Alyssa's responses to some questions from her siblings:
How has a mission blessed your life the most?
- Number one is I've grown to have much more of an appreciation and love for my family (that's you!). Being away from home of course does that, but seeing other missionaries' families and families that I work with here has deepened my sense of gratitude and I can't help but express it constantly, especially in my prayers. Not only that, but as I study the doctrine of the gospel, I realize more fully that it's purpose is for families. That's what it is all about, and where lasting happiness comes from.
- Going to the temple is literally life-changing. And especially as a missionary, I focus on the temple in all aspects of what I do. This of course directly relates to families! And I am comforted continually as I remember my temple covenants with Heavenly Father.
- My life is better. I've learned to discipline myself, form good habits, and get rid of bad ones. Prioritizing everything there is to do is key! And applying gospel principles comes naturally and gets better as I practice doing so. I realize the importance of planning, setting goals, and using time wisely, as well as discerning/avoiding distractions.
- Learning the workings of the Spirit. The mission does not do that automatically like it seems, you must work for and pray for it with all that you've got, but the mission is great training grounds and puts you in an awesome environment to practice.
Mom Earl and Dad Earl sent me this quote that I remember often when I think of what I've learned from the mission - "Faith is the power. Love is the motive. Obedience is the price. Spirit is the Key. Christ is the reason." So simple, yet so much in these truths.
I have asked a few exemplary sisters here that I look up to to write a little about why they decided to serve a mission so that I could send that to you. Each have totally different experiences and come from separate walks of life, but I think you'll enjoy reading that from them when I get it to you. :)
What most reminds you of Texas in California?
Not much. I mean, it's still the same country most of it is too similar to compare but at the same time it feels so different. A few small things came to mind though - There's a street in the Las Flores ward boundaries called "Meandering Trail" and I *think* Dad's office is on Meandering or Meandering Way or something? I still think of that though. My companion says I should say the Cane's just off a major highway exit we take often because I've told her the story about our road trip stops there and so that's what she thinks of when she sees that big sign. And my roommate is from Odessa, TX and she says all the bunnies here, especially on the temple grounds actually.
How do you recognize the fullness of forgiveness through Christ's atonement in your life?
Really good question. That's something I'm also working on trying to learn about, but I can share with you a few things that I understand about recognizing forgiveness from Christ. When I think of being able to feel forgiven, I think of how I would want to feel in the temple and if I would be able to feel that way now or if there's something that would keep me from being able to feel so if I were in the temple. That was worded a little complicated - but does that make sense? A good way to think of it is by the scripture Helaman 4:24, that 'the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.' You have the Holy Ghost, and if He's with you than you must be holy, which means you must be cleansed through the Atonement. Satan wants you to feel like you're not forgiven and cannot be, even if he doesn't tell you that directly he can tempt you to feed that idea and believe it. Sometimes it's difficult to discern whether or not it's Satan enticing you to get in the way of your own progression that way, or rather that there still is more you need to do to be clean. The Spirit can help with that as explained in Moroni 7:12-13. I know that if you are doing everything you can to retain a remission of sins, you have every reason to trust and have confidence in Heavenly Father's promise that through Christ you can be cleansed and changed. Not only covered up, or paid for, or something like that but literally changed and improved. Remember those things you know you need to do, especially prayer, as well as asking for help if you aren't sure you know what those things are. I can share more with you if you still wonder about this, and you and I can learn more about it together. What have been your thoughts and feelings as you've pondered this question?
Love you! You're incredible!
- Sister Shumway