Monday, November 19, 2007

Spiritual Feast

Sunday was busy for me but in a good way. I felt like I really enjoyed a spiritual feast. I woke up early again and got to work on preparing for the class I was subbing for at Church and for my visiting teaching. That pretty much took all morning. After that I just got us ready for church and off we went. Sacrament was really great. The first 2 speakers were missionaries that serve in the Church's addiction recovery program. They were so compassionate and I loved hearing the stories of people overcoming such strong addictions and how miraculous the power of the Atonement is. The 3rd speaker talked about gratitude... a really good talk. He even talked about Pres. Eyring's general conference talk which was cool since that was one of the talks I was going to use for my visiting teaching. After Sacrament meeting I had the privilege of teaching primary for the first time ever in my life. It was the 5 year olds and I was filling in for my friend who's kids were all sick. I have to admit that I was prettty nervous but it turned out being an awesome experience. My lesson was about showing love for your parents- pretty easy. Then they had a turkey craft that they made. Some of the boys were pretty roudy but nothing a little threatening to get parents wouldn't fix. After the lesson it was primary time. I had forgotten what this was like. I loved it! I can't even explain how overwhelmed I was with how strong the Spirit was and how sweet all these little kids were. It was so hard for me to keep back the tears... I'm such a baby! But it was such a sweet experience to feel of these sweet children's simple and strong spirits and the love that was felt there. I've always had a huge fear of getting a primary calling but now I know I could totally handle it and would probably love it. After we got home I had a little bit to eat and then it was off for visiting teaching. My partner was sick so I was going solo. I've been so excited about VT this month since it was my turn to give the lesson and I got to choose from the conference Ensign. I've never thrown myself into General Conference like I have with this past one so I was so excited to share what I gained from it. I couldn't pick justs one talk so there were 2 I talked about. The first one was "Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises" from Elder Condie. It was the one where he talked about the many promises of the Lord available to us and how we can claim them. He goes on to say that those promises come in the Lord's time, not ours and he talks about the story of Rachel. He explains that 4 of the best words in holy writ are "And God Remembered Rachel." I loved this talk! I had a really cool story that went with this from the letter my mom sent me about the miracles she experienced with General Conference and I shared it with my VT sisters. This is the part of the letter I shared.
"...And as we watched I soon realized that the 'list of girls I made was truly inspired. Those first talks about our doctrine, and practices were given for those in that conference room. The Spirit was so strong and everyone was listening so intently to the words of our leaders. As I looked around the room, at the women I was experiencing this moment with, my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with love for these sisters. I never would have imagined myself in this situation, surrounded by these 'types' of women. And I knew that no one on the 'outside' could ever understand what I was feeling. Among my 'companions' was *Britney 'Scrappy' Smith. I know that Scrappy is her nickname because it's tattooed across her neck. And I know that the father of the child she's carrying is named *'Snake' because his name is tattooed on her chest and arms. She's here for distribution and prostitution. I pray she's out before her baby turns 5. Next to Scrappy sits *Carla Street, 68 years old, doing time for molesting her two grandchildren. There's *Cindy Brown who's 26 and serving 2-5 to life sentences for shooting and killing her little sister's rapist. *'Toothless' Jean is across from me. She's only 23 years old, but years of heroine addiction has robbed her of her youth, beauty, teeth, and brain cells, not to mention her family. *Anne McNeil, probably the most miserable and angriest person I've ever met, just seems full of light and peace. Then there's *Natalie Gable. She's 72 and has been here for 26 years. She will probably die in prison. She killed her husband, his lover, and their two dogs. And my best friend, *Julie King sits next to me. She was convicted of killing her 4-year old adopted daughter by making her drink too much water. And on it goes. As I scan the room, and this 'odd' group of women, I wonder how I could ever explain and make the 'outside world' understand the incredible warmth of God's presence that we all felt that morning. While there are many who would be sickened by this group of women and their crimes, that day, I truly knew, beyond any doubt, that God is a forgiving God and that each of us 'misfits,' we 'dregs of society' are His beloved daughters. And he loves each of us as equally as He loves any of His 'righteous' daughters. Many on the 'outs' will never understand how the Sirit could be felt so strongly within these prison walls among these 'type' of women. But I testify to you that we were all in the presence of our Father that day."
*names have been changed
I shared how I know that no matter what we do God loves us and if we repent and do our best to be true to our covenants we will be able claim His "exceeding great and precious promises." The other talk I mentioned was Pres. Eyrings "O Remember, Remember." I thought it went so well with Thanksgiving- giving thanks and recognizing and remembering the Lord's hand in ours and our family's lives. I made each of the sister's, my partner and I a gratitude journal that had these quotes from his talk.
"My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies.
"The key to the remembering that brings and maintains testimony is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion.
''We come to see the hand of God more clearly, so clearly that in time we not only remember Him, but we come to love Him and, through the power of the Atonement, become more like Him.
"Tonight... you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him."
I know that taking the time to follow Pres. Eyring's counsel will increase our testimonies and eventually be more like our Heavenly Father. I had such a good visit with these 2 sisters. I love VT so much! After I got home I just hung out and visited with family. Then Robert and I went to tithing settlement. It was wonderful to take that time to go over our year with our amazing Bishop. He is one of the best men I know and the love he emanates is almost over-powering. I'm so grateful for how our Church is organized and run and I know it's the Lord's way. Yes... Sunday was truly a spiritual feast for me!

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