I would first like to start this e-mail off by saying hello to those who have approached me and told me they read these silly blog posts! For instance, President Silas! Hello! I hope all is faring well in Hattiesburg! And also, Sister Bartsch's mom! Hello! Your daughter is a fantastic Sister Training Leader. Thank you for being so supportive of her! And, Happy Easter! (That goes for all of y'all!)
Did y'all have a good Easter? Ours was rainy! But it was fun, even so. We had some wonderful members take care of us, and even gave us Easter baskets! (Thank you, Brother and Sister Dennee, and also Sister Grover.) Church was all about the Atonement, the love of our Savior, and turning our thoughts to His sacrifice, but also to His resurrection. Too often we dwell on the Savior's crucifixion, and too little do we turn to the miracle that was His rising again on the third day. I hope y'all had the chance to celebrate that miracle and feel His love for you.
We had Zone Conference this week with the Gulfport Zone! I had the chance to see some lovely missionaries who I've served with before. We might have one of the biggest missions in the states, but it feels so small as you start to get to know more of the missionaries.
We received some great insights about planning, safety, and teaching. Our cars received this handy-dandy devices called Tiwi's! Our car didn't receive one, only because we'll be getting a new car very soon and there wouldn't be a point in installing a Tiwi. These little devices monitor our driving; aggressive driving, speeding, sudden breaking, whether or not the seatbelts are buckled, etc. They don't exist to tell us what we're doing wrong, or to get us in trouble; they exist to keep us safe, and to keep us obedient and diligent. It'll be exciting to see how this changes the mission!
In other news, I have discovered that Sister Barney is far braver than I am. You see, beside our duplex is this unsuspecting tree, always staying still, branches brushing over our roof. We will sometimes hear its little twigs whip our home in the morning as the wind blows, and it's usually no big deal. There was one night, Sister Barney and I were trying to clean our car, and we heard these odd, rustling noises, similar to what the leaves do when the wind blows. But, as we looked up, we realized that the tree wasn't moving, nor was the wind blowing.
That's when we realized --
-- it was the beetles.
I don't know what kind of hellish creatures these are, but they're disgusting. I'm offended that you even house these things, Mississippi. We came home from a long day of working, when in the brights of my headlights you could see swarms of these beetles pelting themselves against our windows and doors, large black dots dive-bombing the glass, ricocheting off the doorknob, trying to desperately reach the warmth of the light inside.
Needless to say, Sister Barney and I spent a good portion of the next few minutes sitting in the car screaming.
We watched them launch themselves at our door, only to plink onto the ground on their backs, little legs writhing as they tried to roll themselves uprightly again.
We came to the conclusion that we were not going to be able to unlock the front door. I flat out refused, honestly. I debated sleeping in the car that night. But, my brave companion leapt out of the car, grabbed our hose, and began to unleash a water war upon the beetles.
(I, of course, got all of this on camera.)
She stood there, blasting those creatures all over our porch. They all stilled and seemed to grip the pavement and tresses of our porch, trying to hold on -- and hold on they did. Because they didn't leave our porch at all.
More screaming ensued.
At this point, we debated lighting our whole house on fire. Beetles were now launching themselves at the car doors. I was cowering in the driver's seat, still filming, watching as my companion rushed to the car and pulled herself inside.
We'd decided to run around to the back door, where the beetles had not touched. We have since fixed this beetle problem by not leaving our porch light on at night.
Within the safe confines of my apartment, I have been immersing myself in talks given by those inspired by the Spirit, preparing myself to receive revelation from modern-day prophets appointed by the Lord this weekend -- because it's General Conference! :D
This past weekend, we had the opportunity to listen to guidance from the auxiliary women's leaders, such as the General Relief Society President, Primary President, and so on. I needed that inspiration, lemme tell you. The whole conference was service-oriented. All of the talks encouraged us women to continue to serve others, to listen to the Spirit, to be led in our efforts to help our fellowmen, and to be righteous, uplifting, strongly-voiced women for the latter-days.
My thoughts were turned to Moroni's description of charity:
"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
Later on, Moroni says, "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
I am a firm believer in the fact that all answers to the questions of our souls can be found in living the gospel. Charity is a largely emphasized facet of it, and it is one of the greatest attributes of Christ we can attain.
I never truly made the connection between what charity really meant and how it applied to me until this Women's Conference. I knew that it was the pure love of Christ, but what exactly did that mean?
I thought of Christ and the example He set for us. Christ is the ultimate example of charity; He loved openly, freely, deeply, and sincerely. He had the concerns of others at the forefront of His mind; all of His efforts, teachings, and actions were for others and never for Himself. His heart was always set on the will of His Father, on the needs of His brethren, and on the divine mission that He was on.
The Spirit touched me during that moment, and I had an epiphany. I knew what I needed to do; I knew what change needed to be wrought in myself through means of charity.
I've always loved serving others, but to have the pure love of Christ was different. To be as loving, forgiving, and selfless as the Savior is an unattainable feat in this life, but to reach for that is what our Father asks of us. He asks us to love our neighbors, give what we have until we can give no more, to take care of ourselves but first and foremost, to not put ourselves above anyone else because we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. He asks us to align our will with His so that He can bring about a mighty change in our hearts; through charity, we obtain forgiveness, brothers and sisters.
To repent is to change. It is a commandment to change. Lose yourself in the love of Christ, the love He had for others, for the welfare of His brothers and sisters, and you will find yourself purified through Him, and His atoning sacrifice.
I have found such love in service. My burdens are lighter, my heart is wider, my smile is bigger, too. To serve is to find joy. As I do more for others in Christ's name, I find my Savior doing even more than I imagined for me. I wish to be a disciple that bears His name on my heart, and imparts of His love through the works of my hands. He accomplished the greatest act of love and service for all mankind; the least we can do is serve one another.
Serve someone today. Find Christ in the ways you thought you never could.
I love y'all. Have a good week!
|Easter chalk talk from Sister Bartsch!|
|Getting ready for Zone Conference|
|Found this in the road.|
|I don't know how many pictures I send home of Mississippi skies, but this is just so beautiful!|
|Got caught in the rain.|
|Sister Barney and I looking fine!|
|I got to see Sister Poulson at Zone Conference!|