Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Elder Bednar is one of my heros!

Hey Hey Hey Greatest Family!!!

This has been such an amazing week. Needless to say, Elder David A. Bednar´s visit was certainly the highlight – it was amazing to learn from an Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the Holy Ghost! But I´ll get to that in a bit. Building upwards, it´s been a great week! God´s work is moving on! Friday we found a young man of 19 from San Tomaine named Presley who has been interested in English classes. He was our lone student that evening, and we were able to get to know him a little bit and work on some English things, mainly pronunciation and vocabulary. Valentine´s Day, or Single Awareness Day as I´ve always liked to think of it as, also went well. Elder Corry and I finally went running that morning! We ran to the train station and back, a good 12 minute run or so, and I think we covered about a mile and a half….? Valentine´s/Single Awareness was all the sweeter having two packages of goodies to enjoy! Mmm!

Mom, Dad, and Em – I received the letters (and that awesome drawing Em!!) on Monday and the box of chocolate cookies yesterday. Thanks!!

Joy – Congradz on joining the Facebook club! Just so you know, Emily is my internet and email stewardess while I am gone, and my facebook account is on my hotmail email account. I´m honored to be your friend!! ;)

Aup – Thanks for putting me on your blog email list thing. Keep me on and keep the updates and pictures coming!

Kit and Kev – Thank you sooo much for those wonderful pictures of ´baby Eden`!! I am so happy to know everything is wonderful – just as they should be!

Uncle Kelly – Thanks for the update about Aunt Becky. My prayers are with ya´ll!

Alrighty, without further ado, I will share some of the things about Elder Bednar´s visit to the Portugal Lisbon Mission! It was wonderful! Our God is merciful and miraculous! Our investigators Osvaldo and Daniel (father and son) said they were going to the ´fireside´ in Oeiras Sunday night, and we told them they´d be able to get a ride with the ward members who were going if they met them at the chapel at 5pm. We had a lunch appointment after church and then an appointment with a young man named Tino, and then we hurried to the train station to start our trek over there. We called a member to check if Osvaldo had gotten a ride but he had said he hadn´t seen him. Another member called us to say that she hadn´t seen him either. We were worried that he hadn´t gotten a ride, and possibly none of us would be able to go, but we called Osvaldo ourselves and he said everything was a-ok, he was in another car with another member. Members are great!! The stake center in Oeiras was packed, in every sense of the word. The chapel, extension / cultural hall was filled, everyone was crammed into seats and benches, and standing in every other possible spot where they could. Even then, there were still hundreds of people in the other rooms of the stake center, in the hallways/foyer, and even sitting or standing in the bathrooms so they could hear what an Apostle of the Lord said, thanks be to technology and intercom systems. In total there was about 1000 people jammed inside. Had we been in the US, we probably would have had trouble with a fire marshal, since we were definitely breaking safety codes. But it was worth it! Sunday evening was a question and answer theme. What was really wonderful was that there were so many good and even great questions. And what was greater that Elder Bednar, along with Sis. Bednar and Elder and Sister Kopishke (first counselor and wife in the European Area Presidency, I think), would answer the questions not just with a simple answer but they would go deeper and teach the principle behind the question, along with giving the appropriate and correct answer, along with examples and scriptures here and there. One point that came up often throughout all three meetings that Elder Bednar taught was that there is no such thing as ´free agency´. The scriptures only talk about moral agency. Agency is not an excuse for disobedience, but rather we have agency for the purpose of us being obedient, choosing God and loving and serving Him and our fellow beings. Sorry, but I don´t have time to include everything, so I can only hit on a few things. (I have a better understanding for Mormon and Moroni now about how they couldn´t include everything they could in the Book of Mormon.) Monday morning we arrived promptly with the other missionaries in time for the meeting to start about fifteen minutes early! Monday was similar, but modified for us as full time missionaries. Sister Kopishke shared her testimony, as well as Sister Bednar, and then Elder Bednar directed most of the meeting first in us talking about things we noticed and can apply in our teaching for our investigators – asking good questions that help interact, provoke thought and action, and invite. Then we were able to ask our own questions, and he would answer like he did the previous evening, teaching the principle with giving the answer, and checking on us to see what we know, etc. There was much more, but I will simply say it was wonderful! After our meeting was done, Elder Corry and I headed back, had lunch, did some finding, and then were blessed with the miracle of being able to come back for the Young Single Adult one. One of our investigators, who we have had a hard time getting a hold of, has a good member friend that informed us she was bringing our investigator to the meeting, so we could go for the third time to hear and listen to Elder Bednar! It was a wonderful spirit filled two days. I can tell ya´ll more about it all when I come home I guess.

And here´s the final bit of news – I am being transferred to Caldas da Rainha (a bit north and west of Lisbon). So stop the packages and letters! Just send them to the office address! I don’t have the zip code for the apartment address in Caldas yet, but I´ll give it to ya´ll anyway.

Rua Fonte do Pinheiro --------------
Caldas da Rainha
(Good luck on finding the zip code on your own!)

Well I love ya´ll and hope everything is going as well as possible for ya´ll!! Love,
--Elder Ellis V

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