What wonderful week it has been! We have seen many miracles and found so many who are so ready and prepared to receive the gospel. We have taught repentance and will baptize converts. We are fulfilling our missionary purpose!
There are so many stories this week! I don't even know where to begin! I'll share two:
• We were in search of a less-active member and got lost in her apartment complex. As we were searching, we passed a balcony with a small dog barking at us. Used to dogs, we continued onward, not noticing the much larger dog on the porch next to the balcony. A loud bark split the air and Sister Johnson and I turned to see this dog with it's teeth bared and quickly realized that nothing was restraining it from attacking us. Remembering someone once telling me that the best way to avoid a dog bite is to show the dog you aren't scared, I promptly turned and continued walking as if I didn't care about the dog, bracing myself for pain, Sister Johnson right by my side. We heard the dog run down the stairs, all the while snarling and barking- not something I ever want to hear again. Suddenly (out of literally nowhere), a woman appeared by our side and scolded the dog, who promptly slunk back up the stairs with it's tail between it's legs. Long story short, we didn't die and learned to avoid dogs that don't like us.
• We found this less-active member's apartment, and found out that she didn't live there anymore. But we didn't almost die for nothing! The man agreed to allow us to come back and teach his family. We taught them the Restoration last night and they are so prepared for the gospel! The First Vision left them speechless and they are excited to join us at church on Sunday!
I learned much about testimony this week.
When my family lived in Idaho Falls, I remember frequently standing at the pulpit and bearing my testimony on Fast Sunday. I testified of what my little 8 year old heart believed and quickly returned to sit with my family. I do not remember what I said (although I could probably guess), nor am I sure that it really was all that often, but I do remember the feeling of bearing testimony.
After moving back to St. Johns the summer before fifth grade, the frequency of bearing my testimony diminished almost to nothing. At first it was because I was shy in front of new people, and then it was because I felt shy in front of everyone anyway. I did not feel like I had the words to express what I believed or that I could say anything particularly inspiring. So I sat in the pew and listened. For nearly 9 years.
Preach My Gospel teaches that a powerful testimony is not dependent on eloquence (thank heavens!) or the volume of your voice but on the conviction of your heart. A testimony is a spiritual witness and assurance given by the Holy Ghost. We are taught that as we testify, we seal the truth of the principles or doctrine we are teaching.
As a missionary, you have the opportunity to testify often. You do not have the time to shy away or think that you do not have anything to say. It is your privilege and duty to bear testimony to everyone you meet! I admit that the years of silence were difficult for me to shake. I would often find myself drawing back as we approached a door or someone on the street. I have worked hard to overcome that, and I still have work to do, but bearing testimony has become an experience I treasure.
This week, I had many opportunities to testify. However, it seemed as though each time I opened my mouth, I would get cut off.
"Joseph Smith was-"
"The Book of Mormon is a powerful-"
"Your family can receive-"
"My family has been-"
"Jesus Christ is our-"
Sometimes it was the person we were talking to.
Sometimes it was my companion.
Sometimes it was a loud truck that just happened to drive by at that precise moment.
As the week progressed, I began to wonder if perhaps I was not meant to testify of anything. I began to hold back. I allowed my companion to do the talking. I sat through moments of silence rather than be cut off just one more time.
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to teach a couple who had visited the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights and wanted to learn more about our family-centered message. That morning in personal study I pored over the scriptures and practiced again and again what I would say. When we sat down to teach them, nothing went according to plan. The questions they asked were not the ones that we had prepared to answer and our train of thought was derailed several times by outside distractions. Finally, the thought came to me to pull out a picture of the Mesa temple. I showed it to the couple and they talked about how beautiful it was and how much they loved the lights. I do not remember the exact words that I said, but I do remember the strength of the Spirit that entered into the room as I testified of eternal families and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes that possible. I felt again that wonderful feeling of bearing testimony I was so familiar with as a young girl. We were then able to successfully teach the message of the Restoration. They asked wonderful questions and committed to read from the Book of Mormon.
As I have come to better understand my purpose as a missionary, I have concluded that in order to fulfill my purpose I must testify at every opportunity. This allows those we are talking to to feel the Spirit and desire it more in their lives. I will never allow myself to miss another opportunity to testify of truth.
God is our loving Heavenly Father. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration and the instrument used to restore the true gospel of Christ to the earth. The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of this. Because of the priesthood power that has been restored to the earth, all mankind may take part in the ordinances of salvation, including baptism by proper authority. There are living prophets and apostles who have been chosen by God to lead His children. This gospel has blessed my life, and it can bless your's as well if you will let it.