Friday, June 26, 2015

The Mission

Whelp...Looks like this will be my last blog post about my adventures in North Carolina. At the beginning of my mission I had the opportunity to be with another missionary for a short time who was going home in a week. While she was with us we stopped by one of her favorite members house. Their the member and the missionary talked about how she felt going home, and the member related to us how at the end of our mission it is very much like the ending scene from the "Lord of the Rings." This member would relate everything to the Lord of the Rings. She said, "And soon one day when you are gathered around a table with your old companions and people who you have served with. You will have the same look on your face as Frodo and the hobbits. The look of, nobody will truly understand what we went through." I can honestly say that nobody who hasn't served a mission could possibly understand what it was like. It is the most hardest, painful, and joyous experience I have ever had, and it is all worth it. I encourage anyone who is even considering going on a mission to go. It is an experience like no other that nothing in the world can compare too. I leave you with my testimony that I know this is the Lords work. And that we have been sent to this day and age to labor in his vineyard to help our brothers and sisters come closer to him and help them remember the children of God that they are. I love my mission, and I am grateful it has taught me that.

Author Unknown

A mission is a strange experience, It is a trial and a test.
A mission throws at you the worst, Yet, teaches you the best.

I've never been so happy, I've never been so depressed.
I've never felt so forsaken, I've never felt so blessed.

I've never been so confused, Things have never been so clear.
I've never felt my Heavenly Father so distant, He's never been so near.

I've never been so discouraged, I've never been so full of hope.
I feel I could go on forever, I think I've come to the end of my rope.

I've never had it quite so easy, I've never had it quite so tough.
Things have never been so smooth, Things have never been so rough.

I've never traveled through more valleys, I've never ascended more peaks.
I've never met so many nice people. I've never met so many freaks!

I've never had so many ups, I've never had so many downs.
I've never work so many smiles, I've never had so many frowns.

I've never been so lonely, I've never had so many friends.
BOY, I hope this is over soon, GOSH, I hope this never ends.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Special Moment

The other day my companion and I had the opportunity to go and have lunch with one of my favorite members in the world. He was one of the first members that I met when I started this journey and came to North Carolina. Him and his family have played a huge role in my transformation as a missionary and also in my life. This member would always ask us about something he would call, "a special moment". To his definition, a special moment is a moment that a missionary has while they are on their mission. A moment when you know that God put you specifically in the right place at the right time to have an impact on someone or to be impacted upon. This member always loves to go around and ask the missionaries about their first special moment and hear the wonderful miracles that happen around the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. To his credit, although this is not my first "special moment" Sister Buhler and I thought it was way too good of a miracle to not share it with all y'all. Here's to you Ron and Javita.

My companion and I where over teaching an investigator that we recently got in contact with, who I had previously taught over a year ago in Raleigh. We will call his name Mr. T. Although Mr. T is married, his wife was not feeling too well so we decided to have the lesson outside behind his apartment. In the back of his apartment their is a beautiful lake that has a trail laid out for people who live in the complex to walk around it. We set up some camping chairs that he had hidden behind the apartment's patio. Mr. T's wife and him always sit outside enjoying the beautiful scenery while eating something that Mr. T would cook on the grill. Right in front of their patio area is a beautiful garden that Mr. T had put a year's worth of work into clearing out leaves and other weeds to keep snakes and dangerous animals at bay. This is where we started our discussion.

We challenged Mr. T to read Alma 32 from the Book of Mormon last time we had been over. Mr. T had read all of what we assigned him and a little bit more. We were both so surprised and excited! Mr. T continued to point out to us his favorite scriptures in that chapter that we had given him. Explaining to us about how a seed of faith can grow inside of you if you exercise that faith and give it room to grow. We were both so shocked by how much Mr. T had soaked in knowing full well how intoxicated he had been the previous day when we assigned him that section. As we were talking about that chapter, a friend of Mr. T's came walking along the path that led around the lake. He waved to Mr. T and proceeded to come toward us to say "Hello." We asked the stranger what his name was and he told us it was Leo (name has been changed for privacy purposes). We invited Leo to sit in on our conversation as we continued to talk to Mr. T about the power of Christ's Atonement, and how it can help us overcome anything we are struggling with. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we believe in an event called the Atonement. The Atonement is three main events in Christ's life that he did for us that allows us to feel forgiven of our sins, made clean, and come closer to him. Through following the Gospel of Jesus Christ that he has taught us from the scriptures we have the ability to access this Atonement. The Atonement includes Christ's suffering at the Garden of Gethsemane, his crucifixion on the cross, and when he rose from the dead on the third day as a resurrected being. We believe that because of this wonderful gift God has given us, it allows us to become more like our Heavenly Father and develop attributes of His Son. Although we are far from becoming anything like Jesus Christ, our purpose in this life is to master our natural urges, and try to become better and do better each day.

Mosiah 3:19 "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." The Book of Mormon, anouther Testmanet of Jesus Christ.

As we were sharing these things Leo kept making comments like, "I really feel like I needed this today." He continued to share with us that he walked outside and had not seen his friend Mr. T for a while, but that something was telling him that he needed to go and see how Mr. T was doing. He continued to tell us, "And maybe this is why. I show up and their are two strangers here with a message." Needless to say, we did not consider it a coincidence either that Leo decided to follow that prompting and come over. As we continued the discussion we read through Alma 24 where the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's in the Book of Mormon became converted to the Lord and made a promise to God to never shed blood with their weapons again. Not even to defend themselves. Mr. T began to be troubled and was worried that the story was telling him to not protect his own home when it is under attack. But before we could even respond to his concern Leo was their to silence his fears. Leo understood with clarity everything that the chapter had been saying. He was able to support what the scriptures where saying and share his personal testimony of why it made sense. It felt like their was a member present during the discussion. The whole time my companion and I just kept thinking, "wow, this person is super elect!" Before we ended the discussion we went over to Leo and offered to give him the Book of Mormon to keep if he wanted it. Leo got a big grin on his face almost instantaneously. He replied with a "wow, this is amazing. I have been praying that I would be able to get a hold of a bible. And now here I am with a bible in my hands." He was so excited to have a book of scripture. He followed his promptings and new with ought a doubt that God had led him to us to be able to obtain the Book of Mormon in his own hands.

And that my friends was a special moment. Even if Mr. T does not continue to progress or if he is always drunk and intoxicated when we go over, it did not matter. Sister Buhler and I in that moment could not deny that God had put us their for a reason. That we had to go to his house that day so that everything would align for us to be able to meet Leo. God works in mysterious ways and often uses us, his children as a way to answer others prayers. I am grateful for my mission, and I am grateful for this special moment as well as the thousands of others I have had on my mission. Knowing that this will not be the last, not as long as I live.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

We are imperfect

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven't had a chance to update my blog for a while. But when you are a missionary time just kind of fly's by when you are busy dashing from place to place. This last week at a relief society activity we had a chance to talk about stress and how so many of us put stress on ourselves in our life. Whether it is from the simple things to the big things. We as Latter Day Saint's are expected to fulfill our callings, take care of our families, a job, social life, make sure we are friends to everyone because we are an example, and be sure to share the gospel while we are at it! Whoa... that is a lot to take on. Their are more than that, but I just don't have the brain capacity to name all of the responsibilities we do have physically as well as spiritually. I get a little stressed just from thinking about all the things I have to get done before the week is over, and quite frankly I feel like their just isn't ever enough time to get it all done.

I was really grateful for this class and the activity because I have been feeling a lot of stress lately. I felt like this message couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me. It is important to realize that although all of these things we have to do are very important, we need to prioritize and live in the moment. What has to be done right now? Tell yourself that "all I have to do right now is...", and then do it. When I start checking things off of my list, I know that that helps a ton too. We need to realize that we are not perfect human beings and that it is OK. That is what this journey in life is all about. We came to earth so that we could grow from trials and struggles, and so that we could gain experience in the process. Our Heavenly Father loves us very much, and wants us to be able to progress in His plan to become like Him.

Now let's break that down. Become like Him. That even seems like a big responsibility when you think about it. The important thing to remember is that our Heavenly Father does not expect us to become like Him over night. He does not expect us to be perfect like Him tomorrow, the next day, or even twenty years from now. All that He does ask is that we work on a little piece each day. I know I am so flawed as an individual and I felt great peace come to me as I received personal revelation at that class. It is so true! God does not expect me to be like His Son tomorrow. I have every day, I have eternity to work on myself. That is what this life and eternity are all about. We have the opportunity to progress forever as we take the time to work on ourselves each day and make the correct decisions that our Heavenly Father wants for us.

The Savior asked us in the Book of Mormon "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you. even as I am.". He not only asked us this in the Book of Mormon, but he also asked this same question in the Bible. Our purpose is to know Him, and come closer to Him by becoming like Him. He is our Savior and He is our example. I am so grateful for my Savior, I am grateful that I have an example that I can look to every day to be able to help guide me in my decisions and how I should interact with people. Even Christ learned precept upon precept, and so must we also. What joyful news to know that we have such great potential to become as He is. Our Savior knew this and so did our Father in Heaven. If only we could see each of us the way Heavenly Father and Christ do.

Don't forget though, although this is a lot of responsibility. We have the opportunity to work on it each day by just making small decisions. I would like to work on letting go of my pride because that is something I have way too much of. No matter who has wronged you or what you think you are entitled too, it doesn't matter. We must turn the other cheek as the Savior did. He was entitled to the Kingdom of Heaven and yet He came and was a servant. I know that as we follow Christ's example we will be given that strength to be able to prioritize more clearly and to accomplish all that our Heavenly Father expects us to on this earth. I know that this is true.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Fresh Start

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new Creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new."

With all of this hype and hupla about the New Year falling upon us, I asked myself "What New Year's resolutions do I want to have for the coming year?" I have even investigated this idea a little by asking members in discussions and lessons what they plan on changing in this coming year. Many of them joke and say "To go on a diet" some of them say, "I don't like making resolutions at all because I always fail them." The most prophetic answer however, was "I don't make resolutions because the moment I decide something is wrong that I can fix I just do it."

Why can't we just do it? Why do we as individuals need to wait a whole year when we can start today? We can start in July, we can start it whenever. Then why do we as individuals wait for a whole year to pass before we have the slightest motivation to change our nature?

If their is one thing I have learned from being out on my mission it is that the Atonement is real. It is a real thing. It is not just some fictitious story made up to amuse the masses and make the sinners feel better. It is real! Jesus Christ came to the earth and paid for our sins not just by being lifted up on the cross but also by the blood he sweat from every pore on Calvary. And what was the purpose of this? It was so that we could make the decision to change now! He did it so that we would have the opportunity to correct our mistakes and become new creatures born of God. But why did he do this? He did it because he loved us and he knew that it was the only way. I can only imagine what might have been going through Jesus's head as he begged the Father, "If thou wilt, take this cup from me." But he knew that if the Father did take away the pain, then their would be no way that man could be redeemed and return to live back in the presence of Heavenly Father. Therefore he came to the America's after he passed and rose from the dead. He ministered to the people in the American content and said:

"And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons (and daughters) of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled." -3 Nephi 9:17 The Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ.

And all this was done so that everyone would know of the infinite gift he gave to all of us. The first gift of Christmas was not something bought at the store or anything that someone could have found online. The first gift was Him, it was our Savior Jesus Christ. Many people think about the first gift now and again. But what we need to remember was the second gift. The gift our savior gave us by dyeing for us and freeing us from these bonds of mortality. Because of Him we have the opportunity to become those new creatures. We have the opportunity to make those changes now and become His Sons and Daughters. Can you imagine that? Children of a God. This coming New Year I challenge all to reflect on how they can come closer to our Savior Jesus Christ and then just do it. The point is that we shouldn't be waiting a whole year to embrace a gift he gave us to use all the time. The Atonement is real. Let us embrace this gift and feel our Saviors love pour out to us as we strive to become more like His Son. I say this in the sacred name of my beloved Savior Jesus Christ Amen.