Hallo, mijn geliefde familie!
Hope you guys had a great Easter week and especially Easter Sunday! Have you guys gotten the chance to see the latest youtube sensation, mormon.org's "Because of Him"? If not, look it up! It's really good. So, we were pretty spoiled this week when it comes to devotionals... Tuesday night, Elder Neil L. Anderson and his wife spoke to us, and yesterday, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke to us!!
Elder Anderson's wife, Kathy Anderson (a tiny FL native with long black hair) told a personal story that made her think "what is it worth to hear the words of the living prophets?" and bore her testimony on the sacred calling of her husband as an apostle of the Lord. Sos. Hartley pointed out how neat it was that she took notes during her husband's talk the whole time, proof that she recognized his sacred calling as an apostle.
Elder Anderson talked about knowing the doctrine of Christ so well that it never leaves us, so that we can pierce the souls of those who we are teaching with the power of our message. He asked for volunteers to share passages from the Book of Mormon of sermons testifying of Christ, and one Elder (apparently known as the obnoxious karate Elder wanting to fight all the guys in my zone every night) interrupted an apostle of the Lord to blurt out after sharing a scripture "Hi Elder Gobert in the Columbia MTC I hope you can see me" - we were being broadcasted to worldwide MTCs- wow, some Elders could learn to think before they speak. His talk was really a wake-up call to know the Book of Mormon better, for example he turned around on the stand and put the MTC presidency and their wives on the spot when he asked for more great passages about Christ and His Crucifixion and they could only think of ones that had been said-- the one he was looking for was Mosiah 15, Abinadi speaking.
Yesterday, President Uchtdorf spoke to us! Our branch presidency was talking to us yesterday about how a member from the first presidency hasn't spoken to the MTC in years, and encouraged us to really ponder why, when for example I got my call in November, I was supposed to be in the MTC this Easter Sunday to hear President Uchtdorf. I was filled with resolve to be a FEARLESS missionary and to reach my full potential, and to remember the distinction that overbearance is boldness without love. He talked about how Christ's resurrection transformed His apostles into dynamic missionaries, and gave a glorious depiction of Peter's transformation after that first Easter Morning, when he realized all that it entailed, and after agonizing over denying Christ, he pleaded for forgiveness and turned around a powerful missionary- from that Easter morn, Peter was a new man, never backing down. He also pointed out that there are usually two reasons why companions get along: either they're both obedient, or both content being disobedient. It's always so powerful to hear a prophet/ seer/ revelator testify that "I know He lives. I know Him. Beyond any question." He addressed us missionaries throughout his talk as "my dear fellow servants," the "extended arm of the Twelve," and fellow "disciples of Christ" which I thought was neat. Also, he quoted the last verse from "How Firm A Foundation" (which happens to be one of my favorite hymns, it reminds me of the Bury St. Edmunds chapel groundbreaking -- 2004 in England) and changed the last hymn to that. He also pointed out how Mary Magdalene was seriously one of the most remarkable people ever- Jesus Christ chose to appear to her first, and she was the first person to ever see a resurrected being. [I guess if your real first name is Mary you must be pretty special ha]. After the morningside, he wound around the congregation and shook as many hands as he could... I was singing in the choir, though, but still saw him pretty close and am glad I sang. Also, sadly his wife wasn't feeling well and couldn't come, and he apologized that we were missing out of 75% of him. Wow, I won't forget this past Easter Sunday!
As if we hadn't had enough neat speakers, last night we had the MTC administrative director speak to us, and he invited Hong Kong-native, member for a little over a year Elder Laou (speaks Cantonese and Mandarin) to share his testimony, coming from a non-Christian area of the world (with the help of a translator), it was super cool, especially because I'm sure a lot of people I'll be teaching won't have those shared Christian beliefs. I sat next to Sister Mueller, who is half-British and half-German and left today for a mission in Greece, and reminisced with her in German about Diddlmaus and other German childhood things.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE EASTER PACKAGE! Omigosh, I loooooved the pictures, comics, my favorite skirt and BYU hoodie, PHOTO BOOK, pictures/postcards/comics, the Easter eggs filled with walnuts/ (c)raisins/ almonds/ dates... aw, anyone can send a missionary jelly beans for Easter, but it's true love and knowing me if ya send me that, I seriously loved that, yum(: Speaking of which, after eating three meals/ day together for three weeks, I guess some Elders in my zone have noticed how I like my fruit and veggies... they have been struggling with punctuality, and apparently last night they decided on punishments for coming to breakfast late today: no vending machine snacks, no Sunday walk, and they have to eat whatever Zuster Riley gets! Hahaha wow. And I loved the photo book! Thank you so much. Wow we've had some fun trips and good style (..jk) throughout the years. My teachers/ zone were all so intrigued to find out that I had an identical twin, too, but everyone could tell which one I was on the graduation announcement.
So, I've had four lessons with Tom now, who still thinks that discussing ideas of religion with a young American Mormon could help his relationship with and understanding of God. The most important thing I've learned while teaching Tom is how to listen- I noticed a huge difference when ditching my word-for-word lesson plan and letting Tom steer the conversation, and asking genuine questions followed up by genuine follow-up questions. I also realized in talking to Tom how ironic it is that the modern-day scriptorians who stick only to the Bible are becoming exactly what the Bible they cling to warns against: Sadducees and Pharisees and the like with hardened hearts who rejected prophets and revelation current to their day and accepted only the written law. Of course, I need to learn how to present that idea in a non-offensive way haha.
Thanks for all the pics/ DearElders/ package/ everything! Love you guys.. Ik houd van jullie! Love, Zuster Riley