This week was incredible! And this next week, the last week of the transfer, is going to go out with a bang! Because my most favorite people in the entire world are entering the waters of baptism this Sunday!! I can't describe the joy and excitement that comes from seeing these 2 sweet girls, Shannon and Shae Maree, make their first covenant with God. They're starting the road to eternal life and I could not be more proud of them. We have been working so hard with them all transfer, and we have just seen miracle after miracle with this family. They are my favorite Samoan New Zealander's in the world and I wish you could all spend every day with them like I do. We'd all be better people if we could be more like the Su'a's. Let me tell you why. This story will be complicated, but I'll try to make it all come full-circle.
So, this week, we were at a family's house. The father of this household has stopped coming to church, because he finds himself intrigued by the controversial matters of the church. He gets so caught up in it, that he has lost his basic testimony. Well, as we were at their home, he of course brings up a controversial subject. He made point after point, and I soon found my faith being attacked. The things he was saying made logical sense. And I started to find myself agreeing with him. I came home that night feeling twisted, and sick to my stomach. I knew something wasn't right. I knew the spirit was not with me, because it had been a long time since I had felt those types of feelings of the spirit leaving. I sat down and thought for a bit, and I realized something: I didn't have a testimony of certain things in this gospel. I had a moment, as hard as this is for me to admit to you all, where I completely lost sight of why I'm here. I didn't even want to be here anymore, because I didn't know if there was any real reason as to why I'm here. I thought to myself, am I just wasting my time? Is anything actually coming of this? Is what I'm preaching to all these people actually true? I couldn't see clearly anymore. I had let Satan cloud my vision by letting the doubts sink in, because I hadn't done what was necessary to gain a testimony of these particular principles.
I felt pretty awful as I went to bed that night. I prayed hard to Heavenly Father, mostly just asking if He is even there. Because I really didn't know for a moment. I plead with Him that night, asking Him to somehow help me see what I'm doing here.
Well, the next morning I began my personal study. I decided the perfect thing for me to read would be President Uchtdorf's talk "Receiving A Testimony of Light and Truth." I realized a lot of things while reading that. I realized that anything that you think is an answer to a prayer that is not something of light, that is not something that leads you closer to Christ, is NOT from God, no matter how logical it may seem. I also realized that you have to gain a testimony for yourself to overcome the doubts that will assuredly come. How do you do that? You have to study first of all. Because of going on back to back exchanges and meetings, I hadn't been able to study my scriptures or the gospel in 3 days. My spiritual well was running dry. Studying DAILY is so important. Then, you have to ask God. I realized I have been teaching people to go and ask God if certain principles are true, and then I've never done it myself. How do I expcet to teach with sincerity and conviction if I don't know what I'm talking about? Better yet, how do I expect to ward off the adversary's many attacks if I don't fortify myself? I promise you the adversary can bring anyone down, he knows your weaknesses. He brought down this full-time representative of Jesus Christ for a little while there. You HAVE to be doing your part to fend him off.
So, I opened up my scriptures and it felt like a breath of fresh air. That spirit that I so badly missed started coming back. Then I decided I needed to go pray and ask if these things were true or not. So, I went into the bedroom and poured out my heart to my Father. I didn't feel anything right away, which was good, because I knew the spirit was already with me. So if I felt the same, that meant the spirit was still there, telling me this was good and right. Then an image popped into my mind of Christ standing before me, and I thought about how I would instantly kneel before His feet. But then a new thought came into my mind almost immediately after. I know I didn't put it there, because it was almost happening in my mind as if it was literally playing out before my eyes. Christ didn't stay standing before me, but He came and knelt down next to me. He started pleading with me. It hit me at that moment that Christ felt every doubt, fear, worry, heartache and pain that I had felt the night before. He understood me perfectly. And there He was, telling me, "I'm here with you. Come to me, and I will give you peace." It was so vivid and so apparent to me. I'll never forget that image. Christ is our advocate with the Father. He really did atone for us. He really does love us, even when we're doubting Thomas's. He wants us to develop our faith in Him and His gospel, so He will be with us every step of the way as we're on our journey to do so.
So, I then fasted that night and the following morning to gain a testimony of those things which I had prayed for. Some of those things were if Joseph Smith is a prophet, and if families are eternal. Well, just so happens that that very evening, I got to attend a civil wedding ceremony of a friend in the ward. While I was there, I felt a tangible difference between how I felt there, and how I felt as I was watching my sister and brothe-in-law get sealed for time and all eternity. The spirit was different, and I knew that the priesthood used to seal families together is real. I felt it there almost a year ago, and I didn't feel it at this wedding. It made me sad actually to think of binding yourself to your loved one in any other way. Because it's real! God has actually given us the power to be together forever. You can feel how real it is if you've ever gotten the chance to experience it.
Then on Sunday, this is where it comes full circle, Ronny, the dad of Shannon and Shae Maree bore the most incredible testimony. He has never done it before, because he's been inactive for a long time. But he told us that he has learned humility as he's started to put the gospel as his first priority. He's learned the humility necessary to gain a testimony and listen to God's call to come back to Him. He pounded his fist on the podium and said "for the first time in my life, I know God is there. I know He listens to my prayers. And I know Joseph Smith is a prophet." That simple line right there hit me like a ton of bricks. God answers our prayers many times through other people. He answered my prayer about Joseph Smith and if He is really there through Ronny. It was incredible to feel the spirit telling me that what Ronny was saying is true. I felt so proud of Ronny at that moment. And I felt especially grateful that God had answered my prayers.
So voilà. There you have it folks. I apologize if that made no sense, but it really was a huge week of growth for this little testimony I'm trying to grow. I invite you all to really search for a testimony of the basics, if you haven't already. The moment will come where it's all you have left to rely on, and if it's not there, you'll wish it was. This gospel makes me happy, and I know it's true. Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith. But when you do doubt, do what it takes to find your faith.
Thank you also for the birthday wishes! I love you all!