Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

I didn't realize until I got here how casual I have been about the gospel.  I've always been really casual thinking, "They'll ask me when they want to learn more."  As I've been teaching "investigators" I have realized people aren't going to act on anything you teach unless you invite them to.  My first lesson was my third day.  I taught David and Sister Thurston and I tried but failed.  I didn't know what I was going to say or what scriptures to share so I didn't.  We talked probably 80% of the time, asked questions 10%, and he mumbled short responses.  We were teaching a lesson, not him.  Later that day we taught Matt.  We had learned from our mistakes and focused on him.  We asked more questions and shared one or two scriptures.  The lesson was much more powerful that time as we focused on what he needed.  I was still worried about what I was going to say.  In two days my testimony was 10 times stronger.  Maybe that's an exaggeration...
The next day I focused on studying the atonement.  I didn't feel like I knew a lot about it.  I read Alma 36 which is Alma the younger telling his son his story of conversion and the power of the atonement.  In verse 18 he cries unto Jesus begging for relief from the bitterness, shame, and guilt or his sins.  As soon as he prayed he remembered his pains no more.  He testifies of the Savior and says in 21 "there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."  The atonement is powerful.  It transforms lives.  People that utilize the atonement feel peace and relief from pain.  It enables you to start again with a clean slate, but with the knowledge gained.  The atonement is what allows people to change.
Sundays are beautiful at the MTC.  I was able to listen without worrying about teaching.  We walked to the temple even though it's closed for cleaning the whole time we're here.  It was beautiful!  The east mountains were covered in snow and there was powder everywhere.  Sister Cahoon and I threw a few snowballs at the elders and ran through the foot of snow (thank goodness for boots).  The other sisters avoided the snow the whole time being from Georgia and St. George and no one dared throw any at them.  Luckily Sister C is from Canada and was more than willing to play in the snow.  I asked her if she was okay with me throwing a snowball at her and her exact word was "abso-frickin-lutely."  I saw Michale Gauthier from our stake in Minnesota.  He got here three weeks ago, but he's going to Brazil so he'll be here when I leave next Wednesday.
Monday night Sister Boatright was having a really hard time being away from family.  She was praying as everyone in our district was receiving letters that she would get just one.  She was beginning to worry that her family hadn't made it through the pass to St. George because they weren't used to the snow.  She said, "I really just needed a letter right then."  Sister Cahoon found her in the bathroom (the only place you can be alone) crying.  She had no idea what to do and came back and talked to me.  We decided t owrite her letters (all three of us) and I unwrapped one of my presents and used the paper to wrap up a bag of holiday M&Ms Mom got me for Christmas.  When Elder Meaker was handing out mail that night he said, "And what's this?  It looks like a package and letters for Sister Boatright."  She took it and also got a letter from home.  When we got back o he dorms she said she almost started crying in the classroom.  She said we were the answer to her prayers.  I'm grateful we know of Chirst and God's love and can show it to others.  I love this gospel and the atonement of Christ.
I met Grandpa's brother!  He walked past me in the cafeteria and I said, "Grandpa?"  I walked over to him and his wife and talked to them.  They said they are going to Kazakhstan and will have an interpreter.  They said they were looking at all the name tags of the sister missionaries for a Despain.  It was great to see them.  It was like seeing Grandpa Despain again.
On Wednesday, the 11th, Sister Carey was assigned to us as a companion.  She had been in quarantine for two day because she got the flu and her district was already in the field.  She described it to us and said there was no human contact except when they handed a tray of food through the door and left.  She felt like she was going crazy.  She only have her scriptures and PMG to read.  We taught Claudia, an "investigator", with her and when we were stumped with a question she knew the perfect answer.  We also taught Matt again.  By this time we had taught him almost everyday and improved a ton.  The lesson was, in his own words, the best lesson we had taught thus far.  I felt that from constant study we knew his needs and the perfect scriptures for those needs.  he's in 1 Nephi 9 now and has been praying and committed to baptism.  We were talking about repentance in the gospel of Christ lesson when he said he had an alcohol addiction.  I was sad, but so happy he wanted to change enough to admit it to us.  He committed to give up alcohol.  Before the MTC I would have had no idea how to address that need.  Now, with the spirit, I have had inspiration and confidence.
I have been struggling with the feeling of inadequacy the past week, especially because I stumble over my words A LOT.  For personal study one day I read 2 Nephi 32.  In verse 2 it says, "Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?"  I testify that the lessons that go the best are when I have the spirit with me and don't worry about what to say.  I trust that I will have the right words at the right time.  It has been a miracle as I have been able to teach and connect with my investigators.  I have known the perfect scriptures to share and the perfect story to tell.  I know that with God we can do anything.  When "we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea" (Jacob 4:6).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 24, 2013

Farewell Talk

Missionary Work
While I was thinking of the best way to talk about missionary work I decided telling you about my journey was the best way to do so.  There will be a few stories and I hope you can take some lessons or techniques that you can use yourselves. 
When I was a beehive (12 or 13) there was a sister missionary in our ward that I became close to.  She was a really jolly person.  You’d walk away from a conversation with her confident and happy about life.  When I was 14 I wanted to know badly if I was supposed to go on a mission.  Usually I’m not an indecisive person.  Usually I make a decision and stick with it.  For some reason I struggled with this particular question.  It drove me insane.  I prayed and prayed.  I kept getting no answer, which turned out to be a “be patient” answer I couldn’t fathom.  I remember I had been learning about patriarchal blessings in Sunday school and I thought, ‘This is the perfect solution.  I’ll just let them tell me!’ 
After setting up an appointment I went to the patriarch’s house for my blessing.  He asked me if I had any concerns.  I didn’t know I could ask for answers to a particular problem.  I told him I was really wanting an answer about serving a mission.  He probably thought I was crazy thinking about a mission when I was 14.  I wouldn’t be able to serve one until I was 21, which was still 7 years away.  For those of you doing math that was half my life thus far.  We sat in his living room and he began.  A few sentences in I started crying as he told me I was of the tribe of Ephraim, whose primary responsibility is to do missionary work.  He continued and the Lord blessed me with advice I have reread many times.  I’m glad I asked for him to focus on missionary work when I was 14 because it has been the answer to my question, even though I couldn’t understand it at the time.
In ninth grade I was in junior high and I started going to seminary.  Our community had a really great relationship with the Mormons.  We were blessed to have seminary taught at the high school.  I don’t know if you’ve been to Minnesota, but the winters there are brutal.  On the walk from the parking lot to the doors you feel like you’re going to get hypothermia and die on the spot.  The night janitors would come open the doors for us and we’d all file into two brightly colored Spanish classrooms.  Because we met in the high school the older kids would go to class, but the ninth graders would have to carpool to our junior high.  For us school started an hour later which gave us time to work on homework, but because it was so early the doors weren’t open to the classrooms at the time.  We had to sit in the cafeteria every morning.  My friends noticed that no matter how early they got to school we were always there.  Finally they asked me why and I told them I went to a bible class early in the morning.  This made them sure I was insane.  They knew I was serious about church and eventually they knew that if they asked questions I would answer them.  They found out I was really open about my beliefs.  My whole high school experience revolved around everyone knowing who the Mormon kids were. 
My junior year the ward missionaries gave every young man and young woman a Book of Mormon.  They gave us the goal of giving it out to someone the next week.  One or two were handed out from our class and the next week the missionaries came back with more copies.  Amber and I hung around a similar circle of friends in high school.  She ended up giving a Book of Mormon in orchestra to one of my best friends.  I was at my locker bank where my group of friends hung out between classes and my friend, who had a very exuberant personality, came running over to my locker, waving the Book of Mormon over her head yelling, “Annah, I got a Book of Mormon!”  A friend next to me asked me for one too and I handed him the one from my locker.  At homeroom my friend from orchestra was reading the Book and was asking me who these “Lamb-a-nites” were and interesting my other friends.  From handing out one Book of Mormon Amber and I ended up handing out 13 more that semester. 
To me this seemed like I was pushed into an easy way to get bonus points for heaven.  However, this situation only happened because of the past preparation.  The Mormons in Maple Grove, Minnesota had worked for years to become an important part of the community.  The youth had always been strong in their beliefs.  Everyone knew the Mormons.  We were a peculiar people.  Telling my friends early on where I stood led to an ease of gospel sharing later on.
Missionary work is a joy!  When you have even the smallest success you get a confirmation from the Holy Ghost about the importance of the work.  Whenever I’m sharing my personal beliefs with others a power comes into my life that I know can only come from the Lord.  The days become a little brighter and the trials a little easier.  The best periods of my life have been when I have been actively sharing the gospel.
The more I talked to my friends about the church, the more I learned to love them.  I think the only way you can sincerely want others to have the gospel is to first love them.  Jesus loved everyone he healed no matter their station.  Whether they were beggar or sinner or rich man he loved them.  I realize it is only when I really get to know someone and really get to love them that I feel the urge to tell them of my beliefs.  The sons of Mosiah taught among the Lamanites, people who probably wanted them killed and they taught the Lamanites for 14 years.  To me the perspective is drastic.  Their service would have been ¾ of my life.  It was a huge sacrifice.  In Mosiah 28:2-3 they gave their reason:
That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.
“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human should perish; yea, even the very thought that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.”
They didn’t know the Lamanites and they already had enough love to serve them.
Elder Ballard spoke to us in October about missionary work.  He said that there are two reasons we don’t share our beliefs with others.  First, fear and second, misunderstanding of what missionary work is.  I can say from experience that taking the first step in missionary work is terrifying.  I can also say however, that once you take that first step it gets easier. 
Growing up in Minnesota our youth leaders were very focused on missionary work.  There were always goals of how many people to invite to church and always mutual activities designed specifically for our friends.  I remember our ward mission leader came to speak to us about talking to others about the church.  I always looked forward to hearing from him in sacrament meeting or classes.  He knew his stuff.  This one lesson he taught he said a great way for us to learn was to role-play.  Of course, with my luck, I was picked to participate.  I suddenly wasn’t very happy he had come to teach.  He had one person act as a non-member and me to act as a member explaining a principle.  He gave us slips of paper and I tried to quickly come up with an answer.  I stumbled over my words and most of the short minute didn’t know what I was saying.  I didn’t want to do anything like that again. 
Elder Ballard was correct in saying fear is what stops us from talking to others.  We’re scared we’ll say the wrong thing or we’ll offend them.  I certainly was.  It takes practice.  Now, luckily, I don’t get scared about it.  Sometimes I’ll get anxious if it’s a touchy topic, but generally I have one rule; I talk to them the way I would want them to talk to me about their church, not spewing out information or bearing a sacred testimony at an inappropriate time.  I’ll ask them what they want to learn about.  I make it a dialogue, not a monologue.  Elder Ballard said the second reason we don’t share our beliefs is that we don’t know what missionary work it.  Missionary work is our conversations, our being examples, giving service, and being a friend.  Anything that brings someone a little closer to Christ is missionary work. 
President Monson announced in October 2012 that the age of missionaries was changing.  When he announced the change my roommates and I all yelled a simultaneous, “What?”  It became a real possibility then for me to go on a mission.  I decided then I was going on a mission.  As I saw that so many people were leaving, I wondered if I was just following the crowd or if I really wanted to go myself.  This resulted in creating for myself a rollercoaster of decisions.  One day I would say yes and another it was a definite no.  Still other days I thought, maybe not yet; later.  I read my patriarchal blessing many times trying to find a hidden answer that the patriarch had slipped in without me realizing.  After much debating I realized it wasn’t as complicated as I was making it.  The reason I hadn’t received a clear answer was because the Lord was trusting me to make the decision myself.  The whole time he was patiently saying, “It’s your choice, Annah”.  When I officially decided to serve and called my bishop I knew that I had made the right choice. 
The next weeks I was reassured over and over that I needed to go.  I finished the paperwork in 2 ½ weeks and I started to reread the Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel.  My bishop had been notified a couple weeks later that the call had been made.  It just needed to be mailed to me.  I finished the Book of Mormon and knew I was going to get my call that day.  I didn’t.  I then finished the Preach My Gospel.  For sure it would come, now that I was truly prepared.  It didn’t.  That Saturday we went hiking.  We drove home and, as I was mad with the mailbox, I didn’t check for my call.  My mom checked before coming inside and I heard, “Sister Despain.”  I ran to her and everyone ran to the living room to see me tear open the envelope.  [Cross fingers]  South America.  South America.  I began reading:
“Dear Sister Despain:
“You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Utah Salt Lake City West Mission.”
I stopped.  Are you kidding me?  I was born in Salt Lake City and all our family, including my sister in Bountiful, is there.  That was the one place in the world I had ruled out.  However, reading it, I felt that Salt Lake was where I was needed.  Over the next month I have been reassured so many times.  People tell me of all the people they know in Salt Lake and giving my lots of people to look out for.  I have family inside and 5 minutes from my mission.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’m excited to serve. 
I have a testimony of this gospel. I know that prayer works.  I found out for myself that God listens from my journey to becoming a missionary and countless other times my prayers have been answered.  I know that the temple is a house of God.  There is peace in the temple that I feel every time I visit.  I also know that missionary work is important.  I have felt a power whenever I have shared the truth of the gospel.  You can't help knowing that what you are doing is good.  I know God lives, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength."

                On September 21, 2013 I received my mission call to the Utah Salt Lake City West mission.  I have to admit, when I first read the lines I couldn’t believe it.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t going somewhere I had never been, rather I was going to a place I was very familiar with.  I was born in Salt Lake City and lived there for four years.  Practically my whole extended family is in Utah and Idaho, with one family inside my mission and two five minutes away.  I accepted the call, but I think I hadn’t posted here about receiving my call because I wasn’t excited about it.  If I had been going to Argentina or Belgium or Russia I would have been ecstatic, reminding everyone every day that I was going somewhere across the globe.  However, I was assigned to boring Salt Lake where I fly into every semester to go to school and have stay for Holidays while visiting family.
                However, now I’m getting excited to go.  It took quite the paradigm shift for me to understand that I’m going to teach the gospel not be a tourist.  It’s actually a blessing going to a familiar place because I will be able to dive right into teaching without having to worry about a language or culture to wrap my head around.  Because of this assignment I will be able to achieve so much more than if I was assigned anywhere else.  With the Lord’s help I’ll be able to attune myself to him and influence lives.  Now that I understand my purpose I’m excited to start teaching.
                I’ll update you via my mom or other family members who will record the letters I write to them.  Also, if you want to send me packages (I will be either in the MTC or my first assignment on Christmas) while I am in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) you can send it to:

Sister Annah Kirsten Despain
2009 N 900 E Unit 131Provo UT 84602

You can also email me at

When my P.O. box will be sent to me right before I head out for the MTC I will post it on here and facebook.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"

President Monson announced in October (2012) that the age of missionaries was changing to 19 instead of 21.  I'm sure my reaction was similar to some of yours.  The reaction of my roommates was a collectively breath then an eruption of exclamations.  The age change made serving a mission a real possibility.  I knew then that I wanted to go on a mission.  I have known since I was about 14 that a mission was something I wanted to do.  I had gotten to know one of the sister missionaries well and was inspired by her to serve.  I have received countless confirmations since that time but as I saw that so many people were going to serve after the announcement, for some reason I wondered if I was going with the crowd or if I really wanted to go myself.  This resulted in creating for myself a roller coaster of decisions.  One day I would say yes and another it was a definite no.  Still other days I thought, maybe not yet, later.  Satan has been working hard on filling my mind with doubt and fear, but I finally made a decision.  As soon as I did my mom said, "Call the Bishop now before you change your mind again!"  I did and instantly felt peace and contentment. I know that I have made the right choice. 

I’m grateful for the gospel.  I think in wonder sometimes that I have won the lottery in being born into the gospel, especially at a time I can serve.  Now I know that I was chosen to come to this time and place before I was born.  It was not a random golden ticket.  I know that the Holy Ghost is real because I have felt its influence so many times in my life.  I have felt its touch when I have seen a view from the top of a mountain, listened to a beautiful rendition of a hymn, or read a book that put into words perfectly what I felt.  I have felt it's touch when I have heard words of truth, especially when reading the Book of Mormon and while praying.  I have felt its touch on my mind when I have needed to make a decision.  It has even placed thoughts into my mind and produced clarity when before my mind was a blur.  I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I know that he came to this earth and lived a perfect life.  He gave us an example that influenced the entire world.  He suffered for my sins and pains.  He chose to die on Calvary and follow His father’s commands.  I know that the Heavenly Father lives and loves me.  He watches over me and has, through the Holy Ghost, expressed his love for me.  I reciprocate that love now by making the decision to serve his will on a mission. 

I know Joseph Smith received a vision at age 14 that changed the world.  He saw God and the son.  He restored the fullness of the gospel that Jesus had taught in his lifetime.  He sacrificed his whole life to bring about the church and was selfless in every aspect of his life.  The gospel did not die with him, but continued on with Brigham Young.  The saints sacrificed far more than I would be able to in order to build up God’s kingdom.  The restoration is pure truth.  God reveals his word through Thomas S. Monson today and directs His church through him.  I know God lives and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share this knowledge with the people I meet in my life.