Sunday, June 28, 2015

My last training with the missionaries

I’m not a runner, but I run.  I don’t run well, I even joke that some people can walk as fast as I run.  I use to only walk though, so I feel good that I can run at all.  About 11 years ago is when I decided I wanted to get better at running and started working on it.  I started slow, (walk/running), around the square block by our house.  I got better and better and after 3 months I could kind of make it without stopping; kind of. 

One Saturday morning my daughter Meghan who was around 15 at the time, said she would go running with me.  So we headed out and I noticed she was better at running her first day and could go faster and farther without stopping than I could. What an eye opening experience for me.  I commented to her about this and she said the most profound thing, “Mom, you just have to decide to run.”

This phrase went through me and I have thought about it many times since.  When I get tired and want to stop, not just running but anything, I say to myself, “Melonie, you just have to decide to______.” Decide to:…. run, get up, have faith, trust God, eat healthy, study in the morning, let it go, that you can do it.  Something about this phrase speaks to me.  When I say it to myself it gives me mental strength to do it.  This phrase has helped me dig deep and exercise discipline many times in the last 11 years.

We just finished our last training with the missionaries.  I decided for the last doctrine training I would teach here on the mission I would talk about something Sister R asked Elder Clayton when he came to our mission a few weeks ago.  She asked, “How does someone develop better self-mastery?”  This is a fantastic question for not only this young generation but for everyone living in our world of instant gratification.  It seems it is the foundational principle for every other doctrine we have ever trained on, so I decided we should look at it more in depth. 

We have had 12 different discussions with 12 different zones over the last 2 weeks as we have gone around to say good-bye to the missionaries, answer questions and talk about the transition of receiving a new mission president.  In my training we have talked about how self mastery is our spirits having control, power and dominion over, not just our actions, but our thoughts.  We have talked about the reason why it is important- that we need to be able to abide the law and become that person who can live with God again.  Self Mastery over the natural, fallen man inside of us and giving our will to God is the key to this process.  Then we had many interesting discussions on how to do this. 

Two things have stuck in my mind as we have shared over the last few days:
ONE- Everything is a decision. It’s just like what Meghan said to me, you just have to decide.  Recognizing everything I feel, think, do and become helps me see that my life is my own and I am the master of my fate, the captain of my ship.  Even coasting and just treading water is a decision.  Faith is a decision.  Love is a decision.  Hope, trust, forgiveness and mercy are all decisions.  Sleeping in, getting to bed late, eating dessert, not exercising, and even being mad or offended are all decisions.  Elder Maxwell said, “You better want what you want because you’re going to get it.”  I love that.  I decide if I will run, hate, be angry, speak kindly, judge another, save my money, pay my debts,love, etc.  We are constantly making decisions.  When we have the vision to see into the future of what we want to be, have, and do and make decisions and choices that will get us to that place that is self discipline.  I think of it as being “firm of mind”.

I’ve seen this in missionaries lives.  I have seen most missionaries decide they could work hard, train well, lead in righteousness and love others.  I have seen amazing progress that feels like exponential growth in most missionary’s lives.

But the opposite is also true.  We’ve seen a few missionaries, very few, never really reach the potential we see inside them.  Even at the end of their mission they are still saying, “I can’t, it’s too hard, I’m not able.” They have still progressed and grown, and they are good young men, but they just can’t quite see what we see inside of them.   I feel they just are not able to see clearly their divine potential and just decide they can do it.  They just never quite get there.  I want to just shake them and say you are so much better than you think you are, you are capable, you just have to decide you can do it.  Then I realize they are deciding.  They are making a decision that they can’t, won’t, or are not able.  (These few are not missionaries who have depression or anxiety.)

When E. Clayton came to our mission he shared the scripture, 2 Ne 2:26…men are free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.. He said, “This means, you are not a Kleenex box; an inanimate object sitting there with no choice, only to be acted upon.”  I love that. You are not a Kleenex box, suffering through whatever happens to you.  We don’t live our life on accident, even when we do nothing and the day just rolls over us with no purpose.  We still chose that. 

We can live our life with purpose, on purpose.  When we’re mad it’s because we want to be mad.  When were hurt and can’t forgive it’s because we want to be hurt and not forgive, more than we want to be free and happy.  We get what we want.  We can or can’t do what we decide we can or can’t do.  Recognizing and accepting this brings a tremendous amount of power to us.  Because then we come to accountability with acceptance and responsibility.

TWO-The other thing that really stuck in my mind from our discussion is that how we feel about our sacrifices determines our staying power of discipline.  If a child wants to learn to snowboard they come up with a plan instinctively.  They want a season pass, they arrange for driving, they figure out how to get equipment, they want to spend the time driving, and love the work of practicing to get better.  Desire and motivation increase the ability to be self disciplined.

To me this means having a vision of what I want to become, obtain and achieve and loving the sacrifice or work to get there means I’ll do it.  If I want a college education and see the vision of what that will do for me I don’t mind saving money and going without that nice car, new clothes or full price movie.  If I want to be physically fit more than I want dessert and to sit around relaxing then I’ll love to eat healthy and exercise.  If I really want to be a scriptorium I love spending time studying.  If these are just dreams that sound great but in the moment we hate saving, eating healthy and studying we will never have the staying power to make those dreams a reality.  If we tell ourselves how much we hate something, how we don’t want to do it and how hard it is, we will never keep trying, working and making the sacrifice.  But if we love our sacrifice we have tremendous staying power.

 THREE-Ok, (you know me), I just want to add one more thing a missionary talked about that stuck in my mind.  He shared something his dad taught him.  Most of us have heard the analogy to teach about choice and consequence of when we pick up a stick we pick up both ends, one end is the action, the other end is the consequence, for good or bad.  When you pick up the stick you pick up both ends, you don’t get one without the other.  When we choose an action or thought we also pick up the consequence that goes with that action or thought.  Well this missionary made the comment about the way his dad taught him about choice.  He taught him to never think of the action when making a choice, but only think about the consequence you’re choosing.  When you pick up the stick don’t look at the end of what you’re doing, look at the end of what you’re going to get.  What a wonderful thing to teach- Look, see clearly what you’re picking up, and then decide if you want to do it.  How would that change our life if we always made choices based on what the consequence was going to be.

I know self mastery is the foundation of purity, virtue, education, financial stability, spirituality, confidence, conversion, great work ethic, integrity, patience, etc.  We just have to have it to achieve anything meaningful.  We need to be the kids who can wait for the marshmallow so we can get something better later. We can’t serve God and mammon.  I know it is through Christ, Jesus that we can be more than conquerors.  He is our anchor, our hope, to be more than ourselves.  We are not alone in the fight.  He gives strength and second chances.  I’m really glad for that second chance.  We get to practice because of our beautiful savior, and it gets easier and easier when we do.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A journey to happiness

 We are right in the middle of saying goodbye to all the missionaries.  We are visiting each zone one by one, giving a last training, our words of council and advice, having a question and answer time and then talking about the transition of getting a new mission president.  We are calling it, “Muffins with the Mullens”, because then we are eating some really delicious muffins to end our last training.
President Mullen is giving his last doctrine training on choosing to be happy.  I have had so many layers of learning about happiness this last 3 years.  I don’t think I’ve written about it before, (I can’t believe it, but I’ve looked and looked and can’t see that I’ve written any of my experiences about this), so I’m going to start at the beginning and write a little of my process of learning about happiness and how that works with the Lord.

When I came on this mission I was very happy.  Within a few months I noticed I was feeling more weighed down and burdened.  I was studying and came across the saying by Joseph Smith, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.”  I thought a lot about this.  Really?  Why am I feeling so weighed down then, especially when I’m trying to do so many good things?  What am I missing? 

That week a scripture also popped into my mind, 2 Ne 2:25, Men are that they might have joy.  Really?  Is that true?  I know I’ve thought about life as needing to progress, learn, grow, change and become perfected so that I can live with God.  How does happiness play into that?  I reasoned that all learning, growing, progressing and becoming perfected is to live with God again so that we can be happy.  It doesn’t sound like we are just working in this life so we can be happy in the next, we are actually meant to be happy in this life.  I wondered, how do I find joy in all this work and duty?

Then I had this little spiritual epiphany in church that week.  I was sitting down and looked over at the sweet little Baer family.  I looked right at their little girl, who was about 2 years old at the time, and she had the most sweet, loving, trusting look on her face.  She looked absolutely burden less, carefree and perfectly happy.  The thought came to me, “we are to become like little children.”  God wants us to be as happy and joyful as those sweet little children.  They looked so free and burden less.  It hit me.  God wants me to be like that.  That is why He has provided a Savior. So I can feel like that now.  I knew I needed to use the atonement and cast my burden on His care; not be so weighed down with thoughts of there is so much to do, am I getting it all done, and is it all good enough.

I went to pray after church and immediately went into my old routine thinking, “What do I need to do, what should I have done, didn’t do, etc.  I thought, “No, God doesn’t want me to just do my duty, work hard, be responsible, fulfill my calling and obligations.  He wants me to be happy, he actually cares how I feel. 

I felt so different as this sunk into my heart.  I learned so much about God in that moment, about love and about my own parenting pattern. If I really believe God loves me then I can know he doesn’t just care about what I do, but how I feel.  That means He feels merciful when I can’t give anymore, forgiving when I am weak and understanding when I didn’t get it all done. HE loves me, I’m not earning his love by the things I’m doing.  He is kind. Most of you are probably thinking, duh, well of course to all of that.  But me and my personality had a huge ah ha moment.

Then I saw a DVD about Christ at a baptism we went to later in the week.  I saw Christ accept the pain and pressure of the atonement, and wondered if He was happy in that moment, it seemed so hard and painful; not a joyous moment.  But I remember Pres Holland saying Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wanted to perform the atonement for us.  It made Christ joyous to achieve and perform His Father’s will and His own foreordination.

A few months later I was reading 3 Ne 11:37,38 while the sacrament was being passed.  It is the verses about becoming a little child….repent and become as a little child.  It was so ironic that I was sitting in front of the Baer children.  I could hear them humming and singing softly as the bread was being passed.  It was the most beautiful, spiritual moment.  These beautiful children, who were so free and happy were singing and humming during the sacrament.  It was so sweet.  That is what the sacrament does for us.  The thought struck me, I’ve always thought of this scripture as saying become like a child: teachable, humble, forgiving, easily entreated, and believing.  But in that moment I realized we are to become like that so that we can be happy.  A child comes clean and free, loving himself, loving others and expecting everyone to love them.  God wants us to be like that.

Ok this may be long, but one more story and then my point about Don’s training.  This also happened early on in our mission.  It was a transfer weekend and that Saturday was so busy.  I worked out and got ready quickly, because the week had been so busy I hadn’t done any of the cooking or shopping yet.  I went shopping for 2 ½ hours, (it reminds me of cooking and shopping for youth conference every 6 weeks), hurried home after picking up Don from the office and cooked with Helen for 4 ½ hours.  Then I worked on the Spokane Word, (the mission newsletter), made dinner, prepared my talk for stake conference and went to speak there, came home to finish the newsletter and sent it to Sister Dean, counseled a sister missionary on the phone for about 40 minutes, made sure my numbers were right for housing for the departing and incoming missionaries and then found myself folding a load of whites at 11pm I was trying to get done before Sunday hit.  The thought came to me that I hadn’t read my scriptures yet.  AGG!!  I thought, “I’ve been serving God all day, surely I’ve done enough and I don’t now need to read my scriptures too.  It will be ok to miss a day.”  I heard these words in my mind, something I had never thought of before, “Melonie, now it is my turn to bless you for all you have done.  Reading scriptures is not something you do for me, it is what you do so I can bless you, give to you, fill you, strengthen you and speak to you.” “If you don’t read it is ok, it is your choice, I don’t condemn you, I just can’t bless you.”

It hit me.  This is true.  So many times I’ve thought of things like scriptures, temple attendance, prayer, etc. as things I do for God to be crossed off the list; one more thing to do, and hope he’ll bless me for it.  But the Lord was teaching me, this is a misperception; I don’t do these things to be obedient so he will bless me, doing these things are the blessing: he will enlighten me while I’m reading, speak words that will help me, give me feelings of strength, knowledge I didn’t have before while I’m reading, etc. 

It reminded me of a testimony that a friend Liz gave years earlier in a sacrament meeting.  She spoke of receiving promptings to write a nice note, visit a friend, help a neighbor, or some other kind act.  She felt guilty when she hadn’t obeyed the promptings because she was so busy.  She had the spirit teach her one day that the Lord wasn’t berating her for not obeying those promptings, she had just missed out on the blessing of that warm memory, strengthened relationship, increased feelings of love or the increased confidence that obeying promptings brings. 

This testimony was so powerful to me because I’m always one to turn things into a job, duty, responsibility and work.  In that moment I understood a little more about how God is trying to bless us.  He prompts us to do things so we will be blessed.  It’s just a little twist but it made a huge profound difference for me.  In my mind I had been working to serve the Lord and cross those things off the list so that He would be happy with me.  In reality he prompts me to do those things for me, not for Him.  He wants me to be happy, he wants to bless me, not just have me work.

Ok now fast forward a year and a half to yesterday and one more thought about happiness. In President Mullen’s training he was talking about Happiness is the design of our existence.  There are eternal laws, and all commandments and principles God gives to us is to be happy and reconciled to Him and obedience to these laws.  Commandments, prayer, scriptures, faith, principles of self discipline, sacrifice, and forgiveness, are all principles that when lived by we will be reconciled to God and it will be happiness.  They are for us, not for God.  God does nothing except for the benefit of the world.  Everything is to bring us to happiness.  The only true happiness is to be reconciled to God because everything he asks is for our good; for our happiness.

When we fight against God, His commandments and His will, we just fight against our own happiness.  I have seen captions of stories in the media that are so accusing against anyone who believes in Christian values.  These people are haters against anyone who would say there is good, right, and correct behavior.  They say people who profess belief in values are bigots, hypocrites, judging and intolerant.  But the very behavior they are attacking, they are exhibiting, times 10.  It makes me kind of laugh/cry inside.  How can someone be so  old in age and be so totally self unaware-when they are so intolerant as they scream about intolerance, judging as they rant about being judged, hateful as they spew out hate.  It’s just weird how blind haters can be to their own behavior. They hate and fight all in the name of a worldly good.  It is so ironic to me.  What they are fighting against is the very thing that would bring love, peace and happiness to their lives.

Ok I lied, one more thought about happiness, I really want to say two more things but I know I may be rambling now.  This is it.  I haven’t been too happy at the thought of going home.  It’s kind of overwhelming.  We have to face a lot of things back home that are not easy.  But I have thought to myself that God will make us happy when we get there, because it is His will that we finish here and go home.  So I’ve just tried not to think about it; a great technique, and trust the Lord that we will be happy when we get there.  But yesterday as I was thinking about God and his desire for us to be happy I thought about our situation going back home of: moving, what to do with our house, looking for a job, caring for the health of my parents, and putting our family back together.  It occurred to me that the Lord wants me to be happy.  I said the words, “I’m happy to be going home and I’m happy to be in the situation we are in.”  As I said it I actually felt that way for a minute. The spirit did a work on my heart and I felt a godly perspective of it’s good to look for a job and be empty nesters with a great, big huge house.  I couldn’t go any further than that.  But I thought, I just need to change my mind.  I know with God I can be happy. I’m going to really work on this in the next two weeks and see what the Lord can do with me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learning and the heart.

We are ending our mission.  How weird!  It just seems so surreal. I want to write more than usual in the next two weeks to share some of the ending experiences we are having. Here is one about learning.

I think the Lord is prompting many people to be very kind and generous to us.  We have always felt very loved and accepted on this mission. But here at the end, more than usual, stake members and missionaries are telling us that they love us, what a difference we’ve made and how much they will miss us.  It has been touching for us.  I think these people are like little angels sent by the Lord to spread love and help us know that it has all been worth it.

I really appreciate those in our stakes who have expressed that what was said or taught touched or changed them, but I always feel a little uncomfortable too.  The reason why is because I know learning is a very personal thing between the Lord and the heart of the listener.  I never know how to respond.  I think teaching is also a very personal thing between the Lord and the heart of the teacher.  I try really hard to focus on the Lord before, during and after I speak.  I try to focus on people’s needs and what the Lord wants said and then after if the Lord is pleased with what I said, but not if the congregation thought it was good.  This helps me not feel nervous about speaking or anxious about what I said.  Focusing on the Lord and not how people view me, has saved me in this assignment.  I’m grateful when I feel the Lord is pleased.

But what I wanted to write about is learning, not teaching.  Here are a few observations.

A funny experience:  A new sister missionary came up to me after a training and said, “Sister Mullen everything you say is like gold to me.”  I thought about that later and wished I would have pin pointed to her the deeper truth of that statement.  I wish I would have said, “The spirit teaches you because you have a soft heart and open mind.  When you listen and are focused, humble, teachable, soft and open, that is when the magic occurs.  That is when gold happens to your learning, it has nothing to do with me.”

Now the funny part: The exact same training I asked another older, more experienced, sister missionary, “What did you learn today?”  She said, “I am sorry Sister Mullen, I feel so bad, I just wasn’t present here today.  I really didn’t get anything out of it.  I was kicked out of an investigators house yesterday and I just couldn’t focus today.”  We talked and laughed about missionary work being bi-polar; you have these incredible highs and some really bad lows and it can all happen within hours of each other!

But that is really true and I have had the same thing happen to me.  I have stood up from a meeting and my husband has said, “Wow that was the best talk”, and I realize I didn’t hear a thing that was said.  I feel I missed out and I want a re-do, but I don’t get one.  My heart and mind were not present to learn.

The point is that sometimes we think our learning is based on how someone else teaches.  When we learn something really good that touches our hearts we feel so much gratitude and go to the teacher and tell them how great it was.  In reality I wonder if most thanks just goes to the spirit and the heart of the listener. The spirit absolutely taught, and touched when the heart has been changed!   All good things come from Christ.  That really is true. “Why call the teacher good, there is none who is good except God.”

One more funny thing: There has been quite a few times when missionaries will say, “When Sister Mullen taught…….. I learned……..”  What is so funny is I will look over at Don and think, “I never said that.”  Now it could just be I’m in the night and can’t remember stuff.  But I really think, “No, I said something kind of like that but it got changed from my mouth to your heart.”  I’m an innocent by standard in the process.  This has happened so much it’s become funny to me.  When people start a sentence with, “When Sister Mullen said…….”  My eyes get big and I just kind of wonder what they are going to say.  The important point is that this is evidence that the way things are said can be changed so that little precious spiritual moments can happen. The information needed is spiritually changed so that when they hear it, it is exactly what they needed for that magic to occur and then gold happens.

Why is this important?  For me it is important because I love to learn and I have had some great teachers in my life.  Steve Robinson was a gospel doctrine teacher in our ward when I was newly married, starting my family, and he taught me so powerfully.  I loved that man!!  What an amazing teacher.  He motivated me to read the scriptures and love them.  It was the first time in my life that I loved gospel doctrine more than relief society.  He opened my eyes and got me to actually think.  I had a beloved stake president Dan Judd.  He taught me so much.  I still think of the way he taught and things I learned from him.  I remember specific things he said and the way he said them because they were “tags” in my brain.  That is how powerfully he spoke to me.  He opened his mouth and I felt the spirit.  He spoke and it went straight to my heart.  I love him!  But I remind myself, it’s feeling the spirit that I love.  It’s not the men themselves.  Even when I listen to Elder Bednar, Pres Uchtdorf and Elder Holland, who are master teachers in my book, I remind myself, its God I love and His holy spirit. That is what I’m loving.  I think it is ok for me to love them too, but I just always remind myself that it’s God and his holy spirit that I love; the teacher is just the vehicle to the real thing that is good.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The heavens are open and God is speaking.

The Book of Mormon has saved me so many times on this mission.  When I have needed help with a missionary, a training, a child, or some spiritual question, the perfect sentence or verse has touched me and given me the spiritual knowledge that I needed so badly right at that moment. 
For doctrine at zone conference a few weeks ago we decided that we would let the missionaries share spiritual experiences they have had with the Book of Mormon.  What an amazing experience we had!  We heard powerful witness of the Savior, the power of faith and love, and spiritual experiences they have had with God speaking to them through the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is true and living scripture that is a vehicle for God to speak to us. I have learned that there are layers of truth to be had for anyone who will study and live by it’s teachings. The Book of Mormon doesn’t just teach about righteousness and it’s blessings in a way that enriches and enlarges the soul, but teaches about wickedness and evil in a powerful, warning voice.   I took pages of notes as I wrote down each day the spiritual experiences missionaries shared from specific versus from the Book of Mormon. 
Here are a few:
Sister V – “My family are not members.  I wanted to go on a mission but my stake president said I wasn’t ready, that it is hard to serve a mission.  He said I had to:  1.  Not go to any dances, (I love to dance and be social).  2. Go without my phone; no talking or texting. 3. Not have any boyfriends.  All of these things were very hard for me to quit but I stopped all of them.  The stake president then said I needed to study the Book of Mormon.  As I was reading I kept feeling if I wanted to be a missionary then I needed to invite my mom to read the Book of Mormon too.  This was so scary for me.  But I finally did it and my mom started reading the Book.  When I left Tonga to go on my mission my family was very sad.  As I was leaving my mother gave me a piece of paper when I got on the airplane I read it, it was this verse and has been my favorite ever since.  1 Ne 2:10 – O that thou mightiest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord! I knew this was my mother’s prayer for me that she had found as she was reading. I love the Book of Mormon and I love my mom.”
Elder F – “I found being in Moscow was very difficult.  College kids were really making me mad.  I was feeling like they were looking down on me with a kind of derogatory attitude.  It was really getting to me.  I was reading in 1 Ne 8:30-33 and knew I was paying too much attention to the people in the great and spacious building.  It’s discouraging when the finger of scorn is being pointed towards you!!  The world will point the finger of scorn at those who are partaking of the fruit.  But those who are strong and focused will heed them not.  Since then I have had the strength to not pay attention.  I know I need to choose where to put my focus.  Heed them not -is powerful words in my life.”
Sister H – “I have had a hard family life.  I wasn’t raised in the best of circumstances.  When I started to prepare to come on a mission I felt everything was going wrong.  My family was being attacked by hard things.  I started to waiver and wondered if I should still go.  I read 3 Ne 5:13- I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. I knew I was meant to serve.  Now every time I am having a hard time I think of this verse and I feel strong.”
Sister E – “I was having such a hard time when I first came out on my mission.  My family wasn’t emailing me and I felt so alone.  I felt I wasn’t a good missionary either, everything was so new.  I felt so small and worthless.  I read, 1 Ne 21:15, 16 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?  Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.  I knew the Lord hadn’t forgotten me.  Christ will never forget me.  I remind myself of that often.”
Sister S – “I have heard so many people say various things against the church while I’ve been serving.  I felt my faith wavering one day.  I read this and knew this was for me.  Jacob 7:5 – And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me.  And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.  This was me.  I knew God was telling me to remember, and in doing so I have felt I cannot be shaken. I remember God, his goodness to me and all that I have seen, heard and felt.”
Elder J – “I was feeling a lot of opposition in my missionary work.  I started thinking about why do some get so upset, and why do I get offended and angry when they do?  I came across this scripture, 1 Ne 1: 19,20 – And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them;  for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.  And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away.  But behold I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their  faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.  When I read this I knew pride is what keeps us from accepting Christ, correction and change.  I knew I had to protect my own humility as well.  To be a true disciple of Christ I have to be humble.”
Elder B – I haven’t always been able to stand up and have a voice.  There have been many times in my life when I have just followed the crowd.  I wanted to change but didn’t know how to do it.  When I was really seeking for an answer of how to change I found this, Hel 3:34&35 – And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren.  Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.  Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. I knew I needed to fast and pray and yield my heart to God.  He could change me then I could be brave and firm.  I have seen it happening in my life as I have done it.”
Elder T – “I come from a very violent community and have seen some bad things happen in my life.  I’ve been wondering a lot about why bad things happen to good people.  Why am I serving the Lord and all this bad stuff happens to my family and other people who I love?  I came across this verse and it hit me in a way I hadn’t thought of before.  Mos 24:14 – And I will ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.  I know because of this that God’s promise is whatever we are going through he will help us and we can strand strong with Him by our side.  I know when I need God and I receive His help, then I come to know him better than I knew him before.”
Sister R – “I have wanted to learn and understand the atonement better while I’ve been serving.  I feel I know information about it but lack true understanding. I was giving a training in MLC and came across this scripture.  3 Ne 17:7 – Have ye any that are sick among you?  Bring them hither.  Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner?  Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.  What hit me so hard was the word, ANY.  I hold on to all my stuff.  I don’t feel worthy.  But I felt this verse was speaking to me.  EVERYONE is afflicted.  I along with everyone else need a savior.  That is why he is our savior.  All can be healed, me included.  He feels mercy and compassion for ME!”
Elder M – “I appreciate the small characters in the Book of Mormon.  One is in Alma 23:14 – And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts.  The Amalekites and the Amulonites are the most hardened people of the Book of Mormon.  Yet one believed and was converted.  It’s easy to join when everyone is there with you and you have support, but this unnamed Zoramite converted on his own.  I know I need to be like this unnamed man; strong enough to stand alone when none other stand.  I want to be one.”
Elder C – “It’s hard to work and work and not see much come of it.  But when I read this I had a spiritual understanding hit me.  Words of Mormon: 7 – And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me.  And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.  I realize I don’t know everyone, but God does.  And what God expects of me is to follow him and do his will.  That is all I need to know.  He will work in their lives and it’s not for me to say what that work should look like.”

Well this is getting long so I better quit.  But I hope you can feel the wonderful spirit of our missionaries and the way God is teaching and speaking to them.  He lives and is working with each one of us to bring us back to him.  He wants to communicate with us and that is why he has given us the beautiful gifts of prayer and scriptures.  I am so thankful for every spiritual blessing that has come into my life by reading and pondering the Book of Mormon.  I am so thankful for the personal work he is doing in every one of our missionaries lives.