As Christ died to make men holy, let us "leave" to make them free!
The truth is marching on... :)
Happy Belated 4th of July!!!!!!!!!!! This week as we listened to lectures about the faith, courage, hope, and inspiration of our forefathers and ancestors I could not help but to be completely overcome with gratitude for so many things in my life! For this land! Oh, how I love America!!! The 4th of July is easily my favorite holiday, and though no nation is perfect, I will proudly and boldly declare that I, too, "am proud to be an American! Where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died to give that right to me. I will gladly stand up next to you and defend Her still today. There is no doubt that I love this land :) God bless the USA!!! "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQIWhqjWhpo
What a legacy has been left for us! During this season I marvel at the blessings and gifts we have. Religious freedom. Protection for our families. Safety and security. Of all of the thousands of years that man has dwelt on the earth, has there ever been such a time as this? No! It is only in the last couple hundreds of years that these "basic necessities of life" even started to be considered basics. We live in a time of such luxury and opportunity!! The world is at our fingertips! We have more opportunity here, now, in 24 hours than many had in a lifetime! I do not know what qualified us to be so richly blessed to live here and now -- but I intend to make the most of it! Let us not waste the gifts we have been given. Let's use our resources, our knowledge, and our energy to lift and help those around us. It is the dispensation of the fullness of times. Today! Let's keep this spirit of gratitude in our hearts and all of the bold, faithful people who prepared the world for this time proud :)
The 4th of July at the MTC was lovely. We had a devotional chock full of patriotic musical numbers, an inspiring speaker, and then proceeded to watch the movie "17 Miracles" together. After the movie we were given special permission to stay up 30 minutes later to watch the Stadium of Fire Fireworks show from the MTC grounds. Our little district found a nice patch of grass where we laid back and indulged in the lights and patriotism :)
So let's think about liberty this month. God gave us all a marvelous gift -- the gift of free agency - to do with ourselves and our lives as we please, how we please, whenever we please. But LIBERTY is different than just "freedom to choose". Liberty, to me, means that we are free from captivity -- whether that is political or religious captivity, the captivity of sin, or the chains of addiction. To help us achieve liberty in this life, God gave us another very useful set of parameters -- the gospel of Christ and the commandments. When we live our lives in accordance with His will, which is infinitely more wise than all of the sagesse du monde, we will find liberty on earth. Christ died for us, that we may be liberated from our sins if we would only come to Him -- if we would only accept the gift of His atonement. As I have come to grow here at the MTC, I have developed a significantly different love and appreciation for "rules" and "commandments" and "covenants" -- we are a covenant keeping people! And yes, that is a joyful phrase!! I love the peace, liberty, and content that comes from living in the parameters that the Lord and our Father in heaven have set. For I am just a girl, just 21 years old, and frankly -- I really don't know too much about the complexities of the world and the variety of human experience. Each day we learn more, but it is such a sage, essential mindset to understand -- that God knows all, and if you trust Him and follow Him, He WILL ALWAYS lead you to your own promised land, flowing with milk and honey. He wants us to reach our potential, He WANTS us to achieve our hopes and dreams! God is waiting, anxiously, to bless us and to help us. Obeying the commandments, repenting daily, and standing in holy places allow us to be in the position to be blessed and guided by the Lord.
Next thrilling news --- EXACTLY ONE WEEK FROM THIS VERY MOMENT I WILL BE ON MY WAY TO TAHITI!! Yes, the travel plans finally arrived!!! Mom, I will send a copy of the itinerary, so you know when to expect a call from LAX :) (You will be in Montreal, I presume? How are the moving details for China coming along? Have your visas come through yet?) We leave the MTC at 3:30am on the 15th (Monday) and arrive at 7:30pm local time in Tahiti! What?!?!?! I honestly feel as if I blinked, and my time at the MTC wrapped itself up and is waiting to be shipped out the door! I can say with complete sincerity that I LOVE the MTC. Of course it is thrilling to begin the next chapter of my mission as well. I cannot really fathom or imagine what exactly Tahiti will be like, even considering the way we have milked everyone for details and stories, so I am content to live just right now -- to live in the moment and to enjoy the days I have here. This last week will fly, as have all of the others!
So we will arrive in Tahiti right in the middle of a MISSION conference! We will see everyone and will get to hear the new announcements! (It is rumored that they will be opening many more islands that day!) Our luggage will be sent ahead of us to our areas/islands, and for 1-2 days we will be in limbo with only a backpack, a companion, temporary housing, and enthusiasm for working to keep us company :) It has been fairly hot here in Utah lately, hotter than it has been in Tahiti, but that isn't accounting for the humidity, of course :) My skin cannot wait for the moisture! Mmmm!!! :)
Also, consider this fun tidbit -- though the sisters will be coming home next October/November, the Elders won't be home until May of the next year, and will get to experience THREE STRAIGHT YEARS OF SUMMER! Haha! :) The last few days around the MTC have been amusing. Soeur Taylor and I seem to be mini-celebrities according to all of the new missionaries who were in the meetings that we taught. They point us out and say hello to us around campus frequently, which tickles us :) Yesterday we also... tear... handed off our Sister Training Leader binders to S. Castillo and S. Flores! We are so happy for the opportunity that we have had to serve (we will be getting released on Sunday) and know that these sisters will do such a wonderful job ministering to and loving the sisters in fantastic Zone 63 :)
More little tidbits -- the other day S. Chytraus and I accomplished one of our little MTC goals -- to run 10 miles in one day!!!!!!!!!! Yes, we woke up early and ran quickly... what a great feeling!!! I have come to love running here and chuckle when I think about the many times I have run around that little track... literally thousands of laps. 10 laps = 1 mile. approx 30+ miles a week, x 10 weeks... haha! :) I also had an opportunity to teach the district lesson last week on "Recognizing and Understanding the Spirit". What an amazing group of Elders and Sisters we have! The discussion went so well that we were out of time before I even realized it!
As an FYI, I will not be checking email on Monday (obviously) but will be (instead) sending off final emails/checking email on Saturday (and maybe Sunday) afternoon. Also remember that Dear Elders are not delivered on the weekends and will only arrive on Friday if you submit them before 12pm Mountain Time the same day :) Thank you all for your letters, pictures, packages and emails! I will miss being so close to the American Postal Service, but should do just fine in Tahiti. Packages take 2-3 months to arrive in Tahiti from the USA, letters 2-3 weeks. (Occasionally a whole year, depending on what obscure island I may be serving on ;) hahaha. Just playing. Mostly.)
The other day Soeur Buswell ate lunch with us and told so many wonderful mission stories! Our teachers, F. Coulson and F. Asay try not to "distract" us with them too often, so hearing stories is always a treat! She told of the people she taught, the relationships she built, and the miracles she saw. What a blessing! Hearing about real families and seeing the love she had for them in her eyes really helped re-focus and remind us about what we are about to do! I cannot wait to love, to work, to listen, and to invite! I am convinced that being a missionary may in fact be the sweetest job in the world. Frere Sybrowsky also subbed for Frere Coulson the other day -- we LOVE him! Such energy and enthusiasm! The way he talked about his mission reminded us to cherish every moment, to always give 100% and to never hold anything back. He said that people will tell you that it goes quickly, but you won't even realize what is happening until you blink and realize your mission is ending before you feel like it even began. :)
Je vous aime! A faaitoito, to'u mau hoa here!