Monday, May 30, 2011

Come Follow Me! Ariel's Letter May 30, 2011

хелло моя семья,

(Hello in English with a Russian accent and then my family!) haha  This week has been so extremely hard!  I think one of the hardest on my mission so far, but it was also really really good and I hope I learned a lot!
 When things get hard I remember the sign in our house which says: " A missionary (ME) leaves my family for 2 years so that I can help other families be together forever!"

The beginning of the week was really rough because my companion wasn't feeling well so we had to stay inside, and when you have to be inside and your spirits are already down... it just doesn't make for a good combination.  So, I kept myself busy and ready the area book.  I went through all the former investigators, etc. Some of the Elder's entries were extremely entertaining.  I think that my favorite was on where they had committed a man to baptism and the guy said that he had made some weird agreement with God that he would get baptized when someone loves him for who he is and marries him... haha!

There was one family that kind of stuck out to me.  The elders had said that they loved feeding the missionaries, and this was a true statement as e got in touch with them that week and visited.  They have like 8 cats and 8 dogs, so it was kind of a crazy house, but we hope to see some things progress.  He expressed concerns that he never got an answer that it was true.  We talked about how we can't just pray and expect God to give us the answer, but like when we study for a test in College, we study long and hard to find the answers that we'll need for the test.  The Lord works the same way.  We need to work for it.  Attending church, obeying commitments, praying, etc, and then we can receive that answer from the Lord.

My companion also shared a cool experience with me.  As we've been teaching a bit about prophets lately she shared this experience as a witness of the truth of a living prophet on the earth today.  She and her friend/room-mate in Moscow went to General conference.  they talked a lot about food storage and preparing for the future.  Everything was totally fine in their lives right then, but they decided to just go out and buy a little bit of extra food.  IT turned out that in the next coming months there was a money crisis and she didn't get paid at her job for about 3 or 4 months.  She said that the extra food that she and her room-mate had bought was enough for them and even for some stray cats! :)

I have really enjoyed the emphasis that our mission has put on family history work and the family.  We have a sister missionary named Sister Demina.  She is from Moscow, but came on her mission from Idaho Falls.  We talk a lot about using family history work and the family to help people gain in interest to learn more.  That is our message!!  That we can live with our families forever!  This week I was feeling really homesick, and every time family, the temple, etc. was mentioned I would almost certainly inevitably cry... kind of comical....  But it has been SO great to be able to look more at the family history book that mom gave me and dad's journal of special experiences from his life!  I was SO touched as I have used these 2 resources in lessons.  We talked about the plan of salvation and I took the opportunity to talk about how my family is linked together and will be able to live together forever because of God's plan!  Sister Demina as thrilled when she saw my book and is going to copy it for her seminars as an example of how people can compile their family history information.  I feel such a link and love for my family!  We taught a lesson with Natasha and Sergei this week.  They are members in our branch and such an amazingly wonderful family.  We have been planning a little project to do for contacting with pictures  to help explain more about how the gospel blesses and strengthens families.  We want to have the members do something like that of their own, but that day we talked about journal writing.  We shared D&C 2:2-3  "And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.  If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."  (It is also similar to Malachi 4: 5-6 in the Bible).  We explained  how our hearts can turn to our fathers through temple work, etc.  But I especially like verse 3.  The whole purpose that God created the earth was so that our families could be connected and live together forever!  If this wasn't the case, the earth would have been a waste to create when the Savior comes, because that was His purpose in creating it.

I shared Dad's book and how his experiences have helped and blessed me.  I shared the experience of how you gained your testimony of President Kimball and that the experiences help me gain strength and faith.  Thank you SO much for doing that for us.  As we talked later I couldn't really understand what was being said but as I looked at the journal I realized Dad's last entry of the year he decided to work on the journal and finish it for us.  I was impressed to share this, but wasn't exactly sure what they were talking about.  I didn't and after the lesson told my companion what I had wanted to say.  She said that at that time Sergei had been talking about the death of his mother and that we don't know when things will happen.  I wish I had followed the prompting, but I shared it with him at church the next day.  Dad, you determined to finish these experiences for us the year before your stroke!! What a great blessing!!  We also don't know when things will happen and what a blessing it is to have this record for our posterity and those we love, so we know what they thought, felt, and experienced!  Thank you Dad!

We also had a good lesson with Alexander yesterday.  He may have some of his desire back, and mom I shared with him the story that you sent me about Elder Ballard and then Moroni 7:33 which says: "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."  I told him that I knew his baptism was expedient in Christ and that he would receive the power to do all that he needed to!  I felt the spirit really strong as I testified that even though I couldn't say that word (expedient) I knew that it was expedient in Christ and that God created the world so that I could live with my family forever and also so that he could live with his!

After the lesson I was pondering on commitments.  As missionaries we are to give a commitment at every teaching opportunity that we have.  These commitments invite people to change and come closer to Christ.  Sometimes we may feel a bit odd to boldly ask for a yes and no commitment.  I thought, however, how the Savior gave commitments.  He didn't say, if it's convenient, if you have the time, or if you want to... He simply and boldly invited, Come, follow me. (Mark 1:17-20).  "And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.  And straightway they forsook their nets and followed him.  And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.  And straightway he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants and went after him."  Christ wants us to follow and to see!! John 14:18 says  "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."    That is also our goal and purpose as missionaries!  We invite people to come and follow Christ.  Whether they will or not is their choice, but we must not be afraid to extend that commitment!

One last thought.  As I mentioned, it was a hard week, but we all have trials and hard weeks, months, or years in our lives.  I read Jacob 5:70-75 this week.  It talks about servants working in the vineyard with the Lord of the vineyard helping him to nourish his trees.   I loved the imagery that we are all called to something in life.   On a mission, a mother, a friend, a Sunday school teacher, etc.  But wherever we work in the vineyard of the Lord, the Lord will labor with us (v.72)  When we do the work His way, we can be sure that He will be there working along with us!! I am SO grateful for this as I know that I cannot do it by myself!  And in the end we will have joy WITH HIM in His vineyard!  I sure do love you all!!

Cectpa Cunningham

 Me and our investigator sveta.

One of the cats at the animal house!! haha

At a family history activity.  Natasha works in the mission office (front left, Nastia back right- i love her!, and sveta middle back.  Sister Ivanova back left, and you should all know me by now! :)


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