Monday, March 17, 2014

HOPE- Having Only Positive Expectations

Oh how I wish I could have seen Brandons' reaction to my spider experience! Sorry for scarring anyone... It was quite the night-mare but still a testimony building experience for me as I was able to handle everything I was faced with through divine assistance. In life we will face scary things that make us feel uncomfortable and aren't pleasant. Challenges are hard and difficulties are not easy to go through. We are going to be tempted to quit, knowing it will be so much easier to turn around go back. But relying on the Lord for all our strength and trusting Him; willingly trading our will for His, gives us the strength to endure it well. The Lord never promised it would be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it. I know that's true now more than ever before.

It's been a slow week but a good one just the same. My new companion, Elder Davis and I get along very well. It's easy to keep each other laughing which is such a blessing to me right now. I will miss Elder Julian; I may have struggled with him, but he has one of the purest hearts I've ever seen. He was such a great example to me in many ways and has definitely helped me learn more about the Savior.

We're still struggling to find people to teach. However, restaurants seem to be the place to find them around here. Remember how we found Theresa at Pizza Hut due to an instant craving of pizza rather than hamburgers? Well a couple days ago our hamburger crave decided it still needed to be justified, so we went out to lunch at a place called Steak and Shake. We were there, eating our food when a worker there, who must have noticed our "strange" apparel and the nametags came up to us and asked us what we do? We were happy to tell him what we are and what our purpose is. This led to us asking him if he would be willing to meet with us and talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. He was pleased to accept our invitation and gave us his contact information. His name is Jessie; we will hopefully be meeting with him tomorrow!
Goes to show again that the Spirit can guide you in many ways. Always listen to your stomach. :)

Being a district leader definitely keeps me busy. I'm not just thinking or worrying about me, my companion and my own area anymore. I have the responsibility of thinking and worrying about every other companionship and area in my district as well as helping them resolve problems/concerns, giving them approval to do various things, getting information form them non-stop... it's a lot. But there are blessing that come form it as well. The Lord definitely qualifies when He calls. I have felt the influence and instruction of the Spirit so powerfully on behalf of the missionaries I am over. It is so cool! I also get to give trainings in our weekly district meetings. Last week was my first district meeting I was in charge of. I gave a training on hope; one of my favorite Christ-like attributes. Near the beginning of my mission I realized that I didn't quite understand exactly what hope was, so I studied it. I studied a lot; I studied it off and on as well as regularly for a few months. Finally I have learned what hope is to me, as last transfer was the hardest transfer I've had on my mission so far. Hope is what kept me going. I couldn't have made it without hope. Hope to me is trusting that God will fulfill His promises to me. Hope it what allows me to endure to the end. Hope is expecting something to happen when we do what is right and hope is believing that all things will work out for our good. While hope and faith may sound similar, they are not quite the same, but to possess either faith or hope sufficiently, you must possess the other just as much. Faith is our actions on a belief, hope is what drives it. Hope is the fuel for faith, just has gasoline is the fuel for and engine. An engine makes a car move forward, but only when it has fuel to ignite it. Such is the case with hope and faith. Hope is manifest through optimism, encouragement, enthusiasm and patient perseverance. We can find the ultimate "gas pump" of fuel in Jesus Christ and His atonement as well as knowing that God is our loving Father and we are His sons and daughters; all things He does are for our good. That source for hope is infinite and unfailing. Throughout my mission, when faced with doubt or discouragement I have always remembered hope, and I say to myself: have only positive expectations. Look at that again:
That has made the difference for me when faced with the temptation to doubt or to become discouraged. There is true power in that. It has made me realize that no effort I make as a servant of the Lord is wasted. Every act for good has a merit. I know it. Focusing on Christ is the only way to remain strong in the faith; remembering your belief in Him. In Ether 12:4 it gives us a process to obtaining blessings and miracles: believing leads to hope, hope leads to faith, which then leads to an increase of hope, which leads to an increase of faith and so on until you recognize the blessing and the miracles around you because of your faith in God and you are led to glorify Him. I have seen this process take place so much in my life and as I look back on life I realize this has taken place in me a lot. Always be believing in God, have a perfect brightness of hope, exercise your faith; the miracles will happen; they do.

I am so grateful for the gospel in my life. I would not be the same with out it. How blessed we are to know the truth about God and to know His plan for us. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. I learn more about Him every day, and every day I love Him for. "Oh how I love my Savior because He first loved me!" I know and testify that Christ does love us. All He ever did was because He loves us. His love is unending and pure. He is my salvation. I love Him with all my soul. I am so blessed to have this short opportunity to represent Him in this land. I know that only by Him and through Him we can and will obtain eternal life. That is amazing to me. Oh how I love Jesus Christ!

I hope all of you have a wonderful week. I hope you know how much I love you. :)

-Elder Curtis

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