August 20, 2013 letter (week #5)

A week ago Richard G. Scott came and gave a fireside address to the missionaries.  We have the Tuesday firesides in the Marriott Center which is still a little weird for me because that place in always associated with BYU basketball for me.  He talked a lot about prayer, one thing he said was how praying aloud can create an even more spiritual experience than just praying silently.
There was something else that happened that day. Okay, so I don’t remember if I told you this or not but I have been studying how to recognize and better follow the spirit. I had a cool experience with this that Tuesday.  So when I was getting ready for the Devotional I put on this shirt that has a little bit smaller pocket than my other shirts so it doesn’t comfortably hold my planner and a pen. We wear suits to all the devotionals and I already had a pen in that suit so I thought oh well I don’t need another one I’ll just take the one in my suit. But for some reason I brought both pens, I think because I thought one was better than the other or because I wasn’t sure if the one in my suit was going to work (it hadn’t been used in a long time).  So I brought both pens and thought nothing of it. Once we got to the fireside I sat down and one Elder in my district realized he didn’t have a pen, I kindly offered him mine. It took me a second but then it hit me what had happened earlier. I had been prompted to take an extra pen. Promptings are subtle and sometimes may seem insignificant but God knows us all and cares about all of the little things, even something as silly as a pen so someone can take notes during a fireside.
I don’t remember what day it was, soon after Brother Scott’s talk on prayer but not exactly sure, our teacher had us go outside to pray aloud personally.  This is something that I took for granted before, but now that I have a companion attached to me at ALL times it was something I really appreciated.  We were still within sight and a loud whisper away from each other but we were able to offer up a quiet prayer aloud, and then do some personal, soul searching, study.  Before this started I read Ether 12:27, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  We were asked to think about and study about our weaknesses and how we with God’s help can improve them.  I chose faith.  I have always had a testimony of that the Church is true, but I had never received an physically overwhelming feeling that cleared up everything and spoke directly to me.  It’s something I had heard others tell stories about but had never had for myself, and to be honest I was a little jealous of them.  I had prayed many times to receive an answer that would clear up all my doubts and give me an undeniable witness of Christ, even in the MTC I prayed for it, but never got it.  I thought I am doing everything right, right now why haven’t I received this incredible witness that what I am doing is right. I got my answer that day. I don’t even remember exactly where I was studying, somewhere in the Bible not sure where, but I came to a realization, and a cool analogy. I don’t know about you but I love the analogy about light and the gospel and testimony. So here it is: What I had been praying and asking for was a spiritual explosion, a light that is incredible but many times doesn’t start a fire.  What I needed and what has been happening in my life is more like a fire, one that starts with a match.  My testimony started and in a sense still is small (at least to what I want it to be after continual growth), it started with a match, it gave off light but not a lot, but it grew and continues to grow.  As the fire spreads the light grows brighter and brighter until it is lighter than the explosion could ever be.  I am grateful for that revelation I received, to know that it is okay to not know everything as long as you continue in faith with a desire to do what is right and follow the example of Christ, God will bless you with a knowledge in all things and a testimony that is unshakable.
Well, no news on the visa yet so unless it comes really soon I will be getting a temporary reassignment in the US until it comes, well actually I might be able to go to Canada but they still have my passport for my visa so I dont know how that will work. We get reassignments on Friday and I think we can send an email home after with our travel plans but I am not entirely sure.  Our district is scheduled to leave the MTC on the 26 but that is assuming we are all going to Brazil which most of us won’t be. I really want to go to Brazil but I am happy to serve anywhere.
Love you all thanks for all the letters,
Elder Lawrence

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