|My good friend Elder Welling, who served in Buenvaventura before I arrived.|
|President and Sister Prince, and Elder and Sister Bednar|
Wow what a week of news from home! First of all, congrats to Cecily! I can't believe another one of the 7 is getting married!Such great news to get on the mission! Another congrats has to go to Mason for receiving the call to serve, that is something special to receive such a divine sent call to serve in the Lord's vineyard, the best decision a young man can make! Happy Birthday Haley! I wrote her a letter this week so that is the closest thing I can give here haha. Thanks for the updates Mom and Dad! I laughed at the pic of Lucy playing roll over in Sammy's old spot!
Well what an experience I have to tell you about this week! We were visited as a mission this Saturday by none other than Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve! What an experience of a lifetime. We all met in Cali in the Stake Center in San Fernando for the meeting. We were awaiting the arrival of Elder Bednar in our positions to take the photo when President Prince walked in with Elder Bednar behind him. It is was a surreal experience to see him live, it seemed like everything was super quiet until he finally said "hola" haha.
He spoke the entire time in English with a translator right next to him. It was interesting trying to translate in my head and comparing it to a professional translator haha. We were all expecting some sort of a talk he was going to give, but he quickly dismissed that thought by saying "now, are you ready to work?" He explained how he prefers speaking with us rather than at us. He had given us 3 talks to read this month before he came, "Ask in Faith," "Seek learning by Faith," and "Converted to the Lord." The first part he asked us to share what we learned. Microphones were passed around and we discussed for a about an hour what we had learned.
After every comment Elder Bednar would respond and shed more light. It was a revelatory experience! The next hour we were able to ask him questions, imagine that, an opportunity to ask a question to one of the 15 prophets, seers and revelators on the planet. I will always remember when one elder asked him what it was like to be a "special witness of Jesus Christ." Something that only 15 people on the planet understand!
One teaching that effected me was that sometimes as missionaries we think we can push the doctrine in the heart of an investigator and get them to believe, thinking we have enough faith to coerce them. But the truth is that it is up to them to accept the invitation to act to invite the Holy Ghost to teach them the truth. He shared 2 Nephi 33:1 that says the Holy Ghost can bring the truth unto the hearts of the children of men, but not into their hearts. That comes from righteous use of our agency choosing to act in accordance with the teachings of Christ, acting and not just being acted upon.
It was a special experience that I will never forget. I can't explain the powerful Spirit that was in that room, there was no doubting of that man's divine calling. The most special part for me was hearing the sacred testimony of an apostle of the Lord. I can't explain it but it is something else when an apostle shares his testimony fulfilling his role to bear his sacred witness of Jesus Christ all over the world. I have now had the opportunity twice to hear such a testimony in person from Elders Christofferson and Bednar, in 2 different languages! How lucky am I?!
Well in other news the work rolls on here in Buenaventura! All of the areas are having great success here. We are looking forward to a HUGE month of May. Everyone is working so hard and being so obedient that it is inspiring to think what the Lord can do with missionaries with this kind of commitment! I love working here so much, I was talking to my good friend Elder Welling the other day who was in Buenaventura before me about how great it is here, I would stay here my whole mission if that was any way possible. It sure is challenging.
There is a ton of broken families due to violations of the Law of Chastity and a lot of Word of Wisdom problems as well. It breaks my heart to see some of the things you see on a daily basis here, but it fuels the fire of my testimony of the Gospel and of the commandments. Not to mention knowing that we are God's Army fighting against these evils makes the excitement to work go way up! I also have gained appreciation for what I have always had growing up, I will never stop thanking Mom and Dad for what they did for me my whole life! In spite of the hardships it is also such a blessing to work here looking for the people who have been prepared for a lot of time to hear the message.
I love being a missionary here in Buenaventura, I have never felt more "into" the work! After what I have seen here on the mission, I now have a knowledge of the validity of this work. I am so grateful for what this mission is doing for me and for all of the people we teach as missionaries. As Elder Bednar put it, "If this Church wasn't true, the missionaries would have ruined it a long time ago!" There are way too many things I want to tell you guys, but time just doesn't allow me a fraction of what I could say haha. Some time I will tell you all of the blessed time here in Buenaventura!
Love you all!