¿Como esta la vida? ¡Espero bien! The word to describe this week: conferences. I was one of the luckiest missionaries ever! On Tuesday, we watched the worldwide missionary broadcast, and it was so awesome! The theme was "Teach repentance and baptize converts." Members of the Seventy, Apostles, and Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson spoke, and I learned so much. I loved when Elder Dallin H. Oaks said we need to teach with power and emphasize that we can only return to God's presence through His Atonement.
On Friday, Elder Richard G. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Hugo B. Martinez of the Seventy from Puerto Rico gave a special devotional with their wives for the missionaries in the capital! Elder Maynes served his mission in Uruguay, just like Grandpa Q did as a 19-year-old and as mission president! Also, Elder Maynes was a mission president in Mexico and spent lots of time in other Spanish-speaking countries, so he gave his talk in Spanish:) The Hermanas got to sit in the front row, and then Elder Maynes came down from the stand and talked a lot right to me and Hermana Black--so cool! One of his themes that I loved was "Have more faith than fear," something I have definitely learned to be true on the mission. You can't expect miracles to happen if you have doubt that they're possible; you gotta rely on the Lord and trust that He'll make things works! Because they will!
The next day, Elder Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a devotional with all of the youth, and we didn't get to go, but we were allowed to attend a meeting for the missionaries, investigators, recent converts, and less-actives with Elder Maynes and Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy and Area President. We went with a lady in our ward, Luz, who has been a convert for 5 months and has a daughter serving a mission in Mexico. I loved Sister Maynes' conversion story: she grew up in a non-member home and was searching for the truth, and when she was 23, she met BYU basketball player, returned missionary Elder Maynes. He introduced her to the Church, gave her a Book of Mormon, baptized her, and then married her a year later. How cute is that?? Our mission president talked about how the Book of Mormon will best show the path to happiness--so true!
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, the presiding bishop of the church, Gerald Causse, was at our stake conference the following day with Elder Martinez, the Santo Domingo temple president, and their wives!! I was SO excited, and the investigator we were sitting with couldn't understand why I was so happy haha but wow, what an honor to listen to them! And we got to shake their hands! It was the best stake conference I've ever been to, and I appreciated it so much more as a missionary because I was looking for specific counsel for investigators and learning how to teach the doctrine better. Bishop Causse told an incredible story of how the Book of Mormon is essential in conversion and the story of how the Church was given permission by the French government to build a temple there in his homeland. SO INSPIRING.
There were so many things said that Jazmine (our new investigator, 21, has a 1-year-old daughter, this was her first time in church) needed to hear about why it's important to have the organization of the Church (read Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk from the October 2015 General Conference "Why the Church," it's amazing), the Sabbath day, families, the Book of Mormon, and living our lives in accordance with the Gospel. She really liked it and said it all felt very natural. It was so cute, she leaned over and asked me during Sister Martinez's talk why she was crying, and I explained that sometimes the Spirit is so strong that we are overcome with emotion, and we have tears of joy and gratitude. It was so good for Jazmine to hear such strong testimonies from our leaders, to see so many members united with their families in the Gospel, and to see that we're just normal people with a lot of faith and conviction.
That was something she said later that evening when we visited her: the Mormons are so firm in their beliefs, have so much faith, and testify with power. Why is that? Because we have the absolute, perfect truth: the knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the exact same organization that Christ himself established while He was on the earth, with the essential characteristics of a living Prophet and Apostles, the Priesthood, revelation, and the scriptures. No other church has these things; every other church is of man. God doesn't like confusion, so why would He have more than one church? Ephesians 4:5 says, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism"--ONE way to enter God's kingdom, and we know of that through the Plan of Salvation, modern revelation, and the ancient scriptures. I want everyone to find and accept this perfect path that God has laid out so simply and beautifully for us! It is possible to obtain eternal happiness, and each one of us has the ability to find out for ourselves that this is true and that God has a divine plan for you and me. He's waiting for us to turn to Him, and He is so happy when we do! He loves us so very much; we are never alone, and if we choose to make Him a bigger part of our lives, we can feel of that perfect love even more. Know that I love you, too! I'm thankful for you all, and I'm so glad to know that we're all children of God:)
Con mucho amor,