This week was little slower for us. We had a lot of canceled plans, but we are still got a lot done. We had a really cool authentic Japanese lunch with a Japanese couple who lives in our area. They don't speak great English so sister kitahara does most the talking. The old man, I guess usually never speaks but he chatted with me all lunch. I think I won him over when he saw I was reallllly struggling to use the chopsticks and decided to help me. It was great to get to share our beliefs with them, especially about Jesus Christ. They are Buddhist so they don't know very much about him. Sister Kitahara was in heaven with all the Japanese food it was so funny. I really loved it too, and now I can at least kind of use chop sticks.
I loved watching general conference this weekend. It answered so many of my worries and questions. I felt like some of the speakers prepared their talks just for me, as I am sure a lot of other people felt too. When we listen to the messages and scriptures with more than just our ears, the spirit is able to personalize each word to our own situation and heart. Throughout my week and especially as I watched conference I have been focusing on joy, and especially joy int he midst of trail. Elder Russel M. Nelson's talk from conference sunday morning really brought a deeper understanding to me about this. Not only are we here on earth to grow from our trails and experience, but to also have joy! Which can seem contradictory. But Elder Nelson explained to us, "our joy doesn't come from the circumstance of our life but from the focus of our life." When the Savior is our focus, when He becomes real to us, we can find joy everywhere. When we are faced with burdens, we can learn to suffer with joy because of Jesus Christ. The people of Ammon from the Book of Mormon are a great example and strength to me of this. In Alma 27:28 it says, "...and they did never look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it." Most of us don't face death daily, but we do face many other scary things. So to personalize this verse I replaced death with whatever trail I might be facing. "...and I did never look upon my trial with any degree of terror, for my hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, my trial was swallowed up to me by the victory of Christ over it." That doesn't mean our trial will go away but it does mean we can bear it with joy because Jesus Christ already has fought and won that battle. He has fought and won all our battles, and the more we can rely on that, the more joy we will find no matter what is going on around us or with in us. That is the kind of reality of joy that Christ's restored church offers because of His priesthood power that is solely found here. I feel more committed to make Christ my focus and let His joy swallow up all my burdens, and help others to do the same around me by helping them have faith in Christ, repent using His atonement, be baptized in His name, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure faithfully all that is put in our paths.
I also really really appreciated Elder Oak's talk about the full time missionaries and the members. I have such a burning testimony that nothing can happen if there members of the local ward are not involved in the work. Miracles happen when members of the church reach out to those they love or those they see just around them and share what means most to them, the Gospel. I was so thankful for Elder Oaks inspired words. I have a testimony that missionary work is not something we do from time to time, it is a way we live our life. It is the way the Savior lived His life, reaching out to all those around Him in love. We can do the same.
I am so grateful that God speaks to us through prophets. He has in the past, and He still does today. His prophets and apostles lead and guide us, and if you are unsure or want to know sincerely whether they really are a prophets and apostles of God the answer is simple and personal. To pray and ask God about it. To watch their messages through conference then pray and ask God with a sincere heart. I am so thankful God does not leave us to fend for ourslves and figure out life on our own, He loves us and so He speaks to us individually and through our prophets and apostles today. He is living God, and this is His living church.
all my love,
Sister Kithara and I
Our District (favorite district ever!)
Sister Kithara and I
(featuring the skirt that one of Anthony's members from Indonesia made just for me!!)