Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 30

I will be going to St. Louis!! i will be in the Union Ward and my companion will be Sister Snyder. We are only 1 transfer apart. We are going to be co-senior companions. Sister Nordstrom is leaving too. No sisters are replacing us. They will be putting our area to sleep. We will basically have to prepare our apartment for a future white wash. And in the mean time, the zone leaders will take over the whole ward. Next Monday I will fill you in on my address and all the other details. Don't send anything to the Champaign address anymore!

My week with General Authorities was amazing!!!! It was a big drive to get to St. Louis but it was good. We pulled into the parking lot at the chapel Saturday morning. As we were getting out of our car, another white car pulled next to us and out came, Bishop Stevenson (presiding Bishop), Elder Hintze, Elder Juarez and Elder Quentin L. Cook!!!!!!!! Sister Nordstrom and I got to shake their hands before they walked into the building. When we all were in the chapel, we all stood up when they walked in. One of the sisters was playing prelude music and she didn't know what to do when they came in. It was funny to hear the music abruptly stop so that she could stand too. They stood at the front and they had all the missionaries walk around to we could all shake their hands (I got to shake their hands twice :). President Morgan and Sister Morgan shared their testimonies and then Elder Cook talked to us about being more courageous missionaries. They then opened up the meeting to us. They said that we could ask them any questions. And each general authority took a turn to answer the question. One of the questions that an  Elder asked was as an apostle, how often do you see Jesus Christ. Elder Cook carefully answered by saying that we shouldn't confuse ourselves and think that they see Him on a day to day basis. Most of their direction and inspiration comes form the Spirit. Then he added, but I cannot deny that "I know what He looks like." That hit me really hard. I knew that Christ leads our church but hearing an apostle say that they know what he looks like made a big impact on me. I took a lot of good notes and i wrote about it in my journal. I could spend an  hour just talking about it, but for now I will just say that it was AMAZING. 

Elder Bednar was great too. Sister Nordstrom and I were manning the doors to the chapel to make sure that everyone was being reverent. I have never seen a ward to quiet before the meeting. I looked over to my left and saw Elder Bednar come out of the bishop's office. He walked right past to his spot on the stand. No one stood up because he was so quick. Also, he has been to this ward so often that he doesn't expect anyone to stand. We had a shortened testimony meeting and then he stood up to talk. The first thing he said was "Charolette, (his daughter-in-law) this is not a command but an invitation: Do you want to come up and share your testimony?" She did and it was a beautiful testimony. Elder Bednar then said to the bishop "I am not trying to make a new trend but when there is a baby blessing I think that the first person who should get a chance to share their testimony after a baby blessing, should be the mother." It is amazing at how much authority he has just when he speaks. You can definitely tell that he has the authority as  an apostle of the Lord. Elder Bednar talked about the reality of the truthfulness of this church. He said what produces a people like you? -a people who will go through so much persecution and trial? No human mind can create something like this. Satan has a bulls-eye on this church for one simple reason: it's true. 

Then during the second hour, we met in the high council room. The people in there were Investigators, recent converts, less actives, and non-members. He said that he would promise to answer any questions we have as long as we promise to help by asking questions. Us missionaries ended up standing in the back and I was directly across from him on the other side of the room. The questions that people asked were great. He answered them so well with no hesitation and in such unique ways. I asked him "How do you apply the Atonement more in your life? -Not just in response to the repentance process but in your everyday life?" He quoted some of the articles of faith and his basic answer was that the Atonement cleanses and strengthens. As we make covenants and are a part of sacred ordinances, the Atonement unlocks the blessings that give of strength to do what we alone couldn't do. He said that the gospel isn't hard. It is so easy. Living without the gospel is hard. If you live the gospel, you will have the strengthening grace of the atonement with you every day. I loved it. One of the investigators that was there asked him how can you have an assurance that this gospel is true? the investigator said that he thinks he feels the spirit when he comes to church and when he reads the Book of Mormon but how does he start to live it. Elder Bednar explained a beautiful analogy of faith. There was so much else that he said and did. I loved the spirit that I felt as I was there. After every question he answered, he would ask the person "Did that answer your question?" he was so kind and genuine but at the same time so bold and fearless. At one point, he asked "can I be a little more candid with my answers?" With the wide array of people in that room he was careful on how he answered them. Even afterwards he told me, "I am sorry for soft balling your question." After the prayer was said, he told us to move our attention to two pictures in the room. They were a picture of Christ giving the Priesthood Authority to His apostles, and the other was of Joseph Smith receiving the priesthood from Peter James and John. He said that he bares witness that those two events really did happen. he shook all of our hands. Our investigator Tanya was in there and afterward we asked her what she thought. She said I'm ready to get baptized!! It was such an awesome moment!!!! I could keep talking about it forever!!! There was so much that happened and so I feel like I am just dumping a bunch of stuff on you haha :)

I feel very blessed to have met Elder Cook and Elder Bednar. They are such kind men and I love their strong testimonies. I got to shake both of their hands twice. Being able to share in the spirit that they give was amazing. I KNOW that they are true apostles. I can feel their power and it was such an honor to be right across from Elder Bednar looking him in the eye as he answered my question. I feel SOOOO LUCKY. I could say more but I don't know what to say!!!!

Love you all!!! I will update you on more details next week. I have LOVED serving in the Mohamet ward. It was such a blessing to have been here for so long. I will be sending a lot of pictures!!!

Companion inventory on the lake!

My trainer Sister Gunter!! I love her!

The elders!

Sister Porter! I worked with her at hobby lobby!

The St Louis Temple

The arch behind the baseball stadium

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