Two long weeks you've had to wait.
I bet you've been, in quite a state.
Christmas Day, New Years too
but nothing from me, to you.
I was planning on writing a whole poem but then I couldn't figure out good enough words to use. Maybe I'll get some inspiration and put it in at the end of the email.
There has been a whole lot that has happened in the past two weeks. Not to mention Christmas and New Year's just add to the list!
I will make an attempt to speak quickly about my Christmas experience.
I know I talked about the Nativity Walk in a past email but that is where the true Christmas experience started for me. That event put into perspective for me the true meaning of Christmas and helped me grow my individual relationship with Jesus Christ.
The time that I was able to spend on the Savior in this unique setting of a set apart missionary is an experience that is different than any other. You aren't focused on the presents under the tree, you aren't trying to go hit the slopes every day, you aren't worried about what you may or may not get, you are focused on Jesus Christ and His amazing grace, love, mercy, and light.
We can always be focused on the savior during the Christmas holiday but life gets busy and as a full-time missionary, life is pretty busy, but busy of Jesus. haha It helped me have a new take on the Savior's birth that I hope to take with me forever.
I had a wonderful full circle moment this past week which just grew my love for the good that others do but most importantly the good that Jesus Christ does for us.
With our mission, we have a group chat where we send in a short story and pictures of individuals who get baptized.
I got home after a long day and noticed that we had received a message from this group chat. This is the message that was there:
Meet Jeff! He is the newest member of the Church in the Pflugerville Ward. He met with
missionaries a few months ago at a park. He recognized them and decided to go talk to them after his workout set. But before he
finished, the Elders got up and went and talked to him. He met with the Elders to listen to the message of the Restoration of the Gospel and agreed with everything that was taught. Same with the following messages. He met with the ward and made many friends and loved the way the Church is operated. He read the Book of Mormon and gained a witness of its Divinity and Truth by the Witness of the Holy Ghost. He says that this was something he had been thinking about for nearly 10 years. He was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints yesterday and received one of the greatest gifts ever promised on Christmas Eve. We are so excited to help him see what the future holds for him as a member of the Lords True Church.
I couldn't help but to just start crying real man tears as I was reading this. Elder Williams and I were the two Elders who first talked to him. You never know where your efforts will go. I was only able to meet Jeff once. That very first time, then he was always super busy and didn't have time to meet. Then I eventually left Plugerville. It was so awesome to see, like I said before, you never know where your efforts will go.
There has been a lot happening, as I mentioned before. Good, bad, such is life. I let myself get into a pretty bad hole, that I am still getting out of. I won't go into detail but there were a few things that helped me out a ton. Two things in particular.
- My dad and his wonderful council
- My good friend Dylan and his email
I messaged my dad telling him everything that was up and he told me something that I wasn't really expecting and something that I didn't really want to hear hahah It helped me refocus my thoughts on Jesus Christ and His role in this plan that he has for us.
I was reading Elder Hansen's email and this line stuck out to me;
"Why would I want to do anything less than my best? Why wouldn't I want to treat people with the respect they deserve? That desire to do better is difficult to describe. It's not guilt. Rather, it is inspiration. The Spirit does a good job giving you that if you let it.
"Are you listening for it?"
These two things together, like I said helped me focus on Jesus Christ and His divine role. I decided to follow the Spirit and listen for the inspiration that God was trying to give to me, I just was hardening my heart and wasn't accepting his help in my life.
I then had a really good study where I focused on remembering. Rather than focusing on all the bad or sad or discouraging times, we should remember what the Lord has done for us, for me.
I listened to a talk from President Eyring from a 2007 October conference titled, 'O Remember, Remember' and he stated this question regarding how he looks back on his day, "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?"
I decided to take this question into my journaling. How have I seen the hand of God reaching out to me today? As I have been more focused on the good rather than the bad I have been in a way better mood. Crazy, Right!? Who woulda thought?!
No matter how big or small the event was I still felt God's love for me in all of it.
Helaman 5 is a really good chapter from the Book of Mormon that talks all about remembering all the good that God has done. Highly recommend.
Last of all, the New Year! 2024. Couldn't end without saying something. The start of this year means something absolutely WILD to me...
I only have a year left here in Texas.
Time flies while you are having fun.
Time flies while you are serving the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.
Let's see where this year takes us, shall we?
That's about it. See ya.
- Elder Payne