Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I feel my Savior's Love

Dearest Family! Thank you first of all for the great encouragement and conversation yesterday! Elder Barrales and I talked yesterday and we decided that the Mother’s Day call was just the extra boost we both needed. It’s funny that Heavenly Father sometimes lets those around do the lifting for Him, because really we are His hands. Thank you. I love you so much.

And actually I did have a really poignant experience after calling you all and Skyping (so fun!) with Elder Barrales' whole family. I got home and started my prayer to begin studies and it just came to me how much you all love me (and here I am sitting at the computer just tearing up thinking about it) and how much I know that you care about me and want the best for me. And I was just overwhelmed by a feeling of love from my Heavenly Father. I had to run into the bathroom it was so strong. And I just said over and over again "I can't do this. I can't do this alone. I can't be a senior companion, trainer, and District Leader. I need you." And really...one of the most incredible feelings of strength and support just flooded my chest and hasn't left me since. I know you all love me and want to support me. But even more surely, I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and wants me to rely on Him to do this work. It was the kind of moment that just changed my whole paradigm. And it reminded me of one of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, sayeth the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (it is secretly from Isaiah) <- 3 Nephi 22:10. I really do have a strong testimony that we can rely on the Lord and on His Spirit for strength and for guidance. He loves us more than He loves all of creation, and our welfare is more important to Him than it is to ourselves. Wow.

One of the most incredible feelings is feeling that the Lord has accepted your sacrifices and your efforts and that He will then consecrate them. That is how I felt. Honestly...I have been trying SO HARD just to be obedient and diligent and love all of these people. And somehow the atonement of Jesus Christ has the ability to take my imperfect efforts and magnify them. I really feel my Savior's love.

So this was a week where I learned so very, very much. On Sunday Elder Barrales and I spoke in sacrament and just really pleaded and testified for people from the branch to come out and help us fellowship all of these investigators. The response was incredible! Ward missionaries offered to come out for the first time ever, sisters offered to come fellowship other families, and even little kids came up to us really excited. I will be the first on to tell you that our talks were really imperfect (one sister gave me a grammar correction sheet after my talk! it was funny...be thou humble, Elder =]) but again the Lord magnified our efforts. We just have to work so hard now to keep this up!

Sundays are really our best days...I don't know why, but all of my stories are from Sunday. (probably because my memory fails me). Sunday evening we were contacting a less active/part member family and they were having a carne asada with ANOTHER part member/less active family. We set up a lot of appointments right there. Also though, of course they offered us food. We were kind of in a rush so I ate my carne adada/spicy shrimp/guacamole taco extremely fast to get to our other appointment. Well....I spilled the spicy shrimp sauce all over my shirt. So I went through all of our appointments that night with a giant stain on my shirt.

It gets better though, we were teaching O R (I love this family so much! You will learn so much about them here) about faith, repentance, and baptism and we were using examples of how the atonement can clean us of our sins. Well, my shrimp stain provided a great example to show how our mistakes make us unworthy but the atonement (like soap) can clean them through its application (repentance). Yeah we were pretty proud of that, and it did make the R family laugh a lot. BUT, more to the point, O is so solid for getting baptized on the 19th! He has been talking with his wife about the commandments that he will have to live, and basically committed himself to living the Word of Wisdom, the Sabbath Day, and the Law of Chastity without us saying a word! He is so prepared, but also on Sunday we found out just exactly how he was prepared. Like Dad was saying, a lot of people take a lot of time to take the decision (cough, cough =]) and we are lucky to see so many prepared people. Well, O and P told us that they have been meeting with missionaries for 10 years just because they liked to listen to them! They have taken missionary lessons in 2 different countries and at least 3 different states. Every time they wouldn't agree to a baptismal date the Elders or Sisters would just nicely move on to another family and maybe return once a month. Basically...that was just a big testimony builder to me that we are here to invite everyone to come unto Christ-prepared people, members, nonmembers, antis- and some people need the invitation lots of times. We are here to find the elect, and help everyone else come a little closer to Christ. What better thing could there be to do!

You'll probably want to know a little bit more about Elder Barrales. (I will send pictures next week! This computer doesn't really work for that.) And he is just incredible. He is excited, obedient, and he just wants to learn how to do everything right away (I definitely remember those first few weeks...then even tempered with a few long and hard days I can say that fire is still there). He is from Santiago de Chile and is the oldest of five. His family owns two Emus which I saw over Skype :) But more importantly, he is humble, relies on the Lord and is super easy to get along with. We are both going to learn a lot over the next 12 weeks. One thing I have been trying to do since Elder Paiz is pray for my companion during our companionship prayers, it’s just something that I've been trying to do. It was so amazing though to hear Elder Barrales pray for me one night! Unity really can exist in a companionship if we just strive to love and support each other.

I guess one last quick story. We went to the visitor's center again with a family! Really, there is nothing better than teaching a family. This mom says amazing things like "someday my boy will be a great Elder", and "I really just want this for my kids." We are going to bring another really great mom from the branch by to fellowship them. And really I would just suggest for anyone that goes to St. George on vacation in the near future, that while you visit Zions, Veyo and Chukawalla, GO TO THE VISITOR'S CENTER! And watch "God's Plan for Families". Really, I have a testimony that the priesthood and the ordinances of the temples are powerful enough to bind us as families even after death separates us. I have met so many amazing members here who are so temple focused, and you can just feel the love and the goodness emanate from them. God has given us temples to lift our vision for ourselves and for our families, to make us view ourselves more as He views us: imperfect people with so much potential!

Los amo te mucho. El Evangelio de Jesucristo es la unica senda que nos conduce a la vida eterna. Nuestro salvador nos ama tanto...podemos recibir su poder habilitador todos los dias si lo deseamos, y si se lo pedimos. Esto es posible gracias a su sufrimiento y sacrificio para nosotros. ¡El nos conoce y nos ama perfectamente! ¿Porque tenemos miedo? ¿Porque falla nuestra fe? He aprendido mucho acerca de el y su amor...¡y solo me hace a querer compartirlo aun mas!
(I love you very much. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only path that leads to eternal life. Our Saviour loves us so much ... we can receive enabling power every day if we wish, and if we ask. This is possible because of His suffering and sacrifice for us. He knows us and loves us perfectly!  Because we fear?  Because our faith fails? I learned a lot about him and his love ... and it only makes me want to share even more!)

I love you so much. Take care! And keep sending your love and prayers!

Siempre que vayan con Dios, (Godspeed)

Elder Michael Stewart

No comments:

Post a Comment