Monday, June 2, 2014

African Food


On Saturday we were treated to two very humble and lovely African meals right in a row. Esther, our investigator had invited us over for lunch and afterwards we visited E who said "I knew you guys would come today so I made lunch!" Of course we ate both meals and were very grateful. It was a whole lot of rice in one day and I even ate chicken at Esther’s and... after poking around at something on my plate at E's, I kindly asked what kind of meat it was... She replied "kidney" and Sister Emi said "from what animal?" ... Yes. We ate cow kidney. We decided after that to never ask but to just eat. :) 
I always love our visits with Esther. I love the stories that she tells and her testimony that she has of God and the Savior. She told us a story of when she was a young mom in the Congo. Her little boy (who is now 17 and is still in Africa), came up to her and said "mommy, where is Jesus? You said that he was going to save us... where is he? I want to go play outside but if I go out there, I will be shot!" Esther looked at outside and back at her son and said, "Be patient. He's coming." 
There seemed to be a common theme with the people we taught this week. It was a week where I really noticed that others trials are bigger than mine. Incomparable really. One lesson after the other I just kept thinking... "I do not even know what to say to these people! I cannot even come close to comparing my situations with theirs..." And the truth is... I really can't. But I wasn't sent here to Sweden so that my trials and struggles could relate and help the person who is addicted to drugs, whose husband is abusive, whose family is stuck in a war. BUT, I do carry a message. A message that can heal the broken heart. A message that teaches us that everything will be okay. That there is a purpose as to why we are here! That there is light at the end of the tunnel! That there is someone we can turn to, to get rid of pain and sorrow. 
meal number 2
A scripture came to mind as I sat listening to these people... 
“Believe in Christ and be reconciled to God: For we know that it is by GRACE that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

And I would add that we might know what source to look for to find hope, peace, and comfort. Too many of us often forget that if we do all we can do, we will be saved. We will find that place of solace that we have been searching for. I have learned on my mission that in times of trial, we often turn inward. We start degrading ourselves. We think we are stupid and inadequate. I saw this distinctly five times this week. The first was with a less active. I went home after our lesson with her thinking of everything that I have ever learned so that we could go back and teach a lesson that would build her up and change the ways she viewed herself. We went back two days later to teach the lesson... Which is a lesson that we ended up teaching four times more that week although we weren't planning on it. 
bacon or ham cheese in a tube anyone?
We got out some paper and on one side I asked for all of us to write down all of our weaknesses or things that we didn't like about ourselves. We then turned the paper over and wrote down all of our strengths or talents. The common theme with all of these lessons was that it was so much easier for everyone to write down their weaknesses than their strengths. I had us go around and each read one of our weaknesses and then one of our strengths. It was really hard for them to do this. 

We read Ether 12:27- "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things strong unto them." 

I testified to them that it is part of our human nature to have weaknesses! These weaknesses should not belittle us or make us feel bad about ourselves- the way we look or who we are. They are to HELP us! They are to help us so that we can always work on becoming more like our Savior. It made me so sad to hear each of these people say such horrible things about themselves, and I knew that if I felt this way, than God did too. 
place we had fika today
I got the idea to do that lesson from when I was in Halmstad. I remember watching Sister Hosenfeld draw herself on a piece of paper. On the inside of her body she wrote down all of her weaknesses or things that she doesn't like about herself. Then, she cut out little pieces of paper and taped them like a flap over each of the words and on top she wrote all of her strengths and talents. I asked her what she was doing and she showed me. She said, "I had the idea to do this because each of us has weaknesses and things that we are not good at but those are not the things that Heavenly Father sees when he looks at us. He sees our potential. He sees the good in us." 
I loved that lesson. I shared that story to some of the people we taught this week. God thinks that we are ENOUGH! Just the way we are. Of course we are imperfect- but we all have the opportunity to change through the grace, love, and mercy of Christ. In a talk that Sis. Emi read this week, she shared with me that the reason we fall is because of pride. It also said that comparison is a form of pride. We ALL need to stop comparing ourselves. 
I know that I always quote Sister Newell but in our last Sisters Conference, she said "comparison is the thief of joy." When we compare our lives to others when we try to become someone that we are not, we are always going to fail! Because we are not intended to be anyone else. That was Satan’s plan. There is so much sadness in the world- so many think that because of this there is no God. Our challenge as Latter Day Saints is to show the world that there is a God and that there is still happiness and joy in this life. It is found through the knowledge of our Savior. We can be an example of His light. We can learn to love ourselves and try to overcome our weaknesses so that we can return home to God and live in an eternal rest and state of joy. 
This week I am taking on many challenges. A challenge from Esther to not pray about my needs but to pray only for others needs and gratitude. A challenge from the Elders (which actually started last week). . . It is called the push-up challenge - last week we did 25 everyday, this week is 50 everyday, next week 75, and the fourth week 100. A challenge that we made with all of the people that we taught the weakness lesson to, to accept all complements and to only speak positively about ourselves. And a challenge that Papa wrote to me in a letter four years ago which still stays on my bed-side table, "The challenge in life is to be the best person you can be. I love a challenge. Do likewise." :) 
As we drove forty minutes to Vingåker this last week, I was enjoying looking at all of the clouds and the huge green fields that go for miles and miles with red little barn houses scattered all over. It was beautiful. Then I noticed the girl in front of me stare at her phone the ENTIRE drive. She went from instagram, to texting, to facebook, to snapchat over and over again! I didn't judge her because I know that was me when I was home, but I was about to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to look out the window! I refrained.
I love you my dear family! Happy Birthday HENRY! You are 19. what. Have fun in Lake Powell this week! OH YA: This week we had so much fun with the work. We contacted a drunk guy in his underwear (seems to be a normal happenstance) and he told us he believes in a Hockey God... hahaha ALSO- we were not paying attention to numbers and we were so blessed to contact 101 people in this tiny town, get 3 new investigators- two of which came to church! We had 18 wonderful lessons, got five new numbers, and also had three less actives in church! WE ARE SO BLESSED! I LOOOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

favorite pony award

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