alut and Happy Easter/Conference Week!! Best week ever!! So, for these past 2 weeks, like I told you, I've been studying in depth the life of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I have been compiling a list of all of the attributes, qualities, and traits of Christ. I want to learn everything about Him so I can learn how to change to become more like Him. I'd like to take a few minutes just to share with you what I've learned about this incredible Person, in honor of His life and death this week. There is more to Him than I ever knew. He wasn't just the Son of God who came here, atoned, rose, and is now some arbitrary power in the heavens. He was real. He was a man, He was a teacher, a leader, a son, a brother, a prophet, a comforter, a peacemaker, and so much more. Here is what I've learned so far about who Jesus Christ is. The first comes from my study from the talk "The Atonement" by Cleon Skousen, Jesus The Christ, and 3 Nephi... Ok, So Jesus Christ: He is full of eternal joy. He wants to do things the Father's way. He is willing to do anything to keep His Father's laws, and to honor Him. He was and is infinitely loved and respected. He remembers who He is, His potential, His mission, and doesn't stop working towards that even when it's really hard. He overcame and satisfied the demands of justice with mercy. He is forgiving--completely, sincerely, and unconditionally. The second comes from the talk "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar... Christ resisted temptation perfectly, which means He understood it perfectly, so He can help us. He looks outward, being able to discern other's needs and then reach out to them, even amidst His own trials. He never betrayed who He is, or did anything to weaken His relationship with the Father. He offers others peace and comfort even when He Himself needs it too. His focus was always on who He could help next , never on Himself. He never justified or made excuses for wanting to think about just Himself, He only let Himself put others first. Charity possessed Him...there would have been no atonement had He not been selflessly charitable, forgetting about His own problems and instead wanting to help other's with their's. The next part comes from True to The Faith, the sections "charity" and "Jesus Christ", which is "The Living Christ". He loves others without failing compassion, patience, and mercy. He taught the gospel, even when rejected. He helped the poor, afflicted, and distressed, even when others mocked them. He has an enduring love for us, it lasts forever and can't be broken. He wants others to receive His love and wants those who love Him to go and share that love with others. He did what it took to fulfill all righteousness, even when it seemed unecessary. He went about doing good, even though He was despised for it. He taught peace and goodwill, by His acts, not just His words, and invited others to do the same. He taught the plan of salvation so everyone could recognize their divine nature and potential. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind, it wasn't taken from Him. He visited those He loved in life, and took care of His family and friends. He cherished those family relationships. He is our advocate with the Father. He is the Creator of all worlds. He is the head of His church, restored to the earth with His power. We will be judged of Him by our works and desires, which He set the perfect example of. The last part is from "The Savior's Selfless Sacrifice" by Elder Packer. He suffered the sins and pains of us all because of His love for the Father and for us. He qualified to pay the debt for our sins because He was sinless. He frees us from the captivity of sin, guilt, and temptation. He is ready to guide us back to peace and security. He is a light of hope. He redeems us from our sins by filling us with feelings of peace of conscience, and of joy. He has paid the price necessary, but asks us to do a small part in return to take advantage of it. He forgets our sins once we repent. He gives us so much help to come unto Him--He never leaves us alone. We can perfectly trust Him because everything He does for us is done out of perfect love, and to better our eternal lives. He never forces or coerces us, but leads and guides us and asks for us to follow Him by love, gentleness, and example. He speaks to us today through personal revelation and His servants, the prophets. He gives us strength, and the ability to overcome trial and temptation. He makes our lives HAPPY. That is what I have learned so far about this our Redeemer and Savior, our older brother, Jesus Christ. I can't explain my love for Him. I can't understand His love for me. Both are just unmeasureable. I am forever grateful for my King. I hope we all will use this week especially to remember Him, and use His example to live the way He did and does. Listen to the words of the prophets this weekend, and they will help us a lot in figuring out just how to do that. Have the best week ever! I sure will! Love always, Soeur Shields
Bonjour à tous! Ok I literally have about 10 minutes to write what I wanted to say this week, because I have to hop on a train to Lyon in half an hour. So! I'm sorry, I had a lot I wanted to share. I'll try my best. Biggest bestest news...well actually it's bitter sweet. Cynthia Su'a, the mother of the 2 girls we baptized last week, has an official date of April 19th! She's even already ordered her little white dress :) She told us that she felt "just so happy" the whole day of the girl's baptism. She felt a really strong spirit. That is what my comp and I had been praying for to happen all transfer long! And voila quoi, look what happened. Her heart was so softened by that sweet spirit we felt at the baptism, that she is literally like jumping into the font. It's incredible what the Lord's Spirit can do! It can change an earnest, willing heart! The sad part is that we also found out this week that they're moving back to Australia on April 20th. I was a little more than devestated to hear that... But I know that the little precious time I got to spend here with them changed me forever, and I'm so grateful for that time the Lord did give me with them. Second thing, ARE YOU ALL READY FOR CONFERENCE?!? How the heck is it already conference time again! I'm jumping out of my tights with excitement! It's crunch time, so if you haven't been already, start preparing! As it is my favorite conference, same weekend as Easter, I've been preparing for the past few weeks (and will continue to do so) by studying in depth the life of the Savior. I want to know everything about Him! What makes Him who He is. Why He is the way He is... perfect that is. I want to learn as much as I can about Him, so I can learn how I can best become like Him. Also, as I reflect and study over His life, it leads me to ask myself questions as to how I can better myself and change my life. I'm writing these questions down and I'll be using General Conference as my prime source for shedding some light on these questions. After all, it's 2 straight days of getting some extra chapters added to our scriptures. I'll sure be taking advantage! I invite you to do the same! Ok last thing. I want to tell you all something. After a lesson we had this week with one of our amis who literally can't forgive herself of previous sins and thinks she is worthless, I feel very prompted to let you all know something. You are LOVED PERFECTLY by our Father in Heaven. That means that He never loves you less, and your value and worth to Him NEVER changes in His eyes. No matter what you've done! His love for you is unconditional, and your worth to Him is priceless. Why do you think He was willing to give us His only Begotten Son as a sacrifice? ...because I pomise you, it was really really hard for him. But He still did it anyways... So that you and I could have a chance at being forgiven, becoming completely clean and free of all guilt, and literally becoming perfect through Christ. Since He gave us the gift of His Son, He can not and will not ever stop loving you endlessly, and seeing you for who you can become, which is exactly like He is. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Love, Soeur Shields
Bonjour! What a blissful week!!! Honestly, I would just like to tell you how much happiness I feel. (If you haven't noticed yet, missions are like roller costers) This past Sunday was the baptism of Shannon and Shae Maree Su'a, my sweet baby girls, as I call them in my New Zealander accent. This dear family is just a family of pure miracles. Honestly, my testimony has been so strengthened, just by their example. So, we all get to church yesterday and we're sitting in the congregation in sacrament meeting with our dear Su'a family. The girls were just giddy with excitement and anxiousness for their big day. Sweet little Shae Maree looks up at me and goes, "Is the water going to be cold? If it is, that's alright. I'll still do it." Hahaha so precious. So after sacrament ended, the baptism got rollin'. The girls came out in their beautiful white dresses, and I literally thought I was looking at 2 angels. (which I was) Well, the talk were given, first by one of their big sisters, who has been struggling with activity for a little while. It was such a beautiful message about the Holy Ghost, and I loved seeing her testimony come out of hiding. Then came the baptism part! When I imagined their baptism day, I thought I would be crying my eyes out. But as I watched those angels standing in the water, I literally just could not stop smiling. Not just my face, but my heart was smiling, my soul was smiling, everything was smiling! I can't describe it! It was literally just pure bliss. Each of them had the purest and most innocent look of faithfulness and obedience in their eyes as they prepared to go down into the water. It was in all honesty the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The only thing that was coming to mind was the scripture that says "how great your joy will be if you bring even one soul unto me." THAT IS TRUE. Literally, I can say with my whole heart I have never experienced joy like that before. It was more than just a parent being proud of a child for sharing, or a teacher being proud of a student for a good grade, it was a feeling of complete peace and happiness that these 2 girls were opening themselves up to the opportunity to be blessed by Heavenly Father in every way that He wants to bless them. It was a permanent, eternal joy that I felt. Because I knew that they were starting a journey on an eternal road of blessings. And what more could I want for these 2 girls whom I love so dearly? Then more miracles came. After the baptism, their sweet mother, who is the only one left in the family who hasn't been baptized, looked at us with a smile bigger than I had ever seen, and said she wants to get baptized now too. Family and friends. This dear woman has been the power house strength of her family, and I have mad respect for her, but she would only laugh when her husband would bring up her getting baptized with the girls. But that spirit that was present in that baptism touched her so deeply, that she had a complete change of heart right then and there. The spirit is real, God can soften hearts, and trusting in His will and timing is the KEY! And what was really cool, was that it was literally the last few hours of my dear companion's mission, and this was the note she got to end it on. She went out in the best way, and she really deserved it. This family has single-handedly changed me. They don't even know they do it, but they inspire me, and make me want to work even harder, to be the missionary they deserve. I love my big Samoan family. And I love my mission. This is truly the most blessed and incredible experience I have ever had. I can't stop telling God thank you for getting me out here! How grateful I am that He stuck His hand in my life and helped me get to the place where He knew I would be most happy. He really knows us. And He really knows whats best for us. And I love Him. Thank you again for the birthday wishes! I wish I had time to respond to all of you! But I appreciate you, each and every one! Love always, Soeur Shields
Bonjour à tous!
This week was incredible! And this next week, the last week of the transfer, is going to go out with a bang! Because my most favorite people in the entire world are entering the waters of baptism this Sunday!! I can't describe the joy and excitement that comes from seeing these 2 sweet girls, Shannon and Shae Maree, make their first covenant with God. They're starting the road to eternal life and I could not be more proud of them. We have been working so hard with them all transfer, and we have just seen miracle after miracle with this family. They are my favorite Samoan New Zealander's in the world and I wish you could all spend every day with them like I do. We'd all be better people if we could be more like the Su'a's. Let me tell you why. This story will be complicated, but I'll try to make it all come full-circle.
So, this week, we were at a family's house. The father of this household has stopped coming to church, because he finds himself intrigued by the controversial matters of the church. He gets so caught up in it, that he has lost his basic testimony. Well, as we were at their home, he of course brings up a controversial subject. He made point after point, and I soon found my faith being attacked. The things he was saying made logical sense. And I started to find myself agreeing with him. I came home that night feeling twisted, and sick to my stomach. I knew something wasn't right. I knew the spirit was not with me, because it had been a long time since I had felt those types of feelings of the spirit leaving. I sat down and thought for a bit, and I realized something: I didn't have a testimony of certain things in this gospel. I had a moment, as hard as this is for me to admit to you all, where I completely lost sight of why I'm here. I didn't even want to be here anymore, because I didn't know if there was any real reason as to why I'm here. I thought to myself, am I just wasting my time? Is anything actually coming of this? Is what I'm preaching to all these people actually true? I couldn't see clearly anymore. I had let Satan cloud my vision by letting the doubts sink in, because I hadn't done what was necessary to gain a testimony of these particular principles.
I felt pretty awful as I went to bed that night. I prayed hard to Heavenly Father, mostly just asking if He is even there. Because I really didn't know for a moment. I plead with Him that night, asking Him to somehow help me see what I'm doing here.
Well, the next morning I began my personal study. I decided the perfect thing for me to read would be President Uchtdorf's talk "Receiving A Testimony of Light and Truth." I realized a lot of things while reading that. I realized that anything that you think is an answer to a prayer that is not something of light, that is not something that leads you closer to Christ, is NOT from God, no matter how logical it may seem. I also realized that you have to gain a testimony for yourself to overcome the doubts that will assuredly come. How do you do that? You have to study first of all. Because of going on back to back exchanges and meetings, I hadn't been able to study my scriptures or the gospel in 3 days. My spiritual well was running dry. Studying DAILY is so important. Then, you have to ask God. I realized I have been teaching people to go and ask God if certain principles are true, and then I've never done it myself. How do I expcet to teach with sincerity and conviction if I don't know what I'm talking about? Better yet, how do I expect to ward off the adversary's many attacks if I don't fortify myself? I promise you the adversary can bring anyone down, he knows your weaknesses. He brought down this full-time representative of Jesus Christ for a little while there. You HAVE to be doing your part to fend him off.
So, I opened up my scriptures and it felt like a breath of fresh air. That spirit that I so badly missed started coming back. Then I decided I needed to go pray and ask if these things were true or not. So, I went into the bedroom and poured out my heart to my Father. I didn't feel anything right away, which was good, because I knew the spirit was already with me. So if I felt the same, that meant the spirit was still there, telling me this was good and right. Then an image popped into my mind of Christ standing before me, and I thought about how I would instantly kneel before His feet. But then a new thought came into my mind almost immediately after. I know I didn't put it there, because it was almost happening in my mind as if it was literally playing out before my eyes. Christ didn't stay standing before me, but He came and knelt down next to me. He started pleading with me. It hit me at that moment that Christ felt every doubt, fear, worry, heartache and pain that I had felt the night before. He understood me perfectly. And there He was, telling me, "I'm here with you. Come to me, and I will give you peace." It was so vivid and so apparent to me. I'll never forget that image. Christ is our advocate with the Father. He really did atone for us. He really does love us, even when we're doubting Thomas's. He wants us to develop our faith in Him and His gospel, so He will be with us every step of the way as we're on our journey to do so.
So, I then fasted that night and the following morning to gain a testimony of those things which I had prayed for. Some of those things were if Joseph Smith is a prophet, and if families are eternal. Well, just so happens that that very evening, I got to attend a civil wedding ceremony of a friend in the ward. While I was there, I felt a tangible difference between how I felt there, and how I felt as I was watching my sister and brothe-in-law get sealed for time and all eternity. The spirit was different, and I knew that the priesthood used to seal families together is real. I felt it there almost a year ago, and I didn't feel it at this wedding. It made me sad actually to think of binding yourself to your loved one in any other way. Because it's real! God has actually given us the power to be together forever. You can feel how real it is if you've ever gotten the chance to experience it.
Then on Sunday, this is where it comes full circle, Ronny, the dad of Shannon and Shae Maree bore the most incredible testimony. He has never done it before, because he's been inactive for a long time. But he told us that he has learned humility as he's started to put the gospel as his first priority. He's learned the humility necessary to gain a testimony and listen to God's call to come back to Him. He pounded his fist on the podium and said "for the first time in my life, I know God is there. I know He listens to my prayers. And I know Joseph Smith is a prophet." That simple line right there hit me like a ton of bricks. God answers our prayers many times through other people. He answered my prayer about Joseph Smith and if He is really there through Ronny. It was incredible to feel the spirit telling me that what Ronny was saying is true. I felt so proud of Ronny at that moment. And I felt especially grateful that God had answered my prayers.
So voilà. There you have it folks. I apologize if that made no sense, but it really was a huge week of growth for this little testimony I'm trying to grow. I invite you all to really search for a testimony of the basics, if you haven't already. The moment will come where it's all you have left to rely on, and if it's not there, you'll wish it was. This gospel makes me happy, and I know it's true. Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith. But when you do doubt, do what it takes to find your faith.
Thank you also for the birthday wishes! I love you all!
Bonjour à tous! This week I was reminded of a very profound statement that my wise father once told me. "Missions are all about everything going wrong but one thing going right." That is a very true statement. Because in case you didn't know, almost every day as a missionary, something goes wrong. But it's when one good thing is able to come out of it, that makes all the opposition worth it. I'll give you some insight as to that from this past week. First of all, my comp and I had planned a really cool RDV with some members and inactives in Puget Theniers, an outer-ville. There is only one bus that goes out there the entire day. Well, we get to the bus stop even a few mintues early, so as to not miss it. Well, we wait and wait, and the bus is late. So we both look down at our phones for literally 30 seconds as a text came in, and my comp looks up right as the second as the bus goes zooming past us. We didn't see it in time to flag it down, so we missed it. We kept our chins up though and decided to go take a train there instead. It was more expensive and would get us there later, but we decided to do it anyways. Well, when all is said in done, we finally get out to this ville. That evening we went and visited this inactive. Well, we got her talking about how she met the missionaries for the first time, and she ended up sharing her whole conversion story. Her whole demeanor changed, and she had a new light come in her eyes, as she remembered the joy she had felt when she was living the gospel. So, she looks at us and tells us she is coming back to church, because she knows that's where she needs to be. That made the whole crazy day worth it. There were like 5 other examples I wanted to give from this week but I won't have time. I just want to tell you that also, attitude is everything. If there's one thing I've learned on my mission, it's that you CHOOSE your happiness. You can choose if you want to let a situation that's out of your control make you mad or use it as a time to practice patience and trust with the Lord. You choose if you want to love people unconditionally or if you want to let their little quirks bug you. You choose if you want to be stressed or feel God's peace. You choose if you want to let things not going the way you wanted them to make you sad or to look for the good in them. You literally have control over the amount of joy you want to feel in this life! Things are always going to go wrong, life will never be perfect! But it's how you react to those situations that will shape you into who God knows you can be. The last quick thing I wanted to touch on was how wonderful it's been doing our mission's Project Elijah. As I've been filling out my "My Family" booklet and really studying more about the family as an eternal unit, and then teaching others about it, I've felt a very special spirit. It's a spirit of forgiveness, a spirit of unconditional love, a spirit of unity, a spirit of joy. As I reflect about my family, all I can feel is deep gratitude and love. All bitter memories are seemingly unimportant and all that comes to my mind and heart now are their wonderful qualities and memories I have with them. I think that is a huge part of the spirit of elijah... Strengthening and fortifying your family right now. I invite you all to really focus on the good qualities that each of your family member's has, tell them how grateful you are for them, and look for new ways to love and serve them. Let the spirit of Elijah into your homes to bring your families unto Christ TOGETHER. I love you all and hope you have a great week! Love, Soeur Shields