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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

MTC - Week 3 "We are going CraZy"


Well we are all going a little cRaZy here at the MTC!!! I have these laugh attacks during class! I laugh so hard I start to cry and I cant stop!! It makes my teacher laugh. He thinks I am really funny. One night after one of my laugh attacks he thanked me as I was leaving class. He said 'gracias Hermana' and I said 'porque' and he said 'because you are great!' haha At least someone thinks I am funny!
We are all pretty music deprived! Oh yeah....we cant listen to music in the MTC! So everyone just sings everywhere all the time even if they suck...which is rare!
They added ANOTHER bunk bed to our room! That means there will be 6 of us! and we will have to share closets! bleh. But oh well! So many people want to serve the Lord its great! Did you hear about the new MTC in Mexico! Its all spanish! Even if you are going to the states! Soon all MTCs will be done by language!
I am so amazed that we are handling this place like champs! I told my companion- Hermana Hansen that this makes me NEVER want to go to prision...well not that I did before but anyways! (its really not that bad)
Being set apart as a missionary is a powerful tool! It keeps us all sane! One day we were talking about how amazed we were with our focus! We decided we got a big dose of spiritual adderall!
I have forgotten my first name. Our first week here I was telling a story and said something in third person using "my name" and Hermana Gordon said in shock 'YOUR NAMES MIRANDA?!' It was funny....but everything is funny here!

Any way....I am in complete awe of the Lord! I spent all last week pleading with the Lord for a reconfirmation that the church is true, that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of the Lord, and that I could better understand my purpose as a missionary. I felt like I was getting no answer and so maybe just maybe what I was doing wasnt right. But there was something inside of me that wouldnt let me stop asking, wouldnt let me give up. I wanted an answer and I knew I was entitled to one.

The Lord knows His children so well its astounding! My struggle, worry, and grief made my answer that much more amazing to me. When Joseph Smith was suffering in Liberty Jail he pleaded with the Lord 'O, God where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?' (D&C 121:1). Thats how I felt! Lord, Where are you!?? On Sunday one of the counselors in the MTC presidency, President Hacking said 'Everyone is going to spend some time in Liberty Jail, Spritually that is. He said every experience will turn into a good experience as long as we stay bonded to the Lord. Sometimes we try and pray our pain away and we might just be praying away a great opportunity.'

I cant tell you some huge sign came to me that brought me to complete submission to His will. It was a three day period of simple moments. These moments were so small but they spoke to my heart. It was in the comforting words of other Hermanas, it was in the eyes of my teacher as he bore his testimony, and in the conviction of our leaders during mission conference and Sunday night devotional. It was in those moments that the Lord spoke so subtly to me and said ' already know. you already know I am here.' The spirit spoke to me because I had no reservation, because I didnt stop living the Gospel despite my questions. And because He knew, that if I knew. Really really knew I would give up everything I have for Him. He knows I will endure to the end. Which means I will repent everyday for my sins, have faith and hope in Him despite my trials. In the words of Sister Clayton 'a women of virtue is not afraid of the snow (trials) , she knows life happens on the hills, and growth happens outside of your comfort zone.'

I am here because He wants me here. Because HE wants me to feed His sheep and save His lambs. I am here because I truly truly love Him. I know I was asked to speak spanish because there is someone out there that needs to hear His words, that needs to feel His spirit and use His amazing gift, His healing and atoning sacrafice. To know 'fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever' (D&c 122:9).

In the words of Hermana Gordon 'People told me my mission would have the highest highs and lowest lows. I just didnt think it would be all in one day" Isnt that the truth! Thats okay though because I am doing this for Him. I am here for Him.  How could I not make this small sacrafice after the one He made for me. I am so beyond happy here. The blessings I have recieved are incredible.

The Lord wants you to reach out to Him. Endure to the end, have hope, have faith. Dont EVER give up on the Lord. He knows when its time to get your answers. Only HE knows when its time for certain blessings. We are on His time and His timing is perfect!

Hermana Koutz

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MTC - Week 1 "Total Immersion"

Its crazy to think that just last week at this time I would be going into the MTC in just one hour!!!!! That was probably the longest day of my life!!!! probably the first three were actually! I'll admit the first couple days I didnt think I would make it! I just kept thinking ohhhh no what did I get myself into!!!!!! But everyone says make till Sunday and youll be good!!! Thats the truth! I love it here!!! I am still reaching for my cell phone every once in a while but you know what they say 21 days breaks a habit!! haha.

It is kinda hmmmm....sucky to wake up at 6:30 everymorning and leave your room while its still dark. But we are getting used to it...kinda. We have to walk up 4 flights of stairs to get to our classroom on the 5th floor. on the 3rd floor there is a window in the stairwell facing Provo and its an amazing view of the mountains. We have a hard time not stopping to look out it to see the outside world!!

I love my companion she is from Sterling, Utah. I love all of the Hermamans in my district and we are all going to Fort Lauderdale which they say is very rare! All of the Elders are going to Fresno. We are the first district ever to have more Hermanas than Elders! We are also the first district to be on the six week program. Everyone else who came beofre us has been on the 6 + 3. Which is basically our 6 week program only they get 3 weeks of review. Pretty lucky!

On our first day we walked into class our teacher only spoke spanish and thats how it has been ever since! They call it total immersion. It was pretty hard to get used to! We were all shocked and little scared!! Our teachers name is Hermano Orme and we all love him! He is the BEST!!! Every day we have 9+ hours of class, always in the same class room but I am really starting to not mind it! I am finally starting to understand spanish y there are some words that are total implemented in my brain in espanol. I dont know if I'll ever say them in english again! The 6 of us girls in my district made a goal to only speak spanish starting after lunch! That starts tomorrow! I am a little nervous!

We have already taught our investagator Lenin 3 times. In espanol of course! the first two times were a disaster. We had no idea what to say or ever how to say it! For our first lesson my companera thought it would be a good idea to start off by singing "I am a child of God" I was so nervous I was laughing the whole time we....more like she was singing. I was laughing so hard I was crying! I was embaressed to say the least!

After our second lesson that also didnt go so well we all began venting to Hermano Orme about how hard spanish was and how we were never going to be able to do it! He began speaking to us in english (thank goodness) and he taught us an amazing lesson. He said doubt and fear CAN NOT coexist! We need to have faith in the Lord. Have faith in the atonement. Have faith that if we trust Jesucristo and try our best He WILL make up the rest! We need to forget our frustration and remember that we are not here to learn spanish we are here to bring others to Christ!! Or in Elder Bednars words: "GET OVER YOURSELF!! Its not about YOU! Its about Him and the people!"Hermano Orme said that if we have doubt or fear we can not have Christ light because we are in the darkeness. He said we are in the cave of doubt. and the only light is outside of the cave. The light that comes from the sun/SON!!!

Guess what our third lesson went amazing!!! We trusted Christ! The gift of tongues is real al long as you work for it and have faith!

Shoot well my time is up!!! I love you and miss you so much! Its best to write letters or use which is same day delivery because I cant get on ,y email till Wednesdays!!! ALL MY LOVE FOREVER AND EVER!!!

Hermana Miranda Paige Koutz!!!!!!