This past week I have had no real improvement in my back and have gotten quite frustrated that I continue to struggle in pain, and yet there seems to be no solution. Then in my personal study this week I have read more than once the talk by President Uchtdorf from last General Conference titled "Grateful in Any Circumstances." Please click here for a short snip-it of what helped me most this week.
So what did I have to grateful for this past week? My back is still in pain. I don't have a doctor's appointment scheduled until July, and all they can tell me is to rest, which has been hard seeing I don't sleep at night. But, my beloved friends, family and anyone else who might be reading this blog, I can tell you my heart is FULL of gratitude towards my Heavenly Father right now. Through this trial it has never crossed my mind once that we don't have a living Heavenly Father who LOVES us, and wants us to succeed. Though I have had to access the power of Christ's Atonement in a much deeper way than I ever knew possible, it has strengthened my testimony and helped me to press onward each and every day.
The first thing I have to be grateful for is Sister Henderson, who is in tune with the Spirit. As stated earlier, sleeping at night simply does not happen anymore. The pain keeps me awake and I just lay down and ponder life. Sometimes I am able to close my eyes for an hour or so, but it isn't really sleeping as I can consciously here my companion's breathing or the animals outside. Wednesday morning I was about done for. I had taken my shower, was making breakfast, and was close to tears because I was just so tired. Then the phone rang. It was Sister Henderson. She said she'd been worried about me and gave me strict instructions to take an 1 1/2 lunch from now on to eat quickly and then sleep for at least an hour. As soon as I hung up the phone, I fell to my knees in prayer and utmost gratitude to my Heavenly Father. For some reason, most likely the intervention of my Heavenly Father, I am able to sleep sound for one hour during lunch with the sun bathing my bed in light. Though I am still tired, that one hour each day gives me the needed energy to go out and work.
The second thing I have to be grateful for is Ayako. Our dear Japanese investigator who just brightens my day whenever I see her. Last week on P-day I downloaded a talk by President Monson in Japanese. Then we asked our member present, Phil, to bring along his computer to the lesson with Ayako. It happened to be Phil's first time to hear President Monson talk as well. As I watched their faces intently watch President Monson my heart was filled with the Spirit. Though I could not understand the words being spoken, the Spirit bore witness to me of President Thomas S. Monson's divine role as prophet, seer and revelator. Then at the end Ayako said in her simple English, "I feel it is very good." She is now ready to be baptized this Saturday. I am so excited for her and for Phil because it will be his first time to use his recently obtained Aaronic Priesthood.
The third thing was something I decided to put into action from President Uchtdorf's talk where he said, "This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." As I was facing sadness this week from not being able to work as hard as my heart desired because of physical restrictions, I was given an opportunity to serve a recent convert in the ward, Ben. Ben's birthday was on Friday and Sister Ng wanted to make him a cake, but knows nothing about cooking, let alone baking. It was our dinner hour and all I wanted to do was lay down and rest my back and wallow is self-pity for a few minutes. Then I thought of President Uchtdorf's talk about how gratitude can change our souls. Instead of laying down, I went into the kitchen and started making a cake. As I made the cake, I could feel the sadness that had rested in my heart all day begin to fade away and I felt joy instead. I felt excitement to see Ben's face when we would give him the cake. I felt my heart heal and my mind did expand as I realized the power of a simple kind act of service.
Lastly, transfers. I know I told you all last week that Sister Ng and I would be staying put, but it turns out that that is only 1/2 true. We are still living in the same flat with Sister Chen and Cabamongan, but we are no longer serving in the YSA ward, rather we have been put into the Brisbane Ward, full of kids and families and only two Chinese members. A challenge lies ahead of us for sure as we have been commissioned to try to baptize Chinese people into a ward with no Chinese programs set up. Thankfully, we are able to keep all of our investigators who are attending the YSA ward, but that means two correlation meetings, two ward councils to organize with and six hours of church for the next couple of Sundays. Yesterday was crazy as we did all this for the first time. I am still not sure why we are the only Chinese missionaries in this ward, or why the Lord wants us here, but we have been warmly welcomed! Last night we had a dinner appointment for the first time in ages! Our meal calender is already filled with more names than I have ever seen in my entire mission. This ward is SO happy to have sisters! It is a little daunting because we literally know no one, but that is our goal for the next couple of weeks--to get to know the ward and invite them to help Chinese people feel welcome at church. We are going to be well cared for at least and that is something to be grateful for!
President Uchtdorf said, "When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace." I testify, with my personal experiences these past couple of weeks, that this is true. Heavenly Father is aware of us, He is there to comfort us, and for that comfort and peace He offers I will forever be grateful. I love you all, I appreciate the prayers that have been said in my behalf, and I love the Lord, even Jesus Christ.