Sunday, July 31, 2011
I love and feel at home (and I haven't been here long enough to have cabin fever.) I do like my teachers. I have three. Sister Dunn, Bother Reid, and Brother Wanket. Sister Dunn is great because she has a feminine touch. Brother Reid gives a good dose of reality, and Brother Wanket is the big brother of one of my yearbook boys (the skater kid.) Small world!
We use Preach My Gospel constantly. As well as some new workshops and notebooks that are a pilot program. I was prepared in maturity, but NOT prepared concerning studying Preach My Gospel. I'm trying to catch up, but its not coming as quickly as the Elders.
My companion is Sister (Daphnie) Kost (pronounced cost.) She's from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She's pretty quiet, but I'm breaking her in. We are starting to really bond in friendship. We went to the temple this morning and she hadn't been since her own endowment. I helped her along the way and I had a surge of love. We are starting to learn how to teach with the spirit, which is the key to all teaching and learning.
My district is AWESOME. There are 12 of us. Two sisters and four elders going to Farmington and two sisters and four elders going to Atlanta. It is amazing to be with them. We know how to work hard, but also to play and laugh hard.
Right now at the MTC, they have almost record breaking numbers. There were 400 0f us who came last week, which brought the total up to around 2600. Today's numbers will bring us closer to 3000.
We went to the temple (like I said before) and I couldn't believe how much I had missed it. It really is a part of who I am. I thank you mom and dad for making it a priority and teaching us its importance.
My P-day is Wednesday. You feel like you'll have oodles of time, but you don't.
Two nights back we woke up at 2:15 by the loudest fire alarm I've ever heard! We ran from the building and sat outside for 20 minutes. They don't know why it went off, but it sure wasn't planned. Obviously there were some rather sleepy sisters, but for some reason I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. It must have been my training at the Tanner building.
I've seen tons of people. Mike, Brian Thacker, Cami Bingham (she lives across the hall), Wes Smith, and a couple of sisters from my singles ward.
Thank you for adding me to your prayers. As often as I play The Glad Game and look for reasons to smile, I need all the help I can get.
I love you all! Lots of kisses, hugs and spanks!
Love, Sister Wilkins
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
At the bottom she wrote, "I'm going to make it. I'm going to fulfill Mosiah 27:36 'And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.'
Monday, July 18, 2011
Then the 5 small bags of chalk...
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Holy ghost’s role in testimonies
Preparing for a mission usually involves many purchases. And I have gladly sacrificed my time by shopping. As much fun as I have in stores, I have discovered this magic process where nice mail people deliver packages right to my door. It’s a pleasant surprise to step out on the porch or open the mailbox and say, “Hello, sweet treat. What might you be?” To those who have already experienced and forgotten the delight of first-time online shopping, a rain coat, an alarm clock, and a necklace are simple, everyday objects. But to me, the jacket is a strong protection against the elements; the clock will awaken my senses as I start a new day; and this engraved necklace is a visual reminder to take courage when I read “All Is Well.” They are all little objects and parts of a larger whole that will help me be a successful missionary.
Besides the postal service, I can think of another carrier who delivers personal and cherished items from an important source: The Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost does not wear a colorful uniform or make me sign on the dotted line; instead he gives me specific insights that help better my life. Through his deliveries, I receive the elements necessary to build a testimony.
M. Russell Ballard said, “A Testimony is a witness or confirmation of eternal truth impressed upon individual hearts and souls through the Holy Ghost, whose primary ministry is to testify of truth, particularly as it relates to the Father and the Son.” The development of a testimony is critically and intimately connected to the presence of the Holy Ghost in one’s life. The Spirit is the personage that affirms what we have heard is true. It is what compels us to do more and it is what we receive after exercising righteousness. The Holy Ghost is the medium that brings us closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Sheri Dew said, “The Holy Ghost gifts us with wisdom, divine encouragement, peace of mind, and a desire to change.” As it enters our life, it creates the desire to build, rebuild, and fortify our testimonies. As Alma the Younger said, the impact and recognition “will begin to swell within your breast; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves…the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea it beginneth to be delicious to me.” When something is delicious, we have a hard time staying away: we want to indulge in it and have it as often as we can. The same can be said of the Spirit: when we begin to recognize the goodness added to our lives, we place more importance on actively working on our testimonies.
What are the things we do to strengthen our testimonies? David Bednar explained that “Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost.” The more we try to follow Christ’s teachings, the more the Spirit will help us. The more we accomplish, the stronger the presence of the Spirit in our lives. As we tune in to the Holy Ghost, we notice more frequent sparks of insight.
This enlightenment is newfound knowledge: knowledge delivered by the guiding hand of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes it comes to us in perfect condition (with no visible scratches) right on schedule. Other times revelation appears as a pleasantly wrapped surprise gift from a friend. More often than we’d like to admit, this enlightenment arrives 3 weeks later than we hoped and in a smashed and unsightly form. In any variety that the peace or revelation comes, testimony builders should be cherished and implemented immediately.
If we lay aside these testimony deliveries, the packages may be forgotten, hidden under a pile junk, and not worth the exertion used to get them. Having a wall of purchases does me no good if I don’t pack them and bring them to the MTC. Having all the elements of a testimony are of no use to anyone we are not willing to share it. While gathering my clothing or bathroom supplies has prepared me to serve as a missionary, gathering my spiritual strength has been more important and has prepared my testimony so it can be shared with others.
I find Elder Ballard’s comments on sharing testimonies very empowering. “The fire of your testimony is all that you need in order to introduce the gospel to many more of our Father’s children. Trust in the Lord, and never underestimate the impact your testimony can have upon the lives of others as you bear it with the power of the Spirit. To bear testimony is ‘to bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost; to make a solemn declaration of truth based on personal knowledge or belief.’” I know from watching friends and personal experiences that a child’s testimony to an inactive parent can change the future of a family. A quirky girls camp testimony can reduce the masses to a bucket of tears. Or most memorable of all, a commanding and podium shaking testimony from the pulpit at the Conference Center can influence the lives of millions.
My testimony may only affect a handful of people, but I say it with conviction. I want to show my Father in Heaven what I believe and know. There are many things that I know. I know how to add. I know how to bake cookies. I know how to make my bed. But more importantly, I know the Holy Ghost speaks to me. I know I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, and that this gospel is the restored truth. I know the exact moment when the Holy Ghost opened my eyes. I did not know how wonderful my package was going to be.
It was not a “wham-bam” moment. There were no lightning strikes from heaven. I was not on my knees all night. My conversion to understanding, living, and loving the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ was not a significant experience in physicality; instead it was one of the most joyful and inspiring moments of my young life.
As a high school student I became increasingly nervous and worried that I had never experienced a conference talk conversion. I also realized I had never knelt down to ask my Father in Heaven regarding the promise in Moroni 10:4 – “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” I began to wonder if I was living a lie: professing to live and know, without ever actually discovering the truth for myself. God knew better. He prepared me to be in the right mindset on that sunday, with that lesson, and my unsteady heart ready to move forward.
I don’t remember the teacher or lesson topic. All I know is I became lost in my own thoughts. I began to wonder why I had never formally asked my Father in Heaven. Well, why shouldn’t I ask him? Am I too prideful that I won’t even try? I bowed my head and silently prayed in class. I sat there in a daze. Wondering why I had been so silly to wait. I shuffled out the door and routinely turned toward the central courtyard of our church building. It was a unique structure, with a large patio and garden open to the sky. The classroom was down a dark hallway and was rather gloomy, and all pathways emptied out into the patio.
I did not expect a quick answer. Then the sunlight reached my eyes and I emerged out of a physical and spiritual shadow. I saw the rays of sun fill the garden and felt them warm my heart. I heard the giggles, and I noticed the children skipping, running and squealing for joy. I saw a big sister comforting a toddler. I saw the oldest and most devoted couple holding hands. I watched the flowers bob and the palm trees sway in the soft breeze. I could hear the words in my mind: You already know. You’ve always known. It is true. Look at the joy here in front of you. Look at the joy in your heart. This is the happiness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Embrace it as you always have. All is Well. My swelling heart began to glow as the light penetrated my soul. I knew. The Holy Ghost testified to me and in turn fortified my budding testimony.
The Holy Ghost told me that day. He was the messenger delivering physical and spiritual light. He showed up unexpectedly. I had sent in my request, but expected a long transit time. It came in a plain box but changed my life. Similarly, this necklace arrived unexpectedly this week, in a little white box. When I opened them both I it was filled with joy and beauty.
Maybe you have forgotten the special joy you recognized as the spirit. Maybe to you it is just a boring testimony; but to someone else it could be the item they have been waiting by the mailbox for: the rain coat protection they needed to make it through the storms of life. Or maybe your testimony is the alarm clock that opens their eyes to truth. To those who have lost sight, your simple testimony could be the reminder that “all is well.”
Elder Ballard has said a, “real testimony, born of the Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Ghost – changes lives. It changes how you think and what you do. It changes what you say. It affects every priority you set and every choice you make….[A rich testimony] stirs the soul and has meaning, [with a] positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them.”
I ask you now to bear your testimony. Do so often and with conviction. Open the package and share what’s inside with others. Spread the joy of the Holy Ghost. What do you know? How can you flood the room with the spirit? I bear you my testimony now, that maybe in some form, it will spark a light, a remembrance, or a joy in you.
Friday, July 15, 2011
But the other day I did get an email from the post office telling me my order had been shipped. I have checked the mail every day waiting for it. Well, today it finally came, and the box was bigger than I expected.
(I should have taken a picture before I opened it, but this will have to do) I opened the box and I found a small yellow package with a butterfly and soft ribbon.
Then I found this note from her. I was so tickled that she would spend time wrapping it up all darling, and then writing a personal note.
I thought I was in heaven when I pulled the little package out, and noticed she had included this picture of a door nob from the Salt Lake Temple. I have admired this photo on her site many times, but never actually purchased it. Now I was in heaven. This photo had particular importance because that is the temple where I received my endowment.
She took my breathe away when I opened the package. She had included all kinds of goodies and pretty little things that I have admired for so long! I couldn't believe my eyes. The whole family gathered around the table as I giggled with joy. These are pins to put on your coat or purse. How could she know I have been looking all over town for something to spice up a boring missionary bag?
Then she added these bobby pins. They are so beautiful, I can't take my eyes off them.
The most stunning of all are these delicate earrings. I have wanted a pair of these forever, and had to decide between them and the necklace. Now I'm just a really happy little girlie!
And I apoligize about the photo, I can't get it to rotate, but this is the necklace that started it all. It represents how I try to get through every day. It comes from my favorite hymn and is focused on pioneers (which I love). All is well. I am going to make it. Life is beautiful. Life is good. Christ is my Redeemer. All is well. Thanks be to heaven for messages like this, but more importantly, thanks should be shouted for people like sweet Lady K.