What a great week it's been! We have seen so many miracles happen here in this area. I'm so excited for the missionary work here in Gilbert, Arizona. Let's start out with the most exciting news of the week. As a mission we have been blessed with Elder Neil L. Andersen's presence . There was a stake splitting in Tempe so he decided to make a stop to talk with our mission. What a privilege it was. He wanted to take a picture with all of us, so as we were waiting for him to arrive, they put us all in the order they wanted us to be in. We were really squeezed in alright. As we were standing there waiting, we started to sing hymns. The spirit was so strong as we waited. As we knew the time was getting closer and closer, the anticipation was getting stronger and stronger. We were singing "A Child's Prayer" and I just started to feel the spirit even stronger. I knew Elder Andersen was in the building. It was the most incredible feeling. The power he has as an Apostle of the Lord. He is a special witness of Jesus Christ. It was exactly like when Elder Holland came to the MTC last November (it's really been that long since I was in the MTC?!).
He then started by telling us why he had chosen to come to our mission and not Tempe's. The Gilbert Mission is the smallest mission geographically in the world with this many missionaries. He told us we are an experiment right now. We're unique as to the missionaries have about 2 wards each while other missions like Utah or Idaho have a set of missionaries to a stake or even multiple stakes. He then counseled us how to work with the members since this is our primary objective to start having people to teach. He told us we're going to be staying in areas longer than ever before so we can really get to know the members and gain their trust and love. Also we need to start loving the members. He also said we are not to tract. If we don't have anything to do, we have to go to the members are start teaching them. This is the whole experiment to see if we can work with the members. He said if it doesn't work then they will fold the Gilbert Mission back into Tempe. Talk about raising the stakes! Elder Andersen wants us to be staying in areas for 6+ months! The longest any missionary has stayed in one area is 10.5 months and that was one Elder. I could finish my mission in this area. I don't know how it's exactly going to be done with all of the missionaries coming in (next transfer 5 sisters and 21 elders are coming into the mission). Maybe after the numbers stop coming in so rapidly? Who knows. I guess we'll see how everything plays out. It's exciting times! I'm really out in the front lines. It's such a blessing to be serving at this time. Changes have been rapidly happening and they will continue to do so.
This week we were also blessed to have a lot of uplifting meetings to attend. We were able to go to District Meeting which is always uplifting and it's great to be trained. morning we were able to attend the Temple for spiritual preparation for Elder Andersen coming to our mission. I always love going to the Temple, the House of the Lord. Many revelations were given to me during that sacred time. Then for 6 hours we had Zone Conference. We were with 2 other zones while the zone leaders, assistants to the President, and President trained us. They trained us on how to have effective member visits. We're using Elder Andersen's Apostolic Promise from last General Conference regarding missionary work: "I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind, words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them, opportunities will open to you, faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles." I know this promise to be true. I have seen the blessings come into these members lives as they exercise their faith and pray. I also know it works in my own life as a missionary. We apply this every single day. We have to listen to the Spirit and be worthy to hear His promptings. We were also trained on Ask inspired questions, Listen, Discern, Teach, Testify, Invite, and then Promise. I have seen the effect of inspired questions in all of my teaching opportunities. Questions let the individual come to know for themselves than just a commentary by us. I'm becoming a better missionary and person every single day (at least I hope so). I am grateful for the inspiration President Nattress receives.
We have also had a lot of lessons this week. We've been meeting a lot with the members and with part-member families, less-actives, and recent converts. We have had busy nights. We've been basically going from appointment to appointment. We were able to teach a former investigator, Carl, this past week. He's an interesting fellow. We think he might have some mental issues. We have another appointment this week to determine if he really is ready to commit. We're hoping to find the elect, the seekers of truth. I'm so excited for the missionary work going forward.
I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know the blessings of using the Atonement daily in my life; just to become better. Christ's Atonement isn't only from going from bad to good, but from good to better. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon and I love reading it each and every day. I receive the spiritual strength I need to go throughout the day. I love my Savior. I love this Gospel.