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:
-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."
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!

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