Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday, Feb. 23rd.

Sister Mitchell and I went in to presidency meeting this morning. We are planning the March RS Birthday Party. We got the menu put together today. We will be having a formal dinner. We will eat fish steak with a German sauce on it, kamala, vegetables, rolls and a salad. Fish is a favorite here and it will be better than a roast pig. It is going to be a fancy night and we don’t have any fancy clothes, so we will just have to do the best we can.

Sacrament meeting was really scarce today. We are a downtown ward and most of the people live within the boundaries of the stake where Elder Andersen was speaking today. I think everyone went there. Our bishop was setting up the sound system at the chapel at Liahona for the missionary meeting this afternoon and one councilor was at the meeting with Elder Andersen. That left Leopeti all alone, but he did just fine. The speakers were good, they just didn’t have anyone to talk to. That was kind of sad.

We only had two sisters in our class today. The men were teaching other classes where the teachers didn’t show up. The lesson was on the different callings in the Priesthood and their various responsibilities. Not really a great lesson for two sisters. We decided to send them to the Gospel Doctrine class and we headed back home to grab a quick bite to eat before we headed over to the chapel to listen to Elder Andersen.

Our missionary meeting with Elder Andersen was 2 hours long and the time just flew by. When he first came in he said that he wanted to shake hands with everyone but that it had to be done quickly. There was no conversation, just a quick hello and a handshake. Still, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to shake hands with an Apostle.

We, the senior missionaries along with all of the young missionaries, sang the first song in Tongan and Elder Andersen came right to the edge of his seat. He and Sister Andersen smiled through the whole hymn and when it was over he said right out loud, “That was beautiful!” I have never seen a Tongan hymn, sung with full harmony, not bring that reaction. There just simply is nothing like it any where else in the world. I am REALLY going to miss that music!!

When Sister Andersen talked she thanked the senior missionaries for their service. She told the young elders and sisters that they were sacrificing a lot to go on a mission, but that it was nothing like what the senior missionaries sacrifice. She told us that we are their heroes. It was nice to have her be so grateful and complimentary. It is always nice to feel appreciated.

When Elder Andersen stood up, he paused for a moment as he arranged his books and then said. “I have been praying that the Lord will tell me what He wants me to say especially to you, something that will stay with you. I have some thoughts in mind, but I want to know what He wants you to hear.” Then he went on to talk to the Elders in Ha’api - and all those who have helped the people of Ha’api. (The meeting was being broadcast up to Ha’api) He said that the 1st Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wanted them (and I felt like we were included) to know how grateful they are for all that has been done to help the people of that island. And then with great power he said, “Jesus Christ is thankful for what you have done.” I could feel that love and gratitude come straight from the Lord into my heart. It was an overwhelming feeling and one that I wished I could hold on to forever.

Then he told us to write down the feelings and impressions that we got during the meeting, that they would change us and shape our lives. I know that he was not just talking to the young missionaries, but to all of us. The things that really touched me were:

1) You were who you were long before you came to earth and you will be yourself forever.

2) Being able to go to the temple during a mission is a GREAT BLESSING!

3) Your marriage and your family will be your greatest joy.

4) Embrace the Atonement.

“Repentance is not a free ride” Elder Oaks

“A person must suffer for his sins to truly change.” President Kimball

5) When you go back to America, bring more balance to your lives. Give up material possessions.

6) Tonga is the only country in the world, the only place in the world besides America, that little pioneer corridor in Utah and Southern Idaho, where there are so many missionaries going into the mission field. Right now Tonga has over 650 missionaries serving and there are many more with calls and waiting to go. That is amazing coming from such a small group of islands.

7) He told us to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ “down into your bones. It has to become a part of you.”

He left with a blessing, that the gospel would sink deep into our bones. That if we desire it, we will understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ more fully. He promised that as we serve the Lord we will come to know Him and to love Him. He ended by saying, “I know Him, (a long pause and tears) He is not absent from His Prophets and Apostles. He loves His church and He watches over it.” The Spirit was strong and we all knew that one of the Lord’s chosen witnesses had just spoken to us. Wow, what a beautiful meeting and what a spiritual experience.