Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Last Step

"The last step of any journey is the first step of an even greater adventure" - A Wrinkle in Time

As you may have guessed from the quote, my journey as a missionary is coming to an end. And what a journey it's been! I've learned and grown so much that I can't even begin to describe it all. But I'd like to use this last post as a chance to share just a few of the things I've learned in the last 18 months and what I'm going to do with them afterward.

First of all, I've learned the value and the rewards that come from working hard. A mission isn't just teaching and having fun. A mission takes a lot of work and dedication. But the reward of hard work is undeniable. You really learn to have joy in the work. And I will continue to work hard. I still have two years of school left plus I need to find a job! So I will never let myself become lazy and unproductive like I was before this journey. Because without work there is no progression and no improvement. I will use every moment to do something that will help me or someone else become better than they were before.

Second, I've learned what it truly means to love like the Savior loves. That has been something I've been working on for a long time, and I'm seeing the fruits of it. My relationships with people--members, those I'm teaching, my companions, other missionaries--are so much stronger. And you know something? The secret to an unbreakable relationship is love and sacrifice on another's behalf. Just like Christ sacrificed his very life in an act of love for us, I will sacrifice for others. I want to strengthen my relationships with my family and current friends as well as forge new friendships that will last. And I know that the first thing I have to do is love them. Then I have to show them that love, by making small sacrifices for them. Hopefully in the process their love for me will grow, too :)

Third, I've learned how to overcome weaknesses. It's a hard thing to do, especially because it means admitting you have weaknesses in the first place. But it's always worth it. One of the scriptures that has come to mean the most to me during my mission is found in The Book of Mormon, in the book of Ether chapter 12 verse 27: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all men who do humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I know this promise is true because I've seen it. I started my mission with so many flaws and imperfections, but I've overcome so many of them through faith and reliance on the Savior.

Lastly and most importantly, I've truly come to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the true gospel. Only through the path that Jesus Christ has shown us can we become like our Father in Heaven. I now know, without a single doubt and with all of my heart, that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. He is the only way back to the Father, and He has shown us that way. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ.

My mission has literally changed my life, and I know that I will continue to see the blessings of my mission from this moment on.

Sister Hurd, Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, signing out.

PS: Check out my new blog, A Writer's Cache!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Weak Becomes Strong

"If men come unto me [Christ], I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before me, because if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27)

Change. It's such an interesting word, isn't it? Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. But it's always good in the end. I, at least, have never passed through a time of change and found that, eventually, I haven't been better for it. Sure, it was hard at first, but perseverance resulted
in a slightly more polished me. I'm still working, of course, because I'll never be perfect in this life as a human being. But I can still improve. Here's an experience on how I did it, so each of you can know at least some basic steps you can follow to make your own improvements, especially in this New Year with all your resolutions. I don't pretend to have all the answers, because I certainly don't. I only hope someone can benefit from me sharing this experience.

At the beginning of my mission, there were a lot of things I realized I would have to change. And I've recognized even more need for change and improvement as time has passed. One of the biggest things I eventually realized I would have to change was my selfishness. It wasn't obvious to me, and maybe not to anyone else, either, because it didn't make me arrogant or overly rude. But it was keeping me from progressing and being my best self. And my companion knew it. She wasn't afraid to be blunt with me. She told me one day, straight up, with all the love she had for me, that I needed to change. That I thought too much about myself and not enough about others and it needed to change. It was hard to accept. I admit I wanted to deny it at first. But then, reflecting, I realized she was right.

That was step one, recognizing and accepting the need for change. Step two was deciding I would do something about it. I refused to sit back and let that weakness hang over me, holding me back. I almost immediately decided I wanted to be better, I wanted to make the necessary change. I wanted to be able to put others first. So, I set the goal. It wasn't a general goal, either. It was very specific. I set the goal that I would think of others' needs before my own, even in the little things like adjusting the air conditioner in the car. And that I would think before I spoke so I wouldn't offend anyone by saying something I thought was funny but that could hurt someone else.

The third and most important step (I think) is that I got down on my knees and pleaded with my Heavenly Father for help, because I knew I couldn't do it alone. And it wasn't just a, "help me please?" Instead, it was a real plea: "I'm not strong enough alone; I need your help. Please help me not to be selfish, to think of others first." Being specific is the key. Even though Heavenly Father knows our needs, He waits for us to ask exactly what we need before He gives it to us so He knows we will appreciate it. And asking for specific help in this goal, nearly every time I prayed, helped me to remember what I was working towards and also who it was that would help me.

Lastly, I worked. I worked hard. And I worked consistently. The change didn't happen overnight. In fact it took weeks before I started to see any improvement, and even now, three months later, I'm still not sure I've really made much progress, even though others have seen a change in me. I still slip up occasionally and I still need my Father's help to stay on the path.But I'm still working, and one day I will have overcome my weakness.

In summary, the four steps to change are 1) Recognize and accept the need for it, either yourself or someone else pointing it out to you; 2) Have the desire to change and decide to act on that desire; 3) PRAY! Plead for Heavenly help, because you can't do it alone, however awesome you may be; and 4) Work. You won't accomplish anything by just sitting around and waiting for it to happen. And then keep working. And don't ever give up. If you stay constant and rely on Heavenly Father, I promise that "weak things will become strong unto [you]."