Christmas Conference on Tuesday was amazing! We woke up early and headed out! It was about an hour and a half drive, but we got there early. After a yummy breakfast, we all gathered in the chapel. Elder Clements gave a talk about the Atonement. He shared a ‘dinky’ poem his mom sent him called “Holes”. It really shaped my view of the Atonement and missionary work. Here it is!
I had been in that hole for a very long time
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear
But there’s no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there
So I lost all my hope and gave in to despair.
I knew nothing but darkness, the floor, and the walls
Then off in the distance I heard someone call:
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder.”
This had never occurred to me– had not crossed my mind.
But I started to stack all the stones I could find.
When I ran out of stones, then old sticks were my goal,
For one way or another I’d get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was sturdy and tall
And I thought, “I’ll soon leave this place once and for all.”
I climbed up my ladder. It was no easy chore,
For from lifting those boulders, my shoulders were sore.
I climbed on up the ladder, but soon had to stop
For my ladder stopped short– some ten feet from the top.
I climbed back down my ladder and started to cry
I’d done all I could do. I gave my best try.
And in spite of my work, in this hole I must die.
And all I could do was to sit and think, “Why?”
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep?
Then from way upon high came a voice, “Do not weep.”
And then faith, hope, and love entered into my chest
As the voice said to me that I’d done my best.
“You’ve worked very hard, and your labor’s been rough,
But the ladder you’ve built is at last tall enough.
Do not despair. You have reason to hope.
Just climb up your ladder; I’ll throw down my rope.”
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I got to the top, there stood the Lord.
I couldn’t be happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.
I fell to the ground, His feet did I kiss
I cried, “What can I do to repay thee for this?”
Then He looked all about Him. There were holes in the ground
They had people inside, and were seen all around
There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep
Thus the Lord turned to me and He said, “Feed my sheep.”
Then He went on His way to help other lost souls,
And I got right to work, calling down to the holes:
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder.”
It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there’s one who is willing to save one and all
And we’ve got to be ready when He gives the call.
He’ll pull us all out of the hole that we’re in
And save all our souls from death and from sin.
So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope
Just build up your ladder; He’ll throw down His rope.
He shared powerful testimony of the Atonement and how it can bless our lives and how we can bless the lives of others through it. He had such feeling while saying it and I could feel how much he knew it! Elder Nixon also gave a talk on the Atonement and shared some great scriptures. Sister Miller talked next and shared some lyrics of hymns that really share the meaning of Christmas. President Miller shared an experience from his mission. He said when James E. Faust came to their mission, he talked about the Brother of Jared and how when he saw the finger of the Lord, he knew with absolute certainty that Jesus Christ lived. He didn’t have faith, he knew. President Faust told them that day that he wanted them to know that he knew the Jesus was the Christ and that he lived. That hit President Miller with such force that he has never forgotten it. He spoke with emotion in his words and love in his heart. I am so thankful for everything that he does for us and for his devotion to each of us missionaries. At that point, they opened it up for testimonies. Many missionaries shared testimonies of the difficulties they had gone through either prior or on the mission, but how they had conquered them. It was a powerful time and really bonded everyone there. I didn’t know if I wanted to share my testimony, but at the very end, the Spirit kind of nudged me up there, and right after the next testimony, they closed off people coming up. I ended up being the last testimony and bore it about how the Lord qualifies who he calls. In my experience, I have been given some really big shoes to fill. It’s hard sometimes, but with obedience and faith, the Lord blesses you to become whole. After that, we all headed over to the temple!! We had the opportunity to spend about four hours in the temple! We did sealings first, which was my very first experience with them. It was interesting to see how everything comes together when you are sealed and the promises that are made. I loved the Spirit that was in the room and was able to do that work with a lot of my close friends here. We then went to do initiatories for an hour, and I was able to go through four times! Also, the blessings Heavenly Father promises us are things we can’t live without and I am so grateful for them! After that, we had the opportunity to go through an endowment session. Lots of learning occurred, even though I was exhausted. The Celestial room is a place of tranquility and peace and is like heaven on earth. I love it and cherish every moment there!
On Wednesday, we had five appointments set up, and every single one canceled….later in the evening, we were able to go see Jacob Locke and talked to his dad for a while. Jacob wants his dad to come to church. Elder McIntyre’s dad is a history buff, and so is Jacob’s dad, and Elder McIntyre is related to Massasoit, so they talked about some really cool stuff, and Jacob’s ancestry is the best recorded history of anyone in the United States, so when he gets baptized, he will be able to help so many people receive salvation!
On Thursday, Elder Bacon and I went on exchanges! I went Spanish again for the day!! In the morning, we were studying and it just started blizzarding out of the blue! There was powder all over the parking lots and the road and it was flying around with the wind. The Towers are also really crazy with the wind, so snow was flying up and stalling by our window, which was cool! We drove a bit and walked in the morning, and with the wind chill, it was about 8 degrees!! The wind was so cold!! Our faces within seconds were frozen. It was kind of scary. We got back in the car after trying a door and contacting a lady. Throughout the day, Elder Bacon contacted like the dickens! He opened with,”Hey, could we give you a card about Christmas?” and then would introduce us as the local missionaries from the area, and then talked a little about our message. A lot of them were in Spanish, but he killed it for the entire day, and it was a great example to me! We talked to a good amount of Portugese people too, and one of them called us crazy for being outside. At one point, Elder Bacon’s feet were so cold, he couldn’t even feel them. We had to rush home and unfreeze before the evening. It was probably the coldest I’ve felt in a very long time, but the work still went forward. We handed out around 20 cards and talked to almost every single person we came in contact with. He really showed me how to street contact and how to be a great leader!
On Friday we started out with contacting a media referral and ended up having a whole lesson with them. The lady wants a large Book of Mormon, so we have to get that ordered soon! After that, we ran to pick up the Spanish Elders and went to District Meeting. I gave the training on The Converting Power of the Spirit. We talked about how we gain the spirit and how crucial personal revelation is to every part of our work. As we receive personal revelation, we know what to say, we know what to do, and we know where to go. It is as simple as that. If you don’t know what to do, rely on the Spirit, and ACT! Faith without works is dead, so we have to take the trust the Lord has given us and do something with it! It turned out well and I learned a lot from it! AFter District Meeting, we ran to Newington to help a nonmember whom we had given a blessing to a while ago. We helped here move a few things, and it really wasn’t too bad, but for them, it really meant the world. She invited us back around New Years when her member brother will be in town!! That evening, we went to the Biggers’ home and had a fantastic dinner! They hope to have us for Christmas, and we can’t wait! We talked about a lot of things that people say differently, like Crayon, Carmel, and Bowl/Bull, and had a great laugh out of it! We shared the Restoration in 10 minutes with them and left them with the commitment to pray about the Book of Mormon and receive a witness it is true. They are such a great family, and we love our time with them, and especially with their son Clark, who is literally the smartest kid on the face of the planet. He’s awesome 🙂
On Saturday, it was insane. The snow just buried the entire world overnight, and in the morning, we were watching people slide like crazy and fly all over the place! We decided not to go to the chapel in the morning, and driving became interesting. We crawled to the Donat’s and then shoveled there for two hours. They fed us and we had some great food, along with Middle Eastern Okra and a Turkish dessert, which was basically baklava, but with shredded wheat. It was so good! We also talked with Nafi for a while and eventually bore our testimonies and ended on a good note. We then headed out to a baptism, which we had to leave early, but we got to have dinner with Sister Buswell. We went to Max Burger, which is one of the best places in West Hartford for burgers! They were so good!!! We had a great time with her, especially talking about missions, important things to do, and how we can improve every day. It was also Elder McIntyre’s birthday dinner, since his birthday was on Thursday. It was great! After that, we went to Brother Clifford’s and since he only had on e shovel, Elder McIntyre shoveled his entire driveway. He worked so hard, and even hurt his back a little, but the thought that kept coming into my head was that even though we might be late to the apartment, this is what Christ would do. Elder McIntyre did so well and I am so proud to be his trainer.
Sunday morning, we went to the church early and helped shovel with Brother Caudle. Church was great and afterwards, we were able to read how to contact media referrals and we printed off all of our outstanding referrals. We gave a blessing and then went caroling with the youth! It was a lot of fun and good for us to get to know the area! That night, I called a bajillion people and had a pretty amazing experience. We called a lady named Deyon that we hadn’t have been able to meet with for a while, and her husband answered and said they had been meeting with missionaries for a few weeks. What? Elder Bacon and Elder Asay had knocked to their door, and they are the most solid investigators they have had in a while! The Lord gets to those he needs and to those who are prepared. It is amazing the blessings we see here!!
I love you all! Enjoy the Christmas season and be a light!