This week has been phenomenal! This morning alone brought, I think, the best companion study that Elder Sawyer and I have ever had together. We studied "Listen" in chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel. It contains this quote by Elder Holland:
“More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more. … If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit and by our friends” (“Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 15; italics in original).
After reading that, I felt to stop and practice that skill. I approached Elder Sawyer and asked him what he wanted out of his life. I listened as he spoke. He talked about family, about being close to them, and about happiness and peace. I shared the thoughts that came to my mind. I told him about my grandmother, Mary, who died from cancer not all that long ago. I talked about my mother, and the pain she felt at watching her suffer, and the peace I saw in her at her mother’s passing. I bore my testimony of the assurance that the Gospel brings, that no matter the distance or reason for separation, I know with a perfect knowledge that I will see my family again. I felt the Spirit so powerfully as I spoke, and I saw Elder Sawyer feel it too.
We switched roles after that, and Elder Sawyer asked me what I wanted. I told him about my desire for a family, for education for the purpose of gaining knowledge and understanding. As I spoke, I saw him lean forward and really focus. After I finished, I saw an Elder Sawyer I had never seen until that moment. He bore testimony of our ability to carry our knowledge with us when we pass from this life. I honestly don’t even remember what he said, I just remember what I felt. I remember what I saw in him. I smiled inside and out. When he finished, after basking in the Spirit of the moment, he stood up and gave me a big hug. He walked back to his chair and knelt down to thank Heavenly Father. I just smiled and thanked Him too, and tears filled my eyes. It was an incredible moment. So often I try to teach people how to be better. This moment was one where I helped him to experience it, and I saw him experience it, and it was immeasurably more powerful and meaningful for both of us. It was a moment I will not soon forget, nor, I imagine, will he.
I don’t know why this was the story I shared today. I came with so many stories from this miraculous week that I wanted to share, but this was the only one that came to me after about 10 minutes of trying to find what to write. I am becoming so much more than I ever imagined possible. I love Lynchburg so much. I wrote a few posts ago about a vision I saw of Elder Sawyer, strong, confident, bearing powerful testimony. I didn’t realize it until just now, but that was the Elder Sawyer I saw this morning.
I love this ward, I love this area, I love the people here–every single person I meet, I love them so much. I can’t wait to get away from this computer so I can go be with the people. I am so happy.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is it. This is it. I know it is. I love you all so much. I pray for many of you, and then I pray for all of you. I hope you feel those prayers. I hope you know how much your Heavenly Father and your Savior really do know and love you. I know it. I have never felt it as strongly as when I am feeding their sheep. So if you don’t know it, or you don’t feel it, go out and find someone and look them in the eye and smile really big, and tell them how nice their hair looks, or their outfit, or their smile, or something! Just help someone feel important. Serve someone. Love someone.
Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.