Lessons Learned

1. The youth of this church are so incredibly strong.
During our lesson with the Young Women on Wednesday we asked each of them to write their testimony in a Book of Mormon and pray about who they should give it to. The littlest, cutest, blondest girl in the bunch confided in my companion that she didn’t think she could do it. She told Sister Priday that she didn’t have many friends and that she was afraid that if she tried, her friends wouldn’t like her anymore.

That’s a fear each of us have. Religion can be such a taboo subject. We are told from a very young age that it’s not appropriate conversation for dinner parties or classrooms-and yet it is something that is at our very core. I think that we feel that if they reject our religion–something near and dear to our heart–they’re really rejecting us. And that simply isn’t true. Nothing could be further from the truth. Real friends will like you despite any petty difference of opinion. And they won’t be offended that you want to share something you feel is important with them.

But guess what.

That cute, little girl quietly slipped behind us after sacrament meeting.

“I did it!”

That’s all she said.

And of course we just swept that little girl up into our arms. Because she is so full of faith–faith that she didn’t think she had.

She told us that she prayed about it and felt that one of her friends that she road the bus with needed the Book of Mormon. So Friday after school she naturally slipped it into their conversation about books they’d been reading. She said it was a book she’d been reading lately, bore her testimony of it, and then asked her friend would read it.

Her friend said yes!

I was so touched by her faith despite her fear. And by her willingness and prayerful consideration of which friend to share with. I hope that each of us can follow this brave little girl’s example and share the good news of the gospel with those closest to us. And be not afraid. All we have to do is open our mouths, and they will be filled.

2. The Book of Mormon’s power and ability to bring the spirit into our homes.
This week we were teaching in a less active member home. Both the husband and his wife served honorable missions, but for whatever reason they have fallen away and not come to church in quite a while. We went over to teach them how to hold a family home evening. We taught them about Nephi and how he used the Liahona to get to the Promised Land. We told them that their parents, teachers, and the gift of prayer could all be Liahonas in their lives. That they could point them in the right direction and help them to know what to do.

At one point during the lesson the children got very loud-like children do-and I tried to encourage them to get back on the boat (couch) by telling them there were sharks in the water.

This was the wrong decision.

Because then they started screaming.

And one of them decided to jump ship and tackle the shark.

But my companion, who was much wiser than I am, pulled out the Book of Mormon and started to read a verse.

She read slowly and clearly. And as she read, the children got quieter and quieter. Listening to her words. And trying to understand. And in the course of thirty seconds the entire atmosphere of the room changed.

And then the oldest child chimed in: “Whoa, what happened?”

The spirit we felt in that room was tangible. And that’s something that each of us can have in more abundance in our lives.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we make a home this week. How we take a house, all bricks and cement and drywall and make it into a home. And I think that a big part of the difference between the two is what we allow to take place within its walls.

Take, for example: the Library. It’s a building, just like any other. But, put in a circulation desk, a couple of tables, and shelves lined with books and all of a sudden its a different type of building–It’s a library. People read and study there. They browse through the catalog and choose a book to take home. You wouldn’t think to scream and laugh and carry on like a banshee in there. Loud noises just aren’t welcome. Just like the library, a house will grow to reflect the interests of it’s tenants. What you do there will be reflected in the furniture you buy, how you organize your furniture, and in the general atmosphere of the house.

If we want to make our homes a place where the spirit can dwell, we make a place for him.

3. God is aware of each of His children.
He know’s where we are. He know’s what we’re doing. And He has blessings that He is willing to give us if we but ask.

Thursday night I prayed to God and asked Him to help me not lose everything I learned in the MTC.

Particularly Portuguese.

Because it’s hard.

And Oregonians aren’t really known for their Brazilian population.

And guess what.

He answered.

I was watching “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration” in the visitors center-because things are generally SUPER slow in the mornings-when Brother McPheeder came in.

“We’ve got a woman who speaks Portuguese out here.”

My heart dropped.

This is what I’ve been training for.

Sharing the gospel. In Portuguese.

To Brazilians.

And here it is.

In Oregon.

And not Brazil.

The last place I imagined I’d be speaking Portuguese.

So I quietly slipped out the door and said a silent prayer. “Please God don’t let me say the wrong thing.”

I sat there with them listening to the Christus dialogue. Trying to remember any part of the dialogue that I could use in conversation later.

Because my vocabulary is LIMITED.

So very limited.

But as it turns out I didn’t have to say much. Because the spirit speaks in all languages.

And by the time this dialogue was over, this woman was already feeling it.

So I walked with them and talked with them a little and Hermana Frisan showed a few of the videos in Spanish because unfortunately we don’t have them in Portuguese.

And Spanish is WAY closer than English.

And then that sweet old lady started telling me about her husband of 60 years who’d just passed away.

And I wanted to cry because I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

And I couldn’t remember how to express that.

So I just tried to look sad.

And bore a simple testimony of temples and how by making promises in them we can be with our families forever.

It wasn’t great.

It wasn’t monumental.

It was definitely a grammatical wreck.

But I know she felt the spirit.

I was talking to Brother McPheeters afterwards and he said they’ve never had a Portuguese speaker in the visitors center. Not that he can recall. And that’s how I know that the Lord sees each of us. He saw me, and my desire to learn and practice Portuguese. And he saw that sweet old woman that came in with her daughter and granddaughter. How comforting must it have been to hear her own language so very far from home–even if poorly spoken.

I’m so very glad that the Lord is aware of each of us. That He knows where we are and what we need. He answers our smallest prayers quickly sent heavenward in a moment of need and the greatest desires of our hearts poured our in an hour of prayer. And he is willing to give us all of the good things we desire, if we but ask.

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