Monthly Archives: December 2013

President Anderson’s Last Letter of 2013

Happy New Year to All Who Read This…Often I just include the spiritual missionary experiences that the president shares in his letters. However this one includes his thoughts on our commitment as we start a new year. The message was important to me and I hope that those who read this will find it so for them…Enjoy!

“Happy New Year Missionaries,

This being a time of “renewing”, “resolutions”, and “recommitting”, I often think of the great resolutions that come from the great prophets in the scriptures. One of the greatest was Nephi when he resolved:

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Most sincere resolutions begin with the words “I will” because it has more power and conviction that we will actually achieve it.  That is one of the reasons we use the words “will you” as we help investigators make commitments. The answer “I will” is a strong answer of the commitment or “resolution” they make. The person that uses the term, “I will”, and rarely accomplishes the task, is one that doesn’t understand the importance of the pledge or oath that is made. In the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, the term “as the Lord liveth” is used many times to emphasize this promise or resolution. Nephi amplifies his resolution later in the same chapter when he says:

“But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.” (1 Nephi 3:15)

The term “as the Lord liveth” united the great Prophets and missionaries in a partnership with God in carrying out the resolution. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains it well:

“Nephi made God his partner. If he failed to get the plates, it meant God had failed. And because God does not fail, it was incumbent upon Nephi to get the plates or lay down his life in the attempt” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, General Conference Apr. 1982)

When people are properly taught, they rarely will fall away if they make and live those commitments and resolutions. When the oath was made in proper teaching in The Book of Mormon, there was a three way partnership made with the investigators, the teachers, and God:

“And as sure as the Lord liveth [that is an oath], so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth [a second oath], as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away” (Alma 23:6).

We also learn in the scriptures that The Lord will make commitments or resolutions to bless us or punish us for our commitment or resolution (or lack of). A few examples in the scriptures are:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mathew 5:28)

 “Therefore, saith the Lord: I will not utterly destroy them, but I will cause that in the day of my wisdom they shall return again unto me, saith the Lord… And now behold, saith the Lord, concerning the people of the Nephites: If they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them, saith the Lord, because of their unbelief notwithstanding the many mighty works which I have done among them; and as surely as the Lord liveth shall these things be, saith the Lord.” (Helaman 15:16-17)

“As often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit… Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.” (D&C 6:14,20

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee… [Again in verse 13]… I will help thee… [Again in verse 14]… I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:10, 13, 14)

God always comes through and resolves to bless us as we ourselves commit and make resolutions to Him. Brigham Young teaches us that as we do our utmost best in those resolutions, in our aligning with God’s will, He will step in and help us accomplish it:

“I have learned years ago that the Lord stands at the helm that guides Zion’s ship. … Unless we work exactly to the line that is marked out by him, our works will be in vain. This has been my experience from the beginning. In every branch and avenue of our lives we must learn to work to the line of truth. It is for us to know what ought to be done, and then do it. Though there should be no earthly prospect of accomplishing it, we can certainly try; and if we try with all our might, that act will prove at least a resolute and determined mind, adorned with patience and perseverance. And if, with all our resolute endeavors we are still unable to accomplish our purpose, the Lord will be very likely to stretch forth his hand and give the victory” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 441).

The Lord will bless us as we are resolute in opening our mouths to everyone:

“We went harvesting … the other day and found an incredible lady walking her dog down the street in the dark. After we said the prayer she looked up with tears in her eyes and told us that she knew that God sent us to her. She told us to follow her back to her house to offer a prayer for her daughter… then she took us to her cousin’s house and said, ‘You have to get a prayer from these church people!’ She was determined to let us pray with everyone she knew! If it was up to her, we would have prayed with everyone in the neighborhood! She is amazing and we are excited to help her progress towards baptism.”

The Lord will bless us to teach with power as we open our mouths to everyone:

“The other day, we were out walking and we saw this woman walking her dog with her 3 kids. We went over and started talking to them. They loved the prayer we offered and when we invited them to be baptized, the mom said how it’s something she knows she needs to do but never done. Then the kids asked us what baptism is. We explained how we make mistakes in our life but when we are baptized, it’s like taking a bath and all our mistakes are washed away. The kids then turned to their mom and said,’Oh mom!! Can we do that! Please!?’ The mom said, ‘Of course we will do that! We need to go to church first to get ready!’ They are all planning to get baptized on the 5th! As we followed the promptings of the spirit, we were able to find the elect!!!”

The Lord will “stretch forth His hand and give the victory” as we do all we can and open our mouths to everyone:

“Starting with Wednesday transfer day, we needed six more blessings to reach eight by Wednesday. My companion had a great complex picked out and as we got there we got the first four easily and 2 of them were amazing spiritual blessings. We had soo much faith after those four blessings and we knew we were going to get the next two easily! As we continued nobody was answering and when they did they refused the blessing! It was so strange… An hour had almost gone by without any more blessings. We were determined to keep going until we could get at least two more. We finally decided to pray. We were running out of time. After the prayer we were lead to a door which was an awesome lady, our fifth blessing and an amazing referral. Sadly by the time that blessing was over we had run out of time. We needed to get home. As were walking back to our car we were scanning the parking lot for someone to contact… nobody…. We decided to say another prayer asking the Lord what we should do. We wanted to reach eight by Wednesday so badly but we needed to be obedient and home on time as well. After the prayer we all looked up and my companion asked ‘well, have we done all we could do?’ … it was that very second that I saw movement in the corner of my eye. It was a person! A guy walking down a little hidden walkway on the edge of the parking lot. We all without any words headed straight to him… he was awesome! He knew God sent us to him that very moment! We had an amazingly spiritual blessing with him and he accepted everything! That night my faith grew sooo much. I was soo humbled and happy as we offered a prayer of gratitude.”

President Uchtdorf teaches us the importance of making resolutions and reaching our potential:

“[A] regret people express was that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential, that too many songs remained unsung…. I am speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be… Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence… Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient? Would it not be wiser for us to ‘lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal’?  How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman… We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship… As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be… We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness… The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day. I pray that we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference October 2012)

President Anderson’s Letter – 23 December 2013

I love reading and sharing these letters from President Anderson so here is his Christmas letter…

Merry Christmas Missionaries,

What a wonderful time to reflect on our “Purpose” as we bring souls to Christ. The perfect gift for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Years ago I was impressed with the story “The Mansion” by Henry Van Dyke. It’s the tale of a well to do man by the name of John Weightman who has become a self made man of impressive wealth. He also believes that you should give for all to see, to obtain earthly results, and in his mind a place in Heaven. He says, “You have to be careful how you give, in order to secure the best results—no indiscriminate giving—no pennies in beggars’ hats!… Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around.”

He slips off in what seems like a dream or vision late Christmas Eve, and finds himself as if he had died and was walking with others, each given a mansion according to their works on earth. John Weightman is expecting the largest of all mansions for him, but the “Keeper of the Gate” brings him to a small rundown hut in the middle of a dirt lot, hardly big enough for a shelter. John is shocked and tells the “Keeper of the Gate” that there must be some mistake. This couldn’t be possible from all the charities he created, churches he built, hospitals he started, and schools constructed (all bearing his name of course).

The “Keeper of the Gate” then responded, “There is no mistake…We have used all the material that you sent us…The things you did on earth, were marked and used as foundation for the name and mansion of John Weightman in the world…Were not all these carefully recorded on earth where they would add to your credit…Verily, you have your reward for them… Would you be paid twice?”

John then asks, “They accomplished some good in the world. Does not that count for something?”

“Yes”, answered the Keeper of the Gate, “it counts in the world—where you counted it. But it does not belong to you here.”

“Tell me, then,” he cried, brokenly, “since my life has been so little worth, how came I here at all?”

“Through the mercy of the King”, –the answer was like the soft tolling of a bell.

John then asks, “What could I have done better?”

The Keeper of the Gate answers, “Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself.”

That final quote is what I see in you missionaries as you so diligently invite others to Christ –  Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought”:

“Just after [training] we were out riding along and I felt we needed to stop and talk to somebody and so we did but she was in a hurry so we quickly set up a return appointment for the next day. She called us later the same day we found her and told us they were ready and that her whole family was there and that they wanted that prayer. We realized they were incredibly elect and we switched around our schedule and dropped by and blessed their family. They loved the prayer and they had been taught by the missionaries before in North Florida but had been unable to be baptized because of work. The husband had just recently lost his job for 2 months and finally found a new one where he didn’t have to work on Sundays and they were excited to prepare to be baptized. They as a family entered those precious waters on Sunday and it was such a testimony to me that God loves families.”

I see in you missionaries – “Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward”:

“As we were coming back from Mission Conference last week we saw him outside his house and decided to harvest bless him and his street. It turns out that he moved here… to find a new life here in Miami and wanted to find a church home. He told us that he was trying to figure out a church to go to when we knocked on his door. He told us that he’s done a lot of things that he isn’t proud of in his life and he wanted to be forgiven for his sins and start over. He hasn’t been to church since he was 6 years old! The day before Sunday he shot us a text telling us that he was at the mall buying a new shirt for church on Sunday! On Sunday he showed up to church 10 minutes early and we were so excited to have him there. He loved it! He said that during the service that he felt something that he didn’t know how to describe. Of course we told him that it was the spirit and invited him again to be baptized. He told us after the service that he would continue to come back every week and that he knew that this was God’s church and that he was going to be a part of it!”

I see in you missionaries – Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself”:

“A miracle I want to share with you is as we were walking, I saw this guy … he had kind of been in the area around us where we were teaching …  As we were finished we walked by him and as always oym’ed him. After we had the prayer with him he was crying. He said he noticed us and could tell we were church people. He wanted to walk over to talk to us, but didn’t know what to say. He explained that he has had a rough past and is now wanting to change and come to God for forgiveness. He came to church on Sunday. We taught him after church and had the greatest lesson on the Atonement and receiving forgiveness of our sins. He again was crying but this time our member was in tears with him. Our member put his arm around him and said. ‘I know God will forgive you.’  He said he is ready for baptism and is so excited. President I know this is the Lord’s work and miracles will never cease. God knows his children, those who need and is ready for his gospel most.”

Sister Trainers…December 2013

1477626_10202177526511418_1043235309_n

 

These are the great Sister Training Leaders and the assistants. Front row Sisters Dunford and Daines bookend elders Williams and Free. In the back we have sisters Aloi, Bean, Sablan, Dougal, Johnson, and Clayton. I hope I got all of those correct – we have been away from the mission for 8 months and the memory is not what it use to be.

President Anderson’s Letter – 15 December 2013

Here are the amazing experiences that the president shared in his current letter. I was especially touched by the one where the lady called the missionaries who helped her and mentioned the card they gave with their phone number was in Spanish so it did not help her…showing love does not need words only actions…

“I know God is blessing us as you Share yourself and his blessing as a Representative of our Savior:

“Yesterday as we walked into church, the Branch President handed us a note that was posted on the door from somebody. And here is what the note said. ‘A couple of your followers came to my house and recited a prayer for me. I asked for a little financial assistance from the Lord. This past week I’ve received extra hours at work. I just wanted to thank them for their words. Also to let everyone know that I believe it was their kind prayer and belief in God that gave me the help I needed.’ And I still have that note. And will always keep it. It is just an amazing assurance that God is there. He answers prayers when we pray in faith.”

God truly blesses those we share His love and Gospel with:

“We harvested and as we were harvesting we met this man. He let us in and after the prayer he told us that he had been talking about how he needed to feel closer to God and needed a prayer. That is when we knocked on his door. He accepted baptism and committed to church! God puts people in our paths! Then later that day we were going to follow up with a lady who we had blessed and she said ‘before you start I got to tell you guys. After you left last time I got a phone call with the best news that I have heard in years and I knew it was because of your prayer.’ God truly did answer our prayer on her behalf. He always does! It was amazing to see her so excited about how he had answered the prayer.”

God will trust us to find and bless others in need as we act and do:

“We decided that we would be creators of circumstance for 30 extra minutes we had. We went straight to the map and chose a street to harvest. Speedily, we got into the car and drove to that spot and knocked. A man let us in and asked us to pray for health and work. We said a sincere prayer and boldly testified that Christ had sent us to Him. Thomas accepted baptism right away. The following day he had already asked his boss for the next Sunday off; his boss (who He said never changes the work schedule) gave him Sundays off! His daughter, who has been looking for work, got 2 calls for interviews the day after we prayed for his family. Both Him and Her came to church 20 minutes early on Sunday and exclaimed that they have found the truth. What a miracle, WHAT A LIFE CHANGING MIRACLE! The Lord knows who he wants in His church, and if we had decided to just sit and wait that 30 minutes we probably would have missed out on that miracle.”

God will bless those that we serve:

“The other day we were out harvesting. We passed this woman taking some stuff to the trash. We turned and offered to help. She seemed really startled and said she was fine. We left her with our card and continued on. Thirty minutes later she called us and said, ‘You know, there have been 2 people in my life who have ever offered to help me; some 10 year old kid and you. God must be telling me something by putting you in my path. This card is in Spanish which doesn’t really help me. . . Can you come over and expain a little more?’ We have been teaching hr all week! She came to church and is preparing to be baptized this Sunday!”

President Monson teaches us the importance of “giving, not getting”:

“Our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection of the love and selflessness taught by the Savior. Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. We feel more kindly one to another. We reach out in love to help those less fortunate. Our hearts are softened. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.” (President Thomas S. Monson, December 2013 Christmas Devotional)

A wise friend years ago told me “You give, and give, and give, and give until you have it all; until you are rich,”. I know “rich” in this case is being rich with the blessings of God as we give ourselves unselfishly in this great work we’ve have been called to.

It’s our prayer this Christmas season that we may take the example of the Savior Jesus Christ, and put others first as he told his Disciples in Mathew 25. Give of ourselves to others, until “we are rich”, and then we can become “the richest” person “in town “.

 

President Anderson’s Letter – 08 December 2013

One of the things I look forward to each week is reading President Anderson’s letter to the missionaries. I am especially anxious to read the spiritual experiences from the missionaries that he shares..

You show your faith when you open your mouths invite them to keep commitments:

 “We went to go see a less active/recent convert on Tuesday. He wasn’t home the first time we knocked so we went to Harvest around his home. We were able to meet some amazing people including the first door we knocked, who also is a member that we had been looking for, awesome. We were about to leave the area and head to our next appointment but then we saw a young man down the street. We OYM’d him and it was the less active we had been looking for! He was as happy to see us as we were to see him. As we talked WITH him we were able to gain his trust and he said, ‘Hey, I have a friend that I have been wanting to bring to church with me.’ He went in to get his phone to call his friend and when he came out of his house – his friend that he wanted to introduce us to – walked right up! We were able to have a really powerful lesson with both of them and left them with the Book of Mormon. When we invited him to be baptized he said, ‘I’m going to do everything in my power to be baptized on that day. That’s whats up – I need more faith.’ He came to church on Sunday – he loved it and is preparing to be baptized!”

You show your faith by teaching with power so that those we teach want to change:

“The first awesome blessing we saw this week was from a lady. She came to church last week and loved it. We taught the Word of Wisdom with such power and authority (the spirit.) After the services she suddenly disappeared, we couldn’t find her all of last week. We tried her house, we called her phone, passed by almost every day. It seemed as if Janice had dropped us. Something told us not to drop this daughter of god. Sunday rolled around, and the spirit prompted us to call and see if she was going to come to church. Miraculously she answered the phone. We were informed that after feeling the spirit testify to her of the Word of Wisdom, she checked herself in to a rehab center. She said she didn’t wait, but did it right after church. She had been addicted to drugs all her life and had tried to quit for many years. She had finally given up until she heard the message of hope that we bring. The perfect example of why Jesus Christ came to the earth to suffer was demonstrated to us as we listened to her story of restoration. The power of god is manifest in all our works, and it shines through us as his representatives.”

You show your faith by following the promptings that lead you to those who have prayed for you to find them: 

After… , we found a couple. They never open the door to people because of the things that have happened in the past to them. But they did this night. He was a bit apprehensive, but let us in anyways and asked us a series of questions about why we were there and who we represent. He is a big believer in God. As we spoke to him, he softened up more and more and began to tell us about his experiences. He use to attend the LDS church years ago and liked it a lot. But then apparently came across some anti information. After the prayer, we began to testify and invite… As I listened on, he shared a dream that he’d had a couple weeks prior to our visit about 2 young women that came to his door  and brought the word of God to him. He even dreamt that one of us would be wearing the same color that ny companion was indeed wearing. It was awesome. His wife even testified that he had shared his dream with her when he had it!!”

President Anderson’s Letter – December 1, 2013 – Gratitude

Show gratitude when we experience miracles as we open our mouths:

“We were heading down a busy street when far in a distance we saw this man walking towards us and we were riding towards him and you know that feeling you get. Should I contact him or just go around him, maybe he thinks we’re weird or something. So before we passed him I stopped and talked to him. Well little did I know that he would later come to our thanksgiving dinner at the church, and come to church the next day to witness the sacrament and now has a baptismal date for this next Sunday. I’m [grateful] that we really are led to those that are seeking for his true Gospel.”

Show gratitude when others are led to us to open our mouths:

 “As we were riding our bikes to an appointment, and on the way we passed a couple sitting on a bench. They each had a beer in their hands and didn’t look like the type of contact with the most potential, because of the influence of ‘spirits’. Just as we were about to pass them by the women jumped to her feet and said ‘wait stop, please say a prayer with us!’ So we, like good missionaries stopped and asked her what it was that she would like us to prayer for. She explained that she and her boyfriend were homeless and had nowhere to go. She wanted God’s help. She also explained that some time ago, two sister missionaries had knocked on her door, when she was living at her mother’s home, and had prayed with her and everything in her life had gotten better.  She wanted that same blessing now. So we shared a short but powerful prayer, and invited her to come to church and to be baptized. She accepted without hesitation. Right there we invited her to begin to repent by throwing away her beer, which was about half full. Again without hesitation she literally threw it to the ground. Yesterday they came to church and felt the Spirit, and as we invited them to be baptized after the Sacrament meeting, they both accepted without hesitation.”

Show gratitude in opening our mouths, the miracles will follow:

“I felt inspired to go see a man we had street contacted … he opened the door, and welcomed us right in, his wife and 3 girls had just moved here this week from Venezuela! They are an incredible family, already with light in their eyes. We invited them to church…and they walked there the next day! President, I thought that was the miracle this week. But it didn’t end there. As Sacrament meeting started, 2 people we had street contacted/ OYMd (we have a goal to OYM absolutely EVERYONE after Zone Conference!) that morning before church, walked in at different times. One of them was doing her laundry across the street, and ended up staying for all 3 hours, and the other was an incredible woman we ran after while she was crossing street. We scared her, but she came back to the curb with us and although she was just returning from a night shift she came too. All 3 hours. She had been getting mormon.org messages on her phone, tried to block them, but it didn’t work and they kept coming. Taking it as a sign, she called her kids in Honduras and told them to go to the Mormon Church because she liked their messages. She had stood at our Church doors multiple times and would think ‘and if I went in there?’ Well, she came too… After we gathered all 7 of them by the baptismal font (trying again to implement what you had taught us), taught them about the baptismal covenant, and invited them to be baptized. A couple members saw us and walked up to listen, and I invited them to share their testimonies of baptism. The spirit was immense and they all accepted baptism!”

Sand Pits Surrounded by Water

I just read this experience on one of the FFL missionary’s blog and felt a need to share it..I think of all the people in the world who at this time are struggling due to natural and man-made disasters that have made their lives seem like God has forsaken them and hope they will endure and push through to the other side of the sand pit and water they are now experiencing.

“One huge miracle that we saw that I wanted to share with you happened Sunday after church. We took a back road to try and get in contact with a part-member family that fell off the map. But it has been raining an incredible amount and as we were biking we soon realized that we were in a sand pit and basically surrounded with water. So we had to endure and push through it to get to the other side. Eventually we did and made it to the part-member family and they were home! We had an amazing lesson and set the members two sons to be baptized on the 8th! Huge miracle. This is often times what happens in our individual lives, we go through a rough patch, or in our case a sand pit surrounded by water, but as we ENDURE then miracles from God will come!”