We had a full mission conference on Saturday and we had the great opportunity to have Elder S. Gifford Nielson come and speak to us! He spoke in this past General Conference. He played quarterback at BYU and in the NFL, so that got my attention too. One thing that I came away from that meeting with was a testimony that God does call men to lead and guide his church. I have a stronger testimony of the leadership of our church because of the spirit that bore witness to me as he talked. You could just feel it. His presence in the room and the way he talked was incredible. I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to listen to him talk for a couple of hours. If you don't remember from General Conference, he talked a lot about the use of exclamation points in the scriptures. His punch line was "Exclamation point!". He was still using that punch line when he spoke with us (haha). He talked a lot about how we need to use every minute we have been given and not waste any time. Serving a mission is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we need to make the most of the time we have to spend with Christ. I came away spiritually uplifted and motivated. Here is what president sent us about the notes he took at the meeting:
1) Do we realize what we have? We can't waste a minute. Each of you have a story. Each of you has a call from the Lord, Jesus Christ, and it's up to you to decide what you're going to do with that call. This is the only time in your life when you can have this one on one time with Jesus Christ. This is training you to be great fathers and mothers. It is a unique time. This is your time and you will never have another one like it. You can overcome all things because this call was heaven sent -- I know that!
2) This is the time to develop your testimony for your children and grandchildren. Do whatever it takes to secure your testimony right now. You are a prophetic priority. You are the future of the church.
3) This is not a negotiation. God sets the covenant. We gain power over the evil one when we are obedient and are able to participate in the sacred ordinances.
4) If you really want to be a great missionary, you will live as a Preach My Gospel missionary.
He also went into some deep doctrine about ordinances and covenants. He gave us this equation. Ordinances + associated covenants = exaltation and eternal life. He then proceeded to describe what each of the saving ordinances gives us when we keep our covenants. Speaking about using the priesthood, he said we need to "always be ready to act in the name of Jesus Christ".
I've learned so much on my mission, but one of the greatest things I’ve learned is to recognize the feelings of the Holy Ghost. I feel the spirit so strongly when I study, teach, and testify. I can’t deny the spiritual witness that I have of the truthfulness of this gospel. I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ and as my testimony has grown, so has my desire to share the gospel. I am grateful for these two years I have to spend with my savior Jesus Christ!