So this has been quite the adventurous week! This week mainly consisted of Zone Conferences. Zone Conferences is when several zones get together and the president and his wife and Elder Joly and I are able to teach them and to role play with them certain aspects of missionary work we feel the Lord wants us to work on. In these zone conferences we focused on the Sabbath day, service, pulling down the powers of heaven through faith and prayer and such, talking to everyone, and making a plan for those who are on date to be baptized to help them reach their goal. The one that I specifically taught was about making a plan for our investigators when they have set a firm baptismal date. There is a lot of good doctrine taught on it in chapter 12 of Preach My Gospel. But before I talked about that, I actually read them part of a letter that mom had sent me - this is what i read to them:
"We went to church, and the topic for the week was ministering to others, and one of the speakers used the scripture I had sent to you a week or two ago about "if you've done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you've done it unto me", and I thought, "how interesting that I'm hearing this exact scripture again." I have learned that one of the ways Heavenly Father seems to teach me is through repetition.
I was sitting there in church with the Pisters, who were literal strangers to me not long ago. The one and only connection I had with them was that they were kind to my son. They didn't do anything miraculous, like save your life or pay for your mission or anything, but they welcomed you into their home, they fed you, they helped you, and they took care of you when I couldn't. And because of that, I loved them before I ever met them, and they are welcome here. I will give them a place to stay, feed them, give them a place to have a party, pack lunches for them. Really, I would do anything for them, and why? Why do I have so much love in my heart for them? Not because I owe them, or want something from them, but plain and simply because they were kind to my son. So, if you change the scripture slightly to say "children" instead of "brethren", it takes on a whole new meaning for me. "If you've done it unto one of the least of these, my children, you've done it unto me". "Children" is just so much more personal and emotional to me, I guess. And it's been that way with all of you. In fact, I'd much rather have someone hurt me than hurt my child. I've always said that the one sure way into my heart is to be kind to my children, and if I, an imperfect human being, love my children that much, how much more must it hold true for our Heavenly Father? I love you with my whole heart, but that doesn't begin to hold a candle to the love our Father has for us. And if the Pisters, or anyone else, can inspire such gratitude from me just through their kindness to my child, wouldn't Heavenly Father feel the same way? So, truly, how we treat our Father's children is how He will feel we are treating Him."
I felt that it went along well with what president taught on service and that we need to help our fellow brethren in any way we can. Every one seemed to really enjoy it, and Sister Samuelian later told me that my mom is such a good writer. Speaking of which, apparently you had sent them a poem about tithing? She has had that on her fireplace mantel since you sent it to her, and I remember her telling me about that months and months ago, but it never really clicked in my head that I should mention it to you. But I looked the last time I was in their home, and sure enough there it was!
I would have to say that more than teaching at zone conference my favorite thing was riding up to zone conference. One of the drives is about 3 hours and we didn't want to take another car with us, so we got to be with President and Sister Samuelian for 3 hours. We had the opportunity to just talk to them and learn more about them and ask them all kinds of doctrinal questions we had about the church. It was definitely one of the highlights of my mission. I wish every misisonary could experience that, being able to be with their president for such an extended period of time. It just made him so much more real and lovable and I realized just how funny he is. They actually really remind me of mom and dad. A lot of the same personality traits and everything. But we spent a lot of time with them and my love for them has grown even more!
We had some amazing spiritual lessons this week, as we actually found some time to teach people. Each lesson was so personalized just for them, and even though many times we didn't even have time to prepare very much for the lesson, the Lord helped guided us through. There was one lesson with a less-active lady who didn't want to come back to church because she didn't like one of the leaders, specifically the branch president, and wouldn't come back because of that. But as we taught her, the spirit testified that, that was just an excuse to allow herself to feel okay about not going to church. We read with her The Family a Proclamation to the World and explained how she needed to help raise her kids with a belief in Jesus Christ and be that example to them. You could see the inspiration just churning in her head, and she realized what she was doing was wrong. We then taught her about the atonement and that no matter what she had done, she could come back to the open arms of the Savior. We gave her a blessing at the end and she began to weep. It was an amazing experience. We were also able to give a blessing to another less-active lady with back problems and see her start to feel better soon after.
I've had some really amazing personal revelation lately, that kind of ties everything together in my life and in my mission. There are probably some things I will share when I get home about exactly why I am here and how the atonement saved my life.
I love you all and I testify that the atonement is real and that the priesthood power truly has been restored.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
|A party at the Spanish branch|
|There is Mom's poem in the mission home|
|Elder Romney and Elder Joly at Zone Conference|
|Doing a skit demonstration on how to properly back up a car|
|Teaching in zone conference|