|Bio of Elder Evans HERE|
Today was a very full day. We had training throughout the day and then this evening there was a devotional where we were addressed by one of the General Authorities - Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy, and his wife, Mary. This was the first time we were in a single room with all the missionaries together---about 1300 of us. We had seen a lot of the young elders and sisters coming and going in the hallways and in the cafeteria, but never had a feel for just how many of them were here until today. Just feeling the energy of all those testimonies and the excitement of everyone getting ready to begin serving in their assigned destinations was powerful.
The meeting began with the full congregation singing several Christmas songs and I swear it sounded like angels were singing with us. Then when we sang the famous missionary anthem "Called To Serve" I couldn't help but get goosebumps.
Elder Evans is is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Missionary Department, so he comes to the MTC several times each year. He showed the video the Missionary Department has recently produced which has been making the rounds on Facebook and in other social media: "He is the Gift"
Elder Evans then described some events from his own life that led to him developing his own personal testimony, discovering the gift of Jesus Christ. After that he had several of the young elders and sisters stand and briefly relate how they came to this. The spirit in the room as each one spoke was so tangible. These 18 and 19 year old kids were preparing to go places like Russia, Cambodia, Peru, and other regions--some going away from home for the first time in their lives, all because of their belief in the importance of the teachings of the Savior and their desire to share that message.
One of the statements that Elder Evans made that really stuck with me was: "One of the ways we can embrace the gift is to do the things we are asked to do even when they are hard." Later on in his talk he further elaborated on that by saying "There will be be times when the Lord asks you to do something hard. As you embrace the gift rather than run from it, I predict those will be the time you and your family members will be the most blessed."
When his wife spoke she talked about the importance of reaching out to our friends and family members back home to share the experiences we are having while on our missions. She challenged us all to prayerful identify someone we know and love who needs to hear the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be willing to bear our testimony to them in a letter from the mission field.
As we walked back to our building from the place where the devotional was held, Elder Bennett and I talked about some ways we could more fully embrace the gift of Jesus Christ and then to share it with others. We feel so humbled and honored to be having this experience.
We have been active members of the LDS church for over 30 years. We have long accepted the reality of the teachings of the gospel. Still, being here now, having these experiences, is increasing our faith by leaps and bounds. Our love for the Savior is growing so much, and in the process opening us up to feel more love for the people around us.
This truly is an amazing experience.