So this week was awesome. And went by EXTREMELY fast! I can't even believe that we are more than halfway done with our time here, 2 1/2 weeks (if all goes as planned) and we'll be on our way to Argentina!
We had two of the greatest devotionals this week. Well, one was on Sunday for Relief Society, Mary Ellen Edmunds came and spoke to us. It was incredible, she is seriously the greatest lady! She got up and shouted "Watch out WORLD! It's the Sister Tsunami!" She talked about the amazing blessing of sister missionaries, and the lasting blessings that will aid us to be better wives and mothers. The thing I loved the most about her was how very REAL she was. She would laugh, cry, yell, and whisper, and it was such a powerful talk. She talked about how missionary work is not going to be easy, in fact, it's going to be very, very hard. She told us about when she was on her mission and when she first got there she just wanted to give up and come home. But then she pulled out her journal (which was over 700 pages long) and said "If I would have gone home when I wanted to, this journal wouldn't have even been 55 pages. And how embarrassing would that have been?? You can't go home if your journal isn't done! Don't go home, any of you, you will survive!" My companions both nudged me when she pulled out her journal, because everyone makes fun of the "novel" that I already have. I'm not sorry, because it's going to be so fun to look back on everything one day.
Next she talked about all of the blessings that come from being a missionary, the things we have to do to make sure we're doing our part. I honestly wish I could just tell you to go look up the talk and watch it, because it's so good!! But I'll just give you some of my favorite quotes:
"GOD, who knows our capacity PERFECTLY, has placed us here to succeed! No one is foreordained to fail!"
"All you can do is the best you can do!"
"Don't wait until you can do it (speak) WELL, just DO IT!" (this is especially relevant for me, I need to stop being afraid of saying things wrong)
Then she said "The angels in heaven are looking down and saying 'we've got her exactly where we want her!'" We're all here, at this time, going to the missions we're going to for a reason. I'm reassured of that every time we go to the language lab and I hear people speaking Thai or Cantonese. They're amazing, and I have so much respect for their skills in learning a language, but it makes me LOVE Spanish just that much more!
Finally, she said "There have been millions of missionaries, and millions of missions served.... THIS IS YOURS!" I'm going to do everything I can to make this MINE, I know that in essence it really isn't, it's the Lord's work, but I only get one chance to do this, 18 months to be here and make the most of every minute!
Every Tuesday night we have a devotional too, and everyone always hopes that it's an Apostle. The last 3-4 weeks we haven't had an apostle, but honestly they've still been some of the most amazing talks I've ever heard, and we're never disappointed!
But this week, we went in, and they didn't have the picture of the speaker up on the projector like they always do. so of course everyone starts whispering "It must be an apostle!" Then, everyone started standing up, and sure enough, in walks Richard G. Scott!
One thing that I've always loved about Elder Scott is his ability to convey the love of our Heavenly Father for each of us, just the way he so reverently talks about his relationship with the Lord, and is so sincere in everything he says. I think I've also had a really special place in my heart for him since taking care of Venna for all those months.
He got up and said "I almost feel like I've died and gone to heaven!" He was so cute about all of the missionaries and had so many wonderful things to say to the sisters in particular.
I want to just send you my notes! It was honestly such an incredible talk! He said "Everything good that has happened in my life has come because of my decision to serve a missing. You will NEVER regret this decision." "Those called to learn a new language, you have an extra burden...but 'To reach a goal never before attained, you must do things never before done!'" I loved that! Our Heavenly Father will give us the way to do new and challenging things, but we have to do our part: work, exercise faith, and rely on him.
He then said "I would love to have an interview with each and every one of you. But while that is impractical, there is one who can. I want to talk to you about communication with our Heavenly Father."
He then talked to us about the importance of prayer, and the blessing and gift that it really is. I've actually been thinking a lot about prayer lately, and since being here I've developed such a love and appreciation for the opportunity we have to pray. I've always been a big prayer, I tend to pray for everything. It was funny because my companions that same morning were making fun of me (lovingly) for my tendency to pray forever. I honestly never really believed it when people would say that they would pray and pray, fall asleep, and wake up hours later still on their knees, but let me tell you, I'm a believer now. I've just realized since being here how incredibly blessed I am, and how much I have to be thankful for each day.
Then he talked about the importance of praying with purpose and the way to receive answers. He talked about the 3 ways we receive answers:
1. peace and confidence
2. unsettling feelings, stupor of thought
3. no response: he expounded on this by saying that "when he withholds an answer it is to have us grow by exercising our faith. we are not to sit passively, we are to act." then he said something that I absolutely loved "You may even want to express thanks, for he is showing His trust IN YOU." God knows the beginning from the end. His plan is perfect, his timing is right, his love and grace are never ending! "Be thankful that God lets you struggle!"
Then he talked about when we receive answers that we don't feel are what WE wanted... There's the scripture that says "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in my name, it shall be given....if it is expedient." What is "expedient" may not always be what we think is right, but everything he does is for our eternal good!
Then he ended by saying "No matter how alone you may feel, you can always KNEEL." Prayer is powerful. I felt so much love in that moment, and in so many moments since then. The opportunity and perspective we have about prayer is so unique. It really is a one-on-one time with the Lord. He knows what we need, what we're feeling, our strengths, weaknesses, struggles, and successes, but taking that time and opportunity to pray to him and speak WITH him, shows our love and our desire for a relationship with him.
Then he gave us an apostolic blessing. It was truly incredible, and the spirit in that room was tangible. It was one of those moments where I knew that this is where I need to be. he said "I know he lives, because I KNOW HIM!" It was such a powerful testimony. He sat down, and we sang the final hymn, everyone was in awe, then, a sister got up to say the closing prayer, and then Richard G. Scott got up again, and said "I just want to tell you again, REMEMBER that the LORD has called you to SUCCEED. He inspired your call, he knows who you are, he knows what you need, he will help you to discover things about yourself that you never imagined, he will increase your capacity to love, and he will fit the task to your capability. You will not be asked to do anything you are not capable of."
We all just sat there in amazement at his LOVE for each of us. It was definitely such a unique experience.
So my time is short. I know I probably say this every week, but I honestly don't know how it can keep getting better and better. I love this gospel, I love my Savior, I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to pray and really communicate with my loving Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful for all of you and for all of the love and support that I can FEEL being sent my way. Know that it's being sent right back to you. I'm so excited for what's to come and for the chance I'll get to help others to feel the happiness, peace, love and hope that this gospel brings with it!
I love you all so very much!
xoxoxo Your Hermana Courtney