Saturday, December 26, 2015

If this is the cost of loving these people I'll gladly pay it

December 7, 2015  
Dearest family, 
Alright I'll start with the big news. I'm leaving Malaga. (Pause to cry some more about it) I will be headed to San Fernando on Wednesday to be companions with Hermana Peters. I am actually so excited for this new adventure. But saying all these goodbyes has been killing me. Especially the recent converts because they always say, oh that's fine when will you come back? And you have to try and explain that you might never come back. Ugh it's the worst. But if this is the cost of loving these people I'd gladly pay it again and again. I am so grateful for the amazing time that I have had here in Malaga. I have learned so much and grown so much with this ward. It was funny I was at the church working on a baptismal program when he zone leaders came to get the info on transfers. They found out right as we did. I am the only one in the whole zone leaving our little family but it's okay new friends :)

Wow this week has just been such a blur of awesome. This week our main focus has been on F and D getting them both ready for their baptism this Sunday. So we taught lots of lessons to them and honestly I have just been hit again and again with how blessed I am to have them in my life. Wednesday night we basically robbed Elder Adcock and Hansen to do baptismal interviews. After Elder Adcock finished we asked him how the interview went and he said it basically changed my life. The Lord has been so good to us just putting amazing people in our path. When talking to F about repentance he told us that he was just sorry he hadn't found the church sooner in his life. F has seen a lot of heart ache in his life but teaching him about forever families and temple work has been one of the sweetest experiences of my mission.

Thursday we had a special zone conference with Elder Liemer from the 70. It was really amazing. Elder Ward (current assistant to the president) gave an amazing talk about what kind of shepherds we should be. Comparing Lamoni’s servants to Ammon. And since he is leaving on Wednesday he bore sweet testimony about how precious every moment of missionary work really is. It reminded me how every moment is a gift that we should hold on to and use to the best of our ability. Also Elder Martín conducted the meeting but in English and it was so funny he would get frustrated and talk super-fast in Spanish and then slowly work it out in English. It was awesome! As always they fed us amazing paella and we got to sit with Elder Liemer and talk to him. He really just gave me so much “animo” to keep working hard! I got to see a lot of friends from different areas in my mission and it was honestly just what I needed :)

Friday we just had a lot of lessons it was wonderful. We got to meet with D and finish teaching her the last lesson. But at his point we lost all contact with F and M and you could say we were freaking out. But we tried to just keep going with faith. Friday we also got to teach a wonderful lesson to J. He is a joven [Young Adult] who honestly I can see as a missionary. He is going to college here in Malaga and we invited him to be baptized and he said, “Well yeah but where is the church”? In all of our excitement we forgot to tell him those small details.

Saturday was the normal baptism craziness just getting the program and everything going. The
ayudantes had a baptism in our chapel so we got to invite our investigators and go. It was so much fun even though the Elders sent us running to our Pizo to find clothes for her.

Sunday was just a whole lot of goodbyes. I love these people so much they have taken such good care of me. When I was without a companion they all just took me in. But really I am excited for a new adventure.

I ate with bishop for the last time. And I made sure to eat as much food as I possibly could :) then baptism crazy began. Turns out the zone leaders also were baptizing someone so we had three people and it was just our luck that the
young woman's in excellence was right before so the whole ward just stayed behind to support our cute investigators. The baptism went perfectly. All of the people bore such sweet testimonies. M and F were so content and cute together and M gave her first prayer and it was perfect. It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you give some part of your heart so dear to people and you see them take it and make it part of their own.

Hermana Esplin and I sang for the last time together and it was wonderful. She has been so amazing for me. We have had a fun time learning and growing together.

Lately I have been feeling a little down, just never knowing if I am doing enough and then realizing that focusing in that too much just means I am being too self-centered. During numbers Elder Adcock told me to read a talk:
not withstanding my weakness. By Elder Maxwell. It is amazing and I would encourage all of you to read it all!

This is going to be my last district meeting here in Malaga so I am supposed to give my 5 points to a successful mission in district meeting and I thought I would share what I have come up with.

First off we know that success is a gift from God (
Alma 26) we cannot earn it. We can only be worthy of it and trust that God will bless us for our efforts. With that in mind I want to share 5 things we can do to be worthy of this gift.

1. Understand what trials really are. (
Romans 5:2-3 and D&C 58 2-3). If a farmer has two horses and one is very weak and sick and one is strong, knowing what work needs to be done he will give more of the burden to the stronger horse. So when trials or hard times come we should be happy knowing that God is giving us the chance to become stronger and trusts us with more so the work continues forth. We need to trust that The Lord of the harvest knows us and our capacity. And we know that through trials we gain experience which leads us to hope.

2. Obey with a whole heart. I have been drawn to a parable that you find in
Ezekiel 47 where Ezekiel sees a river coming from the temple. An angel comes and tells him to walk a while then cross the river. Upon doing so he crosses ankle deep. Imagine you are in a desert and how wonderful that would feel on your feet. But God never intended Ezekiel to only have an ankle deep experience. The angel beckons him forward again to cross the river. The water at this point was knee deep. I am sure it was amazing and yet onward and onward beckons the angel until the river was too deep. How beautiful when we see what these waters to swim in represent. How appropriate this image - for the love God has for us. The joy that can be found in this work. But it only comes to the point we are willing to follow and obey. If we stop at some point and say we will go no further there stops our joy as well. Onward!

3. Work with all of my might. I think this is something we learn from the parables of the
hidden treasure and of the pearl of great price. No matter who we are, the price is the same: Our all. It’s the same for this work. But it requires our all to receive the prize (or joy). It doesn't matter who we are. All that is required is our all.

4. Faith. I could go on about this but I love the story in
Matthew 14 about Peter walking on water. After all we can do faith is trusting that he will do the rest. We need to just jump out of the boat and trust him.

5. Most important is our love for God. Love him, know and understand the love he has for his children, and understand that as much as we want to succeed God wants us to succeed even more. He will do all he can because these are his children the work of his hands.

Anyway I hope that made sense I love you all so much :)

Hermana Smalley

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