Hello dearest mother!
I am so glad to hear that you had an awesome fun time up in Idaho with your children, and also that you were able to have a super awesome fun time with Dad's family, and your family:) I think that it is awesome that James was able to baptize his little brother! How cool is that? But it also makes me feel old, because I remember him as a little kid, not as a priest. How time flies by when you aren't around to see someone grow!
I am so glad to hear that Courtney is going to be a missionary! That is super exciting! You will have to let me know when she gets her call and where she is going to go:)
You probably got your thought on coincidences from Gospel Doctrine yesterday, if you didn't then what a coincidence! Because I was going to mention a little bit about that in my email today too:) We ended up going to Gospel Doctrine class yesterday because we didn't have anyone other then the missionaries and the teacher in the Gospel Principles class. We talked about the four sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger, and one of the things that really stood out to me was the coincidence of Alma meeting his friends (the fours sons of Mosiah) on the road, when they were coming back from a 14 year mission, and he was journeying from place to place on his. How wonderful and awesome Heavenly Father is to orchestrate that chance meeting! I take it from the perspective of a missionary (because I am one) and how there are times where I am pushing along, and things get tough, and then someone or something just happens to come by, and suddenly I can remember why I am doing this! Alma was so excited to see his friends! And to top it off, they were all still firm in the faith! They had all experienced great conversion, and none of them had decided that it was too hard to follow the Lord, despite the crazy hardships they each saw. I can't help but think of the time that I was in Provo for college, and Josh served his mission only a few minutes away from where I was living for my first semester, and then all the cool things I got to do with him because of that! Mainly the opportunity for Ben Josh and I (And Ben's roommate and Josh's companion and investigator) to be able to attend a session of General Conference together. I remember them meeting for the first time since Ben had left on his mission almost 3 years prior, right outside the Conference Center, and they both started crying:) I remember how hard it was for me to not give Josh a hug, but I knew it probably wouldn't be the best idea if I did since no one else knew that I was his sister, and it might look like something else.. And then the awesome opportunity that Josh, Dad, and I had to fly home with him from his mission! That was super awesome and cool:) Granted that last one was most definitely not a coincidence, but really the other ones aren't either, but it just so happened that I was involved in the planning on this one:) I can't wait to one day see the whole scope of His plan. All the tender mercies He gave to each and every one of us every day! I'm pretty sure I will cry for a super long time when I realize exactly how much Heavenly Father planned to give me those blessings and everything else, and how much exactly He spent (in time and love, etc) trying to make my life easier, even in the smallest of ways.
I heard also in Gospel Doctrine something else that I really liked. The teacher was commenting on the scriptures and the power that they have in reading them, in the words that were used, and not just paraphrasing, when someone else mentioned that they had been told something a long time ago, that really stuck with her. The idea was this: We have our own personal scripture, created just for us, it is called a patriarchal blessing. The scriptures were written for all of us as a whole, but at the same time, there will be a scripture somewhere that will have been written just for me. Like Joseph Smith and James 1:5-how that scripture struck him to the core, and it cause him to act on the impression, and thus change his life completely (and in consequence the rest of ours as well). We each have a scripture somewhere in the scriptures whether it is in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price, that was written specifically for us. Word for every word for us. Our job is to find it! That is part of the reason why it is so important to study our scriptures, because if we are not studying our scriptures then we will not be able to find it! Many people don't know that Joseph Smith actually did a lot of studying of the Bible before James 1:5 struck him like it did. Granted the study of a 10 year old might differ from the study of a 50 year old, but the intent is the same. Joseph spent years searching for his answer. He attended many various different churches, and asked each of them to answer his questions. None would answer them, and many told him it wasn't for us to know, or else there was no answer to it, but he persisted, and continued asking. That can be each of us as well! We must be doing all that we can to search out the answers. Heavenly Father loves us so much He doesn't want to hinder our progress. He wants us to learn, not to just coast. He created us to be curious people. He wants us to ask questions. He wants to answer. But He also wants us to use the answers that we have already been given. That is why sometimes it takes a long time for the answer to come, because He wants us to study what we do have first, but He wants us to continuously be asking questions of Him, because it is an outward sign of our desire to learn. To grow. Just like a child with his parents, the parents teach them step by step 1+1=2, principle by principle, line upon line. That is how He works! We keep learning, and He keeps teaching:) I love it so much! There are so many things to learn about the gospel:)
I actually just finished this morning a study guide for the Elders. I went through the Book of Mormon and wrote down a bunch of different things that would be fun to study about. Some of them were the stories that we all know and love, like Ammon and protecting the sheep, some were more obscure things like the power of wisdom. I ended up writing 100 different ideas down, and gave them these rules (oh I listed them from 1-100) the first thing they had to do was pick a number 1-100, the second thing they needed to do was study whatever the topic was, whether it was a story, or a characteristic, or a person, and read about it in the Book of Mormon (and other resources if they so desire), and then they had to ask themselves, why that particular thing was important, what is the significance of it, and why it was included in the list in the first place? Then they had to do something creative with it-whether it was act it out, draw a picture of it, build something, whatever they want to do. And then finally they have to ask themselves why it matters to them, what can they take from it? How can they apply that topic to their lives? Honestly I was writing this out, and my companion said I had better keep a copy for myself because she wants one too.. haha I'm not sure how much it will work in practice, but in theory I think it will work super well.. And in doing so, it will help me begin to dig deeper into the scriptures than I have before. It is going to be awesome!
Oh! and a member proposed yesterday that we do a ward missionary day where the four of us, plus like 20 or 30 of the ward members would go out and try to find people to teach! It was so awesome that a member came up with the idea, and not us! Usually it is us pushing the missionary work, and it was awesome to see it flipped around this time. Part of it, was the fact that we have almost 300 media referrals, and the elders have about 150, and we can't possibly see all of them like we would like to. We can contact each of them, and most of them by this point have been contacted at least once, and received what they asked for, but it is really hard to go back and teach them when we have so many others that we want to go and try to see. Doing the ward missionary activity will be awesome because it should allow for us to spend less time trying to contact each of these and setting up appointments, and rather more time teaching. Plus then we can take the members with us that went to each of those places before, and it will be super cool to be able to help them see how awesome it is to be doing missionary work too! Yay!
Anyway, this email is long enough, just remember I love all of you:) and you are my favoritest:)
Love forever and Always,
Sister Monica Walker