Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nov 21 - Gray Hairs

Dear family! Did you know that we have the greatest family? :) Through each of your letters I receive strength and encouragement. The Lord also answers my prayers through your letters. Thank you so much.
So-yes, sad but true.... I have found some gray hairs! Life as a servant of the Lord is quite different than anything I have experienced before.  I used to think I really did serve and dedicate myself to the lord. I thought I was giving up my will to do his will. Well! Doing what the Lord needs you to do 24/7 is just a tad bit different than normal life. As I do learn to give up all things for him--I find myself actually getting to know who "Jacqueline" really is. There is a quote I am reminded of by CS Lewis
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 
  It does hurt sometimes. And I wonder why does it hurt? I thought while serving the Lord I would just be happy--on top of the clouds--or something. :) The lord is smiling at my innocence. What I have begun to realize is that after he has made a repair on my soul--that is when the joy comes.  And that joy is sweeter than any other joy I have experienced so far. Coming closer to God really is the greatest joy I have tasted. It reminds me of the tree of life story in 1 Nephi.  I used to wonder how could some people taste of the fruit but than want to join the others? I am not exactly sure... but I have an idea that sometimes we forget what that joy tastes like and think its probably better over there in that building... and its a lot easier to get there.  Those are my deep thoughts for the day! I loved Helaman 10:1-5 and 3 Nephi 7:17-18 too!

So! Miracles and joy from this week. We met a guy named David one day on our way to the store and he had met previous missionaries on a bus. He was really friendly and open (unlike most Swedes). He said he was atheist but would love to meet up and help us with our Swedish. As we taught David the first lesson he said something very interesting. He said his dad was a priest in the Swedish church but he never believed in God. He said, "I think Faith in God is a gift which I have not been given."  David is such a sweet guy! He is so charitable, kind, sincere, he wants to have a family... oh I could go on and on... he seems like he already is a member of the church.... just missing the crucial point of FAITH IN GOD! So Syster E and I weren't really sure how to get him to try and have faith. We are having a thanksgiving dinner tonight with the young adults so we decided to make him cookies and invite him. Here comes the miracle! We go over Wednesday night and ask him how his date went (he told us he had a date over the weekend). Turns out he has found the girl of his dreams... it was amazing... she is perfect... etc. But! She just texted him that day and said she needed some space and time to think about it. David was heart broken. He said... "In my experience... this usually means the end of the relationship".  So we stood out in the hallway trying to comfort him and tell him to have hope. He laughed and was so grateful for our kindness and that we cared for him. He than said, "If there really was a God... It would be now that I would pray to him."  Well! Syster Erickson and I just looked at each other in slight amazement. ! We did our best to try and get him to pray and just test God to see if he was there. So we shall see what happens. He hasn’t done so yet... but! I have faith.

There really are so many miracles I could write about... but I don’t have time! So I'll just have to tell you about our weekend--Stake Conference! Syster Erickson and I spent a lot of time working on getting rides for our investigators and New Converts to conference... and it was all worth it. As we all started to sing the opening hymn-I had HÃ¥kan on my left, Jason, then Maj and then her fellowshipper Sol-Britt on my right, and then Syster E and Ingrid behind me--I just felt like I was home.  It is harder than I realized to love these people... but I am working on it. And right at that moment... I felt great love for them all. The day wasn’t perfect. I have also decided it is tiring being social... and trying to make everyone else have a good time. (Do me all a favor next time you’re at church and say hi to anyone who looks like they are alone. And especially say hi to them if they look like they are new!)  But even with all that stress... As I fell asleep last night--it was with joy an happiness for the experience they could all have that day.

Maj is scheduled to get baptized this up coming Friday. So you should all pray for her. She had her interview with the president on Sunday. I took two hours and she came out smiling but said it was hard. She too could feel the Lord trying to make her into a Palace. The President called us later on and said "Maj is a strong strong spirit. She is determined. I can see her in 5 years leading relief society and standing up in sacrament meeting being a light to others."  I was a little shocked. Maj is definitely determined... but I worry so much about her not being able to stay active once we leave. (STRESS! --this is where all the gray hairs are coming from) She hasn’t been able to quit smoking fully yet and I can just see all the easy ways for her to fall away. But after listening to the president I realized something. With the Lord all things are possible. What I need to do is have Faith that even with all those paths to fall off.... There is one bright and clear path that she can follow. We talked to her last night and she said she hadn’t prayed for help to quit smoking. She felt like that was something she should be able to do on her own. We challenged her to pray right then with us on the phone. Maj's prayers are my favorite. She is always so sincere and open-hearted. I really do love this dear woman.

So, another week has passed. I am still alive. There is still much work the Lord needs help with. And there is still more walls of my little cottage to be broken down and built back up--so that one day I can be a palace.

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