We are teaching a 19 year old YSA, Matt, and it is going so well! He truly is so prepared! He has already come to church twice and we are teaching him a lot too. He has already accepted baptism! We extended a baptismal date as well and he is praying about it, so we hope he gets an answer soon. He truly is golden. He asks such good questions, is reading and praying every day, and has so much faith! I think he has had a few concerns with his family, but he knows this is true and he knows it is what he wants to do. The first time we had met him he said "I've only known about this for 4 days and it is already making a difference in my life." We are so excited for him, he is going to do great things.
Oh and something else awesome that happened this week was that I got to go back to Louetta for a baptism for someone that I helped teach!! It was so awesome to get to be there again and to be a part of it. I didn't know if I would be able to go, but it all worked out and it was so good to see all of those people again! It was perfect too, because they needed a pianist and I got there right in time to help them with a musical number and interlude. It was so amazing to see Francisco enter into the waters of baptism! The Spirit was so strong. I asked how he felt afterwards and he said that he feels like a burden was lifted off of him, that he felt lighter. So that was really awesome that I got to go back for that!
That is kind of all I want to say about that this week, and I want to turn my thoughts over to Grandpa Hoj. To begin, I just want to say how grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where would we be without it? I am so grateful for the knowledge that we have and for the plan of salvation. I know that we will see him again and I know that because of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, we can all live together again. I have had incredible feelings of peace and gratitude this week as I have thought of him and all of you back at home. I wish that I could give you all a big hug! I am praying for all of you as well. I want to share an experience that I had with you this past week that has strengthened my testimony. We had Zone Conference this week the day after I found out that Grandpa had passed away. I was doing really well and then they announced that the opening song was I Know That My Redeemer Lives. For anyone that knows me, they know that song will get me every time. Tears began to well up in my eyes and my throat was all choked up as I thought of grandpa. It wasn't feelings of sadness, rather a feeling of overwhelming love. As we began to sing I found I couldn't get anything out. So I listened to everyone else sing and focused on the words of the song as tears began to roll down my cheeks. I realized in that moment all that is possible for us because of Jesus Christ. I copied and pasted the lyrics to the song and hope that you would all read them. Jesus Christ lives. I know that. And because He lives, we can too. What joy, peace, and comfort I have from knowing that. I cannot even imagine how difficult it would be going through something like this without knowing about the plan of salvation, yet there are so many people that do. I am so lucky to be on a mission right now where I can help people understand that! Help them find that peace and that joy. So this week I think I am just grateful. It is experiences like this that make us stronger and better even though they are hard. But thanks to the love of our Heavenly Father, He sent His son to suffer for us so that when those moments come, He knows how to succor us. What a miracle.
I'd like to just end by sharing a quote with you that really has changed my perspective of the Atonement. That really it is something on such a personal level.
"We know that on some level Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything--absolutely, everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer--how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student-body election. He knows that moment the brakes lock up and the car started to skid. He experienced the gas chambers of Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism...His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28:20). What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five year old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has down's syndrome...He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower then all that."
Chieko N. Okazaki, "Light Up!" p. 175
Former General Relief Society Councilor 1990-97
He knows everything that we have been through and all that we will go through. HE KNOWS AND HE LIVES. Never forget that! We must let Him help us and comfort us! Once again, I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the fact that I can experience happiness and joy even though moments can be hard. I love the gospel, I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love all of you! I hope that you have a good week, and good luck to Liv and Tay with school starting! You are in my prayers!!
1. I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives
He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.