Monday, November 18, 2013

God is Good

Highlights of the week:
We have a new investigator with a soft-set baptismal date of December 14th! Her name is Allison and she has 3 small children.
I'm getting really good at declaring (telling people briefly about the Restoration) to people in Spanish! When all else fails, hand them a card :)
I got a package from the Valentine family :) That was so sweet!
We taught several lessons to Jessie this week and they all went well! She is continually progressing!
Speaking in Sacrament meeting! I and the other 3 sister missionaries all spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday. It was wonderful. We saw many Less Actives we have been working with come. It was a miracle.
We got so excited about finding a family who legitimately seemed interested. We set up a return appointment for the next day. The fiance' met us on our return appointment and said that his fiance' was not interested and that we shouldn't be doing what we're doing.
Funny moments:
We are experts at finding particular addresses! It seems we still have work to do because sometimes it seems like it takes quite a while. There's one address we are convinced doesn't exist. We'll try and find it again this week :)
We were trying to contact a less active last night. We got out of the car and a cat ran at Sister X who is allergic to cats, so she dodged it rubbing against her legs. At this point, I guess the cat decided we were playing a game. It started chasing us. It was following us and literally would not leave us alone. Sister X ran and jumped in the car and then it started chasing me! Like literally running at me. It eventually got distracted and so I ran into the car. Then I realized I had to get out and back my companion up. Luckily that cat had run down the street.
I wanted to spend most of this email talking about the talk I gave in Sacrament meeting yesterday.
"I never cease to be amazed by how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom and yet have time to provide inspiration concerning one individual."
Have we ever really though about this? This God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is literally a parent to us. We learn that we are children of God in Romans 8:16-17. Because of our heritage, we have a divine potential! We can become like our Heavenly Father! THIS is why we are here!
Any parent knows that in order to teach a child to walk, you can't keep them in their arms forever. Eventually you have to even let go of their hand and try it on their own. Through it all, though, you stay right by to give them the help that they need.
In many ways, this is our relationship with our Father in Heaven. He has sent us here to learn and to grow so that we can reach our divine potential. Like a parent following close behind their newly walking child, arms extended ready to help, so is He near to us and providing CONSTANT support.
He also provides for us the way. Just this last week, I found out I had to fill out forms and get fingerprints done to obtain an FBI clearance. Looking at the instructions from the travel office, I was getting really overwhelmed. I spent most of last Monday stressing about it. On Tuesday, I received a package from my sweet mother. She sent me addressed fed-ex envelopes that I needed to send things in, the instructions more simply explained step by step, the forms I needed which she had filled out already. She even put little sticky notes with arrows telling me where to sign. She did everything that she possibly could for me and gave me instructions on the part I needed to do myself. She knew that as a missionary, I don't have time to stress over paperwork, and she provided the way for me to accomplish what was needed.
This is what Heavenly Father does for us. He knows our circumstances and He knows what we need. He has provided the way for us to be happy in this life and the world to come. This way is found in the scriptures, words of prophets and apostles, and personal revelation we receive from Him. He has given us a way to communicate with Him. Do we really understand how amazing prayer is? We are literally talking with Him. He, the Supreme Being of the universe, listens and responds to us. It's like the first 3 weeks I was at BYU. I called my mom everyday. She knew generally what I was up to, but it was up for me to fill in the details. She wanted to know how I was doing and what I was up to. Heavenly Father wants us to communicate with Him! Anything that is important to us is important to Him.
The greatest evidence that we have of His love for us is that He sent His Son. We cannot comprehend how much He loves us. His purpose is to help us to be happy. His love is always there for us no matter what. He weeps with us when we are sad, and rejoices when we are happy.  His joy comes from us. I think this line from one of my dad's emails perfectly explains it, "One of the greatest joys as a parent is watching your children grow."
We show our love for Him and gratitude for all He has given us by our choices, by following His commandments and using the tools He has given us. One of these is families! Families are a place for children to learn and to grow. They are our greatest source of joy. They are meant to bring us joy. In 3 Nephi 22:13 we read, "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of thy children." They gospel of Jesus Christ is that way that "Home can be a Heaven on Earth." The key is the Spirit. When we follow Jesus Christ and have a gospel centered home, God can be with us through His Spirit. This Spirit is the source of joy, peace, and love.
Within this church is also the authority to bind or seal families together forever. Looking back at the days leading up to my departure to BYU and later to the MTC to begin my mission as well, I am reminded of the final things my family did together. Sure, we went out to eat, went to a movie, and went to a golfing range. But the nights before I left on each occasion, what did we do? We had a Family Home Evening, my father gave me a blessing, and we had a family prayer. These final things gave us the strength to say goodbye, this time for 18 months. We could do this because of the knowledge that we have that whatever happens, we WILL be together as a family forever as we live the gospel.
I know that this church is His church. I know that through this church, families can be together forever and families are blessed in countless ways. I know that Heavenly Father is our father and loves us. I know that He did send His Son here. I know these things to be true. This gospel has blessed my life and my family more than I can describe.
Sister Shipp

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