Good Morning From Camarillo!
I agree with you Mom, Camarillo is a special place. As odd as this is, it kind of reminds me of Utah a bit. We're a bit closer to some mountains, and it's nestled out by itself, so it feels less busy and more quiet than a lot of the cities in my mission. The members here are very kind too. This'll be a good place to be for the rest of my mission. It's nice. :) We said goodbye to everyone in Ventura earlier this week, including M. He's doing well and I have high hopes for him. If he gets baptized while I'm here I would probably be able to go up to his baptism. Keep him in your prayers. He just needs a little more courage. I'm excited for him.
Haha...tripans are so interesting. We're having loads of fun though and we're working hard. We have a lot of great people we're working with. 6 of our investigators came to Stake Conference this week! Can I just say that I love my companions? I do. I love Sister Olsen and it's been great to see her and talk with her again, it's been about a year. And being transferred with Sister Wilson was a huge blessing from Heavenly Father, I know it. I have grown to love her so much and we've become good friends. I'm so happy to have her here with me.The three of us are doing great together. What a happy, special way to finish off my mission. We're now the only English Sisters in our whole zone! (All of Camarillo and all of Oxnard.) We feel pretty special. The sisters are fewer in number now. Yeah, the number of missionaries in our mission has been going down a bit after the boom of missionaries.
Alright...here's the big story of this week. It was definitely one of the scariest moments of my mission...no joke. But it was also one of the most amazing ones. I'll never forget the feelings of this weekend. So I'll give you the setting. I'm brand new to the Camarillo stake and so I've only met a few of the members so far this week. Camarillo had their Stake Conference this weekend. Elder Call of the 70 came. The whole conference was amazing and full of the spirit. I learned so much, our investigators learned and loved so much of it, and I got quite a few answers to prayers. Especially one BIG one. Be careful what you pray for. ;) Over the last week or two I have been praying a lot about my mission. I've had many experiences that have helped me to feel that I am doing well and that I have pleased the Lord with my mission, but sometimes you need a little extra confirmation. It can be easy to be hard on yourself and to get discouraged. And so, I've been praying hard for additional confirmation that I have been and am a successful missionary and that I've pleased Him. I've also been studying and reading a lot on the topic. There is a section in Preach My Gospel that is titled "A Successful Missionary." Sounds applicable right? As I was reading this section on Saturday morning, the last sentence really stood out to me. It says, "You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." I asked myself, and yes, I can think of and point out and recognize many moments when I've felt the Spirit working through me. I was happy to have gotten an answer and felt peaceful that that had been my confirmation. Little did I know that Heavenly Father had a little bit more to give me on the subject. :) The adult Saturday night session was so good and I was enjoying all that was said. We were sitting near the back of the group. (Keep in mind there were about 600 or 700 people there from Camarillo and Oxnard, including President and Sister Felix, the Los Angeles Temple Presidency, a ton of missionaries that I know, and Elder Call of the 70.) Part way through Elder Call's talk, he invites the members to all envision one of their friends listening to the missionaries. He then says something along the lines of at this point I need two of our missionaries to come up and help me. And he says, "Hermana Brown...and Sister Hardman." Can you say scary moment?! (Later Sister Felix told me that Elder Call had asked for two of the missionaries names in this stake without telling them what he was going to do, and Sister Felix felt prompted to say the two of us.) Anyway, he invited us to come up to the stand...I bravely stood up and walked (long walk!) up there. Hermana Brown, an Hermana I've never met before came up on the other side. President and Sister Felix were beaming at us encouragingly. Elder Call then asked us to teach the Restoration lesson in about 5-10 minutes to everyone there. Holy cow, that was intimidating! Since Hermana Brown and I had never met, we crossed to each other and meekly said hi and hugged. Gotta build instant unity right? ;) And then we faced everyone and taught. It's hard for me to explain what happened exactly, but it was powerful. I felt like I was shaking, and my heart rate hurt, but we stood there together and the words flowed from us. I didn't feel unprepared, I didn't feel alone. I could feel someone teaching through me. I was being an instrument. The Spirit was so strong, and as I looked out over the faces of members, investigators, missionaries, and others I saw many people in tears. I testified of how I know that this is all true. My testimony was strengthened as we taught. And yes...the most powerful moment was as I recited the words of the First Vision. One word. Powerful. I felt it and it was confirmed to me very strongly. I know that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Joseph Smith did receive that answer. Heavenly Father loves us so much and always answers our prayers. After we finished Elder Call shook my hand and said over the pulpit, "If it were appropriate I'd hug those sisters!" As I sat down Sister Wilson hugged me and said, "You made Sister Felix cry. She was sobbing." Sister Felix is so sweet. So many people talked to me about their experiences doing that moment. It was humbling. I kept wanting to say, "It wasn't me." The next day I had the opportunity to talk with Elder Call for a few minutes. We talked about the feeling of the Spirit working through you. He talked about the love that we have for others being the Lord's love flowing through us. Similar principle. Maybe all of this isn't quite making sense, but the moral of the story is that I received a very clear answer to my prayer and that I realized what a priviledge it is to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and to have the Spirit teach through us. One of the themes of the conference was that Heavenly Father is in the details. I couldn't agree more. He knew that I needed that opportunity to share my testimony of the gospel, and he knew what it would help me with. It was pretty cool experience. I'm doing my best to please Him, and I'm doing my best to be the best missionary I can be, all the way till the end.
Well...sorry, now I feel like I'm ranting. But I wanted to share that special experience with you. Hope it makes sense. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you all a lot! This'll be a good week. I love you!