Dear Friends and Family (and anyone else reading this),
I cannot believe that just this last Tuesday I was literally sitting at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord. 5 pews away, middle section, slightly to the right to be exact. It was an amazing experience, but it has been a loooong week.
It might have been the heat, or the several appointments that fell through, or the fact that we lost a lot of sleep waking up at 4 am to get seats for Elder Holland´s talk...but I don´t think I have ever experienced a week that literally felt like a month until now.
Elder Viñas, of the area presidency, summed it up when he said that the mission is ´learning how to suffer with joy´. I wanted to turn all Baptist/Evangelical ish and stand up waving my arms saying ´AMEN¨, but I just smiled and wrote it in my journal instead.
Elder Holland gave us some GREAT counsel regarding the Book of Mormon, and it made me feel really stupid. It was the simplest counsel I have ever heard, taken from 1 Nephi chapter 1: 11-12. First of all, like, HOW MANY TIMES have I read 1 Nephi 1? Probably a bajillion. More times than I have read any other part of the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 1, there is the KEY to conversion. An angel, in a vision, gives Lehi a book. Well, what does Lehi do with this book? He reads it. What happens when he reads it? He is filled with the spirit. BOOM. This = Conversion. The promise of The Book of Mormon is that the spirit will testify to us.
We have shared this with members this week, and have testified to them that if we, as members, gain a strong testimony of The Book of Mormon, all else will fall into place. As members, we need to become fully converted. We can do this by testing the promise given in the introduction of The Book of Mormon. The promise says that we will gain a FOR SURE testimony of 3 thing.
1. That Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.
2. That Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days.
3. That THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS is THE Lord´s Kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Well, I dont know about you, but that sounds like a mighty fine testimony to me.
The Book of Mormon was given to US, in OUR day, as OUR evidence that God has restored his ONE true church. This book has the power to change lives. As we study and read and apply the stories, our lives are better. Simple as that. They are better, they are happier, they are full of guidance from our Heavenly Father.
I am so proud of my little brother, Eli, for sharing the Book of Mormon with his friend this last week. I know it can be scary to put our beliefs out there, and sometimes people don´t want to put us to the test. Well, no harm done. We won´t be held accountable for them choosing to not listen, but we WILL be held accountable for not opening our mouths and sharing God´s evidence to us, his children, that he has indeed called a Prophet to guide his church, and that he always, in every time of the world, tries to communicate with his children.
If you feel happy, sad, lost, alone, tired, mad, or interested...READ.
Read The Book of Mormon.
Another thing that Elder Holland told us: We need to ASTONISH people. The tragedy in missionary work is that we get a lot of first lessons, but not very many second lessons. I took this to heart this week. I decided that with every first encounter, I was going to do all within my power to make sure it was not my last encounter.
So, a story.
I was in divisions in my sector with Hermana Orton, who only has one transfer more than me. We were looking for the house of a reference we had received. We knocked a door, well, we screamed at a door (don’t worry, totally normal thing to do here), and a man answered. We asked if Stefano lived there. He said no. He didn’t seem to be interested in us, so we turned to leave. His wife happened to be walking up the street, and she heard us asking for Stefano. She thought we were saying ¨Stefani¨, who happens to be her daughter. So, we clarified that. But, once we had gotten her talking, we kept talking. We had a long conversation, and in my mind I was thinking of all we could say to ASTONISH her socks off. She thought our message was nice, but nothing we had said caught her attention. Then, she told us that her 18 year old daughter was struggling to live a good life. We jumped at that chance. We told her we would love to be friends with her daughter and share with her what makes US so happy in our lives. There. That was it. The mom was astonished at our persistence and willingness to share. We went from her not wanting us to pass by, to her telling us she would receive us in her house any time that she was home.
Nothing huge, but it built my testimony. I know that if we do our BEST in EVERY situation, to share the gospel, Heavenly Father will provide a way. This message is for everyone. SOMETHING in the gospel will catch the attention of every person we talk to.
Alright, lots of spiritual stuff. I promise I am not boring, I am just a missionary. So, to prove that, I would like to share my funny moments of the week:
1. The trees now have leaves and their branches are longer. They hang over the sidewalks. My companion and I take turns accidently smacking each other in the face when we hold the branch for only ourselves and then let go. Its Ouchy.
2. There was a stupid dog who kept following us as we walked about a mile and a half to our church. It kept brushing up against my skirt and I swear it was trying to trip me. I said, out loud, that I hope it got hit by a car. (Yeah, I am terrible; call animal rights activists on me). About 3 seconds later a car hit it.
Don’t worry, it didn’t die. In fact, it continued to limp right alongside us the rest of the way. I don’t know what you can take from this story. It was just great timing.
3. My companion learned how to draw snowflakes. They are all over her planner. I’m proud of her, developing talents and stuffs.
Ok, so maybe I am a little boring. I blame the heat.
Hope you all have a great week! I will talk to you...next week...at this time...
such a predictable life. :)
Hermana Van Cott