Monday, October 26, 2015

Serve the Lord with GLADNESS

It's been a cold week, so I am glad the gospel is so warm!

Selfie in the Fall
I am so busy.  There is never enough time to write all the miracles that I see. I am continuing to learn and grow more and more every single day. A family in the ward just had a missionary come home. Guess where he was serving... In Utah! He served in the Salt Lake City West Mission. The family had a little homecoming for him at the church. It was so cool, he had a question and answer about his mission. He said some awesome stuff!  He talked a lot about obedience and how Heavenly Father trusts us missionaries with his children, and He trusts us to follow the rules that we have. We are here to share this gospel and if we don't, we are denying people their salvation! It is a big responsibility and we need to recognize the importance of this calling.
Fall with the Sister Missionaries

We had so many incredible lessons this week, I wish I could write all of them! I will tell you all about my favorite ones. One of our investigators, Deborah, is making some huge progress! We have been working with her since last transfer. She was raised Catholic and is now a baptist, but she knows that the Book of Mormon is true. We have been trying to get her to come to church for the last month and she still hasn't been. She has some health problems and she makes a lot of excuses. She is in her 50's, lives alone and she doesn't have much family. She doesn't really do much either. Every time we go over there, she is sitting in the dark, watching TV. We have been trying to get her out of her house for awhile and this week we actually got her to come on a walk with us! It was amazing. 
We saw Deborah again later in the week and since she has been sick, we had the Elders from our ward, Elder Free and Elder Gibson, come give her a blessing. Brother Walker from our ward also came with them and they talked about the priesthood power and the spirit was SO strong. After the blessing Deborah kept saying, "Thank you," and she was smiling! She looked happy.  After we left, we had an incredible lesson. Sister Farnsworth and I both taught and testified of our callings as missionaries. Sister Farnsworth shared Alma 34:32 and talked about how as missionaries we are here to "prepare people to meet God". 
Sweet Present (Necklace) from Home
I showed Deborah my name tag. I pointed out to her that the words 'Jesus Christ' are as big as my name. Something that is cool that I learned is that the Church only puts their logo on three places: church houses and office buildings, church publications and records, and on missionary name tags. I testified to Deborah that I wear this name tag because I am a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am called of God and I am here to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do. I am merely a mouthpiece for the Savior. It was so powerful and the spirit was SO strong. We could tell that Deborah was feeling the spirit too. I felt the spirit in a way that I have never felt it before. The best way I could describe it would be like a light in my chest, and it's getting brighter and larger and it is about to burst out. It was the coolest lesson I have been in, since being on my mission. After talking the Sister Farnsworth about the lesson later, she told me that she felt the spirit the same way. And we are convinced that the spirit we felt is the spirit of love - Christlike love - the way that God feels for us, and for all of His children. 

Last week one of our new investigators was a man named Bobby. We met him in a rehabilitation center where his mom is staying. Bobby is 72 years old and he was never married and has no children. He loves his mom and he takes care of her and his Aunt Carol, who is mentally retarded. He actually stopped us in the hallway and asked us who we were. We taught him the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon and asked him to pray about Joseph Smith. We haven't been able to see Bobby for about a week because he has colon cancer.  On Thursday he went into a hospital in Huntington, West Virginia.
Our Investigator, Bobby, in the Hospital
The Hospital is in our Zone Leaders area and so we talked to them and they said they would give him a blessing. We had Stake Conference on Sunday in Huntington, so we got permission to go to the hospital afterwards to see Bobby and that is when the Zone Leaders came to give Bobby a blessing. Our friend Ashley drove us to conference and she came to the lesson with us.
Ashley and I

We all found Bobby in his room and he started talking to us about his mom and how he is making sure she is still being taken care of while is is away. Elder Davis and Elder Wheeler (our Zone Leaders) started talking a little bit about the Priesthood and the blessing that he was about to receive. The Priesthood power is truly from God, and I am so grateful for it. The blessing talked about his family and the spirit was SO strong. It was so special because the Elders didn't know Bobby's family situation and how he loves his family so much. After the blessing, Bobby thanked them for the blessing. He started crying, and told us how he was grateful to have support from such good friends. Everyone's eyes were wet. Elder Davis shared his favorite scripture, Ether 12:27 and talked about how we can all be made strong through Jesus Christ. Bobby listened very closely and thanked him over and over again. 
Ashley and I After Stake Conference - She is TALL

The Zone Leaders left and Sister Farnsworth, Ashley and I started the lesson. Usually Bobby likes to talk and be very political but this time he just listened to what we said. The spirit was so powerful and we knew that it was teaching him. Everything we talked with him about was centered around Christ's love. Sister Farnsworth shared a short story about when Christ was about to be crucified, He was carrying his cross and He turned to Peter and told him to take care of His mom. She related that to Bobby and the love that he has for his mother and how even though he is in the hospital, he is still worrying about his mom. Bobby started to cry again and he was very touched. Last time we saw Bobby we asked him to pray if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. We asked him if he did this and he said that he did, and that he knows Joseph Smith is a true prophet, because God told him. It was so special. I shared my thoughts on the Plan on Salvation and how God loves us so much that he has created this wonderful plan for us to be with our families forever. We each testified of the truthfulness of our message and asked Bobby if he would be baptized. He said YES! He was very humble the entire lesson and it was a huge testimony builder for me that God truly does prepare people for us to teach. Bobby is so ready and I am so excited for this gospel to bless his life. Bobby is such a Christlike man and it is so incredible for this opportunity I have had to meet him and that I am able to get to know him more and more.

To end my letter, I want to share a very humbling experience I had this last week. There was a YSA Stake activity and we could go if we had an investigator to bring. We really wanted to go to this activity, and we had an investigator but the day of, he bailed on us. In a mad panic, we started calling everyone we knew - members, less actives, investigators, and potential investigators. We were trying to find someone to go to this activity with us. After calling about 30+ people we went out finding, desperate to find someone of YSA age who would be able to go to the activity that night. We even went to a grocery store and started to invite people to the activity. When 5:00 rolled around we were still out of luck. We hadn't found anyone to bring and it was time to leave. We ended up not being able to go, and I admit, I was disappointed. I wanted to go to the activity for me, and not for my investigators. 
When we went in for the night and started planning, we started talking about our day. We had a great day, and we met so many amazing people who are prepared to meet the gospel! We also had a great lesson with a less active member we are working with and we wouldn't have been able to have that lesson if we went to the activity. I realized that I was being selfish. I wanted to do what I wanted, not what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I made a commitment when I accepted my mission call to the West Virginia Charleston Mission, that I would devote all my TIME and ATTENTION to serving the Lord and leave behind all personal affairs. I am called of God to do HIS will. I am here to align my will with the will of The Father, and do the work He needs done, through me. I know that I have been called here, in this specific place, at this specific time for a specific reason. My goal is to become more like my Savior, to love as he loved, and to think of others BEFORE myself. I Love the Lord and I am going to serve Him the very best I can. My eyes have really been opened through this experience and I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned and the ones I continue to learn. 

I came across this scripture a few weeks ago and it has really stuck out in my mind. Psalms 100:2 "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing." The word gladness means feeling joy or pleasure. I want to be able to Serve the Lord with JOY and PLEASURE and DELIGHT. I will serve the Lord with gladness and go forth with a happy heart, to help others come unto Christ. I would like to invite all of you to serve the Lord with gladness, and think of others before yourself.

My #Ponderize scripture for this week is D&C 84:85 "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your mind continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." 
This is such a good missionary scripture! But it can relate to everyone. It kind of reminds me of what ponderizing is! As we study or 'treasure up in our minds the words of life' we are reading the scriptures. And we will be able to remember the things we have learned in the time that we need it most. Such a great scripture! Don't forget to #Ponderize and to share it with me!

Grateful to serve,

~Sister Kayla Marie Willis 
Go Watch Nightmare Before Christmas for Me

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