As this last Sunday substituted for our Fast Sunday, I sat in Single's Ward and listened to the testimonies, when a boy with Down Syndrome stood up to share. It was hard to understand all his words, but I listened closely. Then he stopped for a minute, and stated clearly "I know I don't speak so well. I know I don't speak well. But I know we were all born into the same world..." and continued to share his knowledge and love for this gospel. Admittedly, tears filled my eyes at the beautiful purity and simplicity of his testimony.
I was brought back to my first week being a counselor at EFY. This was actually my first experience with EFY at all, because I never had the chance to participate in it as a youth. So in reality, I read the basics, but I wasn't entirely sure what this week would be like. I arrived in Missouri, and met with my group of 8 girls and company of 36. I prayed that I would know the things to say to reach these kids and teach them something.
Now, I am a pretty avid note-taker. I love writing down thoughts and quotes so I can remember them, and have the opportunity to read and reference to them later. I took so many notes at EFY, and in the midst of them, is a line inspired by one of my kids. As many members know, whether you've been to EFY or not, on Thursday we have a testimony meeting. This is the kids' chance to share what they have learned, what they want to learn, anything. During this first week, I had one boy in my company who was a foreign exchange student from Italy. He was probably one of the funniest kids I had ever talked to (which is saying a lot, because I have worked with a butt ton of kids over the years.) However, being a native Italian, English (obviously) wasn't his first language. So during that special meeting, he gave his testimony in Italian. No one else in our group spoke Italian, so none of us really knew the words he was saying, but the room was moved to tears because we could all feel the spirit so strongly. Even though we didn't understand his language, we all felt his love.
After his testimony, I wrote in my journal "when we are all sharing the gospel, we sound the same."
I just want to reiterate the power in that. How many missionaries enter the field, not fully knowing the language they needed to speak? How many times have our words failed us when sharing the gospel in our day to day lives? The gospel is the same, everywhere, in every language. This boy in my EFY group as well as this boy in my Single's Ward have taught me that sometimes we just need to listen with our hearts to truly understand the message being shared. As General Conference is this weekend, for those planning on watching, listening, reading, or those who don't know what it is-I encourage you to open your hearts to the splendor of this gospel. Learn what you can from what is said, but more importantly, be sensitive to the spirit you will feel. No words can compensate for what the Lord impresses upon your heart. These are all inspired men and women, giving inspired messages that can change lives and souls. We learn in D&C that "the spirit and the body are the soul of man". Let the messages touch your spirit, let your spirit change your body, and become a soul Celestial.
If you care to learn more about the talks given this weekend, this monumental event held twice a years, that brings members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints together, you can learn more here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference