Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If there is anything I have learned this past year it is that we don’t always get to know what’s coming around the corner. Day 1 in Florida was better then I ever could have imagined it. But on day 2 it hit, and by day 4 I was on a plane back to San Francisco. ‘honorary medical release’ they called it, but nothing felt honorary about it. When I was released from being a missionary I felt like I had lost apart of myself. I felt empty, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. The next couple days were a blur. I was lost in my thoughts, completely and utterly confused. But I did know I needed to finish what I started. Finding out that I had to wait at least 6 months before I could go back out was hard and discouraging. But then I began to look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, grow, and become closer to the savior. ‘Sometimes we don’t know what the lord is trying to teach us. But if we really trust heavenly father it really doesn’t matter what I don’t understand. ‘ One night last summer at 11:45pm some friends and I decided that we should hike Mt. Timp to watch the sunrise. We were completely ill prepared to say the least, and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. (We had never done the hike before). We began the hike around 12am, happy and cheerful, full of energy. But as time went on we got tired and hungry. All we had were two water bottles each, some pretzels, and chocolate chips. We had two small flashlights and three hours in one went out. We got lost, we got soaking wet walking through rivers and waterfalls, our bodies were hurting and the only thing we wanted to do was turn around. At one point we thought we must be close to the top. We ran into two experienced hikers who told us we had only completed ¼ of the hike so far. Never in my life had I felt so discouraged. But we continued to hike. We hiked through snow, hiked up steep mountains with rocks coming down at us, all in complete darkness. Finally the sun began to rise and we could see the top. We continued to push. Getting to the top was the most rewarding experience. We looked out and saw one of the prettiest sights we had ever seen. As we went down the mountain we were amazed by our surroundings. All 6 hours of uphill darkness were suddenly worth it. We literally had no idea what we were walking through the whole night. We couldn’t see any of it. I think back to this experience often. Trials are often an uphill battle. A battle in the dark that leaves you feeling completely alone. ‘Often we know we don’t want to face it but we don’t have any other option. We just have to push forward.’ And most importantly we need to push forward with faith. We can’t turn around and we can’t give up. I learned that ‘Every experience will be a good experience as long as we stay bonded to the Lord.’ And then we make it to the top and see the beauty. We can see how much stronger the Lord has made us and we begin to understand the journey that we thought was going to break us.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My first couple of days in Florida were not exactly what I had hoped they would be like. My experience was unexpected and probably one of the hardest things I have been through. The first few days were spent deciding if I would stay and get things worked out in Florida or go home. On Saturday afternoon the decision was made, and I was on a plane just a couple hours later. About three days in the field and I was already going home on a medical release. Whether I go back out or stay home is still completely undecided. I am just trying to take things one day at a time. I am so grateful for my experience at the MTC and regardless if which decision I make I will treasure those memories forever. I trust the Lord and His plan for me. Thank you for all your love and support.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hermana Miranda Koutz
Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission
7951 SW 6th street, suite 110
Ft. Lauderdale. FL 33324
It was such a pleasure being able to talk to Miranda on the phone Tuesday morning at 4am. The poor thing was so tired but ready Florida. Obviously lots of nerves but she has complete confidence in the spirit helping her through. She said when she gives the lessons its amazing how easily she can speak spanish and she attributes that to the spirit guiding her through. She was sad to leave the MTC as she was blessed with wonderful teachers and friends there.Continue to bless her with your prayers and letters. Thank you all from a mom that misses her lil girl.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MTC - Week 5 "Faith"

How this time flew by so fast I have NO idea! I started packing today, but it feels like I just unpacked! My flight leaves the 26th at 6:00am. Sorry if I didnt write you back this week or my letters were short! Lots going on. My brain is everywhere so forgive me for this scatter brained email.

My emotions have kinda been all over the place. Natural questions about my ability have been filling my head. Am I good enough? Do I even know spanish? Will the people of Florida even care about what I have to say? As I have been having these doubts the idea of Faith keeps popping up everywhere. I think the Lord knows what His missionaries are feeling ;)

So I started to ask my self questions like- How much trust am I putting in the Lord? Do I have enough faith to take away my fear? Do I have enough faith to say 'Thy will be done?'

Looking through all of my favorite scriptures I realized they ALL had to do with faith.
> 2 Nephi 4:19-21 Nephi is feeling sorrow for his sins. Then says 'I know in whom I have Trusted. My god hath been my support...He hath filled me with his love even unto the consuming of my flesh.
> Alma 32: 16, 21-22 Faith isnt to have perfect knowledge, and God is merciful to those who have faith
> Alma 34:14-16 Talks about how if we have faith in the Lord we will be encircled in His arms of safety! How comforting is that!?
> 3 Nephi 9:13-14 Come to the Lord so that He can heal you! Come to Him in faith! His arms of mercy are extended towards you!

Faith is hard. Its hard for the natural man to submit himself to the will of an unseen Lord. Its hard to trust something that we cant see or ever fully understand. But I have learned that we can do all we can, but if we dont have faith, faith that the Lord will carry you and guide you then we dont have much. That is why faith is the very first principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must have faith to recieve answers to prayers, faith to see miracles, and faith to endure to the end. The Lord WILL NOT lead us the wrong direction. He WILL NOT watch us fall. He WILL NOT bring us sorrow without the ability to bring us back up. He DOES NOT want us to be unhappy. I learned that I needed to trust Him. Understand that, the Lord knows whats best, He would not send me out to defend myself  and His gospel all alone! And after all is said and done after I have put in all the work I can possibly put in...I can go to Him and say 'Lord I have faith in Thee, I have worked as hard as I can, I have done all I can do, please finish what I can not, please help me. Thy will be done. I trust Thee.' and He will give me rest.

The day I told the Lord I would give my heart to Him, the day I told Him thy will be done, the day I told Him I will follow all of His commandemnts, and that I will continue work as hard as I can to endure to the end, was the day when the Lord gave me rest. Everyday I work at this promise. it is not easy. Every day I pray for strength to do His will.

Remember Doubt/fear and faith CANNOT coexist!

Hermana Koutz

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MTC - Week 4 "The Atonement"

I actually do not believe that I have been here for four weeks. The time has FLOWN by! We get our travel plans tomorrow and we only really have twoish weeks left. It is seriously unreal. I am so nervous but this past week has gotten me SO excited to get into the field! 

As a district and as a MTC in general we have been discussing the atonement a lot. On sunday Hermana Hansen and I got to teach during district meeting on the atonement. It was an amazing experience. We talked about how everything in the gospel is only and appendage to the atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Benson (the smart one who loves to ask speculative questions) asked How do you think we access the atonement. My response was: I think we like to make it really heard when its actually really easy. I think the atonement is right here, right in front of us. It is accessed by EVERYTHING we are asked to do as latter day saints. Hence everything else is just an appendage to the atonement. Prayer, charity, diligent scripture study, missionary work....the list goes on, is how we are accessing the atonement! Use the gift! Use the GIFT EVERYDAY!!!!!! I think the beauty of the atonement is that it is easy to access but it takes work on our part to use it and to change. We cant just repent and move on, not expecting something different of ourselves because repentance means CHANGE!!!! If the Lord said, I will die for you and all you have to do just say sorry when you feel like it and require nothing of ourselves, then the atonement wouldnt really mean that much. That the beauty....not only are we are being forgiven but the Lord is giving us an opportunity to learn and grow. We choose to come to Earth to learn and grow!

From Elder Holland (Missionary work and the Atonement):
(As you read this change the missionary words to words that pertain to your life! Make this quote your quote! Its all the has the same meaning)

Any one who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, why is this so hard? Why doesnt it go better? why cant our success be more rapid? Why arent there more people joining the church? It is the truth, we believe in angels, we trust in miracles. Why dont people just flock to the font? why isnt the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

     You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because SALVATION IS NOT A CHEAP EXPERIENCE. Salvation NEVER was easy. We are the church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our great eternal head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, EVER easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and investagators have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and investagators have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

      Now, please dont misunderstand. Im not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of the price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price,.

      For that reason I dont believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

      If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry Abba, father, papa if this cup can pass, let its pass, then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical of easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isnt an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone alot greater, and alot grander asked a long time ago if there wasnt and easier way"

I wish I had more time to tell you more but I cant! I would love to hear your thoughts as you ponder the Lords great atonement for YOU.

I know that through the atonement we can feel peace in our lives. I know through the Lord we will be happy. 

Hermana Koutz