There is a lot I want to write about this week but I don't have a ton of time today. There was so much in your emails this week that I really appreciated. I want to highlight a couple things... Thank you both for your wonderful examples! ...
I had a short dream last week that Garrett was living in the same place I was with Elder Bradley, Smith, and Lund. Elder Smith and Elder Lund were co-training him to be a missionary. It was a lot of fun! That's really sweet to hear about his game 42-0!! Way to go bro! ... Erika! I sure miss you sis. I hope all is going well for you right now with your schooling and seminary and your faith. Erika, rejoice in this gospel! Keep seeking and learning. I love you so much:o)
Elder Bradley and I are staying together for 1 more transfer! We had to push L.T.s baptism back a bit because he felt he was moving way too fast. After all we committed him to be baptized on the first lesson and his parents are very against it! He is choosing not to tell his parents about meeting with us and "becoming Mormon". He is out of home, he is a man and he can choose for himself. Right now he is shooting for September 30th to be baptized. It was really cool for him to come to a special YSA fireside with Elder Bednar and also the special Sunday meeting for the Golden Stake with Elder Bednar. I feel like so much of what was said was directly applicable to the challenges L.T. is dealing with. It has been a very spiritually powerful weekend being able to hear from Elder Bednar multiple times.
In addition to the fireside and stake meeting there was also a missionary meeting with Elder Bednar which was super powerful. I had a very memorable experience that I want to share with you that I had with Elder Bednar. I decided to just being my journal and copy what I wrote so you could get the most accurate depiction of my experience... From my journal:
"An experiance I had today with Elder Bednar is one I will never forget. We had our missionary meeting with him today and after a couple hours of incredible instruction he opened it up to question/answer. Quite a few people stood and asked questions and there was more answers/discussion/revelation. I rose my hand and he called on me, I stood and asked him if he would share his testimony on a certain principle of the gospel. He said he would be sharing his testimony at the end so it depended what I was going to ask him to share it on. I asked him the following question: "Will you share your testimony on how you have conquered Satans temptations throughout your life?" He called me up to the stand and the following is my experience:
He had me face one direction and he told me that that direction was toward God, his protection, and his will for me. He showed me the opposite direction was Satan, and bondage, and wickedness. He pointed my direction towards God and told me to only look that way, he then grasped the back of my arms and was slowly moving me forward in that direction saying that the things which would move me that way were meaningful scripture study, meaningful prayer, meaningful temple attendance, meaningful church attendance, etc. As Elder Bednar was pushing me slowly in that direction it hit me so hard that I had an Apostle of the Lord propeling me towards God and that as he was he was telling me that in order to keep protected from Satans temptations I needed to keep heading in that direction. As he was saying the things I needed to do into my ear a tear came to my eye and I felt the Spirit sweep over me testifying to my heart that the principle he was illustraiting was true.
He then turned me around and started nudging me back the other way, saying that as my prayers, scripture study, church attendance, temple attendance etc. became less meaningful that I would be going in that direction...towards bondage. (Basically you are either increasing or decreasing). When I got past the line he had set he asked Elder Holstrom (in the Presidency of the 70) to assist him with something. Elder Bednar wrapped his arms around me from behind and Elder Holstrom from the front wrapped his arms around me, then Elder Bednar told me to try and free myself. I could not. I was bound. (Elder Bednar is super strong for someone his age:o) and Elder Holstrom is huge).
This whole thing was one of the very most powerful experiences I have ever had. At the end just before I sat down I extended my hand and said, "Thank You", he grasped my hand firmly, looked me in the eyes and said "you will never forget this." Not only will I never forget the experience but I will never forget the principle taught therein. He taught me I don't have to necessarily be doing something wrong to start going backwards, it could just be that the quality of the righteous things becomes less."
I look forward to general conference as well! This experience was very powerful in itself but also it strengthened my testimony that we have true Apostles and Prophets on the earth today.
I was able to see the physical therapist last week and he basically told me that whatever I was dealing with was more than he knew how to handle. He referred me to an orthopedic surgon in the Chatfield ward who I know well. His name is Mike Fuller. President Maynes is working to see if Brother Fuller is going to be able to look at me and see if he can help. I like the idea of trying some yoga when I get home. I hope to find something someday which will take this away. In the missionary meeting with Elder Bednar he talked about having the faith "not to be healed". He wanted each of us to ask ourselves that question...do we have the faith not to be healed? What he meant is if it is not Gods Will for us to be healed at this time in our existance then do we have the faith to accept that? So many times people will attempt to push there Will to God through prayer but we aren't always willing to accept his Will for us if we feel that his Will doesn't benefit us. I have the faith not to be healed. If this is something which God wants me to deal with as I go through mortality then I can honestly say I can accept that. This principle applies to all of us and the challenges we have.
I love you all very dearly. I miss you. I think of you often. I am so happy and grateful that I am part of this family!
Elder W. Marks