Monday, June 29, 2015

The Beautiful Service of the Lord

What an incredible week it was in the beautiful service of the Lord!
We have been so busy especially this last week. Sister Rogers and I joked the other day about how we never even see each other and we are companions! In between all the exchanges and having mini missionaries I have hardly even seen my companion and this transfer is already almost over! This last week I had the opportunity to go on two exchanges: one in Columbus and the other was all the way out in Jackson. It is a rewarding thing to go into our other sisters' areas and learn so much from them. Although I'm supposed to be the one training, I always feel like I come out learning more from them. One of my favorite moments on one of these exchanges was getting to drive a pickup truck! The Sisters in Jackson are driving the only truck in the mission and being there on exchanges, I got to drive it! It was a good time. On a more serious note the best moment of one of these exchanges was entering the home of a sweet little 92 year old African American. She was frail and had a hard time hearing. She had recently lost a loved one and was going through a difficult time. She expressed how we could not even begin to understand what she was going through. I said to her, "You are right. We cannot even being to feel what you are feeling. But there is one who can. One who has already felt that pain before." Her comment at the end to us was priceless, "I think Jesus sent you guys to me." There is nothing that can trump the priceless joy of being a missionary and having tender moments like that. 

That experience reminded me of a quote by our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson. He said, "The sweetest feeling is to feel a prompting and then act on it and later come to know it was an answer to someone's prayer" May we be more open to the Spirit and be more willing to act. That prompting could in a very real sense be a direct answer to someone else's prayer. 

We had dinner with the cutest family yesterday. I fell in love with their little boy, who is an even bigger Lebron fan than I am. He knows all the moves and studies his skills. His parents told us he would often ask the question "What would Lebron do?" They jokingly said they wished they could replace Lebron's name with "What would Jesus do?" This sweet little boy struggles with some health concerns and is a little behind other kids his age. For a spiritual thought we had an idea of taking the whole family outside and using the basketball hoop for our lesson since we knew it was something he loved and he'd be able to pay close attention to. We had this cute little boy stand as far back as we could go. I asked him "do you think you can make this shot from here." He responded that he didn't think he'd be able to. So we exercised faith and took a step closer and taught about repentance. As we repent we come closer to our goal our destination. Then we taught about how repentance makes us want to come even closer to Jesus Christ so we are baptized. After we are baptized we receive the divine gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we must endure to the end. With each principle of the doctrine of Christ we took a step closer and closer to the basket. Well needless to say this little boy was a mini Lebron. He has so much faith he made the shot on his first try after we had only taught about repentance! Luckily the other kids helped us to be able to teach the rest of the principles as they kept taking steps forward to make the big shot. After this fun little lesson the little boy said "Wow that was the best lesson ever!" Teaching the gospel can be fun! Get creative. Find something that someone likes and make a parallel back to the gospel.   
This last week we also had the beautiful opportunity to attend the temple. I was fortunate to take one of my own family names and be able to perform the work for one of my dear ancestors. It was a powerful moment sitting in the Celestial room as I looked around and saw an army of missionaries all dressed in white. In my studies I have been reading about the stripling warriors and as I saw this precious scene I reflected on these young warriors in the Book Of Mormon entering the battle front. Their fearless leader Helaman is telling Captain Moroni in reference to his soldiers, "Never had he seen so great courage." In Alma 56 verse 56 we read of the miracle that not a single one of these Strippling Warriors had fallen to the earth. "They had fought as if with the strength of God; yea never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength and such miraculous power." That is what I saw as I looked at all the missionaries I was surrounded by. I saw the strength and power of the Lord beaming through them. I saw servants of the Lord carrying His power and His authority. I saw courage and faith and a determined sense to defend truth. 

"We are as the armies of Helaman. We have been taught in our youth. And we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth."

Conference talk of the week- With all that is going on around us in the world, it is easy to be fearful. Evil in the world is being accepted as good and good for evil. Remember whom it is that we should fear and how. Be bold, stand up for what's right, and defend you faith even if you stand alone. I invite you to read this conference talk from Elder Bednar. "Therefore they hushed their fears.

"Godly fear is loving and trusting in Him. As we fear God more completely, we love Him more perfectly. And “perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16). I promise the bright light of godly fear will chase away the dark shadows of mortal fears (see D&C 50:25) as we look to the Savior, build upon Him as our foundation, and press forward on His covenant path with consecrated commitment.

We are so fortunate to live in the dispensation of the fullness of times, the last dispensation. We know with certainty that Christ is coming. There are signs all around us to illustrate how close that coming truly can be. May we trust in Him, lean on Him, and prepare ourselves to one day stand before His glorified and perfected face and feel of His perfect and complete love for us.

It's a beautiful day to share the gospel. Yesterday we had a missionary musical fireside. I felt such power as I stood with a group of missionaries and together we sang "glory glory hallelujah His truth is marching on!" The truth will go forth it is up to us to share it. The world needs YOUR light! Shall we not go on in so great a cause? COURAGE!

Love you bunches and bunches,
Sister Mathis

Also each of you has a conversion story. I love hearing others conversion to the gospel and I have recently made a book full of people conversion stories. If you have some spare time this week I would love if you wrote down your story and sent it to me!

Joke of the week- We need to be like lions. A family that prays together stays together - Brother Frericks 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hello, Hello!

I thought I'd start this email off with the funniest comment of the week made by a random citizen whom we had just approached and had not yet said anything to.

His comment- "Stop asking me if I've found Jesus. I never lost Him. Ya'll keep losing Him!" 

I am so grateful to have my own personal testimony of the Savior, to have "found" Him and to have a deep and abiding knowledge that He lives. I am grateful that beautiful knowledge in my life has never been lost, that I grew up singing the words "I'm trying to be like Jesus" and even at a young age I saw who I was striving to become. As a missionary that desire has only increased each day as I put on my name badge that boldly contains my name and the Savior's name. How honored I feel to go out each day and represent Him as I continually better myself to become like Him.

This last couple of days as I have reflected on the importance of Fathers and the many father figures that have shaped my life, I have felt an abundance of gratitude for how my Heavenly Father has reached out to bless me. In our dinner appointment last night for Father's Day we asked each of the kids why they are grateful for their Earthly father and then followed up by asking why they were grateful for their Heavenly Father.  When it was my turn to respond I told the family I am incredibly grateful for my earthy father because he is my number one fan. He supports me in all that I do and is rooting for me every step of the way. I told them for that for the same reason I am grateful for my Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father is a proud Father who delights when we strive to follow Him. His is the one fan that will never leave our side regardless of our performance. He supports us as we have righteous goals and ambitions and walks with us through the challenges and trials we face along the way. I remember a particular race in high school. It was the track state meet. We had prepared all season to let our talents shine. I stepped onto the line, the race began and I prayed that Heavenly Father would help to carry me after the hard work, the many practices, and the mental and physical preparation I had put in. At the end of the race I felt a sense of joy and satisfaction in the race I had just run. I looked up into the stands. Standing up amidst the sea of people with his hands in the air cheering loud for all to hear was my Father. Right there on the finish line tears began to fill my eyes as I looked into the smiling face of a proud father. As I have reflected on this tender moment I am continually drawn to my Father in Heaven who is much the same. I imagine as we take steps toward Him and make and keep sacred covenants with Him we can feel the loving hands of a proud Father raised up I'm the air saying the precious words "this is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased." How grateful I am for my Heavenly Father and also for my wonderful earthly Father that my Heavenly Father blessed me with. 

We met an amazing family that has recently moved from Africa. Sister Rogers and I despite the rain felt prompted to walk to the street we were going to tract instead of drive. Because we walked we were able to find this precious family along the way! This lovely couple has an older son who moved from Ohio to West Virginia. He used to meet with the missionaries frequently but when he moved he somehow had lost contact. Luckily he was in town visiting his parents and we were able to reach out to him and his family. The son testified of a time when the missionaries he was meeting with gave him a blessing and through his faith and the power of the priesthood he was healed. He spoke positively of his experiences of attending church. He also was able to teach his parents practically the first lesson as we were there to teach and testify with him. We were able to get his information and send it to the office so that missionaries can come in and continue to teach him and also were able to leave the door open to come back to his parents home to teach them. What a neat opportunity it was to be guided by the Holy Ghost to one of our Heavenly Father's children that had fallen through the cracks. A few days ago after a long somewhat discouraging day of little to no doors opening, we humbly prayed to our Heavenly Father to ask Him where He wanted us to be. It was a little after 8 o'clock and the time was winding down. We felt impressed to go try this family again.  We drove to their house and once again offered a prayer to confirm with Heavenly Father that we were where we needed to be. We went up to knock on their door and waited for answer. Luckily we saw a note on the door that said, "we're in the backyard." It was as if they were waiting for us and expecting us. We were able to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Father was deeply moved as we taught him about faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and the importance of enduring to the end."  He asked us to write down the the things the spirit had just helped us to teach him so that he could in turn teach his family. The mother was pleading for her own copy of the Book of Mormon. I testify that just as the scriptures say there are people prepared to receive the message we are so fortunate to bring to them. 
Sister Rogers and I with Dan at His Baptism
I had the opportunity to return to Delaware to watch one of Heavenly Father's precious sons enter into the sacred covenant of baptism. I was picked up with my companion by the one and only wonderful Clarence and his beautiful daughter Tina and together we drove to Clarence's stepson's baptism. How tender it was to spend time with them as we drove and reflected on the blessings the gospel brings us. As we entered Delaware I felt such a sense of peace and gratitude for the time Heavenly Father allowed me to labor among His children there. I began to get teary eyed as I reflected on the growth that occurred within me there and the privilege I had to meet so many wonderful people. The spiritI felt moved me as I knew I had entered into one of the specific parts of the vineyard the Lord had placed me in for a point and time. That Delaware is a blessed land and I wish I could adequately describe how I felt and how all the memories returned as I was there.

Thank you all for your love and prayers. I sure love this work. Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Courage!

Love Sister Mathis
With some of my beloved Delaware Family: Dan, Tina and Clarence
Sam Beck performed the musical number 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Everything I Am and Hope to Be I Owe to This Mission

Hello my good friends and family!

Celebrating Sister Rogers Birthday June 11th*

Have I told you recently how much I love being a missionary?! As Elder Holland once said, and I'm totally paraphrasing "everything I am and hope to be I owe to this 18 month mission." Yesterday during studies I went and found the conference talk from our beloved Prophet President Monson when he announced the exciting news about the missionary age change. 

"I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will--or should--serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available. 
As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.

We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty--and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service."

I remember I was sleeping through that particular session and my mom came running into the bedroom and said "Lauren you can go on a mission at age 19!" In all honesty I wasn't beaming full of excitement like most of the 18 going on 19 girls were.  I had always wanted to serve but when the opportunity was closer than I thought it was, I became uncertain of if it was right for me. Yesterday morning as I read these inspired words from our prophet I felt such a confirmation of how well our leaders and our Heavenly Father know us. As I read that statement I couldn't imagine my life without this decision I made to serve a mission. It has been the absolute greatest blessing in the world and I thank my Heavenly Father each day for the precious days He lends me in His service. 

I love the change that occurs as a missionary, uncomfortable as it may be at times. It is a beautiful feeling to grow and become more like our Precious Savior Jesus Christ each day. He is molding me daily and helping me see the potential that He sees in me. I have realized especially this week, that weak as I am, Heavenly Father is not. He is strong, He is powerful, and He is omnipotent and He has the divine ability to work through me as one of His servants. 

A few days ago we we having a lesson with our awesome investigators. The spirit was strong as we discussed important truths that would bless their lives. One of our investigators named Sean, an older gentleman, turned to me and asked "What are you going to do for your 21st birthday?" I promptly responded "Preach the gospel." He then chuckled and said, "Wow you don't hear that everyday!" I wouldn't trade where I am for the world. I love being a missionary. There's truly nothing greater than sharing something you know and love with someone else.

On the topic of Prophets I also want you to know how grateful I am for our modern day prophet, for the service and love he so patiently renders. There was a conference talk a little while back where a member of the church was talking to her next door neighbor. The member was telling this particular neighbor about how there was a prophet on the earth today! The neighbor then excitedly responded, "Well what is he saying?" The member then froze and had to honestly say that she didn't quite know and couldn't formulate a sufficient answer as to what the prophet on the earth had recently told the people. Brothers and Sisters, may we all be a little more aware of the Prophet's counsel. In the last nine months the Prophet has guided us and has taught: 

1. Look heavenward
2. Our decisions determine our destiny
3. We will find peace in the temple
4. We are commanded to be a light to the world. To love and serve others
5.  Be prepared for all that lies ahead

President Uchdorf once said, "I am grateful (President Monson) focuses on the one, but has a heart for the whole world." How grateful I am to feel of his individual love for me 
and the great love he has for all those in the world. I know He walks with God and that God leads and guides us through Him.

The work has been great here. We love the ward and are very grateful for their enthusiastic missionary attitudes. Yesterday was such a good Sunday as we had a missionary in the ward return and give his homecoming address and also have a cute little Sister in the ward give her farewell. This last week we have spent a majority of our time riding our bikes, out in the hot humid sun, or in the pouring rain, and talking to everyone. We have put a lot of effort into finding and have seen many blessing and tender mercies as we give more of ourselves. We are also working with such an incredible 23 year old girl who is working to be baptized at the end of the month. We are excited for her and we know even more importantly her Heavenly Father is excited and proud of her.

Shall we not go on in so great a cause? 

I love you guys! I hope you know how often I pray for you and for your own missionary efforts. 

Love Sister Mathis
*It's Lauren's birthday Thursday, June 18th. She'd love an email or a letter from any one of you!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sent From My iPad!!

Hello good people!

What an exciting week! I am writing this very email from my new missionary i-pad! Hurray! I will admit, believe it or not, that I am technologically challenged after being away from these fancy gadgets for a few days...and by a few days I mean 16 months. The last few days I have been sharing the gospel with my cute little mini missionary companion Sister Davis. She just had her 16th birthday and is a convert to the church. Sister Rogers and I were given two mini missionaries on Saturday and we will have them until next Saturday. It has been a blast! We also had our first Sunday in our new ward. They are amazing. It is a young ward with people so fired up to do missionary work. Here was my favorite story of yesterday, the beautiful sabbath day. A little 6 year old girl in the ward came up to me and stated,  "I don't want to serve a mission because what if I have to eat food I don't like?" I looked at her and told her how exciting a mission is. I told her it was the best thing in the whole wide world and then told her how I was a picky eater before my mission but Heavenly Father helped me to love the food others make me. I told her that Heavenly Father would help her too. She then gave the cutest little grin and walked away. Her dad later reported back to us and said, "I don't know what you said to her, but she has been talking about serving a mission all day!" It warmed my little missionary heart. 
One of the highlights this week was going on an exchange with a sister in the Reynoldsburg area. She had only been there for a week and so both of us, not knowing the area, had to rely completely on the spirit. During the day we had about 10 minutes before our next appointment and had a potential to try before we went to it. We sat and questioned if we would be able to make it to the appointment on time if we tried the potential. As we were deciding what to do the spirit softy whispered to me "go try that potential." As the minutes were fading quickly and we were frantically searching for the house of this potential, the Spirit once again was there to lead and guide us. Miraculously we made it to this little hidden apartment. We knocked on the answer. I was beginning to feel a little discouraged and I even thought to myself "but Heavenly Father-- we followed a prompting!" We decided to walk out of this apartment hallway a different way from the way we came in. As we were just approaching the door out we saw an Orkin exterminator on the job. We felt impressed to talk to him and give him a card. As we conversed we found out that just the night before he had watched a documentary on the church and was led to to find out more. He was deeply interested and desired to learn more, and then lo and behold the missionaries cross paths with him the very next day. I know he was the reason Heavenly Father led us to those apartments. I also learned the importance of following promptings and not second guessing the Lord's hand. " All things are done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things."

Something I have come to know on my mission is the Important truth that we can feel the love of Christ for anyone. It is something He will grant us so long as we earnestly pray for it and desire to come unto Him. We were out tracking one day and we saw a man with a big picket fence outside his house that says "Jesus Saves." We decided we couldn't pass up such an opportunity so we decided to knock on his door. He came out and we told him how much we admired his faith and courage to put up such a sign. We proceeded to try and tell him the "good news" and testify of the restoration. He didn't agree with out beliefs and made that very known to us. As we stood and listened to this man express his opinions, oddly enough I started to get emotional as Christ lent me some of His love for this man who disagreed with us. I knew without a doubt that Heavenly Father knew and loved him. I felt like Moses when it was said in the scriptures that "his heart swelled wide as eternity." I testify of the pure and beautiful love the Savior has for us and that we can help to carry to those around the world.

There's a quote I came across this week that I loved! It's by Lucy Mack Smith and says, "We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in Heaven together."
"I glory in plainess, I glory in truth, I glory in my Jesus." Shall we not go on In so great a cause? 

Love you bunches and bunches!   
Sister Mathis


Monday, June 1, 2015

There's no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone."

Parting is such sweet sorrow: With Terri Huang, Sister Ure and Ellen
Greetings from the blessed land of Pickerington, Ohio!

When I decided to serve a mission I don't think I fully realized how hard it would be to let go and move onto a new area and leave those you love dearly behind. It wasn't easy to say goodbye to many of my dear Ohio family members. One of my favorites was telling Dakota goodbye. I kept my composure until he came up and put his arm around me. Tears started to fill my eyes as I knew I would be leaving my little brother for a period of time. His response when he saw the tears, "welp see ya!" Gotta love little 10 year old boys! They sure do make sentimental tender times not as hard. 

So here's the latest news in the life of Sister Mathis! My new companion has been out for about 9 months.  Her name is Sister Rogers and she is from Utah. I wasn't released from being a Sister Training leader, and now will train Sister Rogers as she is a new Sister Training Leader! We were doubled into our new area, meaning we both are brand new to the area. So we have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off for the last few days. It's been a blast. I have to be careful what I ask for. A few nights before transfers I was telling Sister Ure, "It would be fun to be doubled in. It's part of the mission experience." Well wish granted and here we are! The members of the ward we have met so far are incredible and we had the opportunity to attend Stake Conference yesterday. There has been a lot of changes in the last couple of days and we are still trying to get used to new things. I love the quote though that says, "there's no comfort in the growth zone, and no growth in the comfort zone." I know that change can bring out the best in us and that this will be an awesome opportunity to learn and grown closer to my Savior. 
With Sister Ure

We had a neat experience with a lesson Sister Ure and I had our last night in Newark. We were teaching a man named Kent. Remember the guy I talked about a few weeks ago, who called us back from our scripture text? Well we finally had a lesson with him. In between his traveling time he set up an appointment to meet with us. He showed great urgency and understood the importance of what the gospel could do for him. Well during the lesson we brought a wonderful member and Kent and this member completely connected. Before long our time was up and we had to get home for curfew. My companion and I didn't say much during the lesson, it was mostly Kent talking about some strengthening spiritual experiences he had, but as we got up to leave, Kent said, "I cannot believe the spirit you carry. I felt it the second you walked in the door and it remained here the whole time." I probably said two sentences during that whole lesson but the amazing thing about this lesson was the ability Kent had to recognize the Spirit without us even teaching. It reminded me of the power and the gift we as members of the Church carry. I love the quote from one of the apostles that says, "preach the gospel always, if necessary use words." Others can feel the Holy Ghost you carry, they can feel the power and the love of their Savior through YOU. Never forget that and strive constantly to be worthy of the beautiful gift of the Holy Ghost. 
With Sister Rogers bound for Pickerington 

In honor of one of our modern day hero's Elder L. Tom Perry, here is one of my favorite stories he shared.

“I was assigned to serve in Columbus, Ohio, just after I had arrived in the mission field. I knew absolutely nothing about missionary work and my senior companion, who had been out only three months, knew little more than I did. I had always been strong in the Church, and though my testimony had never been tested, I surely thought that it could never waiver.

“Well, my first full day of proselyting was spent going from house to house. We didn’t have much success until a kind Southern Baptist lady invited us into her home. She had a profound knowledge of the scriptures, and I’m afraid that my companion and I could not counter her persuasive arguments. I went home that day a converted Southern Baptist.

“The following day was not much better. I went home a converted Methodist. And the next day I was swayed toward the Lutheran faith. I finally decided that this kind of thing should not be happening to a Mormon missionary. I decided that before I could teach and bear testimony about the gospel it was first necessary that I know something about it myself.

“My companion and I lived on the top floor of a four-story rooming house. The landlady had granted us the privilege of using the kitchen, which was in the basement. I decided that each night I would go down to the kitchen after my companion had retired to bed and prepare a talk, beginning with the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel.

“The first night I studied and prepared a talk on faith that I presented to my audience: a mouse that I had coaxed out of his hole with a cracker. He stared at me for a minute, picked up the cracker, and went back into his hole.
“The following night the subject was repentance. The mouse came out and listened to me for some time longer than the night before, and then returned to his hole. I was making progress.

“The third night I came down and filled the dishpan with water and washed some dishes before I prepared my talk on baptism. Again, my friend the mouse came out of his hole to hear my presentation. He stood there and stared at me the whole time, and when I was finally finished he walked back to his hole in deep thought. I was a bit proud of myself as I walked upstairs, knowing I had really impressed my audience.

“The next morning my companion and I went downstairs to prepare breakfast and I noticed that I had not emptied the dishpan of water I had used the night before. I was greatly surprised when, at the bottom of the pan, I found my friend, the mouse. My little talk had really made an impression. In his stupor of thought he must have crawled into the pan: baptism by immersion!” 
Elder L. Tom Perry passed away May 30, 2015
I love you guys from Ohio, to Reno, to Newark, To Delaware, To Columbus, to Heaven and back!

Love, Sister Mathis