Week 22 in the Utah Provo Mission

Hermana Flores, with me in the background.

Hermana Flores, with me in the background.

This past Thursday I had an experience I will never forget! During our District Training Meeting (DTM), we did an activity (similar to the one that the October 2014 General Conference talk “Lord, I will Follow Thee”). They blindfolded me and led me into a room (with a path and obstacles), spun me around, and explained that I needed to figure out who was the Holy Ghost and follow that voice. In the beginning, there were so many different voices telling me to go one way and the other, to the left, to the right, turn around, walk forward, everywhere; and for a little while I just stood there and didn’t know where to go. I knew it wasn’t Elder Palomares, because he came up and said that it was okay to wake up after 6:30am (which is breaking a rule in the white handbook). I had a feeling that Elder Isaac was playing the Holy Ghost because he said “follow my voice,” and no one else said that, but Elder Jimenez would say the same directions as Elder Isaac, so I followed the voices of Elder Isaac and Elder Jimenez. I figured it had to be one of them, and I took steps in the direction they said and stopped for moments before continuing to be assured that I was going in the right path. This continued for a while, and I had followed both Elder Jimenez and Elder Isaac (and forgot my earlier impression about who was the spirit) up to the point when Elder Isaac said turn left, and Elder Jimenez said to turn right.

These are notes from my journal.

These are notes from my journal.

And then it hit me. I had trusted those two voices this entire path, and now they were going against one another. I just stood there, dumbfounded at them saying different things. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I just stood there. I didn’t want to go in the wrong direction, and I became frustrated and started crying and just wanted to stop this whole “game.” I didn’t know where to go. And it was in this moment of despair that inside me I heard: “Kneel down.” So I knelt down, pleading to the Lord in silent prayer to help me know what to do. And in that moment, all the other voices silenced. The world was quiet, and the only voice I heard was Elder Isaac. And Elder Isaac came a little closer and told me: “It is okay. You can do it. You are almost there. Just come to the left. Follow my voice.” It was then that I knew it was him. He was the spirit. And I stood back up and followed his voice, not paying heed to other voices which started up again; I knew who I was following and in whom I was putting my trust, and I would now follow him to the end. And then it was finished, and when I removed the blindfold, I saw the prize at the end: a tres leche cake, and I was greeted with hugs from the other sister missionaries. And there I stood, crying, and humbled by the experience.

There are so many different lessons I can draw from this experience. One of them is that at times, Satan will tell us to walk in the right path, and then once he has our trust, he will try to lead us astray. He won’t necessarily tell us to break a big law of God, but He might want to start with coming down the mountain just a little bit and begin poisoning us by degrees. Elder Jimenez (who was playing Satan) would only speak after Elder Isaac, imitating what he said. And I made it almost to the end following the correct path the entire time. I was so close to the finish line (only a few feet away) when the split came in the road — the turning point of the whole thing. I had felt comfortable up to that point, but then I realized that I just can’t rely on myself — I must follow the Spirit the entire way, despite what others say. And it was in the moment on my knees that I felt peace and recognized the voice of the spirit.

Another interesting aspect  to me was that Elder Isaac (acting as the Holy Ghost) didn’t say exactly where to go all the time. He said to “follow my voice.” And to do so required faith. It required trust. It required action. And he came closer to me when I needed help, and then moved back when I was walking and doing okay, gently guiding me in the direction to go as I acted in faith. And that is exactly how the Holy Ghost works!

What has been my biggest concern?

Who is Hermana Kathleen Billings?

Who is Hermana Kathleen Billings?

Being exactly obedient. I can feel a difference on those days where I go to bed at 10:40pm instead of 10:29pm. Or when I start my studies a little late or don’t turn off my screen of my iPad as soon as Hermana Flores leaves the room for something. And it’s not even like these things are “bad” things in themselves, but I am learning about the power of being exactly obedient, and the rules in the white handbook are commandments — they are part of keeping my temple covenants. This week I’m going to try to be better at that. I don’t need to stay up past 10:30pm finishing up little details that I could just as easily wake up a little early the next morning and finish them up before my studies. (Sticky notes are the BEST!!!)

What has been my biggest success this week?

BAKING ALMOST 200 BROWNIES!!! This last week we attended a zone conference with President McCune, and while there I felt impressed that we need to serve the members and show our appreciation to them. This past week I spent most of my free time every day baking brownies! (And today I bought more ingredient to bake some more) and writing letter to families (which also gives me the chance to practice my Spanish as we do service). Jesus Christ went about doing good, and missionary work isn’t all about teaching lessons — it’s about doing what Christ would do if He were here in our shoes. Service, kind words, encouragement, teacher, guide, caring, listener, etc. And the more I read the scriptures, the more I see His constant character and what we have the potential to be. And the Lord can use our talents for the bringing forth of His kingdom here on the earth.

What individuals can do to prepare for serving a mission.

What individuals can do to prepare for serving a mission.

Who has been my favorite person this week? My favorite person this week is Hermana Flores! At the end of our weekly planning session, we were doing our companionship inventory, and she was up front with me — she told me that I am too hard on myself. And I cried. I knew she was right. It’s one of my weaknesses and one of my strengths. It motivates me to be better, but then it also can tear me down at times. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I stumble and fall. I don’t understand everything or know the scriptures front to back. But I am learning to rely on the Lord. He knows everything. He is perfect. He knows His children and what they need. I just need to trust him. Pride, as defined in PMG, is “to put greater trust in oneself than in God or in His servants” (Chapter 6: Christlike Attributes – Humility). She helped me realize that I am trying to do too much of this work on my own, and I need to confide in the Lord, let Him take that burden, and do all the good I can and let Him do the rest. I am so grateful for the companions I have had and how they aren’t afraid to be bold and loving with me. They help me see the good in me that I sometimes just shrug aside as “not good enough.” And then the words of my call letter comes to me mind. The Lord has called me here and as given me gifts for the benefit of His children, and all He wants me to do is share the testimony He has given me and not be ashamed of it, live worthy (not perfect, but worthy through the application of the Atonement every day) and then let others decide to accept the message of the gospel or not. They have their agency.

What has been my most significant tender mercy?

Challenges. I hate them, and I love them. They are not fun to pass through in the moment, but the way they refine me is amazing.

Got to go. Love you FAR LONGER THAN FOREVER! šŸ˜‰
Hermana Billings
 

The chocolate cookie is really the best part of the Oreo cookie.

The chocolate cookie is really the best part of the Oreo cookie.

All this yellow (spring) filling is  really unhealthy!

All this yellow (spring) filling is really unhealthy!

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