I don’t know if I’ve had 20 minutes to sit down and eat a meal in the past week.
Between President Francis and his family arriving last night, SLC Headquarters giving us trainings in the a.m., working shifts at the sites and preparing for the Hill Cumorah Pageant cast training…I don’t even have time to remember my name! (I really did forget it the other day…it took me a second.) The best part of it is that I don’t look exhausted. (At least I hope I don’t.) My pace right now is a little bit faster than normal, but the Lord is making up for the rest so I can actually hold fun and normal conversations with people. Phew!
Yes, the Francis family arrived, and we just got back from the mission home ten minutes ago! We live just a few miles away from them, so we decided to make some cookies and a little note to take over to them on our way to Palmyra. Well, it was basically an excuse to be the first to meet them. 🙂 But they are WONDERFUL! I’m so excited to get to know them all better, but I’m especially excited to observe how they raise their kids in the mission home. They’ve got four handsome boys they brought out, two kids serving their own missions right now, one that just got home in August…so they are a complete missionary family. I know you’re not supposed to covet, but that sounds really fun!
Now for the site updates. On Friday, Hermana Steel and I worked at the Peter Whitmer Farm out in Fayette. In the afternoon alone, we had six buses come from Virginia, North Carolina and Boston! We started Pageant mode a bit early, which means instead of taking a group all the way through the site, we were stationed at a point. For a few hours, I had the inside of the Visitors’ Center just before they went out to the log home. From the beginning of my mission, I’ve vowed to myself not to make any tour the same, and it’s next to impossible to do that in Pageant mode. However, I think I accomplished it pretty well! I literally just opened my mouth, and the words fell from me. I was talking about things I studied a few weeks ago, things I studied just that morning, and things I haven’t thought about in years. We discussed confidence vs. cockiness, conversion, being instruments in the hands of God, the sacrament…etc. The thing I noticed is that if the visitors respond, the spirit flows more freely and gives more communication. (That’s a lesson for being a visitor at the sites: ask as many questions as you can, and truly bear your testimony, and your experience will be out of this world.) Another thing I noticed about myself, is that it’s taken me this long to feel comfortable enough to be bold within the first couple of minutes. I’m going to take a whack at it and suggest it comes from personal conversion. It’s my studies that help me feel not just like a missionary for 18 months, but His servant for a lifetime. It’s not even my words that hit to the heart of the visitors, it’s the spirit–if they’re truly listening. “See that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength. Use boldness, but not overbearance…that ye may be filled with love…” -Alma 38:11-12
Besides the big groups coming all at once, I got to take some pretty neat people through the Joseph Smith Farm. The BYU track coach, Coach Robison and his family, Elder Chiddister (my area seventy from Davis County!), and a few other people that know my family. It is so much deeper for them (and for me) when you start with a connection. It’s also a lot more obvious when people actually want to be there, and don’t just drag themselves there because it’s some Mormon mecca or something. It’s a very sacred, spiritual place, and when visitors take the time to intently study before they come, and even take Moroni’s promise in Moroni 10:3-4 and apply it to the sites, their experience will be a farther reaching effect than just themselves. It will affect their families back at home, their co-workers, aunts, uncles…whatever. These historical sites were preserved and re-constructed for both members and non-members to come and strengthen their testimony of Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular belief, we are not out to get your referrals! I think that’s all the “being a visitor” advice I have for today.
Personal study update real quick. In my personal doctrine and covenants notebook, this week I asked “How do I demonstrate the pure love of Christ?” I got part of my answer on Sunday when President Christianson spoke (for the last time) in our ward. Come on, I didn’t even cry when I left my own parents! From my experience, I left with the spirit reminding me of Elder Holland’s quote, “The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty,” then going home and looking up ‘charity’ in the dictionary. I read, “the act of loving all men as brothers because they are sons of God…lenience in judging men and their actions.”
Thanks for everything, and remember to send all mail for the next 3 weeks to Kreag Road, if you haven’t being doing that already! We move out to Palmyra on Sunday night and will be there until the last week of July. Ten girls with two bathrooms? Whoo!
p.s. Here are us Cast Trainers for the Hill Cumorah Pageant at our temple trip!