Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MTC Week 8: Final Stretch

Dear everyone,

I'm doing so well and everything is just crazy. I have almost completed my one experience being in the MTC as a missionary. I'm going to tell you honestly some things I've been learning about over the last little while.

I had an interview with one of the branch presidency members the other day, and he asked me, "How are you different now than you were when you first got here, Sister Gopinath?" It was a really good question that sunk into my heart. When I first became a missionary, I was worried that I wouldn't change very much--that my point B would look too much like my point A. But when he asked that question I had a good answer. I still have a way to go, but I am much more humble in heart than I was when I got here. There is just no room for pride--pride messes up everything spiritual, and there is too much at stake. I am continually working on it. I'm also been trying to become more forgiving and loving of others around me--for me, those go hand in hand. I've been blessed with more success here than sometimes I feel. I'm grateful that the Lord cares enough about me to patiently work with me through things like this.

I'm also grateful to have learned a lot about discouragement. This is a weakness of mine--my dad knows what I mean. I feel like negative thoughts about myself, leading to discouragement/lack of faith and hope and motivation, has been a challenge for me here. It's part of being prideful, and it's also part of recognizing the Spirit. I'm not sure how to describe this, but my experience tells me that feelings from the Spirit of God prompting repentance always move me directly to action and hope in Jesus Christ. Feelings of discouragement, which are not from God and delay spiritual progress, do not lead to constructive action but a lack of faith that action/repentance will really change anything. It's just frustration and it gets you stuck. My first few weeks here, I kept saying, "I've never been so aware of my weaknesses before," which I mentally interpreted as something good, as I saw a need for change. But deep down I was really feeling, "I can't really succeed at this, I'm not a good enough person and it's too late to change." There is a huge difference, and it wasn't actually good or faith promoting. We DO need to be aware of our weaknesses so we can take action and so we can repent, but becoming discouraged is a bad thing. There is a section in Preach My Gospel on that. Those negative thoughts hold you down and decrease your ability to receive the Holy Ghost. They're not from God and should be cast out of the mind as quickly as any other kind of inappropriate thought. I've been doing a lot better with this lately. Jesus Christ will show us what we need to repent of as we come unto Him, but He will do it so lovingly that we do not feel inclined to doubt that it's possible. Lasting repentance is always possible. God is infinitely patient and mighty to save. You don't do it alone, and you are not the one that changes you. He changes you.

I love Alma 20:26, which talks about King Lamoni's father whose heart was initially hard when he first met the prophet Ammon. "When he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly." His heart was them softened toward them, he served Lamoni and Ammon, and he desired to hear the word of God they spoke of. It's amazing to me what LOVE can truly do. Love one another as your Savior has loved you.

I also love Alma 28: 13-14. The work of God is SO important. It is the solution to the greatest problem we face in the world or in eternity. It's a great call of diligence. There is SO much joy to be had, if we only live the Gospel!  So much freedom!

I need to go now, but: I know the Gospel is true. God is REAL. He answers sincere prayers! He really really blesses abundantly every person who obeys the commandments he lovingly gives. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay our ransom and qualify us to live in Heaven again. Jesus Christ loves each person individually and you can feel His influence in your life every day if you seek Him. 

I leave for Singapore on Monday. And I pray for you all.

Sister Gopinath

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