Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Refiner's Fire

Hi family! 

Let me start out by telling you how much I love you all and I'm so grateful for you. 

I've reached a ripe old age of six months on my mission as of Tuesday, and I've learned one important principle that I felt I should share with you: missions are really hard. 

In the church, we talk a lot about "the refiners fire" and how "our needed conversions are often achieved by suffering and adversity rather than by comfort and tranquility." And that's really true! 

Being in the mission field, I feel like I am definitely in the refiner's fire. However, it's a different kind of "hard." 

In life, hard is when you struggle in school, hard is when you struggle with employment, hard is when you break up with someone and when your testimony is shaky. But it seems like being in the refiner's fire is a choice. Because all these challenges are sooo difficult, but it's up to us individually to decide if we will let the Lord make something of us in the mean time. 

We can choose to allow our trials and challenges to overcome us and swallow us up and defeat us. Or we can let go of our need to control and our need to fix and change situations, and allow the Lord to mold us and to shape us. 

That doesn't mean any of this is easy, or that letting the Lord change you is easy. That's why it's called a fire, not a beachside resort. It's not easy, but if we really want to allow the Lord to shape us, we will. 

In the Book of Mormon, Laman and Nephi faced very similar situations. They both left all their possessions behind, they both went with their family to face the dangers of the wilderness, they both struggled to find food and both had to provide for their hungry families, they both had to return to Jerusalem for the plates which Laban had in his possession. But what's the difference? Their attitudes and their faith. Laman complained the whole time about how it was hard. He got angry, he doubted, he didn't believe God wanted him to know anything. Yet Nephi faced the situation with stalwart loyalty to the Lord and regardless of what the circumstances may have been, he always said, in an essence, "Lord, I will go where you want me to go, say what you want me to say, do what you want me to do, and be what you want me to be. It doesn't matter if it's hard, it doesn't matter if my family goes hungry and my very life is put in danger. I will offer up all I can give to you-- my heart and my will-- and be what you want me to be." 

There's a quote that I read this week that explains the way we should face our challenges: "Character is revealed in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress." 

I have learned so much these past few months about the painful process of becoming what the Lord wants me to be.  And I would never change it. Because although it took a lot of hardships, I am so much closer to my Savior. 

A departing missionary recently said, "The joy is in the work." I believe the joy can be in the change if we let it. If we realize all that the Savior is making of us, and thank Him for our challenges and thank Him for the chance to learn, their is joy in the fire, in the hardships, in the pain. 

I love you all and I pray that you grow closer to your Savior each day. I pray that you truly seek Him out through prayer and seek His help. 

Have a wonderful week! 

Sister Abram 

Monday, August 3, 2015

"And he went out, and he wept bitterly."

This week, I learned a lot about the atonement of Jesus Christ, and repentance.

Before the mission, when you make mistakes, you feel bad. Big mistakes of course feel worse. And maybe it's just me, but since being a missionary, the littlest mistakes cause my heart to heart, and I think it's because as a missionary, you are closer to the spirit. You have the unique opportunity to fully represent the savior. And when you don't always live up to that, it hurts. (I'm talking about mistakes/transgressions like not opening my mouth to share the gospel or letting people pass me by, not serious sins, although those can apply, too). The little things make a huge difference.

I used to think the apostle Peter was a pretty silly guy. Why would you deny knowing Christ three times of you had walked with Him, seen His miracles, especially if He warned you before hand? Wouldn't you be proud to represent Him? But this week I realized that I'm a lot like Peter. I fall short. I wear my Savior's name everyday, but I'm not perfect like He is. 

And, like Peter, we all fall short every day. We fail to be 100% dedicated and consecrated. The little things cause us to fail. And when the cock crows and we recognize how we've fallen short, we weep bitterly as he did. 

Which brings me to the atonement! There's a quote in Preach My Gospel that says, "As your understanding of the atonement increases, your desire to share the gospel with others will increase also." So, I decided to study the atonement. And would you believe it if I told you PMG is right?! I began to study the atonement and the effort that it took for the Savior to give absolutely 100% of himself for our Salvation.

Check out these awesome quotes I found: 

1. "The Savior’s submission to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane set an example for us, inviting us to submit to God’s will in our life. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “It takes great faith and courage to pray to our Heavenly Father, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt’ [Matt. 26:39]. The faith to believe in the Lord and endure brings great strength. Some may say if we have enough faith, we can sometimes change the circumstances that are causing our trials and tribulations. Is our faith to change circumstances, or is it to endure them? Faithful prayers may be offered to change or moderate events in our life, but we must always remember that when concluding each prayer, there is an understanding: ‘Thy will be done’ (Matt. 26:42). Faith in the Lord includes trust in the Lord”

2. "First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God."

3. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the significance of the Savior’s plea to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: “In that most burdensome moment of all human history, with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought--His Father … [Mark 14:36]. This is such a personal moment it almost seems a sacrilege to cite it. A Son in unrelieved pain, a Father His only true source of strength, both of them staying the course, making it through the night--together” (“The Hands of the Fathers,” Ensign, May 1999, 16). On another occasion Elder Holland commented further:

“Mark says [Jesus] fell and cried, ‘Abba, Father.’ This is not abstract theology now. This is a Son pleading with His Father, ‘All things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me’ (Mark 14:36).

“Who could resist that from any child, especially the perfect Child? ‘You can do anything. I know You can do anything. Please take this cup from me.’

“That whole prayer, Mark noted, was asking that if it were possible, this hour would be stricken from the plan. The Lord said, in effect, ‘If there is another path, I would rather walk it. If there is any other way--any other way--I will gladly embrace it.’ … But in the end, the cup did not pass.

“In the end, He yielded His will to the will of His Father and said, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22:42)” (“Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 41).

4. “What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals? Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call--just some recognition from the outside world. Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence. Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home. Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion. Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged. Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end. Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior’s load. Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this? No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all” (The Infinite Atonement [2000], 105).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, truly was our Savior and Redeemer. His Father-- our Father-- commands us to be perfect, but knew we would not achieve perfection in this life. And that is why Christ came here. That's why He suffered for everything we would ever feel in this life. So that He could perfectly understand us. So although we fall so short of perfection, we still have the glorious hope of returning to His presence by having faith in Him, repenting daily, being baptized by the property authority, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion, and using the rest of our lives to follow Him just a little bit better. 

“Now, if there be those throughout the Church who by word or act have denied the faith, I pray that you may draw comfort and resolution from the example of Peter, who, though he had walked daily with Jesus, in an hour of extremity momentarily denied the Lord and also the testimony which he carried in his own heart. But he rose above this and became a mighty defender and a powerful advocate. So, too, there is a way for any person to turn about and add his or her strength and faith to the strength and faith of others in building the kingdom of God” (“And Peter Went Out and Wept Bitterly,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 2, 4, 6).

I know my Savior lives and love us. I know repentance is essential to His plan and I know that this restored gospel brings us the hope we need in this life, and the only way back home to our Heavenly Father. 

Hermana Abram

Mission life is the best life

Hey there!

I love Hermana Ayala. She is so great and teaches me a lot. I'm pretty sure she's training me, not me training her.

So I hit my 5 month mark on Saturday and I actually wanted to cry a little bit. A year ago I was finishing my second semester of college, and now I only have a year left of my mission. It's going to by so fast, it's kinda scary.

I love you all sooo much but man I can't imagine my life back at home. I can't imagine my life outside of missionary work! An elder from the stake was released on Friday and it was so sad to watch him take off his tag and leave behind the missionary life.

I think what makes this so great is the fact that I don't have a lot of time to think of myself. I am studying, praying, living for other people. For their salvation. It hurts when they don't accept the
message. It hurts when they don't come to church. It hurts when you love them so much but you have to let them choose for themselves to change their lives. But I wouldn't trade it at all.

I don't know what it's like to have a day off anymore, and I'm glad I don't!

Mission life is the best life. But more than that, the gospel life is the best life. There really is nothing in the world that the gospel can't mend and help. It's worth all the sacrifice necessary. This is
literally salvation.

Being on a mission gives you a clearer vision. When people come to your with their problems, the gospel is all you can offer them as a missionary. And I think slowly you come to realize that if they choose to truly live the gospel, all their needs will be met. Even if it takes time.

I love you all so much!

Hermana Abram

Happy Pday!

Happy Pday!

This week was pretty great, full of funny tracting (door knocking) experiences, powerful lessons, and lots of Spanish.

We have a wonderful investigator named Gloria who always invites the spirit when we meet with her. She is very dear to me and she is pretty much my family at this point.

We are also teaching Fausto, who is diligently reading the Book of Mormon and always has really intriguing questions and perspectives. It's wonderful to watch how people's live change and how they find so much peace as they begin to study the gospel.

Having Sister Ayala as my companion has been wonderful. She's a great missionary, and she is also so full of knowledge and love. Also it's extremely helpful to be able to practice my Spanish so much with her. I have already learned an incredible amount!

This week, I learned how important the little things are. I learned that doing the tiny things the Lord asks of us, as well as the big things, are essential for our true happiness. As we truly take time to study our scriptures, pray, attend church, and reach out to others, we will come to find light that fills our souls. Answers to questions we never knew we had will appear.
You guys, I know this is true! Each day my testimony grows more and more. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was His prophet. I know that families don't end after this life but they have eternity to spend together. And I know that any sacrifice you make to live this gospel is not only essential, but you will be rewarded 100 times more.
I love you all!

Con amor,
Hermana Abram

Hidden Miracles

This week has been full of hidden and interesting miracles.

I had been praying and fasting all week to find people to teach--people whom the Lord had prepared to receive the gospel. I was getting
so frustrated almost every day because we never found anyone to teach, no matter how many doors we knocked, how many members we visited. As luck would have it, I was called on in district meeting to share miracles. I felt as though I had nothing to share, so I decided to make something up because God certainly hadn't answered my sincere prayers. And as I was sharing, I realized that my miracle was true. We HAVE found people who are ready to learn! We have given out countless referrals to the English speaking missionaries, two of whom will be baptized soon. No, we never taught them, but the Lord DID lead us to the people He had prepared!

About a month ago, we received a member referral from a current missionary in SLC. She sent us to her grandparents. Her grandmas name is Gloria, and Gloria and I have grown very close. I feel a certain warmness towards her, and I know I have found one of my life long friends (even if we are at very different stages of life). She has touched my heart in ways words can never describe. She is earnestly seeking the truth, she acts on her faith, and prays with her whole heart. And she receives big answers! This week, I asked her if she has prayed to know if the Book of Mormon and the things we have taught are true. She said that she doesn't need to because she already knows they are true, because there is no way two 19 year old girls could make this up!

Gloria has been so special for me as I have diligently studied, prayed, and fasted to know her needs and know what to teach her. I received answers to those prayers as I felt so many ideas rush through
my head with a strong burning that led me to understand her.

I realized that even if people don't understand it, they DO recognize us as servants of the Lord. This realization hit me when I thought how crazy it is that so many adults welcome us (strangers) into their homes and pour their hearts out to two kids. They take our testimonies and pray about the things we have taught them. And then I realized that I'm not 19 (and a half), I'm not Madeline, I'm not a college student, and I'm not just a kid. I truly am set apart to be a real representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. You never get an opportunity like this again.

My testimony has grown so much since beginning my mission, in ways I didn't know it needed to grow. If this work wasn't true, then us crazy 18, 19, 20 21 year old missionaries would have messed this up a long time ago :)

Les quiero con todo mi corazón. Yo sé que esta obra es la obra del señor, que no hay otro camino para llegar a la presencia de Él, y que nuestro Padre Celestial nos bendice cada día, cada hora, cada minuto, aun cuando no las reconozcamos esas bendiciones. Esta obra es maravillosa y aunque es muy difícil, no querría hacer ninguna otra cosa que ser una misionera para mi Salvador.

Con amor,
Hermana Abram