Last time, I told y'all about Elder Kikuchi coming down to take a tour of our mission. I gave my little three minute spiritual thought on the Atonement, and really, all I did was quote Elder Holland's article from the March 2008 Ensign. I read Orson F. Whitney's dream about the Savior, and then bore my testimony. That part wasn't so bad; I really was flipping out over nothing. Still, it's not everyday you are asked to speak in front of a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy!
Anyway, he asked our district leaders a bunch of questions, and lovingly but firmly encouraged us to be "100% missionaries." Listening to him speak, I felt about three inches tall. Don't worry, I haven't been goofing off or anything, I promise. But he helped me see I wasn't doing all I could be, even though I thought I was. There's always room for improvement, and I guess I'd forgotten that.
Elder Kikuchi spoke to us all morning (10 to 1-ish), and then we had lunch. After lunch, he instructed us some more, and had us practice some different approaches for street contacting and such. I was chuckling to myself, because all the other sisters were being called up to be practiced on and to practice and such, and I wasn't. Then Elder Kikuchi walked by Sister Pennock and I, and asked us both to come up to the front. Well, so much for getting off scotch free, I thought. He had us sit in two chairs in front of PRESIDENT AND SISTER WOODS, and he asked us to teach them a first lesson. Can I just tell you, I think my heart dropped to my toes? Well, Sister Pennock and I taught a brief first, and then Elder Kikuchi critiqued us gently. He told us that we were going about 75 mph, and that we needed to be going 20. Oops...apparently I have a lead foot...er...tongue? Whatever. Then Elder Kikuchi stared right at me. He told me how he wanted me to tell them about Joseph Smith's vision. He told me to make gentle eye contact, and to go slow. He emphasized that this is where conversion would start, that the Spirit had the potential to knock them off their feet if I would go slowly.
Now I have to pause this story to explain something that will make the story even better. For quite a while, I had been feeling like there was something wrong with me, because I didn't think I was feeling the Spirit at all. I knew I must be, or at least I hoped I was, and that I just wasn't recognizing it. But it was very frustrating, and very discouraging. I mean, even my trip to the temple didn't seem like anything special, and that really worried me. (Okay, calm down...this is crucial to the story, and you'll see why.) Now, back to Elder Kikuchi...
After Elder Kikuchi was done explaining, he had Elder Stratton turn on (of all things!) a VIDEO CAMERA. Needless to say, I was panicking just a bit. No pressure, right? I frantically glanced over at Elder Kikuchi, and he just smiled, and repeated, "Go slow." So, Sister Pennock started off giving a brief background of Joseph Smith's life, and what lead him to the grove of trees that day. Then she turned to me. As I started to quote Joseph Smith History 1:16-17, I began to cry---I mean really cry. This amazing warmth, real physical warmth, spread from my...actually, my heart. Funny, I just realized that. Anyway, it spread from my heart out, until I felt like I was wrapped in an electric blanket. As I bore my testimony to President and Sister Woods, I told them through my tears that I KNEW this was true, and that I KNEW our Heavenly Father and our Savior were real. I looked right at them, and they were both crying too. Later, I found out I had most of the other sisters in tears, and who knows? Maybe even some of the elders.
I finished my testimony, and Sister Pennock added hers, and then commited President and Sister Woods to pray as a couple to know if what we had told them was true. Then Elder Kikuchi stopped us and said simply and lovingly, "Good." His only advice was to slow it down even more; he said I was going 30 mph instead of 20 mph. Then he let us go back to our seats, and called two elders up to do the same thing. After I sat down, I was pretty much in my own little world. I silently thanked my Father for letting me feel the Spirit as strongly as I did. It was an answer to prayers. That spiritual blockage, whatever it was, was at least broken in pieces if not gone entirely, and it took me the rest of the afternoon conference (30-45 min.) to completely compose myself. I was very, very grateful, and I doubt I will ever forget that feeling that was in the room with us when we testified of that sacred experience.
That was Wednesday. On Sunday, Elder and Sister Kikuchi and President and Sister Woods all spoke in sacrament meeting in our ward. When we got there, I was very surprised to see my name on the program. They'd asked Sister Pennock to give the closing prayer, but I guess they'd gotten confused or something, because they had me on there as giving the closing prayer. That was a little nerve-wracking, but I was mostly okay with it. After all, it was at the very end of the meeting, and all I really had to do was thank Heavenly Father for the meeting.
So we sat and listened to the speakers, and when Elder Kikuchi got up, I smiled and was excited to hear what he had to say to the members. I wanted to compare it to what he had told us. He was a little over halfway through his talk, and he'd just finished talking about Joseph Smith again, when suddenly I heard, "Sister Pedersen." I looked up, and he was staring right at me! I thought I was nervous before. Elder Kikuchi said, "Could you come up here please?" I swear, my heart picked up to mach 5! (I'm not entirely sure how fast that is, but I'm pretty sure it's really fast, and I'm pretty sure my heart rate matched it!) I slowly stood up, and walked up to the front, and joined Elder Kikuchi on the stand. He smiled at me, and told the congregation, "She didn't know I was going to do this." I was too terrified to crack more than a tiny grin. He turned to me and said that he wanted me to tell Joseph's vision again, and reminded me that last time I went 30 mph, and he wanted me to slow it down to 15. I think he must have seen the panic grow in my eyes, because he gave my arm a reassuring squeeze, and whispered, "Go slow." I then turned to the microphone, and gave a very brief history of the events leading up to the Sacred Grove. When I began to repeat the Prophet's words, I teared up again. I tried to go slow, and I made eye contact with many people in the crowd. I especially looked at Alicia, the office elders' investigator; out of everyone, I wanted her to feel the Spirit's power most of all.
After I was done, Elder Kikuchi thanked me, and I went back and sat down. I was very shaky, and my breathing was very quick. It's a good thing I didn't have to stand up there very long! He ended his talk, and I said the prayer. I turned to shake his hand, and he thanked me. He told me I had still gone 30 mph, and he promised me that if I slowed it down even more, the Spirit would be very strong. I thanked Elder Kikuchi again, and gave Sister Kikuchi a hug good-bye. I shook President's hand, and gave Sister Woods a hug. She saw the tears in my eyes that had welled up from Elder Kikuchi's words, and she smiled and said, "Well, you've had quite a week haven't you?" I laughed, and then went to class after giving her another big hug. I love Sister Woods! She is an amazing lady. I love President Woods. They are incredible, and I'm SO grateful I get to spend my entire mission with them!
And that, ladies and gents, was my week o' CRAZINESS! :) Apparently, I still looked very pale and shaky or something after sacrament on Sunday, because Elder Jamsa asked me like five times if I was okay. I told him I was, and that I was just trying to get my heart back to normal speeds. Other than that, not much has happened. We're still struggling to find new investigators (big surprise), and the investigators we do have, we're having struggles meeting with them anyway. Please pray for Shawn, Becky, and Honor. I feel like we've hit a wall with them, and I want so badly for them to keep progressing! They are all so close! Also, could you pray for Alicia, the office elders' investigator? We had a really cool get-together with her at a member's house last night, and she's promised to pray about a date for baptism, but there are still some hangups that she has. The elders have done all they can; now it's just up to her. It all boils down to free agency. Such a gift...and yet it's so frustrating sometimes. Oh well. The Lord will provide a way for His work to be accomplished. All we have to do is search around until we find that way.
HOLY CROW, I am out of time! I love y'all! Until next week---
Your Friend in the Faith,