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The hardest thing I've ever loved to do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

You guuuuuuys, I cannot even explain how much I am brimming with so much peace and joy right now. It still doesn't feel real that I come home in a week. My suitcases are slowly being filled due to absolutely no time this week to pack. I just feel like I'm getting transferred...except to a different country. Every time someone mentions "home" I get butterflies and get so excited and nervous all at the same time I could throw up! Hahaha I don't even know how to deal with myself! Gah, I just love love love everythiiiiiing. But I say that not because of excitement at home, but just peace about everything here. I guess as my last email as a missionary, you need to know some things :)

1. Heaven on Earth.
The temple trip on Friday was AMAZING! Sis Hargiss and Sis Thomas from the Farmington Ward came to pick Sister Huppi and I up. The whole way there, they were telling me all the exciting things that have been happening with the work in the area. Then Sister Hargiss starts to say, "Sister Limas, you know a lot of the time missionaries don't get to see the fruits of their labors. But I want you to know how much you've had an influence on Charlie (her husband). He cried for days after you left. And of course I did too." She then starts crying and continues telling us how having us Sisters over has helped Charlie with whatever he was going through. Then Sister Thomas joins in and says how much of an influence we've had on her son, Zack. I squealed so hard when she told me Zack was coming back to church!!! I'm sitting there in the back of the seat, speechless. How does someone react to all this? I was suuuuper touched. But I never know how to react for being thanked for something I didn't even do. The Spirit is the one that touches people. And it's the Atonement of Jesus Christ that heals. 

Papa & Momma Toombs :)
We get to the temple and I'm just so super giddy because I haven't been inside since July 2013! As we're checking in, I look over to my right and see Sister Sperry and Sister Bailey. I was super confused for a sec, but then next thing you know I'm trying to suppress my squeals and jumping on them with hugs. They were teaching Jeremiah Hernandez at the temple. He is one of the YSA that became active when he moved to St Louis and now he's preparing to go on a mission. I am SO stinking proud of him! As we went to walk further in the temple I just kept mouthing "I love you guyssss!" It was so funny because I see them ALL the time. But seeing them at the temple was special. I thought to myself, "wow, if this is what heaven is like--reuniting in joy with friends--then we have much to look forward to". Sister Hawk, one of our members from Glen Carbon happened to be working at the temple that day. It was so good to see her!! Sister Toombs, another member from Farmington, had come up to the temple to see me too. I ran over to her and she whispered how much she missed me. Then she told me she'd meet me inside. After changing, I went searching for Sister Toombs...and lo and behold; what do I see?!?!?! I see a man sitting next to her. My mouth dropped!!! I sat next to Bro Toombs and grabbed his arm and he says, "we thought we'd surprise you." Sister Toombs leans over and whispers, "it's because of you, Rouse, and Sudweeks that he is in the temple today." OH MY LANTA. I cannot even describe the amount of joy that was brimming from my heart to see them together in the temple. I got super emotional watching them together during our session. The Gospel blesses families!!!! Being able to feel and see the joy, happiness, and peace of being in the temple just strengthened my testimony of the Whys behind what we do. Why do we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Why do we serve missions? Why do we repent? Its so we can be worthy to enter into His Holy House, and eventually into His presence. The feelings in the temple are but a small glimpse of that eternal happiness. 

And boy, oh boy, did I LOVE our temple session. It was so powerful. And it was different. Back in July I definitely didn't feel the same way I did presently. Being away from the temple for so long really showed me how different I really am. Maybe its because the last 18 months of my life have been about teaching and learning to live covenants; maybe its because I understand the law of obedience and sacrifice a bit better and live it everyday; maybe its because I understand the gift of agency a whole lot more; or maybe its because I've learned and gained a stronger testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the importance of Christ's Atoning sacrifice. Whatever it was that happened since my last temple trip have definitely made the experience a lot more meaningful. And then being able to sit in that beautiful Celestial room just took my breath away. I don't even know how to begin to explain the overwhelming peace I received. 

As Sister Huppi and I were walking to the change room afterwards, Sister Toombs says, "let me take your stuff. Go outside. Bishop Blum is here and wants to see you." OH MY GOODNESS! I love Bishop Blum so stinking much! He is the Bishop from Farmington ward and I have grown to love that man tons. I couldn't believe how lucky I got that day. I've been lucky enough to see Paris friends when I got transferred to Charleston. And I've been lucky enough to see Glen Carbon friends whenever I went on exchanges while I was in Farmington. And after being in Farmington for 6 months, I didn't think I'd ever get to see them again. But BAM, a ton of them just happened to be at the temple that day. Gah. God is so mindful of my desires :) Anyway, Bishop Blum told me that the Elders in Farmington were now reaping the rewards of all my hard work. Bahahaha. Oh goodness, he is so great. He gave me a hug and said he hopes I could come down and visit before I leave. That killed me. I wish I could too, but there just isn't enough time. And thennnn we saw all the Senior Sister Missionaries at the temple too! And Sister Bryan from Glen Carbon. Seriously guys, reunions in heaven are going to be SO AWESOME!!! I am so extremely grateful for the Plan of Happiness and for eternal family and friends. There isn't anything better.

2. The Hardest Thing I've Ever LOVED To Do.
As I've been reflecting on the last 18 months, the only thing that comes to mind is this song. This is EXACTLY how I feel right now (except, I'm a Sister and not an Elder lol):
The hardest thing I've ever loves to do was letting go of everything I ever knew.
19 years of dreams left in my room as I buttoned up the jacket of my suit.
And the hardest word I've ever loved to say was goodbye to my mom and walk away.
Choking on my tie and on my tears, as I walked down the hall into those years.
And the sweetest song I ever loved to sing filled the MTC on angels' wings.
And the chorus filled my soul, five thousand strong
And I wished it would just go on and on.

The firmest hand I ever loved to shake was my trainer's with that big grin on his face.
He grabbed my bag and put his arm 'round me and whispered,
"I'm gonna work those Mr. Mac's right off your feet".

And the hardest words I ever anguished for came just before some lady slammed the door.
And my trainer left me hanging out to dry as a minute of painful silence rolled right by.
But the hardest tears I've ever loved to cry fell as I opened up my mouth and testified.
Between the tiny walls of strangers' living room, the Spirit told their hearts my words were true.

And the most wonderful sound I ever heard is the sound of water running in the church
As someone I've come to love got dresses in white
My eyes saw their first glimpse of heaven's light.

The hardest thing I've ever come to see is a Man down on His knees in agony.
A drop of blood falls down on olive leaves; for a moment, He suffers there for me.

The hardest thing I've ever loved to do was getting on this plane, and coming home to you.
In a million ways completely torn apart as a land so far away still owns my heart.
In the most sincere prayer I've ever prayed I thanked my God for each and every day
For the blessing of the man I've come to be as I walk up and kiss my momma's cheek. 

My mission has been incredible. There are seriously no words to describe it. And legitimately, like the Elder, my trainer too has left me hanging out to dry. And there have been many similar experience that have made me feel uncomfortable and awkward and have made me go way beyond my comfort zone. It has been the hardest, most difficult 18 months of my life, which have brought countless tears, many heartaches, and sicknesses that I feel like I can't get rid of. But it has also been the most joyous, wonderful 18 months of my life that I would never trade for the world. But that's what change is all about, right? If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. Seriously, there are no words to describe the amount of gratitude I have to be able to be here and witness the Lord's miracles--the miracles that are able to happen because of tour Saviour, Jesus Christ. I literally stand all amazed at it all. As my dear friend, Michelle Donald says, "growth doesn't just sporadically happen. It comes from change, and change, by nature, is uncomfortable." If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.

3. Highlight Experience - MSLM History
Every missionary of the Missouri St Louis Mission is required to submit a highlight experience. This was mine:

I don't know if words can adequately describe how much serving this mission means to me. 18 months ago while on an airplane about to land in St Louis, two Elder had asked me, "Why are you even here? You didn't have to leave what you did behind. Why didn't you just stay?" I wish I could have given them a straight answer then. All I knew is Heavenly Father wanted me to be here. Those questions have run through my mind multiple times throughout my mission, especially when times were hard. But I want to thank those two Elders for asking me that because every time it has run through my head, Heavenly Father has been gracious enough to show me the "whys". The most important thing I have learned is that my mission is not a sacrifice. Giving 18 months of my life is nothing for the sacred experience of learning and growth Heavenly Father has allowed me to have. What a sacred privilege it has been to work so closely with the Holy Ghost; to feel a smidge of Heavenly Father's infinite love for His children; and to come to know my Savior like I've never known Him before. I know that He lives! I know this is His work and that He works miracles. And I know that because of His Atoning sacrifice, there is no sickness that can't be relieved; not task too overwhelming to bare; no weakness that can't be overcome; and no heartache that can't be healed. I am grateful for all teh trials that have helped me learn of the beauty of the Atonement. That's when "sacrifice" turns into "sacred"--when we give our all to the Lord and allow Him to work the miracles in our areas, and most importantly, in ourselves. I am grateful for every member and investigator I have been blessed to work with and learn from. To all my district and zone leaders--thank you for teaching me. I hope you know how much I look up to all of you. To all my companions (Sisters Scott, Ash, Fernandez, Linton, Rouse, Sudweeks, Craig, Tonnies, Webster, Bailey, Sperry, and Huppi)--thank you for each teaching me a different way to love.

My highlight experience has been my entire journey in the Missouri St Louis Mission. I am foever grateful for every person I have met and for the impact you all have had on my life. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee" and "cheerfully do all things". Just remember a mission is just a lesson in learning how to love. Leave a legacy of it.

MUCHO LOVE,
Sister Ariana Rae Afu Limas (the Canadian Filipino // Restoration Rapper)

4. He'll Carry You
For my last Sunday in Fenton, Sis Huppi and I were given the opportunity to do a musical number. I just want to share some of the lyrics from the song we chose:


I stand as a witness of the saving grace of our Savior's love. Those lyrics have been so true in my life...both the pain and the hope. I testify of Christ's infinite Atonement. It has no bounds. I am humbled that Heavenly Father has allowed me to have front row seats to see the changes that happen in people's lives when they begin to trust in the Lord. It's because of the power of the Atonement that Debbie Gray can quit smoking and drinking coffee in a week. It's because of the power of the Atonement that AJ Scheiner can leave all that he has behind to follow Jesus Christ. Its because of the power of the Atonement that Patrick Badger can overcome his weakness and frailties to find happiness and hope. Its because of the power of the Atonement that Teena LaRoue can feel guilt and pain lifted and is now working towards the temple. I could go on and on about the incredible people I have met and the amazing things that have happened because they've allowed the Lord to change them. Change isn't possible without His help. All we need to do is "turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart" (Mosiah 7:33) and let Him do the molding. 

ANYWHOOZERS. You get my point, right? The mission has been fantastic :) 

For you, I'll see you in 7 days.

For me, I'll see you in 1 more Sisters Pday, 3 more exchanges, 1 more day blitz, 1 more YSA area trip, 2 more Oakville YW to teach, 2 more musical numbers, 1 more interview, 1 more district meeting, 1 more weekly planning session, 1 more transfer call, 1 more trip to Glen Carbon, 3 more baptisms, 20+ more lessons to teach, and a countless amount of Heavenly Father's miracles to be seen. IT AIN'T OVER UNTIL ITS OVER.

MUCHO LOVIN
Sister Limas

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