First, thank you for the amazing package that you sent this week! I loved everything, especially the root beer and the photobook that you sent with all of those pictures, that really really meant a lot to me! Don't ever be shy to send more pictures of like Tanner and Brookie with their sports and family functions and what not, even though I am not there I still would like to know what is going on at home.
So things here at the MTC just keep getting better and better. It truly is amazing how when I work harder, use my time wiser and more effectively, that not only do I learn so much more, feel God's love for me more, but the things at home that I gave up just fall into place and are taken care of. I am glad to hear that Brookie has been doing better, I have been sincerely praying for her everyday in almost every prayer I say, so she has a little bit of extra help coming ;) So along with my calling, apprently district leaders are only supposed to serve for 3 weeks, at least that is how it usually is and what I was under the impression that is how it was supposed to be, but apprently for me there was an exception made, because this last sunday when I was expecting to be released, nothing happened. I don't know what lessons I still have to learn or to teach my district, but I have never really grown to love these Elders like I did last week. As a district we are doing so much better, and I think my district is finally starting to respect me, probably because I have been making a special effort everyday to show at least one of the elders that I care about them and ask everyone all the time if there is anything I can to do help them in anyway or if there is something I can do better as a distrcit leader.
So this past sunday was one of the more amazing sundays I have had in a while, I wrote down 10 pages of promptings that I got throughout all my meetings, most of them from a talk by Elder Bednar, "The Character of Christ", so I am going to focus most of my letter this week on what I learned from that talk, which is the talk that I have been wanting to see ever since the first week I got here because I heard it was life changing, and well it was.
First, he starts off by saying that on our missions, it isn't what we say that makes a difference, but who we are, our character. That really struck me deep as he then defined character as a "list" of moreal qualities strongly developed, strikingly shown, and constantly lived. He then went and said what the overal character of Christ is, which is "He turns our when we would turn in." This means that when we would be selfish, think about ourselves, worrry about our own pain, Chirst would do the opposite and only thinking about others. When we would be complaining why me, Christ is always helping others. He talked about many examples of the Character of Christ, how when after in the Garden he healed the soldiers ear, which was a significantly less wound then Christ had just suffered, and so on, but one really stuck out to me, when Satan tempted Christ after His 40 day fast. Elder Bednar pointed out that there was really only one temptation for Christ, and it was when satan would say "If you are the Son of God", to deny His divinity by using His power to turn inward and satisfy Himself, but since Christ was the ultimate example, He didn't give heed to temptation, and through the Joseph Smith Translation that after all of these trials Christ then only thought about John in prison and sent angels to minister unto John. Bednar also said that turning outward to others is a testimony of our conversion. When we become more converted unto Christ, or becoming more like Christ, we should be turning out to others, looking for how we can better help others in our times of need. He then asked all of us a question, that I want to ask all of you, "What have you done LATELY to obtain true conversion (which is having a change of heart to come closer to Christ)" I started to think to my self that what I did lately was go on a mission, which was funny cause the next comment he made was that the greatest conversion on our mission should be us, but if we are focused on converting ourselves, turning inward, that it wont happen. We missionaries need to be focused on what Christ was focused on, others. We need to be constantly helping others, worrying about what we can do to help others, not about what others can do for us. He said that as we turn outward to others, we will be blessed, but yet again, if that is what we focus on, it wont happen. We need to focus on blessing others lives. The last piece of advice that he gave was concerning gospel study, which was an answer to my prayers cause I have been wondering how I can better my studies. He suggested that we get a fresh, inexpensive Book of Mormon with a study journal, choose a single topic to study, and mark the daylights out of it, only marking scriptures that have to do with the topic chosen for the ENTIRE book. He said that if we started now, by the time us misisonaries are his age we should have about 400 copies of the Book of Mormon, each one dedicated to a single topic in the Gospel. So, I took his challenge, and have started over focusing on the first prinicple of the Gospel, faith. It has been amazing how open my eyes have become from doing this!! I am only through 1 nephi chapter 12, and I have been studying for over 4 hours since sunday and I have written 5 pages of notes/spiritual impressions. I challenge EVERYONE to do this, you will be amazed and the spiritual insight you will recieve.
I love you all so much, thank you for all of the letters and words of insignt! I treasure them deeply :)