Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Don't Forget!

Let’s take a quick moment to remember that God is always more concerned about who we’re becoming than where we are. It’s comforting to know that he doesn’t measure the way the world does. He knows who we really are and what we really want. Although things like what we do for a job and how well we do in school are of course important to Him. But that’s not what really defines is. When we take away all of that, who are we, really? Have we become more like Christ?
It’s also comforting to know that we have an infinite number of second chances. Thanks to the Atonement, we can keep getting up again and trying again. It doesn’t matter if we get a bad grade on a test or don’t pass the interview we wanted to. It’s all part of the process. I’ve shared Moroni 10:32 but I recently rediscovered it and we all need to be reminded at some point of what we knew before.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
We’re in a long, long journey to be perfected. The great thing is that it doesn’t necessarily matter if we stumble and fall here. What matters is if we get back up and keep trying. I’ve found this to be personally very important lately with my school work. It’s given me a better perspective.
And while we’re at it, let’s serve one another! The Church’s Light the World campaign has been great so far. I’ve eagerly checked on it every day to see what I can do to help. It’s a simple truth that when we care more about others we forget about ourselves. Some thoughts to help in this sometimes-stressful part of the year.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I attended one of the devotionals early on in this semester, where Matthew O. Richardson spoke. I loved what he had to say, especially a story he shared of his experiences at BYU. He shared how he was experiencing many of the hardships that are common to students and was feeling very down on himself. By a remarkable set of circumstances, he ran into then-President Holland, who after talking with President Richardson, assessed him and offered advice. President Richardson recounts that Elder Holland said:

“You just believe that God will work His mighty miracles for everyone but you.”

His assessment was right.

And then he said with his typical fervor, “You gotta believe, Matt. You gotta believe.”

Don’t we all think like that, sometimes? I know I have. I was reminded a little bit of this as I read in Mormon 9:

19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
We believe in God, don’t we? Do we really, truly believe that he can make miracles happen? Maybe that’s why we read our scriptures and say our prayers and partake of teh sacrament - to remember what He can and will do for us if we only ask.
I know that God is a God of miracles. I know that this is His gospel. I know that Christ has overcome death and that through him we can all find peace for our souls. It just takes some remembering, sometimes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Nephi 9

One of my very favorite scriptures has always been this one from 3 Nephi chapter 9 (or really, the first part of it):

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Here Christ was talking to the people in the Americas after His death. What He taught us about repentance here is very important.

What exactly does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? It means that we will do everything we can to make things right. Oftentimes we make mistakes but are too proud to admit it. Sometimes we display the exact opposite - our hearts are hardened instead of broken and our spirits are haughty instead of humbled. It’s all too easy to rationalize our sins away or not commit to taking the steps that need to be taken to make amends, especially when something might be serious enough to merit a confession to our bishop.

However, that’s exactly what the people had felt before Christ’s coming. That’s exactly what had put them in this trouble in the first place. In fact,

18 Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God.

So how do we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? More than anything I think it means having humility. We need to be willing to submit everything we have to God so that He can make things right again. I know I’ve had to do this before. It isn’t easy. But we do it because we know what awaits us if we do - and the consequences if we don’t. If we want to get back to our Heavenly Father, there really isn’t anything that should stand in our way. Any embarrassment we might feel now is nothing compared to what we get in return.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It Will All Work Out!

Sometimes we all get pretty scared. We can wonder if things are going to get better in the future or if we will be able to provide safety and security for our families. Sometimes the problems we face are problems we’ve created entirely on our own and we worry that we’ve gone too far, that we’ve finally stepped across the line and into a place where God can no longer help us.

There’s a pattern that is very common in the Book of Mormon that can give us hope and it has to do with liberation. In Alma 36, Alma the Younger describes to his son how he was able to overcome sin in his own life by calling upon Christ. I also like what Alma says at the beginning in verse 2:

I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.

All throughout the Book of Mormon the prophets exhort the people to remember the bondage of Lehi, Nephi, and also Moses. Can you remember a time when you were in bondage? Do you remember how the Lord helped you escape?

Sometimes we worry so much about the future that we forget that we’ve been worried about the future before. If we remember that we’re also likely to remember that God has delivered us before! In fact, if we put our trust in Him, we have a promise that he will. Take heart in that! Through Christ’s Atonement absolutely anything is possible. There is nothing that He cannot overcome.

That is why we are so indebted to Him. If we let the Atonement come into our lives, we will feel as Alma did:

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Friday, November 4, 2016

3 Nephi 22

This week I was doing a more in-depth study of 3 Nephi 22. I’ve always liked the chapter because of the beautiful symbolism and the message of hope it brings. We all have moments where we’re afraid because of mistakes we’ve made or things other people have done or just the state of the world in general. It can be hard to see how everything will end in “happily ever after.” That’s why I love the words of Isaiah the Christ quotes in this chapter:

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

The truth is we’ve almost all done something to make the Lord hide His face from us. However, the central truth of this chapter is that God loves us. He remembers the covenant that He’s made to always watch over us and protect us. If we remember our side of the covenant, He will make sure things turn out OK. I like what Elder Holland has to say about this:

...the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.

President George Q. Cannon once taught: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them.”

I absolutely know that is true! I know that God lives and that He loves us. I know that He will never abandon us. I also know that He is very patient with us and just wants us to keep moving forward. If we do so, one day, He will gather us with great mercies in His arms.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I’ve always loved learning about the antichrists in the Book of Mormon, and especially Korihor in Alma 30. I think it’s one of the most relevant parts to today’s world. There are many antichrists out there and it’s often so very hard to pick out their arguments and realize just how poisonous they are. They sound so appealing to the natural man! As I was reading through Alma 30 this week I discovered some additional insights on how to distinguish good from evil and know whether an antichrist should be believed.

More than anything I came to realize that many antichrists appeal to our better side and ask us to believe in things like “love” and “tolerance” - I don’t think I need to give latter-day examples. Korihor does something similar. He says in verses 23 and 24:

...I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage.

See what he does there? He sides with the people and popularity. It certainly sounds appealing. But the trick here is what is actually lacking, and it’s something that can help us spot antichrist arguments. In reality, Korihor lacks charity. He himself may even think he does it out of “love,” but that’s not how true love works. Charity is described in Moroni 7:45 as being patient and benevolent and kind. I don’t think Korihor had any of those attributes. Rather, he was motivated by pride.

That, in the end, is all that motivates Satan, as well. He never does anything because he really loves people. He doesn’t have charity. Only God, who loves us perfectly, would gives us commandments and want us to be truly free. So let’s all have charity and help with that!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


I was flipping through my mission notes and was reminded of what I was learning only a few months ago in the field: repentance! We all make mistakes but I love the promise in Mosiah:

30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.

And a related verse in D&C 58:

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

I love these two parts of scripture and what they teach us about repentance. Specifically, I love how the Lord is always willing to forgive us and that when he does, he doesn’t remember our sins. The Atonement really is a wonderful thing. All the mistakes we’ve made can be completely and utterly forgotten. There’s nothing we have to fear as long as we stay on the right path and keep striving to do what’s right. Many times we feel like we’ve gone too far or that happiness is out of our reach, but it never is. And the Lord wants us to come unto Him and repent. It’s a painful process, yes, but in the end brings happiness. That is what can inspire us to, like the Nephites, fast and pray “in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who [know] not God.” (Alma 6:6)

I know that Christ lives and that through His infinite Atonement all things can be made right once again.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Waiting Again

I keep coming back to this, don’t I? But that’s ok. Sometimes we have to learn things two or three times for it to sink in. That often happens with me and patience, I guess.

As I was reading in Mosiah something stuck out to me. King Limhi and his people we desirous to be baptized in Mosiah 21, but weren’t able to because the Priesthood authority wasn’t present at the time. So, they decided to “[wait] upon the Spirit of the Lord.” I love how they put themselves in the Lord’s hands. It made me realize that, yes, there are important things that the Lord wants us to do...but He’s perfectly fine letting us wait just a little so we can grow before arriving.

While they waited, however, “all [their] study” was dedicated to their freedom.

So, there is something that we need to do while we’re waiting. The waiting is necessary, but so are one or two things for the waiting to end.

One of those things is of course righteousness. With Alma’s people in a similar situation a few chapters later, the Lord reminds them of the covenant He’d made with them and that as they kept their side He would free them from bondage.

The second thing we need to do for the waiting to end is study how we’re going to get out, as Limhi’s people did. If we’re missing either one, nothing will happen. If we do both that doesn’t mean things will get better tomorrow or next week, but they will get better.

A final insight I gathered on patience while reading this part of Mosiah: if we do things right, we can actually enjoy the wait. Alma and his people, in Mosiah 24, “did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”

So not everything’s bad when we’re waiting. We just need to do the right things and not only will the waiting end eventually, we’ll be able to find joy until it does.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Requirements for Revelation

I suppose this has to do a lot with last week’s entry. An essential part of making choices is seeking revelation. Although we need to learn to make choices on our own, the Lord does want us to include Him in the process. After all, we’re not supposed to do “any thing” until we first ask the Lord to help us with it (2 Nephi 32:9). That doesn’t mean that we will get an answer, but I was reminded of the importance of seeking revelation and the work that needs to come first as I read in Enos this morning. I was struck by verses 3 and 4 and how to apply them in a different way than I had before.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
I suppose I’d always applied Enos’s desires specifically to the process of gaining a testimony, but who’s to say that our soul shouldn’t hunger to know other things, as well? Revelation requires work, and if a decision is important enough (or even if it isn’t!) we should be ready to cry all day and all night to receive an answer. We can cite D&C 9 in relation to this:
7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
Enos had the right desires. I wonder if he did end up applying this process to receive other bits of revelation in his life. Reading this was a good reminder to me to maybe try a little harder when it comes to getting revelation, and the importance of approaching the Lord with my needs.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


It’s not always easy to make choices. We all experience some anxiety trying to figure out what’s best for our life. There are very few clear-cut answers and a lot of gray space. I often feel a lot of anxiety when trying to make even the simplest of decisions. I suppose I’m very conscious of the fact that our time here on Earth is limited and that we have an eventual goal of reaching perfection in the next life. As Lehi says in 2 Nephi 2:

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

See what I mean? The choices are eternal life or eternal death in the end. Plenty to get stressed out over.

So how do we choose what to do? What part does personal revelation play in all of this? How can we make sure we’re choosing the right? One piece of counsel comes from President Monson:

Most of you are familiar with Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. As she contemplates which way to turn, she is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?”
The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”1
Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life.
...As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.

And the beauty of it all is that we’re here to learn by making mistakes and then doing better next time. So, even if we mess up, we can be assured that Christ’s Atonement can fix whatever we’ve done wrong. The important thing is to choose, and to try!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mosiah 7:33

As I read my scriptures this week, I was reminded of a very important concept that King Limhi teaches his people in Mosiah 7:

33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

There are times when all of us are entangled in this problem or that sin. Sometimes we don’t know how we’ll get out or make things right again. King Limhi’s advice shows us how - but it’s not always easy to follow.

I understand that I need to turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, but that’s a difficult process. It means giving up a lot. We can’t just have half purpose or even three quarters purpose, but full purpose. That requires us to do things that we probably wouldn’t rather do. Serve others, study the scriptures more diligently, go to the temple. We have to be ready to listen to the Spirit’s promptings and do what God would have us do, even (or especially) when it’s not what we want to do.

But what’s the payoff? We so often forget about who we’re supposed to be or what’s awaiting us if we endure to the end. Once we put things in that perspective, everything else becomes pretty unimportant. I love how Paul phrases it in Romans 8:

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Always remember that we’re to be joint-heirs with Christ! Then you’ll make the decisions you need to make and turn unto God with full purpose of heart.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


It’s pretty darn hard to do that! It’s odd how we want to relax when things are hectic, then when things calm down we get bored and wish something would happen. It’s hard to balance those two ends of the spectrum. We’re keenly aware that we need to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” and that our time in this life is limited. I suppose I feel like I should be experiencing a kind of spiritual high all the time as a confirmation that I'm doing it right. But the reality is that crazy, life-changing things don’t happen every day. Or do they?

As Elder Maxwell once said, “Moments are the molecules that make up eternity!” So what we do in every moment does have an impact on who and what we will become. This is extremely important as we think about what the Book of Mormon teaches us about agency. In the end, there are only two choices - to follow Christ or not. That’s something we can choose in every moment. We choose by the way we speak and think, the way we treat people, the challenges we take on, and choosing to pick ourselves back up and try again when things don’t go our way. As Lehi says in 2 Nephi 2:

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

It’s a decision we make in every moment. And I love this scripture in 2 Nephi 10 connection with the above:

23 Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.

Cheer up and stay faithful! Make those little decisions every day and you’ll make the eternity you want to live.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Remembering to Remember

This week in my Book of Mormon reading I got to Jarom. I was looking at verses 11 and 12 and thinking about a pattern that we often see in the Book of Mormon.

11 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.
12 And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.
We often struggle to remember, it seems, and it’s something I’m certainly worried about. It isn’t easy to remember God and Christ. In some ways I do miss the mission because it was so much easier to remember when that’s all I had to think about every day. I definitely don’t want to fall into the Nephites’ same mistakes here. We know what the consequences are like.
I was thinking about how we can remember Christ today, since we don’t have the law of Moses, and I made a very simple connection that I’m sure you’ve probably already made. The Sacrament is how we remember Christ every week! Although it’s hardly anything novel, making that connection was very meaningful to me. It took the Sacrament from a conceptual level to something that I can actually apply. Now I understand how we must prepare ourselves for the Sacrament every week. Now I understand how that helps us stay on the right path and, ultimately, get back to Heavenly Father’s presence.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A New Journey Begins

As part of an assignment for my Book of Mormon class I’m taking at BYU, I thought I’d keep updating this blog a bit. It feels really good to get these thoughts down “on paper,” and it’s even more fun having people read them.

Not even a week after being home from the mission, I’ve already had to make hard decisions about what to do and what not to do, and I’ve had to apply the very advice I actually put here on the blog. It’s not easy to be in the world but not of the world, and I was reminded this week about what really matters.

In the mission, everything fits neatly into its little box and there aren’t too many questions to be asked. Here, in the real world, decisions and sacrifices had to be made. Towards the end of my mission I made some goals about what I would and wouldn’t do after coming home, and without going into details, I’ve already had to make hard decisions.

I made those decisions by praying and reading the scriptures. I love to ask the Lord my question in prayer before studying and then studying until I find the answer. This week as part of the Book of Mormon class I read from 1 Nephi 1 to 1 Nephi 7 and I found a new personal meaning 1 Nephi 3:7.

As Nephi says, the Lord prepares a way for us to accomplish what He expects of us. What a lifesaver, honestly! I learned that again this week. There was a decision I had to make and knew I had to make...but I didn’t want to make it. The only thing that helped me to make it was relying on that idea. And, without going into specifics, it worked out! I didn’t know how it would, but it did.

It’s kind of funny thinking that I’ve had to learn such a basic lesson again, but I suppose that’s part of the process. That’s how we build character - Richard G. Scott said you don’t build character in moments of decision, rather, that’s where you employ it.

So the next time you have to make a decision, remember once again Nephi’s council...and make the right one!

Monday, August 15, 2016

But If Not...

This is Jeremiah's last letter! He will be home on August 23. We get to have him home for two days before he leaves for school at BYU-Provo on August 26th. We will have an Open House for Jeremiah on Wednesday, August 24th from 6:30-8:00 at our church building at 2771 Rochester Road, Cranberry Twp. We know he would love to see you, so please feel free to stop by for refreshments and say hello to Jeremiah. Thank you for all your support for our missionary over the past two years!

I had to think hard about what to share in this last e-mail. It was hard for me to really think about what I have learned. What have I learned? I've learned a lot, but what's the most important thing I've learned in these two years?

I remembered that in the MTC and during my first little bit in the field, I read the Book of Mormon focusing on a question: What does the Lord expect of me in the mission? I'd actually forgotten about the answer that I'd received, so long ago, at the very end of the book, in Moroni 10:

 32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

But honestly, that's a fantastic summary. Be perfected in Christ, and love Him and serve Him.

Being perfected in Christ has been a process throughout the mission and I've learned much more about what that means, and about what we're to inherit if we succeed - as Paul described it, "...heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:17)

I love the way President Kimball describes what we are meant to inherit, and the way he puts it in the perspective of our daily lives and decisions:

One man I know of was called to a position of service in the Church, but he felt that he couldn’t accept because his investments required more attention and more of his time than he could spare for the Lord’s work. He left the service of the Lord in search of Mammon, and he is a millionaire today.

But I recently learned an interesting fact: If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold at today’s prices, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth’s thin crust alone. This is an amount so small in proportion as to be inconceivable to the mind of man. But there is more to this: The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33); and when this man received the oath and covenant of the priesthood (D&C84:33–44), he received a promise from the Lord of “all that my Father hath” (D&C 84:38). To set aside all these great promises in favor of a chest of gold and a sense of carnal security is a mistake in judgement of colossal proportions. To think that a person has settled for so little is a saddening and pitiful prospect indeed; the souls of men are far more precious than this.

One young man, when called on a mission, replied that he didn’t have much talent for that kind of thing. What he was good at was keeping his powerful new automobile in top condition. He enjoyed the sense of power and acceleration, and when he was driving, the continual motion gave him the illusion that he was really getting somewhere.

All along, his father had been content with saying, “He likes to do things with his hands. That’s good enough for him.”

Good enough for a son of God? This young man didn’t realize that the power of his automobile is infinitesimally small in comparison with the power of the sea, or of the sun; and there are many suns, all controlled by law and by priesthood, ultimately—a priesthood power that he could have been developing in the service of the Lord. He settled for a pitiful god, a composite of steel and rubber and shiny chrome.

...I am reminded of an article I read some years ago about a group of men who had gone to the jungles to capture monkeys. They tried a number of different things to catch the monkeys, including nets. But finding that the nets could injure such small creatures, they finally came upon an ingenious solution. They built a large number of small boxes, and in the top of each, they bored a hole just large enough for a monkey to get his hand into. They then set these boxes out under the trees and in each one they put a nut that the monkeys were particularly fond of.

When the men left, the monkeys began to come down from the trees and examine the boxes. Finding that there were nuts to be had, they reached into the boxes to get them. But when a monkey would try to withdraw his hand with the nut, he could not get his hand out of the box because his little fist, with the nut inside, was now too large.

At about this time, the men would come out of the underbrush and converge on the monkeys. And here is the curious thing: When the monkeys saw the men coming, they would shriek and scramble about with the thought of escaping; but as easy as it would have been, they would not let go of the nut so that they could withdraw their hands from the boxes and thus escape. The men captured them easily.

And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world—that which is telestial—that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.

I've come to really feel and understand those ideas here in the mission. I think I've really come to understand what really matters, what's really expected of me, and how much I really want to do what God wants me to do.

We have to give up everything, serve God with everything we have to be perfected in Christ. He won't take in half-measures. He wants everything. But the incredible thing is what we get in return. The gospel truly is the "pearl of great price," and we must be willing to sell all that we have to go buy it (Matthew 13:45-46).

We have to have the attitude that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had. President Murphy had interviews with us last week, and although he of course didn't spend much time with me, I did have a moment to ask him a few questions and talk about some challenges in the sector. I was wondering about humility, and he shared with me these scriptures from Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar makes a golden idol and commands everyone to worship it or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego aren't about to be fooled by that "pitiful god." They knew what awaited them if they were faithful, that they could become "joint-heirs" with Christ. So this is the way they respond:

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

What have I learned in two years? I've learned that I have lots of dreams and desires. I've learned also that God demands that I give everything to him, even my very best dreams and desires. I've learned what I'll receive in return.

When I get home I'm sure there are many things I want to do, lots of movies to watch and people to catch up with. I'll go back to doing a lot of the same things I did beforehand. But I will never be the same. From now on I will always try to remember who I am in every decision I take. But if it's not what the Lord wants, that's ok too.

I'm just grateful that the Lord is really patient with us as we try to perfect ourselves in Christ.

I know that Christ lives. I know that this is His true church and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. And I know that families can be together forever.

That's what matters most to me!

Sorry, I didn't take too many pics this week. But here I am eating my last encebollado.

How I actually feel about this being my last encebollado.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Character and Faith

We learned some interesting things about the relationship between character and faith this week. Character, in essence, is how we choose to respond to adversity. Every problem that we have in life, big or small, is intended to help us develop that character. We have to act with faith as a response to the stuff that happens in our lives. The Lord explains it this way in D&C 58:

 26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

The truth is that God doesn't want to do anything for us that we can do for ourselves. Basically, He just wants us to keep on working. The point is that we TRY to solve our problems before turning unto Him fo help. That's what character is. As Elder Holland has said, God's opportunity is man's extremity. It'll always be raining, at 9:29 at night...that's when the miracles happen.

And I've definitely seen that in missionary work! Last night we had all our appointments fall through and we found ourselves in a part of our sector where we'd already contacted everything...some of it twice over. So, reluctantly, I suggested we contact part of a street we'd already contacted before to have something to do before the last appointment we had scheduled in 30 min. As we contacted it turned out there was ONE house that we hadn't contacted before, so we knocked the door. This young guy came out...and was really receptive! Wow! We came in and got to know him a bit better and it turns out he'd not only met some members that I'd met in Ibarra, but his aunt is the same Laura Picausi who lives in Chaltura which means he has a cousin who's on a mission! I was like, "What a small world," but's a miracle, there's no other way to explain it. And we totally gave him a baptismal date.

I've learned, more than anything this week, who we really depend on. I was reading 1 Nephi 17 and I love Nephi's attitude. When his brothers were skeptical and made fun of him for making a boat, Nephi reminded them that he was on the same side as the God who'd made the earth, the stars, and everything.

 51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?

Wherever you are, don't give up! God can help you.
We also went to the Cascadas de Peguche today, here's a pic

A horse.