Como estao voces?? You must be doing GREAT because last week was Conference. But, we will get to that in a second because I have a fun story first. Guess what! My companion and I got to take a little field trip yesterday - to the Orthodontist. It was so weird to leave the MTC. Unfortunately, my retainer broke, so I had to get a new one. And, sorry Daddy... it was a little pricey :/ The best part was driving past Wyview Park. I saw Katie's Mustang parked outside her apartment. Don't ask me if I cried... because I won't tell you. :)
Anyways: Conference! Thanks to everyone who sent insight and favorite conference messages, I really loved it! One reoccurring theme I saw was obedience! I had a lot of questions going into Conference, and yet the answer seemed to be the same: obedience. I thought it was neat how many times I heard that it is SMALL but CONSISTENT acts, every day that bring conversion, success, happiness, etc. It is small, but simple acts of faith, love, service, charity and obedience, among various other Christ-like attributes that will build our testimonies, help us be happy, and even become better missionaries. Remember, "Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles." I tell myself that every morning. (Yes, morning. Because without that belief, what in the world would get me out of bed at 6:30?). So... I loved all of the talks, but one of the coolest parts of conference was also just the announcements, especially our Prophet's opening remarks. It reminded me of Conference 6 months ago. I can hardly believe that those very announcements changed my life. It is the reason I'm here in the MTC right now, and I am SO grateful. This was also cool to me because though I always believed Thomas S. Monson to be a prophet of God, when he stood before the entire church to share with the world that inspired revelation from our Father in Heaven, I knew. I know President Monson is a prophet of God, and that he receives direct revelation from our Father in Heaven, on our behalf, and for our benefit. How amazing is the gospel? How amazing is this church?
Some talks I really liked were:
Elaine S. Dalton- I realized that I am so blessed! She said, "What 'er thou art, act well thy part!" I realized that I get to be two of the coolest things in the whole world: a missionary and, one day a mother.
Craig A. Cardon- "The Savior allows improvement over time, rather than demanding immediate perfection. The Lord isn't always interested in our actions, but He is ALWAYS interested in our hearts. This is true for our family members who may not necessarily be making correct choices. As our Father in Heaven shows us, we too must show our family members steadiness, love, patience, and confidence.
Henry B. Eyring- "Draw near unto Me and I will draw near unto you" (the Savior's words). Again, I thought about those simple, consistent acts of obedience, which will only allow our Savior to draw near unto us as we follow Him with exact obedience.
Richard G. Scott- I love what he said about how "Little things lead to BIG things! (This again demonstrates my point about small, consistent acts.) The natural consequence of obedience and service is power from God. Power! That entails: power to change, to be better, to influence, and to be more like Christ, among many other things. I also love what he said about family members who we pray every day will return to the path towards Christ. He said, "Trust in the Lord and His timing regarding family members." This can test our faith, patience, and endurance but remember this: As much as you want them to come back, God wants them EVEN MORE SO, to come back to Him. I would again add that this progress is made one consistent step at a time.
Neil L. Anderson- We are the eye witnesses to the fulfilling of the prophet Daniel's prophecy regarding the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, rolling forth to fill the whole earth. How cool is his promise that, "As surely as God is inspiring more missionaries to go out and serve," He is also opening the hearts of more good people to receive the message we have to share.
Elder Holland- overall this was my favorite talk. His always are. But if I were to recommend a talk to watch, or even re watch, this is the one. What amazing insight about faith stemming from a simple desire to know. I LOVED this talk.
Alright, also, we have had some stellar devotionals! For example, during class, Brother Owens showed us a small segment of Elder Holland's talk awhile ago about investigators and conversion. He said, "Everything must happen to you BEFORE it can happen to them." I testify that this is true. You must love this gospel and believe its principles before you can help other people to know these things. Also, it's important to remember that God cares just as much about your conversion as He does your investigator. If we want our investigators to pray sincerely, so should we. If we want them to repent, so should we. If we want them to keep commitments and covenants, so should we. If we want them to learn of Christ, so should we. If we want them to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, so should we. We should feel and know these things to our core! I testify that I know these things, of myself, and that is why I am here! Because these things bring me so much joy, and I have no other desire but to share that with everyone. I love the idea that as much as I will want my investigators to do these things, God wants ME and YOU to do them also.
Also, last Tuesday night for devotional, Michael T. Ringwood gave a great talk! He shared a well-known quote stating that the most important work we will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. Then he asked this question, "Why are all of you here... serving missions, if the most important work you ever do will be in your homes, with your families?" He let us think about that for a moment. I didn't have an answer! I knew, obviously, that missions prepare us to better teach our children... but his question was interesting. It seemed that the answer I previously thought reasonable was no longer enough. Then he said something that stunned me, "There was a reason Nephi went back to Jerusalem for the plates before he went back to get a wife." His point is this: missionary work is not to "baptize the world". That is NOT, nor will it ever be the end goal. Our goal is conversion to Christ, and ENDURING TO THE END. One of the greatest things missionary work can teach you is to endure to the end, it can also teach you obedience (two things Nephi learned by getting the plates before getting a wife). Thus, he said that perhaps we go on missions to learn to endure to the end so that we can do our most important work- to teach our children to endure to the end too. Awesome talk! Wish I could explain it better, but I hope you can see my point.
Sunday night, Vocal Point (from the Sing Off) did a devotional here. It was amazing. They are very talented. Cool thing: every one of them served missions. My favorite thing they said was, "Please do not try to tell God what he can and cannot do with His children, and with you." Let us remember that He has all power. Never give up on the family member, or the friend that you're waiting for to come to Christ, and receive His restored Gospel. Never give up on the child- your child- that has gone astray...the one you pray for every night, hoping they will come back. And never give up on yourself when you are blind to your potential, only willing to see your mistakes. Remember that it is not, nor will it ever be the way God sees you.
We also got to watch a talk by Elder Holland called "Missions (or Missionaries, I can't remember) are forever". He told us to go out and astonish somebody! "Learn to be as persistent as the Avon lady!!" He also said, mission work is hard "because Salvation isn't easy. It is hard for us because it was hard for Him (Jesus Christ). The road to Salvation goes through Gethsemane." That means the language, the temperature, the food, getting a VISA, or waking up early. That means missing our families, our homes, our friends. That means agony when you know that your investigator knows that your message is true, but won't accept it. But there is comfort in knowing that every tear you shed will one day be worth it. All your heartache and anguish will one day be matched with peace and joy.
I guess I will end with a thought I had during a district testimony meeting. So: I am a "pro's" and "con's" list kind of girl. I guess I get that from my Dad. And if I had made a list before I decided to serve my mission of all of the "pro's" and "con's" of going on a mission, we know that the "pro's" list would be lengthy, and possibly infinite -- beyond our own expectation and comprehension. But the "con's" list would only have one thing: That I'm afraid. Thinking about this I realized that this idea must have held true in the Premortal existence. We knew earth life would bring joy, happiness, and experiences only capable of benefiting us in some way... but I'm sure we all wondered if we would make it. I'm sure we were all afraid. but, we all made that decision, because we are all here today. We acted in faith in spite of fear. Though we must have seen our potential more clearly then -- In Heaven. My prayer is that we continue to see ourselves with that potential, with hope and confidence knowing we can act every day in faith despite our fears. For surely, with confidence, potential is what God sees in us.
Well, I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your examples to me. I am so grateful for your letters, too. They keep me going, every day. I think of you all the time, and I pray for you every day. Know that I have full confidence in each of you. May I leave you with a charge to find something every day to bring yourself closer to your Savior, for as you draw near to Him, He will draw near unto you. Never forget the importance of small, but consistent acts, for surely they are the means by which we improve in whatever aspect of life we stand in need of improvement. Eu amo voces! God be with you 'til we meet again.
|District Sisters - with the only boys at the MTC they can hug|
|A little downtime...|
|Loving the MTC|
|Sooner or later this is where she will be|
|Joao Pessoa, Brazil - just waiting for a VISA|