Thursday, March 26, 2015

Loving Missionary Work

At the beginning of my mission I created a vision for who I wanted to become by the end of my service here in New Jersey. I knew it would include a lot of twisting and stretching, but looking into the future, I said to myself, "It's worth it". I set goals for how I was going to become that type of person. As I strived for my goals, I felt the twisting and stretching process begin. At sometimes, I didn't know if I could be stretched or twisted anymore, but still looking into the future I said, "It's worth it." This last week's experiences have caused me to reflect on the past 14 months of my mission. Even though my experience here isn't over yet, I can say, "It was all worth it."

This week I have felt the most like the person that I have wanted to become.

I've felt like I've lost it. haha No, not like you are thinking. I feel like I've lost whatever was holding me back from becoming who I was supposed to become. I've lost myself, and in turn, found myself.

Until this week, I didn't realize how much I love and would give to do missionary work; how all I want to do is eat, sleep, and breath the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I like to just think about that for a second.

I wasn't that person before. But I'm grateful that I can be that person now and forever. I'm grateful that there is no end to progression.

Our area this week was completely remodeled. It seemed to change so rapidly! How or why, I couldn't tell you, other than God works miracles through our faith.

We've been working with the Familia Ramirez. They are a part member family. Lucia Ramirez is a less active member and is currently dating and living with her boyfriend, Angel. Lucia's son, Chris (17 years old), also is a less active member. Whenever we have gone over to visit, Lucia always is so excited about having us over. I can see her desire to change and she knows that we can help. Because she cares for her boyfriend, she invites him into our lessons as well. He attends the lessons, but with a "I've got nothing else to do right now" attitude. Chris, on the other hand, is always invited, but rarely leaves his room to listen to us. This week while teaching them, Angel was really engaged in the lesson. Fireworks seemed to be going off in his brain as he was making the connections about the restored gospel. He kept saying, "this makes sense!" Chris was another huge miracle. For the first time ever he left his room to listen to the message we had to share. We asked him several questions and as he was answering, he would turn to his mom's boyfriend and while giving the response to the question, testify of the truth. It was such a neat experience to see!

Another one of the biggest successes is with the Familia Sosa. They are a less active family much like the Ramirez. Nadia, the mother, is a member of 5 years and is living with her boyfriend Christian, who is also a member. They both have their own kids and all live together. We have been working really really hard with them. When I first got to the area, they weren't coming to church at all. Now, they come almost every week. The next goal for us was to get them to read their scriptures. It has been quite the struggle to help them see the importance of scripture reading. Finally, last Tuesday, during our weekly Family Home Evening with them, we challenged them to read The Book of Mormon every day. I told them that I would personally read it with them. They thought it was easy for a missionary to do, so I told them that I would read it in my "free time" if they could just find time in their day to read. I am proud to say that they have read every day for a week and are father ahead in the scriptures than I am in this challenge.

Eddie, a new investigator, is someone who I am so excited to be teaching right now. On an exchange on Tuesday, we went to go contacting in a neighborhood for an hour. We had contacted quite a few people and were about to head back towards the car to go to our next appointment, but I turned around and felt like we needed to speak with the man who was walking towards us. So, even though the light was green and would could have clearly walked across the street to our destination, we awkwardly waited like we weren't planning on crossing. As he approached us we could see that he was kinda....well...not kinda... rough around the edges. He's a large in stature and by looking on the outside, you would definitely say that he looks "tough". As we got to know him, we found out that he's the gangbuster, running the streets kind of tough guy. Now, imagine me walking up to him and sticking my hand out and saying, "Hey, I'm Sister Childs. I'm your missionary." haha Imagine it. Because it happened. We started to talk to him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, how it changes lives and brings peace. He seemed pretty interested. We got his phone number and he got ours and by the end of the night he had already texted us first. We had our first lesson with him last night. He has a lot to work through, but I already love him so much. He has SO much potential. I can just see it. :)

All of our hard work is showing through.

We are being so blessed. We even had 23 less actives/recent converts at church yesterday. We were so excited that we texted the president!

I love missionary work.

Hermana Childs

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Free To Become Better

In October of 2014 Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a talk entitled "Free Forever, to Act for themselves" stating that we, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, can become something, someone better than who we are right now.

In his talk he said, "The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character.

"It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom. I am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with."

I testify to Elder Christofferson's words. We are free to become better. Let's not let mediocrity and sin bog us down and keep us from our divine potential. We are children of the most high.

We are loved by a most kind Heavenly Father.

Let us allow the gospel of Jesus Christ change us.

That's why missions are powerful. For 18-24 months you have focused your life on the Gospel and Atonement of the Savior. We, as missionaries, spend that time learning and perfecting what it means to have faith, repent, be baptized (ourselves by partaking of the sacrament and our investigators), have the gift of the holy ghost, and endure to the end.

This is something that you can, and should, do at home. All those who have not had the privilege to serve a mission, who have already served a mission, who are preparing to serve, who are still in the primary, etc.

So if you feel under pressure, weak, humble, lowly, know this; you are free to become something better.

See what our Heavenly Father sees in you.

You are radiant, lovely, beautiful. Full of light, full of potential! A child of God.

I am coming to see what heaven sees in me. I can feel my father's love. I know it's real. It's my favorite part about missionary work, sharing the love I feel from Heavenly Father.

I have seen so much growth in everyone that I have taught as we have helped them see their potential and feel God's love:

Rosario, finally saw herself as someone of worth.
The Familia Canabarro now has a temple date to be sealed.
Jorge Sermeno has a baptismal date.
Hermana Childs is becoming a more devoted servant of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I know change is possible. Change is the purpose of our lives. It is because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that change can take place and what makes it so powerful.

I testify that light will radiate from you as you center yourself on the basics of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, having the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. See yourself at the end and work from there.

You are loved. By me and your Father in Heaven.

Big hugs,
Hermana Childs
Moving Apartments
Our humble abode
Dinner with the Ortiz family
Exchange with Sister Dubon
Hopefully the last now of the year!
My new companion-Hermana Palmer from Arkansas
We love the Sanchez family
Mormon Helping Hands-Service at the food bank
My trusted boots have finally died!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Move for the Better

This week was extremely hard. Extremely. In every way possible. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

This week we had to move our apartment. It was some of the craziest few days of my mission. We got the call that we needed to move out of our apartment on Thursday. This was also weekly planning and transfer planning day for us. We decided to do the packing first because we had limited time to do it and the other sisters that we lived with were doubling themselves out. We packed up everything into 2 cars, and after a couple of trips we had everything moved into our "new" apartment, aka the elders' old apartment. It's a shack. hahah but I love it. It's really tiny, probably one of the smallest apartments in the mission, and the elders got moved to a hotel style apartment. Why? I'm not sure, pero esta bien. Asi es la vida.

I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has blessed me with a creative mind, because over the past couple days during meal times and before bed, we've had a couple of extra minutes, and I've been using them to rearrange the furniture and put things up on the walls so that it feels more like a home. I think we've done a pretty good job! I'll send pictures next week.

The move was exhausting. The elders were busy and weren't able to help us with the move, so we had to do it all by ourselves. By the end of Thursday night we were exhausted and pretty much fell asleep on the boxes that we had pulled in because we were too tired to make our beds. Friday morning when we woke up with sore throats we found out that the apartment doesn't have a heating system either. haha

Friday was another crazy day because Sister Stevens got called to follow up train, so she had to be at the trainers meeting while I was on an exchange with a sister in Secaucus (right next to Jersey City). It was another hard day physically. I was in the car for almost 7 hours straight, but it was a huge joy to drive through Jersey City and remember the wonderful memories that I had there.

So there's the physically hard part of the week.

The rest was hard emotionally. Tuesday and Wednesday I was really sad. I had just finished a really trying experience, but the feelings still lingered. I asked my companion for help. I told her how I was feeling. Her actions more than her words blessed me. I'm sure the opportunity to serve blessed her as well. I asked the elders for a blessing and felt my Heavenly Father's love again. After that, everything seemed to be fine. It was incredible. What a huge blessing blessings are! ;)

I think that's why the challenges for the rest of the week seemed to be more bearable. The move was a move for the better, the blessing moved me towards something better, these experiences have moved me.

Isn't it awesome how Heavenly Father touches your life with blessings and trials that are specific to you? What a glorious recognition! :)

Hermana Childs