So there are things you get from missions... like the ability to talk to anyone about the gospel, tired feet, an overwhelming love for the people you serve, and letters from home. One of the greatest gifts I've gotten from being on a mission is a better understanding of the scriptures and a deeper testimony of their truthfulness. I feel so blessed to be able to not only study them everyday, but to teach from them as well.
Over the past couple of months my testimony of the Book of Mormon has skyrocketed. I have always known that it is true and even seen how it can be applied to my life, but lately... it's really connected for me and my desire for it to really connect for others has increased as well. I want people to understand it, I want them to see how it can help them... and most importantly I want for their testimony to be built upon it's teachings because it does exactly what the cover says - it stands as another testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.
My love, understanding, and gratitude for the Book of Mormon was given to me; and as all gifts from the Lord, it comes with a responsibility. By default, that duty would be to share this book with my brothers and sisters... and so that's what I've been doing. This week though, I got to experience something I will never forget...
One of my favorite accounts is of the vision of the tree of life found in 1 Nephi 8... and it's safe to say that I know this one especially well because it falls in the first book of the Book of Mormon, and so I've probably read it about 500 times, as where I can only say I've read the whole book a handful of times. Anyway, it has always been a favorite of mine and every time I read it I learn something new from it.
^ here is the link, and if you haven't read it I would advise you do!
So a few weeks ago we got news that The Book of Mormon musical was coming to Atlanta and that there would be missionaries from our mission that would get to go and stand outside of the theater! So remember that gift given to me? Of understanding the scriptures better and having an overwhelming love and appreciation? Well... that landed your girl in Downtown Atlanta standing outside of the Fox Theater! It was the strangest/best/neatest experience of my life! As thousands of people walked in to sit and watch there were the sister missionaries standing outside with copies of the book and pass along cards yelling things like "the book is always better than the show!" -- "find out what we really believe". We got everything from laughs, to "will you take a picture with me!?", people interested in the book, "oh you're the real-deal! nice" and of course those who asked if we were serious and were upset that we were out sharing more! After reading the vision of the tree of life that account went from a really important chapter to a real life experience. There I was, standing at the "Large and Spacious building", literally, "holding fast to the rod of iron!" I had a Book of Mormon in hand the whole time, doing all that I could to give out copies and to share more about it, literally yelling to get peoples attention! Everyone's manner of dress was indeed exceedingly fine as they were all dolled up to go to the show, and the laughs and giggles at us as missionaries was probably in good humor, and yet still, it was in the attitude of mocking. I realized that many of these people were "clinging" to the rod of iron, but unfortunately it was only for a night.. and only for the purpose of being entertained. Had it not been so fast paced I think I would have been more heart broken to see these people, my brothers and sisters, not realizing how precious the rod of iron is, especially when we "continually hold fast" to it.
My favorite part about 1 Nephi 8.. and my experience in Atlanta is found in verse 12 ..." And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."
I know that the Book of Mormon really does change our lives and bring us the greatest happiness of all! Even though everyone didn't rush over to get a copy, and not everyone checked out mormon.org before the show started, I know that we had a true desire for them to feel of it's truthfulness because they are our family. The scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon bring us back to Him!
How grateful I am, every single day, to be able to "fall down and partake of the fruit" -- the fruit is our Savior, and as a representative of Him, I am humbled and blessed to help people reach out to grab the rod of iron that leads us back to him! He is here with me... He is there with each of you!
We are teaching a lady named Sonya who has had some doubts, but has stronger faith... she says that she can't deny the feelings that she has when she meets with us. She came to church and felt the Spirit, she reads the Book of Mormon and feels the Spirit, she now wants for her family to learn and come to church as well!
I love you all! I love the Savior! and I love the Book of Mormon, because it teaches and testifies of Jesus Christ! Our goal as a stake is to read it by summer... marking the parts that teach about Him & His Atonement. I'd encourage all y'all to do the same.