I cannot think of any other way of expressing my joy and my changes that I've made this past week than to just share a scripture from Alma 26:16 - "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I CANNOT SAY THE SMALLEST PART WHICH I FEEL."
This week, I had the opportunity to go on an exchange to Zhanghua with Sister Marissa Anderson.
THERE WERE SO MANY MIRACLES.
I cannot even express how beautiful and remarkable the Spirit of God worked through and with us as we served together in the most unified, simple, joyful way I have ever served with anyone in my whole mission. Both Sister Anderson and I had the same goals, and because we were looking to glorify God in all our obedience, faith, diligence, and hope, it was as if God was revealing to us what blessings and visions/goals He has in store for us.
I honestly felt like I changed over night. When I came back to Yuanlin from that exchange, I was a different person. I AM a different person.
It's FINALLY hit me. It's just this: I have a testimony of obedience. I have a testimony of God. I have a testimony of this restored gospel. I have faith - REAL FAITH - tangible faith - faith that makes me want to proclaim the gospel for the REST OF MY LIFE - faith that is eternal - it's the kind of faith that has motivated me to not tolerate even the smallest degree of sin, the smallest degree of bad in my life.
I feel like I've risen to an entirely different plane. I feel purified. I feel free. I've really consecrated myself recently. For example, I have decided to stop writing/emailing anyone besides my family. I have taken down pictures, postcards, basically anything that would distract me from my purpose and my time here as a missionary. I have centered my whole efforts on God. I have thrown away my selfish desires, my worldly tendencies, etc.
I no longer have any desire to give into sin, to be lazy. I've literally forgotten myself in this work, and I've given up my whole life to God.
Time is short... ESPECIALLY on the mission, and it's finally changed/hit me. I know why we do the things we do. I know why we have mission rules. I know why it is VITAL to keep the commandments of God. I know why we are encouraged to do the things we do on our missions. I know why I have been called here to serve. I trust completely in Heavenly Father, and I know He can trust me. All I want to do is be HIS instrument. For, the glory really IS all His.
This mission work isn't about me. It isn't about ANY of us missionaries - at ALL.
This IS the Lord's work. For once in my life, I feel like I've truly changed and have a testimony of God and this restored gospel. It is EVERYTHING to me. God truly DOES bless us when we obey His commandments. He reveals truths, joys, mysteries, and so much more to us when we just keep His commandments.
This week, I changed. I honestly feel like I changed in a night. When I came back to Yuanlin from Zhanghua, I specifically took the time to share what I learned and know from that exchange. Sister Medrano saw that change in me. I've seen that change in me. GOD has seen that change in me, and there's no way to deny it.
When Sister Marissa Anderson and I were witnessing all these miracles, being a part of these events, being God's tools in bringing about miraculous purposes, all we could do was just let it be. All we WERE doing was out part. All we did was just GO and DO what we were supposed to be doing. It was as simple as that; yet, it brought about the most remarkable changes in me.
This morning, Sister Medrano and I talked about the changes we have made since the exchange, and they've been huge. We're happier. We're more effective. Our language is no more an issue. We teach in unity. We feel the Spirit. We are diligent. We serve the Lord and obey His commandments even if we don't know the reason why at the time He gives these promptings to us.
I've found myself joyful over the things I never thought I'd be happy about: Things like locking our bikes, saying prayers frequently, making sure we are within sight and sound of one another, loading our boxes with enough proselyting materials for hundreds of people every day.
I understand Christ's atonement more and more every day. I feel the promptings of the Spirit. I have visions, goals, and hopes. I have faith. - STRONG faith. I know that the things we do NOW really DO affect us in the future. It really does determine the blessings that God is just yearning to give us.
I've felt God's hand in my life multiple times. I cannot deny His love and His "anpai", His redeeming works and sacrifice for me. I cannot deny the truth of this restored gospel. I cannot just sit back and wait anymore. I cannot allow the grasp of Satan and Hell to rule my life anymore.
I'm letting it all go. I'm plucking the bad out of my life. I am changing and rising about those polluted ponds. I'm loosing my hands from bands that I, myself, have brought upon myself because of sin, because of weaknesses.
Everything I do now is for the Lord. It's because I love Him, and I love my family enough to sacrifice now. I'm willing to give my all now and for the rest of my life here on Earth if that is what I need to do to gain Eternal life and salvation in the Lord's House. If sweating, working, suffering, and sacrificing my life for the Lord is what I need to do in order to receive the highest glory in the mansions of our Father, then that is what I'm going to do.
It's as simple as that. I'm leaving behind the things of the world for something so, so, so much better, and there is no one who can tell me otherwise. For now, I do not fear man. I fear God. I love God, and I have that desire to continue serving Him like this not only for the last 6 months I have now, but also for the rest of my life here on this earth.
These standards and changes I am making on my mission are definitely going to last forever. I've seen God's mercy, I've seen His hand in my life, and I cannot deny any of these events. I can't deny any of these miracles. I cannot deny the very fact that I exist today to tell you these things.
While Sister Marissa Anderson and I were on the exchange together, we really just couldn't fathom, comprehend, or even begin to realize how magnificent, how merciful, how aware and involved God really is in our lives. We came to the point of utter amazement and this is all we could say:
" IT IS WHAT IT IS."
There really is no way to describe what occurred this past week. I feel God's love more than I have ever felt it in my life. I finally know what it feels like to have my own testimony of this gospel.
I think I've really just relied on others my whole life - their testimonies, their choices, their decisions. I've always been afraid of what other people think, what they do, and how they influence me, but now that I have these truths, I can really just get closer to blessing my family by following Christ, by trusting God and doing His will.
I know that God is preparing each and everyone of us to be worthy and ready to do His work. We are doing His work right now, and we cannot fall short of the Heavenly blessings He has in store for us.
Sister Medrano said it really well this morning: "God is like a super excited dad. He's just standing behind a door with a huge bag of all the best presents and more, just waiting for us to turn to Him and knock. He's just waiting to open that door and let us in - let us into a realm of Celestial, intangible glory."
Ok, so I actually changed a bit of what she said (haha... The last part was my addition) but that's basically what she said, and I just loved that comparison.
My dearest FAMILY, my dearest BROTHERS AND SISTERS, let's truly leave our nets to follow our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. Let's be freed from the grasp and chains of hell.
Let's stop being lazy. Stop putting off your day of repentance. Stop being selfish. Stop comparing yourself. Stop sinning. Stop disobeying. Stop judging. Stop hating.
Start working. Start loving. Start consecrating. Start preparing. Start purifying. BE CLEAN. BE GOOD. BE TRUE.
That's not what I want you to do.
That's what GOD wants US to do.
Sister Verina Chen
PS These are pictures of the DIY gifts we made for Iris Yang, one of the most golden investigators I've met.