This week certainly was interesting. I really feel like it didn't even happen. It just disappeared right before my eyes. It was a little bit of a rough week. Because of the fires most of the people we have been working with couldn't meet with us, because they were either evacuated or they wouldn't let us up the mountain. All of the members are looking for opportunities to serve and then calling us and telling us about it and asking if we can help. I love giving service! Over 200 homes have been lost in the fires which is so sad, but it has been great to watch this area really come together and help people out. I love watching the members become more united in a crisis to help out. A friend here works with the SES and she has said that people have been donating all sorts of things, so much that they don't even have room enough to store it all. There just really are such great people here in Australia.
My core experience with God this week was a really powerful one. One where I really got to feel and receive a witness why my leaders are my leaders. My District Leader always does amazing with the trainings he gives and he is always wanting to make sure that we are doing well and taken care of. Our Zone Leaders are wonderful. They have both been my leaders before and they have helped me through some pretty rough times on my mission. But I love it because they don't think any less of me because of my shortcomings, they just try to see how best they can help me. It made me think of my Bishop that I had all growing up in my ward at home. He has certainly impacted my life in a myriad of different ways, and I probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. When I was going through problems he always showed me love and always tried to help me. He didn't tell me the wrong that I had been doing but looked past it and helped me to fix it. I always appreciated that. I felt like I could just tell him anything and I could be comfortable. Which is how I think they should all be. We all have a great role to play to build the kingdom of God and when you do it in the right way you can touch so many lives. I see that with President Howes. I can't even think of how many times something would go wrong and then his words of counsel would come into my mind and keep pushing me forward. Or the times when I really have been struggling and he just knew exactly what to say to help me keep going. Because lets face it, missionary work is not always a walk in the park, but he has certainly taught me how to handle the stress and to become a better and more consecrated missionary and for that I am grateful.
I had another great experience as I followed the counsel of my leaders to prayerfully study Chapter 1 in PMG. It has been a wonderful experience. Things have stood out to me that haven't made this much of an impact on me for my whole mission.
One thing that really stood out to me was who we really are representing. And I know that we are representing Jesus Christ and doing what he would do and say, but I just never thought about it on this level before. It made me think of an experience as a child though. Now this was a pretty stupid thing that I did, but Hey you live and learn right? :) So I was riding my bike as a child and I don't know why on earth I would have thought to do this, but I just thought, "I should ride down the street with my eyes closed." (Now picture my face right now as the face President Monson made in conference as he told the story of starting the fire as an 8 year old) So I did it. And you know what happened. I hit the curb and I fell off onto the grass. And you know what? It hurt pretty bad and I felt pretty foolish. But I did learn from it. But I related that experience to life. And how if we shut our "eyes" to the guidance of the Holy Ghost then we will hit the figurative "curbs" in our lives and put ourselves in some pretty bad situations. But just like in the situation with my bike, my body healed itself and I wasn't in pain anymore. Just as how we get hurt and broken but then the Atonement of Jesus Christ heals us. So what did I learn from this, that as a missionary I cannot close my eyes to the guidance and example of the Savior in all that I do and say as a missionary. He is the one who helps us and guides us and gave us the example and if we don't follow his path, of course mistakes will be made. But just the same, when we do follow his example his work will be accomplished and more lives will be touched because of it. There has been a quote stuck on our fridge from some previous missionaries and I've read it heaps of times, but it never really held a place within me until now. It is by Bruce R. McConkie and it says "Anytime men can devise a system of worship that will let them continue to live after the manner of the world, to live in their carnal and fallen state, and at the same time, one that will satisfy their innate and instinctive desires to worship, such to them is a marvelous achievement." And to me I thought it’s so true. The real only way to fulfill those desires we all have to worship, is to do so in Christ's name and in His way. And that way is through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Another great experience was attending the Baptism of a 12 year old boy. He was introduced to the Church by a friend of his. And I guess this boy had said that he was sick of going to Young Men's by himself so he wanted a friend to come with him. So he went out and invited his friend to come to church and you know what happened? This boy got baptized. Just because this boy did his part in missionary work and invited his friend to Church. This Baptism was a wonderful experience though. The Spirit was so strong in that room. And this boy got up and bore his Testimony and you could just feel that he knew what he was doing and that he believed it all. And it made me think of the Scriptures and how Jesus always said that you can learn a lot from the example of Children. And those two boys are a great example to me and to many others I'm sure.
In my practice this week of teaching how Jesus taught, I really wanted to prepare a good lesson for the Family we were having dinner with Sunday evening. We were planning to share a lesson about missionary work and so my companion and I sat down for about an hour and went through and role played this lesson until we invited the spirit enough to feel comfortable sharing this lesson with this family. And it was a really powerful experience. It really helped me to see how we should be preparing these kinds of lessons for everyone, because then all the lessons would be transformational lessons. And so we have set goals for ourselves, to make sure we take the time to listen to the spirit to really know what these people need. I really love preparing lessons this way, because then you don't just teach a principle, you teach a person. And you change lives. :)
Something though that really impacted me this week was the focus on families. That is what our sacrament was centered on this week and it really struck a chord with me. And then it made me think of how I have really learned how important families are as I have been a missionary. I have really seen some pretty terrible family situations, and every time I do it makes me think back to how blessed I have been to be raised in the family that I was raised in. I have 2 wonderful parents who are incredibly strong in the Gospel and they have truly taught me so much, not only through their words but also through their example. And then I was blessed with 4 amazing siblings, who are also incredibly strong in the Gospel. They have taught me so much through their example and the choices they have made. And not to mention my extended family either. They are incredible as well. I grew up with them and they have all blessed my life in so many different ways. And then I thought about how that I want to create that environment for the family that I will have one day. An environment and a home, where the Gospel is taught and where love abounds. Just like the Gospel teaches us to be. That has really been something that I worry about, but then I always have the thought that Heavenly Father will take care of it all. If I do my part then It will all work out and "it will all be worth it."
And my mission has been worth it. It has been the greatest experience I have ever had. I'm so grateful that I was able to come and experience this. My life will never be the same.
Love you Heaps