I had quite a few opportunities this week to give people priesthood blessings this week. It was wonderful to feel in such a real way the love that God has for each of His children. One of the recipients was an elderly woman who was very sick in the hospital. She passed away the next day. I was glad I could be there and was worthy to perform that blessing, and tell her the things that would bring her comfort and strength to prepare her for entering the next life.
One common question that enters my mind frequently is, "What is God trying to teach me?" The experiences I've had on my mission are extraordinary. I've had good moments, and plenty of trying ones too. The times when I ask this question the most are when I am experiencing large amounts of doubt. Am I doing the right thing? Was that the correct choice? Was that really revelation from the Holy Ghost, or are those my own thoughts? Am I doing my best work? The times when your faith is put to the fire, that is when you experience the most refinement.
I think the most trying experience I had this week was giving a blessing to the woman in the hospital. I remember walking in and immediately recognizing her frail condition. I had seen it before in the woman with cancer that I gave a blessing to in my previous area, Hengchun. Her family worriedly looked between her vacant face and the blood pressure monitor beside her bed. The member who had invited us to give the blessing, Sister Xu, began to explain a little of what we were going to do, and I quickly realized that none of the family were members of the church, and had no understanding of God, let alone priesthood blessings. They were desperate, and relying on the last thing they wanted to turn to, which was a Christian religion.
As I laid my hands on the woman's head and stated by what authority I was giving her a blessing, I had a very specific impression not to tell her she would get better physically. What I did tell her was that things would be better soon, and that she should not doubt that God would take care of her. As I closed the blessing, I looked up to see her family gathered around, looking sad. They seemed to know the end was coming.
I left feeling very conflicted. And sure enough, the next day, I heard the news that she passed away. I kept thinking, This poor family! All they want is for their grandmother to live, and they, probably for the first time in their lives, turn to God for help. They must feel so helpless. And now it looks like God just let them down. I know this woman is now in a better place, but this family doesn't know that!
And then the thoughts progressed: Maybe I was supposed to bless her to get better. Was I lacking in faith? Was I not truly receiving revelation? I prayed a lot that night for a confirmation that I was indeed receiving guidance from my Heavenly Father. What was He trying to teach me?
The next day we met with an investigator with a smoking problem. We told him about different ways he could gain strength to resist the temptation to smoke, and we felt impressed to offer him a priesthood blessing. I lay my hands on his head, and this time I was hit with a wave of love for this man, and I just started crying. I could feel the Spirit working through me as I told him of the love God had for Him, and how happy He was that he wanted to do the right thing. I was able to give him a powerful blessing, and I remember him happily waving and giving me the thumbs-up as he drove away afterwards.
I learned that if I am living worthily and doing my best to follow the Savior, I need not doubt the source of the impressions I receive. It was vividly clear to me that I was in tune with the Spirit. God is blessing me richly, and it is overwhelming. God really loves each and every one of us!