Sunday, August 16, 2015

We Are NEVER Alone

I want to be sure I remember a special experience I had while attending the Time Out For Women (TOFW) event in downtown Auckland yesterday.

I very much enjoyed listening to the various speakers and musical presentations.  It was a great event!  I especially enjoyed listening to Brad Wilcox talk about dealing with challenges in life. He did a great job of using humor to address important subjects. He wasn't just trying to be funny, but by getting us all laughing he prepared us to hear his message in new ways. He said:

I also really liked hearing David Archuletta perform.  He is a talented young man. I particularly enjoyed his cover of the U2 song Pride-In the Name of Love.

But the most significant thing I experienced didn't happen during the conference at all.  It was something that took place over the lunch break.

All of us Sisters from the mission (both seniors and young ones) walked a few blocks from the conference center over to the Institute Building where we shared lunch of sub sandwiches and fruit that had been prepared for us.   At that point I was not with anyone in particular.  I chatted a bit with various people who were there,  but I arrived on my own and left on my own.  

When I walked over there it was a pretty simple path with lots of LDS women heading in the same direction, so I had no problem finding where to go.  Also the streets and parking area we passed through were fairly open when we headed over there about noon.  When I went to go back right before 1:00 PM, however, everything had changed.

For one thing, it was beginning to rain.  But of more concern, there were now masses of people in what had previously been an open square.  What none of us knew was that there was a major political rally scheduled for the downtown area at 1:00.  Literally THOUSANDS of people showed up in Aoteara Square - the very place between the Institute building where we were having lunch and where we needed to be for the TOFW event - to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Not being very familiar with downtown Auckland to begin with, confronting this huge crowd was very disorienting.  I got mixed up about which direction I was was supposed to go after crossing the street.  I felt utterly lost and not sure how I would ever get back to the group I needed to be with.

The whole vibe of the protest was uncomfortable for me to be around.   I just wanted to get out of there.  But I honestly had no idea what to do.  For a few minutes it felt really scary!

All my training as a missionary kicked in.  Whenever I feel uncertain about ANYTHING, I know it is time to pray.  I bowed my head and silently pleaded with my Heavenly Father to tell me what I should do.

In that very INSTANT a wave of calm swept over me.  Even though I was still surrounding by crowds of strangers chanting slogans and waving placards, I felt a level of peace and confidence with such a sudden force it left me stunned.  Without audibly hearing a particular voice, these words came with absolute clarity to my mind.  "It's ok.  I'm right here.  I'm with you.  Stand over there.  Watch in that direction.  In just a few minutes, one of the other missionary sisters is going to walk toward you coming down that sidewalk.  When she does, you will recognize her and she will tell you which way to go".  So I did that.  The whole time I stood there instead of feeling awkward or nervous or at all concerned about the crowd or being lost as I had previously, I just stood there KNOWING with absolute certainty that I was a beloved daughter of Father in Heaven and that He was aware of my needs.   The complete sense of His love and protection wrapped all around me as if I were in a bubble.  It was surreal, unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

After about five minutes, sure enough, one of the senior sister missionaries came walking toward me, just like the voice/thought had told me she would.  I approached her and asked where I should go.  She pointed the way and off I went, soon getting back to the conference center where I once again joined the group of ladies that I had ridden with to come to the TOFW event.

As I took my seat the thought kept coming to me, no matter where I go in this great big word, I am NEVER alone.  I may not always feel God's presence quite so intensely as I did that day in Auckland, New Zealand.  But He is ALWAYS there.   All I need to do to tune in to His presence is to seek Him in prayer having faith and trust that my prayers will indeed be heard and answered.  It was such a powerful feeling.  It's one I hope I never forget.

For videos of some of the talks and music from Time Out For Women, click HERE.

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