I have just realized that my e-mails have been losing their luster a little bit. I need to focus a little more throughout the week so I can remember all the cool experiences that I had so I can share them with you all. So I will do better now.
So we had a huge surprise this week when both Elder Andersen AND Elder Ballard from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles came and talked with us. It was an amazing Spirit that they brought to that conference because you could just feel something so strong about them. When they entered into the chapel with their wives, it was something really different. Sometimes we treat them as celebrities and think that they are these big time movie stars because we only see them on the TV every six months, but when they entered the chapel, I looked at Elder Ballard and I just saw a very simple old man with a great big smile helping his little wife walk into the room. They aren´t celebrities at all, they are the Lord´s chosen disciples. I loved the words that they shared with us.
Elder Mazzagardi, a Seventy, burned us all for something very interesting. He said that as they shook our hands, a lot of us did not take the advantage of the opportunity to look directly into their eyes. He said that our worty priesthood leaders can see exactly what is wrong with our live and how our soul is doing just by looking into our eyes. The eyes are the doorway to the soul is what he said. If we want the right help from our priesthood leaders, we need to look at them with our eyes.
Elder Andersen was next and he talked with us about apples... You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can´t count the apples in a seed. We need to talk with absolutely EVERYONE about the Gospel because we don´t know what our influence can do for one single person, and then for generations. Most of the time, the biggest problems in the mission that we often find are the very missionaries. You will only have the great experiences on the mission if you work hard and talk with as many people as possible. He then started explaining the difference between testimony and conversion. Then his wife shared her testimony about how she came to know that Christ was her Redeemer. She was a little girl when she was memorizing a talk that she was about to give in Primary that Sunday. She said very simple words: "He lived and died for us, and now I can live with him forever." It was something like that. She repeated it over and over and after the fifth or sixth time rehearsing, she started to cry and didn´t really know why. Her mom stopped washing the dishes and held her in her arms and bore her testimony of Jesus Christ to her little daughter. We gain a testimony through little, yet powerful, experiences like Sister Andersen, but we are only converted to the Gospel when we put into practice what we learned from our testimony and make it becomes a part of our lives.
Elder Ballard then congratulated us on our hard work. He told us that we are one of the highest baptizing missions in all the Church. He then started to expand on what Elder Andersen had taught. We are baptizing a lot of people, but our work after the baptism isn´t over as missionaries, it doesn´t even end after we finish our mission. Our investigators and recent-converts are new to the Gospel, but received a testimony that the Church is true through prayer and scripture study and OUR testimony. They are very new and fragile, so we, as their missionaries, need to nourish them and help them stay strong so that they as well can be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to keep sending e-mails and letters and calling them so that they can stay strong. We need to make sure that the ward knows them and is aware of their needs. We as missionaries need to help our converts really be converted after baptism.
I reflected a lot on my own conversion. I was baptized at 8 years-old and finished seminary and all that good stuff, but I couldn´t really remember when I actually converted to the Gospel. I remember that I had a lot of testimonies in seminary and with my great group of friends that I had, but I really never tried to put into practice all the great experiences that God had given me. Even throughout my mission, I received little glimpes of what I thought could have been a REAL conversion, but I still wasn´t convinced that I had been converted yet. Then, just yesterday, I was on the bus going to the mission office like we do every Sunday night, when I started thinking about all of my converts. I started thinking the wards that I have already worked in and rememberd about a family that will be sealed this upcoming August. I thought about a husband who just received the Melchizidek Priesthood. I thought about a young man who is so poor that he can´t afford the bus to go to Church, so he walks more than an hour to go to Church. Then I started thinking about this ward that I am in right now. I see two converts blessing the sacrament, and the majority of the deacons and teachers are converts as well. I see converts baptizing their friends every Sunday. I see young women whom I baptized going to the stake center to watch a fireside about seminary. I see two single mothers and all their children going to Church every Sunday with a huge smile. I see how all 20 of our ward missionaries are 80% recent-converts. I see young men getting ready to go on a mission. Before I knew it, I was crying on the bus and my companion probably thought I was going crazy or turning into a sister missionary (just kidding). But looking back on all the blessings that have happened here on the mission I really couldn´t help but cry. I was really converted last night because I saw how the Gospel has become a part of my life because of the mission. Working is no longer a chore, but a joy. I am so sad that I didn´t realize this sooner in the mission, but I am so glad that I am a part of something so much bigger than I. If there are any young men, especially my little brothers, reading this e-mail, do not let the opportunity to serve a mission pass by! It´s so rewarding to know that something that is improving my own life is also improving the life of others as well. There is nothing better than this and I am not too excited to see the end.
I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week! Congrats to Dave and Chalese for the baby!!! I am so excited to see you all again.