Thank you for the emails and Dear Elders! It is so much fun to read about your daily adventures! And don't worry about the length of the emails, longer the better. I just print them off in the morning so I can read them through out the day. And yes, I think i can get pictures on here.
Nauvoo sounded amazing! I'm so happy that you all had a wonderful time and were safe! I loved reading about all the events and I'm a little jealous of it all! How did all the youth handle not having cell phones or iPods?
Mom, Heather, and Greg, I'm glad you are all having a blast back east! What a great time to bond and have fun as a family. Perfect vacation!
Wow, what a week. To say the least my heart is full! My testimony has sky-rocketed, and the Spirit that I've felt has brought me an immense amount of joy! Let me start off with my Apostle experience:
As you know, it has been the mission president seminar this weekend, and they closed off two-thirds of the biggest building on campus for the new presidents and the Apostles. I was a little selfish in my personal prayers because I asked for a very specific thing: to shake an Apostle's hand. In the building there was a point in the hallway that is closed off by a rope with two guards to make sure people didn't get through. I loved this spot because I would always try to catch a glimpse of a General Authority, and I'm afraid the rest of the Elders in my district were getting annoyed with my enthusiasm to try to meet a special witness of Jesus Christ (and I was annoyed with their lack of enthusiasm). One particular time I was 'Apostle Seeking' I looked down the hallway and I saw a man sitting on a couch wave to me. I didn't recognize him at first until he walked down the hallway and a crowd of missionaries gathered around me. It was Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!!! He came to the huge crowd of missionaries and greeted all of us with smiles and handshakes. My prayer was answered! I was so happy and I felt like die-hard Twilight fan meeting Robert Pattinson! I thanked my Heavenly Father!
I continued to be a little selfish in my prayers... This time I asked for the opportunity to see a member of the First Presidency. Yes, I specifically said 'see'. Looking back on it now I wish I would have asked to meet one of them!
As I was walking across the street from having my gym time out in the field I saw a few missionaries waving to a car. Right then and there I knew it was a general authority so I sprinted to their spot and saw, with my own eyes, President Uchtdorf in the back seat of his car with his wife! He rolled down the window, waved at us, then gave a mighty roar of excitement. I was only 20 feet from him! I was bummed that I wasn't in missionary attire, but I was wearing my Italy shirt so I'm sure he could assume where I was going. Wow, it was insane though!
That night we were all anxiously waiting for the special devotional that would take place. Me and my district got there very early in order to get good seats. We finally beat the crowd in and had seats as close to the podium as we could get (since the mission presidents got the good seats). While waiting for the devotional to begin we started singing "Hope of Israel"... and then the doors opened. In walked Elder Bednar, Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks, Elder Scott, Elder Holland, Elder Anderson, Elder Ballard, and President Rasband. We all stood as they walked in to the room with their wives.
It was such an amazing experience. I love the Apostles, and I have a testimony and know for a fact that these men are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. Just by feeling their Spirit I know it to be true.
On Monday me and my companion had the opportunity to practice teach a man from Naples who grew up there and barely knew English. His name is Salvatore, and it was really spiritual to teach him the Plan of Salvation in his native language. Especially since he got baptized last Saturday and has known about the church for a month! I know the Gift of Tongues is real, and it is blessing me so I may go out and cry repentance to the Italians! Also, the older Anziani left, so now my district and the other district are the only Italians for the next 3 weeks!
During difficult times I turn to 2 Nephi 4. In this chapter, Nephi has hit rock bottom with the burdens and trials placed upon him. His father Lehi has just passed away, and his brothers are again plotting to kill him. Please read this chapter whenever you have a rough time. Nephi promises himself that he will never give into temptation and yells, "Awake my soul! And give no room for the enemy of my heart." He also promises himself to always turn himself to God, always trusting in the Lord. I have had similar feelings as Nephi in this chapter this week, and please read it to feel what I have felt and let us apply the principles taught in our own lives.
Monson is a prophet of God who, along with his Apostles, commune with our Heavenly Father to receive revelation for Jesus Christ's church. I love my Savior with all my heart and words cannot describe how thankful I am for the blessings I am given, when I feel I don't deserve them. I know missionary work is a divine work, and that being a missionary is literally being a representative of Jesus Christ. I am humbled for this opportunity to serve Him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, Amen.
I love you all!