I know I've written this in a million emails before but.... The weather here is so nice. I really love it :) We usually just park our car during the day and walk to appointments since it's so perfect feeling outside. And that helps us meet a whole lot more people on the street, in their garages, etc. This weather is providing us miracles for street contacting. Everyone's outside!!
This past Sunday we had the opportunity of seeing one of our recent converts, Vincent Lynch, receive the Aaronic Priesthood!! I was able to teach him when I was in Washington Fields before and even back then, before his baptism, he was SO excited to receive the priesthood. I wrote a few emails about him and his progress before. On Sunday, He brought his non-member friend, Allan, with him to all three blocks of church so Allan was able to witness the ordination. We will begin teaching Allan soon this week :) It was such a spiritually uplifting experience to be able to see the power of godliness manifested in that ordination. I love the priesthood; I'm grateful for the guidance and healing I've received in my life because of it.
I've been studying a lot out of Preach My Gospel ch. 3 this week and I've had some much needed insights. I was reading under "God is our loving Heavenly Father" and got to the "Belief about God" box. It led me to a study of Ammon and Aaron, two missionaries in the Book of Mormon, who taught Lamoni and his father - Neither of them had a Christian background. As I was reading I realized Ammon and Aaron taught so clearly the nature of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. There was no room for confusion concerning who they are and what their roles are. They taught simply and spiritually.
I followed a footnote from the chapter the study included in Alma 22:14, about how we cannot merit anything ourselves, it's only possible through the grace of Christ. The footnote explained more on grace. It was Ephesians 2:8-9. I was a little confused at first because it sounded like it was saying we are saved by grace, and our works and efforts have nothing to do with it. I've always had an understanding that salvation is only possible through Christ, but that doesn't eliminate our personal responsibility.
So I went exploring into different manuals and found an explanation that really put things into perspective for me. "Our ability to perform good works stems from the change that the grace of Jesus Christ causes to take place within us when we turn to Him in faith." I'm not sure why this didn't dawn on me before, that of course it's only by HIS grace that we're enabled to do good works in the first place!! Then followed a scripture that has become my new favorite: "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 1 Corinthians 15:10.
I love this scripture. It has been sitting in my mind ever since. "By the grace of God I am what I am." I have been tempted time and time again to look in the past of what I once was and be brought back to the state of mind that I will never be good enough or worthy enough to fulfill the potential I've been given here on earth. But as I look briefly to the past and ponder on the present, it amazes me to think where I am today. I'm brought to remembrance of the quote in General Conference, "Twas I; but tis not I." I once was lost and fallen from the path. But I know Heavenly Father has placed loving leaders, friends and family in my path so that, though far from the flock, I could recognize the masters voice when he would call.
He called, and I finally answered.
And here I am today, realizing now more than ever the grace, the enabling, strengthening, and healing power of Christ, that has led me to where I am, who I am. The grace of our Savior helps me to "labor abundantly." I will admit, I have been absolutely and completely exhausted this week, sometimes thinking of how I can possibly go
another day. But somehow, someway, I feel a rush of joy in my life. Constantly. Sister Archambault and I are able to do things that I thought were above my abilities. But I too, like Paul, can say that it is "not I, but the grace of God which [is] in me."
I have felt this grace fill me with love; love for those I serve, those I serve with, and those I lead. I know that Jesus Christ is our captain, He is our Redeemer, our friend. These past few weeks I've been able to ponder upon the Easter message, "He Lives." These two words had more of an impact on me than ever when I realized exactly what this means. We WILL see him again. That day WILL come. And when it does, what joy will fill my heart.
Much love, Sister Martin