Monday, September 8, 2014

Conference with Elder Bednar

Hola! Hej! I am great today. It's been a beautiful week of blue skies and halfway fall halfway summer weather - it feels great outside! Hehe, 
A beautiful field
The conference with Elder Bednar was AMAZING! He was there with his wife, one of the presidency of the Seventy and his wife, and another area seventy and his wife. I just tried to type out a big run-down of what the conference was, but it was kind of boring. All of the men and women that spoke (everyone who came with Elder Bednar addressed us and bore their testimonies) were inspired and the Spirit was so strong. 

Elder Bednar taught us by example how to teach the way Christ taught - instead of talking at us he talked with us. He asked us questions and gave everyone the chance to respond, and asked follow-up questions to our responses. He followed up with us on the talks he had asked us to read, and he asked us to share what we had learned from the talks.  A lot of times after a person shared something he would say "You knew this before! Why is it important to you now?" He told us that asking questions gives the people we teach the opportunity to open their heart up enough to answer - and as their heart is opened, they are more willing to let the spirit in. 

Basically he taught us what we have already read again and again in Preach My Gospel - that the best way teach is to follow up on previous commitments, ask inspired questions, extend new commitments, bear testimony, promise blessings, and then follow up again the next time. In the last half of the conference he gave us the opportunity to ask him questions, and he as well as the men and women with him answered the questions. It was pretty amazing because as questions were asked and answered, I received answers to questions I didn't even realize I had.
To me one of the main themes in the conference was that our level of conversion is shown by how well we act on the knowledge we have. Anyone can have a testimony, but not everyone acts on that testimony. True conversion happens when a person is willing to not only believe, but act on that belief. It's only through following Christ's example and doing the things he asked us to do that we can understand the principles of the gospel with our hearts as well as our heads.
I was also really hit by what Elder Bednar said about discerning peoples needs. He said that we need to have eyes to see and ears to hear - in other words, we need to be spiritually and mentally prepared to notice and listen, so that we can know what to say or do to help meet other peoples needs. And therefore we need to ask questions. We can't force anyone to accept the gospel, and a lot of times missionaries (and probably people who are trying to help others in general) get caught up in thinking "If I could just make him understand this one thing! If I could just share the perfect scripture or tell the perfect story, this person will be more converted." But that is not how it works - it's the Spirit who teaches, not us, and the Spirit can only bring a witness UNTO a person's heart, not INTO his or her heart - that is up to the individual. But when we ask questions, like I said earlier, people have to open their  heart at least a little bit to answer - and that is a chance for them to feel the Spirit.
Elder Bednar asked us to answer two questions after the conference was over: Based on what I have observed, learned, and felt today, what will I do differently? and Based on what we (each companionship) have observed, learned, and felt today, what will we do differently?
I want to be a more pure conduit for the spirit and a better listener. I am going to work on keeping my mind and heart a place where the Spirit can dwell always, and focusing completely on each person we teach or talk to, rather than worrying about what I will say or do next.
Sister Vige and I set three goals for our companionship: 

1. Have eyes to see and ears to hear;  
2. To be conduits for the Spirit by remembering our purpose every minute of the day; and  
3. Remember that there's a time and a place for everything. :) Because guess what? Elder Bednar is hilarious! He is really fun to listen to and talk with, and he made that conference so entertaining. Being a tool in the Lord's hands takes hard work, but it takes having a sense of humor and enjoying the moments along the way as well. Otherwise the work of salvation wouldn't really feel like salvation, in my opinion. ;)
So basically it was just an amazing conference and Sister Vige and I are excited to apply what we learned from it!
We made Ratatouille!  How fun is that?!
In other news, M is doing really well and was in church again on Sunday! He is working on stopping drinking coffee - he's such a funny guy! He told us that he's been working on not drinking coffee, and we were pleasantly surprised because we haven't taught the word of wisdom yet. We asked him why he's not drinking coffee, and he said "Well that's what you're supposed to do, isn't it?!" Being able to meet with M is such a blessing - he is so sincere about doing what the Lord wants him to do, and I know that the gospel is filling the holes in his heart. It's wonderful to see that happening to someone else, because it's a testimony to me that the gospel has filled holes in my heart and will continue to do so.
We walk everywhere and as long as we have time, we contact people as we walk. Sister Vige told me that in Norway the missionaries ask people "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" (I feel like I told you about this last week but can't remember!) So we've been asking people that a lot. It's kind of bittersweet, hearing all the questions people have - everyone wants to know why God made their life so hard, or why human beings are so idiotic (haha really someone asked that yesterday!). So it's pretty special to be able to bear testimony that God has a plan for us, and that it's through Jesus Christ that all things can be made right again. 

There was one girl in particular this week, named E, who wanted to ask God why she is so sick. She told us she'd just recovered from a leg injury, and now can't use her hands. She asked God once to heal her, and it didn't happen so she lost hope. We read Alma 7:11-13 with her, and explained what the Atonement is for, and I kid you not we saw hope come back into her eyes. She took a Book of Mormon, but said that she wanted to think about it before she committed to learning more about it (darn it!) - and I know that miracles wil happen in her life if she opens her eyes to it.
We did garden work with S on Saturday - she is still as wonderful as ever and doesn't quite see why it's important to stop smoking, but we'll get there. She said she can't quit because it would be rude to not do what everyone around her is doing, and then Sister Vige asked her if she would jump off a cliff if everyone else was doing it - her response: "Well I would never take it that far, I don't want to hurt myself!" ...hehehe.
We did service with the Bishop's family and went go-karting.  :D
My hopes for this week are that...
1. we'll be able to meet with F this week (we stopped by her last night and she said if we text her today, she might be able to meet tomorrow)

2. we can get all our visiting teaching appointments set up (the relief society asked us to do visiting teaching! So we have people to visit with some of the recent convert/less active women in the ward)

3. S and S (a couple we stopped by yesterday - they let us in, we taught the first lesson and they committed to reading in the Book of Mormon) will read and come to church this week. They said they're too busy to meet until coming to church on Sunday, so we will see what happens!

4. S will agree to meeting with us 3 times this week 20 minutes at a time (in the mission we're working on having frequent, short appointments with people instead of once a week, longer appointments)

5. M will commit to a baptismal date.

6. Sister Vige can walk without feeling pain OR we can use the car until something is done with her knees.

7. We can hold to what we've learned in the last few conferences and really apply it all every day!

8. You all have a great week and that school gets better for everyone. :)
I love you! Keep up the work and the faith! I will talk (write) to you next week. And it'll be a great week for all of us!!

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