Hello again, my loved ones!
I am really excited today to be writing to you just in time for New Year´s (or Año Nuevo, as they say here). We have been thinking a lot about the New Year in our companionship - and not just because EVERYONE in Chile leaves town for New Year´s, so we aren´t sure who we´ll find to teach! We have been wanting to help our investigators and less-active members especially feel inspired by the Atonement and the opportunity to have a new beginning this year. To make and keep commitments with the Savior which will enable them to have a better life today than they did yesterday. And I have been reflecting a lot myself on how I can take the opportunity to live this new year to it´s fullest as well.
I have been thinking a lot lately about this Mormon Message, which I saw a few times in the MTC, and which is one of my favorites.
I love the scripture at the end, "look not behind thee." What a powerful message! Because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we need not dwell on the sins and sorrows of the past, but allow the Atonement to help us build a better future.
I think the mission has been helping me to learn this principle more quickly (and more completely) than I could have otherwise. Every day (or several times a day) I do something wrong. We have a bad lesson, we fail to extend a commitment, we forget to verify. We don´t use our time as wisely as we could, or we let our fear and insecurities get the best of us and let opportunities to teach powerfully and with the Spirit pass us by. But we CAN´T GO BACK. That moment is over, and now we are on to the next one, and all we can do is make it better than the last. In the MTC when a lesson went really poorly, I would always ask our teachers if we could just erase it from the memory of the "investigator" and try it again the next day, and they would never let me! But it´s because they knew that even though we were just practicing there, that kind of thing was really going to happen (over, and over, and over) for real in the mission field. And you can´t erase it. All you can do is pray and repent and try to be better next time.
I pray every day to be a little bit better. Just a little. To speak one more word of Spanish. To contact one more person on the street. To love the people that we serve just a little bit more. And I want to invite you all to do the same. This year, don´t look back. Keep looking forward, with your eyes on the goal of eternal life with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I heard on some point in my mission that sometimes it helps to remember your purpose to imagine your investigators in their baptismal whites. But I prefer to imagine them in their celestial whites, standing alongside the Savior and with their family members for eternity because of the decision they made to be baptized and to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So here is your commitment for this week (and for the year): LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE! When you fail, when you aren´t perfect, when you fall down - imagine yourself in your celestial whites. Think about where you are going, and it will help you focus on how you can get there! Trust in the Savior and try again tomorrow to improve. One of my favorite scriptures is found in 2 Nephi 31:20, and it illustrates this principle beautifully. It says, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
I can´t say it better than that.
I love you all! Have a safe and happy New Year!