Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Episode 26: Miracles on Nata Yuri (that is my street)

Good GLORY. Merry. Christmas.
I GOT TO TALK TO MY FAMILY YESTERDAY! I love them. I miss them. They thought my Russian was pretty good. I was so happy to see so many faces. To hear the voices of those I love SO SO SO MUCH.

What a perfect day.

Filled with perfect little moments.
I am not only alive--- Living and kicking in Kiev Ukraine. Seeing the only temple in Eastern Europe EVERY SINGLE DAY. There is a manger scene that warms my soul. It is not a white Christmas.... but  I am safe. I am happy! I am staying away from large crowds!!!!!!! :) hehe. safe safe safe --- I am having the best Christmas of my life.
Today is such a special day! Me and 7 other missionaries get to go have Christmas dinner with our mission president! MIRRRRRACLES *sing it* MIIIIIIRRRRACLES!!!!!!  I hope there is Peanut butter :) hahahahaaha.

My day began with an early morning jog to the store across the street (the leaky kreshen-e-ya::::: it means the big pocket) to find some Ukranian like powedered sugar.  CHRISTMAS MIRACLE and in result the best homemade cinnamon rolls I have ever had. WITH 10 dollar (cream cheese) CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. hahaha living LARGE! Like all American's do.
We read Jesus the Christ, sang hymns. I am so grateful for Christmas time and what it is really about.
I am especially grateful for a family that always knew what Christmas should be about. I feel like Christmas has never been about Santa or gifts or any of the typical unimportant garbage. It is about thoughtfulness, family, warmth, food, friends.I am grateful we never really"did" Christmas because there is no confusion in my mind about what the real spirit of christmas is!  That the joy I find in Christmas is not rooted in how great my presents are or how fat and full my stalking is. I am happy.  I was happy with the loofa that I bought for myself yet here I am-----

living the dreams. 

I received packages from my family. which I did not expect and seriously could not be a more grateful person! SUCH thoughtful gifts! Many of them were pictures, painting, (of Christ--- my favorite thing :) hahah.  and things that I could share with other people and I was really astounded with the thoughtfulness of those who care about me! I am so excited to share what I got for Christmas with all of the special people  here in my life!! Nice qaulity pictures. (with many copies so I can SHARE!)  Just look at my face. I am so happy. I am so blessed. and I got YOGART. (hahahah my dad tried to send me yogart when I was in the MTC lets just leave it at,,,, it didnt go very well) This yogart is from my companion :):):):) fresh. 

I AM SO LOVED I feel like I could explode.

Good thing it is not Christmas here, because I even received a package from my DAD TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This very day. CHRISTMAS DAY the day was already perfect. BOOM a package with more thoughtful gifts! eeeeeeeeeppp. Things to keep me warm! and PENS! Who would ever think how thoughtful some pens would be! The general quality of pens here is HORRIBLE and pens is a gift I would never think to ask for. Dont ask and you shall receive! BECAUSE I have been blessed with the most thoughtful people in my life!

So much has happened lately . I love my new companion. We work really well together. We understand the same amount of no Russian yet We have so many investigators. and we manage to have lessons. to make it places. I have so much courage to talk to the people I meet on the street... This gospel brings joy, light, life to people. You can see it.  So does homemade cinnamon rolls and a big  cup of milk with my treausre sister neilsen!
Got to run. We have dinner with the President and then some english practice:::: there will be a big Christmas party! I am making it happen. White Elephant and ALL. Bringing a little America to UKRAINE one little weird gift game and some popcorn balls at a time!!!!! 

Sister Powell 
Ps. My Russian is of course better than I give myself credit for and it better be.... cause I am giving a talk on Sunday. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH :) hahaha. so good.
AND I ordered a taxi today all by myself. HA! 

Pss. MERRY CHRISTMAS. I love you all so much. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Episode 25: A new page in my little book of life.

I am literally living the dream. I am loving this mission.I love the people. I love my aching back. I love the snow. I love the temple that I see EVERYDAY. I love my new companion. I love chocolate. I love sweaters. I love that we almost fall down 55 times a day. (the roads are ice :)  but then don't! I am a survivor (I will let you all know when I slip so hard, it will be news),  ADVENTURE!!!!!!!! I love that someone gave me reeses. I love it when I get slammed in the trolly bus door, I love Christmas music in the store. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
This week was the internation branch Christmas party. A little slice of america and some funeral potatoes. A manger reinactment and to top it all off some cute little american english teachers brought some Indie music delight into my life with a guitar and a soooooooooo indie "first noel" rendition with pattern leggings and baggy lumberjack button ups to perfect the moment. yummy. (I hope someone understands what this means)
Moving on::::
 Lets take a moment to the past with a little scripture that used to make me sick!
 3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not abear that any human bsoul should cperish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure dendless torment did cause them to quake and etremble.
Why would this make me sick??  I could never be this. I am not cut out for this.
Every time I read in the scriptures about these valient missionaries it really just made me mad. Because I wasn't that missionary and I saw no path for me to become that missionary. I didn't tremble or quake at the thought of that Ukranian who was just so rude to me not having eternal life. I was bereffed because I am cold and working so hard to share with them a message of hope that they should be GRATEFUL for.
Whoops!  time for a change. Repentence, it is a beautiful thing.
Here is a snippet from my letter to my president.
"My soul aches for their salvation. A month ago I didn't think that was possible. I was trembling because I was afraid of them. I have prayed continually for the courage, strength, for the desire to share this message, for a deep love for these Ukranian strangers. 
 It came quickly!!! Heavenly Father answers my prayers. He is so ever aware of his missionaries, I am astounted.
I am so happy. The happiest missionary. I am grateful for a little minute on the lords errand. My eyes have been opened to just a smidgen of the God and his mighty mysteries. How in control he really is. That this mission is more a blessing to me than any soul I might come in contact with. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father to have this opportunity to grow and to draw closer to him and my Savior Jesus Christ. I have a burning testimony of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for me. I am so filled with warmth as Christmas apporoaches. I am so excited for additional opportunities to serve others and to share the message of hope and joy. I love Christmas not because I got a surprise package! not because I have a cute little Christmas tree that my perfect sister sent to me. not because I know how to make the best hot chocolate on this planet and I even have some candy canes too,
but because the streets are filled with warmth, despite the declining tempatures. Hearts are turned to the savior and you can see it in the peoples eyes.  "
I have a desire for these people to have what I have. I have been brave, I have opened my mouth and the lord has planted miracles.
Perfect english speaking investigators
suprise former investigators showing up at church
the courage to talk to people that just scare me
HASTE like a real missionary should have. Like we ALL should have.
The list goes on and on. Ask and you shall recieve! IT IS REAL. He is real. The gospel is so true I could die.
Heavenly Father is so aware of our desires, but the tricky part is figuring our for yourself what you really want and than ASKING. It is work. it is sacrefice but the reward is far greater than any measly effort my little human self can muster.
Heavenly Father loves us. so simple. so plain. but truth.
I just found a little scripture treasure.
Alma 34
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your ahearts be bfull, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your cwelfare, and also for the welfare of dthose who are around you.
28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye aturn away the bneedy, and the cnaked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and dimpart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your eprayer is fvain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as ghypocrites who do deny the faith.
29 Therefore, if ye do not remember to be acharitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.
 hahahaha. That is pretty real. I hope that this Christmas season that you might keep your eyes peeled for someone to help, to lift, to love.
Cause if not, your in trouble :)  ---- and you will me much more happy if you do! I AM HAPPPPPY
I love you all so much.
Sister Powell

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Episode 24: Sometimes I just feel like my experience can never be translated.

Dear peoples.

This week has been quite eventful but for some reason I don't feel like I have the energy to explain. My writing skills seem to have fleeted from my grasps this morning.

I SAW SISTER LAMOREAUX. She is my sunshine. We got to have a little slumber party because she and sister Robertson had a meeting with the President the next morning. eeeeeep We had German pancakes for breakfast (thank you sissy!)--- my heart was happy. I wore my silky night gown living the Ukranian dream. THANKS MOM!!!! for that dreamy pink number. Too bad the Ukranian people will never see. My life is much more than worth living when sister Lamoreaux is near :)
It is snowing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cold here is bitter! It makes me feel like a real missionary! Something strange... the snow flakes are picture perfect flakes like nothing I have ever seen before. Delicate and frosted the a "snow flake" that no one has actually seen. In Utah we get mini snow balls. Here they get perfect little pieces of art work that so gracefully fall on your coat and the fur of all the people on the street. 10 seconds later the wind rip roars through and throws down an inch. Then it is sunny. :) haha.
We had a meet the missionaries night. A night full of talents, food, and BABY pictures! It was so fun. We put up pictures of us as babies and had everyone guess who they were. Than we shared pictures of us and our families as we grew up! A dream come true!!!---- I tracked down a guitar for a sister who is new this transfer (sister Ortib, I knew that would brighten her new little missionary world if she had a guitar so we took an adventure through the snow to get one from her from an elder in the neighboring area. Tears streamed as our cute little German sister sang to us. Mmmmmmmmm. HAPPY happy. happpppy.
I decided that if one day I think that I am gonig to be in a band (by the way I am going to be in a band) that I had better start performing now. So I did. I did a little number for my Ukranian loves! I will send a video later. hahahah I would say a success and I am ready for show business. hahahahahahahaha. so good. Wish my mom could have been there.
To top it all off. we sang a little number for our ward
"what child is this"--
MOM ARE YOU SO PROUD OF ME?????. I am just the most brave human that ever lived. hahaha . A closet singer gone crazy on the other side of the world.
Oh man. Well this week is transfers week. My new companion will be Sister Neilson. She is one transfer ahead of me. I am very excited. I am staying in my same area. I love this ward. It is so big. I serve amongst the pioneers of Ukraine. They are so stalwart.
Every day I am amazed by the literal light that the gospel brings to those who have found it. Serving near the temple I get to see all those who come, everyone, and they are so different, so special! The gospel changes people. Changes their faces. It is something so special. I can spot a member from miles away as they walk the side walk away from the temple. they have something so special and they just radiate. LITERAL LIGHT.

Heavenly father answers my prayers. I could go into countless stories but I just cannot even muster up the typing skills to deliver. Sometimes I just wish I could drag along everyone I love. on this journey. It is incredible. The myseries of god unfold to those who seek! It is incredible, but requires work! I am learning so much about the simple beauty of the gospel. About how ever present my heavenly father is in my life. you just have to look!
I have just been informed by my companion that she is finished. Must obey :) haha.
Sorry so short and uninspiring.
I love Jesus Christ. You should read this if you have time. It will change your life if you let it.
Sister Powell
Brigham Young University-Idaho Religion Symposium
January 25, 2003
Elder David A. Bednar
Good morning, brothers and sisters. I am delighted to be here with you. I pray for and invite the Holy Ghost to be with me and with you as together we discuss an important aspect of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Last September I participated in an area training meeting in Twin Falls, Idaho. Elder Neal A. Maxwell presided at the training session, and on a Friday night and a Saturday morning he, the Idaho Area Presidency, and other general church officers instructed a group of approximately one hundred stake presidents. It was a meaningful and memorable time of spiritual enrichment, learning, and edification.
During the course of his teaching and testifying, Elder Maxwell made a statement that impressed me deeply and has been the recent focus for much of my studying, reflecting, and pondering. He said, "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." Since hearing this straightforward and penetrating statement, I have tried to learn more about and better understand the word "character." I have also pondered the relationship between Christ's character and the Atonement--and the implications of that relationship for each of us as disciples. This morning I hope to share with you just a few of the learnings that have come to my mind and heart as I have attempted to more fully appreciate this teaching by Elder Maxwell.
What is Character?
After returning home from the area training meeting in Twin Falls, the first question I attempted to answer was "What is character?" The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that many of the uses of the word character relate to graphic symbols, printing, engraving, and writing. The usages I found most relevant, however, relate to ". . . the sum of the moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual or a race; mental or moral constitution; moral qualities strongly developed or strikingly displayed" (Oxford English Dictionary Online, University Press 2003, Second Edition, 1989). Interestingly, when we look up the word "character" in the topical guide of our scriptures, we discover that it is cross-referenced to the topics of honesty, honor, and integrity.
Brigham Young emphasized the significance of the Savior's character as he taught and testified about the truthfulness of the Holy Bible:
. . . the Bible is true. It may not all have been translated aright, and many precious things may have been rejected in the compilation and translation of the Bible; but we understand, from the writings of one of the Apostles, that if all the sayings and doings of the Savior had been written, the world could not contain them. I will say that the world could not understand them. They do not understand what we have on record, nor the character of the Savior, as delineated in the Scriptures; and yet it is one of the simplest things in the world, and the Bible, when it is understood, is one of the simplest books in the world, for, as far as it is translated correctly, it is nothing but truth, and in truth there is no mystery save to the ignorant. The revelations of the Lord to his creatures are adapted to the lowest capacity, and they bring life and salvation to all who are willing to receive them. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 124, emphasis added)
Brigham Young further taught that faith must be focused upon Jesus' character, in His Atonement, and in the Father's plan of salvation:
. . . I will take the liberty of saying to every man and woman who wishes to obtain salvation through him (the Savior) that looking to him, only, is not enough: they must have faith in his name, character and atonement; and they must have faith in his father and in the plan of salvation devised and wrought out by the Father and the Son. What will this faith lead to? It will lead to obedience to the requirements of the Gospel; and the few words that I may deliver to my brethren and sisters and friends this afternoon will be with the direct view of leading them to God. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.13, p. 56, Brigham Young, July 18, 1869, emphasis added)
The Character of the Lord Jesus Christ
In a message entitled "O How Great the Plan of Our God" delivered to CES religious educators in February of 1995 (p. 5), Elder Maxwell specifically linked Christ's character to the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice:
Jesus' character necessarily underwrote His remarkable atonement. Without Jesus' sublime character there could have been no sublime atonement! His character is such that He "[suffered] temptations of every kind" (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations "no heed" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:22).
Someone has said only those who resist temptation really understand the power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly, He understood temptation perfectly, hence He can help us. The fact that He was dismissive of temptation and gave it "no heed," reveals His marvelous character, which we are to emulate (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:22; 3 Nephi 12:48; 27:27).
Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Thus, character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character.
Examples of Christ's Character in the New Testament
The New Testament is replete with "strikingly displayed" examples of the Savior's character. We are all well aware that following His baptism by John the Baptist and as a preparation for His public ministry, the Savior fasted for forty days. He also was tempted by the adversary to inappropriately use His supernal power to satisfy physical desires by commanding that stones be made bread, to gain recognition by casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and to obtain wealth and power and prestige in exchange for falling down and worshiping the tempter (see Matthew 4:1-9). It is interesting to note that the overarching and fundamental challenge to the Savior in each of these three temptations is contained in the taunting statement, "If thou be the Son of God." Satan's strategy, in essence, was to dare the Son of God to improperly demonstrate His God-given powers, to sacrifice meekness and modesty, and, thereby, betray who He was. Thus, Satan attempted repeatedly to attack Jesus' understanding of who He was and of His relationship with His Father. Jesus was victorious in meeting and overcoming the strategy of Satan.
I suspect the Savior may have been at least partially spent physically after forty days of fasting--and somewhat spiritually drained after His encounter with the adversary. With this background information in mind, please turn with me now to Matthew 4, and together we will read verse 11: "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
This verse in the King James version of the New Testament clearly indicates that angels came and ministered to the Savior after the devil had departed. And, undoubtedly, Jesus would have benefitted from and been blessed by such a heavenly ministration in a time of physical and spiritual need.
However, the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 4:11 provides a remarkable insight into the character of Christ. Please note the important differences in verse 11 between the King James version and the Joseph Smith Translation: "Then the devil leaveth him, and, now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him (John)."
Interestingly, the additions found in the JST completely change our understanding of this event. Angels did not come and minister to the Savior; rather, the Savior, in His own state of spiritual, mental, and physical distress, sent angels to minister to John. Brothers and sisters, it is important for us to recognize that Jesus in the midst of His own challenge recognized and appropriately responded to John--who was experiencing a similar but lesser challenge than that of the Savior's. Thus, the character of Christ is manifested as He reached outward and ministered to one who was suffering--even as He himself was experiencing anguish and torment.
In the upper room on the night of the last supper, the very night during which He would experience the greatest suffering that ever took place in all of the worlds created by Him, Christ spoke about the Comforter and peace:
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:25-27)
Once again the fundamental character of Christ is revealed magnificently in this tender incident. Recognizing that He himself was about to intensely and personally experience the absence of both comfort and peace, and in a moment when His heart was perhaps troubled and afraid, the Master reached outward and offered to others the very blessings that could and would have strengthened Him.
In the great intercessory prayer, offered immediately before Jesus went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Master prayed for His disciples and for all:
. . . which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me . . .
. . . that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:20, 21, 23, 26)
I find myself repeatedly asking the following questions as I ponder this and other events that took place so close to the Savior's suffering in the garden and His betrayal: How could He pray for the well-being and unity of others immediately before His own anguish? What enabled Him to seek comfort and peace for those whose need was so much less than His? As the fallen nature of the world He created pressed in upon Him, how could He focus so totally and so exclusively upon the conditions and concerns of others? How was the Master able to reach outward when a lesser being would have turned inward? The statement I quoted earlier from Elder Maxwell provides the answer to each of these powerful questions:
Jesus' character necessarily underwrote His remarkable atonement. Without Jesus' sublime character there could have been no sublime atonement! His character is such that He "[suffered] temptations of every kind" (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations "no heed" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:22). ("O How Great the Plan of Our God," message delivered to CES religious educators in February of 1995, p. 5)
Jesus, who suffered the most, has the most compassion for all of us who suffer so much less. Indeed, the depth of suffering and compassion is intimately linked to the depth of love felt by the ministering one. Consider the scene as Jesus emerged from His awful suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. Having just sweat great drops of blood from every pore as part of the infinite and eternal Atonement, the Redeemer encountered a multitude:
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew unto Jesus to kiss him.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. (Luke 22:47-50)
Given the magnitude and intensity of Jesus' agony, it perhaps would have been understandable if He had not noticed and attended to the guard's severed ear. But the Savior's character activated a compassion that was perfect. Note His response to the guard as described in verse 51: "And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him (Luke 22:51).
As individually impressive as is each of the preceding events, I believe it is the consistency of the Lord's character across multiple episodes that is ultimately the most instructive and inspiring. In addition to the incidents we have thus far reviewed, recall how the Savior, while suffering such agony on the cross, instructed the Apostle John about caring for Jesus' mother, Mary (John 19:26-27). Consider how, as the Lord was taken to Calvary and the awful agony of the crucifixion was commenced, He pleaded with the Father in behalf of the soldiers to ". . . forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Remember also that in the midst of excruciating spiritual and physical pain, the Savior offered hope and reassurance to one of the thieves on the cross, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Throughout His mortal ministry, and especially during the events leading up to and including the atoning sacrifice, the Savior of the world turned outward--when the natural man or woman in any of us would have been self-centered and focused inward.
Developing a Christlike Character
We can in mortality seek to be blessed with and develop essential elements of a Christlike character. Indeed, it is possible for us as mortals to strive in righteousness to receive the spiritual gifts associated with the capacity to reach outward and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. We cannot obtain such a capacity through sheer willpower or personal determination. Rather, we are dependent upon and in need of "the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8). But "line upon line, precept upon precept" (2 Nephi 28:30) and "in [the] process of time" (Moses 7:21), we are enabled to reach outward when the natural tendency is for us to turn inward.
It is interesting to me that one of the central elements of the word character is created by the letters A, C, and T. As we already have seen in the examples of Christ's character from the New Testament, the nature and consistency of how one acts reveals in a powerful way his or her true character. In the case of Christ, he is described as one ". . . who went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). Let me now briefly share with you two memorable experiences from my service as a stake president that highlight the relationship between our actions and a Christlike character.
Early one summer morning I was showering. My wife called to me in the middle of my shower and indicated that I was needed immediately on the telephone. (This was before the day of cell and cordless phones). I quickly put on my robe and hurried to the phone. I next heard the voice of a dear sister and friend informing me of a tragic automobile accident that had just occurred in a remote area involving three teenage young women from our stake. Our friend indicated one of the young women had already been pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and that the two other young women were badly injured and presently were being transported to the regional medical center in Fayetteville. She further reported that the identity of the deceased young woman was not yet known. There was urgency in her voice, but there was no panic or excessive alarm. She then asked if I could go to the hospital, meet the ambulance when it arrived, and assist in identifying the young women. I answered that I would leave immediately.
During the course of our telephone conversation and as I listened to both the information being conveyed and the voice of our friend, I gradually became aware of two important things. First, this friend's daughter was one of the young women involved in the accident. Our friend lived approximately 35 miles from the hospital and therefore needed the assistance of someone who lived closer to the city. Second, I detected that the mother simultaneously was using two telephone handsets--with one in each hand pressed to each of her ears. I became aware that as she was talking with me, she was also talking with a nurse at a small rural hospital who had initially attended to the three accident victims. Our friend was receiving updated information about the condition of the young women in the very moment she was informing me about the accident and requesting my help. I then heard one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard in my life.
I faintly heard the nurse telling this faithful mother and friend that the young woman pronounced dead at the scene of the accident had been positively identified as her daughter. I could not believe what I was hearing. I was listening to this good woman in the very moment that she learned of the death of her precious daughter. Without hesitation, and with a calm and most deliberate voice, our friend next said, "President Bednar, we must get in contact with the two other mothers. We must let them know as much as we can about the condition of their daughters and that they will soon be in the hospital in Fayetteville." There was no self-pity; there was no self-absorption; there was no turning inward. The Christlike character of this devoted woman was manifested in her immediate and almost instinctive turning outward to attend to the needs of other suffering mothers. It was a moment and a lesson that I have never forgotten. In a moment of ultimate grief, this dear friend reached outward when I likely would have turned inward.
I then drove to the hospital with a concern in my heart for the well-being of the two other beautiful young women who had been involved in the accident. Little did I realize that the lessons I would learn about Christlike character--lessons taught by seemingly ordinary disciples--were just beginning.
I arrived at the hospital and proceeded to the emergency room. After properly establishing who I was and my relationship to the victims, I was invited into two different treatment areas to identify the injured young women. It was obvious that their respective wounds were serious and life threatening. And the lovely countenances and physical features of these young women had been badly marred. Within a relatively short period of time, the two remaining young women died. All three of these virtuous, lovely, and engaging young women--who seemed to have so much of life in front of them--suddenly had gone home to their Eternal Father. My attention and the attention of the respective families now shifted to funeral arrangements and logistics.
A day or so later, in the midst of program planning and detail arranging for the three funerals, I received a phone call from the Relief Society president of my home ward. Her daughter had been one of the victims in the accident, and she and I had talked several times about her desires for the funeral program. This faithful woman was a single mother rearing her only child--her teenage daughter. I was especially close to this woman and her daughter having served as both their bishop and stake president. After reviewing and finalizing several details for the funeral of her daughter, this good sister said to me, "President, I am sure it was difficult for you to see my daughter in the emergency room the other day. She was severely injured and disfigured. As you know, we will have a closed casket at the funeral. I have just returned from the funeral home, and they have helped my daughter to look so lovely again. I was just wondering . . . why don't we arrange a time when we can meet at the mortuary and you can have one last look at her before she is buried. Then your final memories of my daughter will not be the images you saw in the emergency room the other day." I listened and marveled at the compassion and thoughtfulness this sister had for me. Her only daughter had just been tragically killed, but she was concerned about the potentially troublesome memories I might have given my experience in the emergency room. In this good woman I detected no self-pity and no turning inward. Sorrow, certainly. Sadness, absolutely. Nevertheless, she reached outward when many or perhaps most of us would have turned inward with sorrow and grief.
Let me describe one final episode related to these three tragic deaths. On the day of her daughter's funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward. The complaining sister had a cold and did not feel well, and she basically chewed out the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home. Just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the murmuring sister.
We appropriately and rightly speak with reverence and awe of young men who sacrificed their lives to rescue stranded handcart pioneers and of other mighty men and women who repeatedly gave their all to establish the Church in the early days of the Restoration. I speak with equal reverence and awe of these two women--women of faith and character and conversion--who taught me so much and instinctively reached outward when most of us would have turned inward. Oh how I appreciate their quiet and powerful examples.
I noted earlier in my remarks that the letters A, C, and T form a central component in the word character. Also noteworthy is the similarity between the words character and charity--as both words contain the letters C, H, A, and R. Etymologically there is no relationship between these two words. Nevertheless, I believe there are several conceptual connections that are important for us to consider and ponder.
Let me suggest that you and I must be praying and yearning and striving and working to cultivate a Christlike character if we hope to receive the spiritual gift of charity--the pure love of Christ. Charity is not a trait or characteristic we acquire exclusively through our own purposive persistence and determination. Indeed we must honor our covenants and live worthily and do all that we can do to qualify for the gift; but ultimately the gift of charity possesses us--we do not posses it (see Moroni 7:47). The Lord determines if and when we receive all spiritual gifts, but we must do all in our power to desire and yearn and invite and qualify for such gifts. As we increasingly act in a manner congruent with the character of Christ, then perhaps we are indicating to heaven in a most powerful manner our desire for the supernal spiritual gift of charity. And clearly we are being blessed with this marvelous gift as we increasingly reach outward when the natural man or woman in us would typically turn inward.
I conclude now by returning to where I began--the statement by Elder Maxwell in that special training session last September: "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who stated that "it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). The New Testament is a rich resource for learning about and increasing our appreciation for the character and life and example of the Savior. My prayer for each of us is that through our study of this sacred volume of scripture we will more fully come unto Him; more completely become like Him; and more fervently worship, reverence, and adore Him.
As a witness, I declare my witness. I know and testify and witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. I know that He lives. And I testify that His character made possible for us the opportunities for both immortality and eternal life. May we reach outward when the natural tendency for us is to turn inward, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Episode 23: Holy saint water.

I HAVE THE BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD!!!!!! Thank you Hannah, Mason, Alisha, Rachel, Jason for my CHRISTMAS TREE!!! I AM THE HAPPIEST SOUL!!! I got it the day before Thanksgiving and was able to bring our the Christmas in the most American way (way before you are "suppose" too) I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON! (meaning Thanksgiving I put together my tree and I am so ready to sing Christmas hymns and have been since OCTOBER!!! )
Thanksgiving lived for me! What a dream, I had no plans for having Thanksgiving and things just kind of miraculously swooped togther for some of the most extravagant Thanksgiving experiences.
1st: All the missionaries in this area gathered for Thanksgiving together with all the senior couples and with President! It was so fun. We had a tug of war and played Jump rope. It was so fun to hear what everyone was Thankful for. Allowed to choose one thing. That was hard. I feel like I could talk all day about what I am grateful for.
I decided to go deep
I am grateful for Agency. I really am. I will write more about that in the future because it has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately. The role agency plays in our lives in undeniably significant and each day my gratitude for this heavenly gift grows.
thanksgiving continues----------------- 
2nd: On Thursday I was on an exchange with our sister training leader Sister Levitt. IT WAS WONDERFUL. Right as we finished up language study we both had a sweeping desire to make this the most like Thanksgiving we could. Miracle really. We had chicken. We had PUMPKIN!!! Which I did not even buy our grandma friend gave us! We had BROWN SUGAR! That does not even exsist here! We had brownie batter all ready to be put in the oven and I even had a special banana juice. We whipped our a feast in a half hour! Tomatoe basil chicken! It was incredibly tasty! I made a Ukranian attempt at my sisters Yams (SO GOOD!) and we had fresh baked brownies and so fruit salad! AMAZING!!! I ate the perfect amount of WAY TO MUCH! Felt sick! Felt happy! FELT AMERICAN. What a grossly delicious holiday! That moment was enough to satisfy the hungry American in me. Made perfect with putting together my tree kit that my perfect sister sent me! I AM THE LUCKIEST GIRL!!!!!
3rd: we were invited to the most intriging, beautiful families home' the Bromley family. They live in a Ukranian Mansion! and put together one of the most American Thanksgivings I have ever witnessed! Their house laced with the taste of Thanksgiving and Christmas on it's tail! They had a huge Christmas Tree and decorations from the U.S. It was a little treasure. This family has lived abroad almost their whole life span (family life span) Their children are so darling and cultured. They go to Russian school and I am certain their daughter spoke better Russian than me! It was a perfect Thanksgiving dinner filled with real life American versions: bug turkey, real mashed potatoes, PUMPKIN PIE- flaky crust, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sparkling grape juice. Sister Bromley is a magician! I don't know how she did it, and I don't know how I ended up so lucky! ! big dining table, roudy children, and finished off thankful spiritual thoughts!
(they had 2 GIANT BUNNIES --- I thought of my Hannah and how much she would have adored this dog sized bunnies)
Living dreams.
Seeing miracles. It is just beautiful how heavenly father has to humble us so we can better appreciate his hand in our lives. It has worked for me.
Well this week brought a stagnent flavor of an adventure --- Believe it or not, I am not sure I was ready :)
This is called "special church water"
We had an assignment given by Sister Lamoraux just before she left. To drop by a womans house and to give her a paper to help her with english. I had figured it was becuase she was not interested in the gospel so we were just doing a little knowledge service for her. I called her up and she was overly excited to meet with us. Strange. She said we could come when ever we wanted. strange. Bundled up and hit the road.
When we got to the home of this over excited mystery woman and adventure unfolded before my eyes. There stood the skinniest human I have ever met in my life
. ----- Significant detail or not I know not --- she had blood in her mouth, on her teeth, and I was certainly unsure of how I might politely break the news to her in Russian, so I let it go) She all too quickly welcomed us in. That's refreshing...*strange*. I cannot refuse. Told us to take off our shoes come in (I am thinking to myself wow this is going suprisingly well. I thought we'd hand the english help and be booted our the door) -- offers us a seat and very excitedly offers us coffee. *strange* "we do not drink coffee" Very hastely she offers us another something to drink ????????? *strange* haha "we dont drink tea either" "Would you like ANNNNNYTHING to drink" hahahaha oh no thank you. strange.
She was very receptive to gospel conversations and I am just thinking how well this is going. This moment resolved into the perfect teaching situation as we asked if we might begin with a prayer. She was very excited . and offered to say it even. Could this be going any better?
 My delight in her receptivness soon diminishes as she insisted upon saying the prayer, telling us she prayers EVERY SINGLE DAY and can heal people with her prayers. She continues..... and delivered the most intense prayer to Jesus that I have ever heard in my entire life. (I peaked, and wished that I wouldn't have) She was staring straight at me. THE WHOLE TIME. and continued too while she very passionately ??????????prayed?????
Fear struck and continued to deepen as our conversation progressed.
We found out that she once "did a baby" (had a baby) in this home (probably the bed where I sit)-------------- KARMA hahaha thats what I get for telling everyone I have ever known that I was born on the couch they were sitting on) (the green couch in my house) (the couch I was actually born on)
Her baby was taken away.
This woman is not healthy.
I am not safe.
We need to get out.
My thoughts as she reached for a yellowed bottle of stagnant "Church" water as she called it
"NO!" - Sister Esaulenka
She tilts her head and waves the water back and forth staring at me right in my eyes.
"why not..... It is special" *STRAAAAAAAANGE* ahhhhhhhhh ahhhhhh
Uhhhhh oh. Time to go. hahahahahaha. We gave her a Book of Mormon. Told her it is true. Gave her all the pamphlets we owned. Handed over our english help.  got out.
The word of wisdom is inspired. :) I am grateful I don't drink coffee. I am grateful I am not a big water drinker either. I am grateful for my life.
hahahah. There is some gratitude for you. HAPPY THANKSGIVING :)
I am seriously the happiest little missionary. Growing so much I cannot even make sense of it all just yet! I cannot wait til I have made sense of this agency business and share it with you all. I am so grateful for the scriptures!! They are incredible. So simple yet dynamic and applicable to every day that I live. They are adaptable, inspired, deep, complex, simple, perfect, interesting, helpful. They are everything that you want (agency--- mmm beautiful) to make of them and more. I want to be a scripture master. I have a long road ahead. but I have such a strong testimony of the scriptures and how much light and goodness comes from them if we but seek to find. read everyday. Even if you don't like it. Let the stories come alive. They are neat.
Try it :)
I am safe. I am happy. Heavenly father watches over his missionaries.
I love you all.

Episode 22: "Faith to move buses"

Lately I have been thinking a lot about prayer. About the importance. About the role that prayer plays in our lives.
I have opinions as we all know. I generally stick to them :)
I know, and have always known that god answers prayers. I knew that god is a just and must follow his own laws.
I had a hard time with mighty miracles and the moving of mountains. You know REAL prayers of faith.
I believed:
Prayers are answered through other people. and really only through other people: ... So little girls can have their cats back!. Like the time I prayed for my cat who had been missing for a month: the first time I pray: I recieve a call the NEXT day from a girl who had been caring for her the whole time and that very day felt that she should call the number on the tag! Through their willingness to head the prompting of the spirit or their conscience. How else could god be just meddling with agency as such:
Ether 12:4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with asurety bhope for better world, yea, even aplace at the right hand of God, which chope cometh of dfaithmaketh an eanchor to the souls of men,which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in fgood worksbeing led to gglorify God.
I clung to this.
A world made better by people who can answer each others prayers. That is why I am here. That is why we need to do all we can. So that we can make miracles happen, be instruments. I believed god works through us to fulfill his purposes and only us. That leaves us to figure out what we can improve to become an instrument in his hands. This world depends on us, our willingness to serve, to abound in good works.
As beautiful as this all is This Limited my understanding --- the idea of miracles was a difficult one for me to grasp :
 what role does this prayer of faith mean if I am dependent on others and their agency?
Where I think I may have not fully understand is what roles exactly our heavenly father plays in our lives. I did not believe in a meddling father in heaven. He gave us agency and the gift of the holy ghost for a reason. So that we could choose to act for ourselves. He isn't just going to take that away from one person to fulfill a miracle in anothers--- lets us apply this to real life called Sister Powell and the 90 BUS at 4:13 pm November 22, 2013 
What role did faith play in all of this:: well this is a lesson I learned just the other day as I excerted just a bit more faith a capacity in my mind to understand the myseries of god opened.
It is a rather silly story, but as we were in a hurry to return home. in haste to retrieve brownies for a needy soul:  I needed bus 90 to be there. NEEDED it :) We had only 20 minutes to be there and needed every minute to spare. As we half ran walked down the side of the busy road I prayed. I prayer of real faith. I was spiritually invisioning that bus at that curb side just as we arrived :)
 What was heavenly going to do just because I decided that I needed this bus and needed this now???????-- There are so many other lives involved--- is he just going to pick that bus up right off the road and plop it down just where I need it because I decided to pray with faith today....
heres the thing: As I prayed. I KNEW in that moment. that heavenly father already KNEW what I was going to ask for.  That I was going to ask in this moment with real intent, with real faith --- it clicked. ::: That he had been preparing his moment. For the moment that I decided to ask with real intent. With real faith. That this morning with others agency involved the bus was scheduled to be here just in the moment that I needed it. Little choices- chain reactions- agency- tires- people- on the bus- off the bus. stop lights. work- stops- gas- endless factors that led to this moment but heavenly father already KNEW I was going to ask. 
For a little exersion of faith: He unfolded just a little taste of his mysteries unto me in that moment.
Yes agency is involved

 10 And therefore, he that will aharden his heart, the same receiveth the blesser portion of the word; andhe that will cnot harden his heart, to him is dgiven the greater portion of the word, until it is given untohim to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
It all seemed so clear in my mind. That things are prepared long before we even think to ask. So simple you may all just wonder what faith lesson I missed... but my testimony of miracles, of the power of prayer, of heavenly fathers awareness of his weak little souls!
“Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.”
The bus was there. :) --- all I need to say.
I am grateful for his mercy in teaching me this small little lesson. It was a little moment but one that I knew had been prepared long before my little brain had conjured the plan to ask.
Today all the missionaries in our area gather for an almost real American Thanksgiving cooked by real life American senior couples!! SO BLESSED :):) eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep
It has been a great week. I am learning so much. Russian especially :) My new companion is quite good :) haha.
 I am thankful for the family that I come from. A family of understanding of people from all different backrounds.
I am so grateful for a mother who was an example of christ like love and charity. It is so easy for me to love people. What a blessing this is in this work--- I see my capacities to love being opened even further. I am grateful to be here.
To try my best at being an answer to those, who like me, have not figured out quite how to pray with real intent yet :) and dont yet have the faith to move buses :) hahaha.
I love you all
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sister Powell