Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm Here!! Jerusalem is amazing!!

We arrived in Jerusalem after a long long day of traveling! Everything went as planned with my group of travelers. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This experience outweighs all of they expectations I ever had. The people, the city, the Jerusalem center, the professors, and the chance I have to share my talents. Seriously, all this put together make one incredible experience!! After just the first flight I felt so close to everyone I was with. Everyone here is so outgoing. I feel shy here, and I have never felt shy in other social settings, haha. They are so well-rounded, talented, smart, and happy. I haven't met a bad one in the bunch.
I have felt the love of my savior so strong this past couple days.
Experience #1: During our first orientation meeting we met in the big auditorium where we have sacrament meeting every Saturday. The curtains were closed. The organ started playing and they opened the curtains to the windows that look right over the whole city and the dome of the rock. I can't describe the feeling I felt. Something told me. . "Do you know how lucky you are? Do you know how much I love you? I sent you to this place to learn something and because I love you. Don't take advantage of it." I never really knew what I was getting my self in to. But I am so excited that the Lord gave me this opportunity to learn more about his life and to feel his love for me.
Experience #2: So today was the Sabbath for us. We had church at 10 in the morning and choir practice before at 9. It was awesome what we could put together a prelude song in just a short time. So we sang right before the meeting and we had a full meeting, there was a big Mormon tour that was passing through. So we took the sacrament looking over the exact city in which the Atonement happened. Wow!!
Also, today I was given a calling. I am the new YOUNG WOMEN''s TEACHER!! There are 5 Young Women in this branch and there are only 13 in the whole country of Israel. So we are so lucky!! The Young Women are so amazing!! They are all from the US but here with there parents for work. 3 of them live right here in the center. They are so knowledgable and know the gospel really well. I am learning so much from them. There is a President of YW that we work with, her name is Sister Bentley from California. Shelby - another studentd, and I will be teaching every other week. I am so excited!! I have always wanted to work in Young Womens.
But the best part about this whole experience on the Sabbath was the blessings that Brother Muhlstein gave me when he set me apart after church. He doesn't even know me well at all, but I feel so much love coming from him. He is one of my professors but also in the Branch Presidency. In the blessing while he set me apart. He blessed me that I would love these girls like the savior does. He also told me that the Savior had a perfect love for me, that his love is overflowing and something that I cannot even imagine. He told that I am doing what the Lord wants me to be doing right now, and that my sins are forgiven me. I was shocked at the words he said!! I have never had such a personal and loving blessing while being set apart. Afterwards he thanked me for the willingness to serve and told me that this calling would change my whole experience here at the center. I know it will!! I felt so good after that blessing.

After church we went on a walk to visit the Garden of Gethsemene. I can't believe that I was standing in the spot where Jesus suffered for my every sin. The big gnarly olive trees were exactly as I had expected. It was really cool. Then we walked into the big church right next to it and there were holding a big Catholic mass in Spanish so I was able to understand a little bit and talk to some people from Spain. My day was complete!! I ended with a little Atonement and some good ol' Espanol!!

P.S. I also found out today that they might be able to get a harp for me to play. Across the street is the Hebrew University and I guess we can rent instruments from there. I hope that can happen because I would absolutely love to play in this beautiful auditorium looking over the whole city of Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we start all of our real classes, they are going to be intense!!
Love you all!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today I Am Grateful for a Righteous Father

Lately, having seen many good men fall to temptations and lose their testimony, I have been so grateful for a pure father who honors his Priesthood. I have total and complete trust in him. I know he will never do anything to disappoint my family or stray from the church. There are not many men that I can say that about.
My dad has an incredible faith in the Savior. He will do anything that is required to serve in the church and give whatever is needed. He truly gives EVERYTHING to the church. His life totally revolves around the Lord and this wonderful church.
Today something happened that reaffirmed my total trust and gratitude for my father. Today is Easter Sunday, which means we ARE singing in the ward choir. It is something that we have done as a family for a long time. We had a choir practice at 8:20 before our meetings began. When my dad woke up that morning, he was swollen all over. He had had a allergic reaction to something the night before. His tongue, lips, hands, and feet were all swollen and itchy. My mom told me that dad was not going to choir practice because his tongue was swollen and he couldn't even talk very well.
While I was getting ready I heard my dad get out of bed and come out of his room. I had to go see how looked, poor thing. Let's just say he didn't look perky and ready for choir practice. I felt so bad. Well, my dad realized the importance of Easter sunday and also that he was one of the only Basses in our choir. He got ready in a jiff, and he was in the car before I was. I was shocked to see him ready for choir practice.
Not only did he go to sacrament meeting, he went early to practice, and stood in front of the whole ward with his swollen face. Where do his priorities lie? What is most important to my dad? The Lord and the church are much more important than his appearance. Not many people noticed this small act of dedication to the church. But I sure noticed it and I will never forget it. I will never doubt that my father will choose the church above all other things, no matter what trials and pestilences come. I love him!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"The Last Lecture"

For my D&C religion class for our final class we had to write our own "Last lecture." Basically what that means is the speech we would give if we were going to die tomorrow. What means the most to us and what are we made of? This was really hard for me and it took me a lot of pondering to dig up what I really value most. Our only criteria was to include doctrines found in the first half of the D&C. So I would like to share what means most to me to all my family and close friends. Read it and then go make your own, it is a great thing to have and to think about.

“The Last Lecture”

My time has come to join the missionaries on the other side of the veil. But I hope that through my life I have been able to touch your lives as you have touched mine. My life has been nothing but pure joy found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Joy, meaning the inner peace that we feel even when hard times come. The Lord said to Thomas B. Marsh in D & C 31:2,3 “Behold, you have had many afflictions because of your family, yea, your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you in my church. Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.” We have to find that inner peace and joy even when we are hit with trials that we think we can never get through. The only way we can trudge through those hard times is to look for the sunshine in the storm and turn to your father in heaven as said in D & C 59:7 “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things” Anything is possible with the Lord. Through his Atonement we can get through anything. He went through all of it already so we wouldn’t have to do it alone. In D&C 6:37 he said, “Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.” He has already paid the price and if we turn to him we can inherit the kingdom of heaven just like he promised. “There is none other name given whereby man can be saved;” D & C 18:23.

I have found in my life that true comes only from the things of God – the things of eternity. No matter how many toys or clothes we have, we will still feel exactly the same if we are empty inside. In D & C 38:39 it reads “And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give;” We will feel truly rich when we feel that our life is in accordance with the will of God. There is no other object or wealth that can make up for that feeling.

LOVE with all your stinkin little heart. Don’t judge, look at people as if you were seeing them through the eyes of Christ. Life is too short to judge others. In every person there is a treasure lying inside that is waiting to be found. Each person in this world has something to offer. I have learned in my life that I can learn something valuable from everyone I meet. I can learn to love something about everyone I meet. They are children of God and they are lovable and yearn to be loved. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (D & C 59:6)

The Gospel and Family is what it’s all about. The happiest moments of my life were spent in the service of the Lord and with my family. I can’t wait to spend eternity with my family doing the things we love to do together and helping the Lord build his kingdom. The good news that we have is meant to be shared. Let your light shine and stand above the rest so they will notice that what you have is different. The Lord says it best in D & C 18:15, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” We will find great joy in the service of our Heavenly Father, rounding up his children so we can live with him again.

Do all you can to be in the presence of God for eternity. Put off what you want now for what you want later. Live everyday like it’s your last and treasure the memories that are made. Don’t have any regrets, God loves you and wants you back. I love you and hope to be live with you again in the mansions of our Father. God be with you ‘til we meet again.