Everything is going very well here! We've had a couple new problems with missionaries here in the mission and this time I was more deeply involved because I knew the situation, but I think (and hope) that it is all resolved now. Other than that, the time is flying by and I can't believe that it's October already! It's so awesome that everyone is doing well and that mom and dad get to be in Hawaii! I got a picture from their hotel room looking at all the fancy pools and the ocean and I only got a tiny bit jealous........ hahah :). But I'm doing well and I can honestly say that I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life right now. Everything seems to be going wonderful and I am loving the time I have in the service of the Lord.
This past weekend I hope you all had the opportunity to watch all of the sessions of General Conference! With each session I watch during my life, I feel more and more certain that these great men really are servants of God here to tell us about His will. Everyone spoke very well and I loved all of the talks, but I did choose a few to write about!
First of all.... I CAN'T BELIEVE THE AGE CHANGED FOR WHEN MISSIONARIES ARE ALLOWED TO GO ON MISSIONS!!!!!!! I'm sure that this will change many peoples lives, but I hope that those who are able will start to go at the new age instead of waiting until they are older. I've heard the mission be described as "the MTC for life" which it really is. On the mission (if you keep the rules and try to be your best) you will become who the Lord wants you to be. I think about my life before the mission and see how childish I really was. Here, I am trying to let myself be shaped by the hands of the Grand Master. The hands of He who knows all and knows what is best for us. If we can have the opportunity at a younger age, it really is a blessing in the lives of many. I spend many a days as a 17 and 18 year old just wanting to leave then and not wait until I was 19, and now I am happy that others will have the chance to do exactly what I wanted. I hope that the number of Sister missionaries will explode too! I know a few young women who would always say, "sure, I would go on a mission if I'm not married by the time I'm 21". But that isn't the case anymore!!! I would advise anyone who is questioning to go on a mission just to go. Go talk to the Bishop, start the process, and don't look back! It will be the best decision you ever choose in your life, and if you doubt it, talk to any RM and I'm positive that if they "returned with honor" not just on paper, but really with no regrets and gave everything they could, they will echo my words.
*The first talk:* * * A talk that really touched me was in the first session on Saturday by on of our wonderful leaders, Elder Russell M. Nelson. He spoke about preparation for a mission and how it's not just something you jump into! I believe that it is for this purpose, as for other purposes of course, that we have the Seminary program for high school aged students. We need to study the scriptures and have a testimony BEFORE we venture out on a mission. You WILL encounter people who only want to dispute a passage in the Bible with you, or tell you that the Book of Mormon isn't true, or tell you that you are wasting your time and you should leave this church and go home, and without a firm testimony....some will be shaken and fall away from the path that leads to eternal life.
He then explained, very well I might add, a TON of the questions that we missionaries get asked every single day. Let's face it... people usually recognize us by the missionaries and they have questions! Usually about the Book of Mormon, what we believe, and then once they see we are normal people and not devil worshipers they usually feel comfortable enough with us to ask us about some absurd rumor they heard. I heard all of the questions that Elder Nelson answered and realized that those questions and the ones I've gotten the most on my mission!
Then he said something that I think left all the missionaries in the world a little pensive. He said something to the point of "Ask the missionaries because they can help you!" (I watched this session in Portuguese so I'm not sure exactly what he said....sorry!). These simple words made me think for a minute... I don't know everything by any means, but from the time I've spend on the mission, I really do know a lot more than I did before the mission in all aspects of life! My job right now is to help people with everything and anything they need, so, yes, I warmly welcome any cry for help, any words asking for me to help someone who is in need. This is the job of over 50,000 missionaries all over the world, and I would like to think that any and every single one of them is able and willing to answer that cry when it comes.
*The second talk:* The talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen reminded me a LOT of the talk giving and quoted endlessly of "The Refiners Fire". To me the talk was very brief and could have been much longer, but I think that is just because I enjoyed it so much. He spoke about all the trials that we will encounter in life, but at the same time made me understand that trails really are a good thing. The most righteous of the Church get tried the most because Satan wants them as his own. So, when we see trails in our lives we need to recognize that we must be doing something right! We are given the blessings of trails so that we can learn and grow through them. Without trials, we are nothing. We have no growth. No learning. That is a lesson that we all need to learn so that instead of complaining and asking God why this is happening to us, we will thank Him for this chance that we have received to grow and strengthen ourselves and our testimonies.
This is a great lesson that everyone needs to be taught before we will really progress in this life.
*Number three:* The whole Priesthood session. It was absolutely amazing. I got kind of a more missionary theme this year. It makes me proud to be a missionary and servant of Jesus Christ when His spokespeople openly thank the missionaries for all that they do. It really isn't a easy thing to do, but it is the most worthwhile.
I especially liked President Monson's talk about seeing people as how they could be and not necessarily how they are right now. This is a great lesson not just to those who are preparing to serve missions, but to everyone everywhere. We are all sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father and no matter what you think, He *does* love us all equally. He doesn't see rich or poor, smart or dumb, outgoing or shy. He sees us for who we are and what we can become. He knows we will sin and He loves us so much and wants us back with Him so bad that He let His only begotten Son die for us.... our Brother Jesus Christ. The least we can do is love Him who gave us everything and also be civilized to one another and help someone out any chance we get... and what a coincidence because that right there is the only thing that He asks of us. We all have room to become a little more Christlike and see others as how they could be if they had more opportunities in live. You could be that opportunity. You could be that blessing.
*Last but certainly not least:* The last talk that I want to comment on is by my favorite speaker, Elder Jeffery R. Holland. He made me think a lot this past weekend..... I never really thought how the feelings of the 11 apostles would be after the death of their best friend and master Jesus. He points out the story about Peter and what could be the reasoning behind the same question spoken 3 times by the Son of men. I never thought about it in that way before, but it curiously does make a lot of sense when you think about all that happened and how Peter had denied even *knowing *the Savior three times a few short days earlier...
I know that not everything that Jesus told the disciples to do applies to us, but for me I believe that I need to apply what He said when He told them to leave what they had and to follow Him doing good to all mankind. We do this during a mission, but think is also a life lesson. We need to always love the Lord our God and keep the covenants that we make, but also respect Him by doing to simple things He asks us to do.
Within the question, "Do/did you love Me", lies much more than just love. It requires us to follow Him with this love and to honor and cherish His name and the things that He did. We must strive to be perfect even as He is. We must love one another as He did. So that in the last day if we hear those 4 short words, "did you love Me", we will be able to respond in the affirmative.
Elder Holland said something that is so very true at the end of his talk. He said that, "...the crowning characteristic of love is loyalty." I had never thought about it like that before. But i agree with him 100%.
Well, that's that! Those were some of my favorites that really stuck in my head. My prayer after this conference is that by the next conference we have a looottttt more missionaries that we did this past April. I challenge all of you to further study these talks that were given in more detail and you will learn more than you thought possible. I love all of you and wish you all the best in the many endeavors and trials we face every day.