Monday, January 6, 2014

Fwd: Letter #40 - 1/6/13

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Subject: Letter #40 - 1/6/13
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear family, friends, and possibly impostors,

So much to write, so little time! Story of my life. Theme of this letter: why I'm grateful to still be in Voskresensky. :)

For one, I had an amazing exchange on Wednesday with a Sister I've never had the opportunity to be on exchanges with before (Sister Winsor). I learned a ton from her, she learned a ton from me, and it felt so right that we were together for that. I LOVE exchanges... it was a nice "break" for a few weeks without them, but this last one reminded me how great they are. I was also able to help some other Sisters out, something I wouldn't have had the chance to do had I been moved to a different area (or zone at least).

Also, Alisa is as amazing as ever. Every lesson I'm on with her, I learn something new. We'll be talking about Law of Chastity and she makes the connection that it's like churches -- once you've found the true church of Jesus Christ, then you shouldn't go running around looking for other doctrines and whatnot. Or we were talking about why we came from the premortal realm to mortality, and she drew the connection from the Parable of the Talents and how when God sent us here, He expected us to make more out of what we were given, i.e., gain experience and follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's always a joy meeting with her, and after so many trials that I've experienced in this area, I'm so glad God finally blessed me with the fruit of my labors. :)

Thirdly, I wrote a long time ago about a woman named Elena (Letters 16, 17, and 19). She was the miracle story about her daughter receiving a Priesthood blessing and the Spirit absolutely filling their house. Well, she left town at the end of the summer and we lost contact, and I've been trying to last couple months to meet with her again but nothing has worked. Well, Thursday night I called her to invite her to the Christmas party and found out that she was moving. Immediately I asked if I could help, and she said yes. Friday we went over with two of our Elders and helped them move for about three hours. Almost the whole family was there, and I could tell that their hearts where softened because of our service. We were even able to share a bit of the Plan of Salvation with Elena's daughter-in-law and gave her a Book of Mormon.

I thought that would be the end of it, but after we left, she called again and asked if we could help her move into her new place. It was too far away from our area, but I called the Elders across Kiev and gave them her contact info, and that night they helped move everything, and it turns out that she lives in their area (I thought they were moving farther away from Kiev). So now they have her contact information, and Sister Zaretskaia, who taught Elena with me in the first place, just happens to be serving in that area too. Coincidence? I think not. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm still here in Voskresensky, and if it wasn't for that phone call, and if it wasn't for our willingness to serve, Elena would have been left in the dust. But now her contact info is preserved and there's a connection to the missionaries in her new area and an opportunity to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ again. I love Elena so much, and I know God has a wonderful plan for her and her family.

There are still more amazing stories from this past week, but that's all I have time for. I know my past letters have made it seem like I'm tired of this area, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't felt that at times. But I'm realizing now why the Lord has kept me here for so long, and honestly, I will be very sad to leave. The ward here absolutely adores me, and I feel the same way about them; I've made friends that will last a lifetime. Transfers are a month from today, and though I don't know for sure, I think I'll be leaving this blessed area (but then again, how many times have I thought that before?) :). What an honor to serve in Voskresensky!

As a spiritual thought, I'd like to share a story from my journal about forgiveness, seeing as we've probably all been offended by someone at some point, thus giving us the opportunity to learn and practice the heavenly attribute of forgiveness. And while you're reading, focus less on the characters and more on the principle. :)

After church, I was asking [my companion] some language questions, and she kind of snapped at me because she was really overwhelmed at that moment. I didn't realize until a little later that that hurt me – I was trying to be diligent and learn all that I can, and the response was far from appreciative. It really threw me off and I started thinking negatively about her despite not wanting to. I realized I was holding a grudge, and it was definitely negatively affecting our relationship. I felt the pride in my system as I thought things like, "What's her problem? Why is she so on edge all the time?", wanting to blame her instead of help her. And every time I'd be about to humble myself and think better about her, that pride would come back and I'd say, "No, she's the one that hurt ME! I'm justified in being mad at her."

This battle in my mind kept going for a while, and eventually I turned toward God. When I told Him how I was feeling, it kind of came out like, "Father, I'm hurt, and I don't know where to put that hurt if it's not on her." But really, I knew the answer – on the Savior. Whatever thoughts and feelings that one comment elicited from me, the Savior could comfort and heal me. Before that, when I was still arguing with myself and with God, He reminded me that I've also done things that have offended others but that He's forgiven me like I need to forgive her. Pridefully I responded, "But not like that! I don't constantly snap at people for no good reason!" (By the way, she's really not that bad – you tend to exaggerate people's faults when you're mad at them.) Anyway, the Spirit responded to that by asking, "And why not? Why are you so calm and generally charitable? Why do you feel so much peace in your life?" Short answer: the grace of God, and nothing of myself. That definitely humbled me, even more so now as I reflect on it. "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Long story short, I forgave [my companion], and now I'm a lot more willing to try to serve and help her so that she doesn't feel so overwhelmed. Sometimes I'd like to think that a good relationship is one without problems, but that's impossible where there are two imperfect mortals involved. A good relationship is where there is continual repentance and forgiveness, because the next best thing to "perfect" is "perfected" in Christ. I just read this quote from Elder Uchtdorf: "Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive." I love that, and I'm grateful God taught me that lesson.

Love you all!
Sister Montgomery