So, drum-roll please: our guest speaker last Tuesday was none other than:....President Russell M. Nelson!
It was by far the coolest devotional we've had. It was his first speaking engagement as President of the Twelve. It was a worldwide broadcast to all the MTCs in the world, and because I was in the choir, I had a few camera shots focus on my face during our musical number. It felt awesome to be a Mormon celebrity for two minutes. I also happened to notice that my cheeks have gotten really chubby. (:
One thing that was awesome about the devotional was the aura that just surrounded President Nelson. About fifteen minutes before the devotional, everyone in the assembly hall was just chatting and talking normally, waiting for the devotional to start, and all of a sudden everyone went dead silent. We hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary, there was just this sudden density of feeling in the air, and we all felt and knew that President Nelson had just walked into the building. That was the most reverent I've ever seen missionaries become. He didn't even walk into the assembly hall for another five minutes, but we all just knew that he was here.
It was so interesting to see him in person. To me, he looked even more young and spry than he has in the past. He seemed very lively, and in no way did he look like he was going on 91. Old yes, but not 90.
Sister Nelson spoke first, and she talked about how we are not just a Utah church, we are an eternal church. If we were just a Utah church, then Moses, Elias, and Elijah would not have come and given keys to the gathering of Israel, the sealing of families, and saving ordinances for the dead.
President Nelson built off of that talk, discussing the threefold mission of the Church, which ties to those three keys that Moses, Elias, and Elijah restored. If we are to be great missionaries, we must be "epistles of the Lord". In order to do so, we must have the Doctrine of Christ (not the doctrines of Christ) engraven on our hearts. Discussing this, he kind of just looked at the camera with this grin and said "I've engraved my initials on a lot of hearts". At first everyone was thinking "Wow, President Nelson was a player," so the joke got a few half-laughs, and then two seconds later we all realized that he was a heart surgeon for a living, so he was talking very literally. We all just burst out laughing!
President Nelson gave us an apostle's perspective on the age change for missionaries. He said that the Twelve had no idea how to work out the specifics of the age change, but they had faith in the Lord. They knew that, from the Lord's perspective, more youth would be engaged in missionary work, and that more young people would be endowed earlier. He also talked about becoming President of the Quorum. He said that President Packer and Elder Perry weren't dead, but just merely transferred to another area. He said that we should be grateful we don't have some kind of deliberation or election for who should be the next President of the Quorum, and to be grateful for how we leave that calling up to the Lord. He said it is the most peaceful way to have those kinds of transitions in the Church...unless you're the one getting called. (:
I just have such a testimony of how President Nelson, and the other Apostles, and President Monson and the First Presidency are all called and ordained of God to be His representatives on the earth. They hold the keys to our church, and as times will continue to get more and more confusing, on a global and personal level, they will have the words of wisdom and the Lord. I hope each of you will thoroughly study the words of the living prophets and apply them deeply into your lives.
In terms of MTC in general, I'm doing well. I'm sorry I haven't gotten that package home yet, this week was very intense and exhausting for me. I've been trying all week to get it put together, but every time I sit down to pack, I either fall asleep, or someone needs my help. No worries, though, I'll get that in the mail today.
Me and Elder Herring got our travel plans yesterday. Getting our travel plans has made me really realize that I'm leaving America for two whole years. It's finally starting to hit me hard that I'm leaving a whole continent behind. It's definitely making me think about the differences between here and there, and what I'm leaving behind. I'm not homesick, but I'm definitely thinking a lot about how different of a world I'm about to enter. I had a lot of honest questions about how I'm going to handle living in a third-world country halfway across the globe, for two years.
This morning, me and Elder Herring went to our probably last temple trip for two years. We went to the Celestial Room, and we sat there and were just in awe of how we'd never be in a celestial room for two years. It really got to me, you know?
Then, as we walked out the temple doors, the sun had just risen, and so all of Utah valley was just in front of us. The LaVell Edwards Stadium was directly in front of us, with the big BYU logo on top. As I saw the big "Y," I realized how very...detached I felt from everything. At night, before bed, the thought would sometimes pop up about what life after the mission would be like. I love BYU, and I know it's the school for me, but when I saw the stadium, for some reason I just felt disconnected from it. That was the biggest comfort in the world. I could almost hear myself saying "Soon, but not yet". I just felt completely unattached to the places outside of the MTC. I sure do miss the people I love, and I'm excited to see where you all go in these next two years, but I feel absolutely comfortable leaving everything behind for two years. Yes, Africa still feels daunting, but I feel ready to just jump in. I want to jump in. And in two years, then I'll jump into BYU and friends and dating and jobs and such, but as a church we believe in baptism by immersion, and I think the same symbolism applies to our life in general: just dunk yourself completely into your current season of life. Be where you are.
So, to my friends and family, I would give you this piece of advice: center your lives on the Doctrine of Christ, and just jump into the life that's waiting for you. Go to high school, go to college, do your very best, go on dates, get married, go on missions, preach the Gospel, and be kind to all you see and meet. Love everyone around you, including yourself. Be humble, but be bold. Open up your heart to the blessings and opportunities ahead of you, and jump in. Don't worry about me. Definitely update me on what happens though: I'd love to know how the first day of school went, the dates y'all go on, when y'all get your mission calls, and I'd love to help out the best I can when you are having difficulties. But don't worry about me. Live the fullest life you can. Be where you are, and just immerse yourself into the time in which you are asked to live now.
I love you all so very much, and I wish you the very best. Do well and do good,
Avec un beaucoup d'amour,