June 20th, 2011
Family and friends!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am just so excited to be writing you all this week! Every week I come into the cyber to write I just sit down with ALL these memories and SO many things to tell you all and I don’t even know where to begin. I hope that today I can get across as clear possible the feelings in words that I have experienced this last week. I have just been so privileged to be around so many good people and having the chance to feel the spirit so powerfully and have so many good experiences.
First something way fun and funny is we found that family of like 20 a week or 2 ago, and last night we were teaching them all and it was so cool we truly felt like great prophets or something…..just sitting there with all these people so into it, and listening intently, but today they invited us over and we all had a HUGE asado which is just like a ton of way good meat, and so many people were there and it was so much fun! Loved it.
I want to start with our zone conference. I LOVE getting together as a zone as missionaries with the missión president and just talking so deeply and profoundly about the work and just getting at it and all putting in our testimonies and opinions on how we can be better and have success. I love my missión president he is just so positive and has so much energy and faith in the work he is my idol! So on Tuesday night we traveled to Bellville and got to go to the hermanas apartment and have a sleepover! It was so much fun - I love the hermanas in my zone! Hermana Brown who is from Springville, and is so cute and then Hermana Masters who is MY FAV and from LA and just got to the missión. I hope we are comps someday! So we all went to the conference together Wednesday and it was just SO inspiring! My favorite part was a talk that we got to watch by Elder Holland that he gave in the MTC in January and it literally blew my mind!!! I was so moved and inspired and touched by it! He talked about a few things we could better as missionaries and talked about the importance of this time in our lives and that it will literally shape us into who we will be the rest of our lives starting now, and that everything we are given and experience after we return home is thanks to the missión. I love when he talks about his own personal missión and how it meant everything to him, and he always just gets so pensive and quiet and is so grateful for his missión and loves it SO much. He shared a story in the New Testament that just brought me to tears. It is in John 21 when Christ appears to the apostles and they are out fishing and they see Christ on the shore, and Peter is just so excited and so thrilled and knows it is the Savior our master, and he jumps into the wáter and swims to shore to him. As they get there Christ is with Peter and asked him three different times if Peter loves him and he answers so confused every time – yes Lord I love you - and is just wondering why and how would he not know and then Christ says in verse 17 “Feed my sheep….and then later tells him to “follow me.” As Holland gave this story he was just so emotional and related this story to missionary work and how as missionaries we have dropped everything and we have willing obeyed Christ’s invitation to follow him and feed his sheep, and if we love him - we love the Lord - we are going to do just that, and forget everything else and do everything in this time and in our power to feed Christ’s sheep, and be apart of his great work.
It just moved me this moment and I realized that my responsibility, not only as a missionary, but as a member to be Christ’s servant and if I really do love my Savior with all my heart, I will not look back, like it describes in the story in Luke 9 55-62. When Christ asks us we follow and we go forward and serve him with all our hearts and do anything and everything he asks. We don’t doubt or question or wonder why because that is not faith. As members of the church we are simply invited to follow the steps that Christ has laid out for us like it describes in 1 Peter 2 verse 21 and we must follow that example. I just loved this talk and it really reminded me of my duty and how much the Savior does love us. Since he asks this of us, we truly need to carry through and do our part to show him that we love him and will do anything to follow him.
Another really neat experience we had this week was with the lady Marialina, that we found last week when her daughter came running after us. We passed and she said she had read and loved it and felt the spirit when she prayed. We then later got talking in a lesson with her about churches and she told us she would never go to our church and just likes to listen to people but doesn’t think she needs to go to a church and said she is never going to change her religión. We got talking - aside from religión and culture - because here everyone is Catholic, but does not practice, but still love to say they are Catholic. So I always just try and tell them…okay aside from anything from your traditions and beliefs lets just talk about God…..-do you believe in God…..that he truly exists and answers your prayers and is listening to you? She agreed so we got talking about that and she was just so stubborn, and kept saying she would never change and she doesn’t see the difference between the churches. Then with every part of my heart and soul I just looked her in the eye and I asked her…… would she like to know the difference, and she got all quiet and said yes…..and then I told her that the difference is that each one of us has personally gotten on our knees and asked our God - our Father in Heaven who loves us and wants us to know the truth - if the church was true, and he has ALWAYS answered our prayers through the Holy Ghost in our hearts, and the feelings that I had received and felt in my life I could never ever deny. This moment just hit me so hard and it was so quiet and in this exact moment I just was hit so strongly and touched very directly by the spirit that was testifying of the things that i spoke of.
THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE. We as members of the church - like it says in the introduction to the Book of Mormon - are invited to read and learn and study and ponder the things we are provided by members, by missionaries, by leaders, by anyone that tells us about the gospel, and then after we find ourselves in that moment, with a sincere heart real intent to know and have that faith in Christ, we go to our personal father in heaven, who knows us personally, each individually and loves us so much. We ask HIM all the questions doubts concerns and wonders we have and through those feelings - the Holy Ghost - we KNOW that what we have heard, what we have been studying……the church we have been going to, the things people have shared with us….. ARE INDEED TRUE. I have just never received such a strong and clear testimony of a principle - just so simple and basic and I was just so very grateful for my Father in Heaven in this very moment and the testimony that I have received for myself that the things that I share and live and the things I do daily are true! In the end we ended up leaving her with this invitation to read, pray, and ask, and so we will see how it went next week.
We are still working with Familia More, and they are doing just so well, just progressing so much and opening up and I just feel SO much love and care for them and we are hoping and praying for their baptism to happen this week or the next. The dad invited us to eat with their family one day so that was fun, and Marilyn - the daughter - came to all 3 hours and loved it and the members were sooo good to her!
Also when I was here in Arroyito in about November I met a guy named Blas, who is like 19 years old and he speaks fluent English and he is just so cool…..I love him. We always wanted to teach him but we never got the chance because we just bécame such good friends and it got weird and talking in English all the time. It was hard and when I left I didn’t get to see him and forgot about it. This last week I was thinking about him a lot and we passed and he was home! He is going to school in Cordoba, but he comes home for the weekend and we set an appointment and I was so scared to talk to him because normally we just chat and its weird to bring it up. I prayed so hard and I just knew that he needed to hear about and read the Book of Mormon. So we showed up at his house and we got talking like usual, and we ended up asking him all about his beliefs and he is Catholic, but doesn’t practice, and he is so confused because he wonders why there is only one God and so many different churches..….LOVE IT! We just got huge grins on our faces and just thought wow he is just so great he just had so many good questions and we were just sooooo excited to answer them! It was weird because we taught in English, but as I was teaching him - in my own language - the restoration, I was just so overwhelmed and filled with joy and the spirit.. and it was honestly like in the movie the best 2 years when the elder is finally teaching a guy they found in English and as he is talking about Joseph Smith and his testimony he is just so emotional and says - and that is why I am here - I said those exact words to Blas - as we bore testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and the spirit filled every corner of that very room. I just felt very grateful for the opportunity we have to share this amazing life changing message with others and even though at first - because it was weird and I was nervous and we were friends and talked in English - it truly is just soooooooo easy! Blas is just great and said it all made sense and he was so excited and was going to take the promise and read the Book of Mormon!
As members of this church with this unique and true message that we carry in our hearts daily we need to open our mouths and tell about it to everyone! I just love this góspel so much, and I regret all those times I had to share the gospels with others and I didn’t because I had that fear. Fear is the opposite of faith…they can’t coexist! We need to just drop all of these feelings and worries and human doubts that come and do as Christ has asked us and follow him and feed his sheep. I LOVE YOU ALL AND MISS YOU! Hope you have a good week!
Much Love - Hermana Jami Alison Pond