Monday, March 27, 2017

I open at the close

**WARNING: the following email will probably be dramatic and cheesy and will contain pop-culture references to describe my feelings. #Emotions**
Welp here we are! The last p-day of the mish.

#RealTalkTime: To be completely honest with you, not much happened this week worth reporting on. For the most part, we did a whole lot of touristy things and said "see ya later" to lots of friends. I learned that the Marietta Ward actually liked me a lot more than I thought they did--my stay here was short but I genuinely REALLY enjoyed the time I spent in this ward! Some of the coolest members I've met so far are from here. Honestly, I'm really sad it was short lived. :( I will be back though!

Sister Clark was cold-sick most of the week and this caused me to be pretty home-sick most of the week because I was trapped inside with nothing but my thoughts to distract me so as you can imagine, very little was accomplished with a combo like that haha. So I will skip the rest of the details of my mundane week, and dive straight into the deep abyss of my brain and soul for my final email as a missionary. J 
THE DRAMAAAAAAAAAA…………

I’ve been dreading writing this email for the last few weeks mostly because I still don’t know what direction to take it to best express myself. HOW THE HECK do you pour out your soul and put everything you’ve ever learned for the last year and half about who God is, what He can do for you and what He requires of you, personal revelation, the pure love of Jesus Christ, what true greatness is, perspective, the Higher Law, the divine potential of the human race, repentance and sacrifice, the REAL way to happiness in this life and in the next, what it really means to become a “new creature” through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and a billion other things that have been eternally important to the salvation of my soul into a few minuscule paragraphs that probably only 3 people (you know who you are) will even read?

 “Evidently, certain thoughts of the Spirit are so lofty, so poignant, that they cannot be reduced to the oral language or written word of man. They simply defy mortal expression.”—Tad R. Callister.

So in other words, it’ll be darn-near impossible to express myself today. Maybe a Harry Potter analogy will help you see into my brain for a little bit and to get a TINY TASTE of what this experience has been like for me. (of course, I had to throw in some HP haha. I'm still Brenna, I'm just the "new and improved" Brenna :). haha) (Please excuse me for not remembering/botching all the details of the story…)

*read this with your spiritual eyes, envision the movie in your head, and think about how this could apply to Sister Lawson’s mission…it’s easy.*

In a concluding chapter of the 7th book, Harry discovers that one of the last remaining horcruxes resides within him, and he comes to the conclusion that the only way to save everyone else is to surrender himself over to Voldemort to die. In the hours leading up to his decision to make the long, solemn journey into the Forbidden Forest to his death, Harry spends time searching his soul, and has many realizations about himself—who he really is, why his life went the way it did, what he was to learn from it, and what he is to do with his life now. A beautiful moment unfolds where all the dots start to finally connect as he learns what is really most important and he sees what his purpose was all along. 

Once he had come to grips with the fact that he needed to sacrifice everything he was for something greater than himself, he willingly gave up his life for the greater good. Since pure love was his only motivator for his actions, no only was the darkness of the horcrux inside of him removed, but it also enabled him to come back that much stronger to defeat Voldemort for good. In the end, "all was well".

Okay. Cheesy, but someone please try to explain to me the level of awesomeness and sense of purpose that was probably pulsing through Harry's soul at this time. I'm pretty sure it's impossible. But that's a tiny slice of how i feel right now.

It's kind of stupid that literally the only thing I could think of that would even come close to scratching the surface of how I feel about my mission comes from a fictional story about a boy-wizard with a weird shaped scar on his forehead. Nothing really cuts it when trying to explain this. It will be eternally impossible for me to ever put into words all that my mission has done for me, taught me, made me and means to me. I will not ever be able to thank my Father in Heaven enough for allowing me to experience all that I've experienced, to learn all that I've learned and to change in the ways that I've changed. Quite literally, every single aspect of my life is going to be different from this point on and I couldn't be more grateful for that.

"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life."--Ezra Taft Benson

My friends, I will testify that this is true til the day I die.

I know without a doubt that God lives, loves me, is aware of me and is intimately involved in every single detail of my life.

I know without a doubt that He hears and answers prayers. Even the little ones.

I know without a doubt that because of Jesus Christ, who I was and who I am isn't who I have to be.

I know without a doubt that my Savior lives.

The best part about this whole mission-thing is that it doesn't end here.
This is only the beginning.

---------

For the very last time, I'm out y'all!
Sister Lawson

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

*Cue Music* IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!!!!!!

Hey guys.
Can you even believe it's the second to last P-day? What is life?

Since I'm getting so close to the end, obviously I've been spending time reflecting and thinking back over the last 18 months and everything that happened. Man, it's been fun.

The most exciting thing of the week is that our friend Lashonda got baptized!!!

Wwooooooooowwww, what a journey it's been hahaha. A lot of work went into this one from all ends!--Lashonda's end, our end, and most importantly, God's end. But she did it! :) The day was absolutely perfect--tons of people from the ward came to support, Sister Wustrow came back to see her and it really was just all around an awesome, special day.

The day before her baptism, we went to see her for some last minute prep and to get her fitted for a suit. She saw the jumpsuits and immediately said: "yeah, no that reminds me of prison." So when we whipped out the dress, she was all *black southern ATL accent* "AWWW YEAHHHH. I FEEL LIKE A PASTOR!" So that was hilarious.
She's so cool hahahaha.

As the font was filling up, me and Lashonda got to have a really cute moment together--we both looked at the font, side hugged and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she said "Thank you Jesus." And then I started to cry because I realized just how much I'm going to miss the South and their cute southern phrases hahaha. Lashonda has become a very special person to me. I don't think I've ever met someone with a bigger heart or a greater desire to do what God wants her to do. She had to work so hard and give up SOOOOO many things throughout her life to prepare her for this step, included something that was a huge part of who she is. If anything, she's taught me yet again the lesson that true love for God is sacrificing what we want for what God wants. Ah I LOVE HER.

On Wednesday, we went to ATL for my last big zone meeting of all time as a missionary. Honestly, it was one of the best I've ever been to, and had me more than excited to come home and keep growing. AH, LIFE IS SO GOOD.

Okay, guys. I think that's all I have of importance for this week. The rest of my sappy, nostalgic feelings are going to be barfed into my very. last. email. as a missionary EVER next week. are you so excited? Because I'm definitely not hahaha.
emotions are lame.

OKAY LOVE YOU, BYE!

Sister Lawson

LASHONDA!!!!!!
I'm convinced that there's no such thing as "good" baptism pictures hahaha.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The week of lasts...

Guyssss...I really don't want to write this, this week.
Please forgive me for the suckiness.
I will try anyway.

Basically, this week was just a whole bunch of "lasts". Last temple trip, last zone conference, last exchange...it was awesome. Lots of really good "lasts". :)

I had to give my departing testimony this week in front of a large group of missionaries and that was quite a strange thing. I can't believe it's actually my turn to do all this stuff. I finally got to walk the streets of Atlanta on exchanges! Mission bucket list item fulfilled. I saw homeless people, graffiti, ghetto gas stations, and lots of really humble, Jesus-lovin' folks. It was everything I ever dreamed it would be.

Other than that, life was pretty average as far as the "travel log" goes. But I had a lot of spiritual experiences that I'll have to just tell you about later when I get home! Sorryyyyyyyyyyyyy.

A talk that had a huge impact on me this week:
"Finding your Life" by D. Todd Christofferson
(supplemented by Matthew 16:25-26)
Enjoy!

Sorry guys, this is lame. 
Jesus loves you!

Sister Lawson

1. Me with Bro. Shaffer - I love that man!
2. Temple with the cute comp. :)
3. Awkwardly catching people take awkward selfies...
4. My beautiful city (Atlanta) <3

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What hat are you wearing?

I feel bad that these are getting shorter and shorter each week as I get closer to coming home but oh well. Our week was alright--lots of doctors appointments and trying to figure out what the deal was with Sister Clark. But it's okay, she's doing a lot better now! :) we are pretty much back to normal at this point.

Oh! Remember the gay woman I was teaching several weeks ago? I can't remember if I've mentioned this or not but we've started teaching her again and she seems to be on the right track this time around. We've noticed real, genuine change in her motives. The lady came to church with bronchitis yesterday for crying out loud! She just wanted to "hear the word." hahaha. life is awesome. So yeah! We are officially helping her get ready for her baptism either this weekend or the next. There are some logistical things to work out but it's gonna be the best. :) woo!

Your spiritual thought for the week is brought to you by the Marietta Ward Relief Society president: "Sometimes I think we tend to compartmentalize our lives. We put on our "wife" hat, then we switch and put on our "Church calling" hat and then before we know it we have a whole lot of hats. This week the Lord taught me that I only need one hat: Daughter. If I can do that one right, then life will be good, simple, peaceful and happy." 

Guys. This is a mentality I've tried really hard to have for the last 9 months of my mission. This is how I want to be. I don't want to have different hats. I don't want to have a "missionary" hat that I take off when I get home. I want to have my "Brenna: A daughter of God" hat on all the time. I want to just be the same person all the time trying to do her best to be like Jesus in whatever situation I'm in. So here's your challenge this week: JUST WEAR ONE HAT. MAKE YOUR LIFE SIMPLE. Be the son or daughter God wants you to be and everything will fall into place.

Terrible explanation, but hopefully you get the idea.
I LOVE YOU GUYS!
See ya in 24 days! :) (But who's counting?)

Sister Lawson

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ups and Downs

Guys. I'm seriously so tired. I'll be totally honest, I don't entirely feel like writing a weekly email right now because so much happened and it's overwhelming haha. This week was long. Not the most productive "missionary work"-wise, but definitely "sister lawson's personal progression towards becoming like Jesus"- wise which I think it's super duper important. That's what this mission thing is really all about, right?

So anyway, longL story short, we took my companion to the emergency room early Sunday morning because she was experiencing some severe pain and had passed out in the middle of the night. After a dramatic 20 minutes in the apartment, we rushed her to the hospital and she turned out to be fine. The only thing now is that she's swollen up like a balloon and has some weird kind of infection. Don't worry, we are taking care of her haha.

Obviously, there are a bunch of little details that I left out, but you get the idea. It was a very scary, high-stress weekend and I'm exhausted in every capacity right now.

Several times throughout the week, God threw me little challenges here and there to "test" me and see how I would handle it. I feel proud of myself because I think I did alright this week with handling what life threw at me. PROGRESS!  

Life is good guys.
God is good too.

Okay that's all I got for this week.
BE LIKE JESUS. Sorry this was really lame!

Sister Lawson

1. P-day fun
2. Artsy Southern Spring picture

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"WOW, ENTHUSIASM."-- everyone who meets Sister Clark

Woooooooowwww, I'm officially in my last transfer! WHAT IS LIFE???
Yesterday I started MyPlan and that was freaking weird.

Anyway.. I got a new companion and life is SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!! She rocks. Her name is Sister Clark. :)
Fun facts:
1. She's from Bountiful, UT and she's been out about a year.
2. You will not believe this -- She has 19 siblings. No joke. All from the same mom and dad. Her mother was pregnant for 21 years straight. NINETEEN SIBLINGS. #MormonsBeCray
3. She's a photographer back home!
4. She LOVES to laugh so you betcha it's a party all day, every day. :)
5. She's got more fire and excitement for missionary work than probably any missionary I've ever met. I LOVE HER ENTHUSIASM!

Wowowowowow this week was nuts.
Sister Clark and I have decided to basically white-wash the area and start all over. Most of this week was filled with spring cleaning, de-cluttering the apartment, redoing the maps and ward roster, and going around meeting as many members as possible and it's been INCREDIBLE. Marietta was in need of some major change so I'm grateful Sister Clark is here to help us start fresh! :) So, unfortunately, there isn't a ton to update you on. All the good stuff will happen once we get all these things out of the way...

So I don't know if it's the same way for other missionaries, but here we have this one area in the mission that I've ALWAYS wanted to serve in called Thomaston but have never come anywhere close to and it's caused me great distress. It's actually been on my mission-bucket list to visit this place. Well, guess what rocks? Sister Clark just came from that area and had a baptism down there this weekend, so guess who got to visit her dream area?!?!?? THIS GIRL! And it was absolutely magical. Thomaston is the epitome of podunk, southern craziness. And I loved every minute of it. I even got to meet the famous, FLAME-CROSS-TONY! He's a spiritual giant who almost every missionary in the mission has heard of. He joined the church about 7 years ago and has a flaming cross tattooed on his forehead. Oh my heck, it was incredible. hahaha. He even let me sit in his Hummer. TONY AND I ARE BFFS!!!! BE HAPPY FOR ME!

Okay, so I'm sorry that this email is really lame. I promise I'll have more to tell you next week! But yeah, I love my life and I can't wait for the last few weeks of being a missionary. :) good stuff, is gonna happen, I can feel it!
OKAY, I LOVE YOU ALL, BE GOOD AND BE LIKE JESUS AND STUFF!

Bye.

Sister Lawson

1. Selfie with Sister Abbott!
2-4. FLAME-CROSS-TONY.
5. THOMASTON
6. Oink Joint BBQ in Thomaston. :)
7. My life for the last 4 days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

We tried.

Hello friends and family!

To be completely honest and frank with you, this week was incredibly difficult. I don't have a whole lot to say about it. Just know that I am happy.

Transfers are this week and I'll be getting a new companion here in Marietta for my FINAL TRANSFER IN GEORGIA. Having change is good, especially for the last transfer. Sad to see Sister Wustrow go, it was a good run. But this will be good. :) I've also been released as a Sister Training Leader sooooooooo that means I'll be normal and get to just focus on the normal stuff for the last transfer. :) YAY

Okay on the real, I'm super sorry but this email is going to be really lame this week. I don't have much to say and I think it would be too whiny if I tried to recap it all. Just know that "we tried" and Jesus is happy that we tried this week.

Missions do some weird things to you. In the best way possible. If you would have told me 17+ months ago that my life would be in the state it is right now, I would have straight up laughed in your face. I know that everything I am, everything I have, and every aspect of my life before, now and in the future completely hinges on this mission experience. I know people say that all the time, but I really do mean it. I love my mission--every piece of it. The good, the bad, the ugly...But more importantly I love my Savior and I KNOW He lives because of my mission. LIFE IS SO GOOD.

I love you all, see ya in 6 P-days! :)

Sister Lawson

1-3. A hilarious truck we saw driving around this week.
4. Compy and Elder Maynes of the 70!
5. A cute picture i took because #Artsy. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"He is the God of 29 cent chicken!"

Wow! This week was jam-packed. So much good stuff.

First matter of business: It was brought to our attention that Alton Brown from the Food Network lives here in Marietta. We plan to convert him within the next 52 or so days (but who's counting?).

Second matter of business: I can officially say "I go home next month."

Third matter of business: while visiting some less-active folk, we rolled up to a trailer park to meet a family. Upon entering the mobile home, the 21-year-old grandson began telling us an epic tale about the pet wolf he acquired when he was 10 years old. He "rescued" it from the wild, taught it how to hunt, how to open doors, AND how to poop in the toilet. To make the story even more exciting, the wolf's fur was 100% silver (he took it to a jeweler to confirm). But one day, the wolf mysteriously died, never to be seen again. :( I really wanted to see it in real life hahaha. Needless to say, it was a very exciting visit. Haven't experienced something like that since Carrollton and it was the best thing that's ever happened to me <3

Okay now onto the REALLY important stuff:

The obvious good ones: BROTHER LECKIE GOT BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! It was one big Leckie family reunion and the spirit was strong from start to finish. I even teared up a bit, which is very rare baptism behavior for me. Definitely a special day. :)

Also, BRENDA WENT TO THE TEMPLE THIS WEEK! Wowowowowowowow the day finally came, and the gang was all back together. I got to see Sister Smith and Jimmy again, but by far the best thing was seeing Brenda again. It's still so hard to believe that she's where she's at in her life right now. When I saw her on Friday, she looked so dang happy. She's still crazy Brenda, but she was definitely happier than I've ever seen her. Our experience at the temple was......interesting to say the least haha. I'm pretty sure the Atlanta temple has never experienced someone like Brenda before so it was quite the party haha.

There were a lot of lessons I learned about prayer and personal revelation this week, but I think I'm gonna have to possibly save those for my homecoming talk haha. I'm a little bit out of time.... Sorry this is short!

BUT. Know this one thing: God is literally the orchestrator of every single detail of our lives. I know it because I witnessed it more than a few times this week. He knows you, He loves you, He wants you to be happy, and He knows the bigger picture. 

I love you all, be like Jesus this week!

I'm out,
Sister Lawson

(For reference to my title, read "The Privilege of Prayer" by Elder J. Devn Cornish from Oct. 2011 G.C....good stuff. and so applicable to this week.)


1. I was reunited with Daeqkwon this week and it was so happy <3
2-3. Brother Leckie's baptismal pictures
4. Exchanges with the Sisters
5. Brenda on her temple excursion

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

De. . . . . . . . . layed

This was just such a weird, weird week.

You know those days where you are just one step behind everyone else? or you are constantly late to everything? or you want to look cute but you can't because potato? yeah, I feel like that's been going on all week long and I'm having a hard time finding my footing for whatever reason.

For one thing, I've had the nastiest cold and cough all week long and I'm kinda over it.

Another thing is we had some major car problems (shoutout to March 2016 with Sister Howell and Daeqkwon...RIP) that took much longer than they were originally supposed to. Being a missionary without a car is the absolute suckiest thing of all time because A) you get stranded way too many times and B) members really hate helping the missionaries when they need it the most, and C) I hate depending on other people in general haha. A mission has taught me that wonderful lesson--if you don't do it yourself, it won't get done. (But at the same time, Ether 12:27 @ everyone and let people fix their weaknesses). 

The struggle, man.

I don't really know exactly what to touch on this week. Satan just kinda jumped in and bashed a hammer onto everything about life for one reason or another. Dramatic. But I guess the good news is that I handled these kinks in the plans a whole lot better this time around than I have in the past! :) I was more patient, peaceful, and understanding. Not perfect, but definitely better than I was in the past. PROGRESS. #DoctrineOfChrist #TooBlessedToBeSkressed

Our 77-year-old friend Brother Leckie is still adorable and still ready to be baptized this weekend! *cue music* MIRACLES HAPPEN ONCE IN A WHILE!! Pictures will come next week. :)

OH! This was a really weird/cool thing that happened:
We went to have a lesson with a guy named G that we had met a few weeks ago while knocking on our favorite apartment complex. He walked up the stairs from a long trip at the exact moment we were about to knock on his door. So obviously, that was awkward and we had to talk to him. He said he had a Mormon friend, but the longer we talked to him, the more apparent it became that that "friend" was not just a "friend", but actually a "really friendly friend". AKA very serious girlfriend that he wants to marry, but he's conflicted with because they don't have the same religious beliefs/desires. He's a SUPER spiritual, Godly dude so we set up a time to come back and see him AND his girlfriend. 

Friday night, we show up and the girlfriend Erin starts talking suuuuuper Mormon-y and inside, we were like "G, why the heck aren't you baptized yet". Then Erin goes off about her MISSION and we were like "WHAT IS LYYFEEEE". Turns out her parents were mission presidents, all 8 of her siblings served missions, and she served herself in Japan almost 15 years ago, but she's kinda fallen off the beaten path and is finding her way back on. The lesson was filled with the Spirit, but unfortunately G is very hard-hearted right now and thinks that the only thing that should matter is the relationship with God, not the religion. Gahhhhhh I'm so over that^^ argument hahaha.

I'm still trying to figure out what the major lesson was that I learned from my experiences this week but nothing has been pieced together all that much yet. I'm sure it'll come later today. Just a whole lotta random and a whole lotta nothin. So sadly, I don't have a "spiritual" thing to talk about at the moment. Plus I'm pretty out of time and need to be done I think.

Despite the craziness, I'm still happy.

Oh, did I mention I have 2 more months left TODAY??? What is life, right?

Be good, love Jesus and serve others, y'all. 
I LOVE YA.

Sister Lawson

1. BROTHER LECKIE
2. Ignore my hot-mess hair (it was one of those long days), and hot-mess-sick face, and acknowledge how happy this sushi definitely made me.
3. New Beginnings! If the Lord could make my calling be in the Young Women's for the rest of my life, I would be super happy.
4. #TheSouth

Monday, January 23, 2017

The weekly...

Hello friends and family!
Marietta is still kickin' it.

I'll start with a few fun stories:
1. For some reason, I've completely neglected to tell you all about a huge miracle in the making. There's a man we've been teaching since the second day I got here named Brother Leckie. His wife is a member and she's been praying for 40 years for her husband to join the church. One day he just decided he was ready for one reason or another to join. So he'll be getting baptized on February 4th! :) prayers are answered my friends.

2. Remember the woman I talked about last week? Sad day. We went for a lesson this week and she seemed SUPER down in the dumps but no matter how hard we tried, she wouldn't open up to us about it. There was a different spirit in her home that day. She was also very upset that we had to push her baptism date back a couple of weeks. The next day she texted us saying that she had called our RS president to ask for help to pay for a bill and was told that they weren't sure how much they'd be able to help her because she wasn't yet a member and they get calls about that kind of thing all the time. She said to us "Ya know, I'm gonna pray about it but I'm just not sure this is the church for me." When we got that text, everything just started to make sense about what had been going down for the last couple of weeks and we saw that her heart and intentions really weren't in the right place to begin with. But at the same time. Bummer!

3. We road-tripped to ATL for zone training and pit stopped at some famous drive-thru restaurant called "The Varsity". People talked this place up so much but it was super over rated. Disappointing.

4. We had stake conference this weekend and have I mentioned that Jermaine Sullivan from "Meet the Mormons" is currently my stake president? Yeah, super crazy. His wife gave me a hug this week. What is life?
--------------
The spiritual thought this week is brought to you by 2 Nephi 9 and thoughts I've been having as of late:
 24 And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned...
27 But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
28 O that cunning plan of the evil one!...When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

Let's focus on the 3 underlined words:
-Damned
-Wasteth
-Cunning plan

"Damned": When you boil it all down, the word "damned" really just means to have the progress of something stopped...for example, the free-flowing waters of a river are held back by a dam creating a reservoir of stagnant water. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that river that is meant to be flowing constantly in our lives--it is a never ending cycle of change and progress through having faith in God and His plan, repenting in an effort to be better, remembering the covenants we have made to become more like God and the Savior, "yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" which purify and transform us into "saints" (Mosiah 3:19) and repeating the cycle over and over again throughout the remainder of our lives.
An example of being damned in this sense that came to mind was Adam and Eve prior to partaking of the fruit.
2 Nephi 2: 22-23
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 ...wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
"Wasteth": The scriptures tell us that this mortal life is a time to "prepare to meet God, yea a day to perform our labors" (Alma 12:24, 34:32). We perform our labors by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, which, if done right, inevitably results in progress. If there's no progress in ourselves towards becoming more like the Savior, it's a waste of our time spent here on earth. We will know no joy, and will have no opportunity to achieve immortality and eternal life, much like Adam & Eve prior to partaking of the fruit. It's also interesting to note that with no opportunity for us to achieve immortality and eternal life, God's work and glory, as found in Moses 1:39 would become void. Without work and glory to achieve, God would cease to be God.
"Cunning plan": Satan really is a smart guy. He makes it really easy for us to think that we don't need to change and don't need to progress.
"I've got a Bible, I'm good."
"I was baptized as a child, I'm done now."
"I already prayed this week, please go away."--Responses I've heard in the South for the last 16 months.

Think about what the world would be like if we only had the color blue. The sky is brilliant blue, the ocean a deep blue, the flowers in the fields are a soft blue, Sister Lawson's eyes are blue...The world would still be a pretty dang beautiful place, even if all we had was the color blue. But what if I was to add all the other colors of the spectrum? Green, purple, red, yellow, orange...all of those together would create something THAT much more beautiful than what you had before, but you wouldn't know it if you'd never reached out to ask for the other colors. You would see the world through a whole new set of eyes and it would only get more and more magnificent every day as new colors were added to your spectrum.

We as Latter-Day saints, do this all the time. We are completely okay with only having the color blue.
"I've done my Visiting Teaching for the month, I'm done serving now."
"I finished Personal Progress when I was 13, I can take a break."
"I served a mission once, I am done growing."
O THAT CUNNING PLAN OF THE EVIL ONE!
Right before coming on a mission, I thought I was a pretty decent person. I tried to be nice, tried to serve, tried to study the scriptures and pray every day, etc. My expectations in coming on a mission wasn't necessarily to become a BETTER person because I thought I was fine right where I was at. I thought this mission thing would teach me how to work hard and be a better mom and that I'd simply get to help people be happy like I was. I had the color blue--every shade of it possible.
But since coming out and serving for the last 16 months, God has added a few more colors to the blue I already had. Orange, green, purple...Each just as wonderful as the next.
I've learned how to ask my questions to God and get answers.
I've learned that God is ALWAYS speaking to me if I listen.
I've learned that the Book of Mormon is the literal word of God and that abiding by it's teachings truly does guide us in every aspect of our lives.
I've learned that to truly become like God at the end of it all, we must study His attributes and actively try to attain them ourselves here in this life.
I've learned how to access the Atonement by giving my weaknesses to the Lord and letting Him make them strengths.
I've learned that love really is sacrifice.
I've learned that the service that counts the most is recognized by God alone.
I've learned that if you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.
I've learned what 'pure religion' is. (James 1:27)
I've learned that true discipleship is doing the right things for the right reasons.
Just to name a few, plus a hundred thousand more things God has taught me here in Georgia. Each is it's own beautiful color in my spectrum of life. The wonderful thing about the Gospel is that the progress never stops. No matter how many colors you already have in the rainbow, there are that many more waiting for you to go get them, be it chartreuse, heliotrope, ultramarine and every other color in between that hasn't been discovered yet.

Life is good, my friends.

Until next time,
Sister Lawson

PS--if you're looking for something to describe what I've been surrounded by my whole mission, watch the video "If your GPS was Southern" on Youtube and that should give you an idea.

Pictures will come next week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Marry me, Marietta...

Hello everyone!

It was yet another great week in Marietta!

But first, before I forget:
How many of you out there remember my girl Sister C and Franklin from wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back almost a year ago in Snellville? (Probably only my mom because she's the only one who actually reads these things anymore.)
They are my celeb couple. #Franklin&SisterC5ever I have the most amazing news: FRANKLIN GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY. After calling Sister C to get the monthly catch up about her happy wonderful life and she informed me that he got baptized and I literally dropped the phone because I was so excited. FRUITS OF LABORS, MAN.

Anyway....
So I am coming to find out that Marietta is actually also the promised land..(still love you Carrollton).There are a lot of super cool people here ready to hear about the gospel which is exciting!

To start, last week I mentioned our homosexual investigator. At the beginning of the week, we got a team up and headed over there to teach her the law of chastity. Each of us was so nervous because we really didn't know how she was gonna take it and none of us had any experience at all with a situation like this and we had no clue what to say. There were a lot of prayers and a lot of preparation going into this lesson and right before, the 3 of us just had peace and knew it was going to all work out. As we began to teach, it was incredibly awkward and didn't flow and we were having a really hard time getting the spirit to be there in the lesson. As we turned the pages in the pamphlet, an interesting thing happened when we got to the section about how to keep the law of chastity. The pamphlet mentions replacing 'undesirable thoughts, words and actions with wholesome ones.' and as our investigator read that sentence, the spirit flooded the room and she began to cry. She told us about a long term relationship she'd been in that ended about a month ago. The days were long and emotionally difficult for her and she had just wanted to wake up in the morning feeling true joy instead of putting on a 'facade' of being happy when on the inside she was torn apart. But then she told us that since coming to the church, reading the Book of Mormon, and studying with the missionaries, those 'undesirable' emotions had been replaced with 'wholesome' ones of peace and joy despite the difficult circumstance she faces. She knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was the answer! Her desire to live that old life has faded away and she told us she would gladly live the law of chastity because she knows it's what Christ wants her to do. 

As we left the appointment, the 3 of us had a party in the car because we were so happy that everything worked out the way it did.

On Saturday, we spent the day in Atlanta at a service project and then we got to go to the Temple with Sister Wustrow's recent convert Dietrich who is a straight-up G. Totally my homie. He had such an awesome experience (because duh, it's the temple) and so did I because guess what! When we pulled up, the entire youth group of the Carrollton ward pulled up at the same time to go do baptisms for the dead and I got to see all my old friends again! Tender mercies, man.

There were several other experiences that happened this week where God showed me how much He loved me and all His other children. I know that's one of those super simple, cliche, overused phrases that missionaries always talk about in their letters home, but for reals man, I know it's true. He loves me, He loves you, He loves EVERYONE. 

Life is good.
Oh, did I mention that I have 10 P-days left?

I'M OUT.

Sister Lawson

1. One time the elders took Dietrich out on a team up and they rolled up in this sick sled. 
2. She was really excited to take a picture with the fire truck.
3. P-day morning hike!
4. THIS CHURCH IS NASTY HUGE.
5-7. Temple time. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

# DaHood....

Welp sorry I'm the worst and this is the first actual email I've written in about 2 weeks!

A little about MARIETTA:
1. It's about 20 minutes outside of downtown Atlanta and super different from anywhere else I've been.
2. Constantly smells like weed.
3. There are apartments EVERYWHERE. I'm convinced that no one here even lives in a house, because there are so many apartments.

A little about my comp:
-Sister Wustrow (German, so pronounced "voo-strow")
-She's 25 and from Namibia (down there by South Africa)
-Already has a degree in Accounting...DANG
-Way hard-working and exactly what I need for the last 2 transfers I have left on a mission!

Random: Today I've been out for 16 months exactly. Life is so weird.

A few fun stories from this week:

1. There was MASSIVE (and by massive, I definitely mean not massive at all) snow and ice this week. For Atlanta, ice and snow is a big deal because they don't really know how to deal with it and don't have the equipment to take care of it. So the whole city shut down and we were trapped in our apartment for a good little while. Not fun :( Church was cancelled on Sunday, BUT! We got to go to a YSA in downtown ATL that was open and after prying the ice shell off our car for almost an hour, we made it to church JUST to partake of the sacrament. That's a story I'll remember for the rest of my life I think!

2. As we were walking up the stairs of an apartment complex, a man approached us, while we talked with him, Sister Wustrow says "Sir, you smell REALLY nice!" (she's foreign and doesn't realize that's weird). He started laughing and I was just like "OHHH MY GOSH!" and he looked at me and said "You know what that smell is right?" and I was like "ohhh yes..." and he's like "Should I tell her?"...."be my guest."......"Yo, it's weed. and some %$^& GOOD weed " and I just busted up laughing hahaha. The moment he walked up, I knew the smell. Soooo to break up the awkwardness, we said a prayer with this high-as-a-kite man and went on our way. :) life is weird.

3. Our most progressing investigator right now is a gay-woman who has been to prison but has re-shaped her life the last 10 years and wants to follow Jesus! Soooooooo it's quite the adventure but I'm excited to see where it goes because it's a totally new challenge.

Sorry, I don't really have much else to say I guess.
I for sure have been able to see that God really is in every single detail of our lives this week though. I know I'm in Marietta for a reason at this time and I'm determined to figure it out!

LIFE IS GOOD Y'ALL, SEE YA IN 3!

Sister Lawson

1. Last lesson with Ariel!
2 Compy and I are excited about the snow.
3. Any way to get the message out. (Mormon.org)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Please forgive me.

Okay, I really stink and REALLY didn't use my time wisely at all today. PLEASE FORGIVE ME. Good thing that nothing too exciting happened anyway.

The most important news is that tomorrow I'll be transferred and will be doing that STL thing again. 3 MORE MONTHS GUYS. Can you believe it?

Soooooo......stay tuned for some good adventure stories next week instead. :)

PEACE OUT YO!

Sister lawson

1. He really didn't want us to come by...
2. Shoutout to the Pfaus for being my faves!
3. My weird district.
4. Last pic with "The Crew"!
5. I haven't bowled in 16+ months....not a good idea.