Monday, May 26, 2014

Personal Conversion
May 25, 2014

"Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance." D&C 123:17
This was my theme for the week! I have been thinking a lot about how to find more joy even during trial, because that can be the hardest thing sometimes. We had to stay inside for a lot of the week because of Sister W's sickness so I had a lot of time to reflect on......everything. haha So I thought a lot about personal conversion and how to make that a part of my life forever. I was looking back at my notes from past trainings and this is what I found and I felt really impressed to share it today!

These are four things that we can do to measure our progress with the gospel and how converted we are to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So as I list them, I just invite you to take a minute and think about each one for yourself and where you stand in your personal conversion!

1. The capacity to have meaningful prayer.

This week we heard a really sincere prayer with our investigators that I have been talking about- our favorite couple ever. At the end of our lesson, we shared with them our testimonies of Joseph Smith and that the way they are going to know if he is a prophet truly is through the Book of Mormon and by coming to church so they can know for themselves. They brought up our lesson that I talked about last email and they said it really hit them hard when we said that the reason that this gospel is so ridiculed is because it IS the truth. It was so powerful to have them pray at the end. She asked to truly be led by Him to know for themselves if it's true. Sincere prayers and conversations with our Heavenly Father are the most important thing we can do. It heals us and gives us answers. There is no other way.  That sentence says it all. Prayer heals us and gives us answers to our questions, if we are willing to do it meaningfully.

2. Respect for sacred experiences.

At the lesson our investigators asked us how those who lose their faith decide to come back to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This really got me thinking about how I came to know the truth of this gospel. I  realized what really helped me know was my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I have always had a relationship with Him.  When I wanted to know the truth, I asked Him and He told me. It's true! The Book of Mormon is true and the gospel has been restored. I have come to love every spiritual experience I have had with my Heavenly Father. The gospel is so simple and true and Heavenly Father is truly  just waiting for us to ask Him questions. We need to respect and remember the amazing experiences we have! Feeling the Spirit is not something the world gets to feel every day and we need to respect every time and place we can feel it. especially in the chapel at church. If you have an opportunity just sit in there by yourself and feel the sacredness of it,  it's amazing!

3. how we take counsel

Sometimes it's hard to take counsel because we are prideful. We can all take counsel better and we are all prideful. Let's not be prideful so we can all be more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and know Him better.

4. Appeal of obedience

To have the biggest impact on others, we need to be completely obedient to the commandments that God has given us. (Alma 18:10) A lot of people have been asking lately why exactly we can't talk to our families everyday. or why we don't watch t.v. or why our schedule is so set,  or why we don't listen to music other than church music. It gave me the opportunity to really think about how this has affected me and I wouldn't change it for the world. I absolutely love being one hundred percent focused on the work of the Lord. It reminds me that it really is not all about me and I am so grateful to have this time to give all of it up. Consecrating all my time to the Lord has changed my life, and I will never forget how being obedient brings miracles. I know that relates to normal life too- not just missionary life. You can see miracles you never thought possible by being obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why being obedient should be APPEALING. BECAUSE IT BRINGS THE GREATEST BLESSINGS IN THE WORLD! the opportunity to see miracles should not be taken lightly!

Have a great week!

I Know That Jesus Christ is our Savior
May 19, 2014

This week has officially been the craziest but most rewarding week of my entire life. I've had experiences that I will never be able to express in the right words,  but I truly have experienced a change of heart and I've learned the true meaning of Christlike charity and love. I've learned the importance of consecrating myself 100% to the work. I've also learned the importance of the Spirit and of listening to the guidance of it. This Gospel is real and true and I've never been more sure of it in my life. I've never been so sure that angels are here upon the earth and I've never been so sure that the powers of heaven can be in our lives every day. The Lord knows each of us individually. I know without a doubt that Christ is our Savior. I know that this is the Lord's kingdom here on the earth and HE is building it.
We had one of the most amazing lessons of my entire mission this past week. It was with the family that I've talked about before- that was so excited to read the Book of Mormon and loved the plan of salvation the second that we taught it to them. We were teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ that night- Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We ended up only having time for faith, repentance and baptism. As we were coming to the end of explaining baptism, there was a feeling in my heart that I couldn't describe. The lesson was kind of turning to a point where it was off topic, and I sat there just so deep in thought trying to think of what to say because I knew that I needed to say something, but I didn't know what. As they were talking, I waited for a pause. When there was one, I said "I really feel like I need to say something but I want to warn you that I don't exactly know how to say it or how to explain the feelings in my heart, but I'm going to try". As I spoke, I felt the Spirit guide my words and I don't know how to explain how it felt. but I felt the need to tell them so many things. I told them that I know that before this life they knew they would find the gospel and they would accept it here on the earth. I looked straight at "K" and I told her that as a representative of Jesus Christ, she is promised that as she reads the Book of Mormon every single day, she WILL find the motivation to get out of bed and find strength (she struggles with MS) and she will find a peace in her heart that she has never felt before.  Then I looked at "B" and promised him that as he reads the Book of Mormon every single day, he will know what he needs to do and he will know that it's true. I told them how special they were to their Heavenly Father and I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Now that doesn't seem like a really unique story. It doesn't seem that different from the other lessons, but I wish I could explain to you HOW STRONG THE SPIRIT WAS. It was an unreal feeling, and it was so strong Christ could have been standing in the room and I wouldn't have been surprised. As I finished talking, I asked them how they felt. "K" was shocked. She was mindblown. She sat there in awe and said that she felt like Jesus Christ was talking to her through me. She felt like He was literally in the room and it was the strongest she's ever felt the Spirit. "B" said he was touched and impressed. He felt the Spirit so strongly also and as they spoke, I knew what I needed to say. I asked them if they would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God. They both said yes. "K" said she literally couldn't move her head the other way, she knew she needed to say yes because of what she felt. I told them that God needed them in this Gospel and to retain this good feeling that they felt, they needed to read the Book of Mormon, and come to church. and continue to pray to know the truth. We ended with a prayer and left that strong Spirit in their home that night.   Last night we had the opportunity to teach them again. They couldn't stop talking about how after we left that night, they couldn't stop talking about that experience. They were still in awe because they had never ever felt the Spirit that strong in their entire life. They said after we left they just looked at each other and were like what. just. happened?
I know without a doubt that the Spirit is real and it is the power that brings us to Jesus Christ. It's the power that lets us know that He is here. With us. Today. Now. He  lives and that is the most important thing we could know and experience here on earth. I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father is willing to bring His spirit into anyone's heart that is willing to accept it. The Spirit is willing to come into ANY willing heart. We just need to let it in. We need the commandments as much as we need to eat every day. We need to take the sacrament just as much as we need to drink water every day. We need our Savior Jesus Christ as much as we need any other relationship in our life. It's THIS relationship that saves us for eternity and it's the feelings of the Holy Ghost that promises us this eternity every time we feel it. The Spirit is the most precious gift God has given us here on earth and we cannot take it for granted ever again.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I can say that without a doubt in my heart. I can say it with everything that I have because I personally have gotten to know Him. More than ever and I am so grateful for it. I know we need to be baptized and confirmed to enter the kingdom of heaven. I know the second coming is near at hand and we need to realize how much this gospel can bless us now. I know that many can intellectually question what we say, but it's the testimony and personal knowledge of the Savior that cannot be questioned because it's so real and I know that the Spirit is His messenger here on earth.  I know that we need to go through trials to become  who He knows we can become
Prophets Are Amazing
May 12, 2014
Hello!!! I have learned a lot this week and one of the best things was when we got to teach the family that just got baptized in April! We were going over the Restoration again and talking about Joseph Smith. We had the best opportunity to talk to the mom and hear her share her testimony. She's not one to always offer her feelings/testimony, but this lesson was amazing! She told us all about how she started on and she was researching and asking so many questions, and finally she started talking to missionaries and they sent her the Joseph Smith movie. She said that is when everything changed. When she was watching the movie she just told everyone to leave her alone because she was so wrapped up in it and so excited about it! She said that after she heard that story, she KNEW it was true. It was amazing to hear her experience with that, and it really got me thinking about prophets.
This morning I was reading about prophets and really WHY we have one on earth and why it would be important to have one now. I found out that one of the ways that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets. All throughout time- God started each dispensation with calling a prophet, but we see that those prophets are not always accepted or followed. We saw with Noah, Moses, and even Adam- some people listen to them and some people don't. When we listen, God keeps the priesthood on earth (the power of God) and when we don't listen, He takes it off the earth. When we disregard, reject, and fail in faith, we are distanced from God and we put ourselves in spiritual darkness- and this could be on a worldwide scale, or a personal scale. I wanted to warn about personal apostasy today. We are in the last dispensation and the fulness of times- which means that we are promised that the priesthood WILL NOT be taken from the earth again. This dispensation, that started with Joseph Smith, will end in Christ's second coming. So, we already know that it won't be taken away on a worldwide scale, so we just have to make sure that it's not taken away on a personal scale!  I truly believe that we can make the second coming come faster. When we, as God's family, maintain and increase our faith so much, Christ will have no other choice but to come back to His people, but we need to become a virtuous people first. We need to be knit together in unity and love. We need to get to know our Savior Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that THE way to find joy in our lives is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you are feeling like nothing else can help you in life- we are promised that living the Gospel of Jesus Christ will meet EVERY need no matter what it is!

The other thing I was thinking about was sacrifice and service. When we were teaching that to a family this week, the younger girls brought up that they didn't understand why Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered. I just wanted to close with my feelings on this! I am SO thankful that Joseph Smith sacrificed everything that he did so that we could have joy today. PROPHETS. ARE. AMAZING. I am so thankful that Adam and Eve partook of the fruit and fell from the presence of God so that we could have families and learn of the joy of eternal life. I am so thankful that Noah built an ark and was probably really uncomfortable for a long time with gross animals so that we could be here today! I am so thankful that Abraham learned the importance of sacrifice and faith so that we could learn from him and learn that Heavenly Father will never forsake us. I am so thankful that Thomas S. Monson spends his time each and every day serving those around him and teaching us love. Lastly, I am so thankful that we have a Savior who was willing to give up everything so that we could have joy here on earth and live with Him and our families one day. WE HAVE PROPHETS TODAY SO THAT WE CAN HAVE JOY. So that they can testify of Christ through their actions. You can really tell that a prophet is a man of God by the sacrifices he makes. The best part is, this applies to us too. Things are hard here on earth so that we can learn the law of sacrifice and see that it can bring us joy and the people around us joy,  so that we can feel just a small part of the Savior's pain, and  so that we can understand how much we need to be humbled and grateful for His sacrifice. I have a testimony that by sacrificing, a joy is brought into our lives that cannot be found anywhere else. I see it and feel it every day as a missionary.  By showing kindness, listening, comforting, serving, praying, sharing, and being a friend, we can transcend ALL boundaries.

We need to follow Christ SO CLOSELY that Satan cannot even FIND us. Let that phrase sink into your heart. Christ is in our midst, and His coming is near. It is up to us to be ready!
"Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard" Jacob 5:62

Monday, May 5, 2014

Being Washed Clean
May 5, 2014

I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY!  So much happened this week and I don't even know where to start! We have seen so many miracles! So I'll start with the best one. We have been teaching this 11 year old girl the whole time that we've been in Grand Junction, and it's been so hard to help her progress! She was on date to be baptized at one point, but it never happened. She truly wants to know the truth for herself and we have tried everything to help her get an answer. We had an awesome sacrament meeting this last week and we asked her and her mom to fast for an answer, and we fasted along with them. We told her that if she came up with a decision and asked her Heavenly Father if it was right, she would get an answer. We didn't get to see her till Friday and the suspense was horrible! When we finally got to see her, she said that she thought she got an answer but she wasn't sure. I felt really prompted to ask her to get on her knees and ask her Heavenly Father for another answer. So we all got down on our knees and I told her to ask her Heavenly Father if she got the right answer about being baptized, but before she closed the prayer to wait and see what she feels in her heart. She started to pray and it was one of the most sincere prayers that I've ever heard! It brought her to tears and the Spirit was so strong. After she closed her prayer, we shared D&C 6 and told her that the greatest witness we can receive from God is peace. We asked her how she felt and she was just beaming with light! She was so happy and she knew what she needed to do. We asked her to be baptized on May 31st and she said she was thinking about the end of May also! MIRACLES HAPPEN TODAY and every day.
We also got to teach this other girl who is 12 years old - who is the daughter of a man that just got baptized a few months ago. We have only taught her a few lessons, and sometimes it's hard to keep her focused, but after this last lesson she all of a sudden wanted to get baptized!  She said "I really want to and I will be there every single Sunday"! so we told her that that was awesome, and the way to know if it is right if she gets down on her knees and asks her Heavenly Father to confirm her answer. She asked if she could pray right then to know! So we all got down on our knees and we told her the same thing- to pause before she closed the prayer and focus on how she's feeling. We said that the answer often comes by a feeling of warmth and comfort and peace. After she closed the prayer she burst out  "IS THE WARM FEELING SUPPOSED TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO PEE" ? and it was like the most random thing to ever happen and everyone in the room started laughing and the Spirit was totally not there but it was so funny. She was really excited and she knew she got her answer! Even if she's random.
We also got to go out with Sister Murdock (Mission President's wife)  this week! We went tracting with her and told her all about how nice people were in Grand Junction. Then we had the weirdest experience with a lady running out shaking so hard I thought she was going to fall over and yelling at us to please leave like 7 times because we made her dogs bark. We got to have a great night of teaching with Sister Murdock and we loved it.
We also had a really powerful lesson with a family last night. The dad hasn't been to church in a really long time, and we have been working with them sooo much to try to get him to come back. Our ward mission leader came with us and we made so much progress! He really opened up and explained that he didn't want to come to church because he feels that a lot of people were hypocrites and if he went, it would ruin a lot of his relationships at work. The Spirit really filled the room as our ward mission leader bore his testimony about the Holy Ghost and how it guided him in his life, and we told him that coming to church would bless him more than he would know. We explained to him that the decisions that he makes here in this life effect his eternity, and that these worries with work were not worth that. We told him how much he is loved and how much he needs to take the sacrament, because truly we CANNOT become clean enough to enter the kingdom of heaven without the healing power of the Sacrament. We told him that his Savior will do anything to help him come back to church, and by the end of the lesson he told us that he has been thinking about it a lot and having a really big internal conflict! But he said that he would pray about it tonight.   He's so going to come.

After teaching that lesson I thought a lot about the sacrament and repentance and how important it truly is. I have been learning about the Christ-like attribute of virtue, and I defined it as someone that is pure in heart and in mind, and who truly applies the Atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives. As I learned more about it, I really focused on daily repentance and asking my Heavenly Father each and every night to forgive me for what I did that day, and He helped me realize what I could do better. By the time I got to Sunday, I was so excited to take the sacrament because I knew that I would be cleansed again and that I had fully given my Heavenly Father an accounting of my week. I truly felt my spirit heal as I did this each week and I feel a strength that I KNOW was not there before. I know the power of the sacrament is real and that the Atonement of Jesus Christ enables us to do what we cannot do on our own. We just have to take advantage of the tools given to us! I know that my Savior provided me with extra strength this week to teach with power. I have learned a ton about my calling as a missionary and I know how important the Atonement is in our everyday lives. I also know how important it is to repent of our mistakes because every single thing we do affects our spirit. When we live the commandments, burdens are lifted from our spirits and a true joy enters our lives.
We were explaining to this man how important our baptismal covenant was, and also how important it was to keep it and we used the analogy of a HUUUGE beautiful white house. Just imagine a huge white house for a second. Now imagine that you were playing outside in the rain and mud all day and you were super dirty, but you were ready to go inside. So you knock on the door and your mom and dad answer, and they don't let you in. Why? because you're dirty! and you would dirty the beautiful white couch. or floor. and everything. So before you came in you had to be washed clean. It's the same exact thing with the celestial kingdom. No unclean thing can dwell with our Heavenly Father, and that is why ordinances like baptism are so important. Just like you were cleaned off with the hose before you went into the house, you need to be baptized before you live with God again. He has prepared a way to do this and this way is through Jesus Christ. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is Jesus Christ's church. He is at the head of it and He directs this work. I know this because I am a part of it every day and it is so apparent to me that he is softening the hearts of the people so that they can be brought back into His fold. I love Him so much and I am so thankful that we get to be baptized and take the sacrament each week so that when we meet our Savior and God, we will be clean and happy and excited to see them again because we used the tools They gave us on earth, because we truly understood our purpose on earth and the Atonement and because we knew that we had divine potential.