Monday, August 3, 2015

Continuing the Work

"I am called of God. My authority is above that of the Kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is my master, and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place. To say and do what He, Himself, would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice. My acts are His acts. My doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done, to say what He wants said, to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of this great and marvelous latter-day work. How great is my calling!" 

The calling that I have to be a representative of my Savior, Jesus Christ, is one of the biggest blessings and greatest opportunities I have had thus far in my life, and I will forever be grateful for it. I can only pray that I did enough to live up to such a sacred calling. My heart is breaking knowing that I will be released from my calling in just one more day, but I am humbled as I reflect on the changes I have made and the stronger relationship I have gained with my Father in Heaven, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost since being ordained and set apart as a missionary. I couldn't be more grateful for the experiences I have had these past 18 months. 

This week was the perfect way to finish my mission. Things have been rough the past couple weeks, but Heavenly Father pulled through, and we saw many miracles.I have a lot to talk about in this email and not much time, so I'm gonna have to summarize the miracles that happened. The first one was pretty big. Last Sunday, a Sister announced to the ward that her daughter's boyfriend had been in a car accident. He was with two men in their 30's who were both drunk, and they got hit then rolled down the mountain in their jeep... The 15 year old boyfriend was in the hospital and was on life support, and they had made the decision to take him off of life support the next day... So the sweet Sister asked the ward to pray for him. We all did, and the next day as they were all walking to his room to say their goodbyes, they found him awake and alert. He isn't acting normal yet, and nobody can really understand what he is trying to say, but he is awake and recovering! It was a pretty big miracle. 

On Thursday, we took Mary's daughter, Sam, out with us to do some missionary work ALL day long. It was so much fun! It's crazy because every time we take a member with us out to work, the miracles just POUR out of the sky! It's insane. That day was no exception. We visited a couple that had seemed pretty standoffish the first time we had gone over, but we were supposed to go over and do some service for them that day, so we thought we'd try and teach a bit. When we got there, they had left this note on their door:
"Girls: We're in the bedroom to the left of the front door - because of the heat.  Please come in."
We felt a bit awkward about just walking inside their house and going into their bedroom, but we did. :P We got in there and they were laying in bed in front of like 4 fans because of the heat. They told us that they didn't want us doing service in the heat, so we sat and talked instead. Long story short, we ended up teaching the entire Plan of Salvation because of their questions, and by the end of the visit, the woman said, "Ya know, lately I've been feeling this PULL or... this draw to come back to Christ. I know that there's more knowledge out there, and I want to be able to learn it all." It shocked us. But the best part was when the man said the closing prayer. He said, "Lord, please help us both to open our hearts to the message these sweet ladies have to share. We know that there is more to learn and we desire to learn it. Help us to feel your spirit as we discern and seek for truth." It was amazing! Such a miracle! 

The other huge miracle that day was Corey. I had stopped by with the other Hermanas a few weeks ago and just felt TERRIBLE about going to visit him, so we didn't. This time, we got there and decided we should pray to know if we should visit him or not because of what happened last time. We prayed, and then decided to say what our answer was on the count of three. I counted 1, 2, 3... and immediately we all said, "YES!" So that was that. We got out of the car and knocked on his door. We waited a bit, and eventually knocked again. We waited some more then rang the doorbell. Then we called him. Then we yelled and said it was us. Nothing. He wasn't home! We all kinda wondered why we would all get such a strong answer of "yes" when he wasn't even home. How dare I question God. Ay ay ay. As we were walking away from his door, I remembered a potential investigator that lived nearby and thought, "well, we might as well try her while we're here." We knocked on her door and a man answered. I asked him if Sierra was here, and he said he'd go get her. As we went up the stairs, I noticed another man in the back of the apartment, and for some reason, I recognized him. It was Corey! Long story short, we got a return appointment with him (and he ended up coming to church yesterday), and we got 2 new investigators out of Sierra and her dad who had answered the door. It was pretty cool. :) God doesn't do random. 

The fact that I'm going home didn't really cross my mind much until yesterday at church. It was fast and testimony meeting, which was the PERFECT Sunday to conclude on. I bore my testimony and testified of the truthfulness of the Gospel, but the best part was when Mary and Toby both bore their testimonies for the first time in their lives. Mary has been a member since she was in her late teens, so for me to be able to see her bear her testimony in sacrament meeting for the first time was such a blessing. When Toby bore his testimony, he wasn't exactly sure what to say, so Charlie went up with him and helped him out. It was beautiful. It is moments like that where everything sad or heartbreaking or sorrowful that has happened on the mission doesn't matter. That it all feels worth it. I am baffled by the many ways that God has blessed me and allowed me to be a part of His children's progression. I will forever be grateful for that.
I had my exit interview with President Taylor this week as well, which was all sorts of confusing. Haha I say that because it was wonderful and happy and made me excited for what lays ahead, but it was also super upsetting to think that it was my last official interview with President, and I hardly had any time to ask him questions and beg him to share in his infinite wisdom! Hahaha. He told me a lot of wonderful things in my interview, but all I can really say about it is that I am so grateful for my Mission President. I KNOW that one of the main reasons I was called to the Washington Vancouver Mission was because I needed President Taylor. He has been such a big answer to so many prayers on my mission. He has taught me so much, and has helped me to better understand how the Spirit speaks to me. I will never be able to repay him for the things he and this mission have done for me. 

Over the course of the past 18 months, I have changed immensely. A friend who is a return missionary once said to me that if the changes we have made since being on our missions were physical, we wouldn't be able to recognize each other, and that is so true. I have changed and grown so much! Like I told my family over Skype on Mother's Day, "I am still me, but my righteousness is through the roof!" Haha the values that I had before my mission have been strengthened and solidified ten fold. I have also found new things that I cherish and care deeply about that will help me in my eternal progression, and I am so happy they are a part of me now. I've done my best to think of what I have learned the MOST on my mission, but I don't think that's really possible because there's been so much! I'm going to try to boil it down to 4 principles that have been on my mind recently as I've pondered my mission. 

First, there is nothing more important than being able to recognize the whisperings of the Spirit. Once you understand how He speaks to you, it won't be nearly as difficult to follow Him and in result, you will be able to better recognize the blessings that are being given to you. The better you recognize it, the more He will speak to you, which means the more He will bless you, which ultimately means you will genuinely be happier overall. Do EVERYTHING you can to know what it feels like to feel the Spirit. He doesn't talk to everyone the same, but He DOES speak to everybody. There is not one soul that He doesn't try His best to communicate with. Find out what he's trying to say. It will change your life.

Second, I now understand the meaning of "work." Haha work is HARD. Most of the time, work is not fun, but it ALWAYS results in reward. There are few feelings greater than seeing the result of your hard work. In the mission, it is the MOST rewarding kind of work. Exerting all of your energy, all of your strength, all of your conscious mind toward helping others find their way back to Christ is often exhausting. Spiritual work is usually the most taxing because it's not just physically exhausting, but it literally tires your spirit. However, seeing someone find truth and clarity, and discover a best friend and advocate in their Savior, Jesus Christ, is one of the most rewarding results there is. I can't think of anything to really compare.

Third, I have learned how to feel a fraction of God's love that He has for His children. I have always found loving people to be easy, but since my mission, it is automatic. There will always be "first impressions," but I have changed in the fact that now, my first impressions are different than judgments. It is so freeing to be able to look at someone, anyone, and not think any negative thoughts about who they appear to be. Instead, I first see a child of God, and I immediately love them. I just want to stop and talk to them and get to know their story and then I want to help them find more joy. This feeling is something in my nature that is changed, and I know that that only comes by the hand of God. This is one of the things I am the most grateful for from my mission. I know that I can keep that and hold on to that love for others as long as I continue to do my best to follow Christ, and I will definitely be working to do so. Along with this feeling of love comes another principle, which is the importance of families. Obviously, I love my family. I always have and I always will, but since serving a mission, I have never been more grateful or appreciative of my family and of their many sacrifices they have made for me throughout my life and throughout my mission.    

I want to thank all of you, especially my family, for your love and support over the past 18 months. I couldn't have done it without you, and I know I will never be able to repay you for all you have done for me. Thank you so much. I also want to make sure to publicly thank my dear Father in Heaven for blessing me with the opportunity to serve. For stretching me and molding me into a better idea of who He wants and expects me to be. I hope to be able to make Him proud as I continue on in my life, doing all that I can to share His word with those around me and continue the work. I love Him. I love all of you, and I hope the Spirit will touch you to let you know how much you all mean to me. 

To end my final post as a set apart missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to bear my testimony. I need you to understand that I KNOW that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. It is only through His power and authority that man can obtain eternal life, and that is not something to be taken lightly. Though it is a commandment (which might sound somewhat intimidating at times), it will bring you more happiness than you can possibly imagine. I know that the priesthood authority of God was restored through a prophet, Joseph Smith, and thanks to him and his question of which church he should join, we now have another testament of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon which God brought forth and allowed Joseph to translate through His power. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that through it's teachings, along with the teachings of the Bible, we can come to know for ourselves that this Gospel is true. If you ask God ANY question with a sincere heart to know, faith that God will answer you, and real intent to act on the answer you receive, God will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that we have a prophet today who speaks for God and guides us according to the direction our Heavenly Father wants us to go. Listen to the prophet. Follow his guidance and teachings, for they are only the teachings of the Lord Himself. I know that this work is the most important work to be done in our entire existence, and this is our purpose on Earth. We have a responsibility to our Brothers and Sisters to find those who are prepared and bring them to the knowledge of their Savior and His restored Gospel. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have and for the relationship I have with my Savior and with my Father in Heaven. I know that as long as I am founded on Christ, I will never fall. I know that you can find this truth for yourself, whether it be for the first time or not. I say these things in the name of my Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. Let's finish off with some pictures, shall we?