Okay, so MAYBE I didn't have Easter dinner with Elder Nelson, but this weekend was definitely one I will never forget!
We found out a few weeks ago that Elder Nelson would be visiting the Ventura mission, and since then, I think every missionary has been counting down the days until April 19th. Just in case you forgot, Elder Nelson was the first surgeon to do a successful repair of Tetralogy of Fallot. Of course, I love all the apostles, but Elder Nelson holds a special place in my heart (punny, punny :).
Well, April 19th finally came, and was everything we hoped it would be. He spoke with such power, and brought such an amazing spirit, more than I can even explain. And of course, he left enough time for each of us to meet him, and shake his hand. Oh, I love him.
His message was straightforward, clear, and simple: there is ALWAYS more that we can do! We can be more faithful, more positive, more diligent, more obedient, and more like our Savior. We can talk to MORE people!
He explained it to us this way: Before we came to our life here on earth, we promised our Father, and accepted the call to be a missionary. And for our brothers and sisters that knew they would be coming here without a knowledge of the gospel, we promised that we would share it with them! They have been waiting since they came here, and the Lord has been preparing them to meet us and learn of the message we promised to bring them. It's not a chance, but a duty we have to share the gospel with everyone we meet! What a good perspective to have as I go out every morning.
He then asked the question, "As you prepared to come to this conference, how many people did YOU talk to?" I'm pretty sure we all avoided eye contact as we thought about our nice, cool, 30-minute drive to Ventura. Luckily, that was the answer he had expected. He smiled, and loving said, "Cars are the curse of the mission. If you are not face to face with a member, an investigator, or a less-active, you are not a missionary - you are unemployed." Right now, every Sister missionary in our mission drives a car, by President Castro's request. But I think there's a good chance that will be changing after today, and as we get a new mission president! Elder Nelson urged us to leave our cars behind, so we will never drive past someone prepared to hear our message!
He left us with the message that every day, we will continue to grow, for the rest of our missions. So try a little harder to be a little better! Don't set false limitations for yourself, as there is always more we can do. I think we all left that conference with a new conviction, and a new dedication, to be the missionaries we promised our Heavenly Father we would be. What a wonderful day!
Sunday was my first Easter away from home. Of course, to start, we decorated Easter eggs in our apartment, and hid them for each other to find. :) We had so much fun, and it felt a little more like home.
Today, I tried to imagine Easter from the apostles' point of view. They had been with Christ for three years, and had dedicated their whole lives to him. To them, He was everything. They had seen His love, His miracles, and the blessings of His gospel. They knew Him to be the Son of God, and they loved Him so much. He was their light, their hope, and their life.
Friday would have been unimaginable. Christ, their all, who they had promised to follow all their lives, was crucified. I know it's not for me to say what the apostles were thinking, bur I think for ME, watching this happen, I would have the hope of "This is the Son of God. Surely He will stop this from happening; it can't be." But it WOULD be, as this is what was needed to break the bands of death.
Then, came Saturday. In my mind, this day would have been the hardest. The man who came to save the world, to change the world, is gone. The world is dark, they have lost the one to lead and guide them. They were left to carry on, however they knew how. They returned to what they did know, back to their nets. I think that dark and lonely Saturday would have been by far the hardest to endure.
However, the Lord never leaves us without hope, and on the third day, that Glorious Sunday, Jesus Christ broke the bands of death, and rose from His tomb. Mary Madgelene rejoiced, as He visited her in the garden. Peter jumped from his boat, to stand with the Savior. The Nephites knelt at His feet, and felt the wounds in his side. He had risen, and because He is risen, we may each have the chance to return to our Father in Heaven. Christ gave everything to us - He gave His life to save us from our sins. He is Risen, and Sunday is a bright and joyful day!
In this day and time, I feel so blessed that I never have to endure that dark and lonely Saturday, and I am never without hope. We are blessed with the knowledge that He Lives! Elder Nelson said, in the last session of General Conference, "There is only One in whom your faith is always safe, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ." On our dark days, and our low times, we can have hope through Him. He is our Savior, and Redeemer. He saved us that Easter morning, so many years ago, and I know that I have felt his Redeeming power, every day that I have been here. I feel so privileged to be able to serve Him, and testify of His truth. I love Him dearly. He is my brother, and my best friend.
I hope that once this Easter season has passed, we can keep Him in our hearts at all time, in all things, and in all places, as He does with us.
I love you all so much, and love you for listening to my jumbled thoughts and feelings. I hope at least some of this letter makes sense.
Happy Easter cute family. I love you with every bit of my heart. ♥
Sister Shay Shay
P.S. - That family picture is my favorite thing I've ever seen. I'll hang it on my wall for my entire mission!