Hey everyone, Another week has passed... and its crazy that 1 week from now I will be in Concepcion Chile. Or wherever the heck I am assigned in the mission ;) Let me try to remember all the things that happened this week. Last Tuesday night we had a devotional that was streamed from Provo. Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke. It was a really cool, less formal talk than conference! When Apostles are with the missionaries, they all sort of lighten up, and kind of speak to us more informally than they can in General Conference. He said he was going to talk to us like a Grandpa talks to his grandkids. He didn't have any talk prepared or anything written out... he just talked to us and shared advice and such! wow! He talked about setting goals, and how important that is. He spent a lot of time talking about the Worth of Souls (Doctrine and Covenants 18). I love that section of the scriptures by the way. It so sweet to think about how every single soul is precious in the sight of god. He instructed us to let our families "Live our missions with us!". Through our emails. I hope I am doing a good job of that, sharing everything with you that happens... especially the spiritual parts, because thats what really matters!
Then Thursday morning we had a special devotional with elder Evans, and Elder Allen. I don't remember their full names... but one is a member of the first quorum of seventy, and the other is like the manager of the missionary department or something. They actually came and spoke to us, so that was pretty cool. Again more great insight like: "Be a FULL purpose missionary". Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through Faith in Christ, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. So he talked about how some missionaries get so caught up in BAPTISMS... and forget the rest of the purpose! There is so much more to it than just baptism. That is only the beginning. They also spoke on being "Bold, but not Overbearing!" (Alma 38:12) Great devotional!
But Sunday was the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT of the week, and probably the single most spiritual day so far in my mission! It was incredible. We got to fast starting saturday at lunch, until sunday at lunch. I know that fasting was a huge factor at why I was able to feel the spirit so strong. So after church, we had a class with the MTC President on the Holy Ghost. We talked about all his roles, and what a key influence he plays in conversion! And when I say key... I mean, he plays the ONLY role in conversion! He is the conversion :) But the best part was sunday evening when we got to hear from Elder David A. Bednar. I forget how incredibly powerful he is when he speaks. He is definitely one of my role models, and a master teacher of the gospel! He spoke on the Character of Christ. This talk was given in a MTC devotional in Provo like 2 or 3 years ago on Christmas day. I found out that ONLY MTC´s have access to these devotionals. They are not printed anywhere, and no one has access to them other than missionaries. I am sure he uses some of the same stories or material in other talks... but what a great and rare opportunity to hear one of the Lords Prophets. Its kind of sad, because I wish you guys could look it up and read it all. It was incredible! But I took like 3 pages of notes though and will tell you all I remember from it :)
so... He started off with a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "There would have been no atoning sacrifice, without the Character of Christ." This is a profoundly deep... and loaded statement! What is the Character of Christ? He described it simply as... how the Savior ALWAYS turns outward, when everyone else would have turned inward. The natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). He related the natural man to the cookie monster. "I want cookies... and I want them now!! its so true. The natural tendency of human beings when things are difficult, or stressful, or lonely, or frankly even when things are going fine, is to turn inward and be selfish. Jesus Christ ALWAYS did the opposite. You think of just the last week of his mortal life... Right before he suffered in the garden his 3 chief apostles kept falling asleep and let him down a little. He wasn't disappointed per say, I don't think... but probably a little let down. Then after this, one of his own Apostles (Judas) betrays him. He had just moments earlier suffered for the sins, afflictions, sicknesses, and pains of every human soul. And after Judas betrays him, Peter lashes out and slices off one of the guards ears. The savior, being who he is... immediately reaches out, and has compassion on this man and heals his ear. I don't know about you... but I sure would be thinking about that guards safety and well being. The natural man would want others to have pity for him, and turn inward. But not the Savior.
Another example is him hanging on the cross, and saying "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." He was also doing missionary work at the same time... telling the man that hung next to him that had stuck up for the Savior, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) And the last thing he did before he died, was made sure that his Mother would be taken care of. These are only a couple examples, and the entire earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ shows this same pattern!
He talked about how missions... ARE NOT ABOUT US. Those that seek to find their life... will surely lose it. If we want to find out lives, we need to not be looking for them but rather losing our lives in the service of God and then will we find our life. Oh man there was so much more, I wish I could write down everything in my notes. He talked about Testimony and Conversion. Testimony is the knowledge of something that is true, that you cant see. He said "Testimony will never be enough!" There are plenty of people who have left the church that once had testimonies. But if we are not truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are at risk of falling away. So what is conversion then? Conversion is consistently living and being true to that which you now. "You cannot live on borrowed light." Conversion is getting rid of the "cookie monster" and repenting (or turning back to god).
I wrote in my journal that night... that it was impossible for me to remember all of the things he said, but I hope I NEVER forget the spirit I felt that night. It rang true! Every word he said! The spirit confirmed to me, the witness that Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior, and Redeemer. He is the example that we need to emulate. He is the life, and the light of the world, If we come unto him we can be saved! And only through him :)
He left us with a challenge, that if we truly wanted to deepen our understanding of the gospel and the character of Christ, we should buy a cheap new soft copy of the Book of Mormon. We should read the entire thing through with one aspect of the gospel that we want to learn more about in mind. (example: repentance, faith, priesthood, character of christ) I dont know... anything you choose. If we read the whole through and marked it all up according to this one doctrine. And wrote a half page summary of what we learned of that certain topic. By the time we were his age, we would have 4 or 5 hundred copies of the Book of Mormon marked according to different topics of the gospel. yeah... thats kind of an INTENSE challenge, but I think I am going to try it.
He left us with an Apostolic blessing, that according to our desires and diligence, we would understand the character of Christ better, and this would help us receive all the Spiritual gifts that we need to be successful now, and in the future. WOW! What an experience. I leave my witness in addition to his, that I know it is true! This gospel is a gospel of happiness, a gospel of change, and a gospel of healing! Please all of General Conference this weekend. I am so excited to have the opportunity to watch it with like 600 other missionaries. I have been waiting for like 3 weeks for it. I know that if you go into conference with a sincere question in your mind and your heart. The Holy Ghost will answer your question. Test it out, and see if it works! Because I know it will. It always does ;)
If I don't get to email you next monday before I leave, I will call you at the Airport monday night. Love you Family, Have a great week! Take notes at conference too! I took for granted so much these opportunities, but when else do you get to hear the Living Prophet of God speak, and all 12 apostles??? Enjoy it!
Love Elder Hartvigsen.