Monday, February 1, 2010

St. Petersburg Week 17

I experienced my first LDS funeral this week. I didn't even have to know the lady very well to know that she was an amazing woman. I felt the spirit of it sitting in the chapel. It was definitely different then any other funeral that I have been too. There was a sense of sadness, but people were very happy. Her husband stood at the pulpit and gave her life history. Something from it really touched me and I would just like to share that.

This dear woman had battled serious health problems for 15 years. It started when a bull shark stunned her in the rib cage. She was floating 10 feet under the water. When she got to the shore, she hugged her husband and tearfully said, "Oh thank you for pulling me out of the water. He said "I didn't, you were 20 feet away from me." She said, "I just know I felt 'familiar' hands pull me up to the surface." I felt the spirit so strongly as it bore witness to me of the redeeming power of the atonement. I loved how she said "familiar hands" pulled her from the water. I have no doubt in my mind that "someone" saved her that day. I couldn't help but reflect on my life, and how I have felt pulled from the very depths of the sea as well. Isaiah 41 verses 10 and 13 comes to mind. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
When we feel like we're "stunned" and 10 feet under water, it is really hard to hold onto that. When we feel alone we sometimes feel like there is no one there that can rescue us. Well I testify, with everything that is in me, that the Savior is there with outstretched arms. I have felt his "familiar" hands pull me from despair, from shame, from illness, from heart ache. I still feel His warm embrace now. (This is not what I was planning on writing about, but I hope it will help someone. I feel the spirit as I write this.) The power of the atonement is incomprehensible for me, but I know, that we have to do things so we can "invite" this power into our lives. First, we have to draw closer to the Savior so that he is in reach. We are the ones that move away from Him. We all know the things that we have to do to bring Him closer to us. It is an act of Faith, one that Heavenly Father expects us to do, but NOT alone! Never alone! Lastly, trust that he will grasp your hand. Trust that His hand will be "familiar" to you.
I also felt re-energized for the work after the funeral. The plan of salvation is the greatest blessing. To have this knowledge brings so much comfort. To imagine that three and a half years ago, and all my life growing up, I just thought that this life was it, and that I would never see my Auntie Posey ever again. I had some thoughts that there might be a heaven, but I really didn't know. Now, I do know. I know that there is a redeeming plan for all. A merciful plan from an all powerful Heavenly Father. He loves us so much. Central in His plan is His only begotten son Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, His plan would not be possible.

Before this life, we lived with our Heavenly Father as spirit children. I imagine families eagerly waiting together to have the opportunity to come to earth, and to experience life together. Before we came here, we accepted his plan. All those that accepted the plan of God, received bodies and came here. We accepted it, and we said, "Heavenly Father, I will do everything I can to stay pure and clean, to follow the commandments, persevere through life's troubles so I can embrace you again and live with you after this life." But he didn't send us here blindly. We have families, we have prophets, we have the scriptures to guide us. When we came to this earth, we lost the knowledge of this plan and everything that came before. I feel so blessed to have found this knowledge AGAIN in this life. But, so many people today deny the power of God, deny this plan, the plan that they accepted before they came to earth. We knew that there would be terrible things that would happen in the world, but we said we would do our best to hold true.

The other night riding our bikes home in the dark, there was a bill board in the distance. as I got closer I could read what it said. "Are you good WITHOUT God? Millions are!" It about made me sick. We are ALL children of Heavenly Father. well, needless to say, that made me testify a little bolder. :-) I love it!
I know that the sealing power in the temple is real. It can bind families together for eternity. The power to bind things on this earth and heaven is restored on the earth today.
What an amazing message this gospel is! One of hope and joy!

Sorry I didn't have any "stories" to share from this week. There sure are many to tell, but I felt impressed to write what I did. I love you all!
Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

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