Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farewell Montana!

  As my two year mission has been drawing to a close, I have been doing quite a bit of reflecting, pondering, and evaluating. I have absolutely loved my mission. I have learned and have grown so much. I feel that if I didn't serve a mission, I would spend the rest of my life trying to learn the things that I did in these two pivotal years. I wouldn't trade these two years for anything and I am going to miss my mission so much. However, I could not be more excited to go home. I miss my friends and family so much and am extremely anxious to be with them again!
   Although I am overwhelmed with excitement to go home, I am also a little nervous and scared. All I have had to worry about for the past two years has been solely on missionary work. The main things I've had to focus on have been the people that I teach and how to become a better missionary. And that's about it! Now that I go home, I have to make the "big" decisions of life: where to work, what school to attend, girls, marriage, education, etc. That is a lot of responsibility and a big change of lifestyle from the way I've been living the past couple years!
  I have had a scripture from the Book of Mormon on my mind a lot lately. That scripture is Ether 2:5. It reads: "And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel."
  This scripture brings me so much comfort. I relate the "wilderness" to "life at home no longer being missionary." There are so many decisions to make and paths to take. Under the word "directions" in that verse, the footnote says "divine guidance." I know that as I go home, the Lord will go before me and will give me guidance as to what paths I should take. I know that He will direct my footsteps and will pave the way for me to be successful in all I do - as long as I continue to remain faithful to Him.

I'm so excited to go to the Mt. Timpanogos temple again!
  I, once again, bear my witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Kingdom once again on earth - preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. God lives. He hears and answers our prayers. He loves us so much, and so does His Son - who is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We cannot comprehend Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice, but we can feel of the love and power that comes from it. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true! I know it is! We have a living prophet on earth today and as we follow his counsel we will be happy!
  My mission has changed my life. Though my two year full-time service will end, my mission to serve God will never end.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Footprints In The Sand

 My mission is drawing to a close and I've been doing a lot of reflecting on these past two years. I am posting the following poem because it rings true to me - especially during the time that I've been in full-time service of my God. 

 

  My mission has been the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my life. I can honestly say that there were so many times that I wanted to quit or give up. There were many times when I felt as if my prayers were not being answered and that I was left all alone. However, as I reflect back on these past two years, I have noticed that God has had a hand in my life in every thing that I've done. I have realized that my Heavenly Father has been with me the whole entire time and has never - not once - left me on my own. 


 -----------------------------------------------------------------

 

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only. 

 

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish,
sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints,

 

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

 

The Lord replied,
“The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”


- Mary Stevenson

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Joseph Smith Is A Prophet Of God

  For the past 23 months I have been sharing a message of happiness with the marvelous people in Montana. This message is so remarkable and has changed my life. This message is simply that God is our Father and we are His children. He as always called prophets and he has, once again, done that in our day. In the year 1820 Joseph Smith was visited by our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. After Jesus Christ's ministry, a period of spiritual darkness occurred - preparing the way for Joseph to be the one to restore many plain and precious truths back to the earth. 
 
  Segment from Rob Gardner's "Joseph Smith the Prophet: Live at Abravanel Hall." This segment depicts John Taylor, friend of Joseph Smith, mourning the loss of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum in his own words.
   
    I stand with my head high and boldly declare that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the Almighty God. Joseph spent his whole life giving all he had to build up the kingdom of God. Joseph, along with his family and friends, were constantly being persecuted, hated, mocked, and even killed because of the things they knew to be true. This upcoming Monday is June 27th. On that date in 1844 - 167 years ago - the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered in Carthage Jail. They were killed because of the things that they knew were true. I have never met Joseph Smith, nor did I witness his martyrdom. Although I do often times feel to say, "Oh, give me back my prophet, dear!"
    John Taylor, who was in Carthage on that dreadful June day, made the following statement about Joseph: "The Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. . . He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum (Doctrine & Covenants 135:5).
    "In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth? . . . They would NOT DO THAT! " - Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Book Of Mormon

  The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a divine record that was translated by the power of God. Joseph Smith had a third grade education when he translated it. He did not have any word processors, dictionaries, or internet. He had a quill pen and a candle. It took 52 scholars and other learned men to translate the King James Version of the Bible which was published in 1611. It took them seven years to complete it - which equates to a whopping one page translated per day. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, took one unlearned farm boy roughly 60 days to translate. That is approximately ten pages translated per day. Now, tell me that Joseph merely "wrote" it. It is inconceivable to even think such a thing.

 
Three men sing as if they are Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris - the three witnesses who saw the gold plates and testified of its truthfulness.
  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dedicated To My Father

"Papa Sarge" At The Baseball Field
  Why is it that we as missionaries are allowed to call home on Mothers Day but not Fathers Day? I don't know. But, nonetheless, I want my father to know how much I love and care about him - even if I don't get to call home and tell him.
  From the time I was a wee lad up until today, my dad has always been a hero to me. I cannot adequately express the gratitude I have for the life lessons that he has taught me. The noteworthy thing is that most of the lessons he's taught me haven't even required him to say anything. My dad is one of the best "teachers by example" that I have ever met. He's often referred to as a "man of few words." And while he may be just that, his actions have always shouted loudly to me in a positive way. He is living the quote by St. Francis who once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Montana Flooding

   For those living in Montana, this time of year has been infamous for the dreaded flooding going on around the state. From the Fort Peck Reservation in Eastern Montana, to Helena in central Montana, to Missoula on the Eastern part of the state, the flooding has been devastating. Homes have been ruined, evacuation has been more than necessary for victims, crops have been destroyed, and, unfortunately, even a few deaths have occurred. It was said in the Billings Gazette, "It takes a lot to get a Montana farmer to curse the rain, but some are beginning to. Hundreds of thousands of acres have gone unplanted due to unprecedented rains and the number of growing days needed to produce a crop is quickly dwindling." Obviously, much help has been needed.
   I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had as a missionary to help out with all the flooding. Missionaries across the Montana Billings Mission have spent hundreds of hours helping out with the natural disasters. We have been doing anything from filling up and hauling sandbags, to hauling furniture and miscellaneous items out of houses to prevent further damage.