We were so blessed this week to have a special mission conference with 3 general authorities, again! We were a little bummed the night before as our power went out and we had to sleep with the other sisters from our ward to be able to wake up at 4:30am and curl our hair. But it was so worth it! We met with Elder Grow, from our area presidency, Elder Clayton, the president of the Quorum of the 70, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of 12 apostles, and all of their beautiful wives. Can I even begin to share with you how overwhelming it is to be in the presence of these authorities? It's amazing! We sat in the middle of the 2nd row of the chapel. We got to shake every one of their hands. I think I liked my hug from Sister Oaks best. She is absolutely gorgeous and elegant, and she told me I looked beautiful. :) Of course it's exciting to shake an apostle's hand too. We received so much revelation from all of the speakers that morning, but I'm going to try to summarize the most important points from Elder Oaks.
1. "You must never give your personal opinion."
This was especially directed at the missionaries, but it can easily be applied to all of us. He explained that he once shared a talk in which he shared a personal opinion of his. Upon sitting down, he quickly received a prompting of the Spirit that he should never do that, especially when he is speaking as an authority. When we have responsibilities to teach, we do not have the right to abuse our authority by sharing our personal opinions. Those should be reserved for very particular occasions, perhaps in family settings or with friends. We need to study doctrine and teach doctrine. That is our responsibilty as servants of the Lord.
2. "We all have unanswered questions. The Lord has already given us enough to do what we need to do, and we should use what we already have. Never demand the Lord an answer. You will leave, and that's just stupid."
This was a very impactful sidenote he made during a story he shared. But it's so true! He explained that even he as an apostle has his own list of unanswered questions. There are so many people that choose to leave the church because they can't answer a question. Where is our faith when we act in this manner? It's true. The Lord has already revealed so much to us. In his own time, he will reveal unto us the things we need to learn or understand to strengthen our faith. If not, we will get caught up in our doubt and our testimony will falter. We might even leave, and that's just stupid.
3."Real intent equals commitment. If I receive an answer, I will act upon it."
He shared with us a story of an investigator that read and prayed about the Book of Mormon, but never received his answer as Moroni promised. Why didn't he receive his answer? Well he was a good Christian man that believed that he had been saved by Christ. This is good. But he didn't feel a need or desire to change, because he had already been saved. He didn't pray with real intent, because he had no intention of changing if he received an answer to his pray. We need to do all things with real intent, meaning that we are willing to change when we receive revelation. If not, what purpose serves our answer?
4. "I'm glad that the Lord has given us a sense of humor. Sometimes things happen to us that make us want to cry. Don't cry, laugh. It will get us over some very difficult times."
Did any of you know just how funny this man is? He had all of us laughing until we were almost crying. He himself was laughing, and in that moment he expressed his gratitude for humor. What an interesting testimony. But, of course, I loved it.
5. "I wish I had learned Spanish."
Fun fact! Did you know that there are now more native Spanish speaking members of the church than native English speaking members? Elder Oaks has studied a little bit of French, German, Russian, but never Spanish. He explained that it is one of his biggest regrets to this day. I'm now grateful that I was half forced to learn Spanish. After my mission I hope to study in and perfect it.
6. "Be an instrument in the Lord's hands."
This is a phrase that is found many a time in the Book of Mormon. Especially in Alma with the Sons of Mosiah. Have you ever pondered on what an instrument is? Well, Elder Oaks made a great analogy. A pen is a very common instrument that we all use on a nearly daily basis. What purpose does a pen serve? A well functioning pen, with ink, working parts, writes. In the words of an apostle, "A pen does my work. I don't do the pen's work. An instrument in my hands will write my message." Wow! He explained that our instruments, or our bodies, have to be in well working order. They have to be ready to work, full of knowledge. What would we do if we had a work to do, and our pen got up and told us he was just too tired today and didn't want to work? Well I sure wouldn't use that pen again. Imagine how our Heavenly Father must feel.
Okay. So that was the most impactful that I've learned from the conference we had. We ALSO had another conference with him in our stake conference the following day! It was like our own personal general conference. Haha! I'm running out of time, and there were soooo many wonderful things he also shared in this meeting. But I'm only going to share the most impactful that made everyone cry.
3 weeks before coming to Peru, the mother of Sister Oaks passed away. This left Elder Oaks pondering an interesting concept. He began by describing the forms of communication in his youth. When he was younger, people wrote letters. To send letters to other countries, it took weeks and weeks to arrive. If there was an urgent message that needed to be sent, a telegram could be sent. But there was a limit to 10 words for the average person. He asked us all to ponder... if we were the spirits on the other side of the veil waiting in the spirit world, and we had a way to be able to send a telegram like message to our loved ones here on earth, what would we tell them? He invited several people to come up and share their message. With that exercise, he reminded us just how important these messages are now. We don't need to wait until it's too late to share how much we love our families or how important the gospel is. We need to do it now while the time is precious.
It was hard being so far away from my daddy on Father's Day. But I am so grateful for the revelation we have received this week.
I leave you all this week with my "message from heaven:" (especially for my daddy)
I love you. Do what He did. I'll see you soon.
Until we write again,