Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The MTC Isn't At All What I Expected."

This week has been a blast!! Each of the first few days has seemed like a week. On day two were were referring to the past couple of days only to realize that we had only been there a day or two. Things are going great here.

The MTC isn't at all what I expected. It's a lot more laid back than I expected. Here's my schedule:

6:15-wake up, shower, get ready for the day
7:30-class. Sometimes we have a teacher, but mostly for the first four or so days we taught ourselves.
8:15-gym. I usually play soccer in the field near the temple.
9:30-get ready for bed
10:15-quiet time
10:30-lights out

Sometimes spending so much time in the classroom is tough, and we end up going crazy. Missionary humor kicked in probably on day two. In my district there are seven elders and three sisters. Me, E. Edmunds (my comp.), E. Roylance, E. Prete (from Canada), E. Packer (from Idaho) E. McLoughlin (from Oregon). E. Robinson (from Wisconsin), S. Banda (from California), S. Jimmy (from Vanuatu), and S. Saroni (also from Vanuatu). We're all going to Tahiti except for S. Banda who is going to Saint George. Everyone has had some french experience except E. Prete and E. Packer (who are comps).

The vanuatuan sisters are super quiet, so Elder Roylance and I have been trying to speak to them in french-they know more french than english- to get to know them better. Yesterday Elder Edmunds asked me what "that" is in french, so i went into the song "you can give me me or you can give me ca" I then translated all of the song to french, and pretty soon Edmunds, Jimmy and Saroni were all trying to sing it. By the way, it's way harder in french.

On Saturday we taught our first ami de l'eglise. It went pretty well, although because we didn't actually have a BoM to give her, she didn't take up our commitment to start it. We taught our second lesson yesterday and it went better. We got her to pray and gave her the BoM with specific parts to read. I'm learning a ton of french even though all the teachers have taught us are the sounds the letters make, the alphabet, how to say "my name is" and "I come from". I can now pray in french and bear my testimony in french, which I did this fast Sunday in sacrament meeting.

The only bad parts so far are the food, and that I got a stomach ache. I could barely eat anything, but it's gotten better now, so don't worry!

Thanks for all the letters! I've gotten about fifteen letters and a package, and most of my district hasn't gotten one. I don't have much time to read them, I'm still working on them.

I'm missing a ton of stuff, but when you've mentally been here for four weeks, it's hard to remember everything.

Spiritual experience: I was studying one morning, and I could NOT stay awake. I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I said a prayer to help me stay awake to study. Just a little prayer. As soon as I opened my eyes, I was no linger tired, and I continued to study without so much as a yawn. Prayer works! I love my comp, I love my district, I love my zone.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"It seems like I've been here forever."

Hey. I'm getting a little bit of time right now to learn how to email, so I need to be quick. I made it safe in the MTC, if you didn't know that. Pretty much as soon as I got there I found my watch in my pocket. Great, huh? So you don't need to worry about that. My missionary experience has been great so far and I've learned a ton! I can't even remember back a few days ago to tell you all the details. It seems like I've been here forever. I'll try to tell you all I can in my next email home. My P-day is Tuesday, so expect an email then, with more information. I love you guys!!! 

Entering the MTC

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being Set Apart


Well, I'm set apart!  Last night at 7:00 my family met with my stake President and Bishop.  We talked about D&C 4 and I got a lot of insight on missionary work.  And I already had the section memorized!  It was cool to see the new things I never thought about.  I think it's cool how there are people being prepared for me in Tahiti right now, and God is planning for how to put them in my path right now.

After we talked about D&C 4, everyone took turns telling me what they wanted to tell me from bearing testimonies to telling me they love me.  So sweet!  The I got set apart.  I got an awesome blessing wiping away fears and putting in great hopes for my mission.  It's official, guys!  I'm a missionary!

We got a picture afterwards with everyone smiling through tears.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Open House


Farewell Talk

Choosing to Believe in Having Faith in Christ

Most of you have never heard me speak more than I have now. In fact, with my last talk, I had several people come up to me and tell me that was the most they ever heard me say in all their years of knowing me, but I promise I have good stuff to say.
Since I’ve been little I wanted to serve a mission. When I was about six I dressed as a missionary for Halloween. I was super excited about that costume. It made me feel great to wear the nametag showing that I was a missionary that my dad let me use from his own mission. Although  I went to many houses where people had no idea what I was, I was proud to be a missionary. Looking back, I can see that trick-or-treating as Elder Lewis has prepared me for my mission, although I had no idea over a decade ago.  
I always expected growing up that I would be the first kid in my family to serve a mission, followed by my three younger brothers. But with the missionary announcement about lowering the ages for missionaries took my oldest sister.Now my other sister is serving a mission. I’m so grateful to follow in their footsteps and serve the people of a foreign country.
As you can see, my parents have raised me and my siblings to believe in the gospel from an early age. They taught me to believe in Christ from the moment I was born. Both my parents are converts to the church, taught by missionaries in opposite parts of the country. This required faith, I’m sure, which is what my talk is about-Choosing to Believe in Having Faith in Christ. If either one of my parents didn’t choose to believe the words of the missionaries who taught them, I wouldn’t be here right now, and I certainly wouldn’t be about to go on a mission for myself.
Belief is our choice- we don’t just suddenly believe something is right.  We have to actively decide whether what we feel is good or bad. Then we can believe. You won’t accidently believe any more than you would accidentally go to church or accidentally tie your shoe.
James 2:17 “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, it being alone.” Belief works side by side with action. What is belief without action? nothing. It is dead. I can believe that the popular Tahitian dish, Poisson cru, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk, tastes bad, but until I take action and taste it, What good is believing? Or the same for chocolate. I can believe all I want that chocolate tastes delicious, but that gives me nothing unless I take action.
To have faith in Christ we need to have faith in ALL the things he does. We need to have faith in His Atonement, in our roles on this earth, in baptism, in all the principles of the gospel
Elder Hales said “The first step to finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to let His word—spoken by the mouth of His servants, the prophets—touch your heart.” We get faith by hearing His word, letting it sink in. Then we can start to believe and have faith that it is true. Hearing the words of His prophets isn’t just the teachings of the prophets alive today. It’s reading about the ancient prophets in the Bible and The Book of Mormon. That is why reading the scriptures is so important. Without reading, we can’t believe or gain a testimony.
All we do in life is hope for things-that’s what carries us through life. We hope for good grades in school, we hope for love, we hope for happiness, we hope for a good place to live, we hope for a well paying job. Everything we do in life is a result of hoping for something. Just like hoping for those things, we  have hope in, or should have hope in Jesus Christ. In a world full of darkness Christ is our source of light. We can choose to follow him, or find our own way through the darkness. In the end, though, only Christ can get us through that darkness. It’s like a boat travelling through thick fog. Christ is the Lighthouse, the bright light that we can see through the fog, guiding us in the right direction. It doesn’t make any sense to ignore that light and try to find our own way. The Lord will help us through that darkness, but something we tend to overlook or get impatient about is His timing. We need to know that the Lord has his own timing. We can only knock on the door in belief he will help us and leave the rest to him. Knocking is the action we take in belief that he will help us.
God has his arms open for our embrace. He is not forcing us to come to Him, only inviting us and beckoning us to come into His arms. We need to have faith that He will do what’s best for us.
I have gone through times where I have wondered about principles of the gospel. Parts of it didn’t seem to make sense. Doubt can quickly take over, making you lose hope in the gospel. I chose to believe instead of doubt.
A guy named C.F. Lewis- that’s my dad, not some famous author or anything- has said, when I asked him about parts of the gospel I didn’t understand “You don’t need to know everything about the gospel. If you knew everything, you wouldn’t need faith.” He probably doesn't remember saying that, but that has stuck with me. “Faith isn’t to have a perfect knowledge” as said in Alma 32:21
Thomas, Jesus’s apostle, was doubtful. John 20:24-29. He eventually got to feel the marks in Jesus’s hands and believed. On the other hand, When Nephi and his brothers went to Jerusalem to get the records from Laban, They were visited by an angel. 1 Nephi 3:28-31 The angel chastised Laman and Lemuel for not listening to Nephi. As soon as the angel left, Laman and lemuel started to murmur again. As you can see, even seeing isn’t always believing.We need to take the leap forward and not need to see Him to believe in Him. While it might help us gain a testimony like it did for Timothy, You need to feel the spirit and let it witness to you that Jesus is our Christ and Savior, and not see an angel and still doubt.  Let us not doubt before we believe, but always seek to believe.
I don’t have a perfect testimony. I don’t know everything about the gospel, although I am sure to learn more as I teach others about it. But I will put faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that he will help me to learn and teach and understand all I need to know, and he will do the same for you, too
Alma 32:27 “experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe.” If that’s all you can do, then begin there—just have a desire to believe. “Let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words”
Some people will feel that God’s plan is true and will know of a surety the things he teaches are right, while others won’t. That’s okay. For those who don’t know, follow the people who do know. Have faith in them that they know where to go if you can’t have direct faith in God and His son
If you are missing anything in your life, choose to believe. Christ has answers and wants more than anything to help you through your trials. All you need to do is have the desire to believe, and you will believe.
One thing I’m good at with faith is praying. In the last few years my life has gotten harder. Not that my life is hard,  but I didn’t need to worry about the things that bothered me when I was younger, and I learned to really pray to God. I know that prayer works. You have a father sitting at the end of that telephone waiting for your call. He wants you to talk to him and tell him everything on your mind. I found that when I do that I become much closer to him. But that didn’t just happen. I had to have faith. It didn’t come at first. I felt like I was talking in a phone that hadn’t dialed anyone’s number. But after a while, after I had prayed long and hard, many times, I started to get answers and feel the spirit more. I know that God is there for us. He’s just waiting. “Knock and ye shall receive, ask and it shall be opened unto you”. Now I have a strong relationship with my father in Heaven, and nothing in and out of this world can make me deny that He is there.
I came across Alma 30:9 while preparing this talk. “if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him”- that’s what I’ll be doing for the next two years of my life. It also goes along with action. Believing in Christ isn’t enough. Service helps to complete your belief. Whether that’s teaching other people, helping them get a testimony, or even doing yard work for someone. That shows you have faith in Christ.
Also while studying, I came across two similar scriptures. Ether 12 talks about the eye of faith, and D&C 4 talks about having an eye single to the glory of God. Neither of these is talking about physically seeing anything, but focusing on God. Elder Robert B. Harbertson said “you have to develop...faith in order to be successful” when talking about having an eye of faith. If you hope and believe in good things, you will succeed. That’s not just spiritually succeeding. You will succeed in your everyday endeavors if you have an eye single to the glory of God and an eye of faith.
What now? Some people here have been to church many times, some never. Some people here don’t think what I have to say is true or matters. I promise you that if you choose to believe, or at least choose to want to believe, you will find that you feel the spirit witness to you that God is watching out for you, loves you, and cares for you, and that he and his son have a plan for all of us. Before any of us were born, God presented his plan for us-that we would come to earth and gain bodies, that we would be able to choose for ourselves that we would follow him and gain experiences that we couldn’t if we didn’t gain a body. All of us here, in this world, chose to follow that plan, while the others who didn’t want to be part of that plan, including Satan, weren’t given bodies. Before Christ atoned for our sins, and made it possible to return to God again, we all chose to follow him. Now, he already atoned for our sins, and made it possible to live with God again. How much easier is it now to believe in God’s plan, and in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, now that His Atonement has been made, than before He performed the atonement.
We can't just have faith in Christ, we can’t just believe in Him. We need to choose to believe, or choose not to. My life has changed because I chose to believe, and I know that going on a mission is right.
Brothers and Sisters, I know that God lives. I know that He sent Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and to heal us of our pains, sicknesses,  afflictions, and temptations, by performing the atonement. I have felt His atonement heal me throughout my life. I know that we have prophets alive today, and that they have direct guidance from God. Today, that prophet is Thomas Monson. I have faith in Christ, and from an early age I chose to believe in Him, as my parents and grandparents did when they were converted to this church. On my mission, I will be inviting people to choose to believe in Christ and his word, letting them remember what they already new before they were born. I know that Christ’s church has been restored, and I am honored to hold the priesthood that for so long hasn’t been on the earth, allowing me to be closer to God and hold His power. I have faith in God’s plan for us, and I try with all my heart to follow it. I know that the next two years of my life will be worth it, that people have already been prepared for me to teach them, and I’m grateful to fulfill part of my priesthood duty to serve in the Tahiti Papeete mission. I believe in Christ. Nothing in this world can make me believe otherwise. I know that God answers our prayers. I know of a surety that he answers our prayers. I have felt closer to God and have felt his love more as I have strived to keep the promises that I made at baptism- to remember him and keep his commandments. And in return I have felt the spirit. I hope I will continue to feel it stronger than ever as I prepare to spend the next to years of my life away from home, in a foreign country, testifying of the truths of the gospel.