You have no idea the joy that surged through my heart when President Monson made the annoucement Saturday morning. Some Elders behind me were grumbling that this means they could be done or close to being done, but I was thrilled. Firstly: because I watched Saturday morning in Portuguese (They had some problems with the English) and I understood it! A poor sister behind me missed it, so she was out of the loop for a while. Second was the feelings in my heart about more missionaries being out here soon. I truly felt the Holy Spirit confirm the truth of the annoucement of the prophet. My second thought was. “Cora can be out here….” Cora, GET OUT HERE! I will miss you just barely, but don´t worry. You will feel the consuming joy of being out here in the Master´s service.
My other thoughts were to Corbin and Dereck. Oh, how my heart filled with joy about them. Just now, I got an announcement from Christine that caused my already tender heart to leap with joy. She will be putting in her papers soon. The requested thoughts from her will come in a letter being sent out tomorrow. Once again, I almost cried when Mom just said Cora is coming. I can´t accurately articulate my feelings about this annoucement, but you can kind of equate it to the joy Mom and Dad (and the rest of you) feel when you hear about a new member of the family. I know I got some eyes looking my way as I almost cried out in joy. Oh, and yes, Mother. There were 5 Americans in Osasco proudly singing the anthem of the work, “Called to Serve”.
It´s wonderful to hear about Grandpa´s feelings. Yes, I do ferevently pray by name to the Father about Grandpa and his health. Whatever happens, you can bet the Second Coming that it is only to bless you. I could type forever and still have more to say. The spiritual edification I felt over the last two days has been such a feeling that I have ever experienced. An unexpressable joy, peace, and tranquility filled my being. Much like my comrade in arms, Alma, described in his counsel to Helamen in Alma 36.
I so enjoyed all of the talks (I was the only one who was excited by the annoucement of Elder Nash), but especially Elder Bednar´s, Elder Holland´s, Elder Nelson´s (I could hear his voice over the translation, “Ask the missionaries!”), but I think my favorite of all was Neil L. Andersen´s about trials. It touched me and was so appilcable to my life. I can not wait to get the transcript of the talks.
Much of the work in the field gets overshadowed in my mind now that conference has come and gone. However, many of the prospective missionaries were so excited. One girl expressed hopes to serve in Seattle. (Sorry dear, a bit too south.) We had some of the young men join us in the high counsel room to watch English with us. (Cozy chairs!) One has been studying English for 5 years. Another was a returned missionary from New York, who explained that he thought English was so much easier and that he actually prefered the talks in English. Another said he wanted to learn English because he wants to communicate with the world. This was especially uplifting since Elder Rebeiro confided in me that he has no desire to learn English because of the different sounds that we have that they don´t. The faith of some of these members is like none other. The retention rate in the stake is the strongest I have ever seen. If you ever wanted to see the effect of the preaching of the word of God, travel to Novo Osasco and ask the members.
Two stories: Elder Rebeiro was interviewed at one point by Elder R. M. Costa. Yes, THAT Elder Costa. Elder Costa asked him about his English, which Elder Rebeiro responded promptly by a truthful answer. Elder Costa thought about it, said thank you, and as a result, he has had only American companions. Irony, or the humor of President Martins? Perhaps both!
The other was a story that Elder Rebeiro used. There were once three men. Two were scholars of the Bible, one with a doctrate and the other lived in the Holy Land. The third was a farmer, who tried to live the teachings and principles of the gospel from what he read. He couldn´t attend church because of his circumstances and he had difficulty reading. The three died and went to the gate of heaven. A man greeted them in order and asked the professor, “Do you know Jesus Christ your Savior?” The man replied yes and went on to list his credentials. The guardian said thank you and told the man to stand aside at a spot while he questioned the other two. The second man got the same question, to which he responded with his knowledge of the Holy Land and in-depth study of the customs and life of the Savior. He was also placed aside. At last, it was the farmer´s turn. The guardian asked “Do you know your Savior?” The farmer fell on his face and cried “Yes, Master” The two “learned” men were stunned as the man they professed to study had been standing right in front of them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of an eternal life, and how firm it is! Why is the system effective? It requires a change of heart, and with that willing change of heart, it naturally leads to the service of others. That is the secret to happiness in this life and in the Kingdom of God. What is teaching if not feeding the lambs? What is parenthood if not raising the future on correct principles? What is marriage if not a way to strengthen, inspire, and help each other? It is so simple and yet it confounds the wise. How can focusing on others help increase your own happiness? It is an experience I cannot describe. I can only invite others to “come and see.” The Master was the servant. The servant was a God. We are to follow His example because His example was that of a servant who lost the notion of the thought of the IDEA of self. Selfless, as opposed to selfishness. Besides, fish smells pretty rotten.
My friends, family, and loved ones: I pray that you will take the things you have learned and apply them. Hearing the word is the first part of happiness. The doing of the word is the second part. Pray for an opportunity of service, and then keep your eyes open. First observe, then serve. Finally, you too will be able to say: I´m a Mormon. I know it, I live it, I love it.