Monday, September 29, 2014

Fwd: Letter #78 - 9/29/14

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Montgomery <>
Date: Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 4:21 AM
Subject: Letter #78 - 9/29/14
To: Christine Montgomery <>

Dear friends and fam,

I just wrote President a couple really good stories from this last week; I'll copy them here to you:

We had an awesome lesson with our 17-year-old investigator Malina; we spent time getting to know her and establishing a friendly relationship, and then she was more receptive to our message, said her first personal prayer (not reading "The Lord's Prayer") at the end, and then later called to ask us for help finding the Book of Mormon verses we left her as a commitment. It is SO cool to watch her progress in the gospel. I already love her so much, and I can feel God's love for her very strongly too (and tell her that often). We're also teaching her grandma and hope to soon teach more family members. And it was awesome how God led us straight to their home -- both Sister Cromwell and I had a feeling to go to that area, and we had to knock only a few doors before Malina let us right in and we started teaching her. God wants to find His elect children, His elect children want to find Him, and all we have to do is be the worthy link between them. :)

Also, cute story about one of our elderly members who struggles with the Word of Wisdom. During one of our lessons with her awhile back, we noticed that she had clocks all over her room, and when we asked her about it, she said she likes collecting them. Later one day, when we were walking to her apartment, we noticed some alarm clocks being sold on the street and bought one of them (bright green, which happens to be her favorite color) and then gave it to her as a gift. She was so happy and grateful. I didn't think much of it afterward, but then in our last meeting with her, she told us that when her son was cleaning her room, she specifically said, "Now don't you touch that green one. The Sisters gave it to me, and every time I look at it, I remember, 'I don't drink, I don't smoke. I only follow God.'" When we bought it for her, we had no idea that it would make such a difference in her life, and hearing that story was a testimony to me of the power of simple, good deeds, even when you think it's just a "cute idea." :)

Also, a funny story about a quirk of the Suvorovsky ward. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. we have a meeting with all the missionaries and the ward mission leader. And without fail, every morning, one of the really old men in the ward comes to the room that we're in, says "May I?" (in Russian of course) in a very abrupt, funny way, and then comes in and proceeds to shake hands with the Elders and then kiss the hands of all the Sisters. OR, as has been the case lately, he'll kiss us on the cheek (which is super awkward, but you just gotta let him because he's just about the sweetest old man you've ever seen...). This last Sunday he kissed the other three Sisters and accidentally skipped me, and I thought, "Sweet, I got out of it!" but then Sister Cromwell so caringly pointed out to him that he skipped me, and he came back and gave me THREE kisses on the cheek. Way to look out for me, companion. :P Oh man... I'm gonna miss this ward. :)

So yeah, I had a great week, I'm as happy as ever, and life is good. God is sure making this last stretch of my mission worth my while -- I don't think I've ever felt consistently as close to Him as I do now, and I love it.

Lastly, I'll also share with you another something I wrote President. He asked for miracle stories from all the missionaries in the mission, and I sent him this. Enjoy!


When you asked us to share with you a miracle that we've experienced this year, I thought back to all the miracles that I've witnessed, both great and small -- being led to prepared people, watching as the Holy Ghost has softened hearts, seeing the incredible faith of the Ukrainian Saints, and so on. But there was another miracle that in a way is more incredible than them all, and that's what I want to share with you: it was the miracle of change within myself.

I feel like my story has a lot of similarities to the Three Nephites. Those disciples experienced a transfiguration that made them immortal -- invulnerable to the prisons they were locked into, the pits they were thrown into, the furnaces they were cast into, and the wild beasts which they ended up playing with like "a child with a suckling lamb" (3 Ne. 28:19-22). Literally nothing could hurt them or bring them down, and they went on their way preaching the gospel of Christ.

Looking back at myself at the beginning of this year compared to now, I feel like it's nothing less than a transfiguration. "There was a change wrought upon [my soul]" (3 Ne. 28:38) -- invulnerability, no, but instead, complete trust in the Deliverer to deliver me out of anything. I have found, recognized, and even developed weaknesses that have imprisoned my soul (like pride, fear of man, and contention), and I have felt those prisons "rent in twain" as I've come unto Christ, whose mercy was sufficient to turn them into strengths. I have been cast into the depths of despair in the face of ridiculing rejection, spiritually losing people I love, and other soul-stretching trials, and yet none of those pits were sufficient to hold me as I reached for God's hand to lift me up. I have consistently felt the burning discomfort of divine discontent, only to discover that it is merely the fire of the all-knowing, all-loving Refiner cleansing and shaping me into who He needs me to be and, in fact, who I myself want to be. And as for the devil and his tactics -- the natural man that prowls around me like a hungry beast, the shame that constantly lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce -- they no longer bring me such harm. I know who I am, I know Whose I am, and the Lord and I handle those beasts together.

What else is there? Standing with the Savior, I feel like literally nothing can bring me down -- no weakness, no trial, no correction, and no temptation. The only thing left to do is beware of pride, continue to repent daily, and keep on walking with Him. "Thus [we] did go forth among all the people of [Ukraine], and did preach the gospel of Christ unto all people upon the face of the land; and they were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ" (v.23).

I've seen so many miracles during my time here, but like I said before, I've realized that the biggest miracle of my mission is actually me, or rather the miracle of Christ's atonement working within me. And as I serve out the last few weeks of my mission, I can't help but apply the final verses of 3 Nephi 28 to myself: "There was a change wrought upon me... I was sanctified on my mission, that I became more holy, and that the powers of this world could not hold me. And in this state I will strive to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day I have hope to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of my Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens" (v.39-40). And that will be the greatest miracle of them all.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Montgomery