Monday, March 3, 2014

Ups and Downs

Hello world! This has been quite the week. Filled with blessings, happiness, and recognition of God's hand. Along with all of that though, there have been a few disappointing instances as well.

Before I get into my week, however, I'd like to acknowledge what happened last week. I'm sure most of you, if not all of you, know by now about the tragedy of the Parrish family. Sister Parrish was in my mission, and getting the text saying, "Please keep Sister Parrish in your prayers; she just found out that her parents and two younger siblings have passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning," was devastating. All of us in the mission felt for her and wanted to do everything we could to help her feel peace, but there is only so much we could do. Prayer was the most that we could do for her at that time. Since then, she has returned home and is now with her brother who was also on a mission in South Dakota. They are so strong! For zone conference on Thursday, President and Sister Taylor talked a little bit about it and shared some things with us that Sister Parrish wanted to be shared. She actually wanted to stay until after zone conference, but they insisted that she go home. She shared with us this painting called "Compassionate Christ," along with a little excerpt from the artist.

This was the artist's take on the painting:

"Painting a portrait of our Savior that would be universally meaningful, conveying His ultimate compassion, has been my desire as long as I can remember. A friend of mine shared a scene from a film that I found especially touching and inspiring.

'Jesus, as a grown man, sees His mother, Mary, sitting in a softly lit room. He kneels at her feet looking up into her eyes as He once did when He was young. In essence, He tries to find the right words to say as His mind is reminiscent of the many experiences they have shared as mother and son. He then tells her, "My time has come and is at hand." Mary questions what He means to which He responds, "On the morrow they come for me." Through her concerned expression she reminds Him, "Oh Jesus, you have the power to save yourself." Then with the most tender feelings, considering the magnitude of His Atonement which is soon to commence, He says, "Mother, it is for this purpose I have come into the world." 
A realization overcomes Mary and she wonders if this may be the last time she will see Him alive. As tears fill her eyes she reaches out one last time to stroke her son's hair and to gaze upon Him as she once did when He was a child. His compassion toward His mother, as well as every soul in the world, radiates from His countenance as He willingly fulfills the purpose of His life.'

In the original portrait, every eye color in the world is painted into Christ's eyes. I included blue, green, hazel, amber, brown, black, etc. so that every viewer could see his or her own eyes reflected in
the Savior's eyes, that they might feel his very personal love and compassion for each individual on Earth. The painting was completed a month after my father passed away. My 9 year old twin daughter also passed away several years earlier. I thought of all the relatives and ancestors who have gone before me and I like to believe my loved ones helped influence this version of our Savior. He is real. He lives. His arms are open wide to encircle and embrace us as we experience the love of a very caring and Compassionate Christ."      
-Kendra Parrish Burton

Sister Parrish is such a wonderful example of strength, we can all learn something from her. She knows her Savior has compassion for her and that He understands what she is feeling and what she is going through right now. It's such a comfort to know that families can be together for time and all eternity. This life is just the beginning.What a comfort for her to know that her family is able to still be with her right now while she goes through life, and that they will be waiting to embrace her again, just after the Savior will welcome her home. I love this Gospel with all my heart, and I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Sister Parrish and her family as they press on through this trying time.

This trial I have seen Sister Parrish go through has helped me to better recognize the things which I am grateful for. This week has proved to be wonderful, yet trying. There were two slammed doors while
tracting, they were my first. The first was a doorway that was such a tight squeeze to get to the door that Sister Major and I were shoulder to shoulder. It was night time, and we easily could have been assaulted in that doorway and no one would know. An old man answered and pointed angrily to his "no soliciting" sign, to which I replied, "Oh, we're not solicitors." He didn't like that. He yelled, "YES YOU ARE! GOODBYE," and slammed the door. Because of the teeny doorway, the force of the slam sort of knocked us both backwards. We giggled about it. Then, three doors after that, the EXACT same doorway entry, a man opened the door, yelled, "WHO ARE YOU?!" We thought he was teasing so we giggled and said, "Missionaries! For the Church of Jesus Christ of La..." And he interrupted and yelled, "WE DON'T WANT YOU!" and slammed the door. We fell backward a bit in his tiny entryway too. What a lovely night for tracting. I am grateful for tracting. For the slammed doors and the friendly people who either accept our message or politely excuse it.

I am grateful for the opossums that are everywhere. That they always provide us with a wonderful excuse to quote the lovely movie, The Princess Bride, and discuss whether or not we believe in "ROUS's." :) Seriously though. Opossums. EVERYWHERE. Literally.

I am grateful for new investigators (we had 2 this week: Ava and JC), and for people who keep their appointments with us. We went back for an appointment we had made with a potential investigator named Joel, who we were hoping would become an investigator, but the gate to get into his courtyard that led to the front door was locked! They were all home! We could see them through the windows. Joel had made an appointment with us, and he locked us out. So yes, I am grateful for the appointments that DON'T bail.

I am grateful for iPad mini's. This means that instead of going to the library and getting all dolled up for Pday, I can simply sit in my bed in my pajamas and write my emails and letters. Pants are joyous.
Skirts are great! But it's nice to wear sweats every once in a while. iPads are also good for teaching. They have such wonderful tools on them! Our area book, daily and weekly goals, planner, and so much more are on it! I love it. I'm VERY grateful for iPads.

I am grateful for zone leaders that make mistakes. They humble me and help me to practice patience. A couple weeks ago they texted us and informed us that Friday the 28th, there would be a baptism, and
encouraged us to bring our investigators. We were stoked because Elizabeth has committed to be baptized on March 15th, and she wanted to attend a baptism before hand so she could see what it is like. We had a wonderful lesson prior to the baptism, answering questions she had, and starting to teach the commandments a little bit before we went to the actual baptism. We showed up at the church for the baptism, and NO ONE was there. Not a soul. The church was locked and everything. We called our zone leaders and they said, "Oh yeah, his baptism was cancelled like a week ago, we thought everybody just knew that...?" We went a little bit crazy. There is another baptism this upcoming Saturday, so all is well, but Sister Major and I were sure tested on Friday. We wanted to flip out and yell at the zone leaders for being careless enough to NOT tell us that the baptism they told us to bring investigators to was cancelled, but instead we told them that we forgave them and that we look forward to next week. We will have another great lesson with Elizabeth, and this baptism will be the one she is supposed to attend. I'm grateful for humility and patience. Two traits that we obviously needed to be reminded of this week.

Funny story, one guy we tracted into on Saturday said that he didn't like the Mormon religion because "babies" pass the sacrament. We kinda got a kick out of that. We're going back this week to explain the
priesthood and that they are NOT "babies." Hahaha

To close this letter, I'd like to share a scripture that Sister Parrish wanted to be shred with us missionaries in her mission: D&C15:6. It's says, "And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen."  I took from this that what I am doing right now, serving a mission, is the best thing I could be doing at this point of life, and I can see that so clearly! I am reassured every day by either the small acts of others, the progress that people are making, or simply the fact that I am so incredibly HAPPY, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. I love serving The Lord with all my heart, and I know that I, along with my friends and family, am being blessed for my service. I can not wait to see with an eternal perspective so that I can better see how my time as The Lord's instrument has effected His plan. I love this Gospel and I love my mission! I love you too! Talk to ya next week!


Sister Guilott

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