Monday, December 30, 2013
Patience is my Middle Name
Whoa. What a Christmas to remember. I can't believe how emotional I got at the end of that phone call. Words cannot describe how awesome it was to be able to speak with all of you.
Hurrah for another transfer here in Smyrna! I love it here. I really do. The ward is catching fire here. If we take it up a couple more notches as a "tripanionship," some incredible things are going to start happening. I'm antsy about the month of January. We're at about 210 degrees... Just 2 more and we'll start boiling here.
We got the call today that we are all staying here in Smyrna. I'm not sure how to accurately express my feelings on Brazil, haha. I remember back to July while I was still in the MTC that I told myself that I would have a Brazilian accent when I talked to y'all on Christmas. Instead, I've just been picking up "southern." It's definitely been a journey here in Georgia. Being a "Visa Worker" is a little bit weird because there's no telling when you're going to get the call that your visa's in. I'm being patient though. I know The Lord still has some work for me to do. It's been a huge blessing as I explained at the beginning of our conversation on Christmas. I'm starting to learn what it means to be "Willing to Submit." And as I strive to "please the Father," I'm learning more about The Son. My testimony of the Savior has sky rocketed. It's incredible to be on His errand.
So I've been thinking a little bit about WHY (gotta love the "why" questions) missionary work makes people so happy. I started to think about what happiness really is and the happiest moments that I've had in my life.
For me, the happiest time of my life (if I were to limit it to a specific memory) would be when I went to the temple for the first time. More specifically, it was when I entered the Celestial Room and the first person I saw was mom. As I entered, I saw her with her arms out smiling. After giving her a hug and then turning around to meet dad right there in front of me, an indescribable feeling came over me. I then saw Ashley and Dustin walking over, then Grandma and Grandpa McFerson. They were all beginning to walk toward that same spot in the back corner where I first met mom. I looked at Ashley who smiled and then gave me a hug. I continued around the family giving everyone a hug (I may have even gave some non-family members hugs.) I was so happy. Why did I feel that way? Why was I so happy?
I read a scripture in D&C 101 that stuck out to me. "... for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full." The first part of that kept me thinking all day. "My joy is not full, nor can it be in this world."
Alma 41:10 says that "Wickedness never was happiness." Because joy (at least to me) is "never-ending happiness," wickedness therefore will never bring joy. What causes "wickedness?" Satan. And Satan is the father of everything low, vicious, cheap, cruel, etc. Anytime we fail to follow Jesus Christ causes us to "sin," which will always lead us to unhappiness (and certainly never joy). Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that sin will always lead to unhappiness.
The happiest times in our life will always be because we followed Jesus Christ. It will be when we are cleansed of sin. Why was the temple the happiest time in my life? Because I was in the temple, and in order to be in the temple, you must be clean. Why was the second happiest time in my life back when I received a witness that The Book of Mormon was true? Because I received and felt the Spirit in an amplified, intense manner. The Holy Ghost cleanses, and I was free from sin.
Why does missionary work make someone so happy then? Elder M. Russell Ballard says, "Because living the gospel is essential to receiving a remission of sins, and because giving missionary service is essential to living the gospel... Missionary experiences can bring to every member of the Church the calm reassurance that his sins are in very deed being forgiven."
Pretty interesting, huh? President Hinkley said that as we do missionary work, The Lord is more willing to forgive us of our sins. It makes sense. Even though we are guilty of so many sins, as we invite others to cleanse their sins, ours in a very real sense are forgiven.
So, how can we be happy? Receive a remission of sins! Be baptized and confirmed by His restored Priesthood authority! Take the Sacrament worthily! Be a missionary! True happiness, and eventually Joy, will come as we stand face-to-face with the Savior and receive His mercy at the day of Judgement.
I guess that's why I'm so happy. Despite all of my shortcomings and frustrations as a missionary, I'm so happy because I'm helping others receive lasting peace in this life through a remission of sins. It's what it's all about baby!
This may explain it a little bit better. I love this. It comes from Elder Corbidge's talk in 2008 titled "The Way."
"The Destination" - The greatest of all the gifts of God is eternal life. In this life, the greatest and most important blessing is the gift of the Holy Ghost. Every good thing depends on getting and keeping the power of the Holy Ghost in your life. God's destination for me and my awesome family is to receive these amazing gifts!
"The Problem" - Sin. In the course of life we all make mistakes; we do not keep all of God's commandments; we sin. Our sins make us unworthy to either return to God's presence after this life or to have His presence, or power, that is the companionship of the Holy Ghost, while in this life. ("Spiritual Death")
"The Solution" - Then Christ came. He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He suffered the full penalty of our wrongs that we not suffer. Because of His atonement we may be forgioven of our sins, made clean and whole; we may begin again, that we may be endowed with His power, if we will only have faith in Him, repent, receive the ordinances of baptism, the sacrament and the temple, and then stay on course.
"The GLORIOUS News" - The authority to baptize, administer the sacrament and the ordinances of the temple was lost from the earth after the crucifixion of the Savior. This priesthood authority has been restored again in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And the best part... You can know this is true by reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know for yourself if it is true. Love it!
What does this mean? ... We can be forgiven of all sin and receive the power of God in our life! We can be made clean, totally forgiven of all that has transpired in life. Everything depends on this. So, get on the path and endure to the end because it's the only thing that makes sense! In John 15 The Lord uses some awesome language. I love this imagery. I remember Karli once talking about the word "abide." I never took much thought in to it until now. Check out how awesome some of these verses are.
"I am the true vine... abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples... if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love... that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
This plan is simple. Get on the path and never give up. Abide on the path and invite others to do the same. EVERY good thing depeneds on it. God's greatest gifts ("The Destination") is for everyone - forever, only through His true church.
Continue to be awesome missionaries. I love you all so much. Being away from you and thinking about all of our Christmas traditions was pretty tough, but hey, we've got eternity for that. I'll just spend this year and next trying to invite more of the family to join the party - "Christmas Eve Amazing Race" and the "Christmas run down the hallway" would be pretty awesome with some of these investigators.
Gotta love the Gospel! It's true. It's so true.
I love you,