I have so much on my mind and so much I want to share–there are so many things that have impacted me this week and I have felt an almost tangible change in my work, but one of the biggest influences was a talk I watched on Sunday for “movie night” by Elder Holland–a talk he gave the missionaries in the MTC several years ago called “Missions are Forever”–this obviously made me think about Kevin and my goodness I lov Elder Holland. I had unknowingly already seen clips of this talk because Spencer made me a DVD with clips of apostles talking to missionaries about the Atonement. I’ve watched the DVD over and over and it has helped me feel so much closer to Christ and understand a little taste of the actual significance and reality of the Atonement, and I’ve been missing the DVD since I’ve been here! I brought it but we obviously can’t just pop in DVDs here….so it was so nice to hear it again/see it again–some of the things that were in the DVD about the Atonement. I shared them with Jessica a few weeks ago but basically the main message is that the road to salvation is not easy. It was never meant to be easy for us because it was never ever easy for Him. I love that quote–I feel like that’s such a natural question for us as human beings. Over and over investigators ask, “why is there so much suffering?” “why is life so hard?” And I’m so glad that the gospel assures us that these trials are not because we’ve done something wrong, but because God trusts us to overcome such trials and we do so when we rely on our Savior.
But most of the talk I had never heard before and I  was impressed when he said, “Let everything sink into your soul: this is your chance! Your mission is REAL life! You want never to be ‘normal’ again if that’s your standard of normal” (talking about people who can’t wait to go home to real life and who can’t wait to be ‘normal’ again) It reminded me of Alex’s last email Sandy just deareldered me–he compares everything in the mission to life and it’s so true–this is as real as it gets!…And I also loved when he said “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” and he talked about the power of God and our potential when we allow that power to work through us. That hit me so hard and I forgot where/when I heard this but at one of the devotionals here in the MTC someone said, “faith can move mountains, but it can also move people” I know that the Russian people will be moved when they let the light of the gospel penetrate their lives! But I also know I have to do my part, and I only have a month left in the MTC! I need to step up my game big time!
Elder Holland also talked about how over and over the scriptures talk about people who are astonished–missionaries who teach with astonishment. He said, “teach with discernment, teach with distinction”–ASTONISH people! That became my goal and the next day in class  we watched another clip from Elder Holland giving a different talk (yep it was Elder Holland week for me–the best kind of week) and he talked about praying for discernment, and then looking those you teach in the eyes–seek to understand their fears and questions–they’ll tell you everything you need to know if you look them in the eyes without using any words–the Spirit will communicate to you. And so that became my goal-to search the eyes of those I teach (in hopefully a non-obvious/creepy way hahaa) and then ASTONISH them! The next lesson we taught was one of my favorites. It was short, but we taught Vladimir and Nikolai (new investigators) about the Book of Mormon, and I felt more in tune with the Spirit than I ever have before. And I realized that the Spirit works through us and teaches us so clearly when our only motivation is love. This lesson that we taught was different because of the Spirit that we felt and I was humbled to realize that I thought I had it all along but there was so much I had been missing before! Discernment! Astonishment! I am awed at the MTC and it’s ability to invite the Spirit so that we can learn so much everyday–I feel like I become a new person every hour of the day and it is so wonderful! I just need to figure out how I can be worthy and seeking enough and earnest enough so that I can feel this way incessantly! I know that I have been moved by the same faith that moves mountains.
Oh an music is so powerful!!!! I don’t know if I ever mentioned that CECTPA Prows and I sing in the MTC choir every week and it’s one of the highlights for me! The conductor is maybe one of the most passionate people I know (except besides maybe Siena) and it makes singing in the choir so fun and so powerful! This week we sang
“Be Still my Soul” and my goodness! What the heck are they trying to do to me?! That song always flashes me back to so many memories–when Nicole, Riley, Jessy, Hyrum, Ian, and maybe Ivy? I don’t remember who was there actually–but we camped out in the Blackwelders backyard and had an actual fireside (pun intended) and our conversation around the bonfire turned into a testimony meeting pretty much and it’s one of my favorite memories of my whole life. and Ian talked about “Be Still My Soul” and he talked about that at his farewell. And I flashed back to memories of Carley, Lauren, and I holding hands in sacrament meeting singing that song but actually mostly not singing, mostly crying. And I know that music has the power to communicate to us like nothing else. I am so grateful that I could sing with conviction that “in every change, He faithful will remain.” I KNOW that’s true. And this knowledge has changed my life!!
I love you all!
Welcome home all of my beloved missionaries, I am so proud of you!!
-Erica
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