Dear friends and family,
Finally, the long awaited letter. I am sure you all anted to know what important message I would take the time to write (I much prefer typing).
First, a thought about conference. I loved the Saturday sessions. Perhaps my being a missionary influenced it a bit, but I felt like a main focus was missionary work--and the joy of conversion! I loved what Sister Allred said about member missionary work. May I humbly suggest that writing me (and other missionaries, of course) letters contributes to missionary work? Letters and prayers are powerful motivators and sometimes contain heaven sent inspiration. But what to write about? This was always a puzzle to me, and thus I rarely (if ever) wrote my missionary friends. But I am starting to understand how important correspondence can be. May I suggest a few things: 1. Missionary experiences from your life. 2. Mission stories from your mission. 3. Cute things your children have done. (this is one of my favorites) 4. Ups and downs of life. 5. Normal things--thoughts you have during the day, what is going on at BYU--anything, really. Really, I do love hearing about the everyday things of your lives. I think about and pray for all of you often. And on the subject of prayer--may I say that I was humbled to realize that hundreds of thousands of people have added me to their prayers as a missionary. May I suggest something to add to your prayers? Pray for the people of Taiwan that their hearts will be prepared for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And pray as President Monson asked in conference, that other countries will be prepared for and open up to missionary work--especially China.
And now for the long awaited companionship story. The more discerning of you have realized that I am not quite as compatible whit Sister Pickering as I am with Sister Chen. I think that is an understatement. I was bitter from the moment she was placed in our companionship because her companion never came. Every little thing she did seemed to bug me. For example--she has the bunk bed above me and she tosses and turns violently the first 10-15 minutes after bedtime. Not only does it shake both beds, but also the squeaking of the springs echoes around the whole room. Sometimes I have to leave the room because it is so annoying! She is going to a different mission in Taiwan, and the music that she listens to is not appropriate for my Hymns-only mission (not to mention I really don't like it). She walks incredibly slowly, and worst, she doesn't seem to have the same commitment to missionary rules and an understanding of Preach my Gospel that I expect from any missionary companion of mine.
The first few days were a real struggle. After several hours and days of weeping and many heartfelt prayers, I finally told the Lord, "I can't do this alone. I don't have the capacity to love this sister. I need to love her with the love the Savior had for her when He suffered for our sins in Gethsemane. But I can't do it alone." As many of you predicted, the Lord wanted me to know very early on that I had to turn my heart totally over to Him to be a good missionary--a consecrated missionary--which especially means having a united companionship.
Then three Mondays ago, the week leading up to General Conference, I was sitting in the temple after a session. I was thinking about the scripture in D&C 84:88, picturing angels round about me "protecting" me from my companions and the annoyance they provoked. I am sure many of you feel this was a selfish self-envisions vision. I thought the Lord thought so too, because all of a sudden the vision changed. The "angels" I had been picturing in my head vanished, and my companions were left in their stead. The Lord gently told me, "The angels aren't protecting you from your companions--the angels are your companions!"
My mouth literally dropped open in awe, and shock, and amazement. I quickly opened the Bible Dictionary to the entry on "angels", and sure enough it says in there that sometimes in the Bible people were depicted as "angels". Well, there was my answer. How could I be annoyed by an angel sent from God? The answer was only confirmed when that Saturday, Elder Holland gave his talk on angels--both mortal and immortal. How is it, I ask, that Elder Holland always seems to speak directly to what I have been studying for the last week (or month or year)? Anyway, I am not saying it is easy. I still fight my natural man every day as I try to have a unified companionship so we can teach with the spirit. And some days, lets be honest, I don't even want to try. I am still Breanne--not fully Sister White yet. And I am finally starting to understand how incredibly difficult it would be to have to fight and addiction every hour of every day. But I am fighting and growing and becoming a missionary--a consecrated missionary who can be a tool in the hands of the Master. The Lord doesn't expect perfection overnight, but He does expect progression, right? (I didn't make that up, but I can't remember who said it--someone in one of the MTC devotionals/firesides.
Now I am sure many of you are wondering why I wrote this. You all already knew that I would struggle with my companions, right? Well, I hope that in some small way, this might help one or two of you. After all my purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ--and that includes the people who get my weekly e-mails.
I love you all. I am grateful for your prayers, your thought and letters, and most especially the member missionary work that you do to join in this great work of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.