Zone Conference was amazing! I always think I am doing fairly well as a missionary until these meetings open your mind on how you can improve. The revelation I have received has expanded my knowledge. There are several things I want to change as a result of yesterday's meeting. So I hope I can convey my feelings to help you understand what I learned. The past few months President Pilkington has talked a lot about putting your heart in the right place. What he means by that is allowing your heart to be in the work and not focus about anything else. It is also aligning your will with God's will. My entire mission I have tried to develop my heart to become apart of the work. I have seen myself grow to look outward and serve others. I have been able to reach out of my comfort zone to share the Gospel. Many things that I thought were impossible at the beginning have been possible. I remember how I hated to knock, I was terrified of street contacting, I felt I was poor at teaching, and many more things. As I have been able to study and focus on my heart, I have been able to overcome those obstacles. I am not perfect in anyway and it was not my efforts but trusting in the Lord. That is what I have learned about the heart. That is it not being prideful and boastful but it is acknowledging God's hand in your life.
I learned yesterday, at Zone Conference, that the heart is also realizing your motivation. President Pilkington asked a question to all the missionaries that struck me. He said, "What is your motivation for being on a mission?" As I sat there I asked myself, "Sister Garrett what is your motivation for being on a mission?" Before I tell you my response I will tell you what I would have said the first day of my mission. I would have said something along the lines of; "I have many reasons why I decided to serve a mission. One was that I felt like it was the right thing to do. Another was that I felt like that was expected of me. I also thought by going on a mission I would grow up and gain a stronger testimony. And the reason I am ashamed to admit, I wanted a break. A break from school and from running." That was my answer at the beginning of my mission. My motivation is completely different! I can sum up my motivation in just five words, "I want to serve God!" I honestly believe that is my motivation now. Nothing else matters but wanting to make God's children happy. I feel like my heart is in the work of God. Not only have I seen it help me in my work but I can also see how it will effect my future life. It has affected how I will accept and magnify my future callings. It has affected how I want to be a faithful visiting teacher. It has affected how I want to follow the spirit to help the needs of those around me. By allowing my heart to focus on the Lord's work it has affected my whole life. I am truly grateful for that.
President Pilkington had each companionship to write a four minute talk on obedience. At Zone Conference he said four companionship's were going to be called to share their message. Sister Weakley and I wrote our talk on how obedience and the heart correlate. Think of the story of Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel. The Lord commanded Lehi to have his sons go to receive the brass plates from Laban. All Lehi's sons went and obeyed. The next revelation Lehi received was for his son to go back to Jerusalem and bring Ishmael's family out to the wilderness. All Lehi's sons obeyed. Then Nephi was instructed to build a ship to take his family to the promise land. Nephi and his brothers all obeyed. Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel each reached the promise land. The difference between Nephi and Laman/Lemuel is that Nephi had his heart in the right place while Laman/Lemuel did not. Laman & Lemuel were obedient to the Lord's commandments but were not blessed. Doctrine and Covenants 64:34 says, "Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." If Laman and Lemuel will not be blessed with the any 'good of the land' because there hearts were not turned towards God. I have realized that obedience brings blessings when you desire to be obedient because you love the Lord. I have been able to relate this analogy to so many aspects of my life. Whether it be on my mission or even after my mission. Obedience pays a massive part to our eternity. "When that same call comes to you and to me, what will be our response? Will we murmur, as did Laman and Lemual, and say, 'This is a hard thing required of us?' or will we, with Nephi, individually declare, 'I will go. I will do.' (Thomas S. Monson, Willing and Worthy to Serve)" Nephi or Laman/Lemuel? Chose your pick.
Sister Pilkington gave a talk and used lighthouses as an analogy. Lighthouses are built to withstand immense force from the waves of the sea. We are like those lighthouses strong and built to withstand against any storm. It is like the wise man who built his house on the sand and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. Will we build our spiritual lighthouses strong and with a good foundation? I will be striving to do so. Like any physical muscle we need to build our spirituality to withstand the forces against Satan. Like muscles grow through lifting weight, eating right, and drinking water our spirits need substance to grow us. For example, reading the scriptures, being obedient, praying personally to God, attending our church meetings, and so forth. President Pilkington mentioned something that I think we need all need to be reminded of. He said, "You are armed with the truth. You are given the truth. You are declaring the truth." We are in a spiritual battle against Satan. We are stronger then him and on the winning side. Place your trust in God and not in anything else. Do not waver and continue to build a strong foundation. Be obedient to the Lord and follow His counsel. Develop your heart to be in the right place. If you do these things God will keep you safe. This is what I learned at Zone Conference. I hope you learned something as well. Love you guys!
With lots of love,