LDS Mission, Mormon, Prayer, Spiritual

My first BOM

Date of this event: July 16, 2011

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

 

Serving as a missionary at a visitor center, in many ways, is very different than serving in the field. For example… we don’t teach lessons the same way a missionary in the field would. The visitor center in Mexico City only has 12 sister missionaries, and most days we get anywhere from 400 to 1,000 visitors. Because of this, our “tours” can only be 15 minutes long. That’s all we get, 15 minutes. Most of the time, we are the first contact investigators have with the church.

 

I guess you can say our main purpose is to introduce investigators to the message we share with the world; the restoration, and interest them in learning more about it. Our goal is to get their contact information and have them accept the missionary lessons in their home.

 

Because of this, we rarely hand out Books of Mormon. It’s just not something that happens often in the Visitor Center. We’re not encouraged to do it. Quite the opposite, when they ask for one, we tell them that two representatives of the church can deliver a free copy to their homes and ask if they would be interested in that.

 

But there are always exceptions to this rule. We recognize those exceptions when we come across them, and I finally came across one this Saturday J

 

Today I gave my first Book of Mormon. The recipient was a beloved daughter of God, Elizabeth.


Elizabeth entered the Visitor Center, not knowing where she was. She walked in with a very heavy heart and much sadness in her eyes.
As I approached her, I immediately felt she needed something special. And without even speaking with her, I felt in my heart she was a “chosen” one.

 

As we began talking, I could see how much she was struggling to hold back the tears that wanted to spill from her eyes and I wondered what this young woman could be experiencing that could have her so defeated.

 

I invited her to take a tour and see a video, but she declined both, explaining all she wanted was to just sit and contemplate upon the Christus statue.


I asked her what she was searching for and like so many others whom I’ve had the opportunity to talk with, she answered; I’m looking for peace and comfort. She asked if there was someone here who could give her a counseling session and I replied that I or any of the missionaries here could say things that would make her feel better for a while, but that would be like the parable of the fish;

 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

 

I told her that here she could find everything she needed to learn to feed herself and get that peace and comfort she so desperately wanted to find … and not just for one day, but for the rest of the days of her life.

I asked her what she was feeling and she said she felt as though she wanted to scream. She said to me, I want to scream and tell my Heavenly Father I just can’t take it anymore… the load is just too heavy… I just want to put all my sorrows at his feet… I want to change.

At that moment a group came in to listen to the message that is shared in front of the Christus statue… As we joined the group all I could do was pray to my Heavenly Father to allow Elizabeth to feel his love for her and to feel the Holy Spirit testify to her that she truly was in a place of God … and above all, I prayed FERVENTLY for Him to help me know what to say, what to do and how to help His daughter Elizabeth.

After the recording I somehow managed to convince Elizabeth to watch a movie. So we did. We saw the movie Finding Faith in Christ. After the movie we had a beautiful conversation. We talked about how she too could develop her own faith in Christ and how I knew that Jesus and God really did know who she was and what was she was feeling and enduring. I testified that the Atonement had been done for her as well.


Then I remembered that as a missionary I had been called to not only preach repentance and to testify of Jesus Christ, but also to testify of the restored Gospel.
So that’s what I did. We read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and I asked Elizabeth, what do you want? And she answered; I want to meet my Savior.

I asked her if she would like a Book of Mormon. She answered yes. I asked her; Elizabeth, if I give you a Book of Mormon will you read it? Again she said yes. Finally I ask her; Elizabeth, Will you read, meditate and pray to know if these things are true? At that moment, she raised her eyes, looked straight at me and said, Sister, I’ll read it. I’ll medítate about it, and I’ll pray about. I promise.

Standard
Decision Making, LDS Mission, Personal Revelation, Spiritual

Special Changes

On Tuesday we had our weekly district meeting. It was AMAZING! The district leaders did SUCH a good job, I was so proud of them. I walked out of that reunion totally edified and motivated and with plenty of FUEGO EN LOS HUESOS!Mexico City East Mission inside joke. Google translate it if you like :)

The downside of that meeting? I was informed that I had to report to the Mexico City Visitor Center on Thursday at noon. At first I really thought the district leader was pulling my leg (he’s quite the prankster)… but it was no joke. He was totally serious. I was like WHAT? My first thought was, Oh my goodness, is my visa FINALLY here? But, after calling the president we found out it wasn’t that. A sister missionary had to go home due to health problems and special changes were taking place.

My second thought was, But why me!? I just got here!

I had only been in the field for two weeks! I was just getting the hang of it! Were they really gonna take me away form my “mom” after TWO measly weeks!?! But the biggest bummer of them all was; three of our investigators were getting baptized that very weekend! My very first baptisms, and I was gonna miss them? No way!

Let me tell you, there were cloudy skies in me that day.

But then I read a very special scripture that reminded me that God works and speaks through his prophets. And just like my calling to serve as a missionary came from the prophet, so did my mission president’s calling come from him as well. Which meant he was called by God to preside over this mission and to direct the missionary work in this area. And if he felt I had to leave beautiful Tecamac and go serve in the Mexico City temple Visitor center… then that was an inspired decision.

It still wasn’t easy. But I was determined to have a cheerful heart.

I came to the VisitorCenterand it was SO different from being out on the Field. I couldn’t really find where I fit in with all the other sisters and I could feel my moral slowly decreasing. But on Saturday things started to turn around. And on Sunday things really shifted for me and I know it was thanks to my Heavenly Father. 

Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.
 
I had a wonderful personal study Sunday morning. I prayed to know what to study and I was truly guided by the spirit. I felt I should read in Nephi, and I opened up to chapter 16 where it tells the story about when Nephi’s bow breaks and how his whole family begins to murmur and complain and ask WHY were they being put under such circumstances. And it hit me that instead of being like Nephi, and having faith in the Lord and his ways, I was being like Nephi’s family… complaining and murmuring and asking WHY this and Why that. 
 
All I could think was… how dumb of his family. How could they only focus on the “bad” and not see that they were so blessed by the Lord! They were on this marvelous ADVENTURE! It was an adventure like no other, filled with miracles and blessings… they saw angels, heard the Lord’s voice… they even had a magic compass! And I realized that I am on a marvelous adventure as well. And my adventure is also taking me into uncharted territory, places I never thought I would go! And it’s also filled with miracles and blessings… and I too have a magic compass! The Book of Mormon! :)
 
I know that the Lord allowed Nephi’s Bow to break because he had something to teach him and his family. And in that same way, I know I am here for that same reason… because I have something to learn. And on Saturday, as we welcomed over 600 people to the Visitor center, and gave more tours than I can recall… as I had the opportunity to work alongside the other sisters, I realized that I have so much to learn from them. And I’m very VERY happy to be here!

Did I mention I live right next to the temple now?

How awesome is that?

Standard
LDS Mission

First day on the field

I hope now that I will be having normal P-days (not the ones we get in the MTC) I will be able to keep this better updated. There are so many experiences that I would love to share, but there is just no way to write it all.

So this morning I waved goodbye as my MTC generation left for the airport. A few of us visa waiters got left behind and reassigned to nearby missions. 6 elders who are waiting for their visas forArgentinagot assigned to the Mexico West Mission, and I got assigned to the Mexico East Mission.

My day started pretty early… 3 am. Everyone was on their way to the airport by 4.45 am and I was picked up the AP’s by 6.30am. Oh boy. I met my mission president and his wife, the Hickens. They are LOVELY people and I immediately felt welcomed and cared for. After a nice hearty breakfast, I was given a capacitation and some instructions regarding the time I would spend here and my particular situation.

I will be serving inTecamac,MexicoCity. Everyone says it’s one of the best places to serve in this mission because the people here are so open to the message we share. I hope thats true!

I met my two moms… yes; I’ve been put in a trio :) They are both fromPeruand seem like great sister missionaries. I am really looking forward to getting to know them better and learning all I can form them.

We took a taxi to the store and it was there where I made my first ever, real life contact-with our taxi driver! I don’t know where the bravery came form but I invited him to church, got his phone number, home address and set up a teach. And let me tell you… IT FELT GREAT!

I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, but I plan on making THE most of it :)

Standard
Father-Daughter relationship, LDS Mission, Prayer, Pre-mission activities, Service, Spiritual

MTC Mexico City: Week 1

The last 5 days before entering the MTC (Missionary Training Center) went by in a crazy flash. As I look back now, all I can remember is a blur of shopping trips, to-do lists, emails, phone calls and packing.

But somehow, someway, by the time Tuesday night rolled around, everything was done and I was ready to go. How I managed, who knows. But I sure was happy :)

My flight to Mexico City left early Wednesday morning. I had to be at the airport at 6am the latest, which meant I had to wake up around 5am. SO not fun :( Especially after having gone to sleep at 1:00 AM the night before. Esssh!

The final farewell between Papushka and I left us both a bit teary eyed… you’d think we’d be pro’s at the whole airport farewell thing, but no, some things you never get used to I guess. Nevertheless, I could feel we were both happy for everything that was to come and we both knew that the next 18 months would go by in a flash!

My first day at the MTC was not only an eye opener but a very humbling experience. I remember sitting in my first class and listening to one of my instructors –a recent RM (returned missionary) — quote scriptures and talk doctrine like it was nobody’s business! It seemed like it all came too naturally to him that if he had told me he had been born with all that knowledge I probably would have believed him.

He seemed to know so much and all I could think was, “oh my goodness! What have I gotten myself into?” It felt like information was flying at me at 100 mph from every direction… and I was actually being expected to register it all.

I was overcome with the strangest feeling. I had always been more than comfortable with my knowledge of the gospel yet here I was, feeling like I knew nothing at all.

Needless to say, I went to bed that night feeling restless, anxious, scared, frustrated, and so much more. I knelt down on the floor and offered what must have been one of the most heartfelt and sincere prayers of my life. I told my heavenly father exactly how I felt and I asked him to help me. I said, “Father, you know I have a desire to serve you. You know I want to be useful in your hands… and I am WILLING… help me. Prepare me. Provide the way”

The next morning, even though I slept EXTREMELY poorly… waking up every 45 minutes and having crazy dreams all night, I woke up feeling refreshed and happy in a way I could not explain even if I tried.

A few hours later, during my personal scripture study, my prayer was answered. As I read the following scripture, I felt how my Heavenly Father was speaking directly to my heart and how my testimony of the gospel was being reaffirmed. He really is there. He really does listen. And He really does bring comfort when we most need it and lightens our burden.

John 14: 26 – 27

One of the most important things I’ve learned this first week at the MTC is that if you TRULY have a desire to serve the Lord, then you TRULY are called to the work… His work (D&C 4:3), and those that the Lord calls, he qualifies!

Before coming out to the mish, I knew I would face trials and difficulties, but to be perfectly honest, I think I mostly focused on how amazing this experience would be. The best two years and all (or 18 months in my case). I don’t think I ever gave much thought to how having an amazing experience during this time would come free. It would come at a cost. And that cost would be LOTS AND LOTS OF HARD WORK!

I can’t believe how tired I am. Honestly. I’m tired like 80% of the day… I really can’t emphasize enough HOW tired I am… it’s unreal… but I HONESTLY have NEVER been happier in my life. I can’t stop smiling :D

I wish I could write more but time is SOOOO short! So, very quickly before I go;

1. My companion is amazing! She is from Puerto Rico and although we are quite different in character I feel like we make a great team. Her name is Sister Aldana and she waited even LONGER than me to come on the mish. She waited a whopping 8 months! She served a 3 month mini mission and was then in the mission field for a whole month as a set apart missionary while she waited for her visa. She knows so much and I feel so blessed to have gotten her as my comp. She teaches me new things every day!

2. I was called as sister coordinator for all the sisters at the MTC. Can you say PRETTY BIG RESPONSIBILITY right off the bat? I’m realizing VERY fast that leadership positions require lots of hard work, empathy, love, and service. Did I mention lots of time in meetings? I’m not sure why, but I feel like my comp and I are always running around EVERYWHERE. Nevertheless, I feel truly blessed to have been given this opportunity to serve and to grow and to learn. My heavenly Father must think I’m up to the challenge… so, I guess I just gotta roll with it :)

3. I love it here. The MTC is all that and a bag of chips. The people I am meeting here are amazing! The instructors are amazing. Did I mention I SERIOUSLY cannot stop smiling???? :D :D :D

Standard
Emotions, LDS Mission, Mormon, Pre-mission activities, Spiritual

Doubt

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.”
~ John Lubbock

This morning I spent some time on the phone with the LDS lawyer who was assigned to my case by church headquarters in SLC. We were able to finally go online, fill out the application, pay the fee, and make an appointment at the embassy. I’ll be trying for my visa one last time tomorrow morning at 9 am.

As we were talking about the application process, he mentioned that he had just received word that the two other missionaries he had been helping had been granted their visas to the UK. However, he told me that they had been expecting a letter of refusal, same as me, because both of those missionaries had used the exact same Sponsorship letter I had used in my application. And since mine had been denied, they expected theirs to be denied as well.

But they weren’t. Only mine.

While I was told that my sponsorship letter did not fulfill all the requirements, they were told to come pick up their tier 5 visas any day of the week between 10 and 11 am.

When I got off the phone I kept thinking about what he had said. And wondered why they had lucked out while I had not. I thought perhaps I had drawn the short straw and gotten my application reviewed by someone very strict or mean or who was not partial to the LDS church. Maybe the other two missionaries got lucky with a nice person. Maybe Heavenly Father needed them on the mission field right away. Maybe… maybe… maybe. The possibilities are endless.

There was no way of knowing why things played out the way they did. All I could do now was stay optimistic. The words, have faith Kitzia kept playing in my head like a broken record. But no matter how much reminded I myself of that, a small voice kept sneaking in saying, if it was meant to be, then why so much opposition?

I don’t have an answer to that yet.

I do know that I’ve never doubted the confirmation I received last year regarding whether to serve a mission or not. But in the months following, especially the most recent ones, I have wondered whether I missed an update somewhere along the way? Did my Heavenly Father say, okay, thanks for being obedient but I was just testing you. No need to serve a Misison? And did I simply not hear it because I was so focused on getting out there? So excited about being a missionary?

I hope not. But I suppose it’s possible.

I’ve spent so much time and energy on this endeavor and invested so much of myself in this… that I cannot say I would not be absolutely devastated if things did not work out.

But then I’m reminded of the quote by John Lubbock, and I have the comfort of knowing I did everything in my power and tried my very hardest to be obedient and do what I thought was right. That leaves no place for regrets. Only for graciously accepting the Lord’s will. It only leaves room for trust… trust that I’ll somehow, someway end up being exactly where I’m suppose to be.

Standard
Decision Making, LDS Mission, Mormon, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Spiritual

The Call

There are things about our childhood that we never forget, even if we try. For me, the thing I remember most is the way my father would call for me. When I was very little I realized that, while other parents would call out their child’s name to get their attention, my father would instead whistle a unique melody. (I’m a terrible whistler, but it went something like this….)

As a little girl this was quite embarrassing. When it was time to come home after an afternoon of playing outside, my dad would stick his head out the kitchen window and whistle, very loudly, to let me know it was time to come home. I would run indoors and angrily ask,

Why don’t you call for me like a normal parent? Don’t you know people only whistle to cats and dogs? I’m not a pet. I’m your daughter.

He would then look at me and say,

Kitzia, my call is unique. When you hear it, you know you are to stop whatever you are doing, leave whoever you are with, and answer my call. You may think my whistle is silly, but because of it’s uniqueness, You will never confuse my call for another’s and you will never question your duty to answer.

Over the next few years, my father literally hardwired this into me.

The last summer I spent in California before moving abroad, dad and I were invited to a friend’s beach party. That night, while the adults sat around the fire talking, the youth decided to play a game of American football. After a few minutes of throwing around the ball they decided it would be more fun to “go for a walk” which was code for, go where there was no adult supervision. As the crowd began moving away I hesitated, not sure of what was the right thing to do… this wasn’t exactly what you would call a group of righteous teenagers… but I was young, and they were older and cooler, and as I turned my back to follow the crowd… I heard it. Crystal clear. The whistle.

I stood there for a few seconds unsure of what to do. I couldn’t see my father from where I was standing. I could only make out dark shadows against the flames of the fire, yet I had the distinct feeling that, though I could not see him, he could definitely see me. A few thoughts crossed my mind. Maybe I could pretend I hadn’t hear anything. Nevertheless, before I had too much time to think, I did what I had been hardwired to do. I stopped what I was doing. I left who I was with, and I answered the call.

That night, as we drove home, my dad turned to me and asked,

Do you know how wild horses are trained?

I had no clue.

They must first be broken. Not in spirit, but in will. The horse’s will needs to be made subject to the master’s will. To test whether the horse will follow its master or not, it is put under a most arduous test.

He is taken outside and tied to a post or a tree and he is made to thirst and hunger for a period of time. Then he is set loose. Food is placed on one side of him, and on the opposite side, his master will stand. As the horse begins making his way towards the object of his desire, the food and the drink, his master will call, and the horse must choose between the two.

Tonight you were set loose and like the horse you found yourself in the middle. The choice wasn’t between food and your master, it was a little more meaningful than that. On one side stood something that appealed to you, but which you knew, deep down inside, was not for you. And on the other side stood the safety of listening to your father’s counsel, and to the still small voice which said, “do not follow”

I’ll never forget the look in his eyes that night. It was the look of a proud father.

I left home a few weeks after that and it wasn’t until years later that I began to fully comprehend the magnitude and depth of the lesson my father had tried to teach me that night. I understand it now… and that lesson is what I would like to share with you today. It also happens to be the answer to how I decided to serve a full-time mission.

It’s quite simple, actually. As far back as I can remember, my father worked very hard to give me a very special gift. This gift was of having trained ears. Ears that would know how to listen and recognize the master’s call. Mathew chapter 11 verse 15 says,

He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

I thought long and hard on how to describe what it was like for me… deciding to put my life aside for 18 months and become a full-time missionary. You see, I was never one of those people who’s always known, “I’m going to serve a mission one day!”. In fact… 6 months ago, had you told me I would now be preparing to serve a mission, I probably would have laughed at you. Yet here I am.

As I thought about this, the lyrics to one of my favorite songs come to my mind. I’d like to share it with you because I feel it describes the last 6 months of my life very accurately. Ironically, the song is titled “the Call” by Regina Spektor and it goes a little like this:

It started out as a feeling,
Which then turned into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought,
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
Until it was a battle cry.

Deciding to go on a mission was not an easy thing for me. I had an especially hard time accepting His timing. I did not understand why he was asking this of me now, especially when I had just taken the decision to finally return home to be with my family for a time.

I had a job lined up. A really good job. I was planning on applying for a graduate program at BYU. I had plans. I had things I wanted to do…and a mission wasn’t part of those plans. And of course, I also had fears. Lots of them. But it seemed like the harder I tried to push the mission thoughts out of my mind, the louder and louder those thoughts became. I had no other choice than to ask, with a sincere heart, if a mission was what the lord wanted for me.

And He answered. Of course.

And I knew what I felt was from God. And I knew that he knew that I knew. There was no going back at this point. I knew it was true for it burned within my heart… and then the fear left. Two things then came into my mind. First, one of my favorite scriptures, which over the years has turned into my life motto. It can be found in Proverbs chapter 3, verse 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The second was a quote I’d once heard at a fireside. A ship is safe in Harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. I thought about all the people in the scriptures who had to leave the security and comfort of their safe harbors, put aside their own personal desires and plans in order to accept a unique call handed to them by the Lord.

I realized then and there that, however nice it would be to go ahead with the plans that I had made for myself, it was not the right thing to do. Had I done that, I would have not only put aside my father’s teachings, both earthly and Heavenly, but I would have only be leaning unto my own understanding.

I believe with all my heart that my Father in heaven has something else planned for me. Apparently, he has other oceans he wants me to navigate. And I’m more than okay with that because in the end, things tend to go much better when I let him direct my paths. And if that path leads to the England, London South Mission, then so be it! I’ll gladly follow.

And with all that said, I’d like to leave you with one final thought; the lyrics of the first verse of one of my very favorite hymns,

It may not be on the mountain’s height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice
He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

Standard