Bonjour à tous et à toute!
This will be the first time since August since my readers have heard from me. For that I'll apologize and say that I have no excuses! A lot has happened, but I'm not going to try to fill you in here. That might come later. To bring you up to where you need to be, I'm answering two final questions from my family. The answers came in spite of the questions, but they apply all the same.
What miracle have you seen recently?
How is your testimony compared to when you first started your mission?
I'm not sure where to begin... this week has been a changer for me. It's opened my eyes to quite a bit thanks to a few really powerful, really unique testimonies. As you know, we were privileged to have Elder Neil L. Andersen, Bishop Gerald Caussé, Elder Hallstrom, and Elder Homer come to our mission this past weekend. The entire mission gathered for a special conference where we studied the Atonement with them. I'll get to that in a moment...
On Friday night, after mission leadership council, we had a baptism at our building. Thierry, the man being baptized, had written to Elder Andersen a few months before and asked if he would baptize him. He couldn't because that night he was conducting interviews to call the new stake president. He was, however, able to be a witness to the baptism. There were about 15 of us in the room with Thierry and when Elder Andersen walked in we stood. Before he asked us to sit he told us that he would like to bear his witness of the name of Christ in French. I cannot remember exactly what he said, but I know exactly how I felt. I now know that Jesus Christ is a Being as well as a God. He was resurrected and lives to this day at the right hand of God the Father. He is.
It was a simple testimony, but it was as real as anything I've ever experienced. I couldn't keep my mind from playing it back in my heart, over and over throughout the evening.
The next morning we met with all four of the General Authorities. Elder Caussé spoke about the reasons why he and his wife decided to accept the call to serve as a general authority years ago. Elder Hallstrom taught us that when we are "taught from on high" we must "bind ourselves to act" and if we do we will be blessed. I started contemplating a few of the binding actions I must make in my own life and I still am. Elder Homer bore a simple testimony of the truth of the Gospel. And then Elder Andersen addressed us. Because of the feelings his unique testimony brought into my heart the night before, I humbled myself knowing that he spoke for Christ Himself and decided to listen. To really listen. Not just to hear, but to listen. He spoke of one thing, and one thing only. The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I wish there were a way to share with you how I felt and how I feel but I just cannot find the words. Some things you just have to realize and learn on your own. Sometimes you're forced to be humble, other times you humble yourself. I haven't really ever allowed myself to stand back and check my own life before. I've never really voluntarily humbled myself to true submission to the Atonement. And I want to now.
Sunday morning we were privileged once again to hear from Elder Andersen and Elder Homer as they addressed us in stake conference after reorganizing the stake presidency. Our bishop, Bishop Gingras, was called as the second counselor, Brother Ferland, who I came to know and love in Rimouski, was called as the first counselor, and President Pirlet, who was the first counselor, was made stake president. Each of them took their turn bearing testimony of both small and significant decisions in life that they made as they turned their lives over to the Lord. Big doors swing on small hinges. I was in the choir watching and listening from behind, all the while trying to keep a professional poise, while being pummeled by thoughts and feelings looking over my own life and finding decisions that I may or may not have made correctly wondering all the while if I had closed doors that could have been opened had I made a better decision. And once again I contemplated decisions that are now within my grasp that could open or close significant doors behind which may lie still more significant blessings. And then Elder Andersen spoke. Faith. Diligence. Patience. My faith has taken a sudden turn heavenwards. I know things now that I didn't quite know before. The funny thing about knowledge is that the best decision that we can make is determined by how much we know. And acting correctly based on correct knowledge is called diligence. It's not always easy, in some cases it may be the absolute hardest thing that you've ever done. But if you're patient, if you walk without wavering knowing that the Lord will lead you along, well, at least you can be assured that you'll always be where He wants and needs you to be. Faith. Diligence. Patience. Faith. Repentance. Endurance.
One of my favorite questions to ask, and one that produces many different answers is: What is the gospel? Would you mind trying to define it?
There are many definitions ranging from simple to complex, primary to priesthood, but never before have I really understood like I do now. It's taken 20 years, of which the past 19 months have been dedicated and consecrated to nothing but the Gospel. And I finally know what it is. I understand it. Now the funny thing is knowing that my understanding is incomplete and will continue to grow and change with time and experience and sheer life. But I'm at a point where I feel confident in my knowledge to make the best decision that I can. And that is to live it. And to love what comes of it.
"Life isn't about finding your way between health and sickness, it's not about riches and rags, social stature and shame. No, life is about finding your way between the good and the bad." -Elder Neil L. Andersen
Elder Clay Ellis