Monday, January 20, 2014

Moments of Change

How Missionary Work Feels Sometimes 

Tell Bridger he is a stud and that I LOVED all those memes he sent!!!! Made my day! Sister Pierson and I were laughing forever! I can't believe he's dating! He can't do that! 

So, you talking about A------- preaching to a room of people who used to be HER teachers reminds me of this week. This week was intense. It has probably been the most spiritually exhausting week of my mission. The big events all happened the last part of the week. We have known for a few weeks that interviews with President would be on Friday of this last week, and so we had been looking forward to that. What we didn't know, is that Thursday night, Sister Pierson and the zone leaders were called into a meeting with President and Sister Pitt. I thought that I would be babysat by Sister Pitt or something because I don't have the leadership calling that Sister Pierson holds as STL. But when we arrived, there was a chair for me around the small table in that tiny little institute building meeting room in Buena Vista, Virginia. I wish I could even explain the feelings that are involved when you get to sit in the same room as President Pitt. I feel it in big meetings, but it is OVERWHELMING in small ones. I still have yet to have an interview with President that I am able to keep it together even through the opening prayer. He is called of God. When President speaks, I know that what is being said is what God would have said. And there is something very beautiful about that. 

We sit down, and President thanks each of the zone leaders individually for their service as leaders and then turns to Sister Pierson and thanks her for all her hard work. She was the first STL ever called in our mission. I had no idea!!! Then he turns to me, and he says, "And Sister Lytle, you are every bit the STL your companion is. You go on exchanges, and you are a leader as well. Thank you for being here." As if I wasn't terrified already, I was dying after he said that. I don't know why I was so scared, it's not like anything had changed, but I suddenly realized how much was expected of me. And I felt really inadequate. I'm the kind of person who is so happy to sit behind the scenes and watch, and work, and build, where no one can see me. But I realized then that I wasn't behind the scenes as much as I thought. And that scared me. 

Throughout that meeting I was expected to comment and give my input as President tried to get a feel for what was going right and what was going wrong in the zone and our ideas on how we can improve and build here. I felt out of place as I began talking, but as I opened my mouth... just as the Lord promised... it was filled. I've never felt like a leader before in my life. Honestly, I can never really think of a time I actually did or even wanted to feel like one in the least. But as I spoke, and my mission president, a man I admire with all I am, took note of what I said and built upon that, I felt like a leader. I realized right then that we are all born to be leaders in our own capacity. Many of us won't have leadership callings but we are all the same leaders. We each have something so important to contribute no matter where we stand. We are all leaders in the sight of God. That was one of the most intense meetings I have ever been in in my life. I learned more in those two hours than I have in months. President said one thing that really hit me in that meeting. He said, "Most of God's children are changed in a very private, critical moment." We need to be watching. We need to be lifting others, because we don't know when their moment of change will be, and we need to do all we can to prepare them for it. That is what a leader does.  Life is about change, about progression, and leaders are only to help that happen. 

As we drove home from the meeting that night, there were so many thoughts running through my head that I thought I would explode. I wish I could even tell you a tenth of the things that were said in that meeting. President Pitt has a way of making you want to be the best you can be. I imagine being with him leaves you feeling in a small way how being in the presence of Christ would make you feel. So incredibly loved, but at the same time, you come out with an incredible desire to change, and to be the best you can be. I was, that night, on the cusp of my personal, private moment of change. But the actual moment didn't come until the next morning at interviews. 

Interviews are done at the same time as district meetings, and President calls us out one by one. I was first. President called me in and we began with a kneeling prayer, as always. The sun shone into that little church room that morning as I knelt with President. His prayer spoke beautifully of our Savior, and the ability to change because of him. I opened my eyes full of tears. He asked me how I was doing. It was interesting to reflect on three months ago, when I sat in my first in-field interview with him. I had wanted to leave. I didn't know if I could do this mission thing. And now, I never want to leave. He asked all the right questions, and he said all the right things. I could have sat in that room and said nothing, and President would have known everything, he is so in tune with the spirit. I honestly can't remember most of what was said. All I know is I came out, and I knew that I was going to be exactly obedient, and that I was going to be the best I could be. That was confirmed to me as we were role-playing in district meeting. We were role-playing the plan of salvation with an emphasis on God's love for us. The way things were going with the role play led me to say words that were not my own. I looked at Elder Hawes as he pretended to be an investigator and I said, "God did not create us to be second class. He did not create us to be anything less than a celestial being. He created us to be the best. And he loves us." No one needed to hear that but me. The spirit spoke to me because I again, opened my mouth, and it was filled. That was my moment of change. I was not created to be anything less than the best missionary. I am the daughter of the most powerful being in the universe, and he loves me! And this next part of my mission... it's going to be the best because I now know that :) 

Right after district meeting Sister Pierson and I had to drive to Lynchburg for exchanges. I got to spend it with Sister Morgan in Lynchburg again in that adorable little one story, hardwood floor house. I just love it there. The drive there was glorious. It takes you up and over this mountain after crossing across beautiful Virginia fields. Sister Pierson and I spent the hour and a half drive with tears in our eyes. After we had been quiet for quite some time at the beginning of our drive, Pierson looked over to me with tears running down her face as we topped the peak of the mountain. The sun was shining like it never has before. She looked at me and said, "God loves us so much. Can you feel it?" 
And I said yes.

I wish I could explain my relationship with Sister Pierson. We like to describe ourselves as an old married couple. We fight and tell each other we suck on a regular basis, and once in a while there are punches thrown--haha. But we love each other. I would do anything for that girl. I have never met anyone who understand the atonement like she does. She is so real, and she is so strong. I feel like Satan works extra hard on her because she is going to do such amazing things in her life and he doesn't want that to happen. But she is strong.  I can't wait for you all to meet her. There's not a doubt in my mind that she is the factor that was going to make or break my mission. And she made it. I owe her the world. 

I love you guys so much. You are everything to me. I can't even explain. Thank you for raising me the way you did. I am so happy to be me now. I LOVE YOU!!!!

Not sure this is what they meant by ratting your hair. . .
Christmas Golf Cart Ride

Christmas Day in Collierstown

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