So another week has gone by here in Rio Gallegos, and I know that you are all waiting to hear about the temple experience. ^_^ I will start from the beginning.
So Hermana Alfaro was packing until 1am and we woke up at 5 am to be at the airport at 7:30am. We arrive and the plane is delayed until 11:30am. It´s a 3 hr flight and we have to be at the chapel in Buenos Aires at 2:30pm. We were a little bit worried. The other missionaries told us that President Gulbrandsen was Very worried. We take a combi (like a mini bus) directly to where we are going to have the meeting with President Eyring with all the luggage and everything. We drop off the luggage inside the chapel and President Gulbrandsen texted the zone leaders to have us come out and meet with the mission so we can all enter together. The three missions were Buenos Aires North, West, and South. The West Mission was hosting. When we arrived, the elders directed us to drop off our stuff and join with our mission, as well, but the President of the West Mission (who goes to church often in Vicente López so I knew him pretty well) directed us to follow him instead. The elders tried to tell him what President Gulbrandsen wanted, but he said, ¨No, follow me and I´ll take the consequences.¨ So we follow him and he asks us where we want to sit. Of course we said, where ever he had planned, and he put me and Hermana Alfaro in the front center row of the chapel and the elders in the front of where the elders would sit. (The hermanas would be in the front seperated from the elders of their zone). That was one of the greatest blessings. We were five feet from President Eyring, Elder Ballard, Elder Christofferson, and Elder Williams (of the Seventy). I will try and give you the points of their talks that called my attention, because I don´t have time to tell you everything.
The prophet calls the missionaries, but the apostle gives the specific call. During the calling of a missionary, the Spirit is perfectly clear and they become very familiar with the missionary. The Lord knows us perfectly and will send us where he needs us. We need to understand the importance and sacredness of our calling. We received this call from a prophet of the Lord to go to all the earth and preach the Gospel. It is such a sacred calling that we have to be guided by the Spirit, and you will receive this revelation through prayer. You have the same calling as the apostles and are companions with them. As missionaries we are giving them the opportunity to enter into the Kingdom of God and nobody else in all the area can do that. We are offering the key which is baptism unto repentance. Baptism without repentance is nothing, just as repentance without baptism is nothing. You cannot preach without preaching repentance and the message of repentance is Jesus Christ. There is no repentance without Jesus Christ and there is no way to return to our Father without Jesus Christ. You cannot have one without the other. As you teach these principles, you will teach with the Spirit and if you teach any other way, you are not teaching by the Spirit, or the words of God. ¨I testify that you have the authority. You have been touched by the hand of God and given the authority. Everything you do and are needs to testify of your sacred calling.¨
He spoke of his grandfather Melvin J. Ballard. Elder Melvin J Ballard was having a hard time in his call as a mission president of the western states mission, especially to the lamanites in the indian reservations. As he prayed this night, he received a vision in a dream. He stood in a corridor and was told that there was someone special waiting to speak with him. As he entered he saw the most glorious man he had ever seen or would ever see. His clothing was a glorious white and his countance shone with glory. The man descended from His throne and embraced Elder Ballard. Elder Ballard fell to his knees and there saw the marks in the feet of his Savior. Elder Ballard later wrote: Ïf I lived 4 score years, I would give all I had to have that experience again to be in the prescence of the Lord.¨ He was later called to dedicate South America for the preaching of the Gospel. There were only 4 known members in all of South America. They were immigrants from Germany. One of Elder Ballard´s companions also spoke german and the other spoke spanish. The first missionary testimonies in all of south america were given in German translated into english and then translated into spanish for the rest to hear. Elder Ballard spent 9 months handing our pamphlets and talking in the streets with people just like we are doing now almost 100 years later. ¨You are a miracle. You are fulfilling an apostolic prophecy given in 1926. Do not allow yourself to get discouraged. Do not let Satan confuse you about your purpose. Build your companionship like the first missionaries. Go forward with courage. Testify, call, be witnesses. The church is still young here and the future is unlimited. The power of God is here, you have it, you have been blessed, you have a great bleesing and opportunity. May you feel the power.¨
(By the way, he´s very tall.) ¨The Lord is in your life. If I succeed tonight, you will know that He lives and loves you.¨ Many say they know God lives, but do they live that way? The first time that President Eyring called a missionary, his senior companion was Elder Scott. There wasn´t hardly any information. (He asked us to tell all future missionaries: ¨Send in a picture with your application. It´s very important. I won´t tell you what kind of photos some missionaries send in.¨) ¨The Lord knows you. You all know it, but as a member of the Twelve Apostles, you have to really believe it as you believe the sun will rise.¨ He received just a tiny little feeling about what area of the world. Then he asked for all the missions in the area that needed missionaries. One place stood out just slightly and he sent the missionary there. Another picture, another slight feeling, another mission, another slight feeling. This went on for a while. Finally he turned to Elder Scoot and asked: ¨I´m going to send this person in the name of the Lord, to who knows what kind of place far from their family with who knows what kind of experiences, and all I´m going to get is that little feeling?¨ Elder Scott turned to him and said: ¨Yes¨. It´s going to be like that every time. President Eyring would often say to himself: ¨I hope I don´t fail.¨ (Even an apostle of the Lord feels that way.) Follow every little feeling. ¨Don´t you ever think that it was a mistake that you are here (in your area of your mission). Don´t ever think that. He called you.¨ ¨Smile, this is a glorious work. You will only do it well if you look happy. Who will follow you if you don´t look happy? The best way you will testify of the Savior is with a smile. Show them that they, too, can be happy. Let your light shine in your eyes.¨ ¨Look for the Lord in your life. You´ve had evidence that the Atonement has worked in your life. Even when it´s hard, do I have to be happy? Yes. When you really know the Savior, you really know Heavenly Father, you really know the Holy Ghost.¨ ¨Glorious happiness is ahead of you, be faithful, be humble, be obedient. The elect will recognize you and what you are offering. Offer your joyful experiences.¨
I believe that I will write more of the counsel given to us next week, but for now this is ok.
Saturday, we arrived at the Stadium Independiente at about 3pm. We were there until 10:30 pm and what an experience. We first thought that all was completely unorganized, and we had no idea what we were doing. We knew that we needed to enter and sing Called to Serve Him, but more than that we had now idea (and remember that there were about 650 missionaries to organize). It all turned out well in the end. President Eyring, Elder Ballard, Elder Christofferson, and Elder Williams entered and received a gift (as well as their wives). It was a big red poncho. We are sitting there listening to the introduction and we see them putting their ponchos on over their suits. The camera didn´t show it, but we were laughing because we could see them. The dances were beautiful and so much fun. As we entered I felt such pride and joy to be a part of it all.
I´ve run out of time so I will have to share my thoughts and the rest of my experiences next week. I love you all soooo much. Stay well and happy. Remember what a prophet of the Lord said? ¨Smile, even when it´s hard.¨