Okay, we only had one Dove chocolate revelation, but still. It was pretty epic. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I swear, every week goes faster than the last. I can’t believe I hit my month mark this past week of being a missionary, and in the next few days will hit my month mark of being in California. Absolute craziness.
On Monday night, Sister Stewart and I went over to see a family to do FHE with them. Three of their kids, Emily, Michelle, and Jessy, are members, and we wanted to get to know their family better. We watched the Restoration video (the short one), and had brownies. While we watched the video, a miracle happened. We didn’t really expect their dad, Pedro, to stay and watch with us. He’s pretty ambivalent about us being over. Rosa, their mom, loves having us, and is really close to taking the lessons. Their grandmother, or abuela, speaks only Spanish, so she doesn’t stick around at all. The little kids are usually in and out. We put the video in, and Rosa was really excited. She had seen the longer version on YouTube, but hadn’t seen the version we were showing. She loves the story of Joseph. I was so surprised when Pedro walked in and sat down, and then eventually abuela walked in and sat down, watching intently, even though she couldn’t understand what was being said. I was more interested in watching Pedro and Abuela than the video, and was so glad I did. Pedro, by the end of the video, stood up and left, wiping tears from his eyes and clearing his throat. Abuela nodded and nodded, clasping her grandchildren’s shoulders and patting them on the head. It was so incredible to see how they reacted to the presence of the spirit and the testimony of Joseph Smith. Rosa grabbed my hand and kept smiling as I bore my testimony about the Gospel and families – that it is not simply a coincidence that the Church was founded in a home and that the family is central to the gospel and God’s plan for His children. Luna, the husky, wrecked that moment by hopping up on my lap and licking me from chin to forehead. :) Emily then prayed for us (after brownies), and said one of the most humble and beautiful prayers I’ve heard. She prays so fervently, and has such a great knowledge of her Father in Heaven. She speaks to Him as though He is right beside her, holding her hand. I love this family!
We are so blessed to have Madhel. She texts us on her days off from work and asks us if she can go out with us, not the other way around. She is practically our third companion, and is so excited to serve a mission. She updates us on her papers each time we see her, and asks us all sorts of questions. I wish every ward has a Madhel! She’s so sweet, and we love asking her to pray. She’s more comfortable speaking Tagalog as she prays, and I adore it.
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to go over and see Esmeralda, Jorge’s little sister. We had planned to teach a lesson, but wanted Jorge to be there. Instead, she asked if we could read the Book of Mormon with her. She had already read ALL of the introduction and title page, the testimonies of the witnesses, and all the way through the first six chapters of 1 Nephi. She’s TEN. I was stunned. She understands so much! It was a great opportunity to learn how she sees the Book of Mormon and how it is relevant to her. I asked her how she thought Heavenly Father saw her, and her answer was utterly inspirational. She told us that she figured He saw her as a little girl who wasn’t perfect, but was trying to be a good example to her brothers and her mom and dad, and to her classmates at school; that He saw her as a person who loved her family and really wanted to be able to someday go to the temple, and that He knows how much she loves the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. I just love how clearly she understands the love that God has for each of his children.
On Sunday, after the afternoon session of General Conference, we were able to go to the L.A. Temple Visitor’s Center with Jorge and Esmeralda’s family. We drove up with our local RM Power Couple, Emily and Shark, and met them there. It was a wonderful experience, and I loved being able to watch as the sisters there took us on a tour of certain areas of the center pertaining to families. Jorge bore his testimony throughout the evening, and you could tell it softened the hearts of his parents. His brother Miguel is drawing closer to wanting to talk with us about more than futbol and school, and Esmeralda was so excited to show her mom and dad the temple. After we finished in the center, we took them to walk around the temple grounds. Elizabeth and Jorge Sr. didn’t want to leave, they kept commenting on the peace and happiness they felt as they walked around. We were so glad that Shark and Emily where there to help us explain the importance of the temple and the love that God has for us.
I absolutely loved General Conference! I like to go into the sessions with a question, knowing it will be answered, and have done this for several years. “Go big or go home” being my current motto, Sister Stewart and I decided that we would go into conference with a question/concern pertaining to each of our investigators, recent converts, or less active Church members. Some other missionaries thought we had too many questions for them all to be answered in a way that would be beneficial, but I knew that Heavenly Father would answer them. In total, we entered the Saturday morning session of Conference with a total of 26 questions or concerns we had. Every single one of them was answered by Sunday afternoon. Talk about God blowing my mind.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Conference (do it!), here are some of my favorite bullet points:
-15,000,000 members and 80,333 members worldwide. (Pres. Monson)
-we each have a divine destiny (Sis. Stephens)
-“never look back. Look at what you have to do.” (Elder Dube)
-“doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith.” (Pres. Uchtdorf)
-what would you do if the prophet called you? (Elder Nielson)
-“you haven’t used ALL your strength.” (Elder Vinson)
-“exclamation point!!” (Elder Nielson)
My top three favorite talks of this conference were by Elder Edward Dube, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Terence M. Vinson.
So our Dove chocolate revelation. We had picked up some snacks for the session, and I had just unwrapped a dove chocolate as Elder Dube began his talk about not looking back and focusing on the future while living in the present. I loved how he kept repeating the phrase “look ahead and believe, look ahead and believe.” I glance down at my wrapper and what does it say? Live in the present. HOLY CHOCOLATE, BATMAN. Literally. Revelatory chocolate. :) It made us pretty happy. I taped it in my journal next to the notes I took of his talk.
We have made a point to visit the less active people in our ward, especially the widows. We found out that it was one sister’s birthday, and that we had missed it by a few days, so we brought her over an armful of sunflowers and a card. We stayed a while, talking about the Gospel and her family, and her late husband. I love visiting her, she is just such an elect lady, and we are so sad she can’t come to church because of health problems. We also went to visit a Sister who is in the hospital, Jean. I love her, she cracks me up. She’s from Yorkshire, England, and boy, does she let us know! She was a bit grouchy when we walked in, and said, “here to pray with meself, are ya?” I just about died. Even as sick as she is (she broke her hip, and has osteosarcoma that has metasticized in her bones), she keeps us cheerful. I have so much to learn from her. The veil is thin, but she has time left for us to learn with her. We prayed with her of course, and plan to check up on her husband sometime this week, just to make sure he’s holding on alright.
Jose is being baptized next Sunday! He is just the best. Instead of us texting HIM spiritual thoughts, he has begun texting US spiritual thoughts. The other day he texted us 2 Nephi 31:21, and little does he know that we’re putting that in his baptismal program (in English and Tagalog). Our only issue with Jose is that he disappears on us. Someone interrupts us as we are talking with him, and when we turn around, he’s disappeared! We usually end up finding him again, but seriously, what kind of missionary physically loses their investigator?! We just love him. He’s this big, diligent and sincere teddy bear of a guy, and is so excited for his baptism. We’ve chosen “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today” as one of the hymns we will sing at his baptism, because it so reminds us of him.
I feel like I can’t say it enough, but I love being a missionary. It is such a gift to me. I love being able to just drop everything and run to people’s aid, whether they need spiritual or physical lifting. I love being able to walk with God every single hour. It is such a blessing.
We have zone conference this upcoming Thursday in Santa Clarita with a general authority, Elder Kopischke. It is such a blessing, because he just received council from the prophet concerning what to teach us last week from the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I am excited to learn, but also to be able to see my MTC district again. We have fondly been nicknamed the Pomegranate District. I just love all the missionaries I am priviledged to serve with!
I love you all so much, and am so thankful for your letters, emails, and especially prayers!
PS- I’d love it if everyone went to gc.lds.org and picked one conference talk, watched it, and told me what they thought of it. It would be the best thing to read throughout the week! :)