Lift up your hearts and be glad

Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful Thanksgiving and eating lots of food. I’m going to brag here for a minute and tell you that Sora Weaver and I made TWO pies with pie crusts from scratch: chocolate cream and blueberry with a crumb topping. LEGIT. Our district had a pretty American Thanksgiving dinner here, with rolls, stuffing, peas, two salads, turkey, mashed potatoes, yams and apples, cranberry sauce, and more. I’m stuffed. First off, I’m thankful for food.

My mom sent me a wonderful scripture this last week in Doctrine & Covenants section 29: 4-6:

“Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.

Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.

And, as it is written – Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.”

I especially love the second verse where the Lord says that it is our Father’s good will to give us the kingdom. I read that and was just overwhelmed with a deep sense of His love for me. He has already given me so much, but He wants to give me even more; He wants to give us all so much more. I am so thankful for Him and His unending love for me.

I am so thankful to be a missionary. There is nothing like it in the entire world. Even a bad day out here is better than a good day at home it seems. I love the people here. It is one of the best feelings to just love these people with all you have.

I love all of you!! Stay safe and happy – you’re always in my prayers. 🙂

Love,

Em

Thanksgiving dinner preparations

Thanksgiving dinner preparations

Seated before the Thanksgiving feast

Seated before the Thanksgiving feast

Our blueberry crumble pie

Our blueberry crumble pie

My chocolate cream pie

My chocolate cream pie

Soras Weaver and Ruiz helping with dishes

Soras Weaver and Ruiz helping with dishes

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Wear out your lives in the service of Him

This week was by far the best of my mission. I almost can’t even begin to describe exactly why for you all, but I’ll try my best. 🙂

Tuesday we had English (we’ve had over 100 people consistently, which is crazy!) and then had a lesson that night with Violeta, a less active member. It started off well, then took a strange turn and she was crying and worrying over one of her sons and his bad behaviour. I had the impression to talk with her about family prayer. I told her what it was and what they could do. We challenged her to have family prayer together every night. We had one there with them that night before we left, and the Spirit was so strong. I was so grateful for that prompting. She told us that after the prayer she felt so good and that she was so grateful that we came to visit her. She has become such a dear friend and I love her and her family so much.

Thursday was Zone Conference. I loved it so much. Elder Kearon had requested that we study and sing before he talked with us. Before he started, he had all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders come into a room so he could meet us. He shook all of our hands and then just looked at us, and with tears in his eyes said, “Thank you. Thank you. You are glorious. Such a glorious sight.” You could feel the Spirit so powerfully and tangibly in that room. During the conference, he was amazing. I can’t even write everything we talked about but I think my favorite thing was how he taught us. He was so real, open, and honest. He didn’t talk to us, he talked with us. He pulled answers from us. And he taught so powerfully by the Spirit and let the Spirit lead him. I’ll give you some one liners from him:

– It’s one thing to have moments where you receive revelation. It’s another thing to act on those revelations you received.

– Be happy with progress. But, for goodness sake, don’t be satisfied!

– There is a blessing associated with every rule and commandment.

– We do well with resistance. Resistance gives us strength.

– Don’t reach for comfort. Reach through resistance to a higher, more joyful life.

– We are comfort givers, not comfort receivers.

– If you drift into the day, you are going to drift through it.

– I believe that your tears, after the lights are out, are counted.

– Certain kinds of our weaknesses are for our own protection.

– When you have a good thought or a prompting, just act on it. It doesn’t matter what it is, just act. You will never regret it.

– When conversion takes place, it is through the power of the Spirit.

– Hold onto your identity! Be yourself.

– We need to jump out of the boat (referencing Peter).

– Don’t let your past dictate your future.

– We need to have an absolute commitment that we are going to hang tight in the face of adversity, and we rejoice when opposition comes.

– “No missionary ever died of hard work.” – Elder Ballard

– . . .Think of Him and it will sober you and strengthen you.

My favorite parts came at the end of both zone conference and mlc. At the end of zone conference, he bore his testimony. He said, “I know that Joseph is a prophet. And I know that Thomas is a prophet. You know he’s finding it hard to walk these days. But he does. And Boyd. He is on oxygen. These men are wearing out their lives in service of the Saviour. Wear out your life in the service of the Saviour, because there is no better way to live.” I LOVE THAT. I want to wear out my life in His service. That will be a wonderful challenge and blessing.

At the end of MLC, he showed us a Mormon Message for Youth, called “Sanctify Yourselves.” It’s Elder Holland talking while the story he tells is acted out. It is powerful. We were all in tears at the end. The Spirit during the entire MLC was incredible. We prayed eight times together. Opening and closing and then six individual prayers offered. It was amazing. I could just feel revelation and inspiration coming and the Spirit with us all. It was one of the most memorable and tangible feelings. I will never forget it. At the end, we sang “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” I was leading and so I was able to see what Elder Kearon did. He was right next to me, and when we all started to sing, he choked up, and then just closed his eyes and listened to us. It almost made me cry! During the last verse, he sang again with us. I can’t describe how I felt during that song. I don’t really have adequate words for it. I love being a missionary. We are powerful. Our prayers, missionary or not, are powerful. And they can bring down the powers of heaven if we sanctify ourselves. I love this work. I know that the Lord has incredible blessings and miracles in hand for Romania and all of us.

Love you all so so much,

Sora Marcheschi

P.S. Go watch “Sanctify Yourselves”!!  And the new bible video about peter walking on water. I love it. I love how Jesus acts when Peter walks out and gets discouraged. And then when he catches his arm and pulls him up. I had never thought of that! But in this video, the Lord pulls him up. And then when he says “Wherefore didst thou doubt?” he doesn’t sound mad or annoyed. He says it with so much love and understanding. I love it. And all of you!

Putting the finishing touches on the enchiladas

Sunday dinner at the Bairs with our district – Putting the finishing touches on the enchiladas

Sora Ruiz made homemade enchiladas

Sora Ruiz made homemade enchiladas

Sora Cox washing dishes

Sora Cox washing dishes

Sometimes becoming is more important than achieving

Hey everyone!

Another week gone! It’s crazy how fast time goes here most of the time. I hope you all are doing wonderfully, and enjoying life and being happy. 🙂

So we had a crazy awesome week with great lessons, but then Sora Weaver got super duper (is this even a word???) sick and we had to stay home for a bit. But before that, here’s my week:

Wednesday we had a lesson with our new investigator, Aurelia, which was actually kind of hard cause she’s really closed off to learning about the Church. But we’ll just keep working with her and she’ll come around eventually! We also got bunged that day by another investigator but ended up making the most of it by going to get a journal for the son of a less active who is so eager to read The Book of Mormon and write things down he learns. We took Ema, a member of the Branch here who’s our age, to our lesson with this little boy and his mom and it was SO GOOD! I love visiting with less actives. As we visit with them and get them coming to church again, we get so many more referrals and have more lessons with other people. It’s amazing.

Thursday was the best!! After our district meeting, we headed out to Feldioara with the entire district. Story here real quick: So ever since the other sisters have moved into our apartment, it’s been a little crazy with all of us getting ready in the morning and when we have to leave and all. So after our DM, we headed home as quickly as we could because we only had about 30 minutes to get home, change, and then be back at the train station to catch a bus to Feldioara. So we changed real fast (or relatively fast, haha), and then I was almost running to a cab. The cab weaved in and out of traffic worse than they drive in Mexico, or so I’ve heard. When we got to the gara we ran and saw the bus leaving. Right as it pulled near us, I flagged it down and we made it! Haha, let’s just say that we’ve gotten really good at just barely making things lately. Anyway, we got to Feldioara and walked to the member’s house there where we were going to do service. Their kids are our investigators so it was great for us! Their grandson took us all on a wagon ride after I told him we’ve never been and really wanted to, and they even let me comb down their horse! I was in heaven. It’s been incredibly warm here for November! I don’t even know that we’ll get snow for another month or so. We helped them saw wood and stack it for the winter and then they fed us, which was so nice of them.

Friday we had lessons but had to cancel most of them ‘cause Sora Weaver got super sick. That gave me a lot of time to study though! I read about 8 talks and had some great time in the New Testament and The Book of Mormon. That night, we went on splits so that I could still go to one of our lessons. We took Elders Cloward and Bateman with us to go see the Filip boys in Harman. The elders are going to start meeting with them to help them learn to read and help them with homework, and also just to be good male role models ‘cause these boys have none. It was amazing to watch them all together and I’m so happy and excited for the boys to have the elders meeting with them!

Saturday we had lessons planned and they all happened but totally not how we were expecting. Halfway through our day, we get a call saying that one of our investigators is in the hospital with her son. We had a lesson planned with her for that night so we went instead with Carmen, who we also had a lesson planned with, to the hospital. We had our lesson with Carmen in the car on our way there, haha, and then our lesson with our investigator in the hospital. You could tell it meant a lot to her that we came and were there with her for a while.

Sunday morning, Sora Weaver and I were up and gone by 6:30 to catch a train to go pick up an investigator to make sure she got to church. Long story short, she missed the train, we had to go back to get her by hitching a ride (yikes!), and ran after yet another bus to bring us home. But we made it on time for Sacrament, and she enjoyed church. So it was all worth it! The Lord makes everything possible when we do all we can.

This week I had a really awesome study in Alma 32. I especially loved verses 41-43.

“But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.”

I loved those verses! I learned totally different things than when I’d read them before too which was cool. I love the principle I learned of waiting. With this tree, we nourish it, care for it, etc. But the fruit on a regular tree obviously doesn’t appear overnight! We have to wait, having faith, diligence, patience, long-suffering, etc. to finally be able to partake of the fruit of this tree we have nourished and cared for. I love also how we partake of the fruit “by and by.” Just like fruits in their seasons, we don’t partake of them all year long. We have to wait. But the waiting and the nourishing help make the fruit “most precious,” and all that.

Now take those verses and what we can learn, and then read Alma 33:23

“And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grand unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen.”

SO COOL. The scriptures are awesome.

I also read an awesome talk by Marvin J. Ashton called “Carry Your Cross.” My favorite part I’ll put at the end of this email. 🙂

Love you all!!! I pray for you and you’re often in my fasts as well. Miss you guys 🙂

Love,

Sora Marcheschi

P.S.  Here’s the part of the talk I love!

“There are days when people who have been called to positions of responsibility, …have to humbly say ‘God, I’m weak, but with your help I can do it,’ and give him the chance to help lift that cross of inadequate strength.

It is a fact of life that God can make our crosses easier to bear if we are but willing to admit we have them and then seek his help….

A willingness to take yourself as you are and build from there is pleasing to God. If you have more than one cross – three or four – maybe you could build a ladder out of them and use them to climb to new heights. Sometimes becoming is more important than achieving or arriving. I’m not talking about self-indulgence. I’m talking about self-acceptance. All tomorrows can be in our favor if we carry on in a spirit of commitment and self-encouragement.”

The Gospel Is True!

Ciao family and friends!

This week was CRAZY.

Let’s start with lessons. We have had the coolest lessons with our investigators this week. Simona and Leo both are progressing towards baptism. They are still hesitant to set a date, but both are opening up more and more. I feel like if Simona set a date, then her son Leo would as well. We also had a lesson with Aurelian, our 9-year-old English student, and his grandma. Both Sora Weaver and I felt strongly that we needed to watch the Restoration film in our lesson with them. During the entire film, they were both so attentive and the Spirit was so incredibly strong. At the end they both had wonderful questions, especially the grandmother, which we were so excited about! She hasn’t been super talkative with us about the Gospel yet, but she was so open.

Today was probably the most special experience so far on my mission. It was a special, sacred experience. Our investigator, Cristina, had not been able to meet with us for a week and a half. During our last lesson we strongly focused on praying with real intent, and on her specifically praying to know if this church was true or not, whether our message was true or not. We committed her to pray with real intent and to ask specifically. Since then, we had not been able to get a hold of her but finally were able to schedule a lesson today. This morning, Sora Weaver and I decided again to watch the Restoration film during our lesson. We had been praying and fasting for her and our other investigators and it just felt right to use the film. As we watched it, I didn’t really notice anything different about her. After the film ended she quickly asked if she could say a prayer. I was so surprised that I just said, sure. So she started to pray. As she prayed, she started off quick, just listing things. But then she slowed down, and was really thinking and I’m sure feeling as she prayed. After she prayed, she looked at us, smiled and then told us she was going to cry. Then she started crying. She was completely overwhelmed by the Spirit. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. I felt so blessed to be able to testify to her that what she was feeling was the Spirit of God and that this was an answer to her prayers of real intent. She was astonished and so incredibly happy. She just sat there with us sobbing, and by this point, Sora Weaver and I were crying too. The Spirit in that little office was strong and powerful, but calm, like the ocean. It just washed over us and completely swept Cristina away in this new feeling. We told her that her Father in Heaven wanted her to be baptized and that her relationship with Him would grow immensely if she would be baptized. She told us that she knows everything is true, that she knows what we say is true and that the film spoke and showed the truth. She is scared to set a date, but we encouraged her to not be afraid and that if she would pray about it, Heavenly Father would speak peace to her heart and help her to be ready by November 22. She told us that she would try to come to church this Sunday and have her question answered there. We’re praying so hard and fasting more for her. She is amazing. I felt so honored and special to have been able to witness this girl get an answer from the Lord right in front of us. I’m still just feeling wrapped up in that moment. It hasn’t left me and probably won’t for a while. I love being a missionary.

Wednesday was transfer day and Sora Weaver and I went down again to Buc to try and figure out her visa. Well, unfortunately, the elders had a little problem in the visa office and we weren’t able to get her papers in yet. So another trip to Bucuresti is probably in the cards for us at some point soon. But it was a crazy fun day, being able to see everyone I love and am friends with. We have Sora Cox and Sora Ruiz in our little apartment now too and so far, so good! It’s actually been really fun I think. I’m enjoying it so far. 🙂 Our new district is so legit!! We have two more elders who sing and one plays guitar, so that means more music contacting. Elder Cloward and I are going to put together some cool songs to go English contacting with, and all of us as a district are going to do a musical number in church this week. I love that we are using music more! It really makes me so happy. 🙂

We had a huge Halloween party with the branch this past Saturday! It was huge. I’m serious. We had all sorts of games and activities, and we were allowed to do a little bit of dressing up. So I did Christine’s cheetah eyes that she did for Halloween before. Super easy, but it was really fun and the members loved it. After all the activities and a great dinner of chili and cornbread (although it was too spicy for most of the Romanians, haha), we watched “Wallace & Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” It was the best. Everyone, even all the adults were laughing and having the greatest time. It made me so happy to see the branch really functioning well, and for the members, less actives, and investigators to be having fun together. It was awesome.

This morning, our whole district and an investigator, hiked up the back of this big mountain in time to watch the sun rise. This is becoming one of my favorite things here. It is so peaceful and quiet up in the mountains here. We had a guitar and just sat around, singing, watching the sun rise, and drinking Inka (a drink that’s basically like Postum, Mom and Dad. I love it!).

I’ve been reading still in the New Testament, still in Matthew. I’m loving it, still, haha. Obviously. How can you not love reading about Christ? Every day, in every line, there is something to learn. I love how He teaches us that to have the type of faith He has, faith to do anything, we need to be praying and fasting. That struck me. How often do our fasts not truly mean something? And how often do we feel like our prayers aren’t really getting us anywhere? Maybe, there are some things in our lives that are going to require more than just prayer. Maybe the Lord wants to help us, but can’t until we are willing to truly sacrifice just a little more through fasting. I know that for me, there are so many times when I feel like my prayers just aren’t enough, that I need something more for the blessings and help that I need and want for others and myself. When I fast, something just happens. I can’t quite explain it, but things just work and blessings come and I realize and feel again that I can do this work with the Lord. It’s beautiful and has helped so much out here.

Another thing I realized this week was about my family. And I mean my future family. I am so blessed here in Brasov to work with and be teaching so so many children. I am constantly surrounded by all the kids that I just love with my entire heart. I love teaching them about Jesus, helping them learn songs to strengthen their testimonies, telling them I’m proud of them when they bear their testimonies in church, giving them hugs and just loving them. It hit me today that being a missionary and having these experiences has only strengthened my resolve and my excitement to one day teach and love my own children. And I know, I know, I’ve got to wait a while everyone, and I’m not saying I’m “baby-hungry” so no one get all fussy ok? (Mom…Dad…..;) ) But there’s just something beautiful about teaching children the gospel and loving them. I just can’t wait to do it one day with my own children, that’s all. It hit my heart again today with a simple clarity, that that is the most important thing I could ever do with my life. No job, no worldy aspirations, nothing would ever compare. Anyways, thanks for indulging me in that kind of girly moment. 🙂 You’re the best!

The Gospel is true. This is the best work, teaching the Gospel. People are amazing. Everyone has a beautiful story and just wants to be loved. I love that song “Glorious” that David Archuleta sings. I listened to it last p-day as I emailed and just got all teary cause I was so happy, and the message of the song was so great. Let’s just be kind to everyone. Treat everyone like a friend. Love each other. Don’t judge and don’t gossip. It ruins relationships, reputations and even your own self-esteem. Totally not worth it 🙂 Just “try to be like Jesus” like the Primary song says, and everything will work out. 🙂 I love you all so much! You are all in my prayers constantly. Believe in yourselves, and in the Lord. He will lift you, sustain you, and carry you, as you try with all you have to follow Him.

Stay classy 🙂 Love you!!

Sora Marcheschi