Monday, October 24, 2016

Singing to the Tune of the Holy Ghost

Dearest Mother,

Due to unplanned service this morning, I don't have too much time on emailing today, so my email will probably be on a little bit of the shorter side. There is just way too many things to do today!! It's kind of exciting though:) I learned this week the importance of having the Spirit with you all the time, and the power that the Spirit has in helping people come closer to Christ.

So... We are teaching an older lady who has a lot of health issues. She at one point had a surgery on her heart, but then recently her heart started leaking again (because I am not a doctor I know know the terminology so I might be accidentally making it sound worse then what it is) and so she has been back and forth to the hospital for high blood pressure. Her ankles are extremely swollen and so the doctors also gave her some medicine for that. We went and visited her this last week, and we were lucky to have caught her because she had just gotten back from the hospital that day. She was pretty sleep from the drugs they gave her, but she told us to come inside and talk to her anyway. We decided to teach her about the Word of Wisdom because of previous issues that she had with it, and we knew that if she'd commit to follow it that she would feel a lot better. We had also been teaching that to a lot of people because of the realization that all of us can work on it. But I will get to that part later. Anyway, we were in the middle of sharing a part of it, when she fell asleep on us. I stopped talking mid sentence, and my companion and I looked at each other. We tried a few times to wake her up by just speaking a little louder, but that didn't work. About a minute later she woke up. She felt so bad about it, but we told her it was ok, and that we would come back another time. We always end with a hymn though because she loves to hear us sing. So we decided to sing "Did You Think to Pray?" For whatever reason, my companion and I BOTH IN SYNC began to sing the words but to a completely different tune. We are looking at the little hymn book I carry with me, and we are confused as to why the notes don't match what we sing. But we go with it. We somehow transition to the actually song about halfway through, and we only do one verse. So we ended singing the right hymn. We have absolutely no idea what just happened, and we have no idea how we could not only be off, but off together that we were having a really hard time keeping our faces straight. The whole lesson just made us giggle. I've never had anyone fall asleep on me before when I was teaching them. The lady after we finished was crying and she told us we sounded like angels. She wanted us to record it so she could listen to us sing all the day long. Considering we sang the wrong song, and it isn't really supposed to work well that was funny to us. Well we said a prayer, and then we head out to leave. When we get to the car, we bust out laughing. We figured out the tune that we were using was "Israel, Israel, God is calling" and we tried to reproduce what we did and failed miserably.. I'm not sure why we ended up doing what we did, but I do know that the Spirit definitely guided both of our voices. There was no other way we could have done that, and had the Spirit touch her so strongly. Plus the fact that both of us did it and we weren't ever singing different notes was pretty amazing too. And then you add to it that neither of us have heard that tune in a few weeks and it is pretty amazing that that was the one that came out of both of our mouths. I love the way the Spirit works. :)

So the thing about the Word of Wisdom that we both realized. First we heard that President Monson spoke about the Word of Wisdom in the Priesthood session of conference. There was also quite a bit of attention given to it in the other sessions as well. So rather then say that we are perfect at the Word of Wisdom, we dug a little deeper into it. Realization #1-The Word of Wisdom is more then just Thou Shalt Nots.. There is more to it then don't do drugs, or drink tea, coffee, or alcohol. There are lots of thou shalts. The easiest way to break it down is by saying to eat healthy, get adequate sleep, and exercise daily. Too many people focus so much on the negative things of what they shouldn't be doing that they ignore the things that we should be doing. And then people get discouraged when they can't seem to stop whatever it is that God wants them to stop, and so they give up. Especially when they see other people who seem to be living it perfectly, and even though we shouldn't, they compare themselves to them. Realization #2-ALL OF US have something we could work on in the Word of Wisdom. For example, me. I hate exercising, but the Word of Wisdom says to exercise daily. So that's what I need to do. Some people have trouble with eating healthy. Eating healthy means not so much fatty foods and sugar, but more grains and fruits and veggies. Some people, like me, will either over sleep or not sleep enough. Any of those three things are important and are part of the Word of Wisdom. So we decided to teach it to everyone, and help all of them understand that there is always somewhere that we can improve. Its pretty awesome sometimes when you realize that there is so much more for us to learn. I love learning!

Love you all!! Be safe:)
-Sister Monica Walker

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Testimony: Never too little, Never too small

Dearest Mother,

So its interesting how things work out sometimes.. I will of course keep Grandma (and Grandpa but specifically Grandma) in my prayers. I did however think about them all this morning, and the first thing that I did when I got on today was send them an email about how much I love and appreciate them. And then I read your email. I love the way the Spirit works sometimes:)

Patiently is usually the best way to answer questions that people have about the church. As I am sure you faced as well coming on a mission, there are a lot of people with a lot of question. Not all of them are nice. Most of the not so nice ones are only trying to get a rise out of us as missionaries and argue with us. And then when that happens, the Spirit will not be there. After all it does not stay with contention. I think that was the best response that you could have given to them, even if you physically couldn't be as strong as normal. I imagine it is very similar to the way the Quorum of the 12 and the First Presidency feels every time they get up to speak, especially those that are more advanced in age. There is a power to the Lord using us in our weaknesses. I'm sure the younger man was impressed with you even if he decided not to agree with you. I always am impressed with people's commitments when they express their beliefs here in the south. As long as they aren't trying to tear my beliefs down, I love hearing about their own. I wonder what they thought when you sat down? I wonder if they felt the power in your voice, the testimony that you had when you bore your testimony to them? I'm sure that even if they weren't in a position to hear it, you did exactly what Heavenly Father wanted you to do. I can't help but think of Abinadi. How sad it is that he died thinking that no one heeded him. Little did he know that one priest, one of the company of his accusers heard and listened, and repented. Look at the magnitude of people Abinadi was able to affect by his act? You would think that by the miracles and the signs that were shown to the people that more would have been affected by Abinadi, and maybe they were and we don't have that record, but among the rulers of that group of people, her only affected one, but that one affected so many others! No effort to further the Lord's work ever goes unused or wasted. Every small gift of a testimony, every action, every word, is recorded. Everything is used. Whether to plant seeds or to harvest, each have a part in the conversion. You have an affect in mine, and through mine, my companions, my friends, my investigators, the members here. It is never too little. It is never too small. I wish we could sometimes see the big picture so that we could understand the full scope of the decisions that we have and will make, but alas, that is a part of this life in mortality. We will never understand exactly how our choices will affect others while we are still living them out. Prophetic counsel is always a wise thing to listen to. Especially since it will always help you in ways that you would never know. They really do know what we need to hear. The Lord is clever to be helping us from all sides.
That's pretty smart to bribe Robert to stop completely.. Was it really that scary with all of us? I would have liked the whole bribery thing too. I promise I am better at driving now.. Granted we have monitors hooked up to the car, and I still get yelled at occasionally, but 98% of the time its due to incorrect speed limits in the tiwi, or ones that are really annoying, like the fact that our apartment complex has a speed limit of 5 miles an hour and there is a big hill to get up to it. That one gets me when I drive up it. MY companion always gets that one too. 

Love you lots Mother!! You are in my prayers all the time as well:):)

Sister Monica Walker

Monday, October 10, 2016

MY testimony of the gospel

To My Favorite Mother in the Whole Wide World:)

Actually there really wasn't anything that happened here because of the hurricane. The missionaries that were in the Savannah and Augusta areas were evacuated to Macon, but there we didn't really see any affects aside from it being a little windy. It was cloudy in the sky but hardly any rain. I love rainstorms here, and I was a little disappointed we didn't get one, but it is ok though. We were safe here:) Funny/cute story about the storm. So everyone was talking about the storm, and everyone was saying that it would be a really big one this time (as opposed to the last one that we had. We were at Dollar Tree trying to get a present for someone's baby shower, when we were outside writing on the card. A mom and her young son and daughter walked out. They happened to be talking about the hurricane with the cashier, and so the little boy walks outside singing "Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Matthew.. Mom? I love Hurricane Matthew. Can we go see it?" Which was cute by itself, but then we heard the mom say-"Watch out Matthew there's a car!" Haha This little boys name was Matthew, and he thought the hurricane was named after him.. It reminds me of a little girl who thought everyone that was at Great America on her 5th birthday was there for her 5th birthday. Because obviously the world revolves around her. :) (Its true though.. My world does revolve around me:))

Isn't it amazing the little things that we do that can become such great things? Mom you impress me so much with everything that you do! Too often I see people in the church and in my life who express a belief in something, and then never do anything about it. Granted, I am far from being perfect at that too (prime example being my love of letters, but my terrible response time), but it amazes me to know that there are people out there who are working every day to help other people come closer to Christ in their every day life. Not that they have to be name tag wearing missionaries who go knock on people's doors, but just who take the opportunities that life gives them to share what they believe. I am so grateful for your example to me because I think you are awesome at sharing your testimony everyday with everyone, and then when the opportunity arises, you speak to them too:) I want to be like that when I get home and when my kids are on missions too.. And who knows about that guy! You planted a seed, perhaps it will grow later in this man's life!

Yay for Robert!! that is so cool that he is driving now! He is probably super happy. Wait a second... He is seriously the only one of us that will never have to drive the van! You should have kept it for him to drive to school. I did it! Granted I understand why he wouldn't want to, but still.. He is a lucky kid.

Josh will do well in that field. I'm proud of him:)

I am so excited to go to college with Ben! Even if my classes are undergrad classes, and he is in graduate school.. It will be so much fun!

I AM SO EXCITED TO MEET HENRY!! and to see my cute little Prince Charming too:) I love my nephews:):):):) <3

You should let me know if that is a hereditary thing being tired. Cause I might get it too.. I am amazed at how much can be accomplished on such little sleep when it is being done in the service of the Lord. Don't worry though about my sleeping. It is getting better, it has just been a lot of late nights. The downside to having such a great companion is that is it hard to stop talking when it is time to go to sleep:)

I'm excited to see Alex and BJ too:):) I miss spending time with my sister and brother-in-law. they are pretty legit:)

DADDY I LOVE YOU! He is the best Dad in the whole wide world. So that means since you are the best mom and he is the best dad, y'all did a good thing getting married. Now you both are my parents:) You had the best child ever, so obviously I had to have the best parents, and the best siblings too;) Basically I'm telling all of you that I love you and wouldn't trade you for anything.

I don't have too much time left, but because I know you wanted a testimony I will try to finish with just a quick one.

First and foremost, this is MY testimony of the gospel. Not my Moms, not my Dads, not anyone's but mine. I have worked very hard to get it, and it isn't perfect yet, but it is a work in progress:) I absolutely love the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I love the sacrifices that are required of me, even though it is hard in the moment to give, I know that it is all worth it after. Everything that I do I want to be for my Heavenly Father. I want to see all my family and friends with me with Them in the Celestial Kingdom. I know that everyone can get there if they really want it. It is an individual choice and not a group decision. I know the Savior has given each of us responsibilities to help nurture and support each other as we grow, and I am so thankful for each of them! I know that Joseph Smith Jr. is a prophet, that he began the Restoration of the fullness of Christ's gospel, and I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet today. I know that following the teachings of the Savior found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon brings a glorious change to anyone who is willing. He never will force the change on anyone, but how wonderfully glorious it is to see it happen in your own life and then watch it happen in others. I know prayers are answered everyday. Mine are answered every minute. He is there. He is watching. He loves me. He loves you. I love you. I am a witness of His divinity! In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

I love you all.
-Sister Monica Walker

PS. Consider this- what is the difference between a witness and a testimony? Which do I have? <-This was a question that came to me during General Conference. I thought it was a really good one to make me think. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 3, 2016

General Conference

Dearest Madre,

What a week it has been!!! I'm not even sure how it is Monday already. It has seriously just flown by. This week was a little more difficult in missionary work since it seemed like no one was home, or no one wanted to answer, but the different meetings we have had this week have been a huge boost to me. It was awesome:) I really do love being a missionary!!

Oh! Here's a story I thought was very sweet. So we have this investigator named Victoria. When we first met her, we were actually focusing on teaching her roommate. She declined sitting with us and talking and at the end when we asked her if she wanted to join us in the prayer she said no because we weren't Christian we were Mormons, and then she walked out so we weren't really able to tell her that yes we really do believe in Christ. Her roommate laughed and said she knew we were Christian, and to just ignore Victoria. Obviously we didn't. The next time we came by the roommate wasn't there, so we sat and talked to Victoria. We were able to share with her our beliefs in Christ and how everything that we teach is focused on Christ. Anyway, fast forward to a few lessons later, and we get talking about missionary work and what it is that we do all day (I may or may not have been falling asleep). We basically gave her the daily schedule of a missionary, and she was in complete shock. We saw her last week, and after the lesson she told us that we needed to make sure that we are getting the sleep we need because she is worried for us. It was super cute! We assured her we were fine, but I can honestly say it is the most tired I have been in a long time. That's why I need two weeks of sleep when I get home. Hahaha.. We joke about that all the time. However on a serious note, I honestly believe that the Lord is helping me everyday to be able to do everything that he requires of me. It is the best!

Yes we do get to watch all of conference as long as nothing else is going on that would stop us. For example, the Elders in my ward had to miss most of the Sunday Morning session because they had to go on Post and have the normal Sacrament meeting with the recruits. Since they aren't allowed to watch TV, church was like normal for them. Other then things like that though, we get to watch it. We usually go to the church to watch it, but if we don't have it being broadcast to the church, then we go to a member's home. I realized though that I really like going to the church to watch conference. There is a different kind of Spirit there when you don't have distractions, and you are sitting in the chapel watching it. BEST. THING. EVER.

It was an interesting conference this time, because I had the realization that this would be my last conference as a full-time missionary. The next time conference comes around I will be back in school!! So it was interesting the mix of things I was getting as I was listening to conference. A huge theme for me was the joy of the gospel. I seriously loved that part about how as missionaries, we teach everyone, and we are supposed to teach them in a like manner to teaching our own children. Not treating them like a child, but being careful with giving them too much before they have had time to swallow what we have already said. And then I thought about the reverse too, how as a mother, I want to teach my children the same way that I have been teaching my investigators and the less actives here on my mission. All the messages I got were a strange combination of being a missionary and also being a mother. I now have goals that I want to accomplish in my last few months of being a missionary, but I also have goals of what I want to do when I am a mother. I want to continue that tradition of making everything a gospel related event, like how you have done all my life, and how grandpa has done to you. I think that is a wonderful tradition that I want to keep for my future family. A huge thing that I learned for my life in the long term is the real fact of my mission being a prepatory time for the rest of my life. I have discovered that there are many trials that I go through not because I have done anything wrong or that other people do something wrong that affects me (although there are my fair share of those) but because I need to experience so that I can understand someone else better and be able to help them. One thing I have never lost through anything is the hope that Christ gives us. The hope of a brighter tomorrow, the hope of peace, the hope of eternal family, etc. Hope is key to happiness and joy. I can get through these hard trials not because I am strong, but because I have hope in a Savior and a wonderful glorious Plan of my Father. These two things cause me to continue to act in a way that will get me to where I want to be despite the many hardships that I might be going through at the time. Hope is wonderful. I love hope. 

Alas, time again has got the best of me. I love you so much!!

-Sister Monica Walker