Today we went to church and the kind people of the ward at Hyde Park Chapel accommodated both study abroad groups in their small chapel building. We probably tripled their usual attendance. It was a nice sacrament meeting, and then, for Sunday School the stake president came and talked to us about our study abroad experience and making the most of it from a spiritual perspective.
In Relief Society we were welcomed in and had a lesson on "The Blessings of the Temple" by a the RS president (who is German!). It was a good lesson, and then the testimonies afterwards were wonderful. There are a lot of strong members here, even the relatively new ones have to be strong. It's such a diverse place--there are so many different backgrounds and people to learn from!
Later in the evening we were fortunate enough to attend a YSA devotional with some area 70 members there. Sister Donaldson gave a really good talk on the Spirit and her husband (they both were from Liverpool and had British accents!) gave us a strong warning on the evils of pornography to our generation. He said some really good things which I wrote down on a blank page of my Shakespeare Comedy book (because i didn't bring my notebook).
A few quotes I wrote down:
"Perilous times Have come."
"Disciples of Jesus Christ have discipline."
"You need to learn the disciplines of morality now, on your side of marriage, so you can learn to be considerate of your companion once you get to my side of marriage."
"When you love somebody, there's no place for lust."
Elder and Sister Snow also gave a couple good talks.
As these people spoke to us and told us of their experiences today I felt a great outpouring of the spirit. In RS one woman told of her experiences in Kenya with people who, even if they saved up their whole lives, would never have enough money to attend the temple which was thousands of miles away. And in S.S. the stake president talked about the Filipino members/mothers who work menial jobs and send their money back to their children in the Philippines so they can get an education and have a better future. Like New York their were many converts from at least a dozen nationalities, but one thing we shared in common--our testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.
I received another witness today of how precious the children of God are in all nations, lands and tongues. From a young age I have been blessed with a strong testimony of my Savior. I have been so blessed with many opportunities to learn and grow, and I want to be an instrument in helping them to grow as well. I want to share with them the joy I know. I want them to be strong. I want them to hold on to the gospel amidst trial and persecution. I love them. Even though I don't even know them, I love them, because I know they are my brothers and sisters. We are all children of God. We're all working together to build His kingdom, and we will succeed!
Hope. There is hope and purpose for us in this world.