I SPOTTED YOU SISTER WALKER!! You KNOW I was playing the game even from thousands of miles away!
This past week was a great one and Conference Weekend was legendary! I think it gets better and better every 6 months. There is no doubt that these men and women are called of God. There is no doubt that these new members of the Twelve have been chosen by God to further His work and glory. How blessed I feel to have had the chance to be counseled by Elder Scott, Elder Packer, and Elder Perry...and how blessed we are for the organization of the church and God´s restored power on Earth to have Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund in the Quorum of the Twelve.
Maybe we will start with the beginning of the week!
Once a week we have ward visits and we split of with the other Brothers in the ward to visit more members. I headed off with a Hermano and we visited various families in the ward that are having difficulties with whatever it may be...with one brother I felt so inspired to share a verse in 3 Nephi but I refrained. What the verse says had nothing to do with his difficulty or needs. So I continued to deny this prompting. Finally I gave in...´´Hermano! I have to share a scripture!´´ So I shared with him 3 Nephi 17:7- ´´Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.´´
He was very emotional for quite some time. Then when he was able to talk he told us that that was the very scripture that helped him in his choice to be baptized and that he needed the reminder of why he was baptized and the covenants and promises that he has made. It is truly incredible how the spirit works through us. LISTEN. ACT. And don´t wait like I did! The Lord needs you to listen...NOW!
On Thursday we had quite the morning! We were up and out the door at 4:30ish to make our way to Guayaquil for a Temple session and Multi-Zone Conference with President Riggins. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! The temple was obviously unreal. I received a plethora of answers to questions that I had been pondering and meditating on for quite some time!
The Conference was great as well...President is such an inspired man of God. It is very clear that he is called of God.
We did have a tough day this week...well a tough morning. We were contacting and contacting and getting denied and rejected. Time after time after time. Each time a door was shut on my nose I got a little bit more discouraged. A little more saddened. A little closer to giving up. We passed 2 women in the street without saying anything...I did not want to get denied and made fun of again...but as we passed I could not deny, yet again, the strong impression to go back. This time I gave in to the first prompting! We did not even manage to open our mouth when one of the women said, ´´Just so you know...I am Catholic.´´ Man...that was pretty straight up. Haha! But for some reason I did not lose hope. The other women said, ´´You know what? I was baptized years ago in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have not been in a very long time and have felt the absence of something in my life. Do you think you could visit me sometime next week?´´ WOW. I was in awe. How blessed we are to be led by the spirit and to be guided to our Heavenly Fathers lost sheep. I have faith that this women will return to the church. I have faith that we were guided to her for a reason...a sacred reason. We will see how the appointment goes later on this week! :)
There is one man who we have run into quite a bit. Each time he sees us he tries to contend, ridicule, and fight. It is even hard to get a testimony out. When we saw him watering his bushes, I said a small prayer in my heart, we headed in his direction. And as usual...came the contention, ridiculing, and fighting. After enough spit had been splattered on my face and after enough damage to my heart had been done...we simply asked...´´Brother...if you were to come to know that what we teach is true would you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood power and authority of God?´´ His response was unexpected...´´COME IN TO MY HOUSE!´´ We taught this man of the Restoration of the Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and how incredible it was to see his faith grow and see him believe every word that was spoken through the Holy Spirit that was touching his heart and testifying of every spoken word! We finished the lesson and he said, ´´I HAVE TO SHARE THIS WITH MY FAMILY!´´ Haha! What an incredible man he is. It was a marvelous experience to talk to him and see him as he changed.
CONFERENCE WEEKEND! I finally got to listen to they who I have been testifying of for so long! The messages were so powerful! We watched the Saturday morning session in the Stake Center and the afternoon session with the Family Jaramillo! I think it would be better for me to NOT write what I have learned or else we would be here for quite sometime. The Priesthood session was just as great! We finished off with the two Sunday sessions in the Stake Center as well.
That was a summary of this week!
We have changes on Wednesday...mixed emotions! I have really grown close to the members in this ward and the people who I have been blessed to serve. But I know that I will be sent to where the Lord would have be go! I am excited to flip the page and start a new chapter of my mission!
The greatest, most miraculous, and courageous even in all of history took place in a garden when the Savior withdrew Himself a stonescast. In the 22nd chapter and 41st verse in Luke, the Savior kneels...and He prays. What occurs in the Savior´s prayer amazes me more and more day by day. ´´He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses´´, He sweat ´´great drops of blood´´, ´´suffered for us´´, and ´´layed upon Himself the iniquity of us all´´. For a moment in time...He represented you. He lived your life and stained Gethsemane with His blood for the sins that you have committed, are committing now, and will commit in the future. He felt your every pain, experienced your every trial, was diagnosed with your every sickness, feared your every fear, doubted your every doubt, and lost what you have lost. Your Savior was YOU...I believe that is one of the reasons that He asked the Father ´´if thou be willing, remove this cup from me´´. Not because of fear. Not because of weakness or lack of endurance...the Savior was and is perfect and endured perfectly...but because He was representing you and felt what you would feel and experienced what you would experience he wanted ´´this cup´´ removed from you. He was begging for you. Then came the most heroic, submissive, and humble act that the world has ever known; ´´nevertheless not my will but thine be done´´.
Never mind my exhaustion...I will keep on.
Never mind the sins that have caused me to sweat blood...I will bleed on.
Never mind the agony, grief, and struggle I have felt...I will struggle on.
Never mind the beating I shall take here shortly...I will go to it.
Never mind the cross that I will soon be nailed to...for I will carry it.
What bravery in a time of such darkness and hopelessness. What love. What understanding our Savior has for all of us thanks to his willingness to submit to the Father´s will.
I testify in the name of Him who kept on, bled on, struggled on, went to it, and carried it, that you have someone who KNOWS you. Your older brother KNOWS you. I find it so amazing how ´´this is life eternal, that you might know Him the only true God, and Jesus Christ, who He hast sent´´. As Christ came to know you that day in the garden...you must too come to know Him. You must come to know Him as He came to know you. IT WILL NOT BE EASY! You are going to have to keep on, struggle on, bleed on, go to it, and carry it but the miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that He already represented us and struggled through it, kept it, bled it, went to it, and carried it. That means WHATEVER you are going through...whatever you feel...whatever storm has come...whatever pain is in your heart or overtaking your body...you too can keep it, struggle it, bleed it, go to it, carry it, and through the everlasting power and redemption of Him who was lifted upon the cross and arose the third day...you can overcome it. You can be crowned with glory even as He was. Brothers and Sisters you can live through. You can endure. You were foreordained to endure. I send my most loving and meaningful prayers to all who are suffering in their garden that you can all come to know Jesus Christ through enduring what He has already endured. That you can submit yourselves to God´s will and be exalted through the depths of your humility in times when giving up seems like the only answer.
He lives. That I know. I am coming to know Him more and more each and every day. He has freed me from all...His blood washes my soul each time I repent and submit to the Father´s will. I know He played my part, read my lines, and lived my life in that garden...´´Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.´´
In the name of the Only Begotten, living, breathing, Savior of this world and many others, Jesus Christ the Redeemer of us all. Amen.