Concerning Portland, Brazil, and Trusting in the Lord

You’ve been asking, so here’s the answer.

“Why aren’t you in Brazil?”

For those of you who don’t know, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mission calls are assigned by a member of the 12 Apostles–men called as special witnesses of Christ.

These men look over EVERY application for missionary service.

And there are a lot.

And they pray over each one. They ask for the Lord’s assistance to determine where each missionary ought to go. Then they make the assignment and the applicant decides whether or not they would like to fulfill that call.

My call hasn’t exactly worked out the way that they normally do.

#visaproblems

So I’m here in Portland. Tracting, teaching, serving, and doing all of the stuff that missionaries normally do.

And I absolutely love it.

I couldn’t be happier.

“But I bet you’re anxious to get to your real mission.”

My call letter didn’t specify that I’d be here in Portland. And it certainly didn’t specify that I’d be in a temple visitors center, but I like to think that this is what The Lord had planned.

I like to think that the apostle who assigned me paused over my call–not really sure where to put me–that there was some hesitation.

Portland.

Or Brazil?

Visitors center.

Or full pros?

I needed to be in the MTC, when I was there. I needed to meet and teach and learn from the people I met there.

But I need to be here too.

I’ve learned so many lessons that I, personally, need. And I’ve met so many people who have changed me forever.

That could only happen here in the Oregon Portland Mission.

People always ask me if I’m anxious to get to my REAL mission.

I’m here.

The Oregon Portland Mission IS my mission.

And maybe Brazil is too.

Only time will tell.

If I never make it to Brazil, I’ll be satisfied. Because I know that this is where The Lord wants me to be. Right now. Consulates and red tape don’t stop Him.

Nothing can stop the Lord.

He’s got me right where He wants me.

And that’s right where I want to be.

I feel so very grateful to be here: hastening the work of salvation in the Oregon Portland Mission, in the Lake Oswego ward. I feel so strongly that this is where The Lord needs me right now. And whenever and wherever He needs me to go, I’ll be happy to do that too. Because I trust Him.

Of Children and their Fathers

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about children.

Because I am literally surrounded.

Everywhere I go.

Children.

And SURPRISE!!

There’s so much that we can learn from them.

Here are a few things I learned this week:

1. “Yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”
So, Sister Ryder and I were checking up on potentials, like we often do. Because the missionaries before us left pages, and pages of potentials. And we happened to knock the door of a little Cambodian family.

A little boy, about 10, answered the door.

We asked if his mother was there. And she came from the kitchen. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and asked if they’d be interested in a message about Jesus Christ and families. She shook her head. And said no.

He son, standing a little further back, said yes.

At the same time.

She turned around, looked at him, and said, “Really?”

He nodded his head.

“Oh, okay.”

She invited us in.

That just got me thinking about how much more receptive little children can be to the enticings of the spirit. Sometimes as people, we get caught up in a whole bunch of “stuff”. There are so many things that compete for our attention. And sometimes we don’t take the time to really listen.

We let ourselves become closed off to what Heavenly Father wants to say to us.

But, if we take the time to remove ourselves from the distractions of “grown-up” life. Just for a little, we can really hear, and really see what’s right in front of us.

2. “Full of love”
Yesterday we were visiting with a new family in the ward. They moved from Norman, Oklahoma a few months ago. So I was fairly eager to visit with them. Because I am quasi obsessed with Oklahoma. Also because you don’t run into too many Oklahomans this far north. After our lesson, Owen, their 4 year-old son came running up to me to give me a hug.

And I panicked.

Like sister missionaries sometimes do.

I just stuck my arms straight out in front of me.

And he, looked about as confused and then started crying.

I could have died.

My heart really ached for him as he, confused and probably somewhat embarrassed, hid under his blanket. His mom, bless her, tried to explain why I couldn’t give him a hug. And Sister Ryder tried to console him with nuckles and high fives.

But he wouldn’t have it.

Kids are that way.

You know them for five minutes and they’re your best friend. They want to show you all of their toys and hug you.

As we grow up we lose that. We’re not quite so trusting. Not quite so willing to love. And that’s a total bummer because love is the best thing there is.

And we’d all be a little happier if we tried to love a little more.

3. “Submissive, meek, humble”
When you tell a child something, they believe you.

Yesterday we were at dinner with a family and as the parents were putting some of the last few touches on the meal, their children were running around.

Pretty typical family.

On one of her rounds, their daughter fell down.

Pretty hard.

She sat there crying a bit before Sister Ryder came over and held out her hand. She helped her up and said, “All better.”

Almost immediately, she stopped crying.

And then happily yelled, “Hey Mom! I’m all better!!”

It was adorable.

I want five of her.

Wouldn’t it be neat if we were all like that. If when Heavenly Father told us something we simply believed. No questions asked. If we could trust that everything he tells us to do is for our own good–if we didn’t have to do things the hard way to find out that there’s a better way.

Mosiah 3:19 reads: For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth of the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

We could all learn a little something from the children around us.

That being said, I’ve also been thinking a lot about fathers. And who our Heavenly Father is.

I found this video particularly insightful.

The Lord wants the best for us. He’s not going to give us more to deal with than we can handle. He’s got a plan for us to learn what we need to learn in this life, and if we trust Him, we’ll get there so much faster.

I read recently in Stephen E. Robinson’s “Believing Christ“.

“When our twin daughters were young, Janet and I decided to teach them to swim. I started with Rebekah. As we went down into the public pool together, I thought, “I’m going to teach her to swim.” But she thought, “I’m going to drown!” The water was only three and one-half feet deep, but Becky was only three feet tall. She was so terrified that she began to scream and kick. She was unteachable.

Finally, I held her close and said, “Becky, I’ve got you. I’m your dad. I love you. I’m not going to let anything bad happen to you. Now relax.” And bless her heart, she relaxed. She trusted me. I put my arms under her and said, “Okay, now kick your legs.” And she began to learn how to swim.

Spiritually, some of us are so terrified by the questions “Am I celestial? Am I going to make it?” that we cannot make any progress. We’re petrified by our fear. But if we’re trying to follow his teachings and paying attention, we can almost feel the Savior’s arms around us and feel those assurances as the Spirit whispers of the Savior’s love for us: I love you. Trust me. And if we do trust him, he can begin to help us live the gospel. It is as if he supports us, whispering through the Spirit: Okay, now attend sacrament meeting. Very good. Now accept a call to serve. And so we begin to make progress.”

As a missionary I feel like I learn that over and over.

The Lord isn’t taking us out to the pool to drown us. He’s taking us there to help us learn. A little on the job training, if you will, but He’s never far away. He doesn’t take off the floaties until we’ve learned to swim. And he’s always got a lifeguard on duty.

The Lord loves each of us so much. He wants to help us. He wants to teach us. And if we let Him, He will.