I have been super excited all week for today to come so that I could email. Knowing that little baby Tucker was going to be born and I couldn't be apart of it when it was happening was really hard, but it's been really great seeing all the pictures and videos you all sent me. He's a cute little stud! So happy to meet him in person when I get home. Thankfully by then he won't be as fragile.
Anyways, back to missionary work.. this week included Taco Bell two days in a row, participating in Anyang's new stake center ground breaking, and a great interview with mission president! We only got 2 lessons this week, but that was improvement! They were member lessons too! Of coarse the taco bell was my favorite part, but I had a rather spiritual week this week.
My district leader, like I said last week, is getting pretty trunky since he will be going home at Christmas. However, he still prepared a really spiritual training for our district meeting that I really wanted to share with all of you. We read first from Preach My Gospel about the spirits role in conversion. The Bible dictionary says conversion is "changing one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (Acts 3:19). Conversion includes a conscious decision to give up one’s former ways and change to become a disciple of Christ. Repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ make conversion complete. A natural man will be changed into a new person who is sanctified and pure, born again in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17; Mosiah 3:19).
In the Book of Mormon there's the story of Alma the younger who was the son of Alma a prophet. He did not believe the teachings of his father and became a wicked man. Alma the Younger and the four sons of King Mosiah fought against the Church. They persuaded many people to leave the Church and become wicked. But one day an angel appeared to them. The angel spoke in a loud voice that shook the ground. The angel asked Alma the Younger why he was fighting against the Church. Alma the Younger was so astonished that he could not speak. He became so weak that he could not even move his hands.Alma, along with other Church leaders, fasted and prayed and asked God to help Alma the Younger become strong again.After two days and nights, Alma the Younger was able to speak and move. (Mosiah 27)
Long story short, after that experience Alma the younger repented, along with the sons of Mosiah and all of them became missionaries. This story in the Book of Mormon is kind of known as Alma the younger's conversion story. However, it's not quite and I'll explain why.
Later on in the Book of Mormon in Alma 5, Alma the younger speaks to people in their cities and villages throughout the land. In verses 45-48 he shares his testimony.
45 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
According to the bible dictionary, a conversion includes repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, AND continued faith in Jesus Christ. Just seeing an angel wouldn't convert Alma. I'm not saying it's not a spiritual experience, but that was just one of the many spiritual experiences that make up his personal conversion as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Everyone at some point in their life has or either will experience a change of heart and has a deeper desire to follow Christ's example.
In Alma 5:26 it says, "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
"Can you feel so now?" it says. I love that! During our district meeting this question really caused me to reflect on my own personal conversion story. I've grown up in this church so it was really hard for me to pick a time in my life where I had this really big experience where my heart was changed and I knew I needed to be baptized. It's more like the little spiritual experiences and truths that I learned that helped shaped my conversion to what it is now. I sure wouldn't be on a mission if I wasn't converted would I? hehe
From when I was a little 5 year old in primary I've known I am a child of God and that families are eternal. I learned from the parents the importance of attending church weekly and keeping the Sabbath day holy. I bet Kara can remember how I couldn't ever play on Sundays haha. I learned the importance of scripture study and prayer. I learned all about the stories in the Bible and the Book of Mormon; then later as a young woman, I read the Book of Mormon for the first time cover to cover and came to know the truth of that holy book of scripture for myself. In college, I learned God's plan for me and that going on a mission was the right thing for me to do. I could go on and on about different things or events that happened that helped develop my faith and conversion.
The point is that conversion isn't just a one time thing. "Can you feel so now?" Are we continuing to feel the spirit testify to us the many truths that the gospel brings to our lives? If we aren't feeling the desire to be grateful to our Heavenly Father and "sing the song of redeeming love", then we need to do all the things in order to continue to feel that again and again. Those things are going to church weekly, reading our scriptures and praying daily, fasting, service, and just doing everything we can to exercise our faith. I've seen such a difference in how much more I can feel the spirit because I'm daily doing those things. I wasn't perfect at doing all those things before coming on a mission. In fact, it was rather easy to just slip into going through the motions. I occasionally picked up and read my scriptures, went to church every week but it was more like I was putting my time in the pew inside of really trying to feel the spirit and learn while there.
I don't know exactly why I felt a prompting to share this with all of you, but I know there is a reason. I really felt the spirit strong during that district meeting as we shared our personal experiences and so I hope at least one of you appreciated this :)
I love you all so much, and I just hope you all will continue to strive to feel the spirit more in your life.