"You will be an official representative of the Church. . . . Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ . . . Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence in you." Thomas S. Monson

Monday, March 17, 2014

His Grace is Sufficient

with Elder Imoukhiede
Well, it seems yet again that I can't even begin to describe my feelings this week!!! Today we took a trip to Kpalimé (2 hours north of Lomé and an hour and a half north of the closest missionaries), but that will have to wait a bit because I'm short on time, and I wanted to share another great experience from this week 

So, to put it a bit short, if you had asked me how I was feeling during the week, I probably would have told you terrible.  And it was hard; appointments dropping like ants on a piece of caramel that I left on my desk (African ants are CRAZY). I don't know if that makes sense but it did in my head. Anyways, I found that I was focusing way too much on impressing others (and I'm sure those of you who know me well are not surprised) instead of the Lord.  I was focusing way too much on numbers and statistics instead of focusing on fulfilling the will of the Lord.  So, with that in mind, I found myself feeling miserable before humbling myself and allowing the Lord to instruct me in His own kind, gentle, and loving way. 

As I previously stated, soooooo many appointments were just dropping like flies, and our numbers were not in top form throughout the week. Well, with my analytical brain, I let that go to my head quick, and I got really, really discouraged.  With the physical, mental, emotional, and especially spiritual fatigue setting in, I was becoming a train wreck around Thursday. 

Then, Friday came, and we had the Togo Missionary Leadership Training Conference for all of the Trainers, District Leaders, and Zone Leaders in Togo.  It seemed that everything was o speak directly to me, as if the Lord himself were speaking to my troubled heart.  Sister Weed spoke about handling stress with the new booklet "Adjusting to Missionary Life."  This was a bit of balm to my soul, but He wasn't finished yet.  President Weed then followed and spoke about many things, but what touched me the most was one simple phrase that brightened my mind.  This really accented the fact that I needed to focus FIRST on fulfilling the will of the Lord in all things and not focus on the numbers.  Yes, number are important, but the Lord's will in infinitely and eternally so much more important.  This left me with a lot of food for thought, but I was happy as I left the conference. 

Afterwards, I knew that I needed to change, but I was getting so down on myself for the way I had acted this week and the thoughts that I had had and the ignorance that I had shown to the Lord's will. Friday went well, but I still wasn't feeling 100%. 

Saturday, I had planned on studying one of the talks from the Priesthood Session of the past General Conference. However as I had finally received a package that my mom sent in November, I saw that there was an Ensign from September included.  I just started flipping through it, and I fell upon an article entitled "How God's Grace Really Works."  I was intrigued and decided to study that for my personal study.  It soon became clear to me why I needed to study such a topic. 

Within the first three paragraphs, I noticed how much mine own thoughts aligned with those that the author had described with those who struggled with the concept of God's grace.  As I continued to read, it was amazing again how I heard the Lord's voice in what I was reading.  One quote that really stood out to me, taken from Elder Oaks, said something like: "The regret that we all need to feel in order to repent of our sins is not for punishment or payment.  We can never repay the debt that Christ himself has offered for us.  Rather, this regret is meant to change us and transform us." 

These words were exactly what I needed to read and study. This lightened a heavy load, and the pavilion was finally able to be lifted and I felt God's love and grace for me.  We do not need to punish ourselves for our own sins.  God understands us, better than any of us understand us, I might add.  He knows the intents of our hearts and, as long as we are striving to be our best, His grace is sufficient to heal and to make us whole.  This article talked of many other things, but this is what I learned and needed in order to press on.  The difference in my own work as a missionary has been astonishing.  I love the Lord and I love His work.  (Note from Mom:  Here is a link the article he is referring to:  His Grace is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox

Finally, today.  I need to be brief because I am out of time, but today was absolutely fantastic!  It started at 4:30 am.  We made it to Tokoin at 6 and were pulling out in the bus at 7.  We made it Kpalimé at 9:30 and made the hike up the mountain to the waterfall in an hour and a half.  For a couple hours, we enjoyed the scenes, took pictures, ate lunch, and enjoyed time together.  Finally, at about 1 we made our way back down, and we were pulling out at 2.  We made it back to Tokoin at about 4:30. 

This was one of the most beautiful hikes of my life.  It was also was one the most hot and humid.  I loved this experience and the memories that it brought back of many other hikes in my life.  The scenes were stunning over looking the valley, but unfortunately the pictures don't do it justice.  I wish I had more time to explain, but I'm out of time, and I'll let the pictures tell the rest.  They're each worth 1,000 words anyways.

First view of the first mountain I've seen with my own eyes in 9 months!
A better view
The trail
The valley
Towards the top overlooking the valley
Elder Potter and I found a secret pathway up to a secret ridge that
nobody else found that led directly to the first waterfall.  The mist
was quite refreshing.
With Elder Maruai (Tahitien)
The second fall
Taking a shower with Elder Oliverson and Elder Peterson.
With Elder Florion (Tahitien) 
Well, I love you all.  It has been an amazing week followed by an amazing day!  Enjoy every minute of life, and use it wisely.  We all have a purpose here on the earth, and how we use our time here in this life has everything to do with our life after death.

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

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