Labdien ģimenei un draugiem, (Hello to my family and friends,)
So, I am going to try to type all my thoughts clearly and understandably from Elder Bednar. It isn't going to be easy, and I'll miss a lot, but here it goes. Just know that I learned a ton and was very spiritually fed. I love this work and I know that is it true.
First off, update about the work that I sent to President Boswell':
"Irene is doing well. She is continuing to read, but decided to slow down, because she wasn't getting as much out of it a she wanted to. She is now somewhere in Mosiah though. She reads fast, and enjoys the reading. She is still progressing towards July 12th. She is wonderful. She continues to ask God if she should join this church. We are pretty convinced there is no accountability problem. She is very smart actually and very on top of it. She mostly is in the hospital for headaches that just won't stop. She is probably going to be out in a month. We had two lessons with her this last week, and she seems to be responding very well to everything and she accepts it all."
"We also had a great teaching moment on the street yesterday with a man named Martiņš. He doesn't believe in God, but had been questioning and searching the last few days for how could he know. We talked about it a lot. He was very open and had LOTS of questions. It was fun to teach him just after getting back from Elder Bednar and try to apply some of those new principles into my teaching. I used more examples and asked him questions based on those. Sister Ormsby and I taught well together and really got him thinking. We set up a lesson with him this week after talking with him for 30 minutes."
"I was also very well spiritually fed by Elder Bednar while he was here. I learned so much! I know that I received exactly what I needed to hear to improve myself and the work that I am doing for the Lord. I gained a more profound testimony of Elder Bednar as an apostle of God. I know he is an apostle and I love him. He truly spoke by the spirit and helped us to learn. He is incredible!"
So, this last week was great. We had a wonderful meeting with all the missionaries serving in Latvia with Elder Bednar on Saturday. Elder Bednar was there with his wife, Elder Senkāns was also there with his wife (he is a Latvian from the Rīga branch who is a seventy), and President and Sister Boswell were there. It was a small gathering. About 50 people. It was so great to be in such a close, friendly, comfortable setting with an apostle of the Lord. Elder Bednar said that only 3 times as an apostle has he had a privilege to meet with such a small group of missionaries. I am blessed that I got to be in that group. It was a mission conference, so that meant it was 3 hours long. It was wonderful! Sister Bednar spoke a little bit and then we listened to Elder Bednar for 2 and a half hours! It was great! He is an incredible teacher. He first asked us to share what we had thought from the three talks he had sent us and asked us to read. We would stand up and share thoughts that we had. It was incredible to do that. He would very politely ask us if he could ask us another question sometimes in response to that which we had said. Really he is a great teacher and helped us learn from a big example how to be agents and try to learn for ourselves. Through the way he taught he opened us up to receive personal revelation and I received so much! I hope that this is understandable, because it sounds like gibberish to me.
I'll share a few thoughts that I had and hope that you will think about them in relation to you and apply them to yourselves. First off, one big thing I learned is how it is our responsibility to learn and understand. We need to be agents to act and not be acted upon. It is up to us if each Sunday we learn from Sacrament meeting or from the lessons. We must apply ourselves in a way that we really learn. For example, if they share a scripture, look it up so that you can read the words and write notes in them and look at the scripture in context. As you look at the scripture think about your life and ask, "How can I live this more in my life today?" or some other question to open you up to revelation. The same thing goes for teachers or speakers. Help the listeners become agents. Ask and present questions in a way that they get thinking. Allow the listeners to have time to open up the scriptures. These are things I learned just by watching how Elder Bednar taught us. He helped us to learn these things for ourselves. Every person in that room learned what they needed to learn and for each person, it was completely different. How, 1: the spirit was the real teacher and 2: we were trying and seek to learn by our faith. We wanted to learn and we were ready and then Elder Bednar invited the spirit and we were taught by that. I know it is hard to understand, but it is powerful. The things I learned at that conference will stay with me long term, because I discovered them by the direction of the spirit.
I really gained and strengthened my testimony of little things making great things. Elder Bednar talked a lot about line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. It is something that he very commonly teaches. In particular he talked about this in relation to everyday. Everything we do should be little tiny steps of progress that we string together, day after day. Truly the little things are more important then the big things. The daily scripture studying and praying in the end are what help us have big things happen. It is incredible what can happen when we put in the daily little effort.
I also gained insight about how to help people learn in lessons and on the street better than I was doing before. I need to invite them to act by helping them think and apply it to themselves. This is done most accurately through the spirit and with questions. The spirit has to be the main teacher and then by using questions directed by the spirit and examples that apply to the person, I can help people figure out the principles of the gospel for themselves. It is so powerful. I know that I learned more by just watching Elder Bednar teach, then by what he said, and ever more than both of those, what the spirit taught me.
Something else I realized is how much Elder Bednar reminds me of my dad in such a good way. I love my dad so much and the way he and my mom have raised me. Well, I saw Saturday how my dad taught and raised me and how that was so much then same way of what my parents do with me. My dad loves Elder Bednar and especially enjoyed the time he serve with him at BYU-Idaho. Well, Elder Bednar remembered my dad when I metioned that I was his daughter and said that he was a great man. He passed on his hellos. Sister Bednar also passed on a hello for both my parents when I shook her hand afterwards.
I also got the opportunity to ask Elder Bednar a question. He told us to not ask anything if we thought of it ahead of time and really pay attention to the situation we were in and ask a question that really fit who we were with and that I couldn't really ask anyone else. I asked Elder Bednar how his talks have changed from being president of BYU-Idaho and now as an apostle. I mentioned how there are correspondences with his talks at BYU-Idaho and in conference, but how does he study now that is different from before? Well, Elder Bednar said that yes, there are similar things in his talks from before and now, but he said that is not what is important. What is important, is that which has changed. He said look for the differences in the talks, because they represent his spiritual growth and he shares those spiritual insights sometimes. For example, he has given several talks about the atonement. Well, he said a difference in his last talk in general conference and from times before was that when we make covenants with God we yoke ourselves with Jesus Christ. That is all I'll say about that. Go and study Elder Bednar's talk from last conference and think about that together with the scripture in Matthew.
There is so much more I could share, but I just can't express it all. I'll give you the talks that we read and you can read them as well and learn and study these same things. Study them deeper then you normally would and you'll get your own personal revelation. Invite the spirit and then read these talks and you'll learn that which you need to.
We also had District Conference on Sunday with Elder Bednar and all the saints from Latvia. I got to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a while. It was a great time. We rode back on a bus with all the members from Liepaja and that was a lot of fun! I know this church is true. I know that Elder Bednar is an apostle called of God. He is a normal person, called and given power to do a special calling. I love this work! I know that this is God's church. I love you all and I am grateful to be a missionary!