Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bruised Knees and Spiritual Things

In many cases, we find ourselves wondering "for what purpose have I been put in this situation?" I found myself asking that very question on my knees.

You all know that I am a solo sister. It seemed odd at first, and to be almost perfectly honest... it has been a great experience. When my district began our adventure together, I felt like as fifth wheel of sorts. Which is to be expected, after all, I am older and wiser;) But in all seriousness, I was in desperate need of understanding. A feeling of need began to grow slowly somewhere between my brain and my stomach. It told me that I needed to ask for guidance.

On page 39 of the missionary manual, Preach My Gospel, it states "No one can know of the spiritual truths without prayer." As missionaries, we pray on our knees at the start and end of each: meeting, personal study, companionship study, class time, district meeting, sleeping, etc. Currently, I have a bruise the size of Texas on each of my knees. One week ago, I found myself praying for the Elders in my district, each of them in turn for those thing which they stand in need of. As I discussed their needs with the Lord, something changed. It's amazing how the Spirit can touch our hearts. He testified to me that my Elders are children of God. I love God's children. And I love my Elders. I know that I am meant to help each of them on their path to becoming the amazing people that I know they will be. We are God's children, we are brothers and sister, and we will help bring God's love to this generation. I love you all, Nos vemos:)

Sonrie ~ Hermana Milmont

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yo no se porque no lo se!

There are many things that people experience in life. My most recent experience consists of wrong turns and not knowing anything! This is a rather uncomfortable position to be in. I am currently at the missionary training center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. My life is officially: learning to speak a foreign language, learning to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in said language, studying 9 hours a day, digesting cafeteria food, exercising, keeping a journal, planning every day be half hour increments, being productive, getting along with 19 year old boys, showering with sandals on, understanding 5 other girls (roommates), keeping your space clean, loving your companion (whom you are never without, or in my case make sure that you are never alone by scheduling with both your roommates and your district), eliminating the words "guys and dude" from your vocabulary, being spiritual, and having a great attitude:)

I learned all of this on day one at the MTC. But lucky for me, I have 3 days to figure it out :)

Here at the MTC we have many zones. Each zone is made up of districts, and each district is made up of individual missionaries. My district has 5 people in it. 4 Elders and me. This is not what I had expected. It's HARD! Boys are WEIRD;) Despite this, I know that I will be able to learn and grow from this experience. I was the only intermediate Spanish speaking sister that arrived here on Wednesday, and therefore I have a sticker on my name tag that designates me as a "solo sister." I can be with any two elders or any one sister. Needless to say, I need 3 extra days to figure it out.

Each week we prepare a 5 minute talk in Spanish, and we are called at random each Sunday to share what we prepared. I had planned to share those with you each week for the next 8 weeks, but I am currently in civilian clothing and doing laundry and I left my talk elsewhere, but I will send it next week, so you can enjoy my green Spanish:)

I love it here. It's hard work, but I have never felt so productive in my life. I'm learning so much and it's a validating feeling. Even though I don't know what I don't know, I do know that the Lord will bless me as I do what is right. Nos Vemos:)

Sonrei ~ Hermana Milmont

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Farewell Talk

Good morning brothers and sisters. It is a pleasure to be with you today. As I look out, there are many of you here that I have known for the larger part of my life. But because I have been attending the singles branch for the past three years, there are many of you that I do not know personally, but I hope one day to remedy that. I’m grateful for the spirit that is here today, and I pray that his influence will remain with us.
The summer after my freshman year of college I had the great opportunity to go to Ecuador with a study abroad program. At the time I was a Spanish major and it was one of the requirements to graduate, so I did all that I could to prepare. Studying Spanish, getting shots, packing, earning some money, renewing my passport, and studying the culture that I would soon to be immersed in. All of these preparations are important, and being prepared made the majority of my trip very enjoyable.
I have a small red military issue Book of Mormon. It is about the size of a deck of cards. This was my source of spiritual food that I took with me, it was light weight, and it could fit in my pocket which is marvelous because I don’t carry a purse. However, there was a major problem. Not only was it light, but I treated it that way. Now I’ll come back to that.
Each day was divided up into sections: four hours of class, one hour for lunch, another four hours of class, with what they called una pausa, which meant break or pause, in the middle. Then we were free to do whatever until 6:30 because that’s when it started to get dark, and Quito, Ecuador’s capital wasn’t known for its friendliness. On the weekends we had culture and tourism, which means we traveled to the various places around the country.
The host family that I was staying with lived 30 minutes away by bus and 20 minutes away by taxi, so we left no later than 6:30 to go home. I did my homework and then had about an hour to kill. Here is where my problems began. Generally I pride myself in my ability to not get home sick. I can generally focus on my purpose, and forget about home. But after 3 weeks my super power vanished. I was getting homesick.
Now, let us return to my little Book of Mormon. It was a gift from my mother, and in the front cover she had written her testimony. I was sitting on my little bed at my host families’ house. It wasn’t home. And I was not doing the things that would give me strength. Not only had I left home, but I had left my armor, I was spiritually spent with little means to refill my cup. It was then that I dug out my little Book of Mormon, I began to read. Through my tears, my mother’s testimony spoke to my heart, reminding me of what I knew, I needed to be obedient and rely on the Lord.
In the scriptures we are told that we receive no witness until after a trial of our faith (Ether 12:6 But I have found that when it comes to repentance, the Lord comes quickly to our aid. One of my favorite New Testament stories is in Matthew 14 (, when Peter walks on water. Peter starts walking out to the Savior and he’s doing pretty well. I think all of us do pretty well with our faith a lot of the times. But then there is a storm going on. Ours is a different kind of storm but a storm nonetheless. When Peter didn’t have a boat between him and the storm “he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” How often do we begin to sink? How boisterous are our storms….? The scripture continues “And immediately” did you catch that? “Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him”
How do you suppose Peter felt as he began to sink? Do you think that he was scared; perhaps he didn’t know what was going to happen. Do we often feel like we’re sinking, afraid to drown? With compassion Christ says “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt” I like to imagine how he said this. I don’t think he was yelling, or doing the stern parent voice with the furrowed brow. “Your in big trouble.” No, in my mind I see a half smile on his face, as he shakes his head slightly, His countenance saying “my child, I know that you were scared, but I am right here, waiting to act on your call”
When I was in Ecuador He was there waiting for my call. The day after, that compassion was evident. It was Sunday. We were on the road to the Cotopaxi volcano. I was sitting by my instructor, and the two of us had a mini church service, just the two of us. When we were finished, I looked out the window, and we were driving through Vedauwoo, Wyoming…. In the middle of Ecuador, who knew? As we continued the scenery was morphing in front of me. We went through star valley, the big horn, green river, Cody, all the different areas of Wyoming. And when we climbed the volcano… it was windy that day was wonderful, it was the Lord saying “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
When we are sinking and the winds have to do with sin, the waves have to do with transgression, the storm is wearing you down, you cry “Lord save me” He will always come. In Alma 7 ( it says that Christ shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people. The word Succor Literally means “to run to”. Christ will run to you, he can’t wait to give aid. He will not leave you friendless.
We see this pattern in the Book of Mormon again and again. He seems to be crying from the pages let me show compassion towards you
Enos tells us, “there came a voice unto me saying Enos thy sins are forgiven thee and thou shalt be blessed, and I said Lord how is it done, and the Lord says because of thy faith in Christ whom thou has never before heard or seen (Enos 1:5, 7-8”
A few pages later the Lord shows us again with Benjamin’s people
They cried out “oh have mercy and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins and our hearts may be purified and it came to pass that after they had spoken these words, the spirit of the Lord came upon them and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience (Mosiah 4:2-3”
Go further still, he does it again as we read about Zeezrom
Alma says “if though believeth in the redemption of Christ, thou canst be healed, he said yeah I believe according to thy words, and Alma cried, oh Lord our God have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ and when Alma had said these words Zeezrom leaped upon his feet and began to walk(Alma 15:8-11”
God is so concerned with us knowing that He will succor His people
He shows us His love and compassion again with Alma and the sons of Mosiah. And Alma cries out “I remember to have heard my father prophecy unto the people, concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now as my mind caught hold of this, thought I cried within my heart oh Jesus, though son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more. And Oh what joy and marvelous light I did behold (Alma 36:17-20”
He does it again with Lamoni, and then his wife, later his father and his servants. In Alma 24 the anti-nephi-lehi who claim to be the most lost of all mankind ( Then in Helaman, the Lamanites who plot to kill Lehi and Nephi (Helaman 5 All repent and are forgiven.
The list is enormous; do you suppose that the Lord is trying to make a point?
In Matt 18 ( A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain, have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
- Now how could he have seen his son? He had to have been Watching for him, Waiting for his return. And when he saw his son he didn’t walk, he ran to his son to show his love and compassion.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
The Lord uses us to fulfill his purpose, we as His children have the opportunity to show compassion to those around us.
One of my favorite stories is the novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; it is the story of Jean Valjean. Preceding the French revolution, it takes place in France. In his younger years Valjean steals a loaf of bread and as punishment is placed in the prison system to repay his debt to society. Many years he spent working off what he owed. While doing this, there was a great deal of time to let hate fester. As he continued to let this hate grow, he all but destroyed his ability to show Compassion. The time came for his parole and he was released. With nothing but the rags on his back he wandered the streets of Paris looking for something, not knowing what. He is found by an old priest who gives him food and shelter. Astonished at the compassion this priest could have for a stranger, Jean Valjean is torn. Fine silver is in the home of the priest. Thinking that he could take the silver, and use it to get his feet back on the ground, he must make a decision. Ultimately he justifies taking the silver because of all the hardship he has endured throughout life. Because he is on parole, he will return to prison if he is found out. Later that night he is caught and taken back to the priest’s home.
Now examining the situation, the priest, who fed and sheltered Jean Valjean would be justified in being angry. But instead he follows Christ’s example of compassion, and forgiveness.
The priest greets Jean and exclaims that he had forgotten to take the candle sticks and then proceeds to give them to him. The silver was changed from something stolen, into something given and the lawman leaves, for his services are no longer needed. This was a great turning point. The priest kneels to join Jean Valjean who is on his knees and tells him to make an honest man out of himself. Through the action of the priest, Valjean saw the light of Christ, the example of ultimate forgiveness, and then learns to emulate that in his life. He himself learns Compassion and with that does what he can to better society.
Growing up there were many things that we did as a family. I am one of the youngest in our family, and as such wasn’t able to participate in the things which required finer motor skills. But I can remember seeing my older siblings and wanting to participate. I also remember watching my older brother and wanting to be his best friend. He was good at everything. For a large part of my younger life I wanted to be just like Adam, I would try to emulate many of the things that I had seen him do, in hopes that we could maybe develop a better relationship. As a child, that was ONE of the few desires of my heart. When he was called to serve a mission, I decided to write him every week, and I think I did, but you’ll have to ask him to know for sure. Adam and I now have a wonderful relationship.
The Other of my few childhood desires was to serve a full time mission. If you ask my parents they will tell you that I just came that way. It is a goal that I have been preparing for all my life. Every choice made, was made with the mission in mind; I wanted to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As my time to serve grew closer I recognized a couple personal pitfalls, something of my own storm. I wouldn’t see my two friends from high school Angela and Jerry for 3 and a half years. This was really discouraging for me because they had helped me through a great deal. I would do anything for them. So I prayed for comfort. I received my mission call on January 13th and the compassion of the Lord was evident in my life. The Lord knew the desires of my childhood heart and the first was granted, I was called to serve. The second was also granted, I was assign to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires Norte Mision. This is where my brother Adam served. I was going to have the connection with him that I had always wanted. In his tender mercies, the Lord also understood my current concerns. Jerry is also serving in the same mission and although he comes home before I get there, I will have the opportunity to love and work with many of people that he has. Angela is a good letter writer so I never really needed to worry about her.
Brother and sisters I know that this is the true church, and that it was restored through Joseph Smith. I know that God loves his Children. We see his tender mercies and His compassion not only in scripture, but in our daily lives. He has given us prophets to lead and direct us, because He loves us. I know that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. The Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Jesus Christ on every page. He is our Savior and Redeemer and our elder brother. Now my final childhood dream is realized, I want to be like my elder brother, I want to succor his people and help them on their journey to eternal life. Brothers and sisters I challenge you to do the same.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011