WOW! What an amazing weekend we had! I want to tell you all EVERYTHING, but don´t seem to find the words to tell you even the mitad of what happened. I feel so happy and grateful to the Lord for the MANY blessings that I received this weekend. I will try to express a little bit of what happened. I will tell you all the details, but it will be hard to express the feelings and the Spirit that was felt.
Friday, we left nice and early to go to a pre-meeting with President and Sister Gulbrandsen in the mission office. It was a really neat meeting where they talked about exactly what we would be experiencing. They talked a lot about having "ears to hear" and letting this weekend truly change our lives. I loved something that Hermana Gulbrandsen said: "Great and wonderful are the blessings that come when we listen to and head the counsel of the living prophets. Our reaction should be quick and sure." Wow. Really great, no? I think that we can all apply that counsel as General Conference is fast approaching.
After that brief meeting, we all loaded up the buses and headed out to the meeting. There was a palpable Spirit of excitement and anticipation on the way. We all arrived there about 4:30 and the meeting was to start at 6:00. Once we all got through and organized with so many missionaries, we were seated around 5:00 and had an hour for quite study and reflection. It was really a neat thing to be up on the stand and see about 800 missionaries all preparing themselves to listed to the Prophets of God. I really did love it. Five til 6, President Eyring, Elder Christofferson, and Elder Ballard all entered. As we stood, there was a distinct change in the Spirit in the room. I truly felt in that instant that Prophets of God were entering. They were all so happy and smiling and it was really special to see their faces and feel their spirit and power. Leading the music was a really neat experience. I love music so much and it really helped me to feel the Spirit even stronger. The open hymn was "Called to Serve" and man was it powerful with 800 missionaries! I was really moved by the sight. As the meeting started, we were all just beaming with joy. Elder Christofferson spoke first. He served his mission here in Argentina (Elder Scott was even his mission President!) and his Spanish is really great! It made me want to keep my Spanish up all of my life... back with Hermana Dunn, we had already decided that we have to marry someone who speaks Spanish! haha. Elder Christofferson talked about D&C 63: 60-64 about how the things that come from above are sacred and how we must use them carefully. He talked about our right as missionaries to receive revelation from God for every one of our investigators and to then be able to help them enter into the Celestial Kingdom. He talked about how we have to make sure to be careful with this sacred revelation and responsibility. He said "I hope you NEVER do anything, say anything, wear anything, etc. that would make others doubt your sacred calling." It was really powerful. That is so true! We have to be representatives of Jesus Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places. And not just as missionaries. Something that I learned on institute counsel keeps coming back to my mind... I serve not because I am under call, but because I am under covenant. The Lord called us not for 18 or 24 months, but for our entire lives.
Next, Elder Ballard spoke. He has a really neat connection to the Temple here because it was his Grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard who dedicated the lands for the work here in South America... Side note, I really want to figure out where in Buenos Aires and see if it would be possible to go there on a Pday... Anyways, he told us the whole story about his grandfather dedicating these lands and it was amazing to hear the entire story. In the first sacrament meeting they had, there were 4 members in ALL of South America, and none of them was South American (two from Germany and two from I don´t know where). Today, there are 3,400,000 members in all of South America! What growth since that first Sacrament meeting in 1925! What a blessing to be part of making that growth happen. I love being a missionary! He also talked about all the hardships that his grandfather faced while for 9 months he walked the streets every day handing out pamphlets and handbills. Then he said "Do NOT allow yourself to get discouraged in this work!" The way he said it was so powerful. He invited us to give "constant, steady, wonderful service to God."
Then came President Eyring... well, I have four pages of notes on his talk, so I will do my best to try to relate a bit of it. Let me just say that it was POWERFUL! His whole subject was how important it is to truly know that God is our Heavenly Father, knows us perfectly, and loves us perfectly. He started by saying that if he were to succeed that it would change our lives. I am here to testify that he succeeded. He talked about how we all say that we know that God is our Heavenly Father, knows us, and loves us... but do we REALLY believe that. He talked about assigning missionaries to their missions and only receiving slight impressions on where to send them... he said that it has to be SO REAL to him that God knows His children. President Eyring said "you look at that face. You see that name. You have one second to decide. I know how you feel when you get to the end of the day and wonder if you listed to every thought, acted on every prompting, did all." He said that if he didn´t have it as a true part of him that God knows and loves us that he would not be able to do this work. He paused then said "Don´t you EVER think ´what am I doing here?´ The Lord knows YOU. He knows your future. I don´t know how, but the Lord can and does know your future and He has sent you out on HIS errand based on what will come." Then he talked about how all the gifts that we have been given are to complete this errand from the Lord. He then invited us to remember the love of the Lord. He said that he knows that we have all had many experiences where we KNEW that God truly knows us. He told stories about receiving his patriarchal blessing from an uncle that he had never met, but receiving the words and blessings based on the dreams of his heart that only he and God knew. President Eyring promised us that when we truly know that God knew us perfectly before we came to earth that it will truly change our lives. I am taking his invitation and each night, I write in my journal a memory of a time that I felt certainly that God knew ME. It has been a powerful experience and I invite you all to reflect on these special moments. President Eyring talked about finding joy in the work. He promised us that YES, our missions and lives will be difficult, but if we will just smile, we will see a bright future ahead. He said that when he entered, we all looked so solmon and it would do us good to smile more. He chuckled and said that no one will want to listen to our message and change to be like us if we are so sad... he said "show the light in your eyes!" I had to laugh a little when he said "now, you are going to tell me, ´But Brother Eyring, I am tired... and I am supposed to be happy?´ to which I say, yes!" haha. Story of my life, no? Tired to the point of exhaustion, but oh so happy! He talked about how President Monson has to pass through more difficult things that anyone, how he never has good night´s rest, how everyone tries to tell him just how bad things are... yet he is always the most happy person you will meet. What an example we have in our dear Prophet. President Eyring promised us ´glorious happiness´as we have faith, be humble, and have integrity. I think we can all apply that! He ended by bearing his testimony and saying "you will never forget this night." I know that is true. It has truly changed my mission and my life. What an experience it was. I felt the Spirit so strongly and as I took notes, I made many goals and plans. It was a really amazing evening. I know that I need to truly come to know my Father in Heaven. My goal for these last few months of the mission is to really gain a true and personal relationship with Him, more than ever before.
Saturday was SO FUN! We headed out nice and early to go to capital to meet up with the rest of the mission and head out to the Stadium for the practice before the cultural event. We got to run through our part two times and it was really disorganized. But, when the moment came, it all turned out just great! The program started at 7 with a welcome from President Eyring and then they jumped right in to the program. There were SO many youth! They demonstrated dances from many parts of South America and really did a great job. At the end came our part. We marched out onto the field, 800 missionaries, all singing "Called to Serve." It was so powerful and really an unforgettable moment. Before singing the last verse, they put an arrangement of "I Want to be a Missionary Now" in the middle that about 100 primary children sang. It was so neat and then at the end we came back in and sang the last verse of called to serve. It was really special. We had a lot of fun the whole day and really enjoyed celebrating the Argentine culture and singing and dancing praises unto the Lord before the rededication of the Temple.
Yesterday was fantastic! After three long years, Argentina once again has a dedicated Temple. WOW! The rededication was so wonderful and powerful. I haven´t felt the Spirit like I did in a very long time, and I realized just how much I have missed the Temple. What was really special is that we went with the Dominguez Family and Vilma Ponce, all recent converts. When it was all over, Ezequiel tapped my shoulder and said "Hermana, I felt something different today. I want to go to the Temple and then serve a mission." Wow! That is what this is all about! Something from the dedication that I loved was that President Eyring talked about how we may not actually SEE with our eyes the Savior in this life, but that like Joseph Smith, the eyes of our UNDERSTANDING can be opened and we can know of His reality through the Spirit. He invited us to do two things:
- Exercise faith in Christ sufficiently to have a repentant heart each time we go to the Temple
- Be worthy of a Temple recommend: he said "choose to reject satan! You can. You have that power!"
It was also a really neat meeting full of the Spirit. I know and testify that the Temple is truly the house of the Lord. He is there. May we all prepare ourselves before entering each time so that we might feel and know that is asi. I am so grateful for my Temple covenants and blessings. I think of them each morning. I know that the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. I know that He sent us here to this earth to learn and grow and become like Him. I know that we can only do so as we make and keep sacred covenants in the Temple.
This weekend was truly one to be remembered. I will never forget what happened. I am truly grateful to the Lord for letting me be here in this place at this time. I don´t have any doubt that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ.
I don´t have much more time... our investigators are doing well! I love them all. We have transfers coming and don´t know what will happen. I have been here almost 6 months now, so I think I will be headed out, but you never know. We are getting 4 new Sisters this transfer and only 2 leaving, so we will also be opening areas which always means lots of Sister changes... we will see what happens, I suppose.
Hermana Montecinos is doing wonderfully! This weekend was also really powerful for her. I have seen so much growth in her in these three months and I am really proud of her. She is ready for anything that will come her way. Her testimony has really grown and she is happy. We have become good friends and she has taught me a lot. I think that I have grown more in this transfer than others with all that I have understood through our time together.
Sounds like you all had a great week! I am glad that your bday was so fun, Kadon. I am so happy for Landon and Shawna. Sounds like it was really beautiful. Thank you friends, for writing, I am sorry that I don´t write more. Jenny, your dress is GORGEOUS!!! I am so happy for you. Tell Scott that he is one lucky man! Mackay, I hope that you like your new area and comp. It should be a great adventure for you! I love and pray for you. Mom, thank you for the recipes. I will let you know how the activity goes. Grandma and Grandpa, so glad that the computer is fixed! Now it will be easier to keep in contact. Sorry that I don´t write much. Dad, I didn´t hear from you this week. Hope all is well.
I love you all. Go to the Temple. Go often. Prepare yourself to receive the revelation that awaits you there.
With much love,
pictures: 1. Dominguez kids getting ready to go to the rededication
2. Barroso family
3. Handkerchiefs for the Buenos Aires rededication
4. Griselda an investigator