Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pressing Forward

With the new year approaching we are all reflecting on how we spent 2014. It's strange to look back and see that I spent the entirety of this year on my mission! For this whole year I stayed in a geographical area of less than 20 square miles (and that's just me guesstimating big).

Watch this Mormon Message about New Years, it's one of my favorites!

Too cute, right? But also such an important thing to remember this time of year. As we reflect on the past year, we should be learning from the past, not dwelling on it. We should look forward, knowing that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that maybe some new trials will come with 2015, but so will new opportunities. 

As we make our mandatory resolutions like losing weight or accomplishing some worldly achievement, let's remember what a great opportunity resolutions can be to better ourselves spiritually. So for 2015, my big resolution is to remain a missionary even after I go home from my full-time mission. I'll only be able to spend 3 months of the coming year with an official name tag pinned on my shirt, but I can spend all 12 with that same name tag painted on my heart.

I challenge everyone who reads this to make a goal to better themselves spiritually somehow. Make a goal specific to your needs and your strengths and weaknesses. I know that as we take this special opportunity to show Heavenly Father that we are ready to take big or little steps toward Him that we will be blessed. He will help us as we strive to do our best and overcome our weaknesses.

Another New Year's resolution? Get to this place as often as possible!
President Thomas S. Monson gave this counsel for eternal joy and I think it applies perfectly to making this new year the best one yet!
"Gaze upward
Look inward
Reach outward and 
Press forward."

Have a wonderful, safe, fulfilling New Year!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" And why is that? It's not the presents, the trees, the lights, or even the halls decked with boughs of holly. This is the most wonderful time of the year because it's the time of year we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ through so many amazing traditions!

As I have come to know Christ as my personal Savior, Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning for me. In the last few Christmases I have come to more fully appreciate the gift I was personally given when Christ was born.

Taken just a few minutes to watch this video and check out the Christmas website the Church came out with this year!

Through sincere prayer and scripture study we can discover what Christ has given us. As we come to know Him better we will be compelled to follow His teachings more fully.

Living the teachings of Christ isn't always easy, but as we embrace whole-hearted obedience to His commandments we are blessed and uplifted.

What better time than Christmas time to share the miraculous gift that you yourself have discovered and embraced? Share the above link with someone you love or invite them to watch the He is the Gift video. As we share Christ we have nothing to lose but so much to gain.

I testify that because of the very first Christmas gift, we can all be saved. Through His love and sacrifice we can be cleansed from sin and made worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

Friday, November 28, 2014

14 Months and 14 Things I'm Grateful For

14 months ago I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah! It's so strange to think I've been a missionary for that long!

With my 14 month mark came a special day! Thanksgiving! A nationally loved holiday filled with family, fun, and turkey! I love this beautiful holiday season we've been given to ponder on what really matters in life.

And Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a list of things we are grateful for!!

So, on my 14 month mark I'm going to give you 14 things I'm grateful for!

1. First and foremost, my family.
I don't know where I would be without this wonderful family I've been blessed with. Within this family unit I have learned the gospel, learned how to be a grown up, and learned how important it is to have these relationships for eternity.

2. My mission experience.
The past 14 months have consisted of so many experiences. A few of the adjectives I would use to describe my mission would be: happy, challenging, eye opening, exhausting, awkward, beautiful, hilarious, fun, and all together an experience that has prepared me for real life more than anything else I've ever done!

3. My companions.
These sisters have had the privilege of being around me for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for at least 6 weeks, sometimes more. I am so grateful for mission companions, they have supported me through my hardest times and rejoiced with me through the best of times.

4. The scriptures.
There is no satisfactory substitute for the peace I feel when I read from the Book of Mormon and the Bible. These books are the word of God. I can't imagine my life without the direction they provide.

5. My dog.
Make fun of me all you want, she's my best friend!

6. The people of Mesa.
I thank the Lord every single day that I was called on my mission to Mesa, Arizona. The people here have taught me much more than I've taught them! I've met and grown to love so many families and people that I want to be like when I grow up!

7. My mission family.
The Arizona Mesa Mission is most definitely a family. We're a tight knit family.

8. The power of prayer.
The personal strength that results from prayer is so powerful. Every single person on the Earth should have this in their life. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to kneel in prayer every day and receive help and guidance from a loving Heavenly Father.

9. Food.
Really though.

10. Sunshine and the Arizona desert.
It's the simple things in life.

11. Random acts of kindness.
Being on either the sending or receiving end of any act of service is a wonderful experience! Helping others and being helped brings out the best in everyone.

12. The holiday season.
During this time of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the beginning of a new year, people's hearts are softened and open to the peace the gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

13. My mission president and his wife.
Now that I've met these two people I can honestly say I've met two angels on Earth.

14. Last, but far from least, Jesus Christ.
Without the life and the love Jesus Christ offers me I would not the person I am today.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A New Name, The Same Game

A new look, a new title, but all the same good qualities and uplifting posts. You can now find us at smallandsimplethingsalma376.blogspot.com.

I've been pondering a new blog title for a long time and it was truly revelation that led me to the Book of Mormon to find this verse:

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."
Alma 37:6

I'm not changing the world through this blog. I'm probably lucky if one person reads it. But I know that it is through my small and simple efforts that I can do my part in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.

So what are YOUR small and simple things?

What do you do to make this world a little bit better? As we work together as a human family, we can bring great things to pass. A smile to a stranger on the street, a text to a friend in need, sharing what has brought you happiness, everything we do will affect someone. You have the power to make or break someone's day, make the choice NOW to make as many people's days as you can! And always ask yourself the question: what would Jesus do? I promise it works. Every time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Approaching The Throne Of God With Confidence

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference a few weekends ago! I always love being uplifted and taught by prophets of God! Today, I want to share one of my very favorite talks from this past General Conference.

Elder Jörg Klebingat of the Seventy gave a talk titled Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence. He started his address with these two questions; on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God? and what thoughts would come to mind if you had a personal interview with your Savior one minute from now? Immediately this caught my attention! What would I do if I was to meet my Savior today? Would I be confident in answering His questions or would I think back on all the things I may have done wrong in this life?

Sure, there are probably some people in the world that can honestly say they would be perfectly confident in meeting God today, but I think a majority of the world would be at least a little nervous about it! I know I would be! And I know that's a sign that I need to improve my spiritual confidence!

While Satan will do all he can to destroy our spiritual confidence, it is 100% our choice to act and change to build that confidence! Elder Klebingat gave six suggestions on how we can improve our spiritual confidence. Remember, these suggestions will only work if you take the initiative and act for yourself.

First, take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being.
Take control! It's your spirit! Don't let the mistakes or decisions of others control how spiritually confident you are or are not. 2 Nephi 2:27 says "men are free according to the flesh... they are free to choose liberty and eternal life...or to choose captivity and death..." Only YOU can make this choice for yourself! Don't blame others or rely on others.
"Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily."

Second, take responsibility for your own physical well-being.
I'm telling you guys, this is a big deal! I know that when I've been in peak physical condition I've also been in peak spiritual condition. When I slack and don't take care of my body I can feel my spiritual "fitness" weakening as well. Taking control of the "natural man (or woman)" inside of us and controlling our appetites shows that our spirits are stronger than our bodies.
"Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman."

Third, embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life.
John 14:15 states: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." It's as simple as that. We cannot expect to receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for us if we are not abiding by all His rules. On a mission, the concept of exact obedience is pounded pretty hard into your head. And for good reason! I have felt the blessings that come when I consciously make the effort to be as exactly obedient as I can be.
"Spiritual confidence increases when you are truly striving, for the right reasons, to live a consecrated life in spite of your imperfections." 

Fourth, become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly.
I've found in my own life that if I like doing something I'm a lot more likely to do it over and over again. I've come to LOVE repenting! That's why I enjoy doing it every single day! Not a day goes by where I don't make at least one little mistake (a shocker, I know) so I try to never let a day go by without seeking forgiveness from my Heavenly Father. As I try to keep myself as "unspotted from the world" (D&C 59:9as possible I can feel my relationships with Christ and God growing stronger and closer.
"Spiritual confidence increases when you voluntarily and joyfully repent of sins, both small and great, in real time by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

Fifth, become really, really good at forgiving.
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:10) The commandment applies to all of us. When we forgive everyone it is so much easier to feel the forgiveness we need from our Heavenly Father.
"Spiritual confidence increases when you know that the Lord knows that you bear no ill feelings toward another soul."

Lastly, accept trials, setbacks, and "surprises" as part of your mortal experience.
I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: this world is very, very far from perfect. Sometimes things don't go completely as planned. And that is totally and completely okay. We are on this earth to be tested and tried. If our purpose is to go through trials and find joy through overcoming them, then why not rejoice when a trial comes our way? Sure, it's going to be hard, but it's an opportunity to prove that you can do hard things and remain faithful! Don't be freaked out by the fact that you have a few weaknesses. If we didn't have weaknesses this life would hardly matter. Use those weaknesses to improve and progress.
"Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that 'often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into your life because of what you are doing right'"

Everyone reading this, whether you are a bishop, a new convert to the church, an average Relief Society member, or someone who doesn't know much about religion at all, everyone can increase their spiritual confidence. I know that through all of these suggestions Elder Klebingat gave us we can become confident in the sight of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I invite everyone to evaluate your confidence before God and act accordingly.

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

We Are His Greatest Creation

Today I want to talk about something really important to me! Our bodies! I know, it may not seem like a very spiritual thing at first, but I promise it is!

The whole reason we came to this Earth was to receive a body. We needed to become more like our Heavenly Father so we can someday experience the same blessings that He does. As His spirit children we lived with Him but we couldn't live exactly like Him.

In a general conference talk, President Boyd K. Packer said "Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit."

A temple is a place for Heavenly Father's spirit to reside on Earth. Our bodies are instruments for us to house our own spirits. We are literally temples! Depending on who is reading this, you may or may not know how much time/effort/talent is put into making temples perfect (not to mention the cost)! It's A LOT! It takes years from the time a temple is announced to be built in an area to the time it's actually usable!

Temples take maintenance and care, so do our bodies! Temples are an expression of God's love, so are our bodies! Seeing a pattern?

The following Mormon Message is one of my favorites because it helps me put into perspective how grateful I should be for a healthy working body. Enjoy!

When I think about how I was created in God's image (See Genesis 1:27) I can appreciate my body and all of it's strengths and flaws so much more.

Think about it for a second! You are a replica of the Creator of the universe. Maybe your body has a few flaws. Maybe it has a lot of flaws. Maybe it just flat out doesn't work quite right. But no matter how poor or perfect are bodies are, they are a divine and essential gift from the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Sometimes I have to just stop and marvel at the awesome things are bodies can do!

Now believe me, I know exactly what it's like to be told "you are a child of God, be grateful for your body" and still thinking "well He could have given me a better one." These beautiful bodies we have been given are so important, and Satan knows that. He attacks them in every single way possible. Think about the epidemic of eating disorders and self hatred that sweeps the world. Satan is doing everything in his power to stop God's children from appreciating and taking care of what we came to Earth to receive.
In the General Women's Meeting, Dieter F Uchtdorf gave this address:

"Yes, God loves you this very day and always. He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer.
Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? ... Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?
He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become."

Sue never let her physical limitations hold her back from following Christ!
I testify that this is true. Your Heavenly Father loves you, He blessed you with the body you have, He expects you to take care of it to the best of your ability, and most of all He gave you your body and all of the trials you experience in this life so you can someday live with Him again.

Friday, October 3, 2014

General Conference

Tomorrow (October 4th, 2014) marks the beginning of the 184th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!

Let me tell you why this is just so exciting!

General Conference only happens twice a year. Twice a year we get to hear directly from the prophet of the Lord. If getting to hear from the prophet doesn't sound exciting then I don't know what does!

This is the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his two counselors, Henry B. Eyering and Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

The men (and women!) we get to hear from this weekend are truly called of God. They are called to lead this church and teach us the gospel. Through the prophet and apostles we can learn God's will for us. They receive direct revelation from Heavenly Father about what this world needs.

General Conference is one of the only times we get messages from so many general authorities and auxiliary leaders in the church! So, come, join with us! Partake of the abundant feast of the good word of God, straight from the mouth of His prophet!

Anyone in the world can watch General Conference at lds.org or byutv.org. In Mesa, AZ it can be watched on Cox 114 or Direct TV 374. Anyone who has BYU TV can also watch it on TV.

In Mesa the morning sessions start at 9am and the afternoon sessions start at 1 pm both Saturday and Sunday. For the men the priesthood session starts at 5pm on Saturday evening.
In Idaho and Utah all the sessions are one hour ahead!

I know, without a doubt, that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today. He is called of God and holds His authority. I can promise that as you listen to his words and the words of all the other leaders, God will answer your questions and teach you His will for you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hope Of God's Light

Today's post is for those who may not know that they have a loving Heavenly Father taking care of them. Watch this true story of a man who came to know that life is so much more when you know your identity as a child of God.

To anyone out there who may be questioning whether God is real or if He cares, I testify with all my heart that He is there. He loves you and He needs you. I have felt His love and it is the sweetest feeling in the world. I can promise you that sincere prayers are answered.

Just like Todd Sylvester's prayer was answered, I know that all my prayers can be answered and so can yours!

"And through the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things."
Moroni 10:5

When any prayer is answered, it's through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know I've written about the Holy Ghost before, but I'll do a quick review! The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, meaning he doesn't have a body. The Holy Ghost's role is to be our helper in this life. He comforts us, teaches us, guides us, warns us, he even helps Heavenly Father answer prayers!

After saying a prayer or reading scriptures or doing anything of importance, have you ever felt a warm fuzzy feeling? That's the Holy Ghost! Those warm fuzzies are how prayers are sometimes answered! We know that for Todd his prayer was answered while a prayer was being said, he felt good and he felt accepted. Through the feelings that the Holy Ghost gave him he knew that God was real and that God loved him.

I can't emphasize enough how much God loves each and every one of His children and wants to answer our prayers. Sometimes He takes awhile to let those answers show because we need to be ready for them, but the answer always comes at just the right moment.

I invite everyone who reads this, whether you believe in God or not, to kneel in prayer and ask God if He is there. I can promise you that through the Holy Ghost you will feel His presence. I can't promise it will be right away, but it will be right when you need to feel His love most.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Part 6: Enduring To The End

Congratulations! You've officially made it to the end of this blog series. As I've had the opportunity to write about the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have strengthened my own testimony and come to know how important this gospel is to everyone on the earth!

"And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

Even though baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost are one time things, we never stop progressing and learning. We can continually build our faith, we should continually repent of sins (spoiler alert, you'll continue to make mistakes even after you're baptized!), and we continually work to keep the covenants we have made.

Enduring to the end can be the hardest step in following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It requires patience! Watch this Mormon Message on patience and think about why enduring to the end in the gospel requires us to be patient with ourselves as well as others.

Too cute, right?! I already have the first marshmallow, I've made covenants with my Heavenly Father and I am extremely blessed. But I know that if I am patient and live like I should I will be blessed yet again with that second marshmallow, eternal life!

"And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God."
D&C 14:7

I know that by making the gospel a pattern of living you can draw closer to God. You can continue to progress and grow in the gospel your entire life. If we endure to the end we will be rewarded and be able to live with our Heavenly Father again someday.

I invite everyone who reads this to think about the ways you can improve how you endure to the end. Whether that be working on patience, keeping an eternal perspective, or looking ahead to future blessings.

I know that following the gospel of Jesus Christ brings happiness.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Part 5: The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Welcome back! I bet you thought you were done with this blog series after learning about baptism! Absolutely not! In fact, baptism is only half complete after you come up out of the water.

Watch this cute video and listen to a prophet of God speak about the gift we receive after baptism and how it blessed and continues to bless his life.

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism-- yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel."

After a person is baptized, one or more authorized priesthood holders place their hands on the person's head and confirm them a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and give them the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Anyone and everyone can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, whether baptized or not, but it is only after baptism that one can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we receive that gift we have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Through the power of the Holy Ghost, Katie came to know that the Book of Mormon is true and decided to be baptized! Doesn't she just glow with the Holy Ghost?!

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead and he plays many roles. Especially when we have the gift of the Holy Ghost he can comfort us, guide us, warn us of danger, testify of truth, teach us, remind us of things we may have forgotten. You can see why it's such an advantage to have him around!

After we are baptized, one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to sanctify us from sin. I guess you could say the baptism by water is like rinsing the dishes off with water, and the Holy Ghost is like scrubbing them with dish soap! Christ really wants this blessing for us! He said "come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day." 3 Nephi 27:20

As missionaries we always need to have the Holy Ghost with us. We can't expect people to just believe everything we say just because we say it! As Nephi taught in the Book of Mormon; "when a man (or woman!) speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." 2 Nephi 33:1

I can promise you that through the Holy Ghost you can come to know truths. You can come to know if the Book of Mormon is true, if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if Christ is your Savior.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I invite everyone who reads this to take a question that you have to your Heavenly Father. Ask in sincerity, with faith that you will be answered, and I can promise that through the Holy Ghost you will receive that answer.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Part 4: Baptism

Welcome back to your favorite blog! As you've built your faith and learned how to repent (follow the links to past blog posts!) you've been preparing to make your very first covenant with your Heavenly Father! Baptism! And if you've already been baptized, don't worry, this blog post is for you too!

And don't worry, I haven't forgotten a video! It just comes later in the post! In the mean time, enjoy this picture from when Sarah made her first covenant with her Heavenly Father.

A covenant is a two way promise that we make with our Heavenly Father. We promise Him that we will do certain things and He promises us certain blessings in return. An ordinance is a ceremony or physical action that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God. So when we are baptized it's an ordinance that we perform and covenants are made!

God has always required His children to make covenants. He wants to bless us at every opportunity and when we keep the covenants we make we are blessed! God is the one who sets the terms for the covenant and we can choose to either accept or reject the terms. Keeping covenants not only blesses us in this life but brings salvation in the next life!

So what exactly are we promising and being promised when we are baptized? We promise three specific things! 1. To take upon ourselves the name of Christ 2. To always remember Him and 3. to keep His commandments. Seems easy enough right? We are promising to live our lives like Christ lived His to the best of our ability. We aren't expected to be perfect all the time (what would the point of this life be if we could be perfect on the first try?) but we are expected to do our very best.

In return we are promised that if we hold up our end of the bargain we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and receive a remission of our sins.

As missionaries, when we invite someone to be baptized we invite them to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the authority of God. So if we are following Christ when we are baptized we should be baptized in the same way as Christ, right?

Enjoy this video and we'll go from there!

Baptism by immersion (meaning your whole body goes under water, just like when Christ was baptized!) is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. Similarly, it represents the end of our old life and the beginning of our new life as a disciple of Christ!

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are baptized by the same authority that Christ held while He was on the earth. That's a very important part of following Christ's example.

For those of you who have already been baptized, don't fret! We won't give up on you just because you've made mistakes since your baptism! Perfection isn't expected, effort is. We can continually go through the process of building our faith and repenting. Look out for future posts where I'll write about how we can renew the covenants we have already made!

The blessings of baptism are available to everyone!

I know that as we follow the example of Jesus Christ in every way we will be blessed. As we strive to make and keep essential covenants we will progress in the gospel and be ready to live with our Heavenly Father again someday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Part 3: Repentance

We'll start part 3 with one my very favorite Mormon Messages today! Enjoy!

Too cute, right?! But not only is this video mega adorable, it's also a really great message! When we came to this earth we were so shiny and clean and ready to ride around the block! Unfortunately we're human so we have made some mistakes in our lives. And we'll keep making mistakes. Though the results of our sins may not always be as visible as bright red paint, they're still there and they cause feelings of guilt and shame.

It takes time and hard work, but those feelings can be 100% washed away!

The second principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, after faith, is repentance. Our faith in Christ will motivate us to act, that action is repentance. "Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world." (PMG, ch. 3)

Repentance is changing our thoughts, beliefs, actions, or behaviors to become more in line with God's will. It is only through repentance that we can become clean from sin and become worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again someday.

"And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins."
Alma 11:37

Repentance can be a wonderful experience! It's not always fun, it's usually not easy, but it's always worth it to know that the changes we are making are for the better!

The first step to being forgiven of our sins seems really obvious, but it's important! We have to recognize that what we are doing is wrong! We shouldn't be sorry that we got caught or that the consequences of a wrong decision are less than desirable, we should be sorry because we have done something against the commandments.

Then we need to STOP whatever it is we are doing wrong!

The next step is to confess our sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. This takes a huge amount of humility but it's an amazing feeling when you feel that the Lord doesn't remember your sins anymore.

Whenever we can we need to make restitution. When our sins have wronged someone else we should do all we can to make those wrongs right.

From that point on keep the commandments! Keeping the commandments will help us resist the temptation to go back to that sin.

The most important part of repentance is acknowledging the Savior. It is only through Him that we can be forgiven. From the most minor of mistakes to the most grievous of sins, Christ has suffered for us so we can be washed clean.

This isn't an instant process. Repentance takes time, be patient with yourself! You're becoming more like your Heavenly Father! Of course that will take a little bit of time!

As you repent and make those changes, whether large or small, you will experience a change of heart, you'll have the desire to follow Christ and keep God's commandments.

I want to testify that everyone who makes the effort to truly repent can be forgiven of their sins. Through the Atonement of Christ we can all become worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

"It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines."
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
(Read his full address here)

I want to invite you (everyone who reads this) to think about some of the changes YOU can make to become a little bit more like your Savior. He is the perfect example after all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Part 2: Faith in Jesus Christ

Part 2 of your favorite blog series is finally here! Enjoy this Mormon Message to start it off!

In my last post I addressed the topic of the Atonement and how we can cleansed from sin. The next posts will be about the steps we need to take to claim that wonderful gift! And it all starts with faith.

Let's define faith.

"And now as I said concerning faith-- faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

So faith is believing in something you can't see or prove. In the Mormon Message above we find a few really beautiful examples of having faith in Christ. In the Bible, Esther is faced with a difficult choice to make. She knew fully well that she could be killed for approaching the king but she also knew she had to defend her people. She had faith that because she was making the right decision she would be protected.

Christ has the desire to bless us, forgive us, protect us, He is waiting for us to exercise our faith and seek out those blessings that He has waiting for us.

"Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."
1 Nephi 7:12

In Preach My Gospel we find what happens when we exercise that faith in Christ:

"When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son."
PMG, pg 61

I have been so blessed on my mission to be able to witness so many people exercising their faith in Christ and acting on that faith by being baptized! Taking the physical steps to follow Christ is a big way to increase our faith and build our testimonies.

So we know what faith is, we know why need it, and we know who our faith should be in. But HOW can we build our faith?

"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can find place for a portion of my words."
Alma 32:27

Building your faith might start simply desiring to have faith! Hoping but not yet believing that something is true is a perfectly acceptable start. And the next step? Experiment on the word. Try it out! Take a small step into the dark by reading the Book of Mormon, meeting with the missionaries, or making that goal to be baptized.

"Now we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves -- it must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea it beginneth to be delicious unto me.

Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge."
Alma 32:28-29

I invite you all to increase your faith in Christ. Just try it out. Trying praying a little bit more or reading your scriptures a little bit more. I can promise you will feel the Spirit and you will know that Christ is your Savior.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Part 1: Through Christ We Can Be Cleansed From Sin

This post is going to kick off my latest blogging adventure! Follow the next few posts to find out how you can find peace and joy through Jesus Christ!

So let's start Part 1 with this video and we'll go from there!

The single most important event in my own personal history took place in this video. The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When we came to this Earth we knew we would make mistakes and be imperfect. Our Heavenly Father knew this as well and knew we would need some help if we ever wanted to live with Him again. So He provided a Savior for us.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Because Jesus Christ performed the Atonement we can all be cleansed of sin. Every mistake and imperfection can be washed away with the power of the Atonement. 

The Atonement consists of three separate events; Christ suffering for our sins, His dying on the cross, and His resurrection three days later.

 When Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane He suffered for the sins of the world so that we can be forgiven. He also died for us so that when we die it doesn't have to be the end. We will be resurrected just like He was three days after His death.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pain and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

Although Christ suffered for our sins He didn't take away all personal responsibility for what we do wrong! When we accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, have faith in Him, repent of our mistakes, and participate in saving ordinances such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost we can be saved and be worthy to live our Heavenly Father again someday.

"And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end."

I testify with all my heart that through Christ we can be cleansed from sin. Through His Atonement we can become worthy to go home to our Heavenly Father someday. We can learn about the Atonement through the Bible and the Book of Mormon, I invite you all to ask a missionary what you can read in the scriptures to learn more about the power of the Atonement.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sharing Your Beliefs

Watch this Mormon Message about how we can share the things we believe in using all forms of communication we've been given!

I want to talk about President Uchtdorf''s plea to "always preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words."

How can YOU help spread a little bit of the happiness you feel when you pray, read the scriptures, or serve others? We have been blessed with so many ways to share the gospel! One of those ways is what you are looking at right now! A blog! I've learned a lot and had some really great experiences sharing what I know to be true through this blog. If you feel so inclined, you can be a missionary through a little piece of the internet! It's fast, easy, and you can be yourself while fulfilling the commandment to share the gospel! 

In the video it showed a girl sending pictures with scriptures. This can be such a fun and easy way to help someone else feel the Spirit! As a missionary I know that the message that I have to deliver is of great worth, but I rarely feel adequate to be the one delivering it. Luckily, it doesn't matter how eloquent I am when I speak! If I am sharing the gospel out of love and I am trying my hardest then it only matters that the people I'm talking to are feeling the Spirit, Heavenly Father will take care of me and make up everything that I lack! And nothing brings the Spirit like the scriptures! Share a scripture and a picture with someone today and help them feel the love their Heavenly Father has for them!

As missionaries in the Arizona Mesa Mission we get to use Facebook to invite others to come unto Christ! Facebook and other social media sites are such an easy and universal way to share your beliefs! Post a picture of the Savior, a temple, or a favorite scripture!

And when you're not using the internet to share the gospel, then "...be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12) Just the way you live your life can be the best way to show people that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ!

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that the things which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen." D&C 16:6

I invite everyone who reads this to find a way to use the modern technology that we've been blessed with to share the gospel! I know that this will bring happiness and blessings!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In The Midst Of The Monsoons

I'm serving my mission in Arizona. In Arizona there's this thing that happens every July-August. It's called monsoon season.

Every few nights there's a storm that rolls through town (or almost every single night if you're talking about last week!). The storms range from mild wind and dust to violent thunder and lightning storms with flash floods and/or dust devils.

Let me tell you, monsoon season is not the most convenient thing when the only mode of transportation you can currently employ is a bicycle. Luckily my companion and I have been saved by many members of our ward who were so willing to literally "brave the storm" and rescue us by giving us a ride in their car!

Example of a lovely Arizona storm.

We can easily draw a lovely parallel between monsoon season in Arizona and our own lives. We often have monsoons or trials to get through before the relaxing sunny days come. The storms in our lives can range from small inconveniences to major tragedy.

Luckily, we all have tools that we've been given to help us brave our storms, we also have people set in our lives to be there to pick us up and make riding the storm a little bit easier.

During a literal storm we have places of refuge and tools to use to protect us from the wind or rain, like umbrellas or rain boots. When our life is storming away we can find refuge in the scriptures. The word of God provides peace and guidance. We may need to know which direction we need to go to stay safe, we can find answers in the scriptures to direct us to safety.
Often, if I'm struggling with something specific I will search out answers by looking up scriptures about whatever I'm struggling with so I can receive the guidance I need directly through Christ's teachings. Using the search bar on lds.org I can easily find scriptures that will lift me and guide me through my trials.

I am so blessed as a missionary, I get to be with a companion all the time. I never have to go through anything alone while I'm serving my mission. Admittedly being within sight and sound of one person 7 days a week, 24 hours a day sometimes isn't the most fun thing in the world, but I've come to love it! I'm guaranteed to have someone to check my outfit or my hair for me, I always have someone to talk to when I have a bad day, and best of all, when the monsoons are a-stormin' and I'm out on my bicycle I'm not alone! My companion is right there beside me, peddling away and we can encourage each other to keep biking.

No matter the circumstance or animal involved, we are always there for each other!

Even when I'm not a missionary and I don't have a companion I'm never alone! And neither are you! We always have someone right next to us during the sunny days and during the most violent storms. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands every trial we go through and He supports us through everything. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to communicate with Him. When we are in the midst of life's great trials we can get on our knees and pray to God for peace, comfort, and anything that we need.

In the New Testament in the book of Mark, chapter 4, Christ is traveling with his disciples on a boat. During the journey, Christ is sleeping and a great storm begins to rage and beat into the ship. The disciples were obviously a little scared, I don't blame them! They woke their Master and alerted Him to the fact that the ship was going to go down at any minute. He literally calmed the storm, He "rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Then He calmed the storm in His disciple's hearts.

Because He is the Christ, Jesus can calm any storm that is raging in our lives. He knows exactly how we feel and how we need to be comforted. I know that through the power of His Atonement anyone and everyone can find peace.

I invite those who read this to look for relief from their personal monsoons through studying the scriptures, prayer, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I can promise that through the gospel there are sunny days ahead :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A 5 Step Program For When You Have A Question About Mormons!

I know this might be long shot, but I'm having faith that at least ONE person who reads this blog will have some sort of question about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As a missionary I'm here to answer questions and point people in the right direction! Since I can't answer every single question for every single person in the world, I made up some instructions to follow when a question emerges!

You can follow these steps in any order you want, when a question pops up just choose an option and hopefully you'll get an answer! Ideally you should try all of these options so you can get as much information as you can.

Ultimately, you'll have to decide if the answers you receive are true or not on your own. I'll give you an example:
Q: Who wrote the Book of Mormon?
A: Ancient prophets who lived at the same time as the Bible prophets wrote the Book of Mormon, they lived on the American continent and prophesied of Christ's birth and mortal ministry.
Ok, so hopefully that's a satisfactory answer. But no matter how much I tell you about the history of the Book of Mormon, it's not going to do anything for you until you find out that what I'm saying is true by yourself. With every single answer you receive about anything gospel related you should pray about it and have faith that God will answer you and tell you if it's true.

So here you are!

5 Steps to Take When You Have a Question about Mormons

1. Go to mormon.org 
This is such a great website! You can find a page of frequently asked questions, a page of our beliefs and values, you can even chat with real live missionaries online! There are lots of cool features that are sure to answer your questions! Check out mormon.org right here!

2. Ask a friend
Maybe the reason you have a question is because you have a Mormon friend and you're curious about why they do or don't do something. Ask them! If you're honestly curious no one is going to be offended or feel awkward if you ask "why don't you drink coffee?" or "why would you go to church for 3 hours every Sunday?" Asking someone who belongs to the Church will be a much more reliable source than asking someone who isn't.

3. Read the Book of Mormon
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." Our entire religion hangs on one book! If you want to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has any validity to it at all, read the Book of Mormon. I can promise you with all my heart that this book is true, but my promise won't mean anything until you read the book and pray about it!

4. Meet the missionaries!
There's a reason the church sends missionaries like me all over the world! If someone had a question about the church in Africa, they're covered, we have missionaries there! We sacrifice 18-24 months of our lives just for people like YOU! No matter who is reading this, we are serving for you! We are set apart as representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are authorized to teach about the Church and everything we believe in. I guess you could say we're the 1-800 number on the back of the cereal box if you have any questions, comments, or concerns :)

Who wouldn't want to ask these guys about Jesus? But I can promise you, whenever I ride my bike, I always wear my helmet!

5. Attend church
If you follow step 4 you will very likely be invited to take this step as well! You can find a church to attend no matter where you live (Find your meetinghouse here)! Every Sunday we gather as wards (congregations) and worship together. We start with sacrament meeting, held in the chapel. In this meeting we partake of the sacrament, listen to talks (speeches), and sing hymns together. The next two hours consist of Sunday School classes, Primary (for children from 3-12), Young Men and Young Women (Boys and Girls 12-18), and Relief Society and Priesthood classes (for adult women and men respectively). Church is a great time to learn about Christ, the Church, make friends, and find peace!

As you take one or more of these steps I can promise you that you will find the answers that you are looking for! Whether you question is "why don't Mormons go shopping on Sunday?" or "Where can I find peace for my life and my family?" you can find the answer!

I invite everyone who reads this to either take one of these steps or invite someone to do so. I know happiness can be found in this gospel.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Marriage Advice From Your Local Expert On Being Single

Ok, I'll admit it. I use catchy titles to make people read my blog! The marriage advice will most definitely NOT be coming from me today!

But it will be coming... just remember that patience is a virtue.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints puts a strong emphasis on family and strengthening family relationships. In 1995 the prophet came out with a proclamation on the importance of families, the first paragraph reads:

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

(Read the entire proclamation here.)

Families are central to God's plan for us! That's why they're so important!

But, as we know, God's plan for us doesn't end after this life. So naturally, neither do families! Another paragraph of the Family Proclamation reads:

"The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally."

In temples we can be sealed for time and all eternity, meaning there is no "till death do you part!" We can literally be with our families forever!

Now your patience shall be rewarded: I'm going to talk about some of the advice that I've gotten for that distant future where I will be sealed to someone in the temple and start my own forever family.

On my mission I've met a lot of families. Like A LOT. And they've all been different! No two families are alike! I'm fairly convinced that the reason I was sent to Mesa on my mission was to have HUNDREDS of examples of how/who/what I need to be when I go home!

I've seen lots of different kinds of marriages and lots of different kinds of parenting techniques. I've slowly gone from thinking in my head "wow, cutest family ever, I wonder how they do it" to actually asking them "Ok, I need your help, how do you make your family so awesome?"

So I've been asking them! And I want to share some of the advice I've gotten with the world! I'll be adding my own personal comments in pink, because I'm obviously an expert that has a lot to say on this subject.

Communication is key, don't be afraid to ask your spouse to do things for you, compromise, talk about big decisions and purchases beforehand, you're allowed to take a few minutes to cool down before telling your spouse what is bothering you, be HONEST.
This is a collection of what many many people told me. Apparently good communication is kind of important! 

Don't fret the little things, don't worry if they don't load the dishwasher the same way as you, don't take anything personally, there are plenty of things that will happen that won't be worth fighting over, LET IT GO.
Love this! When two people get married they are trying to mesh together two very different lives, it makes sense that it won't fit together like a perfect puzzle piece at first. Being adaptable and teachable will make for a much easier time combining two different life styles.

Hold hands, always sleep in the same bed even when you're angry, always always always always always APOLOGIZE!
I can't add anything to this, it's too perfect. BIG thank you to those who gave me this advice!

Attend the temple often together, put God before your own desires, stay active in the gospel together, SERVE TOGETHER.
A marriage should be a triangle, it should be you, your spouse, and Heavenly Father. With all three of you working together you accomplish everything and get through anything!

Last but not least, don't feel like you're settling, go into a marriage as an equal partnership.
If I'm going to spend eternity with someone, it's gonna have to be a good match. For lack of better words, to marry a TEN I'm gonna have to be a TEN. 

So there you have the highlights of my collection of marriage advice. I'm hoping someday I get to put some of this advice into practice :)

I know that I can be with my family forever, both my family I have now and my future family. I know that temples are houses of the Lord and in them we can be sealed for time and eternity.

This is from that one time I graduated high school, glad I get to spend eternity with these peeps!