Hello friends and family 🙂
So this week was pretty good! I am emailing late because I had to go to a returned missionary seminar where they talked about keeping up with what we learned on the mission, dating, marriage, etc. It was really good! I was glad to see my group, Sister Lynn, Sister Tuttle, Elder Lewis, Elder Layfeyette and Elder Sandmeir!
I can’t believe it has been over 18 months since I started being a missionary. Time flew by and didn’t fly by. The weeks felt like days and the days felt like weeks. It was such an amazing experience. I was able to see my some of my Heavenly Family enter the waters of baptism and begin their way on the path towards eternal life. I was able to be an instrument in the hands of God to plant seeds, reactivate, baptize, etc. This is the Lords work. I will forever be grateful for my year and a half of service. I am a changed person. I am a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I can’t even put into words the amount of love that I have for the people of Jamaica and the people of Cayman. This has been the happiest and the hardest time of my life. I am truly grateful for my service. I am not ashamed to say that I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“I think we have never had a stronger generation of young men and women than we have today. For the most part they are true to the faith of their forebears. Surrounded by forces that would pull them down and tremendous pressures to pull them away from time-tested virtues, they are going forward with constructive lives, nurturing themselves both intellectually and spiritually.We have no fears or doubts concerning the future of this work”
Well, this is it. It is almost to a close. I wanted to say thank you for all the time that you spent reading (and replying to) my emails, for the packages and letters, for praying for me and all the missionaries throughout the world and for becoming closer to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Thank you for all that you have done for me. I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful support system.
I will see you on Thursday! I am so excited to see you again, it has been such a long yet wonderful experience. Anyone who wants to come to the airport is welcome. 7:30 pm at the SLC airport! Talk to mom for all the details. I can’t wait to see you.
I love you all!
Here’s to 18 months!
Big up unoself.
1) Teaching Sugar
2) I LOVE SISTER ROBINSON 🙂
This week was a pretty good week! We have been finding some incredible people this week and will be seeing them later in the week!
Here’s the thing… I can’t really remember what happened this week… Haha! Man, I am so sorry! Well, what I do remember is that it POURED this week. On two different days we got soaked, we Those two days we had to go home and change. This area needs rain. It’s way hot in May Pen!
It was my 18 month mark this week. Crazy, I have been on my mission for more than 18 months. I have loved serving a mission. It has been the best decision that I have ever made in my entire life. Having the opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, has been unlike anything that I have ever experienced. Serving a mission will affect the rest of my life. My hope is that I don’t go back to who I was, but that I can remain the person that I have become while on my mission. I love Jamaica and Cayman. I love wearing Christ’s name on my chest everyday.
I love this talk and I would recommend you to read it. I know the Book of Mormon is true with all of my heart and soul.
Safety for the Soul by Jeffery R. Holland
Prophecies regarding the last days often refer to large-scale calamities such as earthquakes or famines or floods. These in turn may be linked to widespread economic or political upheavals of one kind or another.
But there is one kind of latter-day destruction that has always sounded to me more personal than public, more individual than collective—a warning, perhaps more applicable inside the Church than outside it. The Savior warned that in the last days even those of the covenant, the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth.1 If we think of this as a form of spiritual destruction, it may cast light on another latter-day prophecy. Think of the heart as the figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our values; then consider Jesus’s declaration that in the last days “men’s hearts [shall fail] them.”2
The encouraging thing, of course, is that our Father in Heaven knows all of these latter-day dangers, these troubles of the heart and soul, and has given counsel and protections regarding them.
In light of that, it has always been significant to me that the Book of Mormon, one of the Lord’s powerful keystones3 in this counteroffensive against latter-day ills, begins with a great parable of life, an extended allegory of hope versus fear, of light versus darkness, of salvation versus destruction—an allegory of which Sister Ann M. Dibb spoke so movingly this morning.
In Lehi’s dream an already difficult journey gets more difficult when a mist of darkness arises, obscuring any view of the safe but narrow path his family and others are to follow. It is imperative to note that this mist of darkness descends on all the travelers—the faithful and the determined ones (the elect, we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones. The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths. The record says that the protected “did press their way forward, continually [and, I might add, tenaciously] holding fast” to a rod of iron that runs unfailingly along the course of the true path.4However dark the night or the day, the rod marks the way of that solitary, redeeming trail.
“I beheld,” Nephi says later, “that the rod of iron … was the word of God, [leading] … to the tree of life; … a representation of the love of God.” Viewing this manifestation of God’s love, Nephi goes on to say:
“I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, … [who] went forth ministering unto the people. …
“… And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; … and they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.”5
Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”6 That phrase—taken from Moroni’s final lines of testimony, written 1,000 years after Lehi’s vision—is a dying man’s testimony of the only true way.
May I refer to a modern “last days” testimony? When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother:
“Thou hast been faithful; wherefore … thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
“And now I, Moroni, bid farewell … until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ.”7
A few short verses from the 12th chapter of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Before closing the book, Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die. I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down, still visible. Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.8 Shortly thereafter pistol and ball would take the lives of these two testators.
As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. 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?
Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor.9Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”10
I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,”11 a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”12
Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them, “[I] give [my name] unto the world, to witness unto the world that which [I] have seen.” And like them, “[I] lie not, God bearing witness of it.”13
I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.
My witness echoes that of Nephi, who wrote part of the book in his “last days”:
“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, … and they teach all men that they should do good.
“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.”14
Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”15—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I know this church is true!
I love you all so very much!
Big up unoself.
1) 18 month flouring!
2) 18 months representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!
3) I love being a missionary!
4) Anything to keep cool!
5) Getting SOAKED from the rain!
This week was pretty amazing. First on Wednesday we had zone meeting! It was different getting to zone meeting then my previous areas. All my other areas I have had a car, this area I don’t. We had to take a bus to Mandeville. Man, all I can say is I am glad I got put in the front. They put so many people in the vans, it’s like sardines! Of course we got spiritually fed while at the meeting! We talked about conquering fears as well as seeing our progressing investigators every single day. Difficult but doable! I also gave my final testimony… A thing in our mission is for missionaries leaving they give their testimony at the last zone meeting! That was weird… Haha! Hopefully I said something that would help my missionaries! And I got to see SISTER JENKINS! I knew her before her mission when I was serving in Montego Bay! Now she is on her mission in her first area, Hopeton, being trained by one of my previous companions, Sister Bogle. Sister Jenkins was so happy to see me! It was so amazing to see her 🙂 I love her sooo much! On the way home we road with the other set of sisters and the elders. We decided to conquer our fears and sing hymns. So after a while of riding we decided to start singing. The driver turned down the music and we sang hymns! It was cool!
This weekend was GENERAL CONFERENCE! Man, it was so amazing! I have so many favorite talks, they were all good! It made me want to go become a best friend with refugees! I loved Elder Hallstorm’s talk. We say so often that we are a child of God but we don’t really think of how deep it is! It is of extreme importance and anything but ordinary. And of course I loved Elder Holland’s talk. Man, the way he started his talk, "do you have any idea…." the elders and I looked at each other and I can’t remember what we said but something like oh man this is going to be deep! What Elder Holland spoke about next about how much they loved us was so sweet! I loved it 🙂
This week was just fabulous! Another wonderful week being a representative of Jesus Christ!
Don’t forget to read your scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon) everyday, to pray everyday and to come to church every week. Those will add up to continual conversion!
I love and miss you all!
1) April fools on the elders!
3) Conference snow cones!
4) Conference break 🙂
5) I love Sister Rob!