Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

This morning, my companion and I got a text informing us that our mission president is sending out a challenge to read The Book of Mormon. I am so excited for this challenge! We immediately started reading The Book of Mormon over again.

The title of the book is "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Within The Book of Mormon, there are a total of 6,607 verses. Out of those verses, Christ's name is mentioned 3,925 times. That means his name is mentioned on an average of every 1.68 verses. Within the New Testament, the writers use some form of his name every 2.1 verses. I was once given the challenge to read The Book of Mormon and highlight every time it mentions Christ. Within the time frame that I read it, I came to gain a closer relationship with my Savior. I know that The Book of Mormon can bring us closer to our Savior than any other book!

The way that this amazing book came about is a miracle in itself! There was a man named Joseph Smith who was given an ancient record written on golden plates. He was then commissioned by God to translate them. What gets me every time is that he was a man of VERY little education. Emma Smith, who acted as an earlier scribe for Joseph, gave this account in 1856:

"When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made any mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. Even the word Sarah he could not pronounce at first, but had to spell it, and I would pronounce it for him.

"When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, “Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?” When I answered, 'Yes,' he replied, 'Oh! [I didn’t know]. I was afraid I had been deceived.' He had such a limited knowledge of history at that time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.’ (Edmund C. Briggs, ‘A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,’ Journal of History, Jan. 1916, p. 454). …

“Although the Prophet would polish his skills over the years, Emma acknowledged that Joseph possessed only rudimentary literacy at the time he translated the gold plates:
“‘Joseph Smith … could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, it is marvelous to me, “a marvel and a wonder,” as much so as to any one else.’ (Ibid)” (“A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 62–63).

There is no way that a man, with as little of an education as Joseph Smith had, could have translated the book. He had to have been inspired of God. I know that it is by revelation that he was able to translate The Book of Mormon into what we have today.

There is a challenge in the back of The Book of Mormon in the book of Moroni. It says this:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful‍ the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder‍ it in your hearts.
 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.

So here is my invitation: Read it. Pray about it. If you do it with the intention of acting on what answer you get, the Lord will provide you the answers that you are looking for. I can testify that it is true. I have read it, prayed about it, and received an answer for myself that it is true. Because it is true, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That he really was inspired of God. God provided him away to bring forth The Book of Mormon so that we could have it today. I know that when I read from its pages, I feel peace and hope. You can feel the same way too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Conversion Like Enos

This week I was reading in The Book of Mormon. While reading, I came upon the story of Enos. I seriously forgot how much I loved the story of Enos! The reason I probably like it so much is because my story seems to be very similar to his.

He starts off his account by explaining that he was raised in the gospel by a good man: "Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord...".

I, like Enos, was raised by great parents. They tried to raise me up unto the Lord. They instilled in me the importance of reading the scriptures, praying, attending church meetings, being a kind person, and everything else a good parent would. Even with my parents as a great example, I began to question the truthfulness of the gospel. Enos, similarly, had this experience. He says, "And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God...and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart...And my soul hungered."

To find out the truth for himself, Enos prayed. He didn't just pray, but prayed ALL DAY LONG! "I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens."

At last, He received the confirmation he was looking for. Now, many of the stories in The Book of Mormon end up with incredible reasons why they believe. Sometimes it is heavenly messengers. Sometimes the Lord sends them trials that humbles them. In Enos' story, this doesn't seem to be the case. He accounts, "And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed. And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie." It was as simple as a voice coming to him and confirming to his heart.

My own story is the same, although I didn't pray all day long. It took reading the scriptures everyday. I had to learn how to pray everyday. By doing these simple things, I was able to gain a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Over time, I was able to feel the truthfulness of the gospel. It wasn't a grand experience that led me to believe. It was simple confirmation to my heart. When the confirmation came to me, I felt like Enos did when he said, "And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord."

It is my testimony that we can know the truth for ourselves. We can follow the example of Enos and pray to our Heavenly Father. Enos did WORK to be able to learn of the truth. He had to pray all day and into the night before he gained an answer. I know that if we put in the work (read the scriptures, pray, attend church meetings), we can gain a testimony that it is true for ourselves. Then our faith will be unshakeable like Enos!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Yes!! It is WORTH IT!

This conference, Elder Holland gave an amazing talk entitled, "The
Cost-and Blessings- of Discipleship." Ever since I was a little kid, I
have LOVED listening to Elder Holland. There is no one else that can
deliver a message in such a powerful way, than him. That is why I have
chosen to blog about my thoughts from his conference address!

In his talk, he relayed a story of a sister missionary who had been
nearly attacked and ultimately had food thrown at her. From this
experience, Holland said, "To this devoted missionary I say, dear
child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very
distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet
Jacob said, "view[ed Christ's] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and
[borne] the shame of the world."

I loved what he said after this story-most of what I will focus my
blog about today. He said, "And therein lies a message for every young
man and young woman in this Church. You may wonder if it is worth it
to take a courageous moral stand in high school or to go on a mission
only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against
much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion.
Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our 'houses'
left unto us 'desolate'--desolate individuals, desolate families,
desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations."

Serving a mission has not been super easy. In fact, it's been a lot of
hard work. So when he said, "...or to go on a mission only to have
your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against much in
society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion.", it
resonated with me. Everyday I go out only to put out what I cherish
most to the world. It is hard. It is vulnerable. When you love
something, you want to protect it, hold it dear to your heart. Because
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much, I have decided that I
should share it. I know that it makes me happy and so I want others to
be happy too. So I too would add to Elder Holland-- Yes! It is worth
it! There are blessings from doing so!

Almost everyday, my companion and I go tracting (knock on people's
doors). There is usually some one who is incredibly disturbed that we
are there. Sometimes we are yelled at to leave, sometimes people want
to stand there and tell me why I'm wrong, or some won't even give us
the time of day and slam the door in our face. This can be incredibly
discouraging. Elder Holland gave some advice. He said, "Friends,
especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing
from true righteousness can change the world. I testify that the true
and living gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth and you are members
of His true and living Church, trying to share it."

So there it is. Take heart! Pure christlike love CAN change the world!
Sometimes we "are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to
weep." It's not easy putting you beliefs out there-but it is worth it!

As I have served a mission I have learned the truth of Elder Holland's
closing words, "In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge
unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow,
even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength
of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship,
you cannot fall."

I have begun developing unshakeable faith. There is no way that I
could go out, day after day, doing what we as missionaries do, without
faith in my savior. He is my rock. He is why we do everything that we
do. I experience "the winds" everyday as a meet incredibly rude
people. But it's all worth it when you bring even that ONE person
closer to Christ. And THAT is why Holland said YES! It is worth it! I
can add my testimony that if we defend our faith, The Lord will
provide blessings and even miracles in our lives. Never be afraid to
defend what you believe! NEVER apologize for the prophet, Joseph
Smith. He truly was called of God. He saw the Father and Christ. He
restored Christ's church. This is HIS true church on the earth today.
I know these things to be true! And I will always defend them!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Young Sisters in Relief Society

On 10/6/12, I was sitting in my room with my laptop open attempting to
watch general conference. I was listening to the prophet speak when
all of a sudden, the stream stopped. It looped back to a few minutes
before when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing. I was confused at
why this was happening (I tend to not be overally tech savvy). I began
trying to fix it, but was struggling to find success. All of a sudden,
my siblings burst through my bedroom door. They excitedly said to me,
"Carol! You're going on a mission!"

I was pretty confused about this statement. They dragged me out into the
living room, rewound conference, and allowed me to hear President
Monson's announcement of lowering the age of missionary service to 19
for sisters. There was an undeniable spirit that overcame me, and I
knew that I was supposed to serve a mission. I KNEW that I needed to
begin preparing to serve a mission immediately. 24 days before my 19th
birthday, nontheless.

Fast forward a few weeks, I had began meeting with my singles ward
bishop, started studying preach my gospel in depth, and made
appropriate appointments to get my paperwork completed. I kept a
journal of what I was studying, feeling, etc. One day, I decided to write
down a list of the best things I ever did to prepare for a mission. My
number one on my list said this, "Move on to Relief Society."

When I turned 18, I was in the very beginning of my senior year. At
this time I was faced with a decision to make: Stay in young women's,
or move on to Relief Society. When contemplating, I knew that, most
likely, none of my friends would move on to Relief Society. After some
prayer, I decided that I would move on to Relief Society.

The months that would follow were a time of much growth. My mom had
callings that prevented her from coming to Relief Society every week,
so I would sit alone. It's never easy to have to sit alone. It often
makes you question your decisions and makes it hard to want to stay. I
was also assigned to be a visiting teacher. My companion was the
first counselor in the Relief Society and I was given one lady to
visit every month. Often times I had thoughts of, "Why am I even a
visiting teacher? There is nothing that I possibly have to offer to
help this woman and her family."

What came out of this was not any amazing "ah-hah!" experience. It was
hard. My companion made me set up visiting appointments. She
had me share the thoughts. She EXPECTED me to do it every month. My
incredibly busy high school schedule made it almost impossible. But, I
did it. I am so grateful I did.

Now back to preparing for my mission. At this time
I wrote in my journal, "Do not focus on what is different about you
and others. You will meet lots of people different from you on your
mission. Learn how to deal with these situations." From this difficult
growing situation, I learned a lot. I felt inadequate EVERY time I
went visiting teaching. I felt like I couldn't relate to the older
sisters in my home ward. What I learned was that this was an
experience that I absolutely needed to prepare me for my mission.

This women's broadcast recently, I distinctly heard from two different
speakers about young women and Relief Society. President Eyring said:

"As you feel of that great sisterhood, what we thought divides us
falls away. For instance, younger and older sisters share their
feelings with the expectation of being understood and accepted. You
are more alike as daughters of God than you are different.
With that view, young women should look forward to their entry into
Relief Society as an opportunity to enlarge their circle of sisters
whom they will come to know, admire, and love

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson also said, "I think of the great help that the sisters in
Relief Society can be in welcoming young sisters who have recently been in
Young Women. Our young sisters frequently feel as if they don't have a place or
anything in common with those in Relief Society. Before they turn 18,
they need Young Women leaders and mothers who will joyfully testify of
the great blessings of Relief Society. They need to feel enthusiastic
about becoming part of such a glorious organization. When young women
begin attending Relief Society, what they need most is a friend to sit
next to, an arm around their shoulders, and an opportunity to teach
and serve. Let us all reach out to help one another through the
transitions and milestones of our lives....If there are barriers, it
is because we ourselves have created them. We must stop concentrating
on our differences and look for what we have in common; then we can
begin to realize our greatest potential and achieve the greatest good
in this world. Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley once said, 'Oh, how we need
each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And,
hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a
sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying
and loyal friendships with each other.' Sister Hinckley was right;
oh, how we need each other!"

I guess my purpose behind writing this post is to all young women.
PRAYERFULLY consider moving onto relief society. If you are thinking
about going on a mission, I would absolutely recommend moving on. It
did more for me to prepare me for a mission than almost anything else.
That's why it made it to the top of my list of things that helped me
prepare. Not only do I recommend it, but the leaders of our church do
too. Mothers and leaders should encourage young women to move on. It
is the greatest organization that we could ever be blessed to be a
part of! Just remember: We are more alike than we are different!

I have a testimony of Relief Society. It is a great organization! I
know that this church is true! We are so blessed to have a living
prophet on the earth today. I look forward to hearing from our Prophet this
week in conference. This church truly has been restored again on the earth!
 These things I can truly testify of!