Did you guys love conference? I thought it was just wonderful and I was so exhausted afterwards because I was intently listening to find answers to the questions I have. I was uplifted and inspired. I felt that as the prophets and apostles spoke I realized how long a way I have to go, but also how loved and cherished I am by the Lord. I particularly loved the Women's meeting. I loved how world wide it is all going with the many cultures showing through. Our wide spread diversity in the church is what makes u strong. As Brother Myhers told me in my first interview at the MTC, "Your uniquness makes us stronger." Indeed, it is the same in the church.
The General Women's meeting answered one of my first questions. How can I prepare to make and keep more temple covenants? I loved the focus on temples! It testified to me that this needs to be more of a focus in my life. When I come home I plan to make a goal that will help me to serve, learn, and receive daily, all the blessings that the temple brings. Sister Marriott who compared the light of the temple to our light opened my eyes to a whole new way of understanding the scripture "Know you not that your body is a temple". I love her accent! It is quite a contrast from the English I hear it, but it made me feel at home. I have decided to take up her challenge and memorize The Living Christ by Christmas. Who's with me?! I almost had it all down back in THeim, but time has wiped it from my memory. But it is starting to come back! As I listened to the meeting, I was overcome again and again with the power of unity. I love that we can have GC. I love to meet as members of the church and discuss the things of our hearts. There really is so much support and strength in numbers.
As the meetings progressed, I was touched by many other speakers. As I watched I realized how my relationship with GC has changed over the years. As a kid I would listen and try to learn, but most of the time I felt like it was just a bunch of old men talking. I believe what they said, but I didn't really understand their words. Now as I listen to conference, I hang onto every word. I've spent the last 18 months studying the leaders talks and sermons. I have had the opportunity and privilege to be in the some of their prescience's, and I spend more time than I can count quoting them to members, investigators, people on the street, and other missionaries. I feel now I have a personal relationship with them. Not in the way of let's hang out and get some hot coco, but on a spiritual level.
As I was thinking about this I couldn't help relating it to Christ. In the scriptures we learn that those that know Christ will hear his voice and He will recognize them. To those that did not choose to follow him, Christ says that He "knew them not". But how do we come to know His voice? How do we comet to not just think this is some man that is old and has a lot of wisdom? It is through studying his word and learning to listen to his voice. As we do our relationships changes much like my relationship has changed with GC. We delightfully hear and read his word and actively seek to be more like him.
Of course you guys know that I loved the Preisthood Session! Wow has my testimony of the Preisthood grown on my mission. You want to know if the Priesthood is real? Come watch theses 18-20 year old elders preform the miracles they do, and you will know its real. I am obsessed with President Uchtdorf's talk "Lord is it I?" Ding! Ding! Sister Hodgkiss, you should probs stop being so judgey and worry about your own salvation! It was a good smack in the face! I had always read the story of the last supper and the disciples asking "Lord, is it I? Will I be the one to betray you?" and thought, "You idiots! Hod do you not know?!" But as he spoke I realized that that question showed their Heavenly virtue of love. towards others and understanding of the teachings of Christ. I was inspired to be more like them, to not look at another and ask "Is it him?", but to look at myself and ask "Is it I?". Repentance has been an ever needed task for me as I listened to the words of the Prophets, but oh how grateful I am that we can repent and that we have people to guide us in the right direction!
I think my favorite talks (is it possible to pick?) were by Elder Klebringert and Elder Godoy. Elder K's talk was amazing! What a speaker! He threw it down and didn't even look nervous about it! His story about the sister missionary that was always so hard on herself really hit me. I loved the rawness of her answer when he asked why she was so hard on herself and she said "So no one else can beat me to it." How many times have I been unforgiving towards myself? How many times have I demanded immediate perfection from myself? His 6 steps to help us listen to the "right voices" were bold yet humble and directional. I loved his quote "force a smile and gaze upward".
Elder Godoy spoke about the power of "a matter of a few degrees." That is actually a wonderful talk given by President Uchtdorf, and I loved Elder G's spin off of it, with a mix of "Good, better, best" by Elder Oaks. Did his questions "Am how I living going to fulfill my patricahrtical blessing?" change anyone else's life? Heck, I need to read that thing again! Many different people talked about how our actions need to be fulfilling the goals we have. How often I have been like the boy who had a goal of a temple marriage but only dated girls not temple worthy or not members. It definitely made me think about my goals and my actions. Is my life so far bringing to pass who I want to become?
"Just because things are going well doesn't mean from time to time we shouldn't question if there is something greater."
I could talk about these things all day, but we don't really have all day But good news! By the time I get home the Ensign with the talks will be out and we can read them and have this conversation all over again! #6dastillIseemomanddad #31/2weekstilliseetherestofyou #ding
So I can't really remember too much of the last week and a half, but I do have some highlights to tell. After reading Kyle's email on prayers, I started thinking about the power that prayers has played in my life. Btw, I love when you guys share your experiences with me! It strengthens me and teaches me so much! But anyways, I love prayer. I once read a talk called Improving Your Personal Prayers. The author asked "If someone listened to your personal prayers what would it say about you and your relationship with Heavenly Father?" Well, when I read that I thought Uh-Oh... Prayers is something I ma still striving to improve, but wow have I seen the miracles it has brought. I love seeing it in my own life, but I love it more in the life's of those I teach and serve with.
Benedikte was baptized in Northern Norway in May and we work with her as a new convert because she moved down here shortly after her baptism. The other day we taught her about fasting. As it commonly happens with new converts, they are baptized and then forget about a lot of the commandments, so we re-teach them and help them to continue to follow them. We explained fasting and we asked if she would fast this week for fast Sunday. She told us that it sounded really hard and she wasn't sure if she could do it, so I asked her if she was willing to pray about it. She gladly agreed. After the lesson we asked her if she wanted to read from the Book of Mormon. She said yes and we started reading from where she left off. We read Alma 5 first. In Alma 5 it talked about fasting. I smiled as we read it and mentioned it after we finished the chapter. She laughed and said that is was kind of funny that it just happened to come up. Before we left, she asked if we could read 1 more chapter and so we read Alma 6 where it talked about fasting again. When we got done I again brought it up and she looked at me and said "How do I fast again?" She was determined to pray and ask God and then act on that answer and so her answer came and it came fast. It was so cool to be there and to see her experiencing this. The Spirit testified to me as the first thing about fasting came up that Benedikte would get an answer. Prayer works!
Last week Zlatko, the 12 year old Talic kid prayed and said this, "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that the misisonaries could come today. That was very nice of you. Sister Louci is going to go home soon and we are all going to really miss her, especially me. We have come to be close to her and it is going to make our hearts heavy when she leaves. Please bless her to enjoy her time and her time with her parents." I translated that, so the English might sound a little weird. But it was the cutest thing! My favorite thing about the Talic children has been teaching them to pray and then hearing their experiences with it. Prayer is so important!!
Sunday in between sessions of GC we had a ward dinner. I walked into the gym to eat and everyone yelled "We love you Sister Hodgkiss!" They threw me a surprise going away party!! It was so sweet! They all brought tons of yummy food and even some gifts! I just love them!! Bishop gave a speech about how grateful he was for everything I have done for the ward. I teared up.
This week I have been finishing up the last few things to get ready to go. I still can't believe that my mission is coming to an end. Next week I will write a little more about that and my thoughts, but I think right now my brain is still in jumbles. It is an exciting but scary time!! I am thrilled to be seeing all of you soon! I hope you all enjoyed conference and are enjoying your last few weeks of silence before loud Sister Hodgkiss comes back! I love you guys!!
Keep it real. Keep it simple. And may the odds be ever in your favor.