My studies have been just incredible lately. Every morning we wake up and all of a sudden I look more forward to studies than running. That's crazy for me. I'm almost addicted to the gospel it feels like! I'm learning so many things and they're hitting me so deep. One thing I learned this week came from President Salisbury. We had interviews on Thursday and it was beautiful. My first questions to him were, "How is Sister Simmons, and how is Sister Snyder?" It took him a minute to realize, then he was like, "Oh! You were in the Morgantown trio!" He proceeded to tell me that he had totally forgotten about that. I cannot express to you how wonderful that was to hear. Like I have many times before with President Pitt, Through President Salisbury, I was able to learn more about the Lord. Just like President didn't remember those challenging times, I know without a doubt that the Lord remembers our mistakes no more when we repent.
We also had a wonderful conversation about courage, and finding our voice. As a missionary, we HAVE to open our mouths. It's our job. So we must find our voice. It's always bothered me, because I am in no way shape or form a bold person. President gave me some insight on this. He told me how almost every problem or trial we have to overcome and our ability to overcome it, comes down to the idea of whether we face it with a hard or soft heart. Fear is a hard-hearted feeling. We worry what others might think and turn inward. But he said, "Look what happens when we face a scary situation with a soft heart. Instead of being afraid to talk to someone on the street, we look at that person and we love them. Soft hearted people compliment and love. All of a sudden the fear is gone and we just want to love. And when we express true love, people will feel that love and they will not reject it." So when you look at your problems or your fears, look at your heart first, and ask if it is soft or hard. And if it's hard, soften it. We have the agency to make that decision ourselves.
We also had a conversation about loving versus lifting. We often want to lift others, but as we attempt to lift, it has the tendency for others to feel that if they need to be lifted, they must be lower than us, then their dukes come up and no progress is made. But if we just love, then the magic can happen, and they are lifted in the process.
We also had a kind of cool moment with our atheist yesterday. He asked us if we did some sort of charity that was in no way connected to a church or religion in any way, if we would still feel the spirit. We were able to explain to him that, yes! Of course we would! I've learned more deeply on my mission that there is no separation between religion, and secular life. There is only truth, and not truth. The gospel is truth, and therefore I have made it part of my life. It's completely inseparable from me. It is in everything I do and feel and am. God is with me when I teach, he is with me in the chapel at church, he is with me when I run the streets of Proctorville in the early morning light, he's with me in the hills of Ohio and he was with me in Morgantown, and Pikeville, and Virginia. He was with me even when I didn't want him there. He has always been there. And he will never leave, because I am his child. He is with those I teach, and he loves them. I feel that so deeply. He's with our atheist when he doesn't believe in God, and he's with A------- when she feels alone. Mosiah 4:9 says, “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”
God is real. And he loves us. So much that he sent his son. They are both so real and so alive. And we can have a relationship with them if we put in the effort. Putting in that effort that will make all the difference. I am so happy here in the WVCM. Happier than I ever knew I could be. I stumbled upon my call letter the other day, and a promise that was made to me by prophetic authority. Something along the lines of "more happiness than you have ever before experienced" would await me as I served the Lord.
Well. It was true. This gospel is true. It’s also true that I love y'all more than words can explain.
"Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads."