This has been an incredible week! There has been a lot of self-realization lately. I have learned a lot about life, myself, and the Savior. I love how there is so much to learn, and the mission seems to accelerate the learning! (sometimes in a painful way...) The mission is the experience I never knew I needed in life, and I am glad Heavenly Father was able to get that across to me so I could serve. I feel like my future has never been so defined, and I have been able to see life much more clearly than it ever has been before.
Last week I was Misses McGrumpy Pants, and I learned a lot about being happy. I studied about it, and thought about it with the people we are teaching, and how to help my companion be happy, etc. I came up with two conclusions 1) I am going to be one obnoxious spouse and 2) How much of a choice happiness is. Reading and learning about happiness from a gospel perspective was really neat, and applying it was even more insightful! My companion has a lot of amazing strengths, and has been able to give me productive feedback on how I can push myself to be a better missionary. It is so nice when you are working together with someone so you can both grow. Even it if can be annoying sometimes as you step on each other's toes ;) My favorite part of learning about happiness is that it really isn't somewhere you get to, but more of a form of travel (I think a general authority said something like that, just a tad more eloquently). Happiness is more of a byproduct of doing Heavenly Father's will than it is a destination. You can become happier more quickly by forgetting about what you want and getting to work than you can by always focusing on how you can be happier in the moment. It seems like EVERYTHING is that way! It reminded me of when I was trying to forget myself, but I couldn't because I was focusing on forgetting myself too much :) The easiest way to get the greatest fulfillment out of life is to get outside of yourself and do good. I know I have been learning that since Primary, but it has really hit me this week. Who knew that would take so long to learn!
We had a neat experience with Charly recently. You remember her, right? She was the first investigator here in Hiram I helped to 'find' back in FEBRUARY! We have been teaching her forever! She wants to do good, but has been slow to carry out what she knows. Sister Voievodina and I had a lesson planned, but as we talked with her and listened and asked questions (something we have been pretty good at together!) we were able to find out a concern we had no idea about before!! Her mother suffered for 6 months at the end of her life as she slowly died from cancer, and Charly was so angry with God that she vowed to never step foot in a church again. Wow. No wonder she has been reluctant to come to church! What a difficult experience. But it was a neat lesson for me- there is no way we can help these people without the help of the spirit, because we have no idea what has gone on in their life and what their real concerns really are. In Preach My Gospel it compares people to iceburgs, because there is only a little bit of the surface we can see, and a bunch under the surface we have no idea about. Only them and the Lord know anything about that hidden part of the iceburg, so relying on the spirit is the only way to help. It is so neat! Missionary work is so much easier than I ever imagined! When we completely give up our will to do what He wants us to do, and rely on Him for how to work with others, we can do so much more than we could ever do with only ourselves. It is an amazing feeling to know that I am only an instrument doing His work-- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Isn't it neat that He allows all of us and trusts all of us to do His work? I can't think of a more inciting compliment or a more sacred responsiblity.
Sister Voievodina is so funny- she is tired during the night, but right before bed, she comes alive! She wants to talk talk talk. I asked her the other night what surprised her the most when she came to America. Bad question. Don't ever ask a Ukrainian about what they think about Americans. It was very eye-opening to see things from an unAmerican perspecitve, and I was surprised to see how defensive I got about our nation. I guess I have been a little sheltered, because I think highly of our nation, even if it hasn't always made the right choice. I feel like most people in America are really good people. I guess I don't know as much about the world as I thought! It has also been interesting for her to point something out that Americans do or how ignorant they can be. I originally will scoff at her generalizations of the American people, but then everyday specific things she pointed out are all over the place and are very humbling. Whoops. Americans aren't perfect I guess. I want to learn more about other people and other countries because I am realizing after having Sister Lee and Sister V as companions, I really know very little about the world.
OK, I have been taking forever. I love you all! Love every moment!
Sister Kimber Mahrt
Sister Voievodina is standing next to me on the far right of the picture.