Wow. I cant even express how strange it feels to know I am currently writing my last email home as a full time missionary. I honestly truly did not expect this day to come so fast, but here it is. This past 18 months has been beyond words the greatest 18 months of my entire life. I will do my best to summarize things I have learned, ways I have grown, people that have changed my life, and the testimony that has shaped my mission and will from here on out shape my life. In this last year and a half more than any other I have felt cut down, rejected, ridiculed. unpopular, hurt, disappointed, and weak to name a few things. But at the same time, in this year and a half more than any other I have felt strengthened, supported, loved, taken care of, watched over, served, hopeful, powerful, sanctified, built up, spiritually in tune, and full of love. I have had moments where I cry out as did Nephi in 2 Nephi 4. 16 my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. 19...I know in whom I have trusted. 20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. 21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I have had moments where I feel as did Alma in Alma 26 11 I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 13 how many of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of His word which is in us? 15 they were encircled about with darkness and destruction; but behold he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of His love;...and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work. 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name. 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, And I have definitely had many moments where I have seen ether 12:27 apply both for me and for investigators. 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 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 become strong unto them. I know that the mission and the lessons I have learned out here will apply to the rest of my life. There have been quite a few focuses in my mission that President Drake has emphasized throughout my time here. One of the biggest ones that impacted me are just 3 words that he would say and talk about whenever we saw him. Empathize. Visualize. Edify. This is the role of each of us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our role is to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees, by doing what Christ did- we can't understand everyone perfectly like He can, but we can do our best to put ourselves in their shoes and find what will help them feel God's love. As far as having a vision I am always drawn back to the scripture in Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish". Throughout my mission I have learned a lot about goal setting, about working with the end in mind, about establishing plans and how to be committed to them, etc. I know that this is how I will progress in my own life personally and how I will be able to help others progress. And lastly to edify. For me, this means to always build up those around us. To strengthen them with our testimony, our service, and our love. I know that everyone around me is a child of God, placed in my path for a reason, and my job is to lift them up! Especially right now as a full time teacher, my job was to bring the Spirit into people's lives so they could be edified by His influence, and show them ways to keep that influence with them! Another thing that my mission president and his wife would talk about is our "Mo Glow" or Mormon Glow. This glow is the light of Christ that shines in our eyes. Light is a real thing, and it causes a stark contrast with all the darkness that is all around in this world. But people will notice a difference in us, a glow, this light of Christ, and when they see it, it's an opportunity for us to testify of the Light of our lives, our Savior Jesus Christ. I have met so many people in my mission that have completely changed me for the better. One of these people is my first bishop, Obispo Morales. He would say all the time, "Miracles happen every day. If you don't believe me or can't see them, open your eyes." I feel like on my mission I have had my eyes so opened to so many of God's miracles. The biggest miracles of all were the people that I met whose lives COMPLETELY changed when they caught hold of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people experienced a change similar to Alma the Younger, who said, "as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. 18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. This year more than any other I have come to know my Savior Jesus Christ. I feel I have come to know just a little bit of what Christ feels, and been able to see people as He sees them and feel their potential. I have felt grief when people fall, and felt I can share a bit of his agony at their pain from sin. I have come to understand what it means for me to repent, to forsake sin and not feel that pain anymore. I know what it means to start over and learned that you don't have to wait until some grand moment when you repent of everything you ever done. Repentance should be an every day process- to make the adjustments you need to in order to be in line with what Heavenly Father wants you to be. If you've made a mistake today, correct it and don't make the same mistake tomorrow. "There is never a day in any mans life when repentance is not essential to his eternal progression." I have come to know that He truly is my Brother. He knows and understands me and wants to help me. I could not even count how many times I have desperately needed comfort and it has come, or needed to be lifted and He has brought me up, or needed strength and He gave it to me. I know without a single doubt that he is there. This year more than any other I have felt Gods Spirit. I have felt it's gentle guidance, telling me where to go or who to talk to. I have felt it's burning power inside my soul as I have studied, shared my testimony, and heard His truth. I have seen it work changes in other people's lives as they feel it for the first time. I have been comforted in more occasions than I could count. I know that the Spirit is what brings about conversion in the lives of those we teach, and that through the power of the Holy Ghost, every single one of us is able to know the truthfulness of the gospel. In this year more than any other I have learned the value of the scriptures. Our mission studied the Book of Mormon together and I have always loved the Book of Mormon, but I feel now I have come to absolutely adore it. I learned SO much as I studied this year, and I am so grateful that we have this book of scripture along with the Bible to teach us Gods plan, teach us the truths of the gospel, and to testify of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon has helped me to draw closer to God, and that through studying it, pondering over it, and praying about it, I have come to know even stronger that this Book is the word of God. I have prayed with questions, both for me and for investigators, and have found answers. I have received comfort and strength from verses that stood out to me in ways they never have. I have been able to testify to people from the bottom of my heart that this book has changed my life and it absolutely has. There is a promise made by Ezra Taft Benson that says, "There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your life the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path. The scriptures are called the words of life and nowhere is that more true than the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance". I have seen that to be so true. I could talk about the Book of Mormon all day (and for 18 months have gotten the chance to) and I know that continual study of it will always result in personal revelation, no matter how many times you have previously read it! In this year I learned what love is. I thought I understood love before I came out on a mission, but this year I learned that to truly love people, you have to sacrifice for them, walk a ways in their shoes, pray for them, spend time with them, understand them, listen intently to them, focus on their needs and try your best to fulfill them, laugh with them, watch them smile, and see them the way God sees them. I know that love is what motivates us to serve and teach others- if we love them and truly desire what's best for them, we will do everything it takes to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message that they need in order to gain salvation! Speaking of that, I have felt more and more that my purpose as a missionary has become internalized. The more I think about it the more I realize how important missionary work is!! NO UNCLEAN THING CAN DWELL WITH GOD and THE WAY TO BE CLEAN IS BY BEING BAPTIZED Every person I meet is a child of God, and they don't know the path. God extends the invitation all through the scriptures, come unto me and be saved. Come to me and be healed, come to me and be cleansed from sins. Our purpose is to invite others to COME UNTO CHRIST because we know the path. We know that to come unto Christ means to receive His restored gospel, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized by someone who has God's authority, by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and by enduring to the end. I know this, and the more I understand it, the more I realize that missionary work is a frantic effort to bring people salvation and accomplish Gods work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. In this year and a half, I learned what it means to be a child of God, and not just me, but every single person around me. I learned that I am a glorious being, I am a daughter of an all knowing, all powerful Father in Heaven, that possesses every attribute that He has-- and I learned how important it is for me to continue to develop those attributes more and more in order to become like Him- in order to fulfill my divine potential. I have felt Him shape me, and I have felt Him stretch me, and I have felt Him guide me, and I know that every experience I have had is because He loves me and wants me to reach my potential. I learned in this year that God's plan of Salvation is real. Towards the end of last year my grandpa Rogers passed away and that was extremely difficult for me. My heart broke, and I felt depressed thinking about how I would not see him again. But I spent countless amounts of time on my knees, praying to Heavenly Father, and even more time studying the scriptures and words of prophets of God until I understood what Gods plan of happiness means to me. I know without a doubt that I will see my grandpa again, although not in this life. I KNOW that Gods plan makes it possible for families to be together forever and I am grateful that mine has been sealed in the temples of the Lord. I know that because of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, each one of us can be resurrected and live again. Gods whole purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children, and I know that His plan is the way He has made that possible. I felt so much comfort in that time, I felt that my grandpa was close with me, and that the promise in John 14:18 "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you" was constantly being fulfilled in my life. In this year I learned what it means to serve. In the branch and wards I have worked in, I have seen countless examples of service. I realized what it means to give of yourself, whatever you have, in order to further Gods work. The members I have been blessed to serve around have without a doubt completely changed my life. When you serve, it fills you with a love you can't feel in any other way. I know that service is one way we can become more like our Savior. He was always attentive and aware of others needs, showed compassion, didn't pick and choose who he would help, wasn't concerned about Himself, and lifted everyone in His path. I know that we should be more like that. The service of others has blessed me so much, and the example of my Savior has impacted me, and I want to emulate His example of service for the rest of my life. There is a quote from a talk I love called "As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten". It says, The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts--what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts--what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.” Dallin H Oaks I know this applies to me as I come to the end of my mission. I hope that the person I have become is who God wants me to be. I know that for the rest of my life the gospel will continue to transform me as it has in the last 18 months, and I know that the mission has made such a huge impact on my conversion. Lives change when you open your mouth and share the gospel. Lives change when you open your heart and share Jesus Christ's love. Lives change when you open your eyes to see Gods hand in everything. The gospel is SO true. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that He is our Savior and Redeemer and that He is directing His restored church here on the earth today. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that today we have a prophet named Thomas S Monson to lead and guide us and share what Gods will is for us. I know that faith, repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost as our constant companion is the way that each of us will return to live with Heavenly Father again. I know that this is the truth and I am so grateful for this knowledge! Even though shortly my full time service as a missionary will come to a close, I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ and I will never stop serving Him. This has been the greatest opportunity of my entire life and I will forever be grateful for my mission. I love this place with my whole heart. Hope you all have a great week! Thank you for all the love and support this past 18 months! Love you tons! Hermana Rogers
Monday, January 11, 2016
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Hello family and friends!! Happy new year! :)
This week was awesome!
I cannot believe it is already 2016. This year went by way too fast! One year ago I was still in my first area with Hermana Perez my trainer, and Hermana Stiles! Time has literally flown.
This past week, we saw Alejandro, Pedro, Armando, Josue and Antonio a ton!
Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with Alejandro! He is the 16 year old that came a couple months ago from Cuba. So this kid is amazing! We found out that when he was in Cuba he had these friends that were members and they told him all about the church, gave him a Book of Mormon, and brought him with them a bunch of times! He asked his mom how long he had been "talking with Mormons" and going to church, and she said like a year or a year and a half!! As we were with him, we talked to him about the Restoration, and the whole time he was impressing us so much with his knowledge! Every time we asked him a question he gave the perfect answers! For example when we asked what he would do if there was a prophet on earth today, he said, "well first, I would find out if he was a true prophet because the Bible says that there will be false prophets. But if I found out that he was a true prophet, I would follow him!" So we kept talking and when we got to the First Vision, we recited Joseph Smiths own words and had him think about how he could apply it to himself, and he was in awe afterwards just trying to explain how he felt. We asked if he believed it, and he said he did, he knew it could happen! So then we talked about the Book of Mormon. We showed it to him and he said, "Oh I've read that!" We thought maybe a couple chapters or a few verses...."I only had about 30 pages left until I got to the end. But then my friend that was Mormon moved away". Whaaaa?! So awesome! So we gave him a Book of Mormon and he seemed so excited about it! That was an awesome lesson, and huge miracle! :) After the lesson, we stayed talking to his family, and his mom started telling us about how they got here and their entire journey was SUCH a miracle!! They know that God was protecting them and guiding them here, and Hermana Conrad and I kept telling them that it was definitely for a purpose. Alejandro was telling us time after time in his life where he almost died, but by some miracle he survived all those experiences. IT WAS TO RECEIVE THE RESTORED GOSPEL!
He texted us after that lesson and said, "I am so grateful to God that I have met you. He always brings me more brothers and sisters that help me have more knowledge and be more strong. This is your house, it's a pleasure talking to you! God bless you and I hope you can come back soon!"
This week we also met with Armando and Josue multiple times! They are also doing awesome :) So with them we had assigned a chapter in the Book of Mormon that would answer one of their questions that they had. They studied it, and we studied it at home then talked about it with them. It always amazes me what the Book of Mormon can do to answer questions!! We had a lesson with them where we talked about their concerns and how the Book of Mormon can answer them!
Another lesson with them, Hermana Conrad stopped by when we were on splits, and Josue told her he wants to be baptized on the 16th!
So the next lesson we had with them, we talked about faith and they shared so many experiences they have had that have strengthened their faith! Their testimonies of God were so strong, and it was a lesson that they really applied to themselves. We talked about how faith leads them to action, and to take those steps of faith like baptism! I went and taught them on exchanges with Hermana Robles and she is a convert!!! So she shared her testimony and her conversion story and it was SO powerful!!! It seemed to really impact Josue and Armando.
The next lesson we had with them we talked about repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost! We tried to spend a lot of time in the Book of Mormon teaching them. Josue asked us what a covenant was, so we spent some time explaining it. As we were talking, Armando said that he wanted to make a covenant to Jesus...we didn't really know where he was going with that, but then he told us that he was covenanting to come to church for the next 3 or 4 weeks and then tell us what day he wants to be baptized! So there's that! But the lessons with them were really powerful. We would share our testimonies and as we asked what they thought, they would always express some profound insight and came up with a lot of personal applications! They both know that Heavenly Father is telling them to be baptized, and they talked about that a lot.
Antonio is doing good still! He notices the difference when he reads and prays and when he doesn't, so we are just trying to help him understand why he wouldn't put off baptism! He has seen so many blessings from keeping the word of wisdom and studying and praying, and also says he will get baptized, he just doesn't know when!
And last but certainly not least, Pedro :) I went out to Lake Charles with Angela- the recent convert YSA member that just turned in her mission papers!! Her and Heather help us out so much -- Heather is leaving January 18th for her mission to Brazil, and Angela is waiting for her call! :) Anyways, we went out to Lake Charles and Pedro chose his baptismal date! He said that he wants to be baptized the 16th of January!!! He said the only thing he doesn't know is whether he wants to be baptized in Lake Charles or in Beaumont. So we will see what he decides, but we are SO happy! :) Pedro came to church on Sunday and was talking to all the members, he fits right in in the branch! :) He is so awesome when he comes to church he pulls out his bible, Book of Mormon, gospel principles book, scratch paper for notes, etc. he is amazing.
And it's now a new year! Time to reflect on the year that just passed and set goals for the upcoming year. I for one am so so grateful for everything I have experienced in this last year. I could not even begin to put into words!
I wrote these thoughts down in testimony meeting, they are in Spanish and I don't have time to translate them to English hah but mostly I am so grateful!
En mi misión, yo he visto que la influencia de El, y al aprender acerca de Su vida, nos cambia la vida.
He visto ejemplos de vidas en oscuridad, que se iluminan completamente cuando aprendan que Jesucristo les ama.
Al pasar un año y medio en el servicio de El, he visto ejemplos innumerables de personas quienes han desarrollado Sus atributos en sus vidas.
La meta más grande que quiero yo alcanzar es para llegar a ser como Jesucristo. Quiero que las personas que me conozcan tengan el deseo de conocer a su Salvador. Quiero que la gente me miren a mí y que puedan ver una luz-la luz de Cristo.
Quiero que la gente que me escuchen sientan el espíritu y que escuchen las palabras de Cristo. Quiero que las hechos que hago en mi vida sean según la voluntad de mi Padre Celestial.
Puedo testificar del poder del Espíritu Santo, especialmente cuando ya seamos bautizados para recibirlo como nuestro compañero constantemente. Sé que esta es una gran gran bendición. El espíritu nos guíe, nos protege, nos advierte. Nos santifica, nos testifica de la verdad.
Ya pronto no seré misionera de tiempo completo, y me duele mi corazón pensar en esto, en quitar mi placa. Pero siento tan agradecida por el conocimiento que he recibido, las experiencias que he tenido, las personas que he conocido, el amor que he sentido, y el testimonio mío que ha crecido.
I love you all so much. Thanks so much for your continuous support and examples. I hope y'all have a good week! Enjoy the snow :)
Happy New Year :)