Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18th, 2013 - HALFWAY.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I am grateful this year for a few things:
1.The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ
2. That I am a missionary and representative of that Gospel
3. My family
4. Meals when I don't have to eat rice

Tomorrow marks 2 years since I was baptized into the church. Oh, happy day! The following day marks half my time here in Panama. Oh, sad day! Time flies-- up, up and away. 
This week was all together wonderful. The Bishop of the ward where we're serving had asked us to rescue 5 families from inactivity. He gave us names, without addresses or phone numbers. We set out to find them, and did our best to ask around and get information from other members. No one knew who these people were, where they lived, or how to find them. Determined, especially after new goals that President Carmack put on us, we began in one neighborhood, and searched. After saying a small, sincere prayer, we took off down one street. I told Hna Rios, "Here. This house." We knocked the door, and a man came to greet us. We made some small talk and asked him if we could share a message with him. He agreed to listen. As we taught, I felt to ask him if he had come to our church before. "Yes. We haven't been in a year." I followed by asking "When were you baptized?" "A year ago." "What's your last name?" "Ayarsa." It was one of the families!! He directed us to one other person on the list, and we visited the next inactive family. And that family pointed us to the next family, who gave us the phone number to the next. Within 3 days we had found the 5 families. Yesterday ALL of them came to church, including Family Ayarsa with their 8 year  old son who is preparing to be baptized! President Carmack was very inspired with the goals he put on the mission. I'm glad we followed his counsel in faith, and acted upon our promptings. 
Saturday we went to the temple to support our ward, which was another suggestion given by President Carmack. We helped the youth and recent converts in the baptistry. Guess who went! Rodrigo! It was so amazing to see him in all white, performing sacred ordinances in the house of our Lord. 
Sunday was a beautiful Sabbath. On top of seeing all of those families, I looked up at the front of the chapel to see Rodrigo sitting, ready to bless the Sacrament. After church he ditched us to do his home teaching, and I had never been so happy to be left behind! He makes us proud. 
We also helped a family do their first fast. They have been members for 3 years, sealed in the temple, and have had callings all their time in the church. But they've just never observed the law of the fast. We explained the importance of fasting to them, and helped them understand why we fast. We helped them begin their fast, and when they finished, they had a renewed hope. I know that family will see the miracles they need. Faith is unbelievable. Haha, get it? Sorry...

I heard an inspired prayer this week.
"Padre, guíanos hacia tu camino. Por favor, te pedimos que nos ayudes a correr en el camino que has puesto." I was really impacted by those words. I then began asking my Heavenly Father if we are really expected to run. He gave my answer through the Joseph Smith book I am currently reading: "Joseph Smith said he did not care how fast we run in the path of virtue. Resist evil, and there is no danger." - Eliza Snow. So it's not that we're running FROM something in this path of life, it's that we're running TOWARDS our destination. 

Well, folks. Eat everything american for me this week! I will be tearing up the streets of Arraijan, building up the Kingdom. I love you all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Joseph and Heavenly Father

"we see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. althought we may settle for less, Heavenly Father wont, for He sees us as glorious beings we are capable of becoming."

I testify that our Father in Heaven knows us; our prayers, our desires, our needs, and our heart's cry. He knows the precise moment to save us from our trials and doubts. He came to the rescue quite clearly this week, through the words of a member of my ward where I am serving.

"Hermana Bond, the best compliment I received on my mission was when someone told me that they wished their children would become missionaries like I was. Today I want to tell you that I hope my daughters become like you."

Inadequacy often enters our hearts due to much self-relfection, and feeling the weight of what we know we should do and what we aren't doing. I felt the direct love of God as this member took the time to plant that blessing in the soil of my heart. The reality of the gospel sinks deeper into my heart and mind each day. 

Even though we are often harder on ourselves than we should be, we can take comfort in the Savior. Joseph Smith was a wonderful example to me this week of this very principle. When translating the Book of Mormon, he permitted Martin Harris to take the translation to show to his family, even though the Lord had told him not to. When the 116 pages that Martin Harris took were lost, he returned to the Prophet Joseph to tell him that he had lost the manuscript. Joseph's first reaction was, "OH! My God, my God. All is lost, is lost!" He spent a time rebuking himself, then facing the consequences of the Lord. He earnestly repented and sought the Lord's approval to begin translating again. After a time more, the Lord restored the translating privileges to Joseph and the prophet rejoiced. He said:
"...God was pleased with my faithfulness and humility, and loved me for my penitence and diligence in prayer. I am now fortified by the sweet feelings of receiving the Lord's forgiveness and a renewed determination to do His will."

I chime my testimony in with that of Joseph Smith's--
Our God is pleased when we are faithful to His commandments, when we humble ourselves to do His will, and when we use the free gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to leave behind our sins and walk uprightly before Him.

i love you all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

October 28th - No change is good change

this week was one where i was able to realize that i've progressed, grown,
and learned so much in the past few months- but that i have so much farther
to go. i love the way John put it: "grace for grace". we must take steps,
fall down, pick ourselves up, and keep marching forward.
i just found out that i do not have ANY sort of change this time around-
area or companion. how weird! i was a little nervous about that at first;
anyone who knows me knows that i am nothing but change. but, it ultimately
boils down to one fact- Jesus Christ is at the head of His church, and i
will do, go, and be where, what, and who He needs me to go, do, and be.
we had a few neat activities with the missionaries in my zone this week. 4
out of the 5 work days we were with other missionaries, helping them in
their areas, or attending some sort of training or meeting. it was such a
beautiful week to learn from the examples of the young missionaries i am
serving with here in panama.
we've been picking up our efforts to visit less-actives this week. to our
surprise, the attendance at church yesterday went up by almost 80 people!
that was such a blessing. that, and seeing Rodrigo and Leo and the Morales
Family be confirmed.
well, keep praying for the missionaries around the world; that we may
continue to learn and grow-- grace by grace.
i love you all!

November 4th

"therefore she ran forth from house to house making it known unto the
people." alma 19:17

Rodrigo heard from a member that there was a young couple in the ward
without a refridgerator, so what did he do? he called us to come help him
move HIS to their house. we arrived and moved the fridge inside of the
young couple's house. the wife began crying on my shoulder. "Hermana Bond,
why are you doing this?" "because Heavenly Father answers every single one
of our prayers."

Rodrigo went to the temple today with the ward, and said he really enjoyed
it. this upcoming thursday we are going to the temple with a convert
family, The Martinez Family, for their sealing. the wife of the family
asked us to be her escorts in the temple. we are really honored and
excited! it's a huge honor, especially since one of my friends who served
here a year ago, Tanner Hardy, was the one who baptized this family.

there is a sister in the ward named Linda. when i first got here, i could
tell she didnt like me. but i just did my part as a missionary, and avoided
her. she would always tell me i was getting fat and i needed to obey the
word of wisdom. i learned how to laugh at everything she said to me. this
past week i had a strong impression that we should go visit her. we showed
up and she just looked at me like i had killed a puppy. "what are you doing
here?" "i want to get to know you, sister. can we come in?" she instantly
lightened up, and the Spirit was strong as we listened to  her conversion
story and the many experiences she has had. she began to cry as she
explained how her husband had not been baptized with her family 10 years
ago, and how all she wants is to have the priesthood in her home. we cried
with her, laughed with her, and ended up eating peanut butter (you know who
i am). i asked her why she didnt like me before and she said she's always
hated gringos, but that i had gotten on her good side. i offered to help
her translate her Patriarchal Blessing into english, since that's the way i
learned spanish. sunday after church we went back over to help her begin
her translating. she is now planning her trip to texas for when i get home.
funny how a small conversation can change someone's heart, huh!
one of the members of the ward, Marta, received her mission call for
Columbia this week! she is really excited! she will be leaving when i hit
my one year mark on the mission!

i love you all.