Pas cu Pas (Step by Step) in Ploiesti!
Well, this has been a truly remarkable week! I am really going to enjoy exploring this city and getting to know all the sights, the people, and all that the Lord can help me to do here! First, I'll tell you a little about my amazing new companion: Sora McKay Draper! Her ancestors helped found Draper, she loves Utah so much! She loves talking to people and learning new things, she's super brave, fun and willing to work and do what the Spirit tells her. I've only known her a few days, but we've already learned so much together and I am so excited for the rest of this transfer! We had church yesterday, I love the members so much already, the picture I sent was of Sunday dinner with the Musat family, the sweetest family ever! They love the gospel so much, they treat us like family, and the two little girls: Adriana and Alexandria are so adorable, they steal your heart right away!
There are so many lessons that I have learned this week, but the one that I think incorporates everything that I've learned this week is what I made the title of my email: "Pas cu Pas" or in other words, "step by step." Everyone in our district (Sora Draper, Elder Bateman, Elder Latiti, Elder De Luna and Elder Avila) and I want to make a difference here in Ploiesti, we want to build, strengthen, and give all that we have. But just like President Ivory has said, if you want to build something strong, you need to first start with the foundation. That is what we will be doing this transfer: preparing ourselves and preparing the members for what lies ahead: getting them involved with us in missionary work, advertising very hard for English, and working on the Book of Mormon challenge. This may not seem like a lot, but I firmly believe that if we work to bring ourselves and others a step closer to Christ every day, the Lord will bless us with miracles far beyond what we can imagine.
And this week, I believe I have taken this step along with others through these very important, special lessons:
THE POWER OF A GRATEFUL SPIRIT
A missionary who is grateful when things are good is good, but a missionary who tries to see the blessings in all times is able to see miracles, I've come to learn this. When we are constantly remembering all that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have done for us, we are blessed. But when I not only remember but give thanks to Him in my heart, out loud, or in whatever way I can, I can see miracles, like having the Spirit add to my testimony in a lesson.
THE POWER OF A TESTIMONY
Something that I have come to be grateful for is how the Lord can take a simple testimony given with our whole heart and through the Spirit, make it heart-changing. On Friday, Sora Draper and I went to visit a less-active member, Sora Natasia and her cute little daughter Corina. As a district, we also went to teach the first members in all of Romania, the Blegianu family and President Musat and his family on Sunday. In all three cases, when the time came for me to bear my testimony, I felt the Spirit speaking through me, that somehow, through simple words and feelings given out of love and faith, He is able to change me and them for the better.
THE BOOK OF MORMON
I am so thankful for the focus that is being placed on the Book of Mormon. For anyone who wishes to join, we will be reading six pages a day until we reach the end of the Book of Mormon by December. I have always loved the little Christmas rhyme: "what can I give Him, small as I am? If I were a shepherd, I'd bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I'd do my part. What can I give Him? I'll give Him my heart." I can testify that a way to give our hearts (all our love) to Jesus Christ is through showing Him we love His word so much that we are willing and wanting to make it part of us, that we treasure what He says and is above all else and want it to be part of us. I want that and testify that it can happen when we love the Book of Mormon as another Testament that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and our Savior.
I have had the chance many times in (almost) six months to share about my family, and every time I do, I feel so proud to be part of such and honorable family, such love and gratitude, and such responsibility to testify of the importance of a family in the Gospel. As the world attacks the family more and more, I testify as a representative of Jesus Christ that the family IS of God. Nothing any person can say or do in all the world can change this glorious, eternal part of Heavenly Father's plan for us. How grateful I am for the knowledge that love taught and practiced in a family can last forever, and how thankful I am to teach and share that and bring others to the family of the gospel.
COURAGE OF THE SPIRIT
I have come to learn that the promise the Lord makes that "those who honor me, I will honor" is so true when we have the courage to choose the right. Just like in the vision of the tree of life, the mists of darkness, the river, and the great and spacious building will never stop trying to lead us to let go of the rod and leave the tree. God's love is always there and will give us strength if we choose to, but it's always our choice whether His love or the love of the world is more important. It's always important to remember that "as may as heeded, had fallen away." Those who decide that what others think is more important might be temporarily relieved, but although we might face hardships when we hold on to the rod and stay by the tree, in the end, "the pure love of Christ is most desirable and most joyous to the soul" and "it never faileth, it endureth forever."
LOVE WHAT THE LORD ASKS
One of the biggest lessons I have learned so far on my mission: there is only one thing better than doing what the Lord asks and it's loving what He asks. When we ask "not my will, but thine be done", it should be like as the Savior said, His love for others and His Father continued through all the suffering, betrayel, loneliness, and even death, He "declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17: 26). That's exactly what we need to do and what I will try with all of my heart in Ploiesti and anywhere else I might go just like this scripture in Proverbs: A man (or woman's) heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth her steps. And I do believe that by having a grateful, courageous, loving heart that testifies with the Spirit of the Book of Mormon and family, that the Lord will help me work miracles in Romania, pas cu pas.