Life is hard. Bad things happen to good, righteous, honest people. Being a member of the church doesn’t fix those things. It doesn’t mean that we won’t experience pain or sorrow or disappointment, or even sometimes be angry or hurt and wonder why the Lord is allowing or has allowed something to happen. It DOES mean that we can have the spirit of the Lord to be with us always if we are living the way He has asked. It Does mean that we can find true and lasting joy in the midst of our pain and rough experiences. It DOES mean that we have a huge support system who won’t ever give up on us and that the Prophet of the Lord prays for us. It means that we have an army of spirits ready and willing to bear us up and push our handcart(s). It means deep abiding peace and confidence in the Lord.
Yesterday I received a letter from a young lady who recently returned to Alabama from school in Idaho. About a week or so previously I had seen her sitting alone in Relief society and decided to go sit by her and we got to chat a little bit. In her letter to me, she thanked me for doing so, and explained that I was an answer to her prayers.
Earlier today when Sister Olsen and I went to the library to take the survey we were asked to take part in, there was a gentleman we had met before (someone that another set of sisters in our mission had met and were working with) and took the time to listen to and invited to watch a certain Mormon message that would help him. This man just came over and said hello and eagerly told us how the other sisters had helped him and told us that he was doing well (much better than the first time we had met and talked with him) and happily inquired after us.
I know that the reason that these people (and they are not the only ones. there are many people who recognize us and seem genuinely glad to see and talk with us) feel such joy at seeing us again and eagerly converse with us, is due to the spirit of the Lord which is able to convey the love that their Father in Heaven has for them and it is so pure and helps them feel so good that they gravitate toward it. It is not me, it is not Sister Olsen, but our constant striving and seeking to be more obedient allows the Lord to use us to give His children that message. This is what helps me to know that I am a successful missionary. There have been so many instances on my mission when I have felt the Spirit surging through me as I have testified of Jesus Christ, the Love of our merciful Father and their plan for each of us. I have been able to see in the eyes of those to whom I testify that they feel the spirit and they know that what they feel is good.
Praise the Lord for the confidence which He gives me as one of His representatives! That is what I will miss the most, feeling such powerful love for each individual and knowing how to help them desire to change and feel it more consistently in their lives.
I love being a missionary in the Birmingham Alabama mission!