Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 21, 2014

Hey everyone,
Well... this week was different. Not so different in missionary work, but more so that I was different. We had exchanges and they both were wonderful. We have an exchange planned this week and another one planned the week after. The weeks just keep flying by. I'm still trying to figure out this balance.. and you know it's hard. It's been hard to just really prepare a lot of things for the future. I'm grateful I can do it though and build up and strengthen this area for future sisters who will really be able to reap all that we are sowing right now.
I really wanted to talk about things that I know to be true right now though. Being in Constanta and receiving a call from President Ivory, informing me that grandpa passed away was really hard to deal with. It left me some time to ponder and really understand what I have learned in this year and a half. I'm coming to the close of my service as a set apart full-time missionary, and when grandma died I was only about 3 weeks in to my first transfer here in Romania. So much has changed. Now I'm not expressing all things that I know to be true but some things that have really laid the foundation in my heart.
1. I know God lives and loves us.
I can't explain the love that Heavenly Father has put in my heart. I knew that God loved me. That He loved my family and friends. We were striving to be righteous and keep our covenants and so on. I know this. I didn't fully understand how much Heavenly Father personally knows us however. He personally knows me. He knows how I feel, and what things are hard for me. He knows how I feel pain and He weeps with me. He never leaves me alone. He sends comfort in ways that I may only know how to feel. It's the same for the rest of His children as well.
I've met so many people as a missionary that have needed something that I have had said. The things is that I didn't say that. Sure yes, my mouth is the thing that is moving... but the words aren't mine. They are the Lords. Loving these people. I know for a fact that my capacity to love is limited. It is extremely lifted. To love people who absolutly despise everything that I stand for and try to do... it's not easy. It's extremely hard, but I do it. Not for me, but for the Lord. I know. I KNOW that He loves these people. He knows these people just like He knows me. I know that He loves ALL of His children. All of them.
This is why He set His plan in motion. This is why we have families. This is why we have the gospel. This is why He sent His son.
2. I know Christ atoned for us and because He lives we will live also.
I know that we are never alone. In my very limited understanding I didn't understand how much we NEED the atonement every day. It's a literal force, a power that helps us grow. It helps conquer temptations and trials and gives us strength when we don't have power enough to lift our own. I know it also helps us overcome sin, and the consequences of sin.
This sacrifice does so many things. It is the understanding that our Savior conquered all things for us. He suffered alone so that when we suffer, when we need help we can depend on him. We can rely on Him for all things. We are never alone.

How much love He really needed. How much love He had gained from the Father that He was able to atone for ALL. I look at myself and see all my faults. I see the pain that I have caused, and that I too was a culprit in Christ's suffering in the Garden.
This is the beautiful thing about the atonement, is that all pain all sin can be taken away through His Grace. We can be changed through His endless love. We can grow from our trials. We can grow from our mistakes.
Then finally one day we will live. He did die, He did suffer, but He also lives. LIVES. Because He lives, I will too. Grandma and Grandpa will also. We all will. We can all be reunited together one day after our own righteousness and the grace of Him who loved us.
3. Families are Eternal.
I have always grown up in a home that talked about families as an eternal aspect. It was never a life thing and then done. It was a "you better get along  because you have eternity to be together." This is not the case here. It's sad. It has definitely been shown to me that people don't have this perspective. They mourn and cry for those that are lost and loose this light and hope that they can see them again.
I know better. I can cry now. I can be sad because for this short period of life here I will not be able to see them. I KNOW that I will see them. I continually meet people every day who need this hope and happiness. They need to know that based on our righteous choices we can be together. We can be surrounded by the love of those that watched us grow up and become who we are today.
Families are eternal. They always will be. I can't imagine a God who loves us so much who would not give us our families for the eternities. I can't. It does not exist. Families are for the eternities.
We will all live together. One day.
4. Enduring to the End is a process.
I don't feel like I fully understood this concept until I started my mission. I think in the back of my mind I always just thought," Yeah, just do good things." True. We have to do good things. Go to church. Keep the commandments. Normal. It's more then that though. It's this process of continual righteousness and growth. There does not exist complacency in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a growth it's a progression. So because enduring to the end is part of the gospel it to is a progression. It is a process.
It is not perfection in a day. It is not failing and refusing to get back up. It is getting back up. Doing all things that are in our power and relying on the merit's of Christ's grace to get us through  trials that we personally can't do by ourselves.
I've met so many here that have found the light and hope of the Gospel. They have accepted, they were baptized they made promises to God. Then they fall away. They didn't understand that it is a process. Eternal life is something we have to work for.
This week in itself has been hard. Missionary work is hard. Trials when they come are hard and trying to forget all these things and focus on the gospel and these people they are hard. As I received news about Grandpa, I just prayed. I already received the answer that the Plan of Salvation is true. That I will be reunited with them again. One day. I didn't need that kind of response this time. Instead I needed comfort. I just needed to know that all that is happening is completely the will of the Lord. That all these things will be towards our good. Even if I don't understand everything now, I can look back and see all the good I learned from it and how the Lord changed me in that moment.
I can't say I got that answer immedietly. At all. It was here a little and there a little, and honestly I'm still learning, I'm still trying to really understand it all.
In D&C 42:46 I got a part of my answer though. It was something so small. Something that I had read so many times, but it was something that I needed.

"And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them"
Grandpa and Grandma were both so righteous. They served the Lord so much. They raised my mama :) Who I am so grateful for because she raised me in righteousness. They did so much good. They always served. They died in the Lord. They weren't afraid. They were excited. They were ready. They were prepared and I'm sure that all is sweet unto them now. I'm sure that their reunion was a glorious one and they are working hand in hand together again for the Lord. Because that was their desire. To serve always.
Well know this letter is far longer then I intended but if it was shorter I am sure I would dissapoint Erik and I wouldn't want that now :)
I truly know this church is His church. It is true. It is righteous. All that we learn here will lead us to eternal life. It will lead us back to Him. I know all of these things. I'm so grateful to be a missionary, even though my time is short I'm still working. President Ivory told Sora Bastidas and I this week that we are on Fire. :) Working till the day that I come home.
I love you all. All is well All is well!
Sora Stewart

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