Well this past Saturday was the coolest thing ever so I'm just gonna tell y'all about it.
So saturday morning we caught the bus down from sevilla to malaga. The mission just chartered a whole bus for all the missionaries in our zone so that was pretty cool. Anyways yeah so the bus left from Sevilla at like 8ish. We finally arrived in Malaga at about 10:45 where about half the missionaries had already arrived and they were in the courtyard of the chapel arranging everyone to take the big mission picture. We got lined up and were getting ready to take the picture when Elder Hollands car pulled up. Still one of the busses, the one with the missionaries from Cartagena hadn't showed up but we took the picture of us with him anyways. Afterwards we all filed out in rows and one by one were able to shake his hand as he asked us our names and where we were from. We moved through the line of handshakes, his followed by the Europe area president and his wife then President and Hermana Andersen. It was funny because the area president is like a big deal but right after shaking an apostles hand everyone was just in so much shock that we kinda forgot how cool it was that we were meeting the area president too haha.
So then the conference started, I will just share some of the quotes I wrote down and elaborate on them.
First off Sister Johnson spoke. She is the wife of the Area president. Her talk was very short and was basically just her testimony, which was very powerful. She spoke alot on the book of mormon and the power that it has. She also spoke of her love for the hymns, especially in spanish because they served as district presidents in Chile some time ago. My favorite quote that she had though was "What greater mission rule is there than love?" It made me think on the scripture in the bible where the lawyer asks Christ- "Which is the greater commandment in the law?" Then Christ replies "Love God with all thy heart soul and mind" then continues- "The second is like unto it, love thy neighbor as thyself." What greater rule is there to live by!?
Second Elder Johnson spoke. First of all he had the microphone passed around and asked everyone what characteristics of good leadership we saw in the Andersens. There were many replies but the majority were based on their love for us and dedication to their calling. Then he had us all turn to 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 we read from verse 3 to verse 13 stopping and examining each verse.
3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
So I underlined some of the main parts he mentioned but basically he said it describes our work as missionaries today in a perfect form. How we have been trusted with the gospel and are humbly sacrificing this part of our lives to help others to receive the truth, the word of God. How we go about with love, comforting and charging everyone we meet with the invitation to ask God for themselves because we know that he will answer them if they ask with real intent.
"So you all know the song Tengo Gozo right?"
"Pues yo tengo gozo en mi alma hoy."
(Translation for those of you who don't speak spanish, tengo gozo means- I'm joyful. In english the hymn is Sunshine in my soul but the spanish translation means- I have joy in my soul today.)
"Well I do know some spanish but its not very good"
"Here lets see, La Hermana Andersen es muy linda. Presidente Andersen es muy inteligente".
(Sister Andersen is very beautiful, President Andersen is very intelligent.)
He went off with a few other things but I didn't get them all written down haha but it was super funny cause he was saying them in the most gringo accent but purposefully haha everyone was dying laughing.
Alright so here's some of the next quotes
"People join the church from what they feel"
"They CAN learn without feeling but CANNOT feel without learning"
"I pray every night for the return of the Savior- for my sake, yours, our children's and grandchildren's"
"We know that one of the prerequisites for the second coming of Christ is the spread of the gospel to all nations. I'm not sure if that is literally every nation or if there is a certain limit of how many people we have reached or how many countries. I do not know the quota but that is the main prerequisites."
"I shake your hands to interview you. I don't know if any of you know this but back in the day a member of the 12 would interview every missionary every year. We no longer are able to do that with the vast number of you. However we are given that gift to be able to interview you as we shake your hand and most of us choose to do so. So when I shook your hand you may have noticed I looked you right in the eyes for anywhere between 5-10 seconds and peered into your soul for that moment. I didn't really care what your name was or where you were from that much because by the time I'm three people down the line I have already forgotten it. I just some excuse to hold your hand and look into your eyes for those few seconds."
"Now I didn't sense any real problems in this mission, just some minor things like overwhelming homesickness and some slight depression, but nothing too serious or unfixable. If you weren't such a wonderful group of missionaries this would not be a pleasant meeting. I am famous for going CRAZY, pulpit tipped over, lights knocked out etc. Absolutely Bonkers!"
"I don't know if you realize this but you are Apostolic"
"You have the same commission as I do, 24 hours a day 7 days a week you are engaged in the most important work in the universe."
"Do not miss this one chance. Leave it all on the field."
When he was in college at Yale a champion swimmer came to swim for their high ranking team. He said that when the kid arrived they had a little interview type thing that Elder Holland was able to slip into the back of the room to see. The interviewer asked him a cheesy interviewer question like, "So what does it take to become a champion swimmer?" The kid replied with a phrase that has stuck with Elder Holland throughout his life.
"You've got to kick when you don't wanna kick and stroke when you don't wanna stroke."
"You've got to be what a missionary is supposed to be, even when the going gets tough."
"LOOK, (bang) THIS IS REAL LIFE" - (the bang was from his hand smacking the pulpit.)
"I never would have ever used to talk to missionaries about going home. I was afraid it would make them trunky or something. Now this is my message to you. Think about going home, what are you going to tell your future spouse and children, what stories are you going to tell your kids when you cuddle up on the couch with them?"
"You need to live your mission in anticipation of being home."
"Think about your younger siblings, the younger children in your ward. You need to be the example for them. They have no idea what you are doing right now they think you are somewhere over Spain with an S on your chest and a cape. (Put his arms out like wings and swayed back in forth like he was flying) - in deep voice- "I see evil, I will go down." Haha
Then he had a whiteboard brought in and asked someone to give a summary of 1 nephi 1 without looking. He continued on through the first few chapters of the Nephi like that as he wrote words on the board. He wrote them in spanish but I'll just write them in english for your sakes :)
THREATS ON LIFE
"What does this look like to you guys?"
Someone in the audience. "I think Joseph Smith"
"YOU THINK JOSEPH SMITH!? YOU THINK?"
"Of course its Joseph Smith! And every other prophet there ever was!
1 Nephi chapter 2
SPEAKING W/ LORD
"Turn to 1 Nephi 4"
(Had an Elder read these scriptures)
6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit
12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again
18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit
Chapter 5 verse 21-22
21 And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.
22 Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.
"Records- Importance of the scriptures."
"Great worth, wisdom of the lord."
Chapt 6: things of God
Chapt 7: visión tree of life.
"Only 14 pages in and we already have so much proof of God speaking to man."
Killing of Laban- test of obedience to the spirit.
Be prepared to pay any price to obey the spirit.
"I have NOT given my life to a fairytale!"
"This IS the TRUTH."
"If you are able to be close enough to me when I die, right up next to my almost non-functioning lips, you will hear this same testimony."
"May God bless your work, may you remember to love this work without regrets."
Grateful for the opportunity to be in the presence and shake the hand of an Apostle this week. It was definitely a life changing experience and a great testimony builder.
Sorry this email is so long. I'm sure you're all bored by now but I hope you got at least some little piece of inspiration from my notes. Love you all, have a great week! :)
- Elder Childers