Hello Again. :)
My mind is drawing a bit of a blank of exactly what to write for this week...Ok, I think I know where to go in this letter. :) Well the first thing I would like to mention is how much the love grows for the people we meet, teach, and prepare (for baptism). I first came to this realization the other night when Hermana Suret and I had finished our planning for the evening. I sat there, and was going through my mind of what many people had said to us earlier that day....this week...these last weeks, and really in all of my mission. I started to ponder on the similarities of the responses people made when asked to read their scriptures, or to go to church, or to pray for the truth with a sincere heart....these commitments that we ask of people as we teach. When asking people to do these things, here are some of their responses for not completing commitments: "Well you see I was working all day and I just didn`t have the time", "I`ve been really exhausted and haven`t found time (as they are sitting watching television) ", "I had all these errands I had to run", "I forgot", "Honestly I didn`t do it, but I think God will understand my situation", etc.....
When thinking of how many excuses are made not to complete even the simplest of commandments struck my heart...Many people say, "Yes, I know, I know I`m supposed to do that but....." It finally clicked into my head that I made a number of excuses just like these in my mind and actions before my mission. I didn`t discipline myself enough, because I didn`t see a great need to do it on my own. Since being here in Nicaragua, I have grown to treasure my scriptures and my hour of study (which really goes by so fast), truly ponder and feel clean while partaking of the sacrament, the importance of putting God first in all things before my needs. I had made myself to be a more selfish person before...studying when I felt like it--but saying to myself I didn´t have time...praying out of obligation when I felt tired.....not always kneeling in earnestness for help. When listening to what many people have to say in their behalf for not doing what we have taught as representatives of Jesus Christ, I sat there at my desk crying and truly wishing people would just have a change of heart. Why are they not getting this? Don`t they know no thing or hobby is more important than God? Thinking about it right now, makes me never want to go back to who I used to be. I never want to have excuses for not doing exactly what God and Jesus ask of me.
Jesus really did say, "If ye love me, keep my commandments". In the following chapter verse 10 explains why HE kept and keeps the commandments of God....so that we may be wrapped in the love of God, even as He is. If I tell others, or myself that I don`t have time to pray, read, study, go to church, fulfill my callings, serve others....then I am telling directly to God, that I don`t love Him and that there are better things for me to do....never will I make these mistakes...sins again. I feel so loved to know that I can become more repentant of my selfish ways, by leaning on Christ, and what He gave up, what He felt, so that I may have JOY. If I am not constantly living what God commanded me to do out of love, than how can I expect others to do the same?
It truly is an honor to be a servant of Christ, and to know that He found me worthy enough to be here, learning to teach, love, and serve even as He did, and does. That is my goal in the mission and for my life...is to be and live even as He lives.
I love all of you very, very much and your constant support for me, your sincere love in your words and acts of kindness. Have a great week!!!!!!!!!
Love, Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson!!!!
P.S. if you don`t have it already, please purchase and read Our Search For Happiness by M. Russell Ballard. It teaches so sincerely, simply, and powerfully what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe. :)