Week 23

Dear Fam,

What a beautiful week here in Coffs Harbour! The weather could not be more perfect. I don’t mind fall/winter in Australia at all:) My heart is so full with gratitude for the blessing of my mission. Right before I was leaving the MTC Sister Oscarson spoke & said something that has stuck with me all this time. She made a promise that our missions could become sacred ground to us if we let it. I left the MTC with the determination to do that & I am just beginning to understand what that means. Coffs Harbour is my sacred ground because I can feel the Saviour walking every step beside me. Some say you know you’ve been a successful missionary if you leave an area better than you found it. I really hope that the Lord has been able to do good through me, but there is one thing I know for sure. When the time comes I will be leaving better because Coffs Harbour is where I found me.

Sister Lewis is heading into her last transfer. 6 more weeks to devote to God and His children. She has become one of my best friends & I will miss her so much! (How I have been so blessed to have the best companions ever I will never know.) She goes home mid transfer & we are pretty sure I’ll be killing her here. We won’t find out for sure for another 2 weeks but I have a very good feeling about these next 6 weeks:) Miracles are to be had!

With her mission coming to a close we’ve talked a lot about what you learn on a mission, how it changes you, & what you wish you knew before coming out. Before leaving you have so many different ideas of what you think it will be like & what you think you will be like. Sister Lewis said the one thing she would have told herself before leaving would have been, “I would still be me.” Being a missionary doesn’t make you any less human & doesn’t magically cure you of your weaknesses. I thought about what I would have told myself and I wish I would have understood that miracles are seen through spiritual eyes.

As Sister Lewis mentioned we are imperfect & that can make it very hard to see through our spiritual eyes.

Let me tell you about one of my heroes. His name is Gary Martin & he has stolen a big piece of my heart:) Gary is a member that we go visit every Saturday. He tells us all about his week, and the fish that he caught at the creek, and his rabbit, Bugsy. Gary is turning 31 in just a couple weeks (which he constantly reminds us) but has the mental state of a young boy (Roughly 7). He will have a full time care taker for the rest of his life. You would have to meet Gary to know of his goodness and pure heart. Every Saturday He is standing in the driveway waving to us when we pull up & he will be waving goodbye to us for 5 minutes as we pull away. Smiling the entire time. You can guarantee he will say, “I know Gods looking out for me,” after every piece of good news he shares with us. I saw a miracle this Saturday. But I couldn’t see it until I looked through another’s eyes. Through the eyes of Gary.

Gary, Sister Lewis, David (his care taker) and I were sitting around looking at Gary’s new bird cage he found on the side of the road. Which God had put there for him. He is anxiously waiting to get a bird & that day he cleaned out the whole cage. You should have seen how proud he was! At the bottom of the cage there was one tiny bird feather still stuck on the corner and Gary was almost falling out of his chair trying to remove that last little feather. For about 20 seconds Gary kept struggling to get the feather out of the cage. When he was about to get frustrated a light breeze came in and the feather flew away on its own. Immediately Gary sat back, looked up at the sky, and said, “Thanks.” Oh my heart! The world is a beautiful place filled with Gods hand at every twist and turn through the eyes of Gary.

C.S. Lewis wrote of a character who could really see. His name is Reepicheep or as they refer to him, “Reep.” Reep, a little mouse, is my favourite character because He seees something that we can’t see. In the third Chronicles of Narnia book the main characters are sailing towards Aslan’s home country. There comes a point where they have to decide whether to continue on or turn back. During this time there is an exchange between Lucy & Reep.

“Aren’t you going to say anything, Reep? whispered Lucy.

“No. Why should your majesty expect it?” answered Reepicheep in a voice that most people heard. ‘My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”

Reep could see beyond this life and beyond the struggle of reaching Aslan. Death was not the worst ultimatum, not for Reep.

Then there is Elisha who we read about in the Bible. I have never come to love his story more than I have now! Julene Butler said,

“A powerful example of how, through the Spirit, our eyes may be opened to broader views is recorded in the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 6 we read that when the king of Syria learned that Elisha’s prophetic powers were the reason Syrian soldiers continually lost battles against Israel, he sent a large army to destroy Elisha. The scriptures tell us that at night a great host of Syrian horses and chariots surrounded the city where Elisha lived.

Elisha’s servant rose early the next morning, saw the vast army surrounding the city, and said to his master,

“Alas, what shall we do?”

Elisha’s response in verse 16 was meant to be reassuring. He said, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Apparently, though, his servant was not reassured, so Elisha prayed,

“Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” Only when his eyes were opened was this young man able to perceive the spiritual hosts who were there to assist them.”

Jeffrey R. Holland said, “In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”

And I have saved the greatest miracle of all for last… The Atonement of Jesus Christ. He sees you and He sees me. I know I shared it at my farewell talk but I will never grow tired of this quote from C.S. Lewis,

“His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.”

Maybe one day I will be able to see how a feather blowing in the wind is Gods way of saying, “I see you, and I love you.” Maybe one day I will be able to see beyond this life and the long road that seems to stretch for miles to the natural eye. How death is only an eternal beginning. & maybe one day I will be able to see those chariots of fire that God has sent to protect me. I know that Jesus Christ truly sees & I love him with every fiber of my being.

I am still me, but I am beginning to see. That is a real miracle.

All of my love,

Your Sister Denney:)

P.S. Hannah and Gary would be the best friends everrrrrr.

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