I hope all is well with you! What a week this has been.
We had an incredible branch conference yesterday. Our stake president is truly inspired, and we had a wonderful discussion throughout all three hours on faith and testimony, about planting trees, and recognizing the gospel by it's fruits.
We were told that there is no branch council in our branch, so we often take pity on ourselves joke around saying "what is a branch council? We've never heard of one of those" Then in sacrament meeting our stake president told of how he met with our branch council that morning and was very impressed by their love for our members. Hermana Hanson and I were really excited then realized they've been having a branch council for a considerable time and no one has ever mentioned it or told us...but we'll soon be attending. Our branch really has grown so much! We even got a branch mission leader yesterday, and we are very excited to continue coordinating our efforts with the member missionary efforts.
We had an amazing day this week, where throughout the morning all of our appointments slowly fell through, and we had nothing set for the whole day. Those days are probably the hardest to find motivation. But we sat down, and gave planning our all and diligently sought the help of the Lord to know who to visit that day. And we ended up teaching five lessons and finding three new investigators and it was incredible.
General Women's conference was AMAZING! Please go watch it. I feel like there were so many messages that the world so badly needs right now, so
This week has been filled with many different kinds of storms. This week has been a really difficult one for many of our members. Among the always present plethora of personal problems, half our branch is from Mexico, and the other half is from Puerto Rico. With all the earthquakes and hurricanes happening, it has been really difficult. Two of our members were in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria his this past week, and no one in their family has heard from them since. Many of our other members have family there who they also haven't had contact with. Nothing has been heard, and we are all feeling quite helpless and as though there is no way we can really help them. There are also many members and investigators whose families have been hurt and severely affected by the many earthquakes in Mexico. And again we have felt pretty helpless. We have been focusing a lot this week on prayer. I have found myself thinking a lot this week about the words of a familiar hymn.
"Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep?
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?"
We so often cry out, "Master! Carest thou not that we perish?" We know He is lives, and we know he loves us, but as the storms of life take their tole, we can't help but wonder, "is anybody there, and does anybody care?" As the elements and the whole world seem to turn against us, we sometimes can't help but wonder.
"The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still."
I know the Savior is there, and he is watching over each and every one of us. Especially in the hardest moments, he is readily aware.
We have been focusing A LOT on prayer. Because for a lot of us right now, that is the only thing we can do. But prayers change the world. We have been fervently praying for these people all week, and I know many others have been as well. And I will readily admit that so far, none of these problems have been completely solved. But there is so much more hope in the world, and I know it is making a difference. I would invite you to please please, keep our members and all the people in Puerto Rico and Mexico in your prayers. I know the Savior can calm troubled seas, and heal troubled souls. And I am so grateful for the infinite hope the gospel offers, and that even in times of uncertainty, we can find joy through our Savior.