Monday, February 23, 2015

JUST Missionaries?

A little cold can't stop these missionaries!

On exchanges with a darling new missionary

Yep, That's Cold All right!! 

I feel like so much has happened this week I don't even know where to begin! I hope you are all doing well. I hope you know how much you are loved. I pray for you daily and am so eternally grateful for your faithful and inspired examples. I love checking my email Monday morning and seeing such bright, happy, and encouraging emails from you.  I love this work. I feel like I say that everyday, but I truly can't say it enough. I loved seeing pictures of my sweet cousin Camille return with honor from her mission to Trujillo, Peru. She was beaming and truly so full of life. What a special work this is in so many different aspects. How life changing it is, to give you life and increases our devotion to our Lord and Savior.

We had two big meetings this last week. One was zone conference, the other was a follow-up of zone conference. President Daines testified of the power of missionaries. He said too often you define yourself as "JUST missionaries." He boldly spoke to his missionaries and said, "you use approaches like "we're JUST missionaries stopping in your area."' He looked at us with tears in his eyes and said "Elders and are not JUST missionaries. You are so much more then that. Never sell yourself short. You are not JUST anything." You are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, His chosen servants." It was pretty powerful. We started to contact people in a different way after that meeting. Our approach turned from more of a sales pitch to a testimony of the Savior. It is hard to break molds and in fact I panicked at the first door we went to. The pressure was on. Now I had to apply all that I had been spiritually fed during the conference. I let doubt seep in. I thought to myself, I don't even know what to say to these people. I then somehow thought of one of my favorite episodes of Spongebob. Funny parallel I know, but it worked. In this particular episode Spongebob and Patrick are going door to door trying to sell chocolate. At one particular door, Patrick complete freezes. What does escape his mouth are the simple words, "I love you." It's pretty humorous, but it reminded me of an important teaching point. If the people we contact can feel loved, the love of the Savior, that is all they need to seek further progression in the gospel. Love is the essence of the gospel. We have seen success this last week as we have cut out the cushions and the blinders we so easily put up and instead went straight to the doctrine, to the love our Savior has for us. His love is enabling.
The lovely Miss Ellen was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints yesterday. I failed to mention that due to the intense weather church was cancelled last Sunday so her confirmation had to be postponed another week. Satan never ceases to dry to drag us down. I am grateful she pushed on and overcame the power of the adversary and instead listened to the promptings from our loving Heavenly Father. It was a beautiful sight to watch her as hands were placed upon her head and a prayer was uttered and a blessing given from our Heavenly Father,  through His servants who hold the divine priesthood authority.
We recently started teaching a 17 year old girl named Harlee. She was introduced to the church through her good member friend. She came to the fireside when Elder Christofferson spoke and felt the spirit. Our first lesson we tried to figure out her religious beliefs. She was uncertain. She claimed she believed in a higher power, but didn't know who or what that higher power was exactly. We had a spiritually lesson with her and committed her to praying and asking if there is a God. A week later, we met again prepared and eager to teach her the restoration. Before the lesson started, she expressed her experiences within the last week. She said, "Sisters I have learned 3 truths. 

1) I know there is a God
2) I know there is a Jesus Christ
3) I know they have always been there

It was such an amazing moment for us to take a step back and let the spirit and the power of prayer work in her life. She came to church yesterday and has been to youth night the last two weeks. She also came to the missionary fireside last night that we were so fortunate to be a part of. She has started reading the Book of Mormon and is truly seeking out answers on her own. She loved learning about the Plan of Salvation and about the restoration of Christ's church. We feel so blessed to work with such an eager and hilarious daughter of our Heavenly Father.
A challenge we were issued at church that I would like to issue to all of you. If you are having trouble feeling the Holy Ghost in your life take a moment to simply be still. The Holy Ghost more often then not speaks in a quiet and tender tone. He rarely yells and if we are too busy going face pace we will miss the inspired promptings. Let us not run too fast the race that is in front of us, and let us take a moment, even if it is just a moment to be still and listen.
I love you guys!!! Happy Happy Birthday Grammy!
Love Sister Mathis
My other twin in the mission 

Monday, February 16, 2015


Ellen's Baptism
February 14, 2015
I read a talk this week from a sister missionary that I just loved. It is titled "The Honest Truth About Missions." She explained how when she was fairly new to her mission she was meeting with her mission president and he relayed an important truth to her. He looked this missionary in the eyes and said, "missions are 98% hard work, struggle, disappointment, difficulty, sorrow, and even pain. 2%.....2% is pure joy."  Pure joy. There is nothing that can compare with watching those you love accept Jesus Christ into their lives. It is completely pure and beautiful. That 2% makes it all worth it.  With things of worth in this life comes sacrifice. Has my mission been easy?  Absolutely not. I've cried tears of sorrow, I've felt the pain of rejection, I've missed weddings of family members and friends, I've missed missionary homecomings, and I've missed watching my sweet little cousins grow up. Yet somehow it has been the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my entire life.  I love my mission. I love every single aspect of missionary work. I love the hard days as well as the easy days, and can testify to how pure and tangible that joy is.

Watching Ellen make such special promises with our Heavenly Father brought such peace and a joy like no other into my life. After she was submersed into the water she stood in the font for just a moment as tears streamed down her face and the light of Christ touched her heart.  We ran to the bathroom after to embrace her in our arms. I felt my love for her as I held her, but what was even more powerful was the love I felt that was not my own. I felt an incredible amount of love from our Father in Heaven for His precious daughter. She was clean, she was pure, she was whole, and she was beautiful. She was glowing. She bore her testimony for all in attendance to hear and I kid you not there was not a dry eye in the audience as she testified of the change that occurred in her as she accepted Jesus Christ and His gospel into her life. What was especially neat was that she had invited a friend to come to the baptism who was not a member. Before the baptism Ellen bore testimony of the Book Of Mormon and handed her friend her very own copy of the Book Of Mormon to read. I truly believe miss Ellen is one of our Heavenly Father's choice daughters. He has given her mountains to climb and her life has been far from easy, but now she has a brand new beginning with many tools to help her get to the top.

I testify of the power the gospel has to change hearts and lives. I have seen beautiful and dramatic differences in those who follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everything we are and everything we hope to become we owe to Him.I got a letter from my good pal Clarence this week. It made me emotional to get such an amazing letter from him. He is continuing to grow stronger and stronger. He had been out home teaching and was heading to the temple. The gospel can and will change anyone and  everyone's life, if you let it. I love this sacred and special work. It is vital for us to strengthen our brothers and sisters. The work is hastening, there are hearts to touch and souls to save!

I had the opportunity to finish the Book Of Mormon this morning and I want to leave you with my testimony of the Book Of Mormon. It's incredible how attached to that book I have become. When I was reading the last few chapters this morning I was torn because I didn't want it to end, but the beauty of the Book Of Mormon is you can never get enough of it. Every single time you read it, something new will touch your heart, and fill your mind. I felt the spirit so strong this morning as I was reading in Moroni. I felt the conviction of his testimony. I love when he defend his faith. Others around him are being put to death because of their faith and he boldly declares "And I Moroni will not deny the Christ." I Sister Mathis (or insert your name) will never deny my Savior Jesus Christ. I will defend Him, and walk with Him. I am eternally grateful for Him. I feel such peace when I read from the Book Of Mormon. In the confusion of the world, I feel calm learning from the teachings within each page.  I know the Book of Mormon is true because I have questioned it. I have done as Moroni beckons us and put it to the test. It has passed every time on all accounts. It answers the deepest questions of the soul, but more importantly it helps us to know our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and how to become like Them.  I know our Savior lives. I know He loves you. His love is real. Seek for it. I am grateful to have the truth I have and I am so grateful to be serving the Lord at this precious time.

I sure love you guys!  

Sister Mathis

Monday, February 9, 2015

Have miracles ceased?? I say unto you NAY!!!

Happy Valentine's Day

What a tremendous, busy, emotional, stressful, exciting and beautiful week it has been. I love working for the Lord! First things first! Ellen is getting baptized! She had her interview last night and is all set for this Saturday!!! What an incredible Valentine's day it will be! After talking to her after her interview she explained what a neat spiritual growing experience it was for her as she opened up and testified to the missionary who conducted the interview. What a beautiful journey it has been. Her growth has been incredible. When we met her, we knew how inspired meeting her was, but I didn't fully comprehend how quick her progress would be.  A couple months ago when we met her, she came up to us and one of the first things she expressed to us was her desire to be baptized. We knew at that moment that she had been specifically prepared by the tender hand of the Lord. This last week we were having a lesson with her and she bore her testimony to us. The spirit she brought was incredible. Her testimony was pure and simple, but it was complete truth. She explained how she had gone from not praying, to feeling guilty if she goes a day without praying. She talked about her belief in the Book Of Mormon which was amazing. Little background on Ellen. She is a very strong believer of the Bible. She studies it intensely, but it was difficult at first to get her into the Book Of Mormon. We assigned her Alma 32, she read it and she felt it was written for her. The spirit testified and spoke to her as she studied it and from then she was hooked. From that point on, she didn't want to put the Book Of Mormon down. She has read so much of the Book of Mormon, and is what I call a golden investigator. She always does her reading and her testimony has grown so much because of the work she has put into learning.  Faith=action. And speaking of action this amazing lady has sacrificed so much. She has given up smoking and also her coffee! She has completely turned her life to the Lord, and I know the our Heavenly Father has carried her through. I feel so blessed to have worked with this precious daughter of our Heavenly Father. In all reality she was the one teaching me and reminding me of important truths. We carried on one of my family traditions with her and read the book "Oh the Places You'll Go" with her. This woman, my friends, is going to go far. She wants to share this joy she has found and she is looking forward to the day when she can come out teaching with us and share her testimony with those who are searching. I just love her!! It is going to be an incredible week!

Here's the funny story of the week. Sister Chadburn and I decided to go to lunch one day. We picked a yummy restaurant to go to. Well awkwardly our waiter was totally hitting on us, and especially as a missionary you just don't know how to handle that kind of situation. Well at the end of our meal, he slipped me his number. I froze. Stone cold faced. I was THAT awkward missionary....We will definitely be turning him over to the Elders to take care of. Moral of the story, boys have cooties, missionaries are awkward.

To end on a spiritual note, I have recently started reading the Book Of Mormon again. This time I have been highlighting every name I come across in reference to the Savior and any personal pronouns referring to Him. It has opened my eyes up dramatically to literally see how He fills every page. The Book Of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. I believe it whole heartedly. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and a very Happy Valentine's Day. Remember, "We love Him, because he first loved us."
It's ca-ca-ca-ca-cold outside!

 I testify of our Savior's deep and abiding love. It is penetrating, and real. May we show an increase love for Him this week and always. I love you guys!

Love Sister Mathis

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Best Year Ever!

The Field is White

So in the excitement of having an Apostle of the Lord come and visit us here in Ohio, I failed to mention that I did not get transferred! My work is not yet finished here in Newark, Ohio. I feel so fortunate to stay here another transfer, especially as we have Ellen's baptism approaching in just a few short weeks.

As this week approaches my missionary birthday and I am forced to come to the conclusion that I have been out on my mission for a year, I am torn with bittersweet emotions. I love my mission. I love everything about it. I love all that I have learned, and all that I will continue to learn. I love my Savior more than I ever have. I love my Father in Heaven, and I love His children. I love being able to serve them. Last night as I was reflecting on my mission thus far I started to create a list of 10 things that I have learned. I did this also at the beginning of my mission and it was fun to compare the lists. So here it goes!

1) Missionary work is incredible. It is so much fun, and it should be fun if you are doing it right! The passion you have for the gospel should radiate from you, and when you share it with someone else it should be a fun experience. There's nothing that can replace the pure and honest joy of the gospel. I have made some of the best memories with investigators, less active members, members, random citizens on the street, my street ball hommies, and with other missionaries during this sacred 12 months. I love my mission!

2) Missionary work is challenging, and I'm grateful for that. It is the most exhausting work physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Elder Holland in a talk titled "Missionary work and the Atonement" said, "Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font? You will have occasion to ask those questions." He then answers that question with such a powerful statement that has helped me so much in my missionary work. He boldly declares, "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy...How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?" I love that line. Through challenges I have better come to understand my Savior and His atonement.

3) I have learned how all encompassing and beautiful the atonement is. The atonement covers everything. Think about that sentence for a minute. Christ paid the price for all those who had gone before Him, and all those who would come after Him.  I used to think I only needed the atonement if I sinned. I have now better come to understand the great depth of the atonement. It is set in place to save us from sin, but it covers so much more. The atonement allows me to push through and overcome my weaknesses and shortcomings. It helps me through rejection, confusion, frustration, and anger. It helps me through physical setback or emotional pains that I may feel. He understands us perfectly because He's been there before. Through the atonement we find peace, happiness, and hope. The Savior provided a great and merciful act of love that truly redeemed us all.

4) A testimony of the Book Of Mormon is essential in conversion. I love this book. I cannot say that enough. I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON. I feel connected to the characters in it. I feel a closeness to my Savior as I read it. I love bearing testimony of this divine book to those we come in contact with. I didn't realize how strong my testimony had become until one day one man in particular was saying some pretty hateful things about the book. I felt pierced, like something had penetrated my heart. I realized that day how firmly I believed in the Book of Mormon and how I would defend in until the day I die. It is personal revelation from God. I have watched the light of Christ enter a person's life as they begin to read from the powerful pages. President Daines said, "If you don't have a testimony of the Book Of Mormon, get it. If you have one, strengthen it."  It is the convincing evidence of the truthfulness of the gospel. I hope you all give it a chance. How can you judge something you have never before even read? Give it a try! That's what Ellen, our investigator taught me.

5) I've learned how inspired this work is. I have had few times on my mission where I have had huge manifestations from the spirit, but I have had many times where I have had subtle quiet promptings from the Holy Ghost. Everyday I feel like Nephi being led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things that I should do. I know the Holy Ghost led me and my companion specifically to find Clarence and many others. I know how inspired each area I have served in is. I know how inspired each companionship is. I know how in tune with the spirit our mission President is and the Quorum of the Twelve. I know how inspired each and every mission call is. The spirit is in every intricate detail of this beautiful work. Without it this work would be impossible.

6) I've learned more fully the importance of the sacrament. We cannot return to the Father without the gateway the sacrament provides. The sacrament should be a very sacred and spiritual experience. I imagine my Savior with His hand outstretched extending an invitation to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Him. I remember one particular Sunday, it was fast Sunday and I was starving. I spiritually had prepared myself for the sacrament. I couldn't believe how much I craved it both spiritually and physically. The sacrament is something we simply cannot do without. It provides a cleansing effect and renews our baptismal covenants. It links us to the Father.

7) I've learning how important love is in this work. President Monson said, "Love is the very essence of the gospel." Love fuels the fire, it touches hearts, and lifts spirits. The other day someone asked us why the Savior did what He did. The answer was pure and simple. He did it because He loves us. I cannot begin to comprehend the amount of love our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have for us. My mom at the beginning of my mission gave me some wonderful advice that has stuck with me. She said "if you are having a hard time finding love for someone, pray that Heavenly Father will lend you some of His." Sometimes I cannot explain the love I have for others, but I know that it is not my own. It is deeper, it is the love of Christ that runs throughout my veins. I am grateful for the power of love.

8) I have learned that God has an incredible sense of humor. I was telling someone the other day that it was on my bucket list to make God laugh. They looked at me and said, "Sister Mathis, I'm pretty sure you already have." I have found on my mission that when we are exhausted and we feel down, Heavenly Father sends some comedic relief. Some of the funniest stories have come in just these last 12 months of my life.

9) I have gained a strong testimony of the Bible. Prior to my mission in all honesty, I hadn't read much of the Bible. I knew the stories and would read verses here and there, but I never had read it cover to cover. I am almost finished with the New Testament and I have absolutely loved reading it. I love studying Christ's teachings in depth, and viewing the relationship He had with those around Him. I feel more connected to Him then I ever have. I feel His pain especially when I read about Him crying out on the cross for His Father. I know of the reality of our Savior. He is so real. I know He lives. I know He lived a perfect life. One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is "come unto me." I invite all of you to come unto our Savior.

10. Last, but not least I have learned how completely dependent I have become on my Savior. If you know me, you know I hate having to depend on anyone. I want to do it my way, and I don't want help to do it. I've been independent and headstrong since day one. If I could describe my mission in one word it would be meek. I have been humbled by how much I need my Savior.  It is impossible to do it without Him. My favorite scripture illustrates this beautifully. Ammon declares, "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." As to my strength I am nothing. But I believe with Him, I can be so much more. Trust in Him, lean on Him. He loves you and He knows you.

I love you guys. It's truly a beautiful day to be a missionary! Where does the time go?

Love Sister Mathis