This week was BOMB. Seriously, I don’t even know what in the even heck is happening, but it’s great. We kicked off the week and Hermana Fink’s mission with one of the most spirit-filled nights I have experienced on my mission. We went to see Veronica–an investigator that has been investigating for a LONG time and lives with a less active member. We shared the He Lives video and Hermana Fink simply bore testimony. Veronica teared up and bore such powerful testimony–it was incredible. She said (for the first time since I’ve been here visiting her) that she knew the Book of Mormon is true. She knows it. She knows the Church is true. She knows it. And she kept going and bearing testimony and the spirit flooded the room and we just had a sweet and tender experience. It was really incredible–definitely the most powerful lesson I’ve ever had with her. I am excited and curious and READY to see what is going to happen with her and her desires to be baptized. The only thing holding her back is her family, her tradition–that sense of familiarity. It is so hard to change and to jump into something new and different. It is scary–I have so much respect for anyone converting to the Lord. It’s a journey! But I know it is THE way. THE most important journey. I’m so glad to be here helping along the way.
Connie is a sweetheart. We’ve been working with her for a long time and she has come SO FAR. I just love her so much! Last week was FULL of miracles for her and us. Really. MAN! We’ve been searching for a new apartment for her for some time. Asking around, taking pictures of “for rent” signs and just everything. She has too, and we’ve had no luck. Last Monday, she started reading the Book of Mormon. She has a little baby who is constantly up and running around and trying to eat EVERYTHING, but she has decided and committed to wake up everyday early and read until little baby Ethan wakes up. Sometimes she can only read a verse or two, but she reads. She told us how she was so afraid that she wouldn’t have enough energy throughout the day if she got up and read. Some funny things happened, though. She started reading, and she has been having MORE energy than usual. On top of that, she found an apartment and moved in on Saturday. And the apartment is TONS bigger and is right next to the church. She told us and then said, “I don’t think it is a coincidence.” As we helped her move in before and in between sessions on Saturday, we talked and answered TONS of gospel questions. And then the new apartment had a big painting from a Mormon artist (David something I think). She said, again, “I don’t think it is a coincidence.” We went back and saw her on Monday–still reading and praying and just seeing little miracles everyday. She pointed out 1 Nephi 4:3 and 1 Nephi 17:3 and just bore testimony about how that is how she’s been feeling and what she’s been doing and how the Lord is just sweetly and quietly blessing her. I have GREAT hopes for her.
General conference was just amazing. It really was. I came full of questions and thoughts about investigators and members and the new cycle and what I can do and how I can do it. They were ALL answered specifically and sweetly and directly. I am so grateful for modern prophets and revelation. I know that President Monson and his counsellors, and the twelve apostles and all the leaders in the Church are TRULY CALLED OF GOD. I know that. I love them and I know they lead and guide in righteousness and LOVE. It breaks my heart to see so many people around us that think of God and church leaders as tyrants–seeking for power, seeking for riches or whatever. God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know that. I love Him. I am grateful for His love. That is such a precious truth that I often take for granted. How amazing is it that we have a LOVING God? I love Him. Anyway, back to conference: literally every talk brought more insight and truth and answers to me. Usually it is just one or two that stick out and give me what I am looking for. This time literally every talk answered my questions and helped me A LOT. It was a total fulfillment of what I think President Eyring said years ago about how if we come to conference with a question and an open heart, we will hear answers in every talk, prayer and hymn. I experienced that.
Incredible. I love conference.
This was also a cool experience during conference: I always think of home during conference. I think just because I am used to curling up with my family and listening and eating popovers with homemade jam in our jammies. How could I not remember those sweet times and think of my family? Maybe even wish to be with you a little bit….Anyway, I ached a little bit and was fighting with myself as I tried to stay focused and listen and think of my investigators and the people with whom we are working. Then during the conference weekend, I found out that my uncle passed away and my heart broke for my dear dad. I love you dad. It was even harder to focus. As most of the talks were about families, I stopped fighting myself for a moment and thought about my family, about my dad and my uncle and about the plan of salvation. I know families are forever. Families truly can be together forever through Heavenly Father’s plan. I thought some more and I felt such a sense of unity and connection and love for my family and all the members in the church. All of us, at the same time, listening to the same words, under the same Head, following the same counsel to go to the same celestial home. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love and belonging. I love this gospel so much. It was so healing and strengthening to me as I felt that, I’m struggling to put it into words.
It was home. It was peace and sweet relief. I knew that everything would be ok. I could picture my family sitting in Utah in the cabin or the conference center or wherever you were. And as I sat in our little chapel in Olmstead in the Bronx, I just felt so much peace and love and….home. It was beautiful and sweet and everything my soul needed.
We saw so many sweet little miracles this week. We would be stuck outside a building and then say a prayer and in one minute someone would come and open the door. We would pass by people’s homes and find people at home ready to receive us and excited, too. Prepared hearts and spirit-filled encounters.
It was just an awesome week!
Just a thought–I’ve been studying the fall of Adam and Eve, the creation, and the atonement a lot this week. It is incredible. I always kind of struggled to understand the Fall–I know the gist, but I just want to get it more. I want to have a burning testimony of it through understanding as well as faith. Anyway, this was kind of cool–for the first time I realized that innocence is not the same as perfection. I seemed to unconsciously confuse that my whole life and I thought of the Garden of Eden as a perfect place. And maybe it was, but Adam and Eve were not. That finally clicked this week–they weren’t perfect, and they needed to grow. Their state of innocence would not have allowed them to ever reach that goal of perfection. They needed to not be innocent–they needed to be responsible and try and jump into and test the waters and choose for themselves in order to get there. That put a lot of dots together as I finally realized that. Ha, sorry I am probably late on the bandwagon with that, but it helped me a lot.
I am grateful to have agency. I am grateful that the Lord grants us that. That He gives us the chance to grow through our own free will rather than shipping us off against our will. It reminds me of the prodigal son–watching and waiting. Allowing the exercise of agency, not encroaching, but lovingly and gently persuading to do the right and to learn from the wrong.
I received so much insight, too, from Elder Holland’s talk from general conference. I love how connected they all are. The Plan of Salvation is truly incredible, and I love it! I love it I love it I love it.
I love you all. Oh so much. I love this work and I love the MESSAGE of this work. I love the eternal nature of families. I love seeing the hope that comes in people’s hearts and lives when we testify of this. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Lord!
Happy Easter! Happy life. It is spring in Olmstead and more people are on the streets and home and out and about to receive us. I am so grateful to have the winter ending and things starting to really catch fire here.
Have a great week!!