Festival of Lights; Week One

To start off with, I just want to tell you how incredible Sheri is!  Before we could even ask her to come to church last week she said, "I want to go to church.  I'm going to ask my boss for Sunday's off."  So she asked her boss, and lost her job! There were other things involved, of course, but that was the type of thing they were waiting for to let her go.  And instead of getting mad and blaming us, she took it as a sign that this is right for her.  Oh happy day! She's amazing.

And now for two stories from Festival.  The first one happened on Saturday.  At the beginning of the evening I was thinking about numbers and about how many "Message of Love" I needed to get...even though I knew better.  This is about the people and their eternal welfare, not numbers.  But I'm human, and it's hard to make a connection, invite, strengthen their faith, really listen to them, keep focused, and help them want to share the gospel all in two minutes.  And yes, sometimes I think too much, but Heavenly Father is good to me, and let me meet my goal so that when I met Erik, I could be prepared to be a true instrument.

Erik was in the house with his two little girls (about 6 and 3 years old) when I started talking to him.  I know this was a Spirit-led conversation because I honestly cannot remember what I said.  But I do remember that Erik started talking about the temple.  He said he's come to the open house when we was four, and it had made such an impression on him, that he still remembered it.  I asked him if he'd like to see pictures of the inside, and he looked surprised, a look of "Is that allowed?" but took no time to say "yes".  I just glanced down at my watch and it just so happened to be time for me to go up to the front where the temple pictures were.  That was a little tender mercy in this huge miracle.

So we went up to the front, and as we were walking up there, he mentioned that the temple is such a landmark for him, because he grew up next to it. He said it's such a crazy world we live in, that he wants his girls to have something to keep them grounded.  I don't remember what I said or what we were talking about that would lead him to say that, but wow.  He's a seeker.  When we got to the front, we looked at the temple and the pictures.  Erik's girls loved them, and he just looked like he was in awe.We talked about eternal families, and his six-year old told us she wants to be married in the temple.  And, it gets better.  He asked me who the man was on the top of the temple which just led perfectly into testifying of the Book of Mormon.  I could not believe how smoothly this whole conversation was going!  I mean, I could believe it, but a miracle, nonetheless.  It just all fell into place.  Heavenly Father knew he was ready.  When I asked him if he wanted a Book of Mormon, he didn't even have time to respond.  His six year old just yelled, "Yes!"   We laughed and he said, "I think we need to take one, then."  It was a beautiful experience for me and the perfect reminder I needed that this work is in the Lord's hands.  He knows who he wants in this church, and we just get to be the instruments.

The next night, I was standing in front of the Christus when I heard someone say, "Sister Welch!" I turned around and there was a family standing there that I recognized.  The Mom said, "So you remember us?" and I said, "Of course!" and gave her a huge hug.  She looked so happy to be at the Visitors' Center and to see me that I was surprised for what she told me nest.  She said she had some news, and pulled out her camera.  Then she showed me this picture of an older woman in a wheel chair, and asked, "Do you remember her?"  It was her mother-in-law that had come with them to the Visitors' Center a couple of months before, and she was one of those people that I will never forget.  Everyone in the little family, (Mom, Dad, and two boys) were members, but the woman in the wheel chair (the Dad's mother) was not.  When they were here before, I was able to take her on a little tour about the temple, and offered to send missionaries, to which she accepted.  Then this sweet lady that had come back with her family to see me went on to say, "Well, she was baptized! And four days after her baptism, she passed away."

Oh my goodness.  I didn't know how to respond, and all I told her was, "That just makes me want to cry!" as I felt my eyes start to water. Then tears started falling down her face and she said, "It's okay to cry. We cried a lot when she was gone, but mostly because we were so happy that she had been able to accept the gospel before she left."

I know that this is Heavenly Father's work.  He knows who is prepared, and I am more grateful than I can even put into words that I get to be His servant.  This is real joy.  And this is what life is for: to learn, and serve, and live up to the glorious beings that he sees us as capable of becoming.

I love you all! Stay true to what you know is eternal.

-Sister Welch

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