You are loved You are dear to your heavenly parents. The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. Yes, God loves you this very day and always. He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you. And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own. He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always! Wow--God loves us a lot. And He really knows everything about us, and everything that is best for us, and He knows that loving others is the key. That made me think back to a time in my life, exactly one year ago this week. A big white envelope showed up at my mailbox. I opened it, completely terrified, and I read what was inside. I read that God had called me to be a missionary here in France, and suddenly all became calm. All fear turned into peace. I realized without a doubt, that God is real. I knew at that moment that He is involved in every detail of our lives. I realized that He knows what is best for us. He knows how to help us reach our potential, because He knows who we can become. And yet, He still loves us perfectly while we are in that process to reach our potential. We're going to mess up, we're going to fail, but we're also going to learn, change, and succeed. He is with us every step of the way in the process, because He loves us perfectly. And how I love Him. How grateful I am that He intervened in my life, that He cared enough to put me on the right path, and that He spoke to me exactly in the way I needed it. He knows how Sister Shield's has to receive her answers to prayers, because He knows me perfectly, and knows that I require fool-proof flashing neon signs. ;) I can't thank Him enough for sending me here to be a missionary. I literally could not have, and would not have, done it without Him. And He knew that.
I can't describe how much stronger my testimony has grown since I've actually been on my mission as to the fact that God knows what it best for us. I have seen in countless ways why I've had to be here. There were SO many things that needed to change about who I was, and there's no other way I could have done it than by being here. I've still got a lot to change though, and I'm grateful for another 9 months to do so. I also know I have some very special friends that I've made here, that I once promised I would find and help. I know who these people are and I know the joy I've felt as I've recognized them and kept the promises made. I couldn't have found them in any other way. I just have to tell you all, take it from me if you don't know it for yourself yet, that GOD IS REAL. He is there. He is listening. You are His child! He loves you, and because He loves you, He wants you to be who you are meant to be! Let Him change you. ...And I find that that change is best made as we lose ourself in loving others as He loves us. Seeing them for their potential, just as God sees us for our's. We must love others unconditionally, despite their faults. God loves us even though we mess up every day! I got a lot of opportunities to grow that love this past week. I got to go back to my beloved Chambèry for an exchange. The sisters there really needed help, and I felt my heart growing as I tried to put all pride aside and see them as their Father does. He helped me say what they needed to hear, because He knows them perfectly, and knows their needs, and I was so grateful He helped me be that instrument to help them. I also got to spend time with an incredible family, named the Su'a's. They're from New Zealand, and they have 6 daughters, but only 2 of them, as well as the dad, are members. We went over to their house this week and I fell in love with them instantly. We just tried to love them and treat them as Christ would if He were with them. Well, the father and mother (not a member) came up to us and asked us to baptize their 11 and 12 year old daughters. We were quite taken aback, but of course agreed. We will be seeing them a lot to make sure they learn everything, because they are getting baptized on March 15th. I feel just pure joy in knowing that love is the reason hearts were softened and now these girls will get the opportunity to come closer to Christ. The last thing I'd like to mention is an ami who doesn't want to come to church anymore because she feels unloved by the members, judged, and like she has no friends other than the missionaries. So, my invitation to you all this week--ask the missionaries in your ward who their investigators are. Find those people, and LOVE them like Christ would! They need it more than you know. This work is so wonderful. I feel so blessed. Here's to another half! Love,Soeur Shields