Aisuru Family and Friends!
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Landon and Becky you are having another baby!!! I am SOO happy! :D Your family is just getting bigger all the time! btw, I was very happy and surprised to see a picture of Landon holding Claire in one hand at the Hiroo building at church yesterday! One of the Tokyo missionaries, Sister Nishihara sent it in a letter to her home ward, where I happen to be serving! She also included a picture of the Tokyo Mission zone conference, so I got to see mom and dad too - it was a fun surprise! Janna and Phil you are IN SINGAPORE! and you're having a BOY! Pretty soon our family is going to be spread all over the world - I have pretty much given up on trying to guess where everyone will be and even how many people there will be when I get back!
Second, Thank you all for your birthday emails and wishes, and even some packages! I was surprised and very happy to get one from Grandma and Grandpa Budge - THANK YOU! I am wearing the skirt right now - I love it! I haven't gotten yours yet mom - I'm guessing its probably at the honbu - which just makes my birthday longer in anticipation! It really has been the best birthday ever!! Everyone was SOOO nice, I couldn't believe it!! Just in review, on tuesday the elders in my district surprised me with a bunny shaped cake before eikaiwa, and then had all the eikaiwa students sing happy birthday to me (even though my birthday wasn't until the next day!) Then on my actual birthday my companion left a present on my desk, Sister Evans called me and sang happy birthday to me with all the office elders and the new elders that came in that I was in the MTC with, the bishop's wife took us out to lunch and even bought me a cute tote bag from the restaurant, then we had an appointment with our investigator who has a baptismal date, and we were able to move her date and teach her a lesson! (she is AMAZING, she even came to a session of conference - she is so prepared and so receptive, we are meeting again with her on Wednesday and many more times before mid-November! (when her baptismal date is) :) ). She didn't know it was my birthday, but it was probably the best present I got! Then we visited a member who gave me a really nice, really cute hand made card and a homemade cake! It was a fruit sponge cake with white chocolate - it really looked professional!! and it was DELICIOUS. She is the most amazing person, I love her to death, and I know she spent a lot of time and effort to do that for me - it was amazing. I thought that was the end, but then on Friday the ward mission leader surprised me again by giving me yet another cake, and signing to me again! It really has been an eternal birthday it seems, and I am simply overwhelmed by everyones love and kindness - it was amazing!!
This week was just a good week.
Another HUGE blessing was that I got to watch conference in English!! They set up a booth for the gaijin missionaries to watch it in english - we just watched the afternoon session while they watched the morning session and vice versa. It worked out perfectly, and I can't tell you what a releif that was! I love conference so much. I know that the Prophet and Apostles are truly inspired of God, and that the things they said and say are truly what God would have us know at this time. I know it was what I needed. Some of my favorite talks were M. Russell Ballard's talk about how the service we do in life may just be like the 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey that a bee contributes, but that together, that service is the life sustaining sweet nectar of life - like honey! Sometimes we may feel like our efforts are bringing little to no results - but if that is so its because we are trying to do it by ourselves. We need each other and we need God (the queen bee? :) )
Richard G. Scott's talk on Family history and Temple work being as connected as baptism and confirmation was a real eye opener for me - it's kind of hard to do as a missionary, but family history is something that I definitely want to do better in the future!
I also loved Henry B. Eyring's talk - it was just what I needed to hear. I love the concept of asking simply for a divine errand. The Lord knows where we are and what our abilities are. If we just simply offer him our time - he will show us how to fill it.
Boyd K. Packer's talk was beautiful - I love the first hymn he talked about, Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy (it was part of our mission music night, which I heard from Sister Evans is now online on the mission page or somewhere if you want to listen :) ). And I don't think I had ever heard Does the Journey Seem Long before, but it is earning a spot among my top favorites I think :)
Jeffrey R. Hollands was as always very powerful. I had never thought of the apostles in that light before, nor realized the true import of his question - Do you love me? True love, just like true conversion requires a change in action. We cannot claim to love something or someone unless our actions reflect that love.
I wish I had time to go on, I really just loved them all! The Relief Society broadcast was also jsut incredible - we were blessed to be able to attend most of that as well :) I am excited to read them again in next month's Liahona magazine.
I love this gospel. I have a testimony of this gospel and of the mission of our Savior Jesus Christ in helping us all return to live with our Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of the atonement. I know that Christ truly does know all of his children, and he loved each one of us enough to go perform the atonement so that he could have perfect empathy and perfect comfort. He does comfort. He does heal. He does live. And there is no better way, no other way to happiness than through him! I am so grateful to be here on a mission sharing that glorious truth!
Thank you all for your love and support!