I am truly amazed that it is May. People keep coming in from BYU and I say "So are you just here for the weekend? Is there a break on Monday?" And they say "No, the semester is over!" And it blows my mind every time. I can't believe I've all ready been here for 2 semesters... My time at school NEVER went as fast as it has gone here. Redonkulous.
So do you remember the story in Alma where Alma and Amulek are in prison in Ammonihah and they have to watch all of the wives and children of the believers burn? Amulek says something very interesting that really stuck out to me this week (it actually ALWAYS sticks out to me, so maybe I wrote about it before... I love Alma 14). So as they are watching them burn, Amulek suggests that they "stretch forth their hands and exercise the power of God... and save them from the flames." but then Alma, oh Alma... What a guy..., says "The spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand, for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself in glory. And he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts..." and then Amulek says, in what I think a serious cry, "Behold perhaps they will burn us also." And then Alma says "Be it according to the will of the Lord. But behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not."
Ok so why does this stick out to me every time I read it? There are a few reasons and a lot of it has to do with whats been going on for Sista Brink in LA.
Sometimes, we have to sit back and let things happen the way the Lord wants them to happen. EVEN if they are hard. Even if we are watching the most awful thing happen, sometimes we must be "constrained" like Alma and trust that the Lord will take care of everything. That takes a LOT of faith. The Lords plan is SO much bigger than ours. And we just have to trust it! That is why we are here, to trust the plan that the Lord has given us. Alma let them suffer because he knew that it was part of God's plan... He let them suffer to receive something greater than just surviving a fire that some really bad people put them in. That something greater is Eternal Life! And so it is in our lives. We have to get through the hard things, to receive the greater things. Kind of like the "good better best" principle that Dallin H. Oaks talked about in Conference a while back. So then Amulek wants to take the easy road because it seems to hard to bear. He wants to just die with them. That would be the easier thing to do than to watch THEM die and to keep on going and living. How many times do we want the easier way? I know I want it ALL of the time. I want the effects, without the work. But then Alma, wise Alma, says " behold, our work is not finished." He knew that there was more people to help, more things to do, more lessons to learn. He knew that God had great things in store, rather than shrinking and allowing his "fire" to destroy him. Nothing, not even watching people that he loved and cared about burn, would keep him from accomplishing the will of the Lord. We all have our fires! And sometimes it would be easier to just let it burn us to a crisp. But the higher road, and the sometimes harder road, is what will bring us true happiness. What a story. I LOVE IT! I hope you understood what I was saying...
This story really relates to a gal we are teaching. She is amazing. She is really at a point in her life where she knows the will of the Lord is that she be here, with us, learning about God. (She calls herself an SOG, Student of God, and it's really funny. She's super witty. So of course I love her. I love witty people) She says her "resources are all dried up" and that that is why she meets with us, that is why she came to church yesterday even though it really is the LAST thing she WANTS to do. She is truly having a change of heart because she is doing the will of the Lord. With the things she has had to deal with in her life, it would have been really easy for her to just say "Nah... I'll just let the fire burn me. It might hurt for a second, but then it will all be over... who cares..." but she didn't. She has trusted the feelings that she has felt in talking to a member friend of hers and knows that God wants her, and he wants her badly. I know God wants her too! She is bright, smart, and extremely honest (sometimes a little brutally, like yesterday when she figured out how to shrink sacrament down 30 minutes... it was funny). She is starting to break down walls and starting to open up to us and I am just so grateful to be able to teach her. In our lesson on Saturday, she had a hard time looking at me and was like squinting her eyes and then she was like "I'm sorry I'm looking at you funny, it's just that you are SO bright! I seriously can't look at you because it hurts my eyes!" which was something I had never ever ever had anyone say to me before. She recognizes the spirit SO well and describes it SO well using words like dense, thick, heavy, natural high... She's super artsy so I love her even more. In church yesterday, I could tell she was uncomfortable and having an inner battle of "I know God wants me to be here. But I hate this. So I will stick it out" so I showed her a scripture in the Old Testament about fighting battles, and how they aren't really OUR battles to fight, but Gods. She read it, looked at me sort of broken-like, and then just touched her heart. THAT is why I am here. She is preparing for Baptism on June 4th.
Megan is doing really well. She is just smooth sailin towards her baptism on May 14th. Her boyfriend is coming up from Salt Lake to baptize her which is way neat. She is just amazing. She's my friend.
Yesterday was one of the most special evenings of my mission. A while ago, I met a girl at the Visitors Center named Ashley. She had the most adorable kids and we talked for a really long time and really connected and had a lot to relate to each other. Come to find out, her husband, Mike, was in the teaching room with Sisters Hanselman and Green and was investigating the church but was VERY slowly moving along. Ashley and I just had a great talk and I really love her. So THEN I got to know them a little bit more as they came back for lessons with the Sisters. This was back in January probably. Then Sister Hanselman and Green asked me if I would do a lesson for them, just singing and talking about the songs I sang because Mike was having a hard time recognizing the spirit and they thought maybe if he heard music it would help. So of course I was so happy to. It was a pretty neat experience. This was in the middle of March probably. The lesson was really spiritually packed, and then at the end, Mike said a prayer out loud (very rare for him) and it was SO cool! Just amazing, I was tearing up. At that point he was having a really hard time with tithing. Anyways, so then I get this text probably 3 weeks ago that was forwarded from Ashley asking if I would sing "Savior Redeemer" at Mikes Baptism May 1st. UM DUH! of COURSE I was SO thrilled to do that. The baptism was truly amazing. PACKED because the ward has just been so excited for Mike. Ashley was less active when they got married and its just amazing to see them now. His testimony at the end was SO sincere, so touching, so genuine. Truly amazing. I was so grateful to be a little part of it. At the end, Mike said "Sister Brinkerhoff. That night you sang really paved the way for me to decide to get baptized. There was somehting about that song, and then "I know that my redeemer lives" that really touched me and I KNEW that was the Spirit. Thank you". One of those things I will never ever forget. Ever.
SO. I was 6 feet away from Elder L. Tom Perry. And THEN I was on the stand with him because I lead the music at the Mission Conference. He is AMAZING! And SO huge! Seriously such a big man. And so sweet to his wife, Barbara. They were just the cutest thing. He talked about the 5 points that Elder Holland talked about for the Worldwide training thing. It was pretty incredible how strong the spirit was when he walked in. Man. I took seriously good notes, don't worry.
This has turned in to a super long email. Yesterday, Nina and Janette and Nina's friend-boy Chris came to the Visitors Center! I saw them outside and just ran and gave them a hug. It was SO much fun to see them. Oh my goodness. I love them so much.
Welllllllll I think I will check out for now. I get to talk to my Momma in 7 days. That's the greatest news EVER!
I love you all. This gospel is so very very real and so very very true. I KNOW that.