Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Learning about the Atonement

This week was a good one--definitely a week where Sister Osborn and I felt pushed to the limit.  We've had lots of really potent experiences and are working hard to be able to fulfill our purpose. 

This week I feel like I've been able to learn a lot about the Atonement.  We had an appointment with a recent convert who's fallen back into some of the habits that were part of his life before his baptism.  It was amazing to see the Spirit in action as we taught him about the Atonement.  We talked about faith and repentance and the miracle of change that's possible as we do our best to do what the Lord requires of us, and how He makes up the part we literally can't do by ourselves.  As I walked away from that appointment, the reality of the Atonement and of the Savior hit me so hard.  The atoning sacrifice of the Savior is REAL.  The Atonement always becomes more real to me as I recognize the need for it.  This recent convert needs it to be able to change, the people we meet need it to be able to change,and more than anything, I realize again and again that I need the atonement to be able to change.  It's so humbling to think of everything that the Savior does for each of us.

This week we had stake conference and the theme was "Come Unto Christ."  It was amazing, and just what I needed after a week in which we've struggled to see success in our area.  Most of the speakers focused on the Atonement and the healing and saving power of what Christ did for us as part of the plan of God.  One speaker described a moment in his life where he realized something similar to what I felt after our appointment with the recent convert this week.  In thinking about the Atonement, he had a moment in which he read the account of the Atonement in Mark and realized, "He did that for ME."  It's such a miracle that each of us can say that phrase and have it be true: "He did that for ME."  The atonement is so personal and so merciful.  It's hard to fathom, and even though we can't really understand the atonement enough to answer the question, "How is it done?" (Enos 1:7), we can see the effects of it in our lives as it changes us and allows us to overcome sins, injuries, and weaknesses.  The effects are so REAL, and I'm seeing that as a missionary more than I've ever seen it before.  It's an amazing blessing to be a part of the process of conversion.

This week I went back to my area in Daly City for an exchange.  In just 3 weeks, so much has changed there.  Before AND after Marina's baptism right before I left, I felt like we had nothing--no solid investigators and no prospects, just disappearing investigator after disappearing investigator.  This week when I went back, they have 2 investigators that have baptismal dates, and several other solid prospects.  One of the investigators who will be baptized this month was a person that I contacted initially.  It's actually kind of a miracle story, seeing the whole thing now.  It was near the end of a long, long day, and we were saying a prayer in the car before going out to contact.  We were parked in front of a house that I had knocked a few days before.  The door got slammed in our face before we said a word.  But when I opened my eyes after saying "amen," I saw a man smoking a cigarette near the back gate of that house.  I looked right at him after opening my eyes and I felt that I needed to talk to him right then.  We had a good conversation, set an appointment, and then I was transferred out  of the area the next day.  And then when I went back this weekend, I found out that he's quit smoking completely, has come to church every week, and has never missed an appointment.  He's incredibly solid!  I feel blessed to have been a tiny part of that work, to have been able to contact him even if he won't be "my baptism."  We truly never know the influence we have by
doing what we're asked to do.  At first when I went back to Daly City, I
felt discouraged and a little bothered to think that I had seen so little success, or so I thought, and that as soon as I left the area exploded wit 
great prospects.  I've had to repent of that feeling, which is completely selfish and may even be jealousy, and realize that this is ALL the work of the Lord, no matter the point at which we enter the process.  I worked really hard in Daly City, and that should be enough for me--that I did what I was asked to and did my best to train the missionary who would stay.  I don't need to beat myself up or be bitter that I only saw one baptism from my 2 transfers there.  It's all the work of the Lord, and I'm blessed to be able to do it every day, no matter the external results.  I was definitely called to repentance by the Spirit for feeling a little bitter about my experience there.  That's not a feeling that I want attached to my mission at all, so I needed a major attitude change.  The mission is humbling, every day!

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