I Love to See the Temple – Fort Lauderdale!

April 21, 2014

 

Queridos míos.

 

First of all, Happy Easter!! I hope you all had a lovely time hunting for eggs. And especially I hope you found all the hard-boiled ones! This was my first year without an egg hunt. [Hermana Beirdneau hid some eggs in the MTC for us to find] but don’t worry because I had a weekend that was far better. It might actually qualify for the best weekend in my mission. Mostly because of Saturday.

 

So. Tuesday was transfer meeting day. Hermana Finlayson and I found out we are both staying so we were just working a normal Tuesday. We were in a lesson with a member and looked down at the phone…..to see a missed call and voicemail from President Cusick. Now, President very rarely calls missionaries. Hardly ever. Unless there’s something wrong. My stomach dropped to the tips of my toes and I felt dizzy. Every bad thing I had ever done came into my head. I thought about my life and all my choices. President is notorious for changing things last-minute for transfers. “That’s it. One of us is leaving. We’re getting split up and we are not even going to be able to say goodbye,” I thought. We quickly ended the lesson and listened to the voicemail. “Hi this is President Cusick calling for Sisters Lewis and Finlayson. Give me a call back as soon as you can. Thank you.”

Yep. We’re done for.

 

We took a deep breath and called back. President said simply….

“I need you to discreetly call all the sisters in your zone and tell them to clear out their Saturday. You all are going to go volunteer at the Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple open house.” I might have squealed. Hermana Fin might have cried.

OH. MY. GOSH.

Is this real life?

We’re not getting transferred……we’re going to the TEMPLE!

 

We called the sisters and told them the news. There’s only 18 sisters total that get to go…no elders. And from then, it was like Saturday couldn’t come fast enough. We definitely had a few downs this week but nothing could get us down. We were going to the TEMPLE. You might as well have told us we were going to Disneyworld for a week. But we were even more excited than that.

 

And then….it came.

Sunday morning we got up and took great care to look “perfect” as President insisted. We met up with the other sisters and Sister Thompson and headed out on our trek.

 

The setup was incredible. Large white tents complete with chandeliers, a giant flat screen, and a strong AC unit in each. The church is pretty cool. There were 6 main tents constantly filling and emptying with 50-60 people in each group. A constant flow of people coming to see and experience the House of The Lord. They expected around 10,000 people that day. It was the last day so it was a busy day, all day on our feet, more tired than we expected. After running into some familiar faces–Elder Austin Taylor, sweet Dyan Hale, RM-Hermana Rodriguez–and eating some delish food, it was finally time. We got our own tour.

 

Sister Thompson and President Pritt (our area seventy’s wife and our stake president) started as our guides. We made our way up around the side of the temple to the ront. Butterflies in our stomachs, Disneyland status. As we turned the corner we heard, “hello sisters!” “Hi sisters!” “Oh we have a special group here!” Over and over again.

I looked up and saw the words:

“Holiness to The Lord. The House of The Lord.”

It was real. We were here.

 

We filed into the entrance and the door shut behind us. Utter peace. I didn’t realize how loud it was outside. How much noise there was in the world. I didn’t realize how much I had been yearning for the reverence and the spirit of the temple. But when at door closed, it shut out all the problems, distractions, and trials that were surrounding us. We were honestly in the house of The Lord. As we walked through each room, the Spirit seemed to grow stronger and stronger.

 

President Pritt warned us, “Don’t get trunky,” as we entered the bridal room. I would be lying if I said it didn’t catch my attention. A beautiful painting of Esther hung on the back wall and we each were drawn to the tri-fold mirror. One day.

 

Elder Thompson and Bishop Stevenson (our area seventy and the presiding bishop) joined us in the chapel. That was a surprise that caught us all off guard. We all moved through the rooms of instruction, each with more light and more beautiful than the previous. In the celestial room we all stopped. I couldn’t take my eyes off the chandelier. The Spirit was so strong. None of us could utter a word. We stayed there longer. Just looking, taking it all in, filling the absence of the temple we’ve had in our hearts. Sister Thompson, seeing the group behind us, whispered, “Sisters. It’s time.” But the tour director ahead of her whispered back, “It’s okay. Don’t rush them.” I have never been so grateful in my life. We stayed a few more precious moments in that beautiful room. I’m sure the group behind us was confused to see so many 20-something-aged girls just looking around and crying in this room. But we couldn’t help ourselves. A year without the temple is a long time.

 

We reluctantly moved on to the sealing room next to it. We all stood around the altar in the middle. Each of our guides shared something. President Pritt told of when he was sealed to his wife and daughter, and then when he was sealed to his own parents. Bishop Stevenson talked about how instead of focusing on the mirrors which represent the eternities, he focuses on the room which represents this life. And what we will do with our own “4 minutes”.

 

And then we were joined by the temple matron, Sister Boggess. She was the sweetest thing. She pleaded with us to live worthily to be able to come back to this room and be sealed to our husband. To remain strong in the gospel and work hard. She was standing directly across from me and looking me right in the eye, with tears in her own eyes. “Always live so you may receive the blessings of the temple in your life.” I felt like she was talking directly to me. We all stood a minute longer in that beautiful room. I looked in the mirror at the ongoing chandeliers and thought about how incredibly blessed and grateful I am to have my own family sealed for time and all eternity.

 

As we left, we shook Elder Thompson and Bishop Stevenson’s hands and introduced ourselves. The very second I stepped foot outside the temple, I missed it. It took all my self control to not run back in there and lay down on the couch in the celestial room and stay forever.

 

The temple is literally heaven on earth. It’s our Heavenly Father’s house. In that building resides a peace and happiness that simply cannot be felt anywhere else. And I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it.

 

You all at home can go whenever you want, you’re not restricted by”boundaries” or “companions” or “rules” or anything.

 

So I have one thing to say.

Go to the temple you lucky ducks.

 

I love you all.

Love,

Hermana Lewis.

xoxoxo

Volunteering at the Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple open house!

Volunteering at the Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple open house!

At the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida LDS Temple open house!

At the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida LDS Temple open house!

Hermanas Finlayson and Lewis at the Fort Lauderdale Temple open house on April 19, 2014.

Hermanas Finlayson and Lewis at the Fort Lauderdale Temple open house on April 19, 2014.

It is BEAUTIFUL.

It is BEAUTIFUL.

Holiness to the Lord House of the Lord

Holiness to the Lord
The House of the Lord

Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple -- Erected 2014

Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple — Erected 2014

Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple

Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple…. so beautiful!

 

#BecauseofHim

April 14, 2014

Where did this transfer go?

Any missionary will tell you. Each transfer gets better. And every transfer goes by faster. Pretty sure I just blinked and 6 weeks went by. See ya.

Oh and by the way. ME AND HERMANA FIN ARE STAYING IN NAPLES. We both want to die here in Naples. [Die=end our missions] because it’s just that awesome here. And it’s totally possible too. We’ve got it all worked out. It’s gonna happen. We’re praying for it.
We just feel so strongly that there are people here that we are supposed to see all the way to baptism. People we promised way before this life that we’d come and find them. People we just have a connection with and we know that we were supposed to help them together.

You should have seen our reaction when we found out. Hermana Fin really felt like she was leaving. I accepted it til that night at Eva’s right before the call. “She can’t leave.” I thought so strongly. Well fast forward to 9:15 that night. We’re now living with Hermanas Killpack and Despain too. We find out transfers via conference call these days so the 4 of us crowded around our little dinosaur phone and they called out the Fort Myers zone first. It’s a good thing that phone was on mute because when we heard “Hermanas Lewis and Finlayson…you’ll be staying.” We might have screamed and jumped up and hugged and freaked out. Just a little. Maybe. We didn’t hear the next few announcements because we might have happy danced for a sec.
It’s fine.

We are working hard hard hard for our Noche Blanca. We got the ward council all excited about it yesterday. We have 11 dates set between us and the other sisters. Now we just need your prayers so that all these incredible people can make it all the way to the waters of baptism on May 15th. We will be doing our best to be exactly obedient in every way possible. Time to pull down some heavenly miracles.

Anyways. Things are pretty exciting in the online missionary world because guess what. THE CHURCH BOUGHT OUT THE YOUTUBE HOMEPAGE ADSPACE FOR A WEEK. Everyone get on this bandwagon. It’s so cool. The church is promoting a video for Easter through the hashtag #BecauseofHim. The video is so incredible. I just about cry every time I see it. It’s that powerful. And so I’m challenging you all to share what is possible in your own lives #BecauseofHim on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Get it out there. Share your faith. It’s so easy and so fun. And this is the message the world needs right now.

What are you waiting for?

Easter.Mormon.org <—click it. Share it. Ready go.

Love you all!
Hermana Lewis
xoxo

foto 1-15 - Version 2

An Overwhelming Week . . . in a Good Way!

April 7, 2014

Mi querida familia,

This week has been an absolute whirlwind. We have roommates!! They transferred some elders down to The Box mid-transfer and so the hermanas are now living with us! That plus our hectic schedule and not being able to do as much missionary work….well. It feels like college a little bit. Hermana Fin is convinced it’s Heavenly Father showing her that she needs to get married quickly. [4 annoying roommates versus just 1 that you love and get to choose yourself…..she has a a point hahaha] so it’s been a little crazy here in our little apartment and I am back to sharing a bathroom. You can only live the life of luxury so long, you know?

We had MLC this week which was brilliant, as always. Nothing like elders role-playing to instruct us on the proper situations for “bro-hugs”. Hahaha I love it. But it truly is incredible to see how the mission has taken a complete 180. Members are starting to look at us and trust us as more than 18 to 20-something-year-olds and actually get involved in this work. They understand that we are here to work. The Cusicks are what we needed and the work in Tampa, Florida is hastening more than ever under their guidance. We just had a record number of baptisms last month. Pretttttty exciting. I feel so blessed to be part of this. It’s not just the best 18 months of my life, but the best 18 months FOR my life.

I hope you all watched conference. It was one of my favorites ever ……………………………………… and my last conference as a missionary ……………………….    is this real life?                                                                                            Ouch.

Moving on. Did you all get your Preach My Gospel manuals? I can’t wait to hear what you all are learning!! Haha Elder Ballard is so great. And it seemed every talk rang “obedience” and “love” or both. There was so much directed toward the youth of the church. Can it be any more obvious that these are the last days? All my questions were answered….whether specifically or with a ‘not now, just be patient’. I walked out of each session feeling uplifted and spiritually “stuffed”. President. Cusick likened conference to a buffet…there is no way you can take it all in and apply it in one weekend. That’s why they print them. So we can continue our studies move forward a little each day. Until next conference!

I got a blessing yesterday that was incredible.Truly from Heavenly Father. I don’t take advantage of this enough, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Anyways, this worthy priesthood holder answered questions and issues in that blessing that I haven’t told anyone. He blessed me exactly with what I need to move forward. And he assured me of the love Heavenly Father has for me. There was no way this man could have known any of these things… But I am so grateful for the priesthood and the opportunity to receive direction straight from my Father in Heaven through that power.

It’s our last guaranteed week here in Naples together. We’re determined to work the hardest we’ve ever worked and be the most exactly obedient we’ve ever been. 4 minutes is a short time. We’ve got to make ours count.

Love you all! Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Errand of Angels

March 31, 2014

Bueno!

This week me and Hermana Fin celebrated our 5 month anniversary. Sonia and Alberto took us to a Chinese buffet and we tried frog legs to celebrate. But, that got too freaky so I went back to sushi.

We also celebrated it by attending the first ever General Women’s Meeting of the church. Now that was a sisterhood at its finest. We walked in during that first song and the power and unity in the voices of those young girls, mothers, grandmothers, sisters…..brought not only me, but Hermana Finlayson AND Sonia to tears. Which we were busy wiping away that entire meeting. I felt so connected to my own mother and sisters back at home. It was tender to know that I was watching the same broadcast at the exact same time. And there were moments when I could literally feel my mom thinking about me. I felt so much strength from my sisters everywhere. We have such a special role in this world. The errand of angels is given to women.

I also got to do an exchange with my cute trainee, Hermana Newbill! It was the biggest tender mercy to serve with her and see the work that she and Hermana Nelson have done in their area. She has grown so much and really, so have I. It was so fun to teach together and laugh about old memories in Tampa…the hardest 10 weeks of our missions…and to catch up on everything that has happened since then. If nothing else, the mission sure has given me a lot of new solid friends.

We’ve been so blessed in this area. We were thinking about it yesterday how we literally had to build it up from ground zero. It’s not typical that you get to see your work all the way through in her missionary world. But we have been able to stay here for 5 months..together..and see this complete 180 that Naples has made. And now, we’re teaching 14 people who are right on the edge of a baptismal date. 14 people who we have built relationships with and who are ready to come back into the fold of Christ. We have been through every phase of work together. Biking across the world, baptisms, bus riding, STLs, not to mention the complete change in focus of our area. This 5 months has brought so many trials and joys and sore muscles and miracles.

Now time seems to be going to fast we can’t keep up. We’re just trying to work as hard as we can and squeeze as much as we can in that little constantly moving orange line in our area book app.

General conference is this weekend. I can’t wait. Pretty sure the other one was just a couple weeks ago but you won’t hear me complaining. Bring on the inspiration.

Another busy week ahead!
Love you!
Hermana Lewis.
xoxo