Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter!

What a beautiful warm, spiritual, and sunny Easter week it has been! Can I just say how much I have come to love this beautiful green Ohio land.  This last week especially as we drove on the rolling hills to Mount Vernon and through Danville I couldn't help but admire God's careful, well planned out, and magnificent creations. I love Ohio!

Okay now that I have bragged about this special place, I have to say Ohio is pretty well known for its road kill. In fact a little over a year ago when I first entered this magical place one of the first things I noticed was all the road-kill that decorated the streets. Well the other day I had the opportunity to go on an exchange in Mount Vernon. We were walking to a lesson and it was pouring rain. Fun fact when it rains here-- it pours! We were drenched and trying to walk as quickly as we could to our destination. I wasn't paying much attention to where I was stepping until suddenly I felt I should look down. My foot was in mid air ready to land back safely on the ground when I notice right beneath my foot was a rather large raccoon...only in Ohio would you almost step on a raccoon. That poor little guy.
Our Junior Companion for her Spring Break:  Emily Daines
Well this week was incredible. Here's a couple highlights of being a missionary. Because our exchange was in Mount Vernon we decided on the way home to Newark to take our lunch break and stop at a famous Amish bakery. What was even better about this bakery was that it is owned by an Amish family who joined the church close to three years ago. They are incredible examples and we loved every precious moment we had with them. We easily were touched by the faithful light they illuminated despite the intense trials and struggles they continue to face.  We sang with the children and prayed with them, and my testimony was strengthened tremendously by this beautiful family. And of course we couldn't leave the Bakery without tasting one of their homemade delicious treats. It was a tender moment that I will never forget as I spent it with faithful Latter-Day Saints who have sacrificed so much to be where they are.

Just a little extra flour never hurts anything
We had two super fun lessons this last week. One of which was with Ellen. We taught the importance of the commandments and how they are set in place to lead us to a happier life. As we taught each commandment we added an ingredient to our desired cake. Needless to say a recipe for a happier and safer life, a life that will lead us directly to the Savior of the world is to follow the commandments and remember our covenants we have made with the Father. The outcome of the cake was far sweeter than we even intended. I testify that is exactly how the outcome of our future can be if we put our trust in the One who knows us perfectly.  We also had a lesson with cute little Dakota and taught him the importance of missionary work. We made him his own missionary badge and gave him some pass-along cards to hand out to friends or strangers who may need to know how much they are loved.  He is continuing to grow and become molded by the perfect hand of our divine Savior. He is continuously more and more excited for his special baptismal day!

Missionary in Training
We had an wonderful family join us for conference. We have recently started teaching them, and are excited for the steps they have already taken toward their Savior Jesus Christ. They have a two year old son who is adorable! We are grateful for this family and hope and pray they can see the importance of the gospel and the ability it has to bless anyone's life regardless of their background.

We had our monthly Mission Leadership Council Meeting at the mission home and while we were there I felt the spirit and the love our my Savior literally penetrate my heart the moment the meeting started. It was an answer to my prayers. During my mission I have struggled at times. I have felt that I am doing all I can to help others feel the love of Christ, but sometimes lack feeling it in my own life. I have seen the Savior's love illuminate those around me but sometimes I get so caught up and forget to notice it filling me.   We picked a different seat to sit in during this particular meeting, further back than normal and we began the meeting by singing "I Believe in Christ." As I looked to my right, hanging on the wall was a remarkable picture of the Savior. I couldn't  believe how realistic the picture was. I started to get emotional. I felt as if I was singing these words directly to Him.

Liz Lemon Swindle's beautiful portrait of the Savior
I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

It was as if I was saying directly to Him in two simple words...thank you, and in the picture tears were also filling His loving eyes. I felt the reality of His sacrifice. I felt loved and important in His eyes even though at times I fall short. I was grateful to sing the words of that song and bear my humble testimony that I know He lives.

We had the opportunity to watch a session of conference with the other Sister training leaders at the mission home with President and Sister Daines. During the Saturday session of conference President joked with the missionaries and said "well there really should be no question about what you should do when you go home." Oh my goodness gracious we missionaries, with locked hearts, could not believe how many talks there were about marriage and family. Grateful for the importance of the family and how essential it is especially in God's plan but we somewhat had to laugh about the theme. One of my favorite take aways from conference was from Quentin L. Cook. He said with all the surety of his heart, "The Church has never been stronger!" Often times we wonder if our efforts are enough, we feel more people are going less active, and less people are joining the church. We worry about our leaders and the uncertainty of the world. How grateful I was for this comforting quote. The church has never been stronger. Let us all continue to fight for what's right and defend His sacred name. Let us do our part to strengthen our families and our friends! Our Heavenly Father needs you on His team today. It is a wonderful time to be a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I love my Savior. I love how merciful and loving He is. I have been reading in the Book Of Mormon in 3 Nephi about His ministry among the Nephities. I love picturing Him praying and weeping over these people whom He loves with His whole heart. I know everything He did was out of love. He would not have accomplished the atonement if it were not for His powerful and motivating, all encompassing amount of love.  
I love you all, and more importantly your Savior--your Brother and your friend loves you perfectly and infinitely.

Sister Mathis

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