Monday, August 17, 2015

Faith: A Principal of Action

Yesterday one of our recent converts in the area taught our Gospel Principles class in church. She was baptized back in December - before I got here - and is an absolutely amazing human being. She taught about faith, and rather than spew all the information she knew on the subject she encouraged a class discussion where all of us could share our thoughts and experiences. It was very uplifting. I left thinking deeply about faith and the profound effect it has had on me - on my mission and throughout my life.
Faith in its simplest definition is found in Alma 32: "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hopefor things which are not seen, which are true." Or in other words, faith is believing in things you cannot see. We believe in Christ, though we don't see him before us.
But faith is also more than a passive belief. Faith is the power to act because you trust in what you cannot see. We do not simply believe that Christ is there - our belief in Him and trust in Him compels us to move forward and become better human beings, to follow Him to the best of our abilities. I believe that that faith is strengthened by an understanding of how powerful His love is for us. We do not have to earn that love, it simply exists, beautiful and unchangeable. That love He has for us draws us to Him, because we as human creatures all desire to be loved. He loves us, we love Him, we follow Him and trust that we are redeemed through His incredible sacrifice.....
Okay, I could discourse on faith all day. My heart is so full this week. Let me explain: I had an opportunity to go back to my first area, the very place I started my mission in. While I was there I felt like I could see myself as I was 16 months ago, compared to how I am today. I was nearly knocked off my feet with the strength of awe and gratitude I feel - because I have been changed! Over and over I've said it, but this mission has never been a sacrifice, but a gift from God to me. This week I saw it so keenly - how He has shaped me to become better than I once was.

I embarked on a plane last April and my heart was racing at a hundred miles an hour. I never told anyone how terrified I was. I still remember how desperately inadequate I felt and how I thought about turning around and leaving right then, quitting before I began so I wouldn't have to fail.
But I didn't leave. I stayed. And it wasn't that I had some incredible faith, just some tiny hope that this was going to be okay. From that small baby hope has sprung amazing things! I still feel like my faith is small and childish most of the time. I have profound moments but most of the time I feel like I'm desperately reaching in the dark and hoping to find what I need. I never know for certain that He's going to pull through. But He always does! 
I understand better now, not perfectly, but better what faith means. Why Christ says that if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed then you can move mountains. You don't always see the mountains move all at once. I didn't. But they move. Gradually, over time, your mountains can be moved.
A desire to believe is enough.
Simple faith works miracles.
Faith-filled obedience - obeying even when you don't completely understand or see the end result - brings blessings.
The Lord is anxious to bless you, but He requires your faith, no matter how baby it may seem.
I am still floored by these things I've learned this week. I am still amazed at the hand of God in my life. If I could cry happy tears, they'd be flowing. My life is forever changed. I'm not firm and unshakable, but I have a testimony  of the truthfulness of the gospel. And I know how to stay true. That's all I need. That's what I intend to do, now and forevermore.
So. There you go. Those are my words of wisdom to your for the week. :)
Other news: I learned why no one in Arizona drives old junker cars. It was something I noticed a few months into my mission: everyone has newer cars. Weird. I never understood.... until the A/C went out in our car this weekend.
(Insert dramatic music here.)

It was 11 AM, 112 degrees outside and after 3 minutes without A/C both Sister Fairchild and I were dripping with sweat. I have never sweated so much before IN MY LIFE. Not even while I'm biking in said 112 degree weather! We couldn't take it, so we hurried and pulled over into a gas station and got out of the car. Stepping out into that 112 degrees felt like walking into an air conditioned building! X.X
I am not exaggerating. That happened, exactly as I said. And that, my friends, is why you drive nice cars in Arizona. 
Don't worry. We got the A/C fixed. ;)

We're going ice skating today with our zone. I am super excited, partly just to pretend like I'm in cold weather ha ha. We also have a lesson tonight with David and Christina, our good friends who ran across anti material a while back and say they will NEVER join the church... but that we can still come and teach them. So, I'm a little nervous about that. But hey... I have faith. ;) Ha ha. It's a real thing though.
I will write more next week! Thank you for all your love, prayers and support! This has been the best experience of my life. I would never trade it for anything. But I do miss you and can't wait to see you again. I love Arizona, heatwaves and all! And the gospel is true. :) Talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Ball

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