Baptism Nov 7 2009

Baptism Nov 7 2009

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Most Spiritual Experiences

My Most Spiritual Experiences
Elder Burns
Washington Spokane July 09-11

I'm sure that everyone feels the same way; it is very difficult to decide on a most spiritual experience. With that being said, I have two categories that I’m going to pull my thoughts from. Number one: Spiritual experiences that involve other people, such as investigators. And Number two: Spiritual experiences of my own. I'm trying to keep in mind also that I'll be writing about what my mission has meant to me, so I'll try not to overlap the two.
As I discuss the most spiritual experiences I've had with my investigators, I'll be accounting them in the order in which they occurred. The first is named Cody Lorenz. Cody was actually not an investigator, but a less active. He was in my very first area, in the 15th ward in Spokane Valley. He was a senior in high school. During this time I was "temporarily" reassigned to the Washington Spokane mission. When my Mongolian district in the MTC found out that we were all getting reassigned "temporarily" to await our visas, we each knew that there was a reason why. We each believed that there was someone we had to find, someone that we were meant for.
After a couple times of meeting with Cody and his family, I began to feel a strong connection with him. One morning, during my personal study, my mind was turned to Cody and also, my current situation. I felt like I needed to pray. As I did, I felt a very strong, personal answer that he is the reason I was there and that I needed to help get him activated and prepared to serve a mission.
Over the next few weeks I shared with Cody my testimony, and shared with him powerful scriptures that helped me as I was contemplating serving a mission. I'll never forget the lesson where I told him that he was the reason, the spirit was very powerful. I never did find out whatever happened to Cody. But, before I left the area he was passing the sacrament, and that was good to see.
For me, what I learned from this experience has more to offer than the experience itself. You see, I've contemplated this a lot on my mission if I got a specific answer from the Lord that the reason why I was temporarily reassigned here was for Cody, why was it not temporary? What I learned is that its not so much that there are specific people prepared just for you to teach in a specific area, but rather, no matter where you are or who you're with, the Lord will lead you and will prepare the way for you to find and teach those that will listen to you, that are prepared just for you. Elder Bednar talked about this, about how if the keys are going somewhere, the Lord has prepared someone for the keys. Now, I hope I conveyed my thoughts clearly on this, because it means a lot to me and has helped me throughout my mission to understand why certain things happen the way they do.
The next experience I wish to share comes from when I was serving in Beacon Hill with Elder Moleni. When I got to the area there was a man named Will Thornton. Will had been taught for a while and already had a baptismal date set, and has had for quite some time, but had to keep pushing it back due to drug use. His wife, Evelyn, had the same problem about six months back when the missionaries started teaching them. But she was able to quit back then and be baptized while he was not able to do so. By the time I arrived on the scene, Will had quit everything in the word of wisdom except for marijuana, and he just couldn't break it, couldn't let go.
I remember that as Elder Moleni and I were creating a lesson plan for Will during one of our companionship studies, my mind reflected back to the MTC. My companion, Elder Marquis, and I were both struggling. In my personal study, in the MTC, I had read the book of Moses, chapter one. Elder Marquis and I decided that we would memorize verses twelve through twenty-two where it relates Moses' confrontation with Satan wherein Moses realizes and learns that he is a son of God, and with that personal divinity and identity, Satan can be overcome. But, at first, Moses thought that he could do it on his own. Twice he tried to cast out Satan with no avail. It wasn't until he called on the Lord and used the assistance of Jesus Christ that Satan finally departed. Elder Moleni and I decided that we would share these verses with Will and Evelyn.
When we shared Moses' account with them, the spirit was so strong! I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. I felt the spirit work through me, guiding my words and my thoughts, loosing my tongue. It felt powerful and yet very humbling at the same time. We focused on Will's divine identity and the power the he has over Satan when he calls on the Lord. This lesson took place about a week and a half before Will's scheduled baptism date. I consider this to be number one on my most spiritual lessons list!
We met with Will the following week, and he looked horrible! He told us that he hadn't slipped up but the withdraws were killing him, and he looked it! We shared with him scriptures and powerful testimony and at the end of the lesson, his fellowshiper, I don't remember his name, gave Will a blessing. A couple days later, Will was baptized. After his baptism, he just took off! To this day he is on fire with the gospel of Jesus Christ and he hasn't looked back since. One of the great blessings of my mission is that I was able to participate in the endowment and sealing of Will and Evelyn Thornton.
My next experience took place when I was in the Rocky Reach Ward in East Wenatchee with Elder Mudrow. I don't remember her name, but there was a sister who was getting ready to serve a mission. While she was at work she shared the gospel with and gave a Book of Mormon to a co-worker named Jared Heath. Jared, in my mind, is the definition of elect! She invited Jared to church and he came and stayed all three hours, he even brought his Book of Mormon! On the way home, Jared called and asked the member what he had to do to get baptized. She told him that he's gotta meet with us! The following Sunday, she and Jared came to our ward, stayed all three hours, and we taught the Restoration to him after the block. I felt impressed to share with him Alma chapter 7 and invite him to be baptized. I did so. He told us that he now, finally, understands what baptism is for. We extended a baptismal date and he accepted.
Jared had just gone through a really rough divorce where his wife was cheating on him for some time. They had a child together and he was only twenty-one years old. The gospel brought great comfort to him. During the time that he was being taught and baptized, he was giving rides to and from work to a friend, Jessica. During their car rides together, Jared shared with Jessica what he had been learning. His excitement was contagious. After he was baptized, he invited Jessica to come meet with us, and she did. Jessica did not as readily accept the gospel as Jared had. But, Jessica exercised greater faith than anyone else I had taught up to that point and even till now.
We invited and she accepted a baptismal date on the very first lesson. There were tears shed at every single lesson we had with her. She willingly acted on every commandment we invited her to keep. She was very nervous about the Sabbath Day and tithing. Jessica helped her parents with rent; she brought in the majority of the income. She was also saving up money to go to school soon. Her job had her working on Sundays. When we taught her about the Sabbath Day, she was very hesitant, but we promised her that if she exercised her faith, the Lord would provide a way. The next time we met with her, she said that her boss had no problem giving her Sundays off from then on, something that she said never happened! We promised her the same blessings when it came to paying tithing. With tears running down her cheeks, she said she would. Just a few days later, Jessica received a grant that she had little hope in getting that would pay the way for her next semester and her books! With Jessica I really felt like a true disciple of Jesus Christ. As we extended promised blessings, the Lord fulfilled them all! It was an awesome experience to be able to watch as Jared baptized Jessica!
The final experience I wish to share happened in my last area. When I got there, In the Clayton Ward in Deer Park Washington, with Elder Fordham, There was an investigator named Ed. Ed had been taught for a couple weeks and had been invited to be baptized a couple of times but never said yes. My first day in the area we taught Ed about the principle of setting goals with the Lord and he accepted a date for June 25! Ed continued to progress and gain a testimony of the gospel. He read the Book of Mormon all the way through before his baptism, and he fasted every single weekend leading up to it. The spirit was strong as I was able to witness Ed follow his Lord and Savior into the waters of baptism! A week and a half later he gave a talk at Emil’s baptism on the Holy Ghost and it was powerful! He already looked and sounded like a returned missionary! He is planning on serving a mission in a year and has already registered for a mission prep class at BYUI! My very last day of my mission I stood in a circle of Priesthood holders as we gave Ed the Aaronic Priesthood.
There are many more experiences that I could share that involve other people, but I realize this is getting lengthy and I need to get on to the next category: Spiritual experiences of my own. Outside of what I'm going to talk about in my other paper of what my mission means to me, there are three events that stick out in my mind where the Spirit spoke to me very powerfully and personally. The first one is the very first leadership training we had with Brother Bothell. The other two have to do with General Conference.
For the very first leadership training I was serving in East Wenatchee as a District Leader. I attended the west side sessions. Brother Bothell, from the missionary department in Salt Lake came up to help introduce us to the Fundamental Principles of Preach My Gospel. My knowledge, testimony, and understanding of the gospel, and how to teach it, grew exponentially. I really believe that these three days of training became a turning point for me and my mission.
There are two things that Brother Bothell taught that the Spirit bore powerful witness to me that they were true. The first one is the sacrament. We were being trained on revelation through church attendance when questions from the missionaries arose concerning the sacrament. Lunch time came and there were still questions amongst us. When we got back from lunch, President Palmer told us that because there were still unanswered questions concerning the meaning of the sacrament, he had asked Brother Bothell to expound on the matter.
Brother Bothell laid out so beautifully the significance of the baptismal covenant, as well as partaking of the sacrament, tying it directly into the plan of salvation. He focused on taking the name of Christ. He shared some great scriptures and explained them so plainly that none of us could misunderstand. I received a powerful witness that what he shared was true. It has stuck with me ever since.
The other two events took place during General Conference. The first was during the October 2010 Saturday Morning Session. In preparation I prayed that the Lord would confirm my testimony of President Monson, that he is the Lord's prophet on the Earth today. That answer came to me during the very first session. In fact, it came to me during President Monson's opening remarks! As soon as he called every worthy, able young man to serve a mission, the Spirit immediately testified to me that he is a prophet of God!
In preparation for the next General Conference of April 2011, I took a look at what my life was going to consist of for the next six months. That included a whole lot of things! Enduring to the end of my mission, starting a new life, school, marriage, work... not to mention all the questions for my investigators! I came prepared with a list of questions, having faith that conference would be a revelatory experience for me. And it was! Every single one of my questions were answered. Even the questions that arose from the answers given! It’s amazing how the Lord can teach an inquiring mind. I walked away from that conference completely filled, way more than I thought I would! To be exact, I came home with thirty-seven things to work on and apply to my life over the next six months!
To conclude, I want to go back to Brother Bothell at the leadership training. He related an experience that he had while training the east side of the mission just a couple of days before. He said that he was going over obedience and the Holy Ghost. He said that we as missionaries have to be so very careful to be exactly obedient so that the Holy Ghost will stay with us. As soon as we are disobedient, the Spirit withdraws. As he went back to the hotel that night, he said that he felt very uneasy about something he said during the training that day. He said he couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. He woke up in the middle of the night, still feeling uneasy. He got down on his knees and prayed for help. The Lord came to him and said, "You go back to those missionaries and you tell them that for those two years, I never leave them".
I testify that that’s true. I’ve had my ups and I've had my downs, I’ve had smooth places and I’ve had rough. But, with all of it, the Lord was in it. It will never cease to amaze me how strong and how clear the Holy Ghost is and was with me as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I will be His disciple forever. This work is true, I know it is. This is the Lord’s work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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