Many thanks to Josue for the forward, otherwise we would have missed this very cool message...
Guess who got to sit 5 feet away from an Apostle?? This hermana!!!
We were literally front row, and it was the coolest experience ever! I loved Elder Bednar before this week, but now I feel like I love him as a person too, not just as an Apostle. He was super dynamic and funny and he totally said the words ¨stupid¨and ¨trunky¨ during the conf which was not what we expected, haha!
I learned SO much and the next day as I looked over my notes, I didn´t even know where to start as far as applying his counsel! It was Friday afternoon from 2-5pm, but he didn´t just stand up and speak the whole time. It was in a question-answer format. He asked us questions, we asked questions, it was really cool. He had sent us 3 of his talks a few weeks ago to study before he came and the conference was based on those talks (Ask in faith, Converted Unto the Lord, Seek Learning by Faith). He was super direct with us, but said "I´m direct because I love you"
Here are a few things I learned and I´ll try not to butcher his quotes, of course it was best in person:
1. Agency. "Agency is the most misunderstood principle of the gospel". The term free agency that we use all the time in the church is simply a bad habit. In the scriptures agency is simply agency or moral agency but Elder Bednar taught that it is never free. "Wherefore as you are agents, ye are on the Lord´s errand". He taught that when we are baptized we covenanted to take the Lord´s name upon us, thus our agency becomes representative agency. He said that many say they can do whatever they want because they "have their agency". He asked us if we have the option to keep the commandments and answered for us by saying NO. YOU DON´T. You´ve taken the Lord´s name upon you. It´s no longer your agency. It´s representative agency. (He explained it better than I can).
Each day I increase in my understanding of my calling. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and I came to do the will of the Father, just as Christ did during his life on earth. Elder Bednar said that eventually we will not only submit our will to the Father´s, but that will be our desire.My prayers have been changing as I´ve applied this counsel.
2. "We must be SO unconcerned about self. This mission is not about you."
Let´s be real, the first transfer here was all about me. I was on survival mode for at least the first couple weeks--realizing all of my personal weaknesses, adapting to the culture, improving in the language, and overcoming emotional struggles. My prayers were pleading for help formyself, and I probably talked about myself the most in my emails home. This has changed. I have realized that this mission isn´t about me at all. It´s about the people. My capacity to love has expanded, and poco a poco I have changed my focus to those we teach-- their struggles, their joys, and their journey to come unto Christ. It is 100 times more rewarding this way. I have a long long way to go, but I´m FOREVER grateful for this opportunity to be in Piura, because these people are changing me.
---About 2 weeks ago I was studying El Ser Genuino by President Uchtdorf from this year´s Priesthood Session. (From now on I´m going to read all the Priesthood session talks because this talk was literally written to me.) He asked the question What is your ministry? Similarly, Elder Soto in the conference asked Elder Bednar simply ¨What do you do as an apostle of The Lord?" Elder Bednar said that this week he met with 1600 missionaries in Peru in different areas. He met with 43 stake presidents and many other leaders. "That´s not what we do." He told a story of visiting a stake during his first year as an Apostle and how he was sent to that stake because he was able to have an interview with a father having problems with the Word of Wisdom. He asked "Do you think that The Lord would send one of his 15 prophets, seers, and revelators halfway around the world to visit one of His children?..He does it all the time." That was so humbling! That´s the ministry of apostles. One by one. It´s also our ministry as missionaries.
I´ve talked about Carlos Calle before. He´s 80 years old and a recent convert. He is the absolute sweetest and calls US to schedule visits. His year has already passed as a recent convert so when we visit or teach him it doesn´t "count" but I have realized that our ministry is one by one. We read the scriptures with him and answer his questions and help him to do his family history work. During the closing prayer when we visited him a couple weeks back he began to weep and thanked God for sending us to him when he was in the depths of loneliness. The married couple who were accompanying us had tears in their eyes at the end. That is what we do as missionaries.
Hermano German: He is also a recent convert. He recently moved into our area and a sister missionary Hna O knows told us to find and visit him because he needs a lot of support. He paints cars and struggles daily financially to make ends meet for himself and his 5 year old son. Initially it was almost impossible to find him. I thought we were wasting our time that could be better used on our investigators. But this week we finally found and visited him. We listened to him express his struggles and worries, prayed with him, and set an appt for him to meet with the bishop. The next day he called us and told us that he had found work! It was a miracle. He is one of the most genuine people I´ve met here and I felt so much joy helping him out even though he isn´t an investigator. That´s what we do as missionaries.
Hermana Avanell: Last week we had visited her and her daughter but the Como Comenzar a Ensenar was long so we only taught the first 2 principles of Lesson 1 and left them the pamphlet to read and pray about. We visited Hna Avanell this week and she had read the pamphlet not one, two, but SIX times. As we taught The Restoration, she was so receptive and accepted our invitation to come to church without hesitation! At 8:30 sharp she was ready to go on Sunday morning and loved church. When we called to schedule an appointment later that night, she said her daughter wants to listen to us as well! (She had been busy with her 2 year old earlier in the week). She may have been the only one of our investigators who made it to church, but it brought me so much joy! That´s what we do as missionaries.
(Dad can you find the English version for this quote for the blog?)
I think that President Uchtdorf said it perfectly in this quote:
"Parte de su servicio mas impresionante lo brindo en momentos privados, con unos pocos testigos, a quienes pidio que a nadie dijesen lo que habia hecho...ese es nuestro elevado y santo llamamiento-- ser agentes de Jesucristo, amar como El amo, servir como El sirvio, socorrer a los debiles, levantar las manos caidas, y fortalecer las rodillas debilitadas, atender a los pobres y a los necesitados y cuidar de las viudas y los huerfanos."
He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to “tell no man” what He had done. Brethren, this is our high and holy calling—to be agents of Jesus Christ, to love as He loved, to serve as He served, to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,” to “look [after] the poor and the needy,” and to care for the widows and orphans.
The most important moments of my mission thus far have been these kinds of moments.
3. I learned to change my expectation of success. I want SO badly for our investigators to progress and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it´s not always in my own timing.We were so excited this week when one of our investigators, Ricardo started reading the Book of Mormon, showed us his favorite verses excitedly, prayed to know if it was true, and felt peace from the Spirit, And yet, he refuses to come to church because of his family and his previous baptism into the Catholic church as a baby. This was heartbreaking for us, and not the answer we were hoping or expecting. Likewise, Michael has been swamped with work assignments and his Master´s thesis classes, and called us to tell us that he doesn´t feel prepared for baptism. It´s been 2 weeks since we´ve been able to visit him which has been so very hard and we have been praying and fasting to know what to do. Ultimately, these experiences could bring us down but I learned from Elder Bednar to ¨be not weary for we are laying the foundation of a great work" DyC 64, 33.
Faith precedes action which precedes power.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary. I know that my Savior lives and loves us. I know that he has restored His gospel and church to the earth through living prophets and apostles. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have learned that my ministry is one by one, just as the Savior´s was. I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
So sorry I didn´t get to reply to individuals this week, and sorry for the novel! Next week for sure.
Love you all!