Dear President Hanks,
I can’t even come up with the right words to express how much I trust and love my Savior and my Father in Heaven and the gentle, yet powerful way in which they teach me how to become the best version of myself which they intend for me to be which is more like my Savior.
Right now, my companion and I have received inspiration for how we can help the branch members who are suffering from not having the spirit in their homes as much as they need to be as happy as the Lord knows they can be and wants them to be. Last night during our planning, we had this wonderful, spirit lead conversation about how we can help these precious, wonderful members and their families so that we can all then “go forth” and spread and share the gospel TOGETHER!!!!
Yesterday in our sacrament meeting, I gave a talk on member missionary work. I started by trying to capture their attention by sharing an experience which my mom sent to me (which I sent to you) in which she related my home ward’s winter trek experience. My mom explained how difficult the circumstances became when things didn’t go as planned and they quickly became potentially dangerous, making this “winter trek” more like any mock pioneer activity my family had ever been apart of. The youth from my home ward who were involved on this trip really reached out of themselves (arrows out) and helped, strengthened, comforted, served the others who were suffering worse than they were. As I read this story from my mom, I was shocked at some of the instances where this was shown. Never would I have imagined some of these youth to be so kind and selfless.
Anyway, I shared this experience and then I expressed to the congregation how we must reach out to each other and lift and strengthen one another on this journey that we are all on. The spirit really helped me in expressing how we can all be a little better at sharing the gospel, not only with non members, but with each other. Preach my Gospel helped me as well as I read from the section on member missionary work (pg. 84) and shared the importance of praying for opportunities to serve and share, emphasizing the promise which the Lord gives each of us who engage in His work. “The Lord promises to help members know what to say and do as they share the gospel.” (PMG, pg 84 last sentence)
The Elders and us are kind of both teaching a family. we kind of take turns, we don’t teach them at the same time except in gospel principles class. Sister McLaughlin and I taught that yesterday and Tim and his son (this family) came to church and stayed for all 3 hours! Tim is really soaking up everything and seems so comfortable at church and with everything that we have taught him. He is very smart and asks tons of questions. He understands that the end goal is the temple with his wife and son. We are working on meeting his wife who seems to blame God for her father’s death. There is so much positive happening here.
The lesson in gospel principles was about The Lord’s covenant people. We had a recent convert in there too who is going through a rather rough time and he kind of broke down and opened up and Tim, the investigator really reached out to him and contributed a lot to the conversation and soaked up everything that my companion and I said. I invited each of them (including myself) to offer prayers of mostly gratitude and keep a record of the good things, the tender mercies from the Lord in their lives. As I was extending the invitation, Tim seemed like a little child on Christmas Eve who was asked to put the star on top of the Christmas tree. His eyes were big, he was leaning forward, fully engaged and he accepted the invitation and then, the best part was: when I asked for a volunteer to offer the closing prayer, Tim was the first to accept. His prayer was beautiful and full of gratitude. He truly conversed with his father in heaven and I felt very honored to be included in this conversation. This man is so sincere and honest and true, striving to lead his family in the right direction and to do what is right. He has much knowledge, yet he is so humble and willing to learn.
Sister McLaughlin and I helped in primary during the 3rd hour. I played the piano and she did the sharing time lesson and helped with singing the songs. Tim’s son was in primary and he seemed to really enjoy it. He is one smart kid, very respectful and kind. I couldn’t help but think that he must have been really enjoying primary, because they are catholic and he usually sits through some very boring meetings I am sure. I am so grateful to be able to get to know Tim and his son and hopefully his wife as well and to see them progress in the gospel.
The BEST part of serving the Lord on a full time mission is by far seeing people “get it” and to see the physical change of their countenance and they allow the light of Christ more into their lives! I have a testimony that it is not about the numbers. While numbers are important and they push us to work hard toward a goal, the thing that matters the most is that we love and serve and guide our fellow brothers and sisters to come closer to Christ, and we leave the world and the Father’s children better than we left them. This is the best thing I have ever done in my life! I am going to sprint to the end and work harder and harder every day! The Lord can count on me, I am proving it every day. Can he count on you? Make sure that you are proving it.
I have been struggling lately feeling ill, but I have been able to receive needed strength from the Lord and push through. The Lord has blessed Sister McLaughlin and I with help from the wonderful members to give us rides and feed us when we were in great need of it. The experiences we have gone though, are helping us to see how we can help the Jasper branch get back to the basics/ fundamentals of the gospel : having family prayer, scripture study and family home evening, showing love and respect for one another in their homes and also for fellow members.
I received a priesthood blessing last night from a member of the branch presidency in which the Lord let me know that He appreciates my efforts and hard work, that I will be healed from whatever illness has been ailing me and that I am heavily needed in the Jasper branch. I know the my Father in Heaven loves me and that I please Him (my life’s goal) when I strive to be obedient and work hard for the salvation of His children. I continually strive to strengthen, lift, love and support everyone around me and the Lord is strengthening me as I do so.
I have never been happier President. Every day we ask ourselves, did we seek for, and follow the spirit? Who did we help today? Did we give our best effort and allow the Lord to expand our capacities. Yes. As we have grown together and increased our studies and lifted one another, we have been able to see all of these and then some every day!
Remember, the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about DOING! Therein lies true joy and peace!
It’s true. It’s all true, then what else matters….?
Love your ever faithful Sister missionary serving in Jasper,