Monday, May 10, 2010

And So Nauvoo

****This is an email sent on April 20th.  It got "lost in the mail" (i.e. sent to Anne's mission president instead of to us...oops!)
I am in Nauvoo. The mission anyway. I have actually been assigned to Carthage. I am companions with Sister Westwood again. I have been assigned to serve as "Carathage group leader". I'm still figuring out what that all means. So far I know that I have a lot to do and figure out. We arrived on April 14th in the evening. We did not receive our assignments (to companions and otherwise) until the second day. We've spent the past couple of days training and getting re-acquainted with the scripts and each other. Yesterday was our first day of service in the sites.

When Sister Palmer ( Spokane Washington Mission President's wife) picked me up from Zelma's house (Zelma was the sister we lived with) I said goodbye to Sister Salisbury and Sister Jeppson, climbed in the car, glanced at Sister Palmer and burst into tears. We drove in relative silence for a short ways and then I decided that talking would be better than crying. So I talked with Sister Palmer. I cried though my exit interview and went to bed. For those last three days I felt like what I would imagine the guy on Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom, would have felt like. The one who gets his heart ripped out while he's still alive. I thankfully had the knowledge and assurance that it was not all for naught. I had God to support me and push me forward, to tuck me in, to get me up, and to carry me to the terminal. If He hadn't, I may have gone A-WOL.  I'm sure that the man from Indiana Jones, who was actually getting sacrificed to a FALSE god, did not have that same assurance and strength. Again, I am thankful that I did.

It is weird to be back in Nauvoo. Really weird. I am happy to be back, but it feels as though I've only gotten a restless sleep and that I never left. Washington Spokane seems and sounds like a dream I had last night. It is as if I had never left Nauvoo. It has been good to see all the sisters, to get to know the new ones, and to be in Carthage. I am looking forward to the transfer and I am looking forward to the summer. All of the training has been fantastic and I think I have a handle on what I am supposed to do out in Carthage as the group leader. Things are good. The sisters are great! One thing that has struck me about the new group of sisters is that, as I have talked to them, the general consensus seems to be that all of them have "always wanted to serve a mission".  Most of those were stoked about Nauvoo. As I recall most of the sisters coming in last year and most of them returning were taken aback by their calls, struck dumb almost. They didn't know what to think of it! I know I was. I stand in awe of the new sisters examples of faith and hope. I cannot wait to spend the entire summer learning from them. They have already bypassed a hurtle that stood in the way of most of us last summer and it will serve them well.

My studies this week and the first day of serving in Carthage again were both amazing. I'd like to share some of it with you:

I have picked up Jesus the Christ (a book by James Talmage for those who may be unfamiliar with it) again. I just finished the footnotes of the chapter on the sermon on the mount. Yesterday I read #s 3-5  about the "Salt of the earth". I've never really understood that term in the scriptures. I've always taken it with "a grain of salt" (ha ha). I had an epiphany while reading this footnote. People have always explained the Savior's description of his people being "the salt of the earth". To me by referring to the extra taste that salt gives food; that we, being righteous make the world better very much like salt makes everything taste better. The footnote speaks of this analogy in such a different way! It brought me back to the previous realization as well. Salt not only "tastes good" (which is a matter of opinion), but it more importantly is a preservative!!! It preserves things. If the righteous are the salt of the earth then they are preserving it!!! It goes back to the promise God made to Lot about Sodom and Gomorrah, something to the effect of, as long as there are X amount of righteous people in a place it will not be destroyed, or in other words, it will be preserved. The righteous preserve the earth!!!! and if "Salt shall loose it's savor than wherewith the earth be salted"? It the righteous are no longer righteous what will preserve the earth?

The other two footnotes that I read were from "references to the publicans" and "relative perfection". I learn about charity and humility from the "references to the publicans".  Matthew was a publican. He refers to the publicans all the time. To himself, as a former publican in his description of the Apostles, and to others that he teaches as "publicans". To me this showed both humility and change of heart.  I believe that he provides us with a description of his former occupation as a contrast to his new one as an apostle of the Lord. He was showing a complete change of heart. On the other hand the other Apostles omit any references to the "publicans" choosing to instead call them "sinners". In their descriptions of the Apostles they also choose to omit any reference to Matthew's former occupation. This taught me a great deal about Charity and Love. The apostles had a great deal of charity and love toward one another. They do not acknowledge or mention Matthew's past because they love him. When we have true charity for one another we love people for what they are because that is what they are. It does not matter what has happened in the past, Nor is it our place to acknowledge, bring up or mention past transgressions of others. Including offenses toward us.

"Relative perfection". This one was about being perfect, and the Lords command to "be thou perfect" and how that is a real commandment even though it is impossible to be perfect and perfectly glorified as the Father is perfect. As the Son is perfected,  we may be perfect in our sphere of knowledge and opportunity. The analogy given is that of a freshman or Sophomore who is a "perfect" freshman or sophomore. 100% on everything is perfect grade point average. Although they may be a perfect freshman or sophomore, graduation is still impossible for them in the state they are in. They don't have the credentials to graduate no matter how perfect they are in their studies. They need more credentials and more time. They must endure to the end of their schooling in order to make it that far. Thank goodness no one is expected to graduate after only a freshman's year worth of school. It is the same in this life. We need the credentials it takes to reach the Celestial kingdom, but we are not expected to have them all at once; just to be perfect in our sphere of perfection. We need credentials and time to gain all the knowledge we will ultimately need. I thought about this on a much smaller scale also. It made me wonder how many times I've heard people say, about missions and otherwise, "As soon as I felt as though I knew what I was doing, they released me". The Lord allows us to try and perfect ourselves within a certain field and then lets us move on. Just as in school, you must remember what you have learned to do well. In life we will excel if we keep the lessons we have learned. Take a relief society president. It is a calling many people struggle with because of the responsibility involved. However, when released, most say something to the effect of  "As soon as I felt I knew what I was doing they released me". But! can you imagine a relief society president who only had to care for one sister?!?!  That is what a released Relief society president should become when she is assigned as a visiting teacher! A relief society president who only "has" to look out for one Sister. All of the opportunities the Lord gives us should increase our ability to succeed in future opportunities He gives us. Awesome.

The point of all this is, I guess, I love to study. I love companionship study!  It's like getting three hours of study in one because you get personal study, then you get companionship study, and you get to learn about what your companion learned!! So it's like you studied with them for that hour also!

Service yesterday was amazing. I have such a better handle on things as far as my assignment.  Sister Quick and I got to take BYU-I Sound Alliance (a singing group) through the Jail with a non-member named Dan. It was so cool. The spirit was so strong through the whole thing and then at the end! Oh my goodness. By the end everyone knew Dan was a non-member. They had been talking to him about himself and about the church, making him feel completely part of the group. He was just passing through. He had never heard of this place. He saw the "Historic" sign and decided it would be nice to swing by. Who does that? He loved the tour! Loved it. We closed the tour with our testimonies and invited them to sing "We thank thee oh God for a prophet" and let Dan know that he could just sit and listen. The spirit filled the room so intensely I thought it might burst. Dan was beaming. He loved it. He came up and asked for our names.  When we asked him how he enjoyed the tour he said it was wonderful. We asked if he had any questions, and he said no. We told him that we would love for him to leave a comment and everyone (BYU-I included) kept telling him how much they enjoyed having him there. He left beaming with a light around his face that wasn't there when he walked in. He took a card, but I haven't seen it. I was left feeling more peaceful than I had in a long time. I had forgotten how strong the spirit is here. It was such an assurance of the good times ahead. It lightened the heaviness of my heart and reminded me of how much I love this place and how important it is for all of us to be here. This ground it sacred. All of it! The spirit will always be here. We can just pull it out of the air. As much as I loved my winter assignment, it's not always that easy in Spokane. Things are not as peaceful as often as they are here. This place is sacred. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around me being here, but in a completely different light than I did last year. How privileged we are to be called to labor in this part of the Lord's vineyard. How I love Nauvoo. How I love Carthage!. I love this Gospel. I love it. I know that It is true. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

After doing our service the Sisters and I had a meeting to talk about the logistics of things that will be happening in Carthage. Regulations, schedules and "rules" as it were. It was awesome. We opened with a testimony meeting. Everyone shared their best experience of the day. The sisters, much to my surprise wanted to have that meeting every night. So we have decided to have family prayer as sisters every night as we part ways. Just before prayer we will share our experiences from the day together. I am really looking forward to it. All of the Sisters are fantastic. They are plunging in and moving forward. This summer will be fantastic.

Sister Bailey

Even thought the summer has barely started, it feels like it is almost over. Like I am running out of time.

Anyone who can SHOULD come out this summer to Nauvoo and Carthage. I would love to see you and you will LOVE it here. That is a Promise.

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