I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but one of my absolute FAVORITE parts about being a missionary is helping people come to understand what it means to PRAY IN FAITH. Before I share my experience with you, here are what some prophets have to say about this.
The prophet Jacob says: (Jacob 3:1-2)
1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and apray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will bconsole you in your cafflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down djustice upon those who seek your destruction.
2 O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads andreceive the pleasing word of God, andfeast upon his alove; for ye may, if yourbminds are cfirm, forever.
And Elder David A. Bednar, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ has said,
"Asking in faith requires honesty, effort, commitment, and persistence. Let me provide an illustration of what I mean and extend to you an invitation.
"We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!
"If you and I would truly pray and ask in faith, as did Joseph Smith—if we would pray with the expectation to act and not just to express—then the work of proclaiming the gospel would move forward in a remarkable way. "
Anyway, the point is that praying in FAITH is often taken for granted in both the amount of effort and real intent to act it takes on our part, and in the true power of God to bring about miracles in response to our prayers of faith.
Ok, so that was a LOT of build up for the experience I'm going to share with you. Yesterday Cesar had his baptismal interview, which he clearly passed. But I guess he mentioned to Elder Ruiz that he's concerned he doesn't REALLY have a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith or Pres. Thomas S. Monson. That sounded absurd to us considering he has been watching all of my movies on both of them like CRAZY. He's finished the D&C dvds, and the biography on Pres. Monson. Well, I realized that having the testimony isn't the problem, but RECOGNIZING that you have a testimony sometimes takes more convincing for some people. So last night during the First Presidency Devotional, (which he obviously came to because he's obsessed with Pres. Monson...haha), I wrote him a note and passed it to him just before Pres. Monson started speaking. I basically told him to ponder and pray in his heart while Pres. Monson spoke to know for himself if he is a true prophet called of God, living to guide us on the earth today. Well, sadly many people--even members--would blow off an invitation like this. But Cesar didn't. Instead, as soon as Pres. Monson started talking, he bowed his head, and closed his eyes, and prayed. Through almost his whole talk. About 2 or 3 minutes before he closed, Cesar let out a big sigh and looked up and then asked me for a pencil. He wrote me back on the same post-it note "Yes! I believe. Amen." Wow. That might be the simplest purest testimony I've ever heard. But it pierced me to the core. And I'm SO HAPPY for Cesar. Because now that he recognizes his personal testimony in a living prophet, he will recognize when he has a testimony of other things too. And really, recognizing and acknowledging that we BELIEVE and will therefore ACT on something is normally the hardest part of the battle. So he's getting baptized on Sunday, 11 Dec. and we're SO excited for him!
So that is my invitation to all of you: pray in faith. It's definitely something I need to get better at, too. But pray in faith, recognize your answers, and act! :)
Everything else I have to say is really very worldly.
Food for missionaries this holiday season... A word of advice for all of you wonderfully generous members who will feed any missionaries anywhere anytime during the month of December: We love dessert. But We like eating real food, too. haha Maybe missionaries in English wards don't have this problem. But in this particular Latino ward I'm serving in, our meal calendar can be sparse sometimes. But EVERYONE LOVES to give us desserts. Last week we had no food and all dessert in our fridge: cherry pie, lemon meringue pie, caramel apple, flan, corn cake, banana pudding, raspberry walnut pastries, shortbread cookies, pepperidge farm cookies, etc. But we only had 2 dinners. hahaha Anyway... we are grateful for all your generous gestures. But we, at least as sisters, would be even more grateful for a delicious salad right about now! That being said, maybe missionaries in your area feel the exact opposite. So don't take my word for it. Ask them. I only say that because one time 10 years ago some Elder told a sister in our ward that he missed eating pasta, so now she makes us pasta. haha Anyway, just some thoughts... (and don't worry mom. We've successfully gotten rid of most of those desserts without eating them... by pawning them off on the Elders and other investigators! hahahaha... oh the tricks of the trade! ;)
Another insight into the funny life of a missionary. In the laundry mat, realizing you don't actually have as many quarters as you thought you did, and no cash to make change. So what do you do? Put all your wet clothes into the bag and take them home to dry them all over your apartment. Yep. That was me this morning. haha
Oh and we are just counting down the last three days until our gas gets turned back on!! I haven't showered in 3 days. I forgot what that felt like to feel so disgusting. hahaha oh man. NEVER a dull moment!!
I also got to decorate a little Christmas tree on Saturday. Thanks mom! I didn't think I would really care too much about not having Christmas decorations. But now that we have one, I realize how much HAPPIER I am WITH it! Hmmm... it's like a metaphor for people and the gospel... haha. But I won't go there.
And as for Zone Conference that we had on Wednesday... it was good. LONG. But good. I think I would've liked it better if I hadn't been feeling so terrible, but I still learned a lot of things to improve one. I'm just grateful that I have my whole life to perfect my missionary skills instead of just 18 months. Cuz really... that's just NOT enough time!
Anyway, I love you all. I hope you have a fantastic week!
P.S. The pictures: 1) Hermana Erickson and I with Hno. Velasquez and David at David's baptism, 20 Nov 2011. 2) Hna. Erickson doing the faith/teabag demo with Sebastian just moments before he freaked out and blew it in her face. hahaha 3) My district last transfer. I made Hna. E. take off her heels so she wouldn't be towering above me. We thought they wouldn'tget her feet in the picture... haha. Oops