Friday, January 2, 2015

The Christmas Devotional was really good. Dec. 8, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas devotionals areeeeee ...really good.- skitells (if you don't know what I'm referring to here, it's okay.) 

This week has been another crazy one! I have a new companion. Her name is Hermana Allen. She's from Utah and has been out just over a year. She's been here from 2 days and I've been here for under 3 weeks so we're both pretty fresh to the area! It'll be fun! 

I also had to say goodbye to Sister Johnson, which was sad because we both liked to be silly at times as you can see from the second picture!

Anyway, like I was saying, the devotional was amazing! We were trying to figure out where we would watch it because on bikes our options are a little limited. We tried a few people and then we felt like we should call one of the members (she's from Guatemala and I LOVE her.) So we went to watch it with her. All of us were crying. At the end we thanked her so much to opening her home up to us and letting us watch it with her. She began to cry and said (in spanish) "I was baptized 15 years ago, and I've never watched a devotional until now." It was such a blessing. I had felt so loved and at home in her house, but she had the opportunity to watch the devotional and have her faith in Christ grow. God has it all planned out. 

We also had another huge miracle this week. We were biking and talking to everyone we could, with little luck, when a guy yells to us "Hey do yall do the Jesus thing?" My companion was a little hesitant, but I was not passing up this opportunity. I figured it would be a funny conversation. I pulled my bike over and said "What is the Jesus thing?" He then said "You know, like yall go like visit people and talk about Jesus and stuff right? do I set up an appointment?" Well, Hermana Johnson and I start teaching him just there on the street. And we extended a baptismal date for the 20th of December. He accepted! He speaks English so we turned him over to the English sisters, but he came to church on Sunday! 

Also, I know God really cares about missionaries who ride bikes because we had finished a lesson and I realized my chain was broken. I turned to my companion and said something like "okay, now what?" Just as I said that, a hispanic guy rides up on his bike and asks me how I've been because apparently he met me 7 months ago. And then he asks me if I need help with my bike. What? How did he know? Also, get this, he is from Guatemala. I hope I get to live there someday. Anyway, it turns out his friends are members of the church, but he lives outside our area:( But the Elders will teach him! So cool!

This week I just want to share a quick part of a talk that I read this week that really helped me understand how God loves us: 

God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us. President Hugh B. Brown, formerly member of the Twelve and counselor in the First Presidency, provided personal experience. He told of purchasing rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw drop like tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? was making such wonderful growth. And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, am the gardener here,and know what want you to be. didn’t intend you to be fruit tree or shade tree. want you to be currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr.Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”
Years later, President Brown was field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When superior officer became battle casualty,President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping,praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:
“I got on the train and started back … with broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When got to my tent, … threw my cap on the cot. clenched my fists, and shook them at heaven. said, 
‘How could you do this to me, God? have done everything could do to measure up. There is nothing that could have done—that should have done—that haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ was as bitter as gall.
“And then heard voice, and recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. know what want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. 
“… And now, almost 50 years later, look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you,Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”5
I know that when it is hard, it's just because He trusts us to grow into something much better. I hope you all have a great week! 

-Hermana Ries

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