Mountains to move…..

Missionary work is so much more than just going out and knocking on doors all day long. Surprising right?

When you think about missionaries you think about the two guys in white shirts and ties that ride bikes and knock on doors all day long. You NEVER think about two hours of studies in the morning. You don’t think about nightly planning sessions, you don’t think about the time spent planning lessons and planning out things weeks in advance. And you definitely do not think about all the meetings. Even members are shocked and surprised when we mention that we have meetings to attend, weekly, monthly and quarterly.

Now, what is the purpose of all these meetings? We learn so much from one another, that a good part of these meetings involve missionaries teaching one another, to help us become better missionaries and better teachers ourselves.

Sometimes the “trainings” (that is what it is called when a missionary teaches everyone at these meetings), are ones that have a profound impact on you, it really hits you, so much so that you want to share it with everyone.

Today we had one of those monthly meetings. It is called zone meeting. Now, the missions are very well organized (after all, the house of God is a house of order). There is the mission as a whole and the mission is then divided into smaller sections called zones. Our zone, Jax West, has about 19 sets of missionaries, which are further divided into 3, smaller, districts.

The very last training given was by one of our Zone Leaders. It was very short, as we only had about 5 minutes left, but it was the one that for me personally was the most powerful.

The training started out with a scripture, Mark 11:23:

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Now, we may not ever need to remove physical mountains, but there are figurative, spiritual mountains which we ALL need to remove. Things like pride, selfishness, fear, doubt, laziness, these are characteristics which are all very natural and human, but they are things that keep us from being like Christ.

Christ, who is our advocate with the Father, wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to give up those human tendencies, to forsake those qualities and replace them with things like: humility, selflessness, confidence, faith, and charity (to just name a few). Christ wants us to live up to our divine potential as children of God. We have infinite potential, and infinite worth. We are the offspring of deity and as such have the capabilities of becoming like our divine parents. But to do that, we need to give up those things that are not divine, we need to conquer those mountains, and the way to do that is through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is our elder brother, he is the Son of God, the perfect example. We should strive to be like him and live as he did. It is through him that we are saved and are able to attain eternal life and exaltation. To follow Him, to truly be able to say that we know him and follow him and love him, we need to develop our own relationship with him

How can we do that? Well, we have the scriptures. We are able to read about Christ in the Old and New Testament and in the Book of Mormon. As we study the scriptures we learn of Christ, his teachings, his character and come to be able to know who he is and the role he plays in our life.

Next, we need to pray. We pray to our Father in Heaven in Christ’s name, aligning our will to God’s. Talking with God as we would a friend, confiding and counseling with him. We need to make God a part of our lives.

Then, we need humility, we need to admit and recognize the need for changes to be made

and finally we need to Ask for the help and strength to make the changes necessary to align our will with God, to come closer to Christ and gain a vision of what the Lord has in store for us.

Ultimately, as we do all of these things we will gain one of the most important yet priceless things: a relationship with Jesus Christ

As we develop and strengthen that relationship we will find the faith to move those mountains, the things that we struggle with, we will be able to over come, but only through and with Christ are we able to do so.

Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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Christ wants a relationship with us. He is knocking, will we allow him into our hearts?

See how we all can Follow Christ 🙂

Fear not what man can do….

When Joseph Smith was at his lowest point, after he had been betrayed by his closest friends and was imprisoned in Liberty Jail, he cried out to our Heavenly Father “O God, where art thou?”

In the depths of his anguish, feeling so alone and deserted, he turned to the one whom he knew he could always rely on. The Lord. In response to his cries, the Lord comforted Joseph and told him the following:

 “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes…..And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good….” (Doctrine and Covenants 121: 6-7, 122:7)

All the trials and struggles we face are for our good. God would never ask us to do something we could not handle. No matter what it is, we should always take comfort in knowing that we are being formed and shaped into the person that God knows we can become.

Even when everything seems to be going wrong, or when it seems like Satan won’t leave us alone, it all actually is fitting in with God’s plan. God is the master planner, and nothing Satan tries to do will ever frustrate His plans.

We may not be able to see the end from the beginning; we may not know all the answers or all the surprises life has in store for us, but we can take comfort in knowing that there is one who does. Heavenly Father is at the helm, and will not lead us astray. We are the ones who turn from him to go our own way.

I know from my own experience that fighting against God is futile. I fought against serving a mission for 7 years. Now I can see that while I thought I was doing what I wanted, and that I was fighting God, in reality I was doing what God needed me to do. I was becoming the person he needed me to be so that when I came out on my mission I could become the missionary he needs me to be.

At the time my will was not in alignment with God’s will. But, when I finally gave my will to God, things may not have been easier, if anything, when you align your will with God’s, life becomes harder, because Satan recognizes the progress you are making and the potential that you are realizing and he does not like it or want you to progress, but as I gave my will to God things did become better, I can tell the difference in my life. As I gave my will to God, I became closer to Him and to my Savior. Now, life isn’t perfect, and there are times when I still try to take my will back from God, but I do my best to put my faith in the Lord and his timetable and allow Him to shape me into whomever he needs me to be.

” Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:9)

Hold strong. Trust in the Lord. Give your will to Him. Life may not be easier, but I know that as we do so, we will feel of Heavenly Father’s love more abundantly and will see His hand guiding us more readily.

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We are never alone…..

Life has its ups and downs; its twists and its turns. It wouldn’t be life otherwise. There are dark days and there are brighter days. Yet even at the darkest, lowest point of our lives, we are never alone.

We all have felt it. We have felt lost, forgotten, neglected, unloved, as if no one can hear us or see us. But, all too often we forget, that there is always someone there who understands, who sees us, who has not and never will forget us; there is one whose love is infinite and eternal. Who is he? He is Jesus the Christ, our Lord, our Redeemer, our Saviour, our elder brother. 

Christ lived a perfect life. He did nothing wrong. Yet, he was beaten, bruised, and ultimately killed. Not once did he complain. Why? Why would he do it? What was the point of all that pain and anguish he suffered? 

He did it for US! He went through so much, because he chose to. He chose to be the sacrifice so we do not have to suffer as he did. In our anguish, in our despair, Christ is the one to whom we should turn. He went through it all, and now he can comfort us and help to strengthen us through those trials.

When you feel alone, drop to your knees in prayer. Ask for the comfort of the Saviour and His strength, the power to continue on. Many times have I done this throughout my life and have felt my Saviour’s love. I have felt his arms wrap around me. He extends his hand to me, to lift me up and to lead me back to the presence of my Heavenly Father. 

This hand is extended to all of you. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

 

Check out this video, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, teaches us why Christ went through all that He did

http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?im=true&v=911129090001

 

Reflections on the past….

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and my wonderful companion has taken great delight in reminding me that I am “old” now (as if 22 is super old). i guess that every year around this time I begin thinking about the past year and my life in general, and this past year has been full of changes.

Aside from just thinking about the past year, I have done some serious reflecting on the past and all the things that have led up to this point in my life. As I go down memory lane, it keeps coming back to a few important things….family…..friends….the Book of Mormon….Heavenly Father….and above all, my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

As a small child my parents tried to have family scripture study with my three older siblings and I. I can remember that Book of Mormon we would read. It was large print and was hardcover, so as a child (I am pretty short and have always been small) it was around half my size. Now, I can’t remember this part but my mother would tell me that when I was two and three before we would have family prayers at night we would be gathered in a circle and I would go over to the piano bench, open it and pull out the Book of Mormon and take it to my parents. This, I am told was something that would happen nightly…..

I can remember being a little older and going panning for gold with my family and with my aunt, uncle, cousins and grandparents…..they had actually collected a good amount of gold flakes when I dumped the pan back in the river (no one was very happy with me, alebit I was only 4-ish)……

A year later having a part in the primary program and singing my heart out…..

Being baptized at the age of 8 and having my family all around me

My baby sister was born a few months later and I remember coming home and waiting to go with my grandparents to the hospital to go see her

Being in primary and being told to stop answering all the questions, to let someone else answer….this led to a period of silence, where I would avoid talking and avoid saying anything in class…..

Going to girls camp when I was 12 with one of my best friends……

Then come the teenage years, which for me was a time of rebellion and a time of a downward spiral, times of darkness that honestly, I am not too fond of remembering. I avoid thinking about that time, because I am not proud of the person I was and the things I did. I can remember trying to get out of that pit of blackness, and falling back into it. I had parents and siblings who loved me (although I did not believe it at the time) and I would not talk to them, instead I felt like I was suffering and struggling alone…..

At a very low point, where I was on the verge of making some serious mistakes and going down a path that would be difficult to come back from, I was in my room feeling alone, forgotten, lost, unloved, questioning everything, doubting God and the things I had been raised to believe. At this point, I opened my scriptures (specifically the Book of Mormon), voluntarily, for the first time in years. As I read, I felt arms come around me and hold me as I began to cry, the tears just began pouring down my face. In three verses I knew that there is a God, who is my Heavenly Father who loves me and is aware of me. He knows me and knows just what I need. Because of the Book of Mormon, I came to know that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God and that He truly suffered for my sins and weaknesses and pains; It was his arms I was feeling around me, because he had already gone through the things I was feeling. I came to a realization that he lived my life and truly could understand what I was feeling. The things I was doing, he had felt, he bore the weight of my actions.

I can remember realizing that and realizing that things needed to change, I needed to change. At this time I may not have consciously known that the Book of Mormon was true, but I knew there was power in it and that through it God spoke to me. I changed that night. I gave up friends I had had for years. during my senior year of high school I was a lot lonelier than I had been before, but I now had goals in life, I had a vision of what I was going to do….

I spent a lot of time on my knees in prayer, a lot of time in my scriptures studying and thinking….and it took a while until finally one day I was praying and the thought came “Sister Elliott, you already know this to be true, you always have, you just didn’t realize it”. It wasn’t some crazy, unbelievable experience, it was simple and came over time, but the fact is that it came. I finally came to a knowledge for myself that the Book of Mormon is true, that the fulness of the Gospel has been restored, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God……all these things I had been taught from infancy were true, I knew it in my mind and in my heart but that was not enough.

As a senior I applied to go to BYU, part of that application process is an interview with your bishop and then stake president. I can remember sitting across from my stake president and actually saying the words out loud, that I had a testimony of the truth. Hearing those words come out of my mouth, hearing myself say them, even though I already knew them to be true, solidified that testimony in my heart.

I went to BYU for three years and absolutely loved it! I was happier there than I had ever been. I had friends who cared about me and who I could trust. I met some of my best friends there, and no matter where life takes us all, they will always be my best friends. I studied Arabic, and spent a semester in Jordan with some of the most amazing people I have met….but, I again found myself on my knees in prayer asking for guidance, that prayer and the subsquent answer led me to where I am now, serving a mission, sharing the things I know are true with those I come in contact with……

Life is a journey, and takes us through all sorts of unexpected things, to unexpected places, however we are never alone and we do not have to try to navigate life alone. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what shows us the way and helps us to get through all those twists and turns and road blocks that life throws at us. The Book of Mormon serves to help give us direction, to point us the right way. Find it. Read it. Live it. Love it.