Sunday, March 28, 2010

Conferences and what not

Dear family,
This week was Zone Conference. For those of you who don't know what that is, we have it every month and we get to hear inspirational messages from our mission president, other missionary leaders, and this time we heard about staying healthy physically and emotionally when the senior couples over the Northeast Asia missions came and gave presentations about washing your hands, good posture, depression, and anxiety, the most pertinent things to missionaries.
It was also a really spiritually packed meeting and we talked a lot about conversion. What does it take for someone to be converted? A lot of times it requires them to feel the spirit and not just to feel it, but to recognize that they feel it. One sister was talking about when she was in the MTC and she helped someone get baptized through the TRC (teaching resource center). There was a Korean man who would come every Saturday to help her practice her Korean and he was not a member. Although she was a brand new missionary and she didn't really know how to teach all of the topics, she knew how to love and how to show him love. Every week she would talk about the spirit and she would tell him that the good feeling he felt after they taught was the spirit. He didn't really seem to be changing much, but then one day he came up to her in the cafeteria and told her he wanted to be baptized. He said that he had been changing his mind, like a flower (don't you love Koreans), and that although he didn't really understand much of what she taught he always felt good and he wanted to be baptized so that he could continue to feel that sunshine and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life going after that sunshine. For this sister the spirit was the sunshine.
For a lot of Koreans they say that they know they feel the spirit because they get hot ears, or for others their throat starts to swell up. No matter what physiological reaction we feel, I know that God has let us all feel his spirit in our lives before. I think it is important to feel that spirit, which we often do through reading scriptures, prayer, hearing other's testimonies, serving, etc. However,I think it is also important to be able to recognize that feeling and to recognize how we can really obtain it. This week's challenge is for you to send me one time when you have really felt the spirit and what it feels like to you. This week I want you to actually do the challenge and send me an email.
So what does it feel like for me? It feels warm, it is like a blanket-- on my heart. It is this peace that is able to take the fears, insecurities, worries, and cluttering thoughts away from my heart and allows me to just enjoy. It is an empowering feeling that softly urges me to do things better. I know when I am feeling the spirit because I start to get ideas in my head of how I can help other people. It's kind of weird, but suddenly I will just think "so and so really would appreciate a chocolate bar" or "you should tell your family about zone conference" or similar things. It's great, but a lot of times if I don't write the thoughts down then I forget them later, so one way that I have been able to show God that I appreciate the times when he lets me feel the spirit is I always carry around a small notebook so I can write down that inspiration when I get it. But that's just me. How about you?
I think a lot of you don't really know why I decided to serve a mission. I don't have an amazing story like a lot of people that I know (it's not in my patriarchal blessing, I didn't get this sudden urge while blessing macoroni), but I will tell you my story anyway. I have mostly always wanted to serve a mission. I think it had something to do with the fact that when I was in primary the teachers would always ask "and who is going to go on a mission?" and all the boys would raise their hands. I didn't want to be left out, so I did too.
But I don't know if it was really a thought that seemed like it could happen until maybe I was in High School and Jonny went on a mission. I remember going to General Conference when Preach My Gospel came out and hearing the apostles talk about it. Uncle Paul was visiting from California while we lived in Spanish Fork and after the talks he said "I think you should go on a mission. If you do, I will pay for it." It was weird, but when he said that I knew it. I knew I would go on a mission. He didn't end up paying for it (maybe I should have taken him up on the offer...) and he probably doesn't even remember it, but I just had this feeling that I would go.
In college I wasn't sure, because everyone always said that marriage was so important and I shouldn't pass up the opportunity to get married for a mission. So I made a deal with the Lord. I told him that I would date and I would do all I could to try to get married, but that if I wasn't married by the time it came to turn in my papers that I was going on a mission. Sometimes I am not the best at getting really clear distinct answers to my prayers, but I figured that I trusted God enough that if I was trying to do the right thing and I was doing the wrong thing he would let me know. Also, as I went to BYU I met a LOT of returned sister missionaries. There was always something different about them-- it wasn't just that they had waited longer to get married. They had a different confidence, assurance, knowledge, friendliness, this light that I really wanted. So I guess my decision was a bit selfish and stubborn, it was something that I really wanted and so I decided to do it. It reminds me of the sons of Mosiah who go to their dad and plead to go on missions, as it says in Mosiah 28:3:
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not abear that any human bsoul should cperish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure dendless torment did cause them to quake and etremble.
I may not be as spiritual as they were, but I am at least as persistent so Heavenly Father couldn't really help but send me on a mission. I always feel like those people in the scriptures who may or may not have been meant to have great things, but because they were so naggy Heavenly Father just decided to give it to them anyway. But maybe that's the way it is supposed to be. Heavenly Father offers us all so much, he gave us all such eternal potential and the scriptures are just jammed packed with blessings that are there for the taking. We just have to ask and be willing to endure some trials and we can have them.
This one in Acts 2:16 is one of my favorites:
And it shall come to pass in the alast days, saith God, I will bpour out of my cSpirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall dprophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall edream dreams:
Isn't that so cool? So I decided that if God was brazen enough to make the promise then I was going to take him up on it and I am so thankful that I did. In the MTC my teacher told us a few times that it doesn't matter as much why you went on a mission as it does why you stay. Maybe my reasons were selfish, but since coming I have learned so much about the importance of prayer and the scriptures and all the little things in life. I have felt the spirit every day, even on the hard ones when I thought I would rather die, he was there to comfort me when I asked. I know that God is there for all of you. I know that He loves all of his children. I know he loves the Koreans and that because there was a chance that I could learn Korean and because there was a chance I could help at least one of his children that he decided to invest so much in sending me here-- even if that one was just me.
I also know that this email is too long, so I hope to hear from all of you soon.
Sister O'Bryan

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