Hey everyone! I hope you've all had a wonderful week! It's been crazy here in Calgary. We got a little snow this weekend, so I was especially grateful for Conference as an excuse to stay inside longer and avoid the cold. But we did have some investigators show up - a cute little family from Southern Sudan - and they really enjoyed it! On a side note, we as missionaries acknowledged one of the great mysteries of the church - why chapels area always freezing cold for sisters and too warm for brothers! Seems like Canada is not immune to this phenomenon :)
Anyway - I forgot to share a mini miracle we had last Sunday. We had our fast and testimony meeting a week early for conference. Near the end, Sister Tolbert and I spotted a man walk into the foyer, obviously not a member. So we got up and ended up standing in the parking lot for a couple minutes talking with him. He had just wandered in to see what we were all about, and commented how he had felt really good listening to a couple of the testimonies born. He couldn't stay for the whole meeting, so after our exchange he left and we went back into the building - super excited at a potential investigator. Now here's where it get's weird. As soon as we walked back into the lobby (it had been maybe 5 minutes), we noticed a discernible difference - the spirit had flown out the window and there was an air of uneasiness as we walked into the chapel to see half the congregation missing. Something had obviously happened. We came to find out that in those few minutes, a man had taken the opportunity to get up at the pulpit and express his "anti-Mormon" feelings. Luckily the Bishop intervened and dismissed all the kids and leaders, and had a counselor close the meeting with a powerful testimony while the Bishop and said individual left for a chat. Now you're probably wondering why this was a mini miracle: that gentleman who walked in off the street stayed just long enough to hear and feel the power of the Holy Ghost manifest in that meeting, testifying of gospel truth to his heart. But he walked out just in time to miss the Spirit leave in response to negativity and disrespect. We were so grateful, for one that he was able to experience the truth and recognize it, and second, that we were able to recognize a real difference in the lack of the Spirit. It reminded me that truth is truth, regardless of people's opinions. And wherever truth is, there the Spirit will be, and that is what helps us recognize and understand.
And that is what brings me back to the subject of General Conference. I hope you all were able to feel the Spirit in those meetings as prophets and apostles testified of Truths. I especially loved what one said, that the future of our faith is not determined by chance, but by choice! We are created to be agents for ourselves, to think and act, not just to be acted upon. I discovered this in the decision to come out on the mission in the first place! For a long while I just prayed, wanting to be shown which direction to take with my life, thinking I would do whatever He wanted, but not making a decision or taking action either way. I was immobilized by fear of being wrong. But over time I learned that Heavenly Father has given us the gift of agency for a reason, and expects us to use it! We can choose to be happy, we can choose to take a leap of faith. We can choose to follow promptings from the Spirit, or not. Moving forward with hope and desire and trust is the definition of acting in faith, and according to what we decide and the diligence we apply, our faith grows or diminishes. And "without a firm foundation of faith, our power to endure will crumble." (Elder Henry B. Eyring)
I'm sorry for the rant, but this is something we have been really trying to help our investigators and less actives understand - that our daily decisions determine our eternal destiny.
"There is something we can take home to God, in achieving which we find true happiness, and that, is Character - what you have made of yourself during this mortal existence. Character - it may be weak, it may be strong. You must decide. But whatever you make it during the 20, 30, 50, 70, 80, 100 years that you spend here will be what you take back there. Character, and the service you have rendered will determine your position and place in the next world." (David O. Mackay)
I love and pray for you all