Why would you do that?

HELLOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOooooooo WORLD! So recently my companion and I Sister Tipton just reached some points in our missions that are kinda scary.  I hit my 9 month mark and Sister Tipton hit her year mark. Or for those of us who are not familiar with our “missionary slang”, we have given up 9 months and a year to complete service to the Lord!!!!!!!!!

WHOA!

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Now the other day we were meeting some new people in our wonderful area that we serve in, when one very nice man asked us, “Why would you do that?”  Why would we give up 18 months to complete service to others?  Why during a time where we can really be self centered at the ages of 19 and 20 and make decisions for ourselves and only ourselves would we give that up? There is only one reason I can really say…

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We have felt the the affects of what our Savior did for us in our lives.  Both of us! In complete different ways, but STILL! We know what He has done for us personally. And we love Him for that. And we have a desire to serve Him, and tell people about Him, and why He wants us to follow Him.

So say “HI!” to my awesome companion, Sister Tipton!

BeFunky_null_4.jpgWhen I asked her why she decided to serve a mission, she told me that things in school weren’t working out(example: she didn’t feel good about the school she had wanted to go to) and she just felt this feeling that she needed to go on a mission even though she was only 19 (at this point she was going to have to wait until she was 21. That was the age limit).  She had never even thought of a mission ever before, and here just felt like she NEEDED to go on one. But then at a General Conference Session just 2 months after that feeling, guess what happened! (Explanation: General Conference is something our church has twice a year where the prophet and apostles of the Lord speak to us. It’s AMAZING! Ok moving on…) An announcement that sisters could serve when they were 19 happened! And she called her bishop the very next day to start working on her papers. This girl has seriously become one of my BEST FRIENDS! And she is such a stellar missionary.  I can tell her love for the Savior because of how much she loves missionary work.  She has truly impacted my life because of her service. You rock, Sister Tipton!!!!!

BeFunky_null_2.jpgAnd why I decided to serve a mission?  Well before that General Conference session, I was one day sitting in the library studying at college, when I felt a distinct prompting from the Spirit that I NEEDED to watch General Conference.  And as soon as I heard that I could serve a mission at 19, I had this thought come into my head that said, “Whether you really like it or not, you WILL serve a mission.” (Sidenote: I didn’t really want to serve a mission up to this point in my life.) But then I gained this desire to serve, because I really did love my Savior. And it just became this obvious reason that if I really did love Him, why would I not serve Him?

So I am here now, both Sister Tipton and I are here now, serving the Lord and giving up our lives that we left at home to be here. I cannot tell you how much I know this is the Lord’s work.  He wants us to follow Him, and we are here to help others know how to do that.

“Abide in me, and I in you…” –Words the Savior says to His followers

 

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Love… What’s in the word?

Happy Valentines Day! I LOVE YOU! But what is love?  I can tell you, that before my mission I loved… A LOT.  I loved my family, my friends, school, and surprisingly boys. (That last one hasn’t been as strong lately.  You know being on a mission and all that’s a true blessing right there.)  But this post isn’t to talk about how I’ve set my priorities in position on a mission, but more how I have changed and how everyone else can change because of one thing.  Love.

So what is in that word? El-Oh-Vee-Ee… Well lemme tell you. Before we came to this earth, we lived with our Heavenly Father.  And guess what, He loves us so much that He wants us to become like Him, and He set up this PERFECTO plan so that we could return to live with Him one day.  And guess what, our Savior loves us too! Thus why He came to this Earth to suffer everything that you (yes YOU!) might ever go through.  Today something clicked for me, you know one of those “AH-HA!” moments.  It went a little something like this in my head…

*Love is what causes us to become like Him.*

Occasionally all of us go through tough times.  Even missionaries! Surprising right?  Before my mission I thought it was all cupcakes and rainbows.  But I was wrong. Anyways there are tough times.  And how do we get through them… love!!! Such a happy word right?

“And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye. . .” –Alma 31:13.

Ok so I really liked this scripture.  I read it the other day.  Sometimes we are humbled?  Why?  One because Heavenly Father loves us! Two I find that when I am extremely humbled, I MUST learn how to love.  And so does everyone else. Because let’s face it.  When our Savior was on the Earth he went through more than we ever have to bear.  And did He ever just stop being nice to those around Him?  I have a hard time picturing the Savior in a grumpy mood, because He never was! And He always always ALWAYS loved those around Him no matter how much sleep He got the night before, or no matter the harsh words the said to Him, no matter when people spit upon Him, and told Him He wasn’t their Savior.  How heartbreaking would that be if all you wanted to do was help someone, and they refused to believe you?  I can say I’ve walked in those shoes, but only BARELY.  But regardless of that short short SHORT walk that I have been through and continue to do now, I have learned how to love.

I love so many many people now.  One of my favorite sayings by my mission President…

Love is multiplied, not divided!

I have moved from Colorado to Utah to New York  and I continue to come in contact with more and more people and continue to love and love more.  I could never lose the love that I have for my Savior, and He would never lose the love He has for every person I come into contact, so why should I not love.

So this Valentine’s Day  (since it’s almost over) start to love more.  Not just those who you see every day, but look for the good in everyone.  I promise you WILL love them more!

Now here are some pictures of things I love as a missionary.

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love these two future missionaries (or I’m hoping so! They would be the BEST ever!)

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I love Hornell Branch! (This picture is taken outside of our building… it’s not just a random sunset.  But hey if you like sunsets then come to church!)

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I love this special lady a lot! She truly has such a tender heart. ❤

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This is me loving on my companion… Sister Tipton!

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And we both love our area so much so that we made cookies and Valentines for like an army, and gave them to people we love in Dansville. 🙂

Storms and fires

So I’m not sure if the whole world is aware and I am not, but apparently there’s this HUGE arctic hurricane, polar vortex thingy that happened, and hit New York.  I didn’t even know, until we were stuck inside due to the huge winds and below 0 temps.  Shows you how out of the loop you really are as a missionary. Haha.  BUT, it made me think of a lot of the storms we face in our life.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my life. . .

There is calm in the storm.  Although sometimes you need to look for it.

Let me explain a little.  All of us missionaries are promised when we go on our missions that our family will be blessed.  Once upon a time, my beautiful sister served a mission in the beautiful country of Tahiti.

734093_4765401527520_1621363156_nThis is me with my beautiful sister!!! And below is Tahiti (I stole this pic from her Facebook, but shhhhh don’t tell her 😉 )

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While she was there,  I can tell you, that that year was the hardest year I have ever experienced.  My family got hit by a lot of trials.  It was crazy how much all of us had on our plate, and I remember thinking, “Holy moly! How am I supposed to even do this?  Where are those blessings my family is supposed to be expecting from this mission?  Does God really offer them?”

It took me awhile, but one day I recognized them!!! I had two loving parents who I knew were helping me get through every thing.  They kept a clear head.  I had an easy semester (yes that was in fact a blessing).  I had friends who were willing to help a “sister” (haha! future sister 😉 ) out that whole year.  I realized that year that I was going to serve a mission, and that right there is the greatest blessing of my life.  Not to mention, I was also offered so much peace during that struggle of a year, because most importantly, I have a Savior who knew everything I was going through.

So fast forward a year and a half and I’m in the MTC.  I find out that there is this HUGE forest fire right in my neighborhood (I literally live in the middle of a forest).  My family was evacuated and the fire was heading directly for my house.  And I remember thinking, how in the world will my home be saved from this massive fire?  But some favorite memories I have are kneeling down in the MTC multiple times, begging for protection for my home and family.   And it hit me. Peace. “Not my will, but thine be done.”  If this was a trial my family had to overcome then so be it.  I felt a calm peaceful feeling that no matter the outcome, my family would be blessed.  If the house was to taken out by a fire, there was a plan in store that our Father in Heaven had for us. And we have a Savior who knows every pain we have or ever will go through! He would be there to comfort us.

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(I will tell you though… my house did in fact survive.  Missionary blessings!!! But this is beside the point.)

I read this talk the other day.  Trials are a way God shows us His love for us, because those trials are what cause us to grow.

“You and I will one day know, if we do not know now, there is no way we can escape from God’s love, because it is infinite. ” — Neal A Maxwell

Infinite, people! INFINITE!  It’s hard to escape trials we may face though, because really they are God’s love.  Do you even realize that?!?! Do we realize how much we become like Him during these trials?

I find that something we are all guilty of is looking at the bad in each situation.  Instead, look at the good.  Look at the eternal perspective.  How will this increase my faith, my testimony?  How will this make me a better person? How will I come closer to my Savior through this experience?  Who is the calm in the storm anyway?

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“Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

“But men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” –Matthew 8: 26-27

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 “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

 “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

 “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

 “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

 “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

 “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him. . .” –Matthew 14: 26-31

Jesus Christ is the calm. I know from personal experience this.  But I know that it’s hard to believe it, unless we ourselves can feel it.  So my invitation to everyone (the whole world hopefully!) is that when hard times come, and there’s winds that feel 7583659693691 miles per hour come STRAIGHT at you, and waves crashing down or you, remember that He will comfort you. He knows what you are going through.

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The Biggest Rush!

This is a post for all those who are about to serve missions/considering missions/are a member missionary/maybe someone who isn’t a member/that really means anyone. 🙂 Tehe! I say this all the time, but I mean really mean it, I wish I could shout it from the rooftops…

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!!

Ok moving on.  So I love being a missionary.  I love sharing the gospel.  I love talking to people.  But I also really love adrenaline rushes.  Haha, you may be thinking, “Why are you serving a mission?  You should be riding motorcycles, or bungie jumping, or be on Wipeout (secret dream there), or anything but a missionary.”  But I can tell you that the biggest rush I get , where I’m fist pumping and laughing my head off, is when I share a message that truly makes me happy.

Can you believe that?  I hope so!  The message I go out and share every day is true! So why wouldn’t I get a HUGE rush when sharing it!?

I think it all begins with my love for my Savior.  He has done so much for me.  He has helped me realize who I am, where I am going, and what I can become.  How?  Because He restored His gospel again to the earth! Goodness gracious I’m the luckiest girl to be able to wear His name over my heart each day.

I always send pictures home to my family… I mean that’s what a missionary should do right?  So my parents always claim that I make “funny faces”.  Call it what you may Mom and Dad, but I claim it’s the excitement I have for my calling.  Every time I’m “chessin'” a smile, I’d like to think it’s because I’m really happy I’m doing what I’m doing.  🙂 Look at the following….

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Book of Mormon in my hand on this one… just saying

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Now that you’re thinking, “Is this really normal joy to have as a missionary?” I can tell you that YES! It is normal! Why because I say yet again… IT’S TRUE.

And yes I can in fact make normal faces…

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I am surrounded by God’s love each and every day because of what I have.  I can say I love my life.  I love what I am doing and I love life! I have the biggest rush ever with what I get to do.  I get to teach people about Christ every day.  And it’s through His love that I can be happy. Are you unhappy?  Come ask us about Him.  Come feel His love rushing into your own life. I promise you, He is always offering it!

Ether 12 is the best chapter EVER!!!!

 26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Ether 12 is the best chapter EVER!

True Power

Before my mission I lived by the philosophy of “I can do it by myself.  I am a big girl.”  I tell you, I am still trying to get over this nonsensical attitude.  But I can tell you that God gave us weaknesses to make us strong.  So as I am working on this, I am finding true power.  And it’s not even power from my own self!

What does power come from?

This is something I have been looking for for a while.  I am a person who likes power.  Haha hopefully that doesn’t come off weird, but I like being in charge.  I was always that person in the group of friends who would be 5 steps in front of everyone else.  (Partially due to my excitement about every dang thing, and partially because I was being bossy).  And I can tell you I have been sufficiently humbled since being on mission.  Anyways back to the question.  Power comes from God.  My most powerful experiences in my mission have been when I have relied fully on Him.

DSCN0015 DSCN0124 Baby missionary Sister Harline, and then again with her mission mommy.  This is the starting line of this race. (Yes I just talked in 3rd person). This was when I thought I could do everything myself.  Ha! Good joke, Sister Harline.

I have had some huge growing experiences.  And it’s amazing because I have found that the times I have grown the most have been in situations that I didn’t want to be in. Haha! Humility at it’s finest.  Not getting what I want.  But guess what… I felt God’s power guiding and directing me during those moments.

How do you find power?

One word: Prayer.

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Best example I have found of prayer and power. Brother of Jared.

 34 And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.

 35 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded. –Ether 1:34-35

 38 And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance. –Ether 1:38

43 (God speaking) …And thus I will do unto thee (AKA offer blessings) because this long time ye have cried unto me. –Ether 1: 43

The Brother of Jared after crying unto the Lord is told that he will receive so many blessings! So incredible!

Later the Brother of Jared says in prayer to the Lord …

2 …O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires. –Ether 3:2

5 …We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men. –Ether 3:5

Bam! Did the brother of Jared see that true power? Yes! And so can we all.

I know the power of prayer. I am not even close to the finish line, but I have really found myself enjoying the ride that I have had.  Not because I do anything special, or my companions do anything special, but because we all rely on the Lord. And in the end we receive that true power.  Power can be in many instances just strength to get through the hard times.  I know that’s when I have felt the power that comes from prayer the most.  Prayer can heal. Prayer can help you grow.  Prayer can guide you.  Prayer can comfort you.  Prayer WILL give you power, IF you have the faith to go to your knees and ask

Trust in God, so that He can trust in you. 

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White Christmas

Today my companion and I walked in the snow! Oh my goodness there is nothing like a New York Christmas.  Talk about “hello lake effect!” Wahoo!

But there was something so peaceful and so just COOL of the snow falling all around us even as there were cars WHOOSHING by us on main street.  Then all the sudden I was thinking of every old Christmas movie I watched when I was at home.  Not like in a distracting way of course, but of the happy endings we see in Holiday Inn, or Miracle on 34th Street, or White Christmas.  They all end happily ever after with snow fluttering around.  And it made me think… even if people don’t believe in Christ or in God, why can’t we still fellowship them and love them like we are told to?

 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 38 This is the first and great commandment.

 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. –Matthew 37-39

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. –John 13:34

Ok hi! Hello! Screaming be nice and love even if there is no love in return sometimes.  But most of the time, when we spread love.  We gain in return so many many blessings.

One of my favorite Christmas movies back home was It’s a Wonderful Life! Tells the story of George Bailey and how he goes on to be a banker and successful business man and along the way their are many bumps and bruises till at long last the business is going downhill and it seems impossible for anyone to be able to see it ever come back together.  So he wants to take his life.  Towards the beginning of the movie, during a crisis at the bank, George Bailey goes and gives his money that he saved up for him and his wife to many of the citizens of Bedford Falls.  Well a few years later his business go kaput, and he gets so sad that he almost jump off a bridge!  But a new friend pops into the picture, Clarence.  Clarence shows George just how much impact he has had in so many people’s lives.  It’s incredible, because really one person does in fact make such a difference in so many people’s lives. And that’s what George Bailey does see how much he has. download Although he may not have everything he ever dreamed of, a nice car and house and everything like his brother, he has a family he loves, and a roof over his head, and friends who care about him.  The best part of that movie is when he’s running around screaming “MERRY CHRISTMASSSSS!” (Totally something I would do!) after he realizes how significantly blessed he is. Basically I lose it in tears every single time I watch that movie especially when all of his friends give back the loan he gave at the beginning of the movie. Oh boy.  Getting teary eyed even writing this.  But I love it because God knows each and every one of us so well that He is willing to send those guardian angels when we need them.  Especially when we have served our fellowman. 

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Do you feel your eyes brimming with tears yet? I DO!

Something our mission President has challenged us to do this month is to have a white Christmas.  Meaning to help someone perform an ordinance to come unto Christ such as a baptism, or temple endowment, or even someone who has been lost for awhile coming back and performing work for the dead in the sacred walls of the temple. I know it’s possible to do this.  But I want everyone out in the world, member or nonmember to also have a white Christmas in the fact of helping someone come unto Christ in any possible way. So take for example this.  Giving a Book of Mormon and inviting them to read a passage about Christ and what it means to follow Him.  Or maybe even shoveling someones driveway.  Helping them FEEL the love of Christ in a way that someone really does care for them. I don’t know! Be creative.  But go and do it!  And realize how much we do have when we serve.

There will be miracles this holiday season! I can feel it! Merry Christmas! May your holidays be white. 😉 And may you run around the street shouting “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

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because Christ lives!

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This is my area looking great in it’s white Christmas attire! 😉

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Sister Lewis is excited for a white Christmas! Are you?

My blog as a missionary in the New York Rochester Mission and the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center