Thursday, August 20, 2015

These Are Days Never To Be Forgotten

Reunion with Emily Daines, Sister Wagstaff and Sister Ure at Stake Conference

My Mission summed up in 150 words:
Oliver Cowdery in helping Joseph Smith translate the Book Of Mormon said, "these are days never to be forgotten." There is nothing more sacred and more full of pure joy than being a set apart servant of the Lord. Your mission is full of days never to be forgotten. I love my Savior. I have come to learn of the potential I can have only through Him. Without Him I am weak, but with Him "I can do all things." I marvel at the amount of courage and love it took for Him to leave His royal courts above and dwell in the most humble circumstances, to be despised, spat upon, cast out, rejected and betrayed. I cannot wait for that day when I will kneel before His face with tears rushing down mine and gratitude in my heart. I think I will truly be amazed with how familiar He is to me, with the very scars He acquired for me. I look forward to that day and strive to live in a way that I can hear those uttered words "well done thy good and faithful servant....thy faith hath made the whole."
My little friend and her "Sister Mathis" Barbie 

Probably my last missionary lesson in Ohio

Hocking Hills Hike

Farewell Ohio, God Be With You Till We Meet Again.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Good Experiences Always Out Power the Challenges Even if They Don't Outnumber Them

Hi guys! I can't believe this is probably the last email I will write as a full time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My heart is being torn in so many different directions at the thought of my full time missionary service coming to an end.

We had a more challenging week this last week and it's funny how grateful I have become for weeks like that throughout my mission. Many of our scheduled appointments fell through and we also invested a large portion of our time tracting trying to find people to teach which makes any day go by at the pace of an aging snail. Throughout the week though I was reminded of a quote President Daines once said. He said "the good experiences will not always outnumber the challenging days or the hard experiences but they will always out power them."  

This morning as I read in the beginning of the Book Of Mormon I felt such an immense gratitude  for the strong and courageous Nephi. At the beginning of the Book Of Mormon we find that Nephi and his family are faced with many trials and hardships. They are commanded to leave Jerusalem. They leave all their precious things behind and flee with nothing but faith to guide them. Later Nephi is commanded to go back and get the plates from the wicked king Laban. After two failed attempts and a long journey that he walked with two complaining brothers just to get to Laban, instead of weakening his faith Nephi with the help of the Spirit decides to put forth his best effort and try again. Finally after the third attempt and with the Power of the Lord Nephi is able to get the plates to return to his father. One might think Hurray! Now he can rest! We know this is not the case. Later during this family's journey they find themselves somewhat helpless and starving. Nephi breaks his bow and the family wonders how they will now get food. Because of the Spirit Nephi was patient in his afflictions and trusted that the Lord would deliver him, and that He did. For 8 years Nephi and his family traveled in the wilderness eating raw meat, children were born that he tended to and cared for. It was by no means an easy journey. Finally they reach the land Bountiful that is beautiful and full of fruit yet their faith is still tried as the Lord commands Nephi to build ship so that the family can sail to the promised land because they still had not reached their destination. Nephi doesn't question the Lord but immediately asks the Lord where he can go to get the materials to make the ship. Once the ship is made and they are sailing across the sea Nephi's brothers become angry with him because of his desire to be obedient to the Lord's commandments. Nephi is tied up by his very own brothers to the ship for three days. When finally released, swollen, exhausted, and injured the beloved Nephi praises the Lord and says, "Nevertheless I did look unto my God and I did praise Him all the day long and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions." What an incredible example Nephi is to all of us. He had every reason to blame and complain, yet he stood strong in the face of adversity even if that meant at times he had to stand alone. He saw the Lord's hand and praised the Lord even and especially during times of difficulty.  

As I thought about Nephi's examples I was reminded of the Savior who was so quick to be grateful in His circumstances regardless of what was going on around Him. He was one who always returned thanks to His Father.

This last week, challenging as it may have been, I have had many opportunities to praise and thank my Heavenly Father. I praised Him when we were able to see Elfreda looking so beautiful as she entered the church building. I praised Him that although many of our plans fell through we were able to seek inspiration and direction and know where the Lord needed us. I praised Him on Sunday when I felt weak and exhausted for the strength He gave me to fast. I praised Him for the many opportunities my testimony had to be strengthened through opposition. I praised Him and will forever praise Him for the sacrifice of His only begotten Son and that because of our Savior's sacrifice we never need to walk alone. Much like Nephi and many other examples in the scriptures they had, and we have a loving Heavenly Father who hears us, a Savior who has endured anything  and everything that we will ever endure, and the precious gift of the Holy Ghost which as promised will direct us where we need to be. 

I cannot fully express to you guys how much I love serving the Lord. He is my loving Savior, my caring Brother, and my tender friend. He lives.

I hope you guys know how precious you are to Him and how much you mean to me. I sure love you will all my heart. This is His work. How grateful I am that He lets us be a part of it.

Love, Sister Mathis

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Greatest Privilege We Have is to Share the Gospel

This week has been wonderful. I have been so amazed at the power the Spirit has in this work. I am so incredibly grateful for the powerful Mission Leadership Council we had and then the opportunity to train our zone and help them to feel the Spirit in great abundance. It was such a powerful reminder to me. This is His work and it is our sacred privilege to be a part of it. This last week Sister Rogers and I experienced many tender mercies as we tried to do everything we could to fine tune ourselves to listen and watch for the promptings from the Spirit. One example was during a day that all of our plans seemed to fall through, even our dinner appointment! After looking at our plans and reevaluating where the Lord wanted us to be, we decided to go visit an elderly couple named Bob and Joy, whom we have been somewhat teaching for the last month and a half. As we got to their house Joy was sitting outside on the porch. It was the first time we had seen her in a long time so we were grateful to catch her on the front porch. That was sign number one that we were where we needed to be. When she saw us approaching she said "I was thinking about you sisters the other day and was hoping you would come by." It was a hot day so she invited us in for a glass of water. She was talking a zillion miles an hour and barely allowed us time to say anything. We knew after listening to her for awhile that our time was far spent and we weren't being very productive and normally we would need to head out, yet neither of us felt that we could leave just yet. We didn't feel we'd be able to get a word in anytime soon yet for some reason the Spirit was telling us not to leave, that our work there was not finished. Joy during one part of the conversation teared up as she talking about some of the trials her family is facing. With tear filled eyes she said, "I know I shouldn't think like this, but sometimes I wonder if God even hears and answers my prayers." As I prayed and listened to what the Spirit wanted us to do a thought came to my mind, "Give her your Book Of Mormon." I immediately shot this idea down. The Book Of Mormon I had in my bag was a very special one. For the last few months I have been reading the Book of Mormon and marking everything in reference to faith, hope, strength, and courage. I wasn't even finished marking it! How could I give it away to someone? Not to mention I had been specifically praying about various other people I could give it to and Joy was not one of them. Yet the thought came again and this time even stronger, "Give her your Book Of Mormon." Without questioning it this time I grabbed this precious book from my bag and with tear filled eyes said, "Joy, your Heavenly Father wants you to have this book and I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that if you read it you will find that your Heavenly Father has never left your side." She cried tears of joy and was so moved at the Spirit that touched her heart. Just yesterday we received a phone call from her saying she had not missed a day reading the Book Of Mormon. She has been reading it everyday! How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father who knows exactly what His children need and when they need it. 
With the Alleman Family:  One of our Favorites!!

The Sunflower Sisters
I heard a quote this week that said "the greatest privilege we have in this life is to share the gospel." How grateful I am for that privilege. It is such a beautiful day to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Never forget how much the world needs your light. We are blessed beyond compare as we seek to strengthen our relationship with the Savior of the world. I am so grateful for Him. I know He lives. May we continue to find Him in our lives and help others to do the same.

I love you guys so very much! 
 Sister  Mathis