Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MTC Week 4 - Time is Flying By!

Hello everyone!

I really can't believe another week has gone by. As of yesterday (Monday the 12th), I have only 5 weeks left here until I leave this side of the world. The days are long but the weeks fly by so fast, it's almost scary.

But this week was good. I think everyone in my district is getting to the point with their companions where they have to start paying more attention to the needs of their companionships and actually working out problems that come up. Some of the elders have had a hard time this week, but everyone is heading in a good direction. Most missionaries have times with their companions when it's tempting to be selfish and prideful, but instead we're asked to be selfless and humble and loving and patient. We're asked to qualify for the pure love of Christ when that's not initially something that may come naturally. It's such a good opportunity for us, and me personally, to learn how to work closely with someone--things will certainly come up every now and then, but if you handle it well it can serve you so much. I can already see why, from this angle, missions bless families. We're all going to come back better at being in a family. I know I am.
My Malay is coming along! It's such a fun language, such an interesting one. I'll write more about it later. The other day I could understand everything my teacher said. I'm working on recognizing the feeling behind people's words, and putting sincerity into my own words, instead of just focusing on "What vocab do I know? What words can I pick out? What do I know how to say?" It's really helped me to focus more on "What are they feeling? Where is this coming from? What do they need to understand? What is the Spirit saying?" It's a challenge, but an important thing to be able to focus on.

I've been thinking about the reason why so many missionaries come home so different than they were when they left. There's nothing magic here, no secrets that I've discovered. What makes missionaries remarkable is--hopefully--the fact that we try to put the Lord first in everything every day, and we try to be consistently obedient and consistently seek to serve those around us. Consistency over a "long" period of time (even 18-24 months) has a profound and LASTING effect on people. If LDS missionaries went out for 3 months, generally they would come back unchanged--and if they did come back different, it'd be more short-lived. To me that stresses the importance of being consistent over time. At EFY this summer, we talked a lot about "Taking It Home," which meant continuing to keep commandments at home after returning from EFY. I taught several lessons on this. Now I'm learning more about why it's important. Six days (or even six weeks) of being obedient and spiritual won't change you or change your life--it can only start you on a path of consistency that WILL change you and change your life. I hope that makes sense. I think people come back from their missions different in a very non-superficial way. Their hearts have changed, they truly have become better from deep within. This kind of change takes consistency over time and it lasts. The change lasts, and continues to deepen because the mission will set a pattern for your life. I think it's super cool. It's not magic; it's way more real than magic. It's the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's His power to change our hearts. It's our Heavenly Father's Plan of Redemption, or Plan of Happiness. It's such a beautiful thing. Enduring to the end in our lives means continually applying the first four principles of the Gospel: faith, repentance, baptism (sacrament and Temple covenants), and (receiving/working for) the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It's a process that we NEED to continually be going through in order to become Christlike. It's continual progress, it's continual change. It's Christ preparing us for what is to come.

I've also been thinking about the importance of the heart. It says in Moroni 10:3 (maybe 4?) that after we have received these things, we should ponder it in our hearts. We need to involve our hearts in this process. Christ in interested in changing your HEART, not changing your mind. He works from inside out. Your scripture study won't help you as much if you don't open your heart, involve your heart. Your prayers are less likely to bring you closer to God if you don't speak to Heavenly Father from your heart. Speak what is in your heart, open your heart. Let the truths of the Restored Gospel, let the Holy Spirit of God, deep into your HEART. Seek to feel it in your heart. And think about it--a heart pumps blood into the rest of your body. If your heart is changed, your entire body is affected. This is a spiritual principle. Your entire self, your entire life, will feel the effects of whatever condition your heart is in. There's so much potential for good. Deep, lasting good!

I love this Gospel! Please send me letters with your thoughts, and please pray for my Malay and also for the other missionaries going to Malaysia. We need it! :) Thank you so much for the prayers you already have been offering. We DEFINITELY feel the effects of those prayers. I love being here, and I know I belong here. I'm so grateful and humbled at the chance to represent our Savior. I love you all!

Sister Gopinath

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