Hey Mom and Dad [and everybody!],
I’m loving it here as usual. People are starting to come around as homesickness wears off. I’m now released as district leader (half way point). I didn’t really do much besides getting the mail and feeling guilty. This week has been… interesting. Good and bad, as most weeks are. Spiritual and then not so much, as will happen.
On the fourth of July, we watched 17 Miracles, then had ice cream and watched the fireworks from the stadium of fire (Elder P almost squealed when we heard the last 3 notes of Carrie Underwood). For some reason, the movies they show here (one every Sunday, and then this one) have just hit me really hard. I think I told you that the first Sunday was perhaps the most of the Spirit I have ever felt. It’s interesting, because that’s how it was for a lot of people. It just goes to show that the Spirit is real, not automatic.
Bad: There has been lots of contention in our zone, which is hard. I think that the newness of this place has worn off, and people are starting to get cranky, me included. Lots of people here are fresh out of high school, and you can pick some of them out pretty easily. They’re the ones flirting with the Sisters. 🙂 A lot of sisters are struggling (not with getting flirted with. They may not initiate, but they certainly don’t seem to mind receiving it). [Also, one of the Sister companionships is feuding.] Also big on the list is one of the Elders in my District and me. I can’t tell if he 1) loves arguing, 2) hates me, or 3) is actually the polar opposite from me in every way possible ever. But it’s one of those three. We’ll all just be in bed talking, and before I know it, an innocent statement like “I love Mr. Rogers!” turns into a 45 minute debate on the role of TV in children’s upbringing. I didn’t even know I had an opinion on that subject, let alone a controversial one.
On an unrelated note, 🙂 I have personally seen a direct correlation between not learning how to be a good neighbor when you are young, and being politically more conservative than Grandpa Gerald. (Love you Grandpa!) Little tangent, but this Elder has never seen Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, Arthur, Cyberchase, Dragon Tails, Sesame Street, Barney, the Teletubbies, Calliou, Zabumafoo, or any other show that makes you into a decent person. Elder L. and I, however, started a rendition of “Having fun / isn’t hard / When you’ve got / A LIBRARY CARD!” Ask the children. Great song. So, I guess I’m gonna complain for a little bit, then let go of it. Ok I’m done.
So all that makes it sound awful here, but I am so, so happy. I was telling some people that compared to BYU, this place is a piece of cake. Every day, my testimony grows stronger.
Brother H. got mad at us for teaching the 1st lesson wrong, and when he showed us how we should teach it, I have to agree with him. It was better. I’ll summarize it, because it made me understand the Gospel and how to teach it in a whole new way.
In the Old Testament, we see this repeating pattern of the Lord calling a prophet to bring a new dispensation. Prophets are like Moses, Adam, and Noah. They are men of God, called to teach the people what God wants, which they learn by speaking with him. When the people listen to the Prophet, they are blessed. When they ignore or kill the prophet, things get harder.
The prophet is only a prophet if he has authority and power from God. This is called the Priesthood. He brings the Priesthood to the Earth. I’ll talk more about that later. We know that God loves us, and he wants us to return to him. However, we can’ t be with him if we aren’t perfect. And we can’t be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and sins. So he sent us his Son, Jesus Christ.
While on the Earth, Christ organized his church. He brought the Priesthood and gave it to men he called to help him, called the Apostles. Instead of accepting his message, we crucified him. He could have stopped it, but he allowed it to happen, because that was how he made what is called the Atonement.
The Atonement has 3 parts. 1) Forgiveness of sins, 2) Help with trials and burdens, and 3) Resurrection. Resurrection is what happened when Christ lived again after he died. Because he did that, we can all live again. This blessing is automatic. No matter what you do, you will live forever. the first and second points, though, require some work on our part. All you have to do is ask for help with burdens, and you will be helped. No matter what the problem is, whether emotional, physical, or intellectual, you will receive help.
Forgiveness comes through repentance, then baptism, then the Sacrament. Repentance is being sorry and promising God that we will try not to make the same mistake again. We cannot be fully clean or fully repented until we are baptized. Baptism is the first of what we call “covenants and ordinances” which are promises with God. When we make these promises, are sins are washed away. But we will sin again.
So every week at church, we take the Sacrament, which is a renewal of our baptismal promises. But none of this can happen, none of it, without the Priesthood power from God. Without a prophet, there is no Priesthood, there is no repentance, and we cannot return to God. So when Christ and all of his Apostles were killed, and the Priesthood was gone, no one could be fully clean. This is called the Apostasy.
Heavenly Father didn’t allow this for long, however. One day, a young boy named Joseph Smith read James 1:5. He had went and prayed and saw God and Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father called him as a prophet and gave him the Priesthood so that he could give it to righteous members of the Church of Jesus Christ and help everyone repent.
He was also given the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, like the Bible. He translated the ancient script into the book I have a copy of today. I promise you that if you read this book and pray about it like it says in Moroni 10: 3-5, you can know that this book is true. And if it is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and we have the Priesthood, and Christ’s church is again on the Earth. This means we can repent and be baptized.
I invite you to read the Book of Mormon and know for yourselves that the Gospel is true. I promise you that if you do this, if you read the Book Of Mormon to find out for yourself, and pray sincerely to know that it is true, you will feel a feeling that you have never felt before, not this strongly. That is called the Holy Ghost. He is telling you that all of it, ALL OF IT, is true. Talk to some missionaries. Get a BOM. It is the most true book on Earth.
I bear my testimony that I know with everything I have that this Book is true. I know that Joseph Smith was prophet, that we can receive answers for ourselves by praying to Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ loves you. That through His Atonement, you can have your sins taken away. You will be forgiven, and maybe most importantly, you can forgive yourself.
[To anyone reading this that isn’t sure of what I am saying], I am not telling anyone this for any other reason but love. I love you, and I can feel Heavenly Father’s love for you too. He wants you to test it out for yourself. That is why I wanted to send this to you. I promise you that you will be amazed at how simple the truth really is when you study it out in your mind, when you focus your time on it.
When you do this, read and pray, you will be happier than you can imagine. And this is lasting happiness. When you do this, any problem you have, and trial, even addiction, can be taken from you with hard work and the literal power of God on the Earth today, the priesthood power. Completely gone. I ask you to listen to that feeling in your heart that I think you are feeling as you read this, that’s telling you to listen and read and pray and follow. That is the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, speaking to you.
I love, I really do, and I’m excited to hear any questions you have. If you are looking for where to begin reading, try the Title Page of the BOM ( explains what it is, and how you can know), The book of Enos (Talks about prayer and repentance), and 3 Nephi 11 (Talks about Christ visiting the Americas after he was resurrected.)
This started out as just wanting to tell you what I learned, but by the end, I was only thinking about [sharing this message with real people].
Question for the family that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Why did Heavenly Father make the whole plan contingent on Adam and Eve sinning and falling from Grace? This seems out of character, but I think I have an answer. Think about it, and I’ll tell you what I think next week.
I love you all so very much. Thanks for your help and your prayers. I can feel them lift me up throughout the day. I love you guys, and have an awesome week!