The Joy of Service

Service- as defined by Dictionary.com, is “an act of helpful activity”.

I agree with that statement, but I look at service a bit differently.

Service- as defined by Sister Yates: Putting others needs above your own to accomplish a greater purpose, an expression of love and devotion to a cause or individual, a great workout, fun, a great blessing, and a vital part of life that brings joy and fulfillment.

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Sister Morrill

Elder Richard G Scott said, “Willing service to others is a key to enduring happiness.  President Spencer W. Kimball said: ‘God does notice us, and He watches over us.  But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs.  Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.’”

When I do service, I feel uplifted and feel closer to the Spirit.  In Mosiah 2:17 we are told “…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” I testify that is true.  “…That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually;” (Moroni 7:13) and therefore, in my humble opinion, is there never a valid reason not to render service.

Sometimes I think we over think and complicate what we can do to serve and help others.  The other day, my companion and I were out tracting and there was a branch that had fallen in the road that could probably could have done a bit of damage if one of the lovely low riders that cruise the streets here had come upon it, so we took five seconds to grab the branch and debris and threw if off to the side of the road, and continued on our merry little way.  We don’t have to do big and grand things like a fundraiser, or put on a big “to do” to serve and help others or our community.

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Elder Francom and Elder Thomas

Now take a moment, and think about the greatest example of selfless love and service that has ever lived.  Hopefully the name you came up with was Jesus Christ, because that’s the right answer! My companion and I have been talking about Him a lot lately, and something we seem to bring up quite often is, “How would the Savior treat this person? How would He act? What would He say? What would He do?” etc. and by no means are we perfect at being like Him, but what I have learned from these discussions, and further reflection on the matter is that He doesn’t get caught up in how He’ll be affected.  He just goes, and does! He doesn’t wait to be told, or asked.  He jumps right to it, and does it exactly as it needs to be done.  He expects no reward, or compensation, no blessings or rewards from above.  He’s a doer, and He lives what He taught and preached to others which was to “…love thy neighbor as thy self.” (Mark 12:31)

Our goal in this life should be to become like Christ, so my challenge/commitment to you who read this is: Will you find one or two more things you can do each day to be more like Christ? Just take note of one or two things you can do a little bit better to make some improvements, and serve more than you are served. Think, “How can you and I become more selfless servants of the Master?”

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Sister Yates

I wish you luck, and hope your mind is filled with ideas to serve and show your love for those around you, and most importantly the love you have for your Savior.

Have a blessed day, and keep on keepin’ on!

Love, Sister Yates

The Art of Perseverance

In my first area of labor here in the amazing FJM, Elder Larre Draper frequently said something to the effect of “Don’t just endure, persevere!” I think a lot of the time, we think those two words mean the same thing, but they don’t.  The word endure means we “suffer without yielding, continue to exist, hold out, or sustain” while persevere means “maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement.”  I can see why Elder Draper prefers to live by this definition! 

Too many of us are focused on just enduring.  When we do that, it’s hard to recognize that there is much to be enjoyed, learned, and gained as we go throughout this life.  We forget our strength, talents, and the gifts that we have been given by Heavenly Father that make us unique, and that qualify us for all the amazing blessings we receive in this life.  We too easily forget that we have much to look forward to, each and everyday.  We forget our divine heritage, and that we not only chose to come to the Earth, but also that we have specific things to accomplish while we are here.  I heartily agree with Elder Draper that we need to persevere, not endure. If we persevere, we can conquer all that the Lord sends our way.  If you look back on your life, and the trials you’ve faced you’ll see that not only did you conquer that mountainous trial, but now you know just how powerful you really are!

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In 2 Nephi 31:20 we are told to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope…”  I know that if we can adjust our mindset to focus on the art of persevering, and not just enduring, our mile will be a joyful jaunt, and not so much this horrid, daily grind that so many people seem to get ground up in.  May you all recognize the tender mercies of the Lord this day!

God bless, and hey… don’t stress!  It’s exhausting, and no one gains anything from it!

Much love, Sister Yates

My Cup Runneth…

Today we had interviews with our amazing mission president, and his loving wife and I was reminded by my dear mission mom that it’s important to take time to “Fill your cup!”  glass-water-688385-wallpaper

What does that mean? Does it mean we shirk our duty to share the gospel, and dink around? No! It simply means (at least to me) that we take time, missionary or not, to recognize that we are children of God, and we matter too.

As a missionary, I know it is very easy to lose yourself in this work, and that’s a good thing.  However, it can become a hindrance to your own progression if you do not do it in moderation.  We have been counseled for as long as I can remember that we need to be spiritually fed, temporally cared for, and independently strong in our testimony before we can help anyone else achieve that themselves.  In Preach My Gospel it says “You cannot convert anyone beyond your own conversion.”

So my challenge to y’all: Figure out what fills your cup! What helps you feel your Heavenly Father and Saviors love, and motivates you in a positive way to accomplish His will?  What keeps you going when you’re totally spent? What brings you joy? How can you make the “Now!” the best time of your life? general-conference-april-2011-826988-wallpaper

I know it’s important that we put the Lord’s will first in all things.  I also have a testimony that we are important to Him, and our well being is still important no matter what capacity of service we are involved in at this time.  May you all find time today, to fill your cup till it “runneth over” and may you have the Saviors peace be with you today and everyday!

Love always, Sister Yates

One of my many “soulful” questions

I’ve been an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints (Mormon) my whole life. I believe the doctrine, I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and I know that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration.  However, in the introduction to the Book of Mormon there has always been one sentence that always made me stop and go, “What makes that true?” The sentence says: ““I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth…”  translating BofM

This is Joseph Smith talking, the man who translated the Book of Mormon, so naturally He would say that it’s true, right? He did sacrifice a significant portion of his life to preserving, translating, testifying, and so forth about it because of his miraculous experience in the Sacred Grove, and other places.  But I still wondered, what makes that sentence true?

Today during companionship study, I brought this question up to my companion, and she helped me figure out an answer.  She said, “It’s not that the book is perfect.  It’s that the Doctrine contained is perfect and has never been altered or changed.” That’s a true statement.  How many times has the Bible been rewritten? How many times has that sacred tome been cut apart, reinterpreted, redone, etc? I don’t think anyone has kept track, but if they have please get me the stats!

The Book of Mormon truly is the most correct Book of scripture because it has been preserved for thousands of years, the only corrections have been minor grammatical, and spelling errors, and it has only been translated one time from the plates that it originated from.  How amazing is that? Not even classic novels can stand that kind of test.  How many great classics have been rewritten and revamped and redone to look more enticing, or to look new? Sure, the cover of the Book of Mormon has changed, but the content has not.  gold plates

I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I believe it to be the word of God, and I believe that Joseph Smith was able to translate it because he was a righteous man, called of God to fulfill that task.  I believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and that although he probably won’t be writing any new books of scripture, that the things he does teach us are just as valuable as what we find in the Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible, and I know that we will feel closer to God and our Savior as we abide by his counsel, keep the commandments, and fulfill our Christian duties.

I love being a Mormon! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Musings about my “1/3rd Check Point”

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Every six weeks in the mission field, there is the possibility to go to a new area, receive new callings, and therefore see more of the world, and meet more new and amazing people.  This is mostly a very exciting prospect, but the thing we all seem to forget is that change means goodbyes, tears, and a new phase of the mile that you have to deal with, whether you’re ready to or not. 

I’ve been in my current area for six months now, and I have developed a lot of really close ties to the people here.  When I came on my mission, my expectations were quite… out of touch with reality.  I didn’t anticipate becoming such good friends with the members here.  I didn’t expect to find “soul mate” friends that I can’t believe it took me so long to find, but it’s also really opened my eyes to the truth that all missionaries realize at one point or another, that we are all called wherever we need to be by divine inspiration.  Nothing happens by chance.  It is all preordained, and all necessary to help us move forward on our journey. 

I’ve finished one journal, completely filled a second, and am already half way through a third journal, because I have learned so many amazing things from my interactions, relationships, and experiences in the amazing area of Atlantic Beach.  It is an amazing place, with so much amazing potential, and I know the Lord’s hand is in the lives of the people, and He is involved in the growth of this area.  I love being a missionary, and love my mission so much!  I hope each of you can embrace the situations, and opportunities you find yourselves involved in, and can make the most of them, each and everyday!

“Welcome to the Jungle”

Welcome to the best 2 years or 18 months of your life thus far :)

When I received my mission call to Florida, I didn’t know much about the geography or the landscape, or  anything about this state, except that there were ‘gators (whether fan or actual animal is still to be determined…), bugs…. lots of them, and Disney World.  I also knew and was very aware of the fact that it is located in the glorious region of the earth called “The Bible Belt”.

How many of us have found ourselves in situations we thought was one thing, but quickly found out it was completely different than we expected? I am so guilty of that… Making assumptions of things before I get all the facts, and jumping in over my head.  But something I’ve also learned is that God knows what we’re going to do.  He knows how we’re going to do it, and He knows how to help us through the “jungle” of life.  My dad is a hard core AC/DC fan and the lyrics to the song say something like “Welcome to the Jungle, it gets worse here everyday!” (or at least that’s what it’s always sounded like to me; haven’t heard it in a while!) To an extent, that’s totally a true statement.  Florida is quite a jungle, physically, geographically, and definitely spiritually.  However, missions are not meant to be a walk in the park.  They are meant to be a refiners fire of trial and faith building experiences.  God doesn’t promise any of us, no matter what phase of life we’re in that it’s going to be easy.  He just assures us, over and over again that it’ll be worth it in the end.  I’m still at the beginning of my “mission mile” but I can testify that it is all worth it.  All the stress, heartache, exhaustion, mistakes, laughter, success, knowledge, experience, etc. is all worth it.  It truly is the best preparation anyone could ever have to help them get through the rest of their earthly, and eternal experience.  I know our Father in Heaven loves us, and that there is a way out of our “jungles”, whatever they may be.  Elder Andersen

A fellow missionary said once, “A trial is like a compliment from God.”  I am a firm believer that if He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it if you but ask Him to help you.  He has prepared the way, by sending His Only Begotten Son to clear a path through the “jungle” for us.  I know if we can always hold that truth in our minds and hearts, we will make it through! Hold fast to the iron rod, and know that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father love you.  God bless, and don’t stress!

Love, Sister Yates

 

The Worst Dilema

894878_597315696990527_1887652311_oWhen I was in the MTC I heard a quote that has forever changed my perspective of my missionary experience: A mission is a pressure cooker of your best and worst qualities.

That’s pretty deep, but what I’ve also come to realize is there are many other experiences in life (outside of a mission setting) that is also a “pressure cooker” that likes to throw our less than perfect and not so Christlike attributes in our face.

Today, as my companion and I were driving in the car, I was pondering some of my pre-mission adventures, and it led me to the conclusion that I am a “perfectionist that always falls short of perfection.”  It’s quite safe to say that I’m not the only one with this conundrum, but what I sometimes struggle with saying is “It’s okay… God loves me anyway… right?”

Don't fear failure I think we are all guilty of, at one point of another, thinking that God will only love us on condition that we’re “prefect”.  That’s so false! Elder Holland said “…you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love…” so why do we beat our selves up so badly when we do fall short of the proverbial mark of perfection? What is perfeciton anyways? Because we all know we’ll never be the Savior… and He was perfect…. Hence, our dilema.

I read a blog post yesterday about how the world tells us what we can and cannot do, and how it programs us to think we’re less than what God created us to be.  I have come to know, and testify that we are so much more perfect than we think! We are ALL amazing children of God, with uniqe talents and abilities, and He never asked us to be perfect at anything other than trusting and accepting Him, of doing our personal best to follow His Son, and strive to be more like Him.  Is that hard to do, yeah… because the world we live in right now says the contrary is the way to go, but if we strive to live in harmony with God and Jesus Christ as our partners in our mile here, I promise we will feel more success in our endeavours, and more love towards ourselves, and therefore we will give the advesary far less power over us to make us feel like small, insignifigant failures.  I know your Savior and Redeemer love you, and they both know where you’ve been, as They have literally stood where we all stand.  Invite the Savior, and your Heavenly Father to walk with you and you will “come off conqueror” at the last day.