Saturday, April 9, 2016

April 3, 2016 - Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

Well I must say it has been quite the spiritually edifying week. This is a bittersweet time for me. This weekend was my last time watching general conference as a missionary. One of my fondest memories of General Conference as a missionary was in October 2015 in Woodstock. The evening before we decided to stop by one of our investigators in Woodstock. We told her this weekend God's servants would be speaking to us. She gasped "Huh.. you mean to tell me God's prophets will be prophesying to us. How do I watch it?". We proceeded to tell her how; the look of excitement on her face was priceless. She couldn't wait to watch God's prophets speak to her. Another fond memory I have of conference was in April 2015 in Bridgewater. In between the Saturday Sessions, we attended the baptism of a sister. As we watched her get baptized a strong spirit filled the room.

I have had many choice memories of general conference as a missionary. One of my favorite parts has been having a potluck with the priesthood brethren at 8 o'clock at night; then staying up and watching the priesthood session till 11 o'clock at night. Good old Atlantic time. I'm gonna miss it :(. 

Conference this weekend was very inspiring. I thought Elder Rasband responded beautifully and was lovingly bold at the same time to the person who yelled "No!" during the sustaining of the prophets. "Don't dispute latter-day revelation", "Follow your leaders. They are called of God". I enjoyed Elder Andersen's talk on children who have no gospel support in their family. It was a topic that needed to be addressed and he did it beautifully. As he was speaking I thought of a child of record in Bridgewater whose parents wouldn't allow her to be baptized until she was 12. From President Owens talk in the priesthood session I learned that I already am a leader because I am a dedicated follower. I invite others to come unto Christ.

Throughout the weekend as they were talking about marriage and families, I felt the spirit compelling me to start preparing myself spiritually for marriage. I especially enjoyed President Uchtdorf's talk in the priesthood session. I liked what he said about not looking for the perfect one and looking for someone who you can trust your children's happiness with. I loved his Chewbacca example :P. I loved Elder Holland's talk on the aftermath of General Conference. "Don't give up if you don't measure up to the messages this weekend", "The great eternal truth is that God loves you." What a powerful talk he gave and a powerful general conference.

I liken Conference to Mosiah 2 when King Benjamin is addressing a multitude of people: 

"And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another."

The rest of the week was also spiritual. From Sunday to Thursday Elder Sortomme was put in a trio with us until he went home on Friday. During those 4 days I witnessed a missionary in his final days as a missionary. As I was with him I saw myself in my final few days on my mission. His mindset was the same, he was motivated, he treated those couple days as regular days. I couldn't even tell he was coming home shortly. He ended his mission with honor and respect. He set the perfect example for me when I go home of how to end my mission. On Wednesday he was distraught but that's normal.

It was emotional for me as I read the transfer letter Tuesday evening and saw that Elder Steimle was leaving. I got close to him and we worked extremely well together. We worked the same way and we were both very sincere and dedicated. He knows me better than any other companion. He was a companion that I was the most unified with. I am so grateful that I was able to serve with him twice. President Pratt was very inspired when he made that decision. 

On Thursday I got to go to the temple. As I walked into the celestial room Elder Beckman greeted me and said to me "This will probably be the last time you'll be seeing me." That hit me hard. With each passing transfer as I see missionaries come and go, I am beginning to wonder.. "Will I ever see that missionary again?", "Will I get to say goodbye to that companion before I go home?" I have made a lot of friends out here. They are friends I made in the service of God. 

Then I sat down and opened the Book of Mormon. When I opened it up I read 3 Nephi 17:25 "And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children." Change the men to "Elders", and Women to "Sisters". A powerful feeling of love came over me for every single missionary in that celestial room. I then began to get emotional. Every single missionary I have served alongside has affected me. I love these missionaries <3. It was a very emotional day.

For the last 4 days I have been getting used to Elder Goeders. He seems very shy and timid around me. He seems very easy going and "go with the flow kind of missionary." Sometimes when missionaries come into new areas, they want to make all these big changes. That hasn't been the case with Elder Goeders. He is letting me do my own thing with the area and not asking a lot of questions. Which is good and bad. Good in the sense that he's letting me do what I want with the work here. Bad in the sense in that he's not offering a lot of suggestions or input. I'm hoping once he gets comfortable, he'll offer more suggestions.
Elder O'Brien (the older)

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