Thursday, November 12, 2015

I left my heart in Susquehanna...

Hello hello everyone!!

*Disclaimer--get ready for a long one! But I promise I'll make it
worth the read!:)*

Well first of all sorry I did not email yesterday but it was for good
reason. Yesterday was actually not our pday because for this week it
got switched to today! And today was a very special day because....WE
WENT TO SUSQUEHANNA TODAY!!!! To the Priesthood Restoration site!!

We left the stake center at 4:45 this morning and from where we are in
Jersey it takes four hours to drive there. So we are driving back now
and since we've got four hours this will probably be the longest email
ever because I'm just gonna take me sweet time writing this one haha
because today was one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had.
And I have lots I want to share!

First of all let me just tell you...there is absolutely nothing more
beautiful than Susquehanna in the fall. Nothing. And if you think
otherwise then come here. You'll see what I mean. As we were on our
way here I could see the sun rising over the autumn trees and oh my
was it breathtaking. I'll send pictures but to be honest pictures
don't do it any justice. Oh and mom and dad and siblings, we are
coming here next fall or the fall after just so you know. Either way
we're coming here sometime in the fall, I'm already planning it.

Anyway, last week was a rough week to be quite frank. So this trip to
Susquehanna was nothing short of a miracle for Sister Callaway. I
needed it. And so this weekend I fasted and prayed that this would be
a spiritual experience for me and for everyone involved. I knew that
this would be an opportunity for me to find answers to some of my
questions and prayers. And I wanted to approach this with a humble
heart and be willing to be taught by the spirit. And I also recognized
what a miraculous experience this was. I mean how many missionaries
have ever gotten to go to the site where the Priesthood authority of
God was restored to the earth? Not many I can tell you that.

So as we were driving and on our way to the site, as we drew nearer i
felt the spirit become stronger and stronger the closer we got. I am
serious. It was that powerful. Nothing I've experience this far in my
mortal life can begin to compare with how I felt today on those sacred
grounds. There is no other explanation for how I felt other than that
it was truly the power of God, and His spirit manifesting to me that
it is true. All of it. The Church. The gospel. The Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. Everything. It. Is. True. It's a
fact. And that was just one the I came today searching for. I wanted
to reconfirm my testimony of the Prophet Joseph a Smith and of the
Book of Mormon.

Because I will be honest with you...I won't get into details but I
don't think there would be anyway that I could've truly gotten through
this last week, or face another week like it in the future, if I did
not know for myself that these things are true. I never doubted my
testimony. But there comes times, even for missionaries, and everyone
where we must renew our testimonies of the things that we know are
true. Otherwise, we will forget the spiritual witnesses that we once
had. Why do we take the sacrament weekly? To renew the covenant we
made at baptism. Or else, if we were just baptized that once even if
we received a spiritual witness, I've learned that we as humans are
prone to forget how we once felt If we don't do something to help us
continually remember it. And so it goes with our personal testimonies
too. I myself came seeking today for many answers for many different
things. The most important I think was another confirmation that
Joseph Smith truly was and is a prophet of God and that the Book of
Mormon is true. Else why would I even bother to help carry on the work
that he began? If I did not know for and of myself that he was called
of God to translate the Book of Mormon and to restore the Priesthood
to the earth.

And so within minutes of being there at the site, in a little secluded
place between the hillsides of the autumn colored mountains. In a
little valley (if you'll call it that) beside the bank of the
Susquehanna river, inside the chapel of the newly built Visitors
Center, one of the Lords many armies of His missionaries began to sing
"Joseph Smith's First Prayer."...and in that chapel I can can
truthfully say that I felt the presence of angels singing with us. For
the number of people that were in that room (it wasn't the entire
mission because split into groups) and if you've ever heard us sing as
a group at a Zone Conference you would know that the loudness and and
zeal exceeded that of what we have normally sounded like.

But there are no mortal words to describe how I felt in that
moment...I was overwhelmed and overcome with the sweetest feeling of
the spirit of the Lord. And I KNEW, that the Lord had answered my
prayer. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward Joseph Smith,
and for the Book of Mormon. I was so overwhelmed with love and
gratitude toward my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ that I
couldn't even sing. All I could do was let tears run down my face. I
can't describe the feeling that I felt but this much I can say is that
it was good. I felt full of light. I felt enlightened. I felt full of
love for God and for my fellowmen. I felt true joy. And I felt a
desire to testify of the restoration of the gospel and of the Saviors
atonement to everyone. And that feeling was a thousand times stronger
than anything else I've ever felt in my life. And I testify that no
human being on this earth can make up a feeling like that even if they
tried. It was a witness from God. Now mind you this was still only
minutes within being there.

As we opened with a prayer President Anderson addressed us for a bit
and then President Stevenson, who knows a lot about church history. He
went on to explain to us some of the events that transpired here for
Joseph and Emma. Good times, bad times, including the birth and death
of their firstborn son (who is buried on that ground), and times of
severe persecution. And concerning the translation of the Book of
Mormon and the Restoration of the Priesthood Authority. And as he
spoke of much of church history that I still didn't know, I felt my
admiration, respect, love, and gratitude for both Joseph and Emma only
increase that much more. President Stevenson then posed the question,
"Can you imagine the frustration?" And then I pondered about what
Joseph and Emma went through. And suddenly I felt rebuked a little bit
by the spirit for thinking "whoa is me" for the week that I had. Yes
it's hard, yes I get rejected, yes it's frustrating at times, and yes
it's physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining but at least I
don't have mobs coming after me. I don't have anyone threatening my
life. And I haven't been thrown into prison. And even despite all of
this Joseph and Emma were able to strive to fulfill their callings.
They were called along with many others to lay the foundation of this
great work and we are called to carry it forward and to prepare the
world for the Second Coming of the Savior.

After President Stevenson we heard from the Directors of the Site.
Elder and Sister Walker. And there sweet testimonies helped to remind
me we were on sacred ground. While Elder Walker was speaking though he
began talking about the ripple effect. When you drop a pebble or a
rock in still water and the ripples have far reaching effects. And
then to demonstrate this he called one of the Visitor Center Sisters
up to the front to sing a song. She began singing Abide With Me. And
then her companion got up and joined her. Then the other Visitor
Center Sisters trickled in and they began to sing in beautiful harmony
with one another. And one of those Visitor Center Sisters being my
sweet MTC companion Sister Gomm. As they were all singing I was
enjoying the beautiful harmony of the music. I looked at Sister Gomm
and she looked at me and I just started to cry. (I was a total cry
baby today) but when I looked at her I suddenly remembered back to our
time in the MTC, which exactly 9 months ago tomorrow...from the time
that we had first got there and then I realized how far we had both
come in our missions. How much we both have grown and changed in the
best of ways, with some hardship and trials but because of our love
and service to our Heavenly Father. And then it scared me for a bit to
realized that I almost missed out on such an opportunity. But I am
eternally endebted to my Father in Heaven for allowing me, of all
people, this opportunity to serve Him in this way. We then joined the
Sisters as they sang but again, I was too busy crying to even try to
sing :) Following their the beautiful music, Elder Walker continued to
explain that without the Restoration of the Priesthood we would have
nothing. We would have no church without the priesthood. We would have
no temples without the Priesthood. We would have no covenants, no
saving ordinances. Nothing. My gratitude and testimony only grew and
grew for the Priesthood.

After our time in the chapel we began the tour. We first watched a
beautiful video called Harmony. It's given in the perspective of
Oliver Cowdrey and begin with Joseph burying their son. And then onto
his translation of the Book of Mormon and Oliver acting as Josephs
scribe. Then went to the location that they believe and feel that the
Priesthood was restored at. We made our way down to the replica of the
Hales home, and then to the replica of the Smiths home, and then to
the cemetery where the graves of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale were and
also the grave of Joseph and Emma's firstborn infant son. We ended the
tour at the statue placed there in 1960. And then as we were walking
back up to the visitors center I wandered my little way of into the
spot where they believe the Priesthood was conferred upon Joseph and
Oliver. And it was here that I felt that same sense of peace. That
same confirmation that it is true. It is all true.

And we ended with going down to the bank of the Susquehanna river
where Joseph and Oliver were baptized.

I testify with all of my heart that the Gospel in its fullness has
been restored to the earth. I testify that Joseph Smith was and is a
Prophet of God. I testify of the truth and divinity of the Book of
Mormon. I testify of the power of and reality of the priesthood
authority of God, and the necessity of it. And that without it we can
do nothing. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God.
And that He paid the price for our sins, but that in order to truly
enjoy the fullest blessing that the Atonement of Christ has to offer
we MUST follow Him and keep ALL of His commandments to the best of our
ability. And that it is only in and through Christ that we can
experience true and lasting happiness and joy. ALL are invited to come
unto Christ. But our loving and merciful a Father and His Son will
never force us. The choice is ours. I testify of these things because
I have received a witness of them for myself. A sure witness. One that
no one and nothing can take away from me. Today, I have walked where
angels of God have walked. I wish everyone could've been there today
to experience the converting power of the Spirit of the Restoration.
The Priesthood has been brought back. The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter a Day Saints is the Lords true church on the earth today, and
we invite all to come unto Him and to be called His people. I testify
of these things because I KNOW them. And like Moroni, "for the time
speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not" Moroni 10:27

And I would like to leave an invitation with everyone for whomever may
read this, to read the Book of Mormon. If you want to receive a sure
testimony, love, and witness for the Savior then read the Book of
Mormon. I promise you that you will not be deceived. But you will only
become stronger in the knowledge of our Savior. It's true. I promise
that it is all true. And you can hold my name to that.

"10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the
earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye
believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe
in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of
Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that
they should do good.

11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye--for Christ will
show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at
the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar;
and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these
things, notwithstanding my weakness.

12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not
all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day." (2 Nephi

One more quick thing I would like to share. President Anderson when he
was addressing us said "if you have only one convert on your mission,
I pray that that convert is you." A mission is just as much about the
missionary as it is the people we are called to serve. And if nothing
else that is the case for me. I am becoming more and more converted to
the gospel and to my Savior Jesus Christ. the gospel is true. It's all
true. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Love always,

~Sister Amy Elizabeth Callaway~

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