Thursday, August 6, 2015

6 Things I Learned in the AZMM


To be perfectly honest, I'm sure I haven't even realized yet that I've learned some of my biggest lessons. I'm leaving this spot open to signify all the things my mission has taught me that haven't hit me yet. A month from now, a year from now, when I have to discipline my first child, and when I'm 93. Those will be times that I'm probably still gleaning truths from my 18 months as a set apart servant of God.

5: How to communicate.

I'm a people-pleaser, so the fear of making others unhappy makes it hard to communicate sometimes. I'm also terribly fearful or rejection in any form (it's been a long 18 months in that regard). My solution has always been to not talk about my feelings. If they aren't voiced I can't be rejected and I can't make others unhappy. My mission has taught me that silence often makes others unhappy and rejection isn't as bad as always wondering what if. People are meant to talk about things and they're also meant to not agree 100% of the time. I still get nervous before every companionship inventory or when I have to correct others, but all in all I have learned to effectively and respectfully communicate with people. This lesson also taught me that not all of Heavenly Father's blessings for us are 100% spiritual in nature. He loves us enough to fix all of us, not just our sins. Communicating definitely helped me in my missionary efforts, but largely it is a life skill I was not great at. He took the time to mend a part of me that didn't have to be fixed on my mission. He loves me that much.

If the Pilgrims and Indians, as well as the enemy animals used to reenact this historic moment, could talk about their feelings, then we can too.

4: The Lord doesn't require immediate perfection, just immediate progression.

He is definitely more patient with us than we are with ourselves. I won't belabor this point, it's pretty self explanatory.

3: The Lord loves us equally, but he doesn't love us evenly.

One of my first meetings as a missionary was the most influential of my mission. I don't remember which meeting it was exactly, but I know it happened in my first three months. As President Jenkins was speaking, his words, "the Lord loves us equally, but he doesn't love us evenly" snapped me out of my daydream. He went on to promise us that if we served an obedient and faithful mission that we would be blessed above and beyond those who forego the opportunity. Those words hit me and I immediately knew they were true. Blessings are always predicated on obedience; we don't get things we don't deserve. Heavenly Father will always love us despite our flaws, but he might only give you a gumball and your neighbor a Land Rover in accordance with your level of love, dedication, and obedience to His principles and commandments.

Elder Holland touched on this in an address he gave at the Missionary Training Center a number of years ago:

"I’ve been your age and you haven’t been mine, but I do remember what it was like to sit here and have dreams and fears and hopes and wonder, wonder if you were about to do it, wonder if you’d be happy, wonder if you would work hard, wonder if you could succeed. Now, 38 years and one month later I tell you that it was the most important thing that ever happened to me in my life, that it’s brought so many blessings that have now become important and now take their place in my life, but which would not have happened, I’m absolutely confident they would not have happened, if it had not been for the privilege of a mission." (The Miracle of a Mission. Elder Holland)

Replace the words mission with continual temple attendance, freely given tithe and fast offerings, faithfully magnifying a calling, etc. We will ALWAYS be blessed if we do what we are simply asked to do.


2: A soul is a soul, and all need help returning to Heavenly Father

I jokingly asked my dad before my mission if he would pay me a dollar for every concert baptism I was a part of. Everyone places an undue amount of emphasis on teaching nonmembers in missionary work. Everything is about the big dunk. Even I had that mentality before I became a real Arizona Mesa missionary. Either the Lord saw fit to humble me because of my request for commission on each baptism that occurred, or He truly thinks each soul is as important as the next, because I only baptized one person in the first 14 months of my mission. I think he probably sees each person equally and doesn't see a difference between helping lost sheep come back to the fold and helping sheep join the fold. I have done a lot of meaningful less active work on my mission and it has always been as rewarding as teaching nonmembers. Missionary work is about bringing people closer to Christ and helping them return to their Heavenly Father. Everyone needs help in that regard.


1: The Gospel of Jesus Christ really blesses individuals and families.

There are certain things in life that seem permanent and unchanging (like Lindsey Lohan being crazy now...I don't think she'll ever come back from that, but that's a blog post for a different tomorrow...when I won't be a missionary anymore....WHAAAAT. Wow. Let's change the subject...back to Jesus). Because of that we can often take them for granted. Running water, clean clothing, food, electricity, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have always lived in a home where church was a priority and at times I didn't really know if it was the gospel that was blessing my life or the parents who were providing the lifestyle. My mission has been an 18 month case study of the gospel influencing people and I can definitively say that the the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ will bless anyone and every one. 

In my final hours as a called and chosen representative of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I want to invite you with all the feelings of someone who loves you deeply to explore what your Heavenly Father has to offer you. There is more that you can be experiencing. Reach out to some missionaries and give them a chance to change your life. Yes, we are young and some of us wear brown socks with black shoes, but we come with a sacred message.


In other news, I just remembered that I have to update my resume and that makes me want to die.

Read Elder Holland's Full Talk that was quoted above. It is great.

With love, one last time,

Sister Poppe

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As promised in October of 2013, in this post, a picture of me recreating Bella's last day in AZ.

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