As you can probably tell by the subject line of the email we did have a visit from the one and only Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12. It was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. But I will get back to that later!
Nothing really amazing happened this past week as far as investigators. In fact it was a little rough. Most of them lost their baptismal dates so we have yet to have one set in stone. We are on the verge of dropping a few of them because they will not commit to change their lives in order to be baptized. We have tried everything we can and the crazy thing is that they know what we are telling them is true, they just refuse to give up old habits right now. But we are called to bring those who are ready into the Gospel and if they won´t repent then we can´t baptize them. I know some future day missionaries will go back to them though and they will be ready. Sometimes our job is just to prepare them so another missionary can bring them fully into the church. We are going to be focusing on teaching active and less active members this week in order to gain references to new investigators. I have faith that as we do so the Lord will put those people who are prepared for the Gospel in our path.
As for the rest of the week it was pretty normal. Just working every day and teaching whoever will listen. We have some old investigators starting to come out of the woodwork so hopefully this is their time now. I will keep you updated with all of that of course!
Well I guess it is time for the big event! Elder Holland! Unfortunately Elder Christofferson of the 12 was not able to make it, but we were lucky enough to have President Gonzalez (Quorum of the 70 and South America South Area President) and President Suarez (Presidency of the 70) here with him along with all of their wives. It was such a sacred experience to be in the presence of such great men and General Authorities. It would have been a great day with either of the 70´s but of course it was only magnified by having an Apostle of the Lord there too.
It was also cool cause I ran into two friends from High School who are in the Buenos Aires West and South missions. I saw Bretton Craney and Crystal Rupp. I dont think Sister Rupp saw me but Bretton and I definitely saw each other. It was way cool to see him as I think he is about to go back home soon. I was suprised and I am pretty sure he had no idea that I was here haha.
Anyway back to Elder Holland. The whole experience was extremely spiritual. We had talks from the other two general authorities and their wives along with Sister Holland before Elder Holland spoke last. You could tell that they knew that everyone just wanted to listen to Elder Holland but they did a great job of preparing the way for him. They were all really good and I learned a ton from each of them. Sister Suarez said something that really hit me. She said that missionary work is a privilage, not a sacrifce. And that if we think it is a sacrifice we will feel bad for ourselves every day, but when we see it as the privilage it is we will have more joy than ever before. Sister Holland also hit on that as she talked about staying focused and realizing that this is not about us, this is about the Lord and the work of salvation. She said many things that we very spiritualy uplifting and I can tell that she is an inspired woman.
Then Elder Holland got up. It was absolutely incredible. He spoke with the authority of God and the voice of what seemed like an Angel. Every word was inspired and his message pierced me to my soul. I litteraly think that not one person there will ever be the same after that, as I know that I will not be! I will try to give you all just a glimpse of some of the notes I took.
He started by saying that he flew half way around the world to tell us one thing: That he loves us with all his heart. And that this love is not just his but it is the love of God and of the entire church. He said that we as missionaries are the most prayed for group of people in the entire world. We have millions of prayers for us each and every day. We must accept that love and prayers and be assured by them as we have faith in the Lord. He said that this is not something that we just do for 24 months, we must honor this calling for the rest of our lives, as this is as close as we will ever get to living. He said to stop thinking about "real life" back home, because the work of the Lord IS REAL LIFE. He said that we will never be closer to real life than we are right now. Incredible. He said that we as missionaries have the same calling as the 12 apostles. We are representatives of Jesus Christ in this world sent with a message from on high. We are Apostolic. right now. We have and bear the same title as Apostles. We should savor every single part of our missions, the good, the bad, the pain, and the joy. The key to joy is having a true, deep, genuine conversion. This will help us solve every problem in our lives. Being a missionary is not about what you say or do, it is about what you ARE. I believe that this applies to everyone as well.
He then spoke a lot of stuff about the mission rules and why we have them. It was way good of course. Basically he was saying we don´t do this our way, this life isnt like burger king where we say "I want it my way". This life is about service and about the gospel. We must do everything we can each day to serve others and therefore serve God.
I am now going to tell the most powerfull part of his talk. This is in my own words and according to how I understood what he said, and also I am going to replace the word "mission" with the word "life" because it applies to everyone and to life in general, not just a mission.
Some days we may ask why is life so hard. Some days we just look around in despair and just ask ourselves what in the heck am I doing here? I thought life was supposed to be fun?! On the hard days we must remember this one thing: This life is difficult because salvation is not a cheap experience. There are no easy lives. Jesus Christ suffered for us and it was difficult for him. Sometimes we just take his suffering for granted but we should never forget what he did for us. We should never take 5 seconds in this life to moan or complain about how hard it is. Christ may have suffered for our sins but that was NOT a free gift. We ourselves must feel a tiny portion of what he felt. We must go where Christ went, we must feel what he felt, we must shed the tears that he shed. It is the way of the cross. We must take up our cross and follow him on the road. And the road to salvation always goes through Gethsemane, we must go there. Our cross is small, the Master´s cross was large. This life was never meant to be easy. Take in every moment of life, everything about it. The good and bad, the pain and joy. Every moment brings us closer to Christ as we feel what he felt. We ourselves must feel the feelings of eternity in order to enter therein. We must taste the bitter cup from whence he drank. If this truth is deep in your soul then nothing in the world nor hell can ever wrench it from you. Don´t ever lose hope, dont ever lose faith. If we do well, we will walk into eternity together with Christ, never to feel the pains of the world again. I know that these things are true. There is so much more to our purposes here than we will ever know in this life. Fight the good fight, and keep the faith. There is always hope on the horizon.
I love you all, and I feel like it might be best to stop with that for the week. I spent too long writing today but it is all good. Thanks for everything and I will talk to you next week!