Thursday, April 7, 2016

Week 79: "He Loves Us With His All"(:

Me and my bestest buddy(:
 Hi everyone!(: I hope you all had a fantastic week and I hope that you all got to watch General Conference. I am so grateful for the fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that He enables us to hear from our prophet, President Thomas Spencer Monson, and his apostles and other inspired leaders in the church. I know that they truly are men and women of God, and I've come to know that through watching conference and praying to know for myself. The feeling that the Spirit has given me is a calm assurance of trust in God and His chosen servants, and I know that each of us can receive an answer according to our faith, which is so cool! If you missed out on the chance to watch, you can go to LDS.org and see it all(: 

 Heavenly Father loves us and He loves the wonderful souls here in Wellington. That was witnessed to us time and time again through the many big and small miracles that we experienced this week. One of those miracles was meeting John. He is friends with some members in the Ward, and we've called him a lot trying to find a time to meet him. We were meeting with our Relief Society President, and John was there with her husband working outside. We had already gotten in the car and driven away when Sister Knotts called us and said, "Can you come back, John is here and has some questions for you!" (: We talked with John and Brother Knotts for 30 minutes outside. John talked about how he just feels right about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and how he knows it can help him, especially when he is surrounded by things that try and take away from his hope. Brother Knotts bore an awesome testimony on how hope is the center of our gospel, and as he did, 2 Nephi 31:20 popped into my head, so I shared it. "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if he shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life,". John had a huge smile on his face. "I love that! I'm going to show that to my wife,". I know the Spirit brought that scripture to my remembrance and I know he did it so that John could see that the Book of Mormon really does bring us closer to the Savior. Sister Larson offered a beautiful closing prayer, and John was like, "Did you just come up with that? Like did you just say whatever you wanted?". Getting to explain to this humble man that he has a Father in Heaven who loves Him and wants to hear from him was a very sweet experience. I know that the Lord is reaching out for John right now. 

 We had two amazing lessons with Sami and her friend Amanda this week. Sami invited Amanda to start sitting in on our lessons, and it has been such an awesome experience. Amanda has a lot of questions. In our first lesson, she asked, "So, how old are you?". I told her 21. Her next question, "So, can you like drink beer? And what about guys? And what about coffee?". We taught them about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. I felt really strongly that I needed to bear my testimony of how keeping those commandments has changed my life. Honestly, the peace and relief and the confidence with my Heavenly Father that I have gained through striving to treat my body like a temple has been such a gift. Not to mention the fact that I can feel the Spirit more abundantly and in a constant flow rather than every now and then. I know that these commandments are inspired and meant to help us be happy, that is God's joy, to see us be truly happy(: I don't remember everything I said, but Amanda and Sami were both really quiet afterwards. We talked about our purpose in life, and Sister Larson was totally led by the Spirit as she spoke about how obedience to God's commandments helps us maintain direction here on earth. It allows us to have a closeness to the Spirit so we can be led in the right way.

 We went back the next day with Gretchen. We sat down and I asked if they had read from the scriptures. Sami said, "Yeah we did, and this morning when we were getting ready for the day, we were talking about confidence and what you said about our bodies being temples. Both of you set a good example of how you can be happy doing the things that you taught us about yesterday. So I broke up with my boyfriend, because he doesn't treat my body like a temple, and me and Amanda are going to be more focused on doing what God said is good for us,". I had biggest smile on my face(: we didn't ask Sami to stop living with her boyfriend, we didn't ask her and Amanda to give up things, we asked them to read the scriptures and pray. And by reading and praying and the promptings of the Spirit, they did the other things themselves(: they are experiencing "a mighty change of heart...having no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually,". I love them both so much, this has been such an amazing change to witness.

   Us with Eric
Oh my goodness, Eric. Such a wonderful human. So, we taught him twice
is week and Sister Rhodes came with us. The first time we saw him, he
kneeled and prayed at the end of the lesson and asked God if this was
right for him. He told us that during the prayer he got the strongest
feeling that he just needed to trust what we were saying. The second
time we went and saw him, we all sat on hay bales outside and read the
introduction to the Book of Mormon. Sister Rhodes bore a powerful
testimony of the importance of praying about the Book of Mormon
specifically, and praying to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Eric has been worried because he has been going to another church and
he doesn't want to hurt people's feelings there, but he feels like
this is right for him. Sister Rhodes invited him to come over and
watch conference with us on Sunday. Eric is a really energetic guy,
so sitting there was hard for him. Sister Rhodes gave him a Book of
Mormon picture book to read during it. After it ended, he turned to me
and said (in his very country accent), "Sister Allen, I prayed about
Joseph Smith being a prophet like Miss Rhodes said, and I think I got
my answer. When I prayed, John the Baptist came to my mind, and I
realized that he was the one that had the authority to baptize Jesus,
and that's the same authority that Joseph Smith had, so Joseph Smith
must be a prophet. And that means I need to be baptized,". I sat
there, shocked and so grateful and happy that God answered Eric's
prayer in a way that he could understand it(:

We all went around the room after conference ended and we said what we
learned or felt. When we got to Eric, he sat there for a long time.
Then he said, "You know, I'm just so grateful to be here. I'm so
grateful. And ya'll know its real hard for me to focus, and I can't
remember which older gentleman said it, but I know that I need to
trust God more, I know that I need to trust Him because He loves me,".
Tears filled his eyes and everyone else's as he spoke and the Spirit
in the room was overwhelming. I love that man so much, he has been
through a lot of hardship and he is coming to know his Father in
Heaven in such a personal way right now. What a huge miracle and
blessing to be able to see him grow. God is good(:

        Reunited with Sister Jenksy!(: 

I have been very humbled and amazed by the Lord this week. Even while
I'm writing this I can't help but tear up, because we've seen God
answering so many people that we love. We've seen Him reaching out as
they have been reaching up. 

In Conference, Elder Holland said, "The
first great truth of eternity is that Heavenly Father loves us with
all of His heart, might, mind, and strength,". I know that is true
with my whole heart. I know that God loves the people we teach, I know
He loves each of you, I know He loves me. And I know that He's not
waiting until we are perfect to love us fully. He loves us with His
all, and He especially loves us when we are hurting, afraid, alone, or
feel abandoned. 

I know that all it takes to feel that love is opening
our hearts to receive it. So many times in my life, my choices or my
mindset prohibit me from feeling the love of God in the way that He
wants me to feel it. But I know that as I yield my heart to Him and
give Him my all, even if my all may not feel like much, He sees that
and His love is felt in a richer way. 

 I hope that each of us can open our hearts more to God through
obedience, through sacrifice, through trust, whatever it may be that
is holding us back. We heard so many awesome spiritual truths at
conference yesterday, and "if we believe all these things," we should
"see that we do them," (: 

 Love, Sister Allen