Dear loved ones,
This week has been a turning point for me in my mission. Well, really, a turning point for me in my life.
Sister Archambault and I received a text from our mission president on Saturday night that asked us if we would be able to attend a meeting at the Institute building at Dixie State at 8am. We had no idea what this meeting was for seeing as how it's not in our stake. And needless to say I was kind of hyperventilating because we never receive messages like that from him.
So naturally we showed up like 20 minutes early to insure that we were not late... heh :) Well then walks in some of our past stake presidents of previous areas. We were really confused at first but asked them if they knew what was going on. They told us that Elder Wade of the Seventy had called a meeting for the east side of St. George leadership. When we walked in the room Elder Wade greeted us as well as our mission president and the stake presidents that were there. There were 12 of them around the table. I felt slightly out of place. We were the only missionaries there along with our high councilman over missionary work and one of our ward mission leaders and bishops. Elder Wade began the meeting by talking about the "why" of missionary work. Then we discussed how ward councils and missionary coordination meetings are to work effectively and efficiently together accomplishing the same purpose. Sister Archambault and I talked a lot about the importance of the ward auxiliaries knowing each one of the individuals whom we are working with. We discussed the importance of caring for each one of these children of God and recognizing the duty that comes with our specific callings.
We walked out of that meeting on cloud nine! It was so inspiring and uplifting to be among so many spiritual giants discussing the work of salvation! We realized a lot of what we need to be doing more as missionaries in the area and how we can care even more for members and those we are teaching in the stake.
On Tuesday we had a zone conference (where half of the missionaries in the mission gather for a 6 hour training) with another member of the Seventy, Elder Clarke. It was an extremely invigorating and eye opening meeting! Something I loved about it was that when I was conducting the music for all the hymns we sung, I got to look out on this massive army of missionaries that I just LOVE serving with! The spirit was incredibly strong there.
While in the conference I was pondering about how I began this transfer just extremely happy - which is great - but I didn't quite understand why I was all the sudden so happy. But at this meeting I finally figured out why.
I have been thinking lately about how much I not only love the members we're working with in Washington, but how I absolutely love the people we're teaching. I feel that I have gone from having the perspective of "alright let's go teach these 5 lessons tonight and hope something changes" to "I am so excited to visit these families! I am so excited for the things we are going to learn together and for the spirit that we'll feel and the miracles that will happen!" I find myself constantly thinking about those we are teaching and the members who we're working with. It's a good feeling. No, it's an exceptional feeling. I love them and would do anything for them.
So when Elder Clarke said at zone conference that "the day they love the people more than themselves is the happiest day of a missionary's life," it finally dawned on me why I was so happy. I realized that I had finally quit thinking about myself so much and finally started focusing on others. Caring about others. As President Monson has put it so simply yet powerfully, "It is more important to love than to be loved." I have seen probably the most touching experience on my mission this week that I will keep near and dear to my heart forever from following the counsel of our dear prophet and Elder Wade and Elder Clarke. I have seen a whole family change their lives around simply because of the love that was demonstrated to them - they were obviously able to feel the love of Heavenly Father through those that showed they cared.
I have been having this inner battle with myself trying to find out answers to questions like "Am I doing enough? Am I being exactly obedient? Am I having any success? What should I be doing more?" etc. I reflect again and again on the scripture in Matthew that so simply states "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." I know and I have seen evidence because of the events of this past week that when we lose ourselves in the service of others, when we love unconditionally, we will find ourselves fulfilling our purpose that we were sent here to accomplish.
That was what the majority of the conference was about - well both meetings actually - all about loving and caring for everyone: Those we are teaching, members we are working with, leaders who are serving us, missionaries we serve with.
I think the times I will be able to remember most about this mission are the times when we hear the sweet and simple prayers of those we are teaching, when we are able to witness hearts softening and families changing, when we share tears with one another and know that we will always be here for each other. I have grown to really love the people in Washington and I hope with all my heart that when I leave this area (hopefully not for a long time) the next missionaries that come in will take good care of each person here.
I know that when we apply the teachings of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and other leaders in the church that we will see the fruit of our efforts. We will see God's hand in our lives. I love being a member of this church because of what it does for me. I have found that when I learn something, and I do it and apply it, I am happy :)
I strive to live worthy of your prayers each and every day; thank you for all the support and love and care I feel from each one of you :)
Love, Sister Martin