Once again, I'm realized how much my mission is coming in full circle. Monsoon season has arrived with all the vengeance and suddenness that it did last year. Last year, I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now that I haven't seen rain in six months. :) Well, okay, it hasn't actually rained yet... just a few sprinkles here and there. But you know it is monsoon season because you can see this great big purple mass of clouds on the horizon constantly, and it feels humid. Oh, and when you unexpectedly get overtaken by a dust storm while you're out riding your bike, that's a good sign too. (Don't worry, we took shelter quick. ;)
Ready for some good news?? Duane and his girls are all getting baptized on! :D I'm so excited I can hardly even stand it. Teaching him sometimes means going around in circles and hitting walls and trying to get him back on track when he wanders off in the boonies of doctrine.... It means telling him time and time again that I don't have all the answers, but God does. It means tears of frustration too.
And what it comes down to is that it it means immense joy. Because Duane and Tiffany and Sabrina have become so dearly beloved to me. And I love sitting in gospel principles class and listen to him bombard the class with all his concerns and watch them scramble to answer his questions - while I just sit in the corner and smile because hey, that's Duane for you and God loves him deeply for who he is. :)
I feel myself identifying more and more with Ammon when he rejoices in his mission in Alma 26.
Verse 9: "For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla, these our dearly beloved brethren, who have so dearly beloved us,would still have been racked with hatred against us, yea, and they would also have been strangers to God."
Verses 27-28: "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Goamongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. And now behold, we havecome, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we havetraveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies ofGod."
Verses 35-36: "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we,since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and allunderstanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on hisname Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption fromeverlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and hasbeen lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in astrange land."
I've just never heard such beautiful language and more emotional expression. It's only one small piece of a testimony to me that Joseph Smith couldn't have written the Book of Mormon himself - he didn't know how it felt to be a missionary. But Ammon did. He knew what it felt like to be depressed and want to turn back. He knew what it felt like to rejoice when you see the people you've come to love so deeply change and enter into a covenant with God. He knew that you reach a point on your mission where you have nothing left to do but sing God's praises - because it was never you that did any of this, it was always His hand guiding you. Every step of the way.
I'm glad I didn't turn back in the dark moments, because I never would have reached this point. <3
Someone told us in church yesterday that a testimony is like a triangle with three sides. And those three sides are your feelings, yourknowledge and your experience. Your testimony grows through those three things. Maybe that's why your testimony grows so much on your mission. You feel so deeply, experience so much and you increase your knowledge every day. My goal in life is to always be growing my testimony - because it is never the same from day to day. And I'd much rather it be stronger tomorrow than it was today, than the other way around. :)
Have I mentioned yet that I love you? Well, I do. Thank you for staying tuned while I sing my joy over here. :)
Have a fantastical week, friends. Fight the good fight of faith! (See 1 Timothy)
Love, Sister Ball