Hey there cutest friends and family! WELL, this is it! On Tuesday at the bright hour of 2:30 am I am headed of to Albania! I know I often say this, but time is seriously flying! And now we finally get to go to the field! I am beyond excited and ready to go! woo hoo!
Well this week we had the immense pleasure of hearing from Elder Ballard. I know. Another apostle. I can’t believe it either. 7 apostles in 9 ish weeks. It’s insane. And I feel so incredibly blessed to be here at this time and hear from so many wonderful servants of the Lord. My favorite thing that he talked about probably was when he instructed that, as missionaries, we need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Serpents can sense danger, and doves are strong in testimony and full of love. – sorry for the paraphrasing but I just couldn’t keep up with my notes. It was a brilliant meeting; and he also stressed focusing on the doctrine of Christ, and how it will keep us grounded and rooted. Plain and simple, people. Plain and simple. And another favorite: ” Acquire the fruits of the spirit and you will not be so distracted by the sounds of the world…”
This is a perfect segway into my next part of my letter…
So this week, starting tomorrow is the new mission presidents conference. This means all of the 12 will be here, and the first presidency, and many of the 70… So it’s getting a little crazy here. Because of this conference, on Sunday instead of just meeting with our branches, we are having three big combined sacrament meetings. And guess who has been asked to speak in one of them…. with a couple thousand people… yup. YOURS TRULY. This motra right here. Granted I only get to speak for like 5 minutes… but there may be my new mission president in the crowd… or an apostle or two behind me on the stand. NO PRESSURE. I am actually really excited,… and I thought I would just type up what I have so far as far as my talk. It’s on recognizing the holy ghost…
Being here at the MTC, if we are correctly applying ourselves, we are able to feel more spiritually saturated then ever before. And as I have had the immense pleasure of being here for the full nine weeks, ready to head out this tuesday at 2:30 am, I have come to cherish and revel at this heightened concentration of the spirit. But I know from experience that we are only able to reach heightened levels of spirituality when we strive to invite that spirit, and even then, it takes some practice to hear the spirit and it’s gentle promptings.
On pg.96 of PMG there is a quote by Elder Packer which reads: ” the spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all… occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the spirit will withdraw and wait until we are seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times : speak lord, for they servant heareth.”
I once attended a youth camp when I was 14 or 15, kind of like EFY, but it was called OYA: outdoor youth adventure. Where we hiked and went white water rafting… it was great. But one of the spiritual object lessons that our leaders did with us was, one evening they took us into this mountain pasture, just a clearing but the ground was rocky and uneven. They proceeded to blindfold all of us , then told us to cover our ears, count to 100 then to uncover them and listen for a sound and to make our way toward that sound. we quickly counted, then listened intently… then a loud sound was made far off and I immediately started running towards it, but to my displeasure the sound kept moving. Being unable to see i stumbled on the rocky terrain and ran into a few of my peers who were struggling to locate the source of the sound as well. Yet despite this obvious struggle, I kept running without caution.
Finally becoming frustrated at this game of cat and mouse, I stopped, and listened intently again. After several moments, among the clanging sounds that were apparently ever changing- I could just make out a far quieter, almost inaudible sound coming from a different location… it was a light tinkling of a bell. I then refocused my attention not on the booming sound, but that of the bell which seemed to stay in the same spot. I then started cautiously moving towards this new sound, stepping one foot at a time. It was hard at times, with the distraction and temptation of the other sounds which made it hard to hear the bell, but through perseverance and patience I finally reached the location of the soft bell, and upon my arrival my instructor came up to me and untying my blindfold she whispered: “you’re safe/”
The obvious analogy in this story is that the loud and moving noises are the distractions of the world, and the bell the voice of the holy ghost. When I stopped to listen more intently, I was able to perceive the sound of the bell. I then took steps towards the bell. The distracting sounds were still there, but not as important now. And the closer I came to the sound of the bell the louder it became and the easier it was to discern its location, until I had arrived at the destination and was finally safe.
We can often become frustrated in missionary work, and I’ve just begun, but I know that when we stop and ardently listen to the spirit, then we can refocus on the sound of the bell and take steps to become closer to it. Steps like praying and preparing to receive a greater portion of the spirit and exercising faith in the instruction and guidance that we do receive from the spirit, these steps will allow us to become more spiritually tuned and better able to invite others to come unto Christ as well as helping ourselves become more fully converted unto Him.
I pray that each of us will strive daily to listen when the spirit speaks and bring our lives to a higher standard of living so that we will be better vessels for the spirit to reside in and work through. And let us REMEMBER how the spirit feels. My branch prez- president Hutchings- gave a talk one of my first Sundays here and what he said has stuck with me: “When you have a spiritual experience, take a few minutes to bask in the spirit. Remember what He feels like so you can develop the muscle memory of what having the spirit feels likes, so you can more easily recognize and invite Him again.”
I have applied these principles that I’ve talked about and have striven to acquire a greater ability to perceive the spirit- Because I know even though I am the missionary, I’m not the teacher, the spirit is. And I know that He will help us in lessons with our investigators when we INVITE Him, and LISTEN. I implore each of you to seek a greater understanding and portion of the spirit. Stop worrying about what you will say, just stop and LISTEN for the small tinkling promptings from the Holy Spirit and heed them, and then bask in the spirit and develop that muscle memory of Him. It’s hard sometimes, but I know that we can all do it. Just remember, everything good is of God.
I have such a strong testimony of the power of the Holy ghost and the truthfulness of this gospel. I believe and love it with all of my heart, and I know that this is the best place for us to be at this time in our lives. I love my savior, and I am humbled to wear His name upon my chest. I love you all and say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Hopefully that was somewhat coherent. I’m still going over it. But hopefully if an apostle is there, I don’t embarrass myself too bad. haha I’m so excited.
WOAH this is just an exciting time to be alive. I love my mission. I love you all! next week, you’ll hear from me from SHQUIPERI!!! (albania)