Family! January 27, 2014
Wow... so many miracles have happened this week that I don't even know where to begin!
I think that I mentioned in another blog that Sister Bracken ran into a less active lady a couple weeks back that had been praying that the missionaries would come find her because she had lost contact information and then we showed up at her door the next day! Well, we had our second visit with her this past week while we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. I was running the area for the day with Sister Ward and was a little nervous about our second lesson with this less active sister.... she had expressed her faith being shaken by a lot of anti websites that she had come across earlier this year and that she was apart of another church as well as ours... but Sister Ward and I prepared a lesson that definitely was inspired. Before we started the lesson, this sister answered a question that I had asked the week before: What DO you KNOW is true?? She listed off about 5 things that she had received answers to her prayers- including the Book of Mormon to be true, Jesus Christ as the Savior and Joseph Smith being a prophet of God. We immediately led into our lesson which was based totally off of Elder Holland's April 2013 General Conference talk 'Lord, I Believe' and she was floored by how much it applied to her. She had come to church the week before and had felt the spirit very strongly while she was there and you could tell that she had already progressed so much already. At the end of the lesson, we told her that we were having a Regional Conference and that Elder Nelson from the 12 apostles was coming to speak to us. She was conflicted about whether to go to our church, or whether to go to her other church because of some things that she wanted to do... I just responded with the simple question, "what is the spirit telling you to do?" I kid you not... we sat in silence for about 5 minutes as she pondered and tried to discern what the spirit was telling her to do. There is so much power in inspired questions and in silence. You could tell that she was fighting what the spirit was telling her to do and her own will... so we just left her to think about that question. Well, she came to church this Sunday!! It was so great to see her. It was a very powerful lesson... I haven't had the strong of a lesson in awhile. It was great.
As I mentioned before, we had a very busy weekend with all sorts of conferences. Saturday morning, we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a mission conference. We all met at the church building across the street from the temple. It was so fun to be there again! I was asked to play the piano for the meeting. So I played the prelude music and continued to play as Elder Nelson came in and all the missionaries lined up to meet and shake hands with him. I could not totally see how long the line was from where I was seated at the piano and didn't realize that the line was finished until I heard a voice behind me say, "Sister, may I shake your hand?" I turned around to have Elder Nelson face to face, bending down beside me to shake my hand! haha it was pretty neat.
Elder Nelson had a lot of great things to say. Because I was playing the piano, I got to sit dead center, front row to hear him speak :) I took a lot of notes, but I don't think I could give any of it justice- but I'll try and talk about some of it:
He began by talking about how this is the Lord's work and so we need to put our full trust in Him that He will help us. He said that not only do we have help from the Lord to do this work, but that the ministering through the veil is very real and that be better believe that our loved ones on the other side of the veil are there watching over us and helping us. He even made a funny joke by saying, "we call the people on the other side of the veil dead.... but I don't think they like that! They are still very much alive :)" haha It was a sweet moment to really think, "wow! I really am not alone! Of course I have the Savior and Heavenly Father helping me the whole way.... but to think that I have Grandpa and Grandma Kirkham, Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth, and so many others on the other side that are helping me :) Isn't that an exciting thought?! I wish I could just send them a spiritual letter through the heavenly mail box and give them a 'thank you' hahaha It did make me think about that experience I had last summer with a member seeing an angel standing behind me as I spoke in church. It is so reassuring to know that our loved ones are still here. I know that they are here to help each of you personally as well. Don't ever forget the love that they have for you. They are watching over you :)
Elder Nelson also taught us the importance of the Book of Mormon and how it truly does bring the fullness of the Christ's gospel. I pointed out that the word "atonement" only appears once in the New Testament (Romans 5:11) but that there are COUNTLESS times that the word "atonement" appears in the Book of Mormon. How blessed we are to have the resources to learn so much more about the Atonement as we accept the restored gospel. He then began to talk about the growth of the church. We are currently at 15 million members... but he said "this is only the beginning- there will be an exponential growth!" It is exciting but also scary to think about the growth of the church skyrocketing so quickly! haha! He didn't put a time limit on it, but did mention that they are preparing for it to go from 15 million to 30 million. Don't know exactly what that means... other than that it is going to happen quickly! The Lord truly is HASTENING His work. There is no other way to describe it!
After Elder Nelson spoke, I went back up to the stand to play the closing hymn and postlude. As Elder Nelson stood up to leave, he walked over to me, thanked me for the beautiful music and said, "you play very well!" It was neat to play the piano for an apostle of the Lord as well as to receive 'thanks' and compliments from him.
We had a luncheon after the conference and I was given a third opportunity to talk to him! It was great! I mentioned that Mom had seen him at our local grocery store, 'Winegars' back at home, and he had given me some advice while I was on the mission. I was given the opportunity to tell him ' thank you' and that it had been a great reminder and motivator to keep working hard.
After all this excitement, we then went to an adult session of stake conference where they announced that it was the first time that the youth 12-18 years old were invited to join the adult session! They will be attending all the adult sessions from now on as they are now emphasizing the theme "Hastening of the Work" and that the youth are so much apart of it. Pretty exciting!
Sister Bracken and I have had a really big struggle with finding new investigators to teach... so we fasted and prayed on Sunday that we would be able to find some one. We were out tracting Sunday trying to talk to everyone that we could and we weren't finding any success... I said a prayer in my heart asking for help. I had been reminded in conference that by our FAITH we will be able to find success... I told him that I was trying my best to exercise my faith but that I was unsure of how to do so.... as we continued to be diligent, we finished tracting to the end of this street and started to walk back to our car. As we were walking back, we talked a man that was unloading wood out of the bed of his truck and found out that he was really good friends with members in our ward! ... but he was interested in learning more...Sister Bracken and I were continuing to move forward with the best faith we could to find people... As we got in our car, we got a phone call from Brother Dayton, the Young Men's President. He said that his girlfriend, Crystal, (who had taken lessons last spring and got anti-ed really badly) had gone to the Regional conference that morning and wanted to retake the missionary lessons!!!!!!!!!!! =D I was SOOO happy!!!! I have known her since September but I never would have thought that she would open her heart to the gospel again. It was one of the moments, where you just KNOW that Heavenly Father specifically answered my plea of help. We were so excited! We didn't have any immediate appointments at that time, so we sped on over and had a lesson with her. She is so great and there is so much potential!! Please pray for her that she will be able to recognize the spirit testifying of truth and that she will be able to get past all the sad things that have filled her mind. She is so great and I love her so much. I'm really happy for both of them and am hopeful that this will be a happy ending for both of them :) God answers prayers!! If you ask specific questions, continually have a prayer in your heart and do all that you can to follow God's will, He will help you :)
I love you guys so much. Always stay close to the Lord and know that when the hard times come, to be patient! Move forward in faith knowing that Heavenly Father is preparing you for something far greater in store. Have a great week!!! Love you!