So, on this side of the world I've been learning a lot and been learning more and more how to communicate with the Lord and have Him right there with us in it. It's been amazing because I feel like we're able to do so much more effective work, especially since we've got much more power than just our own to do the work.
Lately our Zone Leaders have been impressed with our effectiveness and have asked us what our secret was. After some contemplation, Sister Brownell and I were able to identify the turning point of our work together. We've been learning to pray in faith, in definition, going to the Lord with a plan of what we've already planned to do to help meet the needs of our investigators and then humbly asking for His help with the things we can't do on our own. Then we listen as we pray, paying attention to the specific thoughts and feelings that come and write them down (yes, you must pause the prayer, open your eyes for a bit, and write it down before it slips away). Then finally, and perhaps most importantly, we "turn the 'do it' switch to the 'now' position" (President Uchtorf in his Priesthood Session address this last conference). As we've humbled ourselves and put these specific revelations into action right away, miracles have occurred. I'm so incredibly grateful for the pattern that Sister Brownell and I have been able to learn and put into practice. I've felt so much joy, peace and comfort from using this pattern.
Some moments of pure joy from the week:
We went to visit Bishop Liu and his family with our most recent convert, Zhuang jie mei. It was one of the most joyful visits as we reviewed the plan of salvation with her and heard the bishop and his wife's testimony, then to hear Zhuang jie mei say when we got to the part about the Celestial Kingdom, "I know before I was baptized that there was no way to get to the Celestial Kingdom. But now that I'm baptized, I can go, and I'm going to be very diligent in keeping all the commandments so I can!!" I wanted to cry because I was so happy when she said that. We were then able to give her our precious gift of a triple combination decorated with her baptism pictures and a special note from each of us inside. She was thrilled, as were the bishop and his wife! To our surprise, the bishop also had a bag of goodies for her with things such as the gospel principles book, preparing the enter the temple, the Family Home Evening manual, etc. It was the perfect start to her own gospel library! As we were leaving she said, "Now I'm a little student again... I've got a lot of studying to do!" AHHHH!!! I LOVE HER SOOO MUCH!!!!
One other thing that I wanted to share with you is something I learned from a special fireside from a visiting BYU professor. He taught about family relationships and I was just soaking it all it. It was in direct fulfillment of blessings that have been given me that I would come home from my mission knowing how to be a better wife and mother. I was so grateful to attend, and I took copious notes :) But the thing I wanted to share most with you is the emotional bank account principle. Each relationship is like an emotional bank account and when you first get married there's $1,000,000 in it! You're so happy and it seems like there's never going to be anything to worry about. But over time, because none of us are perfect, some withdrawals are made (stress, conflict, hurt feelings, criticism, financial issues, family crisis, etc). When this account goes bankrupt is usually the point at which couples get divorced. But this professor taught there is a way to protect this from happening: save money in the bank, ie. make more deposits than withdrawals. He specifically taught that there should be 5 positives for every 1 negative, and if you keep this ratio, you'll never go bankrupt. If there's no money in the bank right now, you'd better start saving up quick--this principle has the power to save any relationship (especially through the principles of repentance and forgiveness). The same principle applies especially to relationships with teenagers. It rang true to me as I identified that this principle has been true in my companionship with Sister Brownell. We've had our share of disagreements and stress, but we always know we love each other and that's because we've kept many more positives in the bank than negatives.
I love you all so much. I know the gospel is true and that although it takes diligence, patience, faith, the blessings always come, and the joy is beyond measure. This I know.
All my love,