Monday, January 22, 2018

Hearts Knit Together

The Christmas when I was 18, my mom gave me a big box of yarn, knitting needles and all the accessories one would need to learn to knit. My life was changed. Knitting became my outlet for my frustrations and a way for me to think and to solve my life struggles.
Yes, I am an 85 year-old lady who sits in her rocking chair, knitting her days away, but what does this have to do with my mission? Early on in my mission I found a verse in Mosiah 18 that really struck a chord with me. When Alma was teaching the people at the waters of Mormon he taught them several basic principles including the principles of unity and love.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
Obviously the word that first caught my eye was KNIT, because I love knitting. But as I studied this verse more and more I came to love the principles it taught within it, rather than just loving that it talks about knitting.

I have often been asked what I have learned the most on my mission, and the answer is simple. In Les Miserables, Jean Valjean proclaims that “to love another person is to see the face of God.” What I learned most on my mission is how to love people, how to love anyone. In coming to love others I have learned how to become like my Savior, and to see the face of God.

“….the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”(1 Samuel 18:1)

When I got the call to train I was literally terrified. When President Blatter asked me how I felt about it, I told him, “President, I am going to die!” He laughed and told me, “Well, I would hate to tell your parents that you died.” Although I was scared, I knew one thing for certain, I was going to love this new sister with all my heart. I wanted her to have an amazing start to her mission and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.
I loved Sister Rust from the moment I met her, it seemed like we were the perfect pair. We were both from the same hometown, had a lot of the same friends, and we clicked naturally due to similar experiences. Sister Rust and I saw miracle upon miracle while we were together because we were unified in all that we did. One amazing part of our companionship was that Sister Rust and I only ever had one disagreement. As we were out knocking, we started to bicker about some little thing. When we started to get heated, I dropped my camera. As it fell time stood still and I heard a verse from 3rd Nephi 11 in my mind:
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Luckily my camera turned out fine, but Heavenly Father definitely chastised me in that moment. Contention drives away the Spirit, there is no way that we can teach without the Spirit. The Savior taught that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, on my mission I have truly learned to love others just as much as I love myself. [To all my other companions: obviously Sister Rust is not the only example of unity, y’all are great too!]

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” (Colossians 2:2)

One winter day, Sister Ireland and I were stuck inside the Shelton house because she had the flu. I was so antsy to get out and work, but I knew Sister Ireland needed time to get better. So I sat, basically twiddling my thumbs, waiting for some miracle to happen and have my companion suddenly healed so we could get out of the house. That was the day we got the most miraculous referral.
Molly didn’t know whether or not God existed when I first met her, she couldn’t say that He for sure existed, but she also couldn’t say that He didn’t. As Sister Ireland and I taught her, she literally lit up; we could see her faith building. At the end of that first lesson, Molly looked at me and told me that she knew God is real.
Molly didn’t know it at the time, but my heart really needed to be comforted, I needed a little reminder of why I decided to go on a mission in the first place. Molly was kind of a big reminder. After teaching Molly for the first time, I knew that I needed to come on a mission to find and teach her. Molly was my very first baptism, and is still one of my very best friends. The experience of teaching Molly knit our hearts together for eternity. I think of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants:
And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! (D&C 18:15)
If I had needed to come on my mission just to find Molly, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I needed to do this all of my life, every single day, just to see Molly in the Celestial Kingdom, I would do it. My heart truly grew as I learned to love Molly, and as she came to love me.

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and
 grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17)

One of our first days in Lincoln, Sister Bird and I were asked to meet with this Less Active named Kelli. Kelli was living in a homeless shelter and was in quite a bind. The first time we met with her, Sister Bird was bold and loving enough to commit her to pay tithing. She promised Kelli that if she paid her tithing, things would start to work out.
Miraculously, things did work out. Kelli found a new job that let her take Sundays off. She was reconciled with her fiancé, James, who was not a member, and she was able to keep custody of her son.
Kelli brought James to a lesson with us, and he embraced the gospel with open arms. James and Kelli were married shortly after, which gave Kelli a roof over her head. We continued to teach Kelli and we watched her change and turn towards God. A few short weeks later James was baptized, and their family started working towards being sealed in the temple. Their family is now truly knit together, and they now have the gospel as their focus. They are rooted in that love of the Savior and love of each other that has helped their family come together in faith. I have such a tremendous love for this family; they will always have a special place in my heart.

“The Saints came in the name of the Lord to give the succor He would give. Because their hearts were knit, they were magnified in their power.”
- Henry B Eyring (Our Hearts Knit as One)

When I was with Sister Ramazetti, she was really, really sick. Often, she could hardly get out of bed, and yet she constantly was thinking about my well-being, more than her own. She would ask how I was doing, if I was bored, if she could do anything for me when she was the one in pain. When she decided to go home, she was constantly apologizing that I would have to switch companions again, that I would have to pack again, while she was the one packing to go home. Elder David A Bednar once said,
Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of others when we ourselves are suffering... and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Thus character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. (The Character of Christ)
Sister Ramazetti taught me this lesson in a big way; I wanted to serve her, to help her feel well. In the end, she helped me and taught me more than I ever could have helped or taught her.
Elder Bednar teaches, "Ultimately the gift of charity possesses us--we do not possess it." If we are truly charitable then it becomes who we are; we can't just have a Christ-like love. That love has to compel us to act and to do things that we normally would not do. On my mission I learned what it meant to have that Christ-like love and charity. Charity takes work; it is not given freely, but is granted over time, through diligent effort. Moroni teaches:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son,
Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like
him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)
As we pray and sincerely seek to be charitable, God will give us the kind of love that the Savior has for each one of us, the kind of love that has no bounds, is unconditional, and enables us to bear others burdens with them, as we continue to bear our own.

“We love him, because he first loved us” -1 John 4:19

When we are knit together we are unbreakable, we cannot be torn apart carelessly. If my mission has taught me anything it is that I have to be knit together with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Early on in my mission, it clicked in my mind that Jesus is my older brother and because He felt everything I ever have or will He is also my companion through it all. Just as I would do anything for any of my companions or any of my siblings, I would do anything for my Savior and He has done everything for me. If my heart is knit with the heart of my Savior, there is nothing that is impossible.
The Restoration is real. Jesus is the Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that these things are true and that this is the true church now restored upon the earth. Some of my very favorite verses are found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God, and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”
I know that my Savior loves me. There was a time on my mission that I didn’t really truly know that and it was a very dark time. It took a very loving, kind companion to teach me about the love of the Savior and how I could feel that more in my life. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice He made for me, that He was willing to go through so much agony, to ensure that I could be happy eternally. I know He Lives. He has carried me through every rejection, every hard day, week or transfer. He has walked beside me every step of this journey as a missionary, and I am honored to call Him my friend. I would not trade my mission for the world. It has not been an easy road in any way, but it has been worth it. I know the gospel is true, this is the greatest thing we could ever give to anyone, and I am so grateful that I have had the chance to serve my Heavenly Father for these past 18 months. What a glorious work!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Welcome Home Sister Monson

 Welcome Home Sister Monson!
January 9, 2018
Salt Lake City Airport
Delta Airlines flight 2339

Thanks to our sweet friend Kim Golder for capturing the beautiful moments of our homecoming celebration. You are amazing and without you we would not have these cherished memories

Seriously pick up a tissue, this video is a tear jerker! 

Welcome Home Sister Monson youtube video by Dad, John Monson
Thanks to Sheryl Dority for being our videographer

I was told by a dear friend that welcoming a son or daughter home from the mission is like giving birth to them all over again. They are a new and better person than they were before and with time passing lives change and we hope they have changed for the good. 
Welcome home my dearest daughter from an adventure that you tackled head on. I can see just by your expressions that you are a changed person, a true disciple of Jesus Christ. That you gave everything you have emotionally, physically and spiritually as you served the people in the Washington Tacoma Mission. Words do not express my sincere gratitude and love for the many "Megan Miracles" that took place as you gave of yourself. Well Done my beautiful daughter. The Lord is pleased with you and your service.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Last Lecture

I heard a story once about a professor who was dying, he knew his time was short and he decided to give one last lecture. His students flocked in, and many came from miles away to hear his last lecture. He gave a lecture on life that has now been turned into a book. His words inspired hundreds, and his legacy will live on forever.
As I have pondered what I would say in my last email, I have continually thought of sharing my simple testimony, for that is all I can truly take with me when I go. Sure my bags are packed with souvenirs and mementos, but in reality the only thing of real worth that I am taking with me when I board that plane tomorrow is my testimony of my Savior.
I know He lives, I have come to know Him as I have served Him. I know that He is there for each and everyone of us. He gave His life for us, He died for us, but He also LIVED for us. He is my Savior, my older brother, and my best friend. I know that His gospel has been restored to the earth in this day and age that Joseph Smith was truly a Prophet of God.
On Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to go do Baptisms for the dead with my recent convert, Molly. What an amazing experience to see someone who the Lord was able to help by using me as an instrument be able to come into the temple and feel of the Spirit there. We went to Deseret Book afterwards and I found this picture:
As I looked at it my eyes filled with tears as I pictured myself in that woman's place, being comforted by the Savior. He is there for me, I have felt His love and His infinite grace as I have been a missionary, as I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and as I have come to be like Him. I am trying to be like Jesus, and I will continue to try to be like Him for the rest of my life. I love this gospel!
All my love and I will see you tomorrow!
Sister Megan Monson

Sister Monson will be home Tuesday January 9th at 1:00pm
She speaks in her home ward, Glenmoor 5th ward, at 11:00am
4881 West Cindy Lane
South Jordan Utah

Such happy Sister Missionaries!

after temple dinner

another facial mask

who are these two cute animals?

Panda and Tiger
 Temple Trip Saturday January 6th
Temple trip with Molly

Departing Missionary Temple trip

saying goodbye

all the Sister Missionaries who went out together

Sister Belliston

Sister Webb
Sister Monson

Visiting special friends