WA Week 30 - Hallelujah!

Happy Easter everyone! Holidays on the mission are the best! We've had a fantastic week. We've been able to teach a lot of lessons. We found one girl (actually she found us) named Brittany who had met with missionaries before and now she wants to be baptized! She is so solid. We're looking forward to her baptism next month! We were also able to have a special Easter zone conference.

It was totally focused on the Atonement, the center of everything, and especially about how the Atonement applies specifically to us as missionaries. I'm grateful that we were able to have that zone conference on Thursday night because the rest of my weekend I was able to ponder it more. (I'm going to talk a little more about that at the end of this email!)

Easter was really nice. We had investigators at church, there was a really good sacrament program, and then we got fed by three different families. What more could you ask for?!

Now I'd like to share a few of the things I was thinking about this Easter season, specifically about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If you are unfamiliar with the word "Atonement," here's a definition: "As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God." 

One thing I was thinking a lot about is how the word atone is literally "at one." As missionaries, we have to rely completely on being at one with God. If we aren't one with God, we could knock all the doors in town, walk every street, and talk to every person outside, but we wouldn't be able to be led to those who are ready to hear the gospel, or know what we need to do to help them. 

One of my favorite missionary talks is called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" by Elder Holland. This is a pretty big chunk of quote I'm going to include, but it's too good not to:

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 16  then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way."

I love the quote from Preach My Gospel that says as our understanding of the Atonement grows, our desire to share the gospel will increase. I know that it is only through the Atonement of Christ that all of the hard things we experience in life-- regret, sadness, pain, stress, anxiety, you name it-- can be taken away and replaced withpeace. Jesus Christ paid the price. He literally went through exactly what you are going through. He overcame it, and because of that we can do. He will help us, and all we have to do is Follow Him. That is the center of everything we teach as missionaries, and that's why Heavenly Father sends us all over the world: to share the blessings of the Atonement with all of His children.

What a wonderful time to be involved in this work! I am so grateful. I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter and reflect on the daily blessings that the Atonement brings you.

Love you all,
Sister Skousen

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