Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Miracle of Family History

This week I have discovered a whole new love for Family History. I have always loved hearing about my ancestors ever since I was a child. I remember when I was growing up, Dad would always share a story with us about our ancestors. Or whenever we traveled to Grandma and Grandpa Slade's, Dad would always share a story he remembered about Great Grandma and Grandpa. I have come to really appreciate the name "Slade" from learning so much about my ancestors. The more I learn about the leadership and courage that ran through my family blood, the more I wanted to find out about other ancestors I had not heard of. My passion for Family History started at a young age. Whether it was listening to Dad tell stories, or getting dirty on road trips from finding their graves I always loved the adventures that came from learning about my descendants. Whenever Dad would tell a particularly funny story about one of our descendants, my ear would zone in. Particularly that of one of my Great Grandfathers William Rufus Slade. I always enjoyed his story so much because it involved a young 16 year old boy being bored to death in his school class, throwing a book at his teacher, and jumping out of the window to run  away from home. Once he was away from home long enough, he changed his last name to his mothers maiden name. This name happened to be Slade. Our records never indicated why he ran away from home which is why I thought it was a random funny story. What crazy kid throws a book at his teacher for no reason and runs away?

Ok, by now you should be asking yourself "Why is she rambling on about a bunch of dusty old books?" First I had to express my appreciation for the work. And now, I will explain why it is so incredible. This last week my new companion and I had the opportunity to visit a family from our branch. I love this family to pieces! They are absolutely hysterical and I always feel so at home when I am around them. We don't usually have the opportunity to go over much because their daughter is a pro golfer (practically) and has golfing tournaments on the weekends. Anways, in a previous visit prior to this one I was talking to Mrs. F. when she points out that she has some "Slade's" in her family. I told her that it would be really neat if we were related but that in reality crazy grandpa Rufus went insane and changed his name to "Slade." A little disappointed  from our visit Mrs. F. went to tell her mother (who loves family history) that they had a Sister Slade in their branch. Her mother was surprised and said, "Well we are probably related!" In a saddened voice Mrs. F. responded to her mother saying, "Probably not. She is actually a Slocum." Her mother, having done some Family History lately, informed her that they were related to Slocum's as well and began to give the account of my Great Grandfather. When we returned in three weeks to see Mrs. F. and her family she was overjoyed to tell me that we were distant cousins. I was overjoyed to learn that the family connection was that strong. No wonder I felt so comfortable in that house! Looking at how all of these events unfolded made me really gain an appreciation for Family History. If I hadn't paid attention to those stories as a kid then I never would have brought it up in the lesson with our member. I am thankful to my Dad for sharing these stories with me that helped me prepare for this moment in time. Only God would know that out of all the missionaries in the world I would be called to North Carolina, where I would be called to the Pittsboro branch specifically to find my cousin. It is a miracle, and it is no coincidence! God put's us in places for a reason. Sometimes it is for the person we are serving, and sometimes it is to learn something from someone who is meant to touch our heart. God is good, and he is all knowing. I am grateful to my God for giving me the opportunity to meet such incredible people in North Carolina. And for reassuring me that this is where He needs me for His work. We all have a purpose. Alma 37:6 "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..." 

I add my testimony to that of Alma that by small things great things are brought to pass. The Lord is using us as instruments in His work if we will let Him. Whether it be good or bad descendants, we can always learn something from the past. Learning about my family name and the history behind it has made me want to be a better person. It has made me want to live up to those great names that have come before me. If it be bad, it has made me want to strive harder to follow my savior and to learn from the mistakes that they have made. I feel a part of something bigger, and it helps me to feel close to those who have passed on. I believe we do Family History mainly for those who have passed on to have the opportunity to accept the Gospel in the next life. But also, so that we can become close to who they were as a person. So that we can recognize them when they are around to comfort us.

Lovetta Linea Anderson (my Great Grandmother)
William Rufus Slocum aka "Slade" ( my 4th Great Grandfather)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Being Morally Chaste

At one quick look you see the word "Chastity" and everyone freaks out going "eww..." and, "gross!" then you get a bunch of immature snickers from the peanut gallery in the back row who are still acting like high school teenagers. Yes, in this segment I will be addressing the issue of being morally clean. I will admit, this is a very touchy and awkward subject for me. Not because I have ever had any morality issues with the law of Chastity. Rather, because it is a very sensitive subject for all. I am not the only one that get's super uncomfortable when someone teaches on this subject. Or even, when I have to teach on this subject as a missionary. I am constantly praying for Heavenly Father to help me in those lessons so that I do not end up saying something really dumb like, "Look! Their is a box that covers this entire sections of your body. (Motioning above shoulders and end of knees) Just don't touch anyone's box and keep your own box to yourself and you will be fine!" Ya... I don't believe that approach would ever fully help the investigator to understand the purpose of the commandment to be morally Chaste.

This last week as I was preparing for "said" lessons, so as to not use the "box" method of explaining things. I had the opportunity to get a lot of powerful insights on what the law of Chastity truly means. And more importantly, why it is so important to our Heavenly Father. The following is just a few thought's of inspiration that I had received while studying the topic. I pray that this will give new insight's to why the Law of Chastity is so important.

 Being Morally Chaste does not just mean that I agree to not have sexual relationship's before marriage, it is much more than that. To fully be living the law of Chastity we must also keep our thoughts, actions, and words in line with the savior. Always acting how he would have us act. Yes, dressing appropriately is part of this commandment, but that is common sense. To keep our thoughts in line, this means when we see something inappropriate or someone dressed immodestly do we choose to continue to look upon that image? Or do we turn away? Like King David in the Bible "And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon." 2 Samuel 11:2 How King David reacted to the situation at hand paved the road for his future. He did not turn away, but he continued to look upon her and fed into that temptation. The most important part is how we choose to react to the situation given to us. This situation will come to all, now is the time to make a choice on how we will react to pornography and other forms of inappropriate images. We live in a day and age where everyone teenager before they turn the age of 18 will come in contact with pornography as quoted in the September 2014 Ensign. Most importantly though, are we putting ourselves in those situation's? Are we trying to limit our risk's of coming across a situation similar to David's? Picking on King David one more time, if you go back to verse one in that same chapter you will notice that it say's, "But David tarried still at Jerusalem." David was not suppose to be their at that time. As King, he was suppose to be on the front lines of the war with his soldiers. David made a decision to stay behind, and as a consequence of such decision put himself in the way of being exposed to Satan's temptations. Now do you see how important it is that we make sure we are being obedient to all of the Lord's commandments? If David just stayed with his troops he never would have been subject to temptation and the unraveling of events to follow.

Lastly I wanted to conclude with a story that depicts why it is important to be Chaste in our words. First of all I wish to express my gratitude for my father. He is such a wonderful example to me of how someone who understands the law of Chastity in their heart and applies it in their daily life. I remember when I was about 17 and in high school. Mom was in the process of building a salon. My father offered to put most of the labor into the salon to help save money. It was the summer time and I didn't have a job so my dad had me tag along with him to help with some of the building and painting. When we got their my dad also had a few friends from his work that he asked to come help with the build out. While we where their my dad asked me to go into the back room to grab something. I remember hearing one of his friends make a joke to a few others including my dad talking about how with all of those rooms in the back it looked like "an underground Geisha house." My dad hollered back at them and said, "Come on guy's my daughters here." All I could remember after that was being so embarrassed from my dad telling him, "Why did you do that? I am seventeen, it's not like I don't know what those things are!" I was so frustrated because I just wanted to look like "one of the guy's" and by having my father say those things it made me feel like a delicate princess. I may not have been grateful then, but I certainly am now. It was my father's example that popped into my head while studying actions and words that apply to being morally chaste. My dad said those things because he was following one of the promises that we make at baptism. To live by the Law of Chastity, which includes thinking about our word's before we use them. I am grateful for my dad's example now. I am grateful that he gave me an example and a memory that I can look back on. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we made a promise to be morally Chaste at baptism. This promise includes keeping our thoughts and word's inline. Think about what you say before you speak it. Pay attention to what others are saying around you. All of these things are a part of living the law of Chastity. That is something I do not think a lot of us today think about. To conclude I just want to say that I know these things are true, and that I know that their is a spirit that follows when we strive to be EXACTLY obedient to all of the Lord's commandments.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Yellow House

For the last few day's my companion and I have been praying for God to give us a specific place to go to find someone that He knows, needs to hear our message. The other week that prayer was answered. The previous night in planning we had a whole hour left in the day that we had no idea what activity to fill the time with. I asked Sister Wilde if it would be alright if we said a prayer and asked God where he wanted us to be at that time. She agreed and we said a quick prayer and pondered a minute after it was over. Shortly after Sister Wilde named a street that we had only driven on once since we had been in the area. I agreed and we wrote down on our 8:00 slot "Nooe" St. The next morning passes and we rush to finish up our dinner appointment with some members because we know just how important that time was to God. We didn't want to miss a miracle if that is truly where He wanted us to be at that time. So we started walking from our house to "Nooe". When we neared the corner we saw Nooe St. about 10 ft in front of us. To the right of us was a big yellow house. We didn't know why but we both turned to each other and agreed that we needed to knock on the yellow house. We got to the porch and knocked on the door. To our surprise, a man in short's with a bare chest opened the door to us. He was very welcoming. We didn't even say two words before he said, "Ladies have a seat on the deck." He proceeded to tell us that he was very open minded and would listen to whoever would come and knock on his door. But that he was also brutally honest with his opinion. Soon, we found out that his name was Pete. He has a had a really rough life story and could really benefit from the atonement. He "knows" people if you get my meaning. We talked to him a little bit about the Restoration of the gospel and Joseph Smith's first vision. I had the opportunity to bare my testimony to him of what Joseph Smith saw, of how I know it to be true. And that I knew that the gospel had blessed my family and me so much that we wanted to share it with him because we cared. He appreciated the offer and willingly took a Book of Mormon telling us that we could come by in a week. 

A few day's go by and we discovered that Pete read 103 pg. of the Book of Mormon in between our visit. Still he had nothing good to say about the world. Pete is very focused on all the terrible things going on in the world that he can not and does not believe in a loving God. "How could a loving God abandon us?" to quote him. Our second lesson did not go as well as we had hoped for. We spent most of the time trying to convice him of what we knew in the Book of Mormon to be true.

When we got home we both decided that the next time we went over to visit we would do less convincing and more testifying. The next time we went over, Pete thanked us for trying to "crack him" as he would put it. He told us about how a lot of people have tried but no one has ever come as close as we have before. He also made a brief comment about how we did a better job than "those two scraggly boys with the Elder tags on their chest." It made me laugh. It was a make it or brake it moment and I told Pete "Pete I just want you to know how much we do love you and do care about you, and we just really want you to have the same blessings that we know to be true." Pete appreciated it very much and told Sister Wilde and I that he really does genuinely love us too. My heart brakes for Pete because I truly do want him to receive the joy that comes with the gospel that I know to be true. But he has told us he just doesn't want it. I know that Pete care's about us, he walks us to our car and makes sure that no one is in the back seat every time we finish a discussion. He is constantly telling us that if anyone messes with us, to give him a call. I know that it was not a coincidence that we knocked on the yellow house that day. I know God wanted us to meet Pete. And although he is not jumping into the baptismal font right now, I know that we made an impact on him. I know that I helped him come closer to Jesus Christ in some small way and helped him feel the spirit. That was my part in the plan that God has in store for Pete. I love him so much and I can not wait for the day that I can go and shoot guns and use my compound bow with him. If you want to change the world, change someone's life. If you want to do that, then you need to be their friend. I thank God for that opportunity to meet Pete and pray that one day we will meet again.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

1 Samuel 16:7

I promised I would share a miracle so here it goes:

The other day my companion and I had all of our plans fall through, typical mission story right? The worst part was even our back up plans fell through. My companions favorite thing to do in the world is go tracting, naturally she thought this was a perfect opportunity. We tracted a street for about an hour but still had plenty of time. We both got so tired from being in the hot humid North Carolina weather that we started to walk towards our house with ought even telling each other where we were headed. We came to a point where we both turned to each other and said, "Where are you going?" We were both following the other person. My companion turns to me and tells me, "I thought we were going to tract the neighboring streets down their?" Which was in a completely opposite direction from where we were heading. I just laughed and thought to myself, might as well keep going if this is where the Lord wanted us to go. As we neared the end of the street I noticed an older lady out working in her garden. She had an unusual pair of short shorts on for a women her age. I turned my head only to see a very shocked expression on my companions face. I laughed and told her, "Well, are you going to contact her?" My companion let out a breath and said, "well now I have too!"
We got talking to the woman about her garden and it very quickly turned into a gospel conversation with ought us even trying. She is extraordinary, she is the most child like (submissive, thirst for knowledge) person I have ever met. Her name was June and she is from England with a very rich accent. She told us about how she was a Jehovah's witness but no longer practices that religion because "they were pharisees". She was very open to having us come over and teach her more about the gospel and what we believed. I am amazed at how prepared she is, and it just shows me once again how much God loves his children. He put June in our path for us to find. We were not meant to walk down that street that day. But God knew that we would, and he put June in our path knowing that she would be open to hearing our message. It has also taught me that you need to look past the "freaks!" You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover because you never know who is ready and willing to listen to the gospel.
I have now known June for a week and two day's. I have gone over to her house several times with my companion to teach her about Christ's gospel. She has accepted all that we have taught her with ought finding fault. Unfortunately she told us that she will be moving to New York in a couple of days. But June told us that she doesn't believe it was a coincidence that we met that day. She believes that God wanted us to meet, and wanted us to share our knowledge of the gospel with her. I know that God wanted us to meet June as well. I know that we came into her life at a specific moment so that we could help get her started in learning about Christ's church. I pray that she will continue to have that hunger for knowledge and seek out the church in New York. She was very ecstatic when we told her that she could visit Palmyra and Joseph Smith's childhood home.

oh... and apparently I am going to visit her one day when she moves back to England, or I will come see her in New York when I finish my mission. Ha ha ha, I love June she is the best and she will be missed. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Forgiving Through the Atonement

So...this week Sister Wilde and I get a phone call telling us that they would like us to speak in our branch this Sunday. This is the result of said talk. Don't judge the grammar too much, realize that I do not have as much time as I would like to write it. I am still a missionary having to do missionary things. So it may be a little scatter brained. I suppose this is karma biting back at me since I threw Sister Dieter under the bus when we were asked to speak in Raleigh a few weeks back.

Forgiving Through the Atonement
Pittsboro Branch
29 June, 2014

When I think about trials I tend to reflect on what some of my biggest trials have been in my life. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is that of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by his brothers. His brothers betrayed him, plotted to kill him, and he was stripped of his clothes. He later was falsely accused and thrown into prison where he endured hunger and thirst deprivation. Joseph was a man who endured much, however when the time came he willingly forgave. He forgave his brothers the moment he revealed himself unto them, Joseph say’s “Now theirfore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:5. He not only forgave them but he comforted his brothers telling them not to worry. Joseph knew his purpose and recognized the plan that the Lord had in store for him. We do not always understand the reasons or purposes behind our trials. But we can always center our mind on the eternal perspective that all these things are for our spiritual growth and experience. What I find so incredible about this story is that he had not just one chance to take his fury out on his brothers but he had many more. In Genesis chapter 50 Joseph and his brothers are sent to bury their father Jacob who had passed away. In this chapter the brothers of Joseph start to worry that since their father died Joseph would finally inflict his wrath upon them. In the scriptures it tells us that Joseph recognizes their concerns and weeps. In verses 20-21 of that same chapter Joseph say’s to them, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now thearfore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” Joseph had a second chance to hurt his brothers, but instead he chose to forgive them again. He was genuine and sincere, and offered words of comfort towards the very people who once sought to do him wrong. Joseph had power to bring the hammer down upon them. He didn’t have his father there to judge and influence him. But still, even after his father’s death he still chose forgiveness over anger, bitterness, and resentment.
            I don’t think very many people consider “forgiveness” to be a trial. At least I never thought of it as one until I learned more about it from being out [on my mission]. I never realized how poisonous and paralyzing it is to our spiritual growth and development. President James E Faust said, “Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.” Forgiveness is hard. In my opinion it is the center of all trials. When I was younger I use to think it was easy to forgive, and I couldn’t understand why my parent’s had such a hard time letting things go. I have learned that the older you get, the bigger and harder your trials become. Life throws more at you as you get older. Things that didn’t seem difficult at first become unbearable and impossible. But all things are possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Benjamin F. Call said, “As we look to God for the strength to forgive and set aside our pride, fear, resentment and bitterness, we feel hope and peace.” The Atonement covers it all.
            Christ felt all of our pain, all of our suffering and sorrows. He was betrayed by all, he was betrayed by people he held dear to his heart. In St. John 15:13-14 Jesus say’s. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends…” He was betrayed by his closest friends.
            Later in the scriptures Jesus goes on to pray to our Father in Heaven by suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane where he bled from every pore in his body. Imagine excruciating pain beyond measure, covering your entire body from head to toe. But his torment didn’t end there. When Jesus was taken captive to Pilate, Pilate knew he was an innocent man and gave the Jews several chances to set him free by their own choice. To which they replied “Crucify him.” In St. Mathew 27:25, “Then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” They didn’t care…When I think about my trials and then read from the Bible what Jesus went through… I can’t help but feel like my trial is insignificantly smaller. Of course our trials never go away and they never get easier. But reflecting on the Savior and what he did for us in those times of great stress, can create relief. Whenever I feel burdened I pay special attention to the end of chapter 15 in St. Mark. In verses 17-20, “And they clothed him with purple, and plaited a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.”… They drove nails through his precious hands. I can barely imagine how tired and weak he felt. He felt it all, the worst thing that will happen to us in this earth is small compared to everyone’s combined, which he felt. If you have experienced betrayal… he felt that. If you have experienced loss, he felt that too. His cousin John was beheaded but the savior still devoted his life to serving others. He was an outcast, he was abused and rejected. He continues to be abused and rejected today by all people. When Sister Wilde and I knock on doors and different people tell us no. I don’t feel upset because they are rejecting me. I feel godly sorrow because they are rejecting Jesus Christ. He is the single person in the world who continues to be persecuted today. People are still trying to hurt him.
            If he didn’t endure that pain, the trials, and afflictions, we wouldn’t have the light at the end of our tunnel. “He is the light and life of the world; yea, a light that is endless that can never be darkened” Mosiah 16:9.  He is our light, and I know that as we look to him in our times of great stress, that he will help make our burden’s become lighter. The scars from the past can never be completely erased or forgotten, but they can heal. That is a promise I can make to you… If we let him in, he will help heal us and make us stronger. This is already given to us as a promise from Him in the Book of Ether. In chapter 12 of verse 27, “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.”
            The power of the Atonement is available to all, especially the healing power of the Atonement. The biggest trial in my life right now in case you couldn’t guess already…is forgiveness. It’s really hard to forgive someone that has hurt you so much. I know this, I’ve been there, and I’m still there. But I am learning more about the healing power of the Atonement. And the more I am focusing on it, the more I notice that those scars start to heal inside of me. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting what has happened, it just means letting go from something that is paralyzing us, and keeping us from moving forward. Lewis B. Smedes said, “Forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”
            I know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and that everything we experience in this life is so that we can gain knowledge and experience so we can return to live with Him again. I know that the healing power of the Atonement can and will help all of us through our trials if we choose to let it. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and because I know that, I also know that he can comfort me in those times of trial because he felt what I am going through.
            In closing I would like to share one last scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants chapter 122 verse 7. The Lord says, “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 they good.”  I know that my savior lives, and that he loves me. I know that as we accept and pray for the strength to use the healing power of the Atonement in our lives, we will begin to truly feel our Saviors love for us. I leave this thought with you in the name of Jesus Christ amen.