Monday, March 30, 2015

Converted and Comfortable

"The more converted we become the more comfortable we are with our religion, and we begin to feel an increasing desire for others to enjoy the blessings of the gospel." -from an Ensign article September 2012
Yesterday in fast and testimony meeting I felt compelled by Spirit to bear my testimony. I stood up in front of the crowd and declared the important truths I have come to know. At the end of my testimony I was overcome with emotion and I began to weep. I testified of how grateful I was to be a missionary, and to wear our Savior's name. I believe with my whole heart there is no greater calling then that of sharing the gospel with those we love. 

This week was incredible and I think I began to feel more of how special of a calling it is to be a servant of the Lord. It was a stressful week where we were anxiously praying for things to fall into place.

I had the opportunity to go on an exchange with a sweet Sister from New Albany. We had a busy day and were working hard. We received a phone call about halfway through the day saying that our dinner appointment for the evening was canceled. We thought to ourselves of alternative possibilities for dinner. We thought of going home, and also debated going to a restaurant close by.  At this point you're probably wondering why in the world I am telling you this pointless story. Well stay tuned, because this story became one of the most powerful and inspiring times of my mission and I can assure you that these little details matter.  After some deliberation and prayer we both felt inspired to go to Olive Garden. I know our Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways, and I thought to myself what a funny prompting to go to Olive Garden. I didn't mind it one bit though since I love that place. Well Sister Preston and I enjoyed a nice dinner and had the sweetest waitress. We left a pass-along card on the table and started to make our way to the door. Right before we reached the doors our waitress came running up to us and said "Wait! I noticed your badges, and I was wondering what church you guys went to. My family and I have really been searching for a new church to attend." Sister Preston and I stood there for a moment awe-struck. We started to tell her our basic beliefs. We testified of Heavenly Father's plan and allowed the Spirit to come in. The Spirit was so strong right there in the middle of the restaurant and I know she felt it. She began to tear up as she told us that her 5 year old daughter had just lost her father to cancer and it had been a trying time for her family. We invited her to come to church to feel peace and love. Well guess what! This amazing lady with her 5 year old daughter showed up to church yesterday. It was a complete miracle from a small and simple prompting.  I know how perfectly our Heavenly Father works. I love how He is involved in every detail, great or small. I know He led us to this precious and prepared daughter of His.

Sister Ure, Harlee and me
Our beautiful Sister Harlee entered the waters of baptism this weekend and was confirmed the following Sunday. It was a very spiritual baptism. One of her best friends who introduced her to the church spoke and gave a beautiful talk. Her father and her sister both were able to come and her sister even stayed after for the Relief Society Broadcast. We are so proud of Harlee. We know the journey will be rocky and there is a long road ahead, but we know how much her Heavenly Father, that she now has a personal relationship, will help her as she continues to build upon her testimony. She also has an incredible ward family to stay by her side. 
Harlee surrounded by her beautiful and faithful Young Women Friends

Okay one more exciting event of the week. Ahhh I can hardly contain myself!!!!!!!! Dakota is going to be baptized at the end of April!!!! We are so proud of this little 10 year old boy. He has probably taught me the most while I have been out on my mission. Together with his family he had been praying for a baptismal date and yesterday we received such a tender text from his mother saying he was ready.

If you can't tell. I LOVE THIS WORK! The stressful moments, the beautiful moments and everything in between.
Harlee with Bishop Watt

There is an amazing new Easter Mormon message and I invite you all to watch it. I add my testimony that I know He lives. How comforting that scripture is in the New Testament, "He is not here, for He has risen. My challenge is the same to all of you. Find him. Strengthen your relationship. He loves you perfectly and infinitely.

Happy Easter and enjoy General Conference!

Sister Mathis

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hello Friends!

Look who's now an official mormon missionary!

The sign said free so we took them and now we are missionaries on bikes!

With Sister King, Sister Schauers, Clarence and his stepson Dan

With Superstar Sam from Delaware

With The Zimmermans from Hayden Run and Sister Hicken

 I thought I would start this email by explaining three random yet somewhat humorous things that occurred this week.

1) As we were driving to a good ol appointment going down main street we saw a man with an eloquent ponytail and some stunner shades walking two nicely groomed goats on a leash. I thought to myself..well if this doesn't say Newark, I don't know what does. So what did we do. We found a nice parking spot for the car ran up to the man took a picture with his lovely goats and then tried to teach him about the restoration of Christ's original church.

2)As we were driving down an old country road running slightly a bit behind for our meeting we saw two bikes nicely nestled on the side of the road with two beautiful beaming signs that said "free." That was music to  poor missionaries ears! So we now have two bicycles to cruise around town on!

3)We got a text from some other missionaries asking us when St Patrick's day was. Their message went something like this, "we figured out of all the missionaries in the mission, Sister Mathis would be the one to know when St. Patrick's day was." I thought to myself ha ha very funny let's all laugh at the red-head.

This week was incredible. I have specifically gained a stronger testimony of the power of fasting. On Saturday night our zone-leaders called us and said, "is there anyone that could be baptized Saturday the 28th, the last Saturday of March?" They explained to us how every zone in the mission had reached their zone goals for the month of March except our zone. Sister Ure and I looked at each other and said, "well no pressure!" We have been working with Harlee and had previously extended two dates for her to pray about. Up until this point she had been leaning toward the April 11th date. We decided to join together as a companionship and fast for our sweet sister to be baptized the 28th. We planned on having a lesson with Harlee after church. We got together to start our planned lesson on the commandments and Harlee very subtly mentioned, "Oh Sisters guess what...I'm getting baptized on the 28!" We both just sat there in utter amazement at the Lord's hand. The spirit had worked on her and encouraged her to move her baptismal date. I know how mindful our Heavenly Father is of us. I know there comes a divine power when we call upon the powers of Heaven and pray and fast for a specific reason. I know that Heavenly Father was ready for this beautiful daughter of His to make this sacred promise with Him.

We also had a wonderful lesson with Dakota. He impressed me as we talked about the atonement and the enabling power it contains, by saying a prayer at the end of the lesson and apologizing for the little things he had done wrong. I loved how quick he was to act on the principles of the gospel. I love working with children. They carry a special spirit with them and they are eager and excited to follow their Savior.

The Easter musical fireside was wonderful! I loved seeing families and people who have impacted my life from all of the different area's I have served. Watching Clarence and Dan walk in, hugging sweet Sam, seeing Ellen surrounded by friends and family makes every single day of this work absolutely worth it. I love with my whole heart being a missionary.

I know our Savior lives. My invitation to you is to find Him. I love you guys!

Love Sister Mathis


Monday, March 16, 2015

There is Sunshine in My Soul

"Oh there's sunshine blessed sunshine 
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul....and outside!"  
Happiness is just happening to run into Sister George at the temple.

Temple Selfie

We're outside, without jackets or tights!!

It has been a beautiful week here in Nerk Ahia! We have seen the sun! We even went a whole day without tights for the first time in months! We are celebrating this happy weather. Missionary work is great all the time, but it's really great when it's beautiful outside. We have been able to talk to more people as they also have been outside enjoying the wonderful weather, and we have noticed how much happier people are because of the simple change in weather.
We were able to contact an amazing referral this last week. It was a referral that for some reason we were supposed to receive weeks ago, but never did. It was for a sweet lady from Ghana who put her information online in hopes of receiving a copy of the bible. When we finally got all the information weeks later we decided to contact her immediately. I know the Lord's timing is completely perfect. When we showed up to meet her she had just walked in the door from picking her daughter up from school, and it just so happened to be her day off from work. She was beginning to lose hope that someone would come to bring her bible, and then there we were with bright smiling faces standing on her front porch eager to meet her. I have a great knowledge that just when we are willing to give up the fight, our Heavenly Father will send us aid. I know He did so with His only begotten Son. When Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane, and He was suffering and bleeding from every pore our Heavenly Father sent Him an angel to strengthen Him and to encourage Him to keep fighting and endure to the end. I know our Heavenly Father answers prayers and I know that when we follow the Spirit we are blessed. I know that because we acted immediately we were able to find this precious daughter of our Heavenly Father and share the gospel with her. She is so prepared to hear the message of the restored gospel and we are delighted to have met her.
Our stellar 17 year old investigator is thriving. She has read almost through 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. She claims, "I really have no idea what Isaiah is talking about." I told her that's okay no one really does. She was excited to read 2 Nephi 31 about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She was so thrilled when she said, "I actually understood what it was talking about!" As we had a spiritual lesson with her outside in the beautiful Ohio spring weather we extended baptism to her again. This time we received a more definite response. She knows it is the next step and she can now better understand that baptism is not the end but merely the beginning to a new pathway and a new life.
Elder Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk titled "Forget Me Not." I would encourage you all to read it. But I want to reiterate his important 5 points that we are never to forget.

1) forget not to be patient with yourself.
2) forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice
3) forget not to be happy now
4) forget not the “why” of the gospel
5) forget not that the Lord loves you
Forget not how much I love you guys!!
Love Sister Mathis

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Be still and Know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10

Even if it's -10 Degrees, A Salted Caramel Pretzel shake at 
Stake 'n Shake is always a great idea!

I have felt so much comfort and peace in this last week and I am so grateful for how mindful our Heavenly Father is of us.  I love this sacred and special work. This morning as I got onto email, I had many emails telling me of a surgery my mom had this past week. That was news to me. Immediately I felt worried, but as I read her sweet email and the faith and trust she has in our Heavenly Father I felt such a dramatic sense of peace.  The scripture came to mind "be still, and know that I am God." Although I am far from home, I know there is someone close by watching over my mom. I know my Heavenly Father has been with her and because of the power of the Priesthood and prayer, her recovery has been incredible.  I know through this trial that my mom and I too have felt the love of God and His hand in all that we do. I love how omniscient, all-knowing, and all-powerful He is, and no matter where we are He is mindful of us.
Sister Chadburn, Ellen, Sister Watt and me
Sister Ellen and me at the Columbus Temple
This last week was bittersweet as I said goodbye to my dear friend and companion Sister Chadburn. Before we went to the transfer meeting we had the opportunity to walk around the temple grounds and the foyer of the temple with our sweet sister Ellen. Almost instantaneously as she stepped on the grounds, tears began to flow from her eyes. She was humbled and she knew she was walking on sacred ground. She felt the spirit and the love of our Heavenly Father stronger then ever. We had that special moment with Ellen, Sister Chadburn, and sweet Sister Watt to simply be still and allow the spirit to touch our hearts. I love moments like that! And I know it is one that I will remember forever and I was able to spend it with so many that I love.  We also are so fortunate to be able to attend the temple tomorrow as a zone. It has been too long. I absolutely love the temple and the sacred work we can participate in.
I have loved doing my family history work and keep searching for a precious name I can take to the temple. I was able to connect to my Grandpa's brother Norman Watts through What a neat opportunity that was to find his tree and compare it to mine. Family history work has never been so easy and so accessible. Take advantage of it! Prepare those names for your ancestors so that you can help them receive the many blessings you now enjoy.

We had stake conference this last week and had the privilege of having Elder Gordon Smith of the seventy in attendance. One thing he said that really stuck out to me was, "it is a huge blessing to participate in the rescue of souls." Our stake president also challenged us during the conference to make the atonement of Christ meaningful and personal to me personally.  He said, "The Savior looks at you and sees someone worth saving, someone worth loving and sacrificing for." I testify to you of how real and personal that love is. 

I am still serving in the blessed land of Newark. I am going on 6 months here and I am so grateful for each precious minute I have had to labor in this part of the Lord's vineyard. My new companion Sister Ure is a phenomenal missionary. She is filled with joy and instantly we became great friends. I am grateful for this time I have to serve alongside her. 
Sisters King, Mathis, Ure and Thomas
Charlie Chaplin once said, "a day without laughter is a day wasted" so with that being said, here's a bit of a funny story. Sister Ure and I both love to run so we have been waking up at 6 to get a good workout in.  One morning in particular it was probably a solid -10 degrees with a wind chill of 100 miles per hour.  We enjoyed our run though as we made our way back to the apartment we noticed a nice frosty layer of ice on our eyelashes that looked much like we had a thick covering of white mascara on. Our eyebrows were also completely frosted over. I have never felt such a sensation of having your eyelashes stick to each other. It was pretty safe to say we looked like Jack Frost. Well on a bright note (pun intended) it is warming up and spring is right around the corner! We are loving this weather that has been over 20 degrees:)
I love you guys so very much!
Sister Mathis

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Things work out in the end.

Reading with my little buddy:  Sure is cold out there. Glad it's cozy in here.

Hello Friends! I thought I would start out this weekly email with a little statistic. As of a few days ago we were visiting a lovely member of the ward. She told us that in the last 15 days, the temperature had been above freezing for a total of 2 hours! I am starting to understand the trek the pioneers made a little bit more. 

This week has been amazing! It has been another busy week in the wonderful service of the Lord.  The week started out with another zone meeting. We have been so fortunate lately to have so many meeting to help fill our minds and our souls spiritually. During the meeting we had a panel of recent converts come and testify of their conversion and also on the things the missionaries did right...or wrong. It was a fun learning activity. After the meeting we traveled to Zanesville where I went on an exchange with the wonderful Sister LeBaron who has been out on her mission for almost a transfer now. I am grateful and humbled by the strength of these new missionaries. As a Sister Training Leader I am called to lead by example and help provide training for these missionaries, yet I always come out of them feeling I have learned the most. There is strength and something you can learn behind each person you come into contact with. I am grateful that we as humans have the ability to grow stronger and learn from our mistakes daily. I love the scripture in Ether that talks about how the Lord has the power to make weak things strong. He has done that with me, and I still have an incredibly long way to go. I love the refiner's fine, and how our Heavenly Father can sculpt us into the divine sons and daughters He sees us as.

This week a beautiful miracle happened. I have a firm testimony that our Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers, but He will do it in His own way and in His own time. I put my faith forward and applied to BYU one more time. I was nervous, yet excited. I was scared for the outcome, and I knew how devastated I would be If I read the painful word "denied" again, yet Heavenly Father filled me with such peace as I submitted my application. This last week as I went on to check my application, I knew no matter the outcome that Heavenly Father was in charge and He had a plan for me. However I was grateful as I went online and saw the word "accepted" above my application. I know that if we put in the work Heavenly Father will provide. I know how perfect His timing is. I know when I applied previous times, the Lord had other plans for me. I am grateful He knows us perfectly, and He will help us to see the beautiful pathway that is open to us. I have a testimony of enduring to the end, and not giving up on a dream or a goal. When I was first rejected years ago I was hurt. I felt broken, and I wondered why Heavenly would not let me have something I felt I had worked my whole life for. The second times was even worse, it didn't get easier, but I knew I had to work ever harder if I wanted to see my dream become a reality. Well people always say 3rd times a charm, and for me it was, but I learned so much along the way and I wouldn't have traded the long journey for anything. I learned about my capability to rise above obstacles and trials, to work hard and put my mind to achieving a goal. I learned to have patience in my Heavenly Father and His specific plan for me. And I learned not to give up and abandon hopes and dreams when the goin' gets rough. Sometimes it just might not be the right timing and the Lord has other plans for you. Now I am on a mission and although I didn't see the full pathway I would pursue at that time, it seems crystal clear to me that I was exactly where I needed to be and where the Lord wanted me. Don't give up. Keep trying. Work hard, and do your very best, and leave the rest to the Lord.

Sister Chadburn goes home this week. I am grateful for the many lessons she has instilled in me and for the example she has set for me. She is an amazing missionary full of Christ-like love and she will be greatly missed in the Ohio Columbus Mission. I am grateful for the time I have had to serve alongside her. It feels pretty weird to send a companion home. I'm not too sure how I feel about it, but I know her service will continue on and she will continue to touch hearts and lives.

I came across a scripture this week that I just loved and I wanted to share it with you. It is Hebrews 11:2
 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 beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Let us run with patience the race that is before us. Let us trust in God and His ability. Let us believe that He knows us better then we know ourselves. This gospel is absolutely beautiful. I am so grateful to have it in my life. I sure love you guys!

Love Sister Mathis