An address given by Ashtyn Aure on July 30, 2017, in the Provo City YSA 1st ward in the Provo City YSA 16th Stake.
“…my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.” (2 Nephi 4:17-19)
Brothers and sisters, have you too ever felt that “your heart wept and your soul lingered in the valley of sorrow because of your afflictions?” (2 Nephi 4:26)
I know, I know. I know what you are trying to talk yourself out of right now.
“What afflictions could I possibly have that would constitute that as an accurate description of my life? I have all my limbs. I have all my organs. My heart pumps freely and I can breathe without aide. I do not deserve to grieve.”
Putting that aside, I bet in the back of your mind there was a little voice that said, “…but I have felt that same heaviness. I have felt like a wretched being. Falling short. Forever helpless.”
You are imperfect. You do feel sad sometimes. You do feel weak on occasion. It is about time we start admitting to ourselves and to each other that that is okay. You and I are not so different. Because I know I have, I know you have looked at yourself in the mirror before, unhappy with what you see. I know you have wept alone at night wishing for someone to hold you, but hoping nobody would find you like that. I know that you have experienced pain so deep that it could only be overcome because a perfect and sinless man has felt that pain too.
If you are anything like me, Nephi, or the person sitting next to you, I know that at times it felt as though that pain would never subside; that peace would never come.
For some of you, that is more of a reality. I speak to those that may suffer from anxiety, depression, or other emotional ailments. The spiritual burdens that the emotionally healthy carry is 10x heavier on your backs. When you fall short of what you think God’s expectations are, you may feel, as Alma describes, “racked with eternal torment for your soul is harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all your sins.” (Alma 36:12) Possibly even if these are sins that have been forgotten by God through proper repentance. Satan often uses these brave and sensitive people’s weaknesses as ways to torment them to a degree that is incomprehensible to the emotionally well.
Recently I read a beautifully written article in the March Ensign about anxiety. Part of it read,
“The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Peace. The Spirit works quietly (see 1 Nephi 17:45). Anxiety is loud and obnoxious, so to speak, making it difficult to feel the Spirit and depend on your faith. Faith is trust in God. The opposite of faith is uncertainty and mistrust. Is it any wonder that anxiety disorders often undermine faith?”
Sisters and brothers, if this is something you can relate to one way or the other, I need you to know that you. are. not. alone. The deep chasm created in our minds by chemical imbalances or emotional traumas often feel too deep for even the brightest of light’s reach. When the voices in your head are telling you that there is no rescue, there is no hope, there is no future, remember that our loving God did not create you just so you could perish in the dark. He is the light and life of this world and because you are His offspring, you carry that light with you as well. Your earthly weaknesses may make it difficult for you to feel the quiet and subtle voices of the spirit, but you are not forgotten!
His Son, and our Savior, died, “that He may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12) Succor means assistance and support in times of hardship and distress. He knows your weaknesses; He knows you cannot feel what others seem to understand so clearly. Because of this, He will often time send you his children to physically hold you, physically hear you, and physically tell you that you are loved. Regardless of the noise in your life or mind right now, take this talk as a sign that He is aware of you, He is watching over you, and He is rooting for you. You must look for the light within yourself and within those around you.
I know that Christ hears the songs you cannot sing. I know that he hears your soul creak and ache. I know that he has been with each of us to the deep chasms of our souls created by whatever earthly malady or affliction we may have. Our brother Nephi felt a pain as deep and as real as yours. We don’t need to know what sins or frailties he felt were holding him from God’s presence. What we do need to know is how he healed, because that is how we can heal. “Awake, my soul!, “he says, “No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul…. O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?” (2 Nephi 4: 28, 31)
Nephi recognized that in his time of darkness, the only thing he had control of was his personal relationship with Christ, prayer and, dare I say, scripture study. Treat these times sacredly. You are on hallowed ground as you read the precious words of the Book of Mormon. Time and time again the words on those pages will teach you how others before us have defeated darkness. I will leave you with one of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon. It’s a story of a people who you would imagine are destined to fail. A people who knew what darkness was and what Christ’s light could bring. A people who had as little control over the direction of their lives as the emotionally compromised do over the status of their hearts. I invite you to prayerfully study this story on your own when things are hard. It will teach you how to swim when you start drowning. It will remind you that God has a divine path and plan specifically for you.
“…they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God….it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind….they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind…. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind…And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water…And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water…And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:5-8, 10-12)
How grateful I am for the light at the end of the long tunnel that is life. That light represents a perfection of body and mind only possible through the resurrection of a loving, almighty, and eternal Christ. Because He lives, someday I too will live with a perfect, whole, and unbreakable mind.
Pieces I was inspired by:
“Like a Broken Vessel” by Holland
“Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet” by Holland
“Songs Sung and Unsung” by Holland
Also the Ensign article I referenced is really good.
The words of the Lord seem appropriate here, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15)
I’ve seen a lot of miracles on the mission I’m serving. Only one of those miracles was a baptism that I was “a part of”. Some of them were baptisms that I heard of after I had left an area. A lot of them were helping people recommit to the sacred covenants they made many years ago. Most them were tender caresses in my life from a loving Heavenly Father who knew exactly what I needed & desired to give it to me.
I set a goal at the beginning of the week to find one new investigator every single day. That’s a total of 7 investigators. Our average in this area is 2. On Tuesday night we had an hour of finding after district meeting & nothing. We had a lesson & 30 minutes left to find at the end of the night. Determined to achieve my goal of one new investigator that day & even though it was 8:45pm in suburbia & everyone was telling us it was a no soliciting neighborhood, we pressed on. We talked to everyone in the streets. At the very back of the neighborhood it’s nearly black outside with none of the light from the waning crescent moon reaching the ground, & we see a couple sitting on their front porch chatting. I stop & say hello to them & ask why their American flag is greyscale with just one blue stripe. The man begins to tell us that “there’s a thin blue line between chaos & order in our country & that’s the police force.” If you know me, you know that I could never pass up a chance to talk about how much I love America with someone. They invited us inside to evade the persistent mosquitos & I read to them Alma 43:44-49. They asked a lot of questions, which is unusual. We usually have to ask a million questions to avoid any silence that might make them uncomfortable. It came up in conversation that I would be attending my last church service as a missionary that Sunday & Ann asked me, “Have you enjoyed it? Being a missionary?”
With tears making it difficult to speak I replied, “Yes. Ann, this has been the best experience of my life. There is nothing in the world as rewarding as being a missionary.”
Earlier that day I bore my testimony for the last time to my district. I told them that I had prayed for peace. That I wasn’t sad anymore, but I was still scared.
Have you ever had a moment where every waking moment & every memorable dream you’ve had in the past 13,140 hours flooded your mind? As we walked out of Keith & Ann’s house, not receiving a return appointment therefore not getting a new investigator, I experienced just that. I felt as thought my veins were filled with cement but 5,000 brightly-colored helium balloons were tied to my wrists. I felt so absolutely naive & ineffably ancient at the same time. I felt like I was watching someone else’s life, but feeling all of the emotions attached to the disappointing, scary, euphoric, anxiety riddled experiences. I felt so full. I felt a fullness. A fullness of joy, I don’t know. But an exhausting satisfaction that shouldn’t be felt after having an “unsuccessful” 20 minute conversation with total strangers. Nothing about being a missionary really makes sense, though.
I was able to attend another district meeting this week with our sisters in Palatka. Afterwords, Sister Malm & I split up with a set of the sisters to help them out with some of their appointments. I went with Sister Warr, who I served with in Gainesville, & we went to two lessons together. The second lesson was with a woman who had been baptized over 7 years ago but she & her family hadn’t attended church in quite awhile. Our intent of the meeting was to understand why she stopped attending church abruptly. We started sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with her & had just finished teaching about repentance. She says, “we all know the purpose of why you’re here. You’re here because I don’t go to church. But I WANT to go to church.” She proceeded to share her experiences as a young mother & recent convert as she juggled life with a calling in the relief society presidency. “My anxiety won. I couldn’t face going to church anymore & being in such big crowds of people who I was expected to talk to.” In an instant I remembered every Sunday in high school where I would try to come up with a reason that I couldn’t go to church. Bringing a blanket & feigning a fever so no one would approach me. Wearing sweats in BYC & hurrying home as soon as it was over so I didn’t have to face a million people I didn’t have anything to say to. My mind reviewed that one time my sophomore year in college as I was sneaking out after sacrament meeting & that one guy, that always reached out to me but of whose name I can never remember, followed me to the parking lot to let me know that I would be missed.
I explained to my new friend, who I never even learned the name of, that she was experiencing what I have come to term as “Sunday Sadness”. I empathized with her about how church is basically an anxiety attack waiting to happen every week. I shared an experience with her how there was even a time on my mission when I had to leave church early because I couldn’t cope, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t convince myself that it was all in my head. I told her that if she was having a heart attack, no one would expect her to stay at church. She was letting the fear of being stuck in a building with people that wouldn’t stop shaking her hand prevent her from renewing the sacred covenants she had made with her Heavenly Father. We left her that afternoon with tears in her eyes, a general conference talk to read, & her 7 year old toe-headed daughter asleep across her lap. I felt a fullness.
I had the opportunity this week to enter the house of the Lord with some of my favorite humans on earth. It was a day rich with laughter, tears, & silent contemplation. It was a blessing to be there. My Heavenly Father taught me that life will not slow down for me when I return home. Things will take unexpected turns & I will need to be prepared for the very specific life He has in store for me. Whatever that means. Sister Randle’s halfway mark was this transfer so we were able to go through the experience together & eat Chik-Fil-A side by side for the last time in a long while. She has been such a blessing & support to me throughout the past 9 months. How grateful I am for eternal friendships.
A miracle, a miracle!! Sister Malm has been working with a 9 year old, of an active family, that isn’t baptized ever since she was transferred here 6 months ago. For one reason or another it was never “the right time” for her to be baptized. It’s 9:45pm & we get a phone call from the branch president. They want this sweet 9 year old to be baptized NEXT WEEK. The sisters replacing Sister Malm & I will sure be lucky to whitewash right into a baptism. The first convert baptism this branch will have ever seen. I’ve seen that family change & become much more like the Savior in the past 6 weeks. That’s my favorite part of being a missionary. Watching the atonement change people.
My mission came full circle as I sat in the home of the Rosbachs (Chilean family) this week. Steve was beaming as he showed us pictures of his baptism from last weekend. I asked what started the change & he said, “you know, Sandy (his wife) just told me a couple days ago about the family home evening you guys plotted together over a year ago. The one where you invited us to read the Book of Mormon everyday together. So that’s what we started doing. Whether I was in Arizona, or Mexico, or wherever. Unless I was traveling really late for some reason we would Skype & read together EVERY night. That’s when things started to change.”
Sister Malm & I had planned to talk to them about the Book of Mormon….because I’m selfish & it’s my favorite thing to talk about. But it turned out to be inspired. So that’s nice.
Sundays have always been my favorite day on the mission. This week I was able to sing, one last time, Still Believe as Sister Malm signed it. Will send a video. The branch president asked me to share a brief testimony, due to it being my last Sunday & all. Sister Malm is actually also being transferred to Gainesville 5th ward ❤️❤️ ( & THEY CLOSED THE SISTER’S GV2 AREA😭😭😭😭) & she has been here since the branch started 6 months ago. She also bore her testimony & everybody cried. So they will be whitewashing this Sister Training Leader’s area. Which is mostly unheard of. But I was also made one for just 6 weeks. So I guess anything possible. ANYWAY right as church was starting, in walks a man with the church librarian. She tells me that he came in asking where the church service is because when he was working security at the entrance of a neighborhood, two sister missionaries stopped & invited him to church. That happened three weeks ago. & he showed up!!! It was such an amazing last Sunday miracle. He’s 28, so the JAX YSA are getting an awesome referral.
Sister Malm asked if it was hard to go to a new area for my last transfer, since she is about to do the same. I pondered on that for a minute. My first instinct was yes. I loved Gainesville! I wanted to stay there the rest of eternity! But then I realized how much of a blessing it was to be able to be 110% focused on the work & the sisters my last transfer. Had I still been in Gainesville, everybody would have been wanting to spend my last week with me & we wouldn’t have got any work done. Here, hardly anyone remembered my name or still thought it was pronounced “Aura”. Heavenly Father really knew exactly what I needed.
This morning Sister Malm & I had a really exciting experience. We went on a run/bike ride through the most beautiful, & completely empty, golf course. It was foggy & there was a slight breeze. It was perfect. Right as we get to the farthest point & turn around to head home, it suddenly begins pouring. Within 1 minute, sister malm & I are both soaked. drenched. Completely engulfed in water. Luckily I had a very small visor on my helmet so I could kind-of-hardly see, but Sister Malm was practically blind. By the time we got home, we didn’t really need to take a shower because it looked like we had jumped into a swimming pool with our clothes on, but I did anyway because I was freezing. I sure love Florida.
Remember the Chilean family that I was working with in Jax Beach?? The ones that didn’t speak any English but we’re still my best friends? WELL. I ran into them at church on Sunday because they moved! They moved & their new Ward is our neighboring Ward!! Maybe I screamed in the church hallway, maybe I didn’t. I hadn’t seen them for a year & it was just the biggest tender mercy to be able to start & finish my mission with them. Same with Sister Mortensen, whose daughter happens to be in the branch!! So many tender mercies everywhere. Anyway, the Rosbachs were speaking to me in English!!! It was amazing!!! I’m grateful/sad we won’t have to mime our conversations anymore. Today we got a text from her inviting us to dinner this weekend & to tell us her husband was baptized on Friday!!!!! Ahhhh!!! Miracles, my friends.
Speaking of miracles, an investigator we’ve been working with for about two months came to church for the first time on Sunday!! He LOVED IT! & because we had had so many member presents, he basically knew the whole congregation already. The best part of the day was at the end of gospel principles. Oliver asked everyone in the class to pray that he would have a spiritual witness that the Book of Mormon is true because he wants to know so badly! It was awesome. We all really felt the spirit.
Today I’m going to eat my favoritest pizza in the world & hang out with some of my favorite missionaries. Currently Sister Malm & I are sitting in the parking lot of Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in St Aug listening to “Homeward Bound” on repeat. When adventure’s lost its meaning, I’ll be homeward bound in time.
I’m kind of in denial right now. On a scale from 1-10 how mad would you be if I accidentally missed my flight? It’s fine. I’ll figure it out. There’s always gonna be another mountain….I’m always gonna want to make it move…..
Y’all ready for this?
Duh nuh nuh dunuhnuh
Hello from the Bartram Trails Branch in the Jacksonville Florida South Stake!! It’s about a million degrees everyday & our watch tans are becoming something to be jealous of! I really wish we biked here so it would be more pronounced. I love biking. I really miss biking. #RIPGV2 On the awesome side, I had 5 people email this week & ask to buy my bike. Ask me someday to share with you my amazing bike ad that I put out. It’s all about presentation, folks. So maybe it’s a good thing that I haven’t been riding it at all so it’s in better condition for them?
On Monday we were doing my second favorite thing, next to biking, which is tracting. I love separating the wheat from the tares, ya know? Plus tracting here is super satisfying because our area is SO SMALL that we write down every single house number on every single street & what they said. I love checking off lists. Anyway, we were doing my second favorite activity at 8:00pm. Sister Malm isn’t the biggest fan of tracting after 8, so we made a compromise to just skreet contact after the first half hour. The first thirty minutes
pass & not a single soul will talk to us. Suddenly it’s 8:30. I look at Sister Malm. She has her game face on, which means we’re going to keep knocking (& plus there was no one outside, so….) out of the next four doors we knocked, TWO of the households became new
investigators!! My friends, this is a miracle. Heavenly Father wants to bless us, but more often than not, those blessings are waiting in the second mile. The last half hour. The four extra houses. We MUST exercise our faith if we are to expect miracles.
Tuesday was my very ever very last Zone Conference. It was amazing. I felt the spirit. The spirit taught me truths, funny enough they were mostly truths about him. Him, being the spirit. I sang Come Thou Fount with two elders & Sister Malm signed it. It was really beautiful & I will have to record her doing it sometime so I can show you how bilingually talented she is. I got to spend the day with my soul mates Sisters Miller & Randle. I may have said goodbye to Sister Miller until October. It was sad. It was also finally my turn to share a departing testimony & I did not feel wise enough to be up there. I know I’ve changed. I know it. I’ve felt Christ’s atonement shape me. But through that whole process, the biggest thing I’ve really learned is how much I don’t know & how much I can’t teach anyone anything about anything. Unless I do it through & because of Him.
I got to spend some time with both Sister Colson & Sister Tryon this week! When I was with Sister Colson, we were walking to the street we were to be knocking & it just started pouring. POURING. ain’t nothin like flarida rainstarms. We did not have an Umbrella. We did not have our rain jackets. We had to take cover under someone’s front porch. We knocked on this door to ask if we could sit there & she said yes, then quickly shut the door. 60 seconds later she returned with towels for us! (That’s how wet we were) isn’t that the sweetest? Sister Colson & I had a blast. Sister Tryon & I also had a blast, but our blast consisted of getting screamed & cursed at for 5 minutes straight by a lady who really clearly hated us. It’s weird to have people hate you just because of your beliefs; I really feel for the Islamic community right now. Sister Tryon’s goal for the trade off was optimism, so clearly that experience was handpicked by Heavenly Father to help us achieve that goal.
On Sunday we had three friends at church!! I love the opportunity to explain the sacrament to people for the first time. It was a great service that was focused on becoming disciples of Christ.
I hope this email made up for the lack of substance in my past emails. Just know that if I send a short or unsubstantial email it’s just because I’m having loads of fun without you.
I’ve been able to come really close to my Savior the past week. I am so insurmountably grateful for & indebted to Him. I will close with Elder Holland’s testimony of Him. Just know that I love Jesus Christ. Know that I worship Him. Know that my whole purpose in life is to become more like Him. I know He lives.
This week nothing I did could compare to what my sister did…..she had a baby!!! She’s adorable! & I love her! & I can already feel myself turning into one of those people that is obsessed with their nieces/nephews that everyone avoids because that’s all they talk about. Don’t worry, I didn’t let that get in the way of what I’m here to do!
This week, I met a lady in the branch who was wearing a Panic! at the Disco shirt & we bonded over concerts for a minute. She gave me heads up about 21 Pilots in July that’s sold out already (when did they become someone that would sell out a show…?) so someone better get on that & get me a ticket. **Richard Marsh took care of that before this email even got sent!**
We had zone conference this week & I talked for 284392x longer than I was supposed to, & nothing else is new. Except I had to shake everyone’s while they left & be friendly to them. Although Sister Miller & Randle are convinced I hate everyone, I’m actually just scared of everyone, & for good reason! I got made fun of twice for the way I shake hands. It’s fine. I’ll get better at it. #goals
I also got to hang out with Sister Jones for 24 hours & we did language study in the morning (because she is an ASL missionary). Out of the four of us there, I was the only one not fluent in ASL, so to contribute, I just read my favorite conf talks & made them interpret them. We also played a game where they signed to each other & I translated it to English. It was not very effective, but it was hilarious.
We had a great lesson with Nick this week where we drew out the plan of salvation with sidewalk chalk. He loved it so much that he brought his family to a concert hosted by our church where 40+ year olds covered songs by Pat Benetar, Evanescence, & like….other random people. Luckily they’re not musically inclined, because they loved it!!!
I AM SO GRATEFUL TO BE BACK IN JACKSONVILLE ON SATURDAY & SUNDAY I GOT
TO SEE ALL MY BEST FRIENDS INCLUDING THE DUNNAVE# FAMILY.
Sorry this email isn’t very informational or spiritual, but the church is still true! & president invited everyone at the devotional on Sunday to be baptized over the pulpit & it was so hardcore. I love being a missionary.
HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT SISTER MALM:
* She has a full ride running scholarship to SUU
* She’s a way faster runner than me.
* She runs really fast.
* Like, less than a five minute mile
* Both of her parents are deaf so her first language is ASL
* THIS IS HER THIRD AREA!
* Didn’t mean to do caps lock, sorry.
* She’s the nicest person I’ve ever met & makes breakfast for me sometimes.
* She is from Payson, Utah!
Mighty Miracle May is so real, guys. Since this branch opened approximately 6 months ago, there has not been an investigator at church other than part member families. We invited someone to baptism this week. His name is Nick. Here’s how the bap invite went…
“Nick…” “YES?” “Will you..””YES.” “Follow the example of Jesus Christ…” “YES!!!” “AND BE BAPTIZED” “YES!!!!!!” “BY SOMEONE HOLDING THE PROPER AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST!!??” “YEEEEES!!!!” We were all screaming & yelling & being excited. It was the best. Then he came to church!!! Everyone was so nice to him.
So he is planning on being baptized on the 28 of May. I am giving a training in front of the zone tomorrow on a training I didn’t even see the first time. So pray that goes well.
I love you all for real. I’m super blessed.
From Sis. Randle: This is Sister Randle! It’s been a while, but I miss you all! I hope everyone is doing really great. Sister Aure is doing pretty great, from what I can tell. She is a leader now, and she is probably the best one ever. The sisters in Jax south are lucky. Do you think she will have purple hair when she gets home?? I do. Or teal. Do you think that she will be weird when she gets home? I do. Everyone is weird from their missions. She will probably try and make you pray in public when you got out to eat and slip conference talks under the door. That’s just how it goes. Just love her and she’ll adjust fine. See you guys in 9 months.