Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Elder Ballard and the Ultimate HLJ Birthday Party!

This was the week! Elder Ballard came to the HLJ and we celebrated the 50th Anniversary. In my humble opinion we really outdid ourselves. The whole weekend was marvelous and stressful and wonderful and spiritual and everything in between. Soooo I suppose we will start at the beginning. I literally don't even know where to begin. 

Sister Moon, my sister leader partner in crime, and I spent 100 hours last week (ok. maybe more like 10) getting the schedules all drawn up for the sisters. Let me tell you, those things were a work of art, color coordinated, etc. I think UPS should hire me because I have logistics down, returning sisters, companions, cars, all had to get figured out. But by Friday night it was done and we could rest easy. I don't know how I got to be so lucky to be able to play a part in the organization and creation of this great weekend. 

Saturday Alex Baugh, Susan Easton Black, and Daniel Peterson, professors from BYU came. They gave lectures about the history of the Liberty Jail IN the Liberty Jail. How cool is that?! It was really neat to see so many members from all over come to learn and celebrate. We had far more people come than we thought would. There wasn't even enough room in the rotunda. I had the privilege of being part of the musical number for the readers theater. They had Smith family descendants read portions of the letters from Liberty Jail and we sang, what is now one of my favorite songs, My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee. It is all about Joseph's revelations in the Liberty Jail. The best.
 To top off the day, between all the guests and lectures and craziness, we have an unscheduled bus tour of 25 Japanese members show up... who don't speak any English! I entertained them (through a translator) for a half hour and then we went into the rotunda, which was nuts with all the lecture stragglers. I kept thinking about what would make their experience really special, in the 5 minutes we had to show them the jail. So we sang to them. We sang I Am a Child of God and then they sang it back to us! It was so special and really made the day perfect-- because what birthday party isn't complete without a Japanese bus tour?!

Sunday was AWESOME. I don't even know what to say. It was just too good. Sunday afternoon there was a reception at the jail for community leaders and old time members of the church in Liberty, Missouri and Elder Ballard of course. I was lucky enough to be stationed near the front to greet people. Awesome. I got thrown into some photo ops with community leaders... kind of awkward when I have no idea who these men are, but I know they are important. But hey, I could make it on mormonnewsroom or the Church News! Keep an eye out. Elder Ballard spoke to everyone at the VIP Reception. I was really surprised when he just threw down Lesson One. We were all watching and he taught about the Savior's earthly ministry, then the great apostasy, the restoration, then the Book of Mormon. I got to see an Apostle of the Lord teach a number of community leaders about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the best! It made me want to be so much more bold when I am speaking with people. He taught it as fact, because it is a fact. It really happened. But there was no beating around the bush. 

Elder Ballard at the Historic Liberty Jail

After the VIP we scarfed down some of the leftover reception food and literally raced over to the stake center to practice our song for the fireside. Melba, and Tracy, and Tracy's boys, and another returning member all came to the fireside! It was a miracle, but then again it's pretty easy to talk up an Apostle. We got to sit on the stand in the choir seats right behind Elder Ballard. Whoohoo! The fireside was the best. President Keyes, Elder Gaye of the Seventy, and a historian all spoke. Every single one of them talked about the Liberty Jail and missionary work. My two favorite things! It was a dream. They all encouraged the members to get out there and do missionary work. Ok here are my highlights:
- I feel such a greater appreciation and reverence for what happened in the Liberty Jail. Elder Ballard spent a lot of time wondering what Joseph Smith would want to say to the Liberty Stake. I need to do that... be thinking about what Joseph would want me to teach, and remember that this was a place that came to be sacred because of great sacrifice. I am SO grateful to serve here. 
- There was a huge sense of urgency... we are in a HURRY to share the gospel. We need to be constantly praying and asking for missionary experience. There isn't enough time... that's what Elder Ballard said, and I believe him. 
- I realized that we are literally working and serving to establish the kingdom of God.... that's a literal thing. I love that. 

Mostly I just felt the deep urgency and importance of the work that I am doing. I am really grateful for this recharge of my spiritual batteries before the last 2.5 transfers of my mission. I know it's not a countdown, but I've always been the type to look forward to what is coming up. I love my mission. I love the Liberty Jail. I will be eternally grateful to have been here during this historic time. To serve in the very place, within feet of the very stones Joseph knelt on and offered up the feelings of his heart. This place where the Savior came and taught the prophet the depths of the atonement. This was a place crucial to the restoration of the gospel. I have the opportunity to teach and testify and serve Heavenly Father's children in this very sacred place. These are days never to be forgotten.

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