Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! How grateful I am to be here in Brazil serving the Lord. I was blessed to have a number of spiritual experiences this week, which I want to share with you.
1) As A Little Child - This Sunday marked a very special experience for me here on the mission. During sacrament the ward had its yearly primary program, which is always a wonderfully spiritual experience. After church we had lunch with one of the members who has a young eight-year-old daughter. The daughter has been pretty sick recently and the mother asked that we give a blessing to her. I had the opportunity to perform the blessing.
As I began to speak, I was nearly overwhelmed by the amount of love that I knew the Lord had for this innocent child. I was barely holding back tears as I told her how precious she was in the eyes of the Lord, how much He loves her, and told her to be healed. (I must say, it was an even more special experience for me because the girl reminds me a lot of my little sister, Gracie.) The presence of the Spirit was so strong at that moment, one of the strongest impressions I have ever felt. I know that the Lord loves each of us as His children and has a special love reserved for the little ones. I think of 3 Nephi 17:20-23, one of the most powerful scriptures in the Book of Mormon.
2) An Englishman- All right, now for an entertaining story that happened Saturday night. We were returning from a successful visit with a new family we found, when we made a quick contact with a somewhat intoxicated man. He sat down and began to talk to us. Laughing, we told him that we were from the U.S, Bolivia, and England. Looking at me, he told me he knew I was English and called me Harry Potter (welcome to my life). After a very entertaining conversation, we began to leave. He wanted to hug us goodbye, and went with arms extended to Elder Cushing, saying "give me a kiss!" When Elder Cushing forcibly declined, the man asked Elder Echeverria and I to leave so he could have a private moment alone with a bewildered Elder Cushing. We all hastily escaped, shaking our heads at the effects of alcohol on people and making fun of Elder Cushing for drawing the wrong kind of attention.
3) A Prayer of Faith- Last Friday, a little over a week ago, I had a powerful personal spiritual experience. Before going to bed, I retired to a separate room from my companions and prayed for an extended period of time before going to sleep. During the prayer I truly felt as though I was conversing with the Lord. I asked forgiveness for my faults, for not being a better missionary, and committed myself to do all in my power to serve Him. I thought of the expectations of my family, of my mission president and of those around me. In return, I felt the Spirit testify that the Lord has even higher expectations of me, that he knows my full potential better than any other, and that if I do my part He would help with the rest. Grateful for the confirmation, I continued praying about a number of other topics, before going to bed, spiritually refreshed.
Over the course of the next two days, as I tried to fulfill my side of the promise, we managed to find two new golden families (complete families!), I had the spiritual experience mentioned above, and everything seemed to work out. I can see that as we put our trust in the Lord and do absolutely everything we can, He will provide for us. I am everlastingly grateful for His hand in my life, to be here in Brazil, "that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." (Alma 29:9)
I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful for a loving family, for their support, and for all of those praying for me. Your prayers mean a lot. I am grateful for the gospel, for the church, for the Book of Mormon, for Joseph Smith, and for our caring prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
More than anything else, I am grateful for my Lord, Jesus Christ. For His Atonement. For the love He has shown for me. For my Heavenly Father. How I love them.
That's what I'm grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.