I'm about to board a plane to Istanbul, Turkey, but I wanted to do a quick post before we take off.
I have felt flooded by the spirit for the past few days and I wanted to share some of my feelings. I am not a good speaker. But I can write.
Jerusalem will always occupy a special space in my heart for so many reasons. One of those reasons being that this is the place of so many special spiritual experiences. My testimony and love for the Savior have grown so much as I have had several small experiences that are evidence to me that he lives and loves me. I have had countless moments of immense peace and happiness as I learn more about His life.
I had the best Sabbath yesterday. I had the opportunity to be part of a musical number in church. I accompanied a singer and violinist, and we played the song, "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul." You may recognize it from the movie 17 Miracles. I practiced and practiced and prayed that I wouldn't mess up. And I didn't. It was amazing and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to bear my testimony through music.
In primary we talked about the Atonement, and as part of the lesson, all the kids walked outside to overlook the Garden of Gethsemane. How cool for these kids to get to grow up in a place where pictures aren't necessary, because the real thing is right out the back window.
After playing Savior, Redeemer of my Soul and having a lesson on the Atonement in primary, I decided that it would be appropriate to visit the Garden of Gethsemane for the first time. It was an excellent Sabbath to say the least. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. He truly is the redeemer of my soul.
We ended the first half of the semester on Friday, which means that now we start New Testament. I have been so excited to study the life of Jesus Christ, but the reality of it didn't hit me until our first day of class when my teacher showed us a video that helped me remember His life and love for me. (Click on "video" to watch it.) As I watched it, I got emotional thinking about the effect these few months in Jerusalem will have on my life. The experiences I am having here will change me forever.
It's an amazing video of scenes from the Savior's life as President Hinckley bears his testimony about his love for the Savior. As I sat in my desk, surrounded by so many new friends, I looked out the big classroom windows that overlook the old city, and it hit me for the first real time. I am in the land of the Savior. I have learned about his miracles, and seen first hand where they were performed. I have visited the place of his birth, the place of the his atoning sacrifice, and the places of his death and resurrection. As I thought about these events, I was completely overcome by the spirit as it testified to me that these things really happened. I know they did. In that moment, I felt His love so strongly. The words of "I feel my Savior's Love" were running through my head all day.
In his testimony, President Hinckley said everything I have always felt, but never known how to say. Ironically (and yet, not so much) the simplest statement in his testimony was the one that hit me the hardest: Jesus is my friend. None other has given me so much. None other can take his place. And none other ever will.
As for my own simple statements--
I know Jesus loves me.
I love him.
He is my friend.
He is my Redeemer.
He is my strength and my happiness.
I never want to forget that.
This is what my Sabbaths look like. J-rew Sunbeam Crew all the way baby!