Hey. What's up.
Remember when we were like five and we would follow Grandpa around the house and make him swear so he would give us a quarter every time we called him out?
Now that's how you get rid of a bad habit:
Break the bank!
Those were good old days.
You know, when the whole family was together.
I think for us there wasn't a care in the world. The biggest decision we ever had to make was whether to watch Home Alone 2 or The Little Rascals. Both were always perfectly fitting.
It is weird to see that times are drastically changing.
I am no longer the tallest or the strongest.
I used to be able to take all of you in an arm wrestle AND pin you to the ground in five, oh. Before my mission I had to slide my feet across the floor when I got home from work so I din't get roped around the feet with your cowboy lassos and knocked out on the hardwood floor.
The struggle is evident when you have four baby brothers. Right?
I remember vividly when dad would ask all you guys if you were going to serve a mission, and all of you would say YES. And I remember dad would ask me and I would say NOOOOO. Funny how that worked out considering I'm three months away from being a fresh "RM." I know my answer changed over the course of a couple years.
But I hope yours doesn't.
We have a lot bigger decisions now. Not being kids anymore. There are so many paths to take in life. I remember in high school being at a figurative "fork in the road". Except maybe it wasn't so black and white. Maybe it was like fifty forks in the road, either way, so many decisions were at hand. You can do anything after high school. Most of us are still trying to figure out who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives. It's pretty stinkin' hard.
I have had a lot of thoughts and ideas lately mostly because I have to come home soon to "real life" and try to implement the kind of person I've tried so hard to become out here. I have learned so many things. I know my mission that I have been working at for the past couple years was built, shaped and designed just for me. For me to improve, to change, to stretch myself. It has been challenging darn it! But I have changed. And thank the heavens (you guys thank the heavens) I won't be coming home the same person I was when I left. And that's why I think you all should never change your mind about serving. Not only to help others. But to help yourself. To change. To learn. To grow.
I think the infamous secret about missionaries is that the mission is really to convert yourself. Missionaries can come out on a mission and baptize the whole world, but if they themselves are not converted, what kind of offering is that to the Lord? We hear that cliche quote all the time that "the only person you can control is yourself." And I know that's true with being a disciple of Christ. If we really want to please God, and follow God, we should spend less time working on others and more time working on ourselves. Although the purpose of a mission is to teach others the gospel, you learn more yourself.
So many things that we do for others are really converting ourselves more strongly, deeply and passionately. There is that scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that says so, something to the effect of "if you bring but one soul unto me how great shall be your joy." For so long I thought that meant, even if you only baptize one person, or teach one person about the gospel. But I have finally realized, that if you are going to bring one soul unto Christ... make sure it's your own. Make sure you are so converted, that you won't ever turn back.
Ultimately that's what will be the most help to everyone.
Ultimately that's what God wants.
And after all that's what will bring you (and others) the most joy.
I want to share a list form essay of a few things I've been thinking about a lot lately. Some of which have great value and importance to me. And to which I hope you can come to understand sooner rather than later in your own lives. Lots of it is really just unformulated thoughts and opinions floating around it my head. But at the very least I hope it makes you think. Because... I'm your sister and I can be bold with you... and you still have to love me :)
The other day Parker emailed me and he said,
"Madi, if I wouldn't have served a mission, I would not have known Jesus."
I think those were some decently wise words. Honestly, before my mission I thought I was a stinkin good christian. I thought to myself, well, I've been baptized, I go to church regularly, and I haven't broken any major commandments. I've got a straight ticket to heaven! But in reality I was probably the most basic "christian woman" to ever walk the earth. Kinda like those girls that are like "I'm such a hippie!" Just because they go granola for three days and don't shave and drink bubble teas...
Our outward appearance really isn't what matters. It's our inner commitment, desire, and personal relationship with deity that determines what kind of disciple of Christ we are. It is the person we actually are, the true desires of our hearts.
Frankly, and sadly I don't even know how much of a relationship I had with God. How were my personal prayers? How was my scripture study? Did I actually apply it to my life? Did I actually love others and try to serve them? Or was I so caught up in my own little world of fashion and social media? Or for you maybe work and money and trucks? (love you)
I know that all to often each of us take the atonement of Jesus Christ for granted. Don't do that. Use it! Everyday. Pray for help, pray for forgiveness, pray for strength.
In Ether 12:12 it says that miracles ceased because there was no faith among the children of men. In the bible dictionary it says that Where there is true faith there are miracles, and all the gifts of God that He gives to His saints. *GASP*
Holy cow. Have I learned this over and over and over on my mission. Faith takes Action. Action brings miracles. If that was the only thing I learned I would be satisfied. But it is not! How blessed am I? How is your personal relationship with the Savior? Do you have one? Have you thought about it? Do you realize how important it is?
Often times when I think about why the gospel is important to me. I think about mom and her example. The kind of persons she is and how the gospel has sustained her throughout her life. WHOA. The fact that she lost her mom. Her sister. And her baby. OUR BABY BROTHER. and the gospel is that one thing that has pushed her through it all. How is that a coincidence? How does that effect you? How can that sustain you throughout your own life? Your own trials? Have you thought about it? Well you should. Again, and again.
We were at a families home that we are teaching the other day. They were talking about their "stinkin kids" As we were talking we began conversing about obnoxious things we did to our parents. And I said, "You know... people out here see us as missionaries. Not as humans." Everybody kinda giggled and I said "no seriously. They do not see us as human beings with real lives and feelings. We are just missionary robots that teach the gospel. But it's taught me an interesting lesson. I think growing up as a kid and a teenager, I didn't think my parents were human!" The parents started busting up. But ever so seriously I explained "I had no idea that my parents literally were doing this whole "parenting" thing for the very first time. That they were simply trying their best. That they were humans with feelings and lives. I simply thought they made rules and curfews and chores to torment me because I don't know.... opposition in all things?" BLASPHEME. It took me a long while to figure out that my mom is actually 100% cooler than any of my girl friends (sorry mads) and that she actually is hilarious and a real person not just a robot mom.
So: Parents have feelings, they are normal people, they actually love you. This is their first and only shot at parenting. They are stinkin awesome so help them out and don't be a stupid punk teenager.
On top of parents I have learned that our family is #sicknast (I feel like that's the most appropriate and fitting compliment for you all) as I've learned about and met and talked about other people's families... Sometimes I just think to myself... Dude. I'm so glad I grew up in my household. Not to diss anyone else because there are some cool people in his world. But dude sometimes I think I would die if I had a different family. Like I could have been raised with four sisters? Or in a family that doesn't punch each other in the gut to show their love and affection for each other? Or a family who doesn't like to fight over who can voice their opinion the loudest? Or go to Disneyland and bend some rules? Or jump off cliffs and go skimming and play in the mud? Like what if I was born into a family who is actually corgial? And didn't laugh at my jokes? Or steal my pancakes? (Dylan) I would have the lamest life ever!
I'm so grateful I have such a cool family. You will learn this when you move away from home.
And PS For my parents sake,
My family is decently corgial in public.
I just thought I would throw that in there for kicks.
"You Do You."
My companion and I had a long discussion about this the other day. It seems to me that there are three different kinds of people that I am most frequently associated with.
A. The Fads People.
They get so caught up in all the new trends, no matter what the trend may be. They have this innate feeling that everything is a competition. They always have to look the prettiest, be the funniest, get the most attention from this, that and the other. Always trying to be on top of the latest "thing" whether that be clothing, technology, cars, home improvement, whatever. So they base their whole life around what's cool and popular on Pinterest or iTunes top one hundred or whatever.
And then there is
B. The Different People.
The people who want to be different sooo bad that they pretty much do the opposite of all the fad people. The ones who are like I'M A HIPPIE. I'm unique. I'm different. I'm obscure. Nobody understands me. Ugh. Yeah. Different. Look how different I am. Everybody notice how unique I am. I'm not the same. You are not like me. And then all the people that are different like... do the same "different things" together. Which really just results in the opposition fad group. And they base their whole life around what is NOT popular on Pinterest or iTunes top one hundred or whatever the popular things are, they choose the opposite. And make sure everyone notices it.
And then there is
C. People who could absolutely care less about either end of the spectrum.
I don't really have a label for these people because they don't deserve to have one. They are awesome. If they hear a song and like it, they buy it. And it doesn't matter if it is or isn't on iTunes top one hundred. If they see a cool shirt, they wear it. And it doesn't matter if it's from Walmart or Anthropology. (And those are just examples, mind you) they are the people that are confident and happy and genuine. When we hear the phrase "Be Yourself" don't be fooled! You are not "being yourself" if you are criticizing, complaining or comparing your life to your favorite Instagram follower. You're not "being yourself" if your mimicking that kid you stalk on Pinterest or blogger. PUNCH TO THE GUT. I know. We all do it. Well, all us (A) and (B) people. I think my biggest goal is to be a (C) person. The person who doesn't get a label because they really don't care about fads, or being different, or public recognition. They simply want to actually, literally, be themselves. I think a lot of us fool ourselves into thinking we ARE ourselves. But if we carefully evaluate our lives... How many of us spend time on social media at least once a day? How many of us compare our lives to someone else's? How many of us are judgmental? Jealous? Greedy? or Self conscious? or Prideful? Idk. I don't think those things fit the (C) category. I know VERY FEW PEOPLE who actually hit this category spot on. And I think it's because they are genuine, real, confident, happy, optimistic, humble, charitable, spiritual and overall sincere about themselves. I want to be that person.
I hope this makes sense. We talked about it for a while. The people I think of when I think about that category are the people who are always the most happy. And in my life, I want to be happy. I want to live in each moment and make the best of it. To give everything I have to those I love and receive love in return. Not to worry about all these minute details and worldly things. They are such a distraction from true, eternal joy.
Don't be extreme.
Do your thing.
Become who you want to become.
Build your foundation.
I remember when I was watching General Conference one year somebody said something about how you could not be converted to the gospel, or come to know of spiritual truths unless you had taken up Moroni's promise. By reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.
I hadn't done that up until that point. And frankly, I hadn't been converted either.
Have YOU prayed about it?
Have you studied it out in your mind?
The Book of Mormon is MY foundation. Because that's the day I decided to actually read it to know if it was true. And over the course of several months I did. And I came to know that it was true. And by coming to know the Book of Mormon was the word of God, I gained a strong and undeniable testimony that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. That we DO have a Modern Day Prophet. And that the principles we are taught are to help and bless and guide our lives so we can live with God again. That's my foundation. And I'm continually building upon it. I feel like I had some pretty cool Sunday's but all in all I have put the gospel puzzle together out on my mission. I wish everyone could have that experience and really truly GET the gospel.
Missionaries, and missionary work is awesome. I recommend you have the missionaries come teach you the lessons. Or read Preach My Gospel yourself. But missionaries are more interactive and awesome. Anyways.
What is your foundations? What can you say you KNOW for a fact? When trying things come and they will, in your life... What will you turn to? What can you say that you absolutely KNOW without a doubt? My mission has helped me add to my foundation and it has converted me even more deeply. I plan on continuing that conversion for the rest of my life. But it all starts somewhere. So where are you going to start?
I think sometimes we take this for granted. The gospel. You kids have it pretty darn good back at home. I haven't seen clean carpet and granite counter tops and extra parking space and a full sized backyard in months. AH. I think you guys have it pretty good. Especially compared to most of the people I have met out here. It is truly humbling. But you will never know that until you go out and find it for yourself. And when life is oh so good, it is easy to take for granted spiritual things.
What DO you go to church for each week? Wait stop. Answer that question honestly. Do you go for a spiritual experience? Or do you go to make dad happy? For a social event? Because it's a tradition? These are tough questions. But they are questions everyone should be accountable for. If we are not evaluating our life on a regular basis we are falling into a trap of doing reoccurring events for REALLY no reason at all. Why do you do the things you do? What is your foundation? Are you converted?
Just a random thought I want to put into your head. Have you ever thought about the day that you meet God? Because it is going to happen whether you want it to or not. Have you ever thought about what you will say? How you will feel? Think about it. I have.
Become converted. And when you are convert others. But it starts with you first.
I convinced myself long ago that what I do only effects myself. That I could live in this world and do my own thing and never associate with anyone and I would be perfectly set for life. That is an absolute lie! Charity is actually incredibly important. What we do. The way we act. How we interact with people is actually crucial. I think my favorite thing in the world is people watching. Especially out here in the city. You see so many different kinds of people. So many personalities. So many emotions. What people do and how they interact with each other is incredibly important. Even if you think no one is watching.
LAST WEEK this random guy got on the metro and called out LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
...I kid you not he started singing "I Need Thee Every Hour." Nobody even looked up from their phones or paid any attention to him. Well except for the missionaries. But I know everybody on that metro that day was not deaf. They all heard him singing. I guess we will never know what impact that could have made in the life of any individual. I know I for one was pretty impressed.
But the bottom line is everything that we say and do is seen and heard by other people all around us. And people begin to make perceptions on the kind of person we are. Not just the whole judgmental label thing, but literally the kind of values, ethics, morals and heart we have.
Everyone is going through something. Everyone has their own struggles, hardships, weaknesses and faults. We alone can choose whether to help build those people up or tear them down. By our everyday simple routine. Do you smile at strangers on the street? When you recognize an acquaintance do you say hello? Do you offer a helping hand? Are you honest with people? Do you think about what you say about others whether they are around or not?
Charity has a huge impact on our lives. Help people out. Genuinely love people. When you do your life will completely change. And that change starts right within the walls of your home. Helping those closet to you brings you the most joy. Not material things, those are so temporal, so faddish. Creating memories and building relationships lasts forever.
My mission was totally designed just for me. Each person I've met or spent time with has taught me about my weaknesses and about my strengths. I have been stretched and tried and it has been difficult and challenging but if we are not being challenged and learning and growing we are not progressing. In fact we are probably digressing because I don't believe fence sitting is a real thing.
If I had one piece of advice for you all it would be to do ALL you can to serve a mission.
Not because you were asked to, or because it's expected or you, but because you want to. I don't think you can force someone on a mission because it doesn't work that way. Learning and growing takes self discipline and evaluation. And mostly it takes desire.
So if I had one piece of advice for you it would be to build that desire NOW to serve a mission. To give all your time, energy and talents to the Lord. And he will multiply it immensely more than you ever could. That's the funny thing about God is we are always thinking we are giving up so much to him and sacrificing so much. We think we are so charitable, but in reality he multiplies and gives back more than we could ever gain for ourselves. You can't love more than that now can you?
I hope you really think about these thoughts. I miss you guys like crazy and love you so stinkin much! Be safe and get ready for a rockin' summer! See you in 17 weeks!
Love, (your fave) Sister Stucki
Sent from my iPad