, and to prepare their children so that together we will be able to approach the throne of God with great confidence. Family and friends "do not let the fear of striking out keep your from playing the game." It is our responsibility to share the gospel at all times and in all things and in all places! What an opportunity it is to do so.

Miracles are happening daily. I have a testimony of the power of prayer. I have a testimony that the Lord will place people in our path who are willing and ready to receive the gospel. May we open our eyes to the opportunities that present themselves daily. I love you guys and am so grateful for this grateful holiday season!! I encourage you to start a grateful journal and log everyday something you are grateful for and how the Lord helped you during that day. I promise that when you start to look for things to be grateful for, you will find that you have a lot to be grateful about.

Love, Sister Mathis

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Love Missionary Work!!

This week has been great! I got an amazing letter from Clarence in Delaware and he wrote to tell me that he has plans to go to the temple on the 14th of this month, as in Friday! What a great letter that was to receive to see that the work is carrying on and he is preparing to enter the place that will bring forth many blessings, a source of lasting happiness, and a place that can unite his family.

Well, nothing like getting to a new area and jumping right into speaking at a baptism and in sacrament meeting the following Sunday. I was grateful for the opportunity I had to speak on the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier; the Holy Ghost testifies of truth; the Holy Ghost is a protector and a guide; and the Holy Ghost is a teacher and a revelator. I am grateful to have the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life. Without the Holy Ghost, this work would be impossible. In church I had the privilege of speaking on how my faith has increased as a missionary. I cannot even begin to explain how much that faith has increased. I went from a belief or faith in certain principles to knowing with absolutely certainty the truthfulness of the principles of the gospel. 

This last week I hit my 9 month mark which means I am halfway into my mission! I cannot believe how fast the time is going. I have been away from family and friends, from sports and TV for 9 months! Words cannot express the gratitude I have in my heart for being able to serve a mission and for being called here to the Ohio. This has been the most incredible experience of my life. It has been challenging. I have had doubts; I have had feelings of inadequacy, and of low self esteem. I have had fear, trials, and heartbreak, but somehow the hard times pass, and what remains are the times my heart has been softened, the times I have allowed the Savior to come into my life, and the times I have seen the Savior come into the life of others. I have experienced times of the greatest heart warmth, of incredible laughter and pure joy, of feeling the love our Savior and Father in Heaven have for each and everyone of us regardless of our background, and I have been able to better understand His gospel. I have gained a true and honest testimony of the restoration and the plan of salvation, and I have been able to accomplish things I didn't even know possible. That testimony and that faith has come from my personal study and the faith and strength of those around me including and especially those I have had the opportunity to teach. I am surrounded by incredible examples. I have learned how real our Savior is and how dependent I am on Him. This is not my work, but His. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything being a missionary. In fact I feel I am gaining such profound and important truths and values that no one can take away or destroy. My life has been changed and will forever be changed from the simple yet powerful decision I made to serve.

I love this work. I love this new area. We found a miracle family this last week who are so prepared to hear the message of the gospel. They had been praying and praying for something or someone to help them and days later we knocked on their door. This is an inspired and a beautiful work. How grateful I am for the knowledge we have and the things that bring us everlasting happiness!!

I love you guys!

Love Sister Mathis

With Sister Wagstaff

With Sister Hicken at a Sister Training Meeting

Monday, November 3, 2014

Greetings from Newark, Ohio!!

My new companion:  Sister Wagstaff 

How grateful I am to be serving here in this new blessed land. It was incredibly difficult to leave Delaware. I feel like a large piece of my heart still resides and will always be there. I felt like I was leaving home, but if there's one thing I have learned on my mission, it is the fact that the Lord is in charge. In every decision we make, in every step we take, He is there alongside us actively engaged in our life.

I learned a neat lesson this week as I was talking to my incredible new companion, Sister Kimber Wagstaff. We mentioned how we as missionaries are always comparing ourselves to other missionaries. We desire to be just like them. I remember when I first came out on my mission I had forgotten my own individual worth because I had tried so to hard to be someone I was not. I think as humans we tend to make these comparisons a lot in life. We are always comparing ourselves to others, wishing we were just like them or had the talents they present. Sister Wagstaff pointed out how each of us individually was called to this mission for a reason. Heavenly Father hand picked us to be laborers in this part of His vineyard. He didn't choose us to be someone else. He selects us individually in whatever field we may be in because of who we are and the skills and talents we do have. Too often in life we are neglecting the wonderful characteristics Heavenly Father has blessed us with. To those who are reading this: your Heavenly Father knows you! You are perfect to Him because you were created by Him. You are good enough, and Heavenly Father loves you for simply being YOU!

This week our Mission President shared a quote that I loved. He said "You can't teach something you don't believe to be true, and you can't teach something well that you don't believe passionately." I am so grateful to have such a deep and profound love for this gospel and for my Savior Jesus Christ. His light is the most beautiful aspect you can bring into someone else's life. Brother and Sisters, if you do not have passion for this gospel I encourage you to experiment on the word and find it. Try the experiment upon His word, test your faith and pray that Heavenly Father will direct you.

My new friend who was Haylie's instagram friend first.

I am so excited to be here. This area is a lot different, but change is always good. I am excited to work with the people here, to learn and to grow, and to let others know that they have a Savior who loves and cares about them.
This Church is true!

Sister Mathis

It was so hard to leave dear friends like Gabbie and baby Camilla.