This was a long week, but it felt like it really flew by!
We were incredibly blessed by the visit from Elder Pearson of the Seventy this week, but I'll get to that later.
It's really strange that it's been over a year now since I entered the MTC! Time flies by. I'm a little relieved that I have a bit more than six months left to enjoy my mission, it already seems like it's going so fast and there's so much more I want to do and learn while I'm out here!
We've had SO MANY members give us food this week, which was really a blessing since we were running low, and it's been GOOD food. So I've been eating a lot of leftovers haha.
Last Tuesday, we decided to explore the southern part of our area ... and discovered why the elders had labeled it "The Boonies." I'll send pictures and a video.
It's out in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, but there are random houses scattered throughout it so we definitely have some work to do down there! But it was quite the adventure driving around, we felt like we'd left the mission and gone somewhere entirely different.
We've had some amazing lessons this week. Juan and Sandra are both progressing, and it's such an incredibly example how humble they are and how much they want to learn. Sandra still has questions about Joseph Smith, but she's seeking for spiritual guidance and we have no doubt she'll gain a testimony soon! Friday we're watching the Restoration movie with them, so pray for them to be close to the spirit and allow Him to testify to them!
We saw our first live scorpion in the house last Wednesday and it was TERRIFYING. Somehow I ended up holding the jar while we were standing outside trying to figure out what to do, and Sister Hanson called the zone leaders and they told us to microwave it to kill it if we were too chicken to squish it... Yeah, I don't really want to use our
Sister Sorenson and I went on exchanges this week, which was fun! We saw SO MANY miracles - doors that have never opened, opened, we met people who have never been home, and we made an appointment with a referral from Salt Lake and her husband and they seem REALLY interested! We're going by them tonight to teach them and are super excited!
I had a very personal and amazing experience on Sunday during the Sacrament. I was really focusing on the ordinance and very consciously partaking in it, and as I took the water I literally felt like I'd been baptized again. I just felt this sense of peace and complete cleanliness wash over me and was surrounded by love. I'm so grateful for the priesthood and for the covenants I have made!
Monday was weird since it wasn't P-day, but it was also a really successful day! In the afternoon my IC got the best of me a bit, but we were still productive and I powered through and got a blessing that night from the bishop. But the real miracle of the day was the FHE that we had with Karla and her family at the bishop's house. She was really excited to come, and the Bluths just immediately accepted her and her three kids. They have a HUGE playground in their backyard, so the boys were immediately running out onto that, and then Shantel (the 12-year-old) and her mother stayed inside and talked to Sister Bluth. It was all really social, but very quickly Sister Bluth got them interested in cub scouts for Michael (who's 8) and Young Womens and girls camp for Shantel. Karla seemed SO comfortable with all of them, which is a miracle, and the kids are excited to start the activities this Wednesday. We'd had a lesson with her earlier in this week about how if she wants things in her life to improve she's going to have to make changes to be more in harmony with the Lord's will, and she was completely on board. Little by little, she's on her way, and she has great faith to begin to step into the dark! Pray for her!
And then yesterday was when the Southern half of the mission had our zone conference with Elder Pearson. It was really an amazing experience. I learned so much, and really felt the Lord's love and support. I felt more assuredly that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me and I have divine nature and potential. And I felt more and more of a desire to press forward and work with all my might. As part of the conference he randomly called on four missionaries to give talks that we had prepared, and I was one of the ones who was called up. It was an interesting experience because that morning I'd woken up really early with the plans for my talk going over and over in my head, and felt very spiritually guided, so I had a strong suspicion he was going to call on me. The talk was based on "Seek Learning by Faith" by Elder Bednar (which is AMAZING) and I called it, in my notes, "Inspired Questions = Inspired Learning." I drew upon my education as a teacher as well as the talk and examples from the scriptures to talk about how we should be teaching by questions to allow investigators to actively engage and learn for themselves instead of talking at them. Sometimes as a missionary, I forget this principle even though it's what I was the most passionate about when studying pedagogy at NYU. I'm trying to be better about that, and preparing the talk definitely helped keep my mind on how I can improve.
At the end of the Zone Conference, we were given a promise - that if we went out and asked EVERYONE we talked to, "Who do you know who can benefit from our message?" that we would find someone new to teach THAT NIGHT. And so, Sister Hanson and I went out and did that, and we actually found two potentials as a result, which was a huge blessing!
I know that the Lord directs this work, and am striving to be a worthy instrument in His hands!
One of the main focuses of the conference was, "What kind of missionary do you want to be?" and focusing on what you needed to do in order to get there. At the beginning, I felt a little inadequate, and like I wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to be. But the more we talked about it, the more I realized that I was underselling myself. Yes, there's plenty that I need to improve on, but there's also a lot that I'm already doing well or really striving to do. The Spirit taught me how my effort is accepted, which pushed me to put in even more effort!
Elder Pearson also talked about how the Doctrine of Christ is, in essence, Alignment - being perfectly aligned with Christ so we can be perfectly aligned with the Father, and doing what is necessary to realign ourselves when we get a bit off course. I liked the visual of it!
One quote that he said that stood out to me was, "Are you going to be a young man or a young woman masquerading as a missionary for two years or 18 months, or are you going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who used to be someone else?" It was such a powerful question and reminded me that I need to forget myself! But at the same time, he focused so much on our potential, what we've already achieved in this life and in the premortal existence, and the love that our Father has for us, which was all so incredibly uplifting. He said that what you determine about your identity ultimately determines your reality and destiny, so never forget your divine identity!
One more thing that stuck out to me - he was talking about how some people are waiting for angels to come down and answer their prayers or a prophet to speak to them directly or something. Then he said, "You've got a member of the Godhead - that should suffice." It hit me right in my heart! We literally ALL receive a witness of the truth from a member of the GODHEAD - why do we look for something more when nothing could be more miraculous than that?