1) I need to correct a scripture from my last email, I meant to say Alma 32:21, not 12.
2)This week was stake conference!
I first got to go to the adult session, because we rode with Mandy and Norman, our RC. It was amazing, definitely some general conference worthy material. One talk in particular, was a lady who taught about helping children, youth, and young adults stay active/get a testimony. I know some of you have emailed me about this for your own youth classes, so I am happy to share what insight I gained. She first gave an analogy of a tree she was growing in her backyard. She thought it was doing pretty good and was proud of herself, she had staked the young tree down with ropes thinking it would help keep it safe...until a professional pruner guy came and asked "what have you been doing?!". He told her it was important that the tree needed to feel the wind, so its roots could grow stronger. She applied this to our children. She said we need to share our conversion, not just our testimony with youth. Explain exactly how knowing that gospel principle helped you in a hard time, how exactly you came to know of a truth and how it has made you happy! Bearing testimony and hoping they get the nourishment at church is not enough! They know the "whats" of the gospel, now they need to understand the "whys" and the "hows". Then as they go through their own trials and wind, the gospel will help their roots grow stronger as they know they can apply it.
Then we had a missionary stake meeting, with bishops, ward mission leaders, ward missionaries, and full time missionaries in attendance. We went over the stake vision of missionary work for 2013. But what was cool was Pres Criddle, stake pres, talked about how a ward has a different feel to it when it is focused on missionary work. He then made a shout out to the Walnut Creek 2nd Ward and the sisters there, and said how the missionary work has never been like it is now! Sister Hewett and I were in the very back, blushing pink I'm sure. Then to add to it, our bishop raised his hand and asked when he could get MORE sisters, and then he clarified, "I don't want a replacement, just additional sisters!". Man, if our ward has anything to say about it, we are never getting transferred!
Then we got a satelite broadcast on Sunday from Salt Lake City, and we got to hear from Elder L. Tom Perry, one of my favorite apostles! He also talked about missionary work, particulary with the new missionaries coming out! He said Northern California will be seeing a new wave of missionaries come summer, and we need to have work ready for them as members! He said members need to help fill the missionaries calendar! He also said to familiarize yourself with Preach My Gospel first three lessons, so you can be a good assett in lessons with missionaries and investigators. He then taught from Preach My Gospel, about the basic doctrines of the church. I got the goose bumps several times as he talked about this year of missionary work--I know right now really is different. We heard the MTC usually has 2000 missionaries there, and now will have 8000.
Then again in that session, a young women counselor, sister cook, spoke. She told a story of a young woman who would justify to herself that she was fine dating a guy when she was 15 as long as they were always in a group. Then at 16 they steady dated. Then she justified that she needed soccer to get into college, so she woud play on sundays to get ahead, and rationalized it by saying that she could still go to sacrament meeting. Pretty soon she was having a harder and harder time making decisions. She was losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost and was not really happy. She decided to do something about it. She talked to her bishop, who told her to read her scriptures in the morning before she went to school, and that would help her with decisions. Also to pray in the morning and at night. After doing this, she decided she needed to dump her boyfriend, drop the soccer games, and get new friends. It was hard, she had to feel alone for a while, but she ended up finding and choosing friends who helped support her, and she spent more time with her family as they supported her. She got the guidance again from the Spirit and now enjoys a temple marriage. Once again, that topic of the importance of youth seeing the "how" the gospel can apply to them. On my mission, I can honestly say I feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost almost all the time. Someone in stake conference actually mentioned that, how youth and then returned misionaries get discouraged and fall away when on their mission they were so sure of their testimony? It's about removing the static/noise/distractions (hence missionaries lifestyle) in our life to hear that still small voice. The small voice will never change, but our volume of our life does, so we need to adjust it so we can hear. Sometimes it is hard and lonely to make changes, but then comes happiness!! Happiness as we change our lives and become closer to becoming like the Savior- our ultimate goal.
I have been reading in Alma lately around captain Moroni, and how he is awesome at defending against the Lamanites. But soon some of the Nephites start to get prideful and want a king instead of a judge, because they are "of noble birth", Moroni gets so upset that he has to take time to fix the humility of his people so they can then together defend the Lamanites, the real enemy,. Because of this setback, it hurts them a little war-wise. But then as they covenant to work together to have peace and freedom, they are awesome again. It reminds me that we are all running a race, but its not against each other, its against sin. Satan wants to distract us by taking time to look at the other runners, and see how much faster or slower they are. But when we think of the ultimate goal, to fight against the real enemy, Satan, we should work together in that cause against sin.
3)This week I had exchanges again in San Mateo. I went into foreign-language coma once as I could only sit in one of the lessons entirely in Spanish. I was trying soooo hard not to fall asleep. I hope I did not offend anyone. But one lesson was part English, and I felt the Spirit so strong as I testified to this family about the Book of Mormon and how the restored gospel allows them to see their mom/wife who passed away two years ago. The member we had with us, Socorro,who I thought was kind of a cynical person at the time, started crying and after the lesson said "Marti,"(thats what she called me, she nicknames all the missionaries)" I guess you are an ok person." Then Sister Croft looked at me, and said that is a huuuuge compliment. She let me escort her around (she was part blind) and wanted to sit by me on the couch in the next lesson. She also ended up respecting me cause I told her Selena was from my home ward town. She as surprised I knew what Lake Jackson was. She had at first said "let me guess, you are from Utah?" and was pleased I was from Texas. We experienced other miracles on the exchange as well, like an old referal that Sister Croft had not been able to contact due to her lost planner, just walking up to us in the park and saying she has been wanting to meet again with the misisonaries but had lost their information as well!
4) Superbowl Sunday. Well obviously everyone and their dog here was in their living rooms with the game on, due to the 49ers popularity. Everyone was so pumped becasue the Giants already won the world series, and that was bad enough trying to get undistracted appointments. Then even though the 49ers lost, our neighbors I guess had bought celebration cigars, but wanted to smoke them anyways right outside, so we came home to our house to the absolute foulest smell EVER. Gross. Call me whatever you want, but I despise the Superbowl and football on Sundays. But despite all that, we found an awesome less active man who is apparently on fire with missionary work and gave us a referal, and we finally contacted another referal who is really prepared to hear from us! He was so down in life, then they lost their cats, we went to visit and prayed for their cats, then the next day someone brought it to them at their front door after being lost for 3 days!
Sooooo conclusion? Cats are awesomer than NFL football.
Well sorry this was long this week. I really love you all, I am going to try and send Valentines this week!!!