November 24th, 2014 Quito, Ecuador Hello Family and Friends,
Do you realize how blessed you are? I want you to think about that for a minute.
How many times as he answered your call to arms?
How many times have you been lifted when there seemed to be no way out?
I have a story I would like to share: This week we visited a dear brother in the ward, Hermano Garcia. His wife has been sick for some time now, and is living currently in the hospital. We started to share with him about remembering our covenants that we have made with the Lord and why it is so important. He shared a beautiful story about his first time in the temple and it made me cry (I am becoming a bit of a cryer these days.) I suddenly felt the impression to ask himwhat the Atonement means to him personally. He then started to cry and to explain what a great blessing the Atonement is to him. He expressed his gratitude and praised the name of the Lord Almighty in the most reverent prayer I have ever heard.
This experience has made me reflect on my blessings, and how many times He has been there for me, and specific ways He is there for all of the people. This brother could focus on the negative if he wanted but he chooses to focus on the Savior and the blessings he has in his life.
I invite everyone of you to answer the questions above, and then write down your thoughts and feelings in your journal. As you do, I promise that your mind will be illuminated and enlightened and you will feel the love the Savior has for each and every one of you.
I share these things with you-- to act and live what you learn. As President Boyd K. Packer has said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
I testify of these things in the name of my Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, Amen.
With this past week being a little different, I have recognized some really important things. First of all I would like to share an experience that has become dear to my heart.
Tuesday I woke up just not feeling well at all and so I got permission to take the morning and sleep. However, in the afternoon we had appointments that were already set, and I felt we needed to work. Contrary to my companion's thoughts and wishes, we went out and worked.
In the evening we had a lesson with a member who we rescued this last month. Her name is Katherine. Her mom is less active and brother as well who now doesn't believe there is a God, and yet he reads and prays with us. Miracle.
This story is about the mom: She was baptized some 30 years ago with her mom and was then a strong member of the church. She has been a Relief Society president, Primary president, and Visiting Teacher. Something happened unfortunately where she was offended, and she told us that she would never come back to church. At this time I felt prompted to simply share a scripture that is very dear to me. Alma 7: 11-13. I then was given the words to testify of the Atonement of Christ; That he suffered for us, overcame death for us, and was resurrected so that we may and can live with Him and Our loving Heavenly Father once more. The Holy Ghost abided in that lesson. However, the reason this made such an impact was the dear heart and testimony of my companion. Elder Aravena t grabbed the hand of that dear sister and said, "Sister, as representatives of Jesus Christ and His church we ask for thy forgiveness and tell to forgive the bishop who offended you." I was stunned. I still don't have words for the presence of the Holy Ghost.
My dear family and friends--this is the very same Church of Jesus Christ that was lost and now is restored. I do not doubt it. I testify that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind can and will be forgiven if we, as my mom says, "Open the gift." I testify of the Living Savior and His mercy. May we ever remember the Hymn, "I know that my Redeemer Lives."
Testifico esas cosas en el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen
Love you all so very much,
p.s. It's not bad to cry...
p.p.s. I finally got a new camera! Woohoo--pictures next week :)
This week was a very humbling one. For the second in a row we didn't have a baptism and it has been tricky to really be optimistic. However, in my studies this week I have found some pivotal points that have made me reflect quite a bit. I read in the scriptures in Luke about the Passover and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I focused on the importance of the Atonement and specifically the reactions of the disciples.
Yesterday was Stake Conference here and my mission president, Presidente Christensen, said something that just caught my aching and desiring heart. He talked about the Last Supper and the Lord's announcement that "One of ye will betray me." The response of the 12 apostles was the turning point in my heart, they respond with a simple but penetrating question, "Lord, Is it I?"
My dear family and friends, this question has absolutely changed my very testimony;----It doesn't mean to be hard on yourself or beat yourself up. It means to simply ask the question, "Lord is it me that you love so dearly and then because of the natural man I turn against thee?"
I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, that All people need ask this question to themselves. I invite you to pray to our Father in the name of our Savior, and ask Him that specific question.
Then immediately stand up with a song in your heart, move forward, and with love for the Lord, "Feed His Sheep."
This week I want to testify of ministering angels.
I felt prompted this week with one of our investigators to have her take a tour of the chapel. We called her, followed up, and set up the appointment. When she arrived we had a prayer outside of the chapel and then entered and talked about all the images and artwork, and why we need to keep the commandments. We talked about baptism and the importance of it. At the very end we went into the sacrament meeting room. As we entered, there was a soft, calming, but piercing spirit. I played "How Great thou Art" on the piano as she sat and pondered for a moment. My companion then explained about the sacrament and I felt that we should share the sacrament prayers with her. As we did, the spirit became stronger. We then invited her to pray to ask if the church was true and if she should really be baptized on the 29 of November. She accepted and we left her alone and went back down the hallway with one of the members who was accompanying us.
She came out 20 mins later, which felt like a really long time. She said she received a direct answer from God. The answer was, "Yes." We explained about those feelings she'd had and the wonderful decision she is making. We then asked the member if he would go and close up-- upstairs. He left, then quickly came running back down and said, "Elders, you have to go upstairs, I have not felt the spirit so strong in my life except for in the temple."
We hurried up the stairs, and before we entered I felt the spirit just rest upon me. We then entered and it was as if I heard singing. I testify that angels were singing in that holy chapel of God. I also testify of His presence. Afterward, Elder Aravena and I knelt down and offered a prayer of gratitude -- which we all know I did not get through without crying :)
"High on the Mountain Top, a banner is unfurled. On Zion's mount behold it stands."
D&C 84:88. Read it. This promise came true. And I give all praise to Him.
Lucy, the investigator, will be baptized on 29 of November.
There are things that are not really describable--Like a daughter hugging her mother right after they were both baptized, or a homeless man who is hungry and needs food, or the miracle of a baptismal font not having hot water, and praying for hot water because the sister who was being baptized was sick--and recieving hot water. The other indescribeable thing is the simplicity of beauty.
The closest thing to verbalizing that beauty is a dear primary song that keeps coming into my mind. "Whenever I hear the song of a bird or look at a blue, blue sky. Whenever I feel the rain on my face or the wind as it rushes by. Whenever I touch a velvet rose or walk by a lilac tree, Im glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Fathers created for me." Abbie, I'm sure you'll remember hearing that song at AFY.
When we are completely obedient, following the commandments completely, and loving others, we will see the beauty of all things and learn that in all circumstances it is important to be grateful. This week I have learned this. I decided to be exactly obedient and surrender my desires, wishes, wants, and dreams to the Lord for the rest of my mission. I was reading in D&C 121:34-46 and felt very strongly that I needed to learn the lesson that it talks about.
This last week Tiffany and Mayra were baptized and I finally know why Its so important for our Heavenly Father to find and baptize families. I kind not describe the feelings which I had at that baptism but let's just say that Ï cried alot. I felt the presence of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost in that baptism and Elder Aravena told me that angels had to be singing and ministering.
How grateful I am for our Savior and His loving gift that He has given all of us! The Plan of Salvation is his sure plan, and the way is true. Our families can be together forever. This I know and testify with the very being of my soul.