Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Missionary Calling

I remember when I was 16 years old I had just gotten my drivers license and I was so excited because I wanted to go to a birthday party! There was a law at this time that you couldn’t drive with anyone else in the car for at least a couple months. I asked my dad if I could go to this Birthday party and he said “okay but Jenny I need you to make me a promise, promise me that you won’t drive with anyone else in the car. I said “okay dad, I promise I will do that.” So I went to this party and when the time came to go home my friends all needed a ride. I started to justify because I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I drove my friends home and on the way I got a phone call from my dad. “Jenny are you almost home?” I said “yeah. I am on my way!” He asked if there was anyone in the car and I admitted to my dad that I did have my friends in the car. He said “drop them off and come home.” As I arrived home, my dad was standing in the driveway. We walked inside the house together and he said “Jenny why did you break your promise?” I told him I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. He then told me that I could have gotten my license taken away until I was at least  18 if I would have gotten pulled over. Then it hit me in my young 16 year old mind, my dad didn’t make that promise with me because he wanted me to be miserable, or want me to not look cool in front of my friends, he saw the bigger picture and saw the consequences that would come. He wanted the best possible outcome for my life, and just as we have loving parents on earth, we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows how we will be most happy in this life! He knows and sees the bigger picture that sometimes we don’t see.

D&C 82:10- I the lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

God wants all of his children to make promises with him! I know this because I had so many experiences where we were led to those people. There was this one time we were walking behind apartment complexes. We were in a hurry, but I felt really strongly that we needed to knock on one of the back porch doors. I thought to myself “This is going to be so awkward knocking on someone’s back porch” But when the spirit speaks, you gotta follow it!  When we knocked on the door Rene answered. She said what are you doing? What do you want? We told her we were missionaries and felt we needed to knock on her door. She said “I can’t believe you are here right now. My mom just passed away and its her Birthday today. I was going to go drink and smoke until I couldn’t feel the pain anymore.”  We were able to share with her the Plan of salvation and let her know she will see her mom again! She told us she knows God sent us and knew we were there for a reason. I know that God loves his children! He wants us to make these promises because they make us happy!!

So what is the very first promise we make with God? It’s baptism. But even more than a promise this is a covenant, which means we promise God something and he promises us something right back. We promise we will keep the commandments and be a witness for God and a strength and comfort to others. What does God promise us in return? His spirit more abundantly upon us! He promises eternal life and eternal blessings. He promises that if we follow him, we will be MOST happy in this life. That sounds pretty good to me!

Its so very simple. Elder Ballard came to our mission and he said “Satan is the master of complexity, but Jesus Christ is the master of simplicity.” I know that this is true. I met a lot of people who justified their actions. People would find ways over and around things to try and get rid of the guilt that they felt and instead of justifying our actions and instead of wondering why life is not going the way we want it to, remember that faith is an action! God can’t force us to keep our side of the promise. He can’t and he won’t. We have to remember the covenants we have made and change and repent! It is then we will feel the spirit more in our lives! This doesn’t mean that life will be easy because life isn’t easy…but it means that we have gods promise that everything is going to be okay.

D Todd Christofferson said:

"What is the source of such moral and spiritual power, and how do we
obtain it? The source is God. Our access to that power is through our
covenants with Him. A covenant is an agreement between God and man,
whose terms are set by God. In these divine agreements, God binds
Himself to sustain, sanctify, and exalt us in return for our
commitment to serve Him and keep His commandments."

Knowing this has helped me so much on my mission. I was truly taught how important it is to keep covenants and the principle of sacrifice. A lot of the time, we are not willing to sacrifice to make these promises with God. The sacrificed made to serve a mission actually affected my feelings for the gospel. It made me a deeper love for it and more dedication to serve our savior, Jesus Christ. There were some very special people who taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. One of them was YuXia Kuang. She is from China and came to the DC area with her family and one day her son Shun fan said “mom we need to learn about Jesus Christ” They had no Christian background and Yu Xia did not even know who this was and so her and her son went walking down a street called 23rd street. On this street there are 5 or 6 churches, but she said they went to the first church with Jesus Christs name in it, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We taught Yu Xia Kuang and once she realized she is a daughter of God and knew her relationship with Jesus Christ, there was NOTHING that was going to stop her from entering into the waters of baptism. Her friends disowned her, she couldn’t tell her family, but she knew. She knew what Jesus Christ had done for her. There was nothing to stop her. We sat down with her one day and I asked her how she was doing and asked if she was doing okay. And she said “I know what Jesus Christ has done for me, if he can do it, so can I. I am doing this. I want to. They are now back in china. Shun fan 8 and will be baptized soon!

John Lahlou is another wonderful person I had the opportunity to meet and teach. He is from morocco and came here 13 years ago. He was a Muslim and wanted to come to America to see how the education worked here because he is a professor and he ended up getting baptized into a different Christian church. His family disowned him and said he couldn’t come back. Ever since then he has searched for the truth because he felt that something was missing. John was the happiest man that I knew. When missionaries knocked on his door and he learned about the gospel, he knew that this was Christs church and he didn’t have anyone. He didn’t have his family. He is 76 years old and all alone. But he has the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every time John came up to me he would say “I am so happy! I am a Mormon! I am so happy” He gave up everything to be here and to believe in Jesus Christ.

This truly is true happiness. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself because I know that when we sacrifice in our lives to come closer to our heavenly father then we will come closer to him and we will feel him more in our lives. Start where you are! Doesn’t matter if you are not baptized yet, or if you are fully active in the church, even if you don’t even know if God is there…Start where you are. Go home tonight and pray. Ask God what you need to do. Ask him what the next step is for you and he will let you know. When you come to know this is true, you won’t want to wait one more second. His hands are stretched out ready to receive us! Just as my dad was standing in the driveway, because he was so nervous for me and waiting for me to come home. So is our heavenly father, waiting for us to come home with open arms for us to come home. He wants us to be most happy and most successful in this life. He wants to bless us eternally. Not just here but forever! I promise that as you sacrifice things in your life then your relationship with god will strengthen! Lay claim on promised blessings. Don’t hold yourself back! There are so many blessings God wants to give his children.

As I made and kept covenants with heavenly father, opportunities truly did open and as I look back I see that every step that I took was guided by heavenly father. I didn’t know if I would ever serve a mission, I didn’t know if I wanted it to be in my plans because I was really nervous! But thank HEAVENS our plans don’t always work out the way we expect because God has better plans. He opened up opportunities as I made and kept covenants. I remembered who I am, where I came from and where I want to go. I will never be able to thank him enough for guiding me to the Washington DC south mission where I met people who changed my life forever.

For the youth who are thinking about serving a mission, for the young men…IT’S A COMMANDMENT! It would be silly not to go. It is the most peace joy and happiness you will ever feel in your whole entire life. But for the young woman, I was given some incredible advise from a young age, and the advise is this: Live worthy and prepare yourself to be an instrument in Gods hands and if and when the lord calls you, you will be ready and prepared to serve. I know this is true. I know heavenly father and Jesus Christ lives and God loves all of his children. I know the Book of Mormon truly is another Testamant of our savior Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph smith truly did see heavenly father and Jesus Christ in the grove of trees that day and because of it we have the fullness of the gospel on the earth today. I know that these things are true and I’m so grateful for it.

By: Jenny Lee Olson aka Sister Olson



Monday, August 25, 2014

Receive the Holy Ghost.. receive is an action verb

Introduction.

When I was writing this post, my dad and I were talking and thinking about the times I’ve felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I could think of a time when it was a big experience, but most of the time it isn't a big thing. Elder Bednar said: sometimes as latter-day saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event. We should remember, however, that the covenant promise is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. This blessing applies to every single member of the church who has been baptized, confirmed, and instructed to receive the Holy Ghost.

Today my post is on “how can I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?”

Howards Christmas

Picture this, it’s Christmas morning and the Howard family is gathered around the Christmas tree. Sister Howard hands Dagan a gift. He makes no move to receive it and the gift falls to the floor. Then Brother Howard hands Jensen her gift. She, too, doesn’t reach her hands to grab it and it falls to the floor as well. Sister Howard says, “Lennon, are you ready for your gift??” and Lennon gets all excited and starts running around and climbing on things, like the Christmas tree.  But when Sister Howard hands her the gift, Lennon calmly watches it fall to the ground and doesn't do anything (which I can't imagine actually happening). Brother Howard puts a new toy in front of Afton and she just looks at it. Each of them were given a gift, but they didn't receive it. I know these kids well and I know that this would never happen. We will see at the end of the post what would really happened.  

Each given a gift

Each of us as members of the Church have been given a new gift. When we were confirmed members of the Church, we were instructed to receive the Holy Ghost. How often have we received the gift and how often have we just let it fall to the ground, so to speak.

Four words: Receive the Holy Ghost

Elder Bednar said, “The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33).” In other words, Elder Bednar was saying that you must actually take action to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is not just given to you without you doing your part. Receive is an action verb.

Youth Conference

At this last Youth Conference, we played a game where a specific person threw a ball to you, and then you would throw it to another specific person. With many balls flying everywhere, it was really hard to concentrate on catching the ball thrown to you. We learned that it was important to always focus on the person throwing the ball to you. If you didn't, you wouldn't be able to catch it. You wouldn't be able to receive. This is again like receiving the Holy Ghost. If you don't keep your focus on being prepared for the promptings, then you can’t receive them.

Grapes and sandwiches

We need to learn how to recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. When I was little, I was trying to understand how to recognize a prompting from the Holy Ghost and I came to the conclusion that it was whatever random thought popped in my head. I remember running to my mom yelling, “Mom! Mom! The Holy Ghost told me sandwich!!!” She was all “whaaaat?” and then I ran back into my room to see what the “Holy Ghost” would say next. Then I ran back to my mom all excited saying, “MOM! MOM!! Now He told me GRAPES!!!” and that’s when my mom decided that we probably needed a home evening lesson about the Holy Ghost.

Sister Dalton

Since then, I've learned to better recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I am not super good at it yet, but I'm proud to say I have moved beyond grapes and sandwiches. I now recognize that promptings are more like, “You should go talk to that person” or “that person seems sad or awfully quiet today, you should go cheer them up”. Another thing that I recognize that the Holy Ghost has told me Sister Dalton was speaking at my girls camp. It really hit me when she talked about her gift of seeing a young women as a daughter of God, and not the tattoo on her arm and also seeing the girl for who she is and not the blue hair. And I knew that she could see me and who I was too. The Holy Ghost told me that what she said was true.

Wish I could have that feeling all the time

I love the feeling I had when Sister Dalton spoke to me and I wish I could have that feeling all the time. I actually could because in the sacrament prayer it says, “that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.” How do we do that? Elder Bednar said that you must have a sincere desire, appropriately invite the Spirit, and obey the commandments.

Sincere desire

In 3 nephi 19:9 it talks about some people who sincerely desired to have the Holy Ghost with them:
“And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them”  

Appropriately invite

Next, We should appropriately invite the Spirit to be with us. Elder Bednar said:

 We more readily receive and recognize the Spirit of the Lord as we appropriately invite Him into our lives. We cannot compel, coerce, or command the Holy Ghost. Rather, we should invite Him into our lives with the same gentleness and tenderness by which He entreats us

Faithfully Obey

Finally he said: Faithfully obeying God’s commandments is essential to receiving the Holy Ghost. We are reminded of this truth each week as we listen to the sacrament prayers and worthily partake of the bread and water. As we pledge our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments, we are promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us

Howards story part two

Back to the story about the Howard’s Christmas morning. We can learn from this story that in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, you must take action. Now picture it this way: Sister Howard hands Dagan a gift. This time, he eagerly receives the gift and opens it to find an electronic chess set. Brother Howard hands Jensen her gift. She reaches out her hands to receive her gift and excitingly opens it to find a American Girl Doll that she has been wanting for a year. Sister Howard says, “Lennon, are you ready for your gift??” and Lennon jumps up and down , grabs her gift, opens it, and it’s herd of my little ponies. Brother Howard puts a new toy in front of Afton and she picks it up and sticks it in her mouth joyfully. Each of them were given a gift and this time they eagerly and thankfully received it. Again, receive is an action verb.
 So, in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we must sincerely desire it, appropriately invite the Spirit, and obey God’s commandments.

Testimony

I know that I have to do something to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Receive is an action verb and it requires you to do your part. I know that I have been blessed with promptings, teachings, and comfort. Amen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What is a Mormon Baptism? from a 13 year old

        My name is Leslie Robins.  I am 13 and I would like to share some things I have learned about baptism, the covenants we make with our Father in Heaven when we are baptized and how to keep those covenants every day.  Baptism is the first saving ordinance of the Gospel. Or in other words the first step on the path to Eternal Life with our Father in Heaven.

  When we are baptized, we enter into a covenant, which is a two way promise with God.

We promise that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.  In “True to the Faith” by President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “When you take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you see yourself as His.  You put him and his work first in your life.  You seek what he wants, rather than what you want, or what the world teaches you to want. “   The first sentence in this paragraph says, “You see yourself as His.”  To me this is saying that we need to remember that we are children of God, and remember our Father in Heaven, and remember that he loves all of His children.  We treat ourselves and others with deep respect and kindness.

The second sentence says, “You put Him and His work first in your life.” To me this means serving others, being a missionary wherever you are, thinking about what Christ would do when you make a decision, and not putting others things ahead of doing His work.

The last sentence says, “You seek what He wants, rather than what you want, rather than what the world teaches you to want.”  This means keeping ourselves worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us.  This also means looking past what the world teaches us to want and remember that when we leave this life, we won’t be able to take money, fame, and other worldly things with us.  But we will take our knowledge with us.

We also covenant to keep the commandments.  In a talk called, “The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom, and of the Kingdom,” Elder Robert D. Hales counsels us on how to keep this covenant. He says,“ By choosing to be in the kingdom, we separate-not isolate- ourselves from the world. Our dress will be modest, our thoughts pure, our language clean.  The movies and television we watch, the music we listen to, the books, magazines, and newspapers we read will be uplifting.  We choose friends who encourage our eternal goals, and we will treat others with kindness.  We will shun the vices of immorality, gambling, tobacco, liquor, and illicit drugs.  Our Sunday activities will reflect the commandment of God to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. We will follow the example of Jesus Christ in the way we treat others.  We will live to be worthy to enter the house of the Lord.”  I like that quote because Elder Hales gives us very clear instructions on how to keep this covenant on a daily basis.

The last promise we make is to serve the Lord.  A well-loved scripture says, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17)   In order to keep this promise, we need to serve others.

Alma taught that we should be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”  There are many ways to serve others sometimes someone may be in need of a bigger act of service, but sometimes an act of service can be something very simple.  Just being a friend to someone is a way of keeping this commandment.  When we bear each-others burdens and mourn with one another that eases pain and makes us think of others more than ourselves.  The perfect example of service is Christ.  Throughout his whole life, he was serving his fellow men.  Jesus Christ also knows every sorrow and every pain, physical and emotional.  By serving as He did we learn to feel the kind of compassion and love He has for us and others.

When we make these baptismal covenants with our Father in Heaven, He in return covenants with us that He will always allow us the companionship of the Holy Ghost, that we will receive remission of our sins and be able to live with Him again.

So how do we keep these covenants today?  In a talk called, “The Power, Joy and Love of Covenant Keeping,” Sister Linda K. Burton said that we can keep our covenants by, “always remembering the Savior and always keeping Him commandments, which includes keeping His Sabbath Day holy.  We do it by always remembering Him as we have our personal and family prayers, daily scripture study and Family Home Evening.”  When seek to know more about Christ I am drawn closer to Him and feel the love of my Father in Heaven, the Atoning power of my Savior Jesus Christ and the constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

Partaking the sacrament each week in Sacrament meeting is a way to renew these baptismal covenants.  Since we cannot be perfect every day, I am so thankful there is a way to still be cleansed of my sins each week.  When I fully repent and then take the sacrament I am as clean as I was the day I was baptized.  When we take the sacrament we are witnessing to our Heavenly Father that we will always remember the sacrifice of His son not just during the sacrament but always.  Another quote from Sister Burton says, “Keeping covenants is essential for true happiness.”

And I know that keeping our covenants will bring us true happiness in this life and in the life to come.

This is me on my baptism day with my dad, Mark.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Social Media Missionaries





The following is the text of the address Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered on August 19, 2014, during Campus Education Week at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The examples of gospel messages we have seen today that were created for and conveyed through social media channels are wholesome, good, and have influenced positively tens of thousands of people. They represent an excellent beginning—but only a beginning. Let me briefly describe what I believe needs to come next.

In the seventh chapter of the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, Enoch foresees the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days, the gathering of Israel, the Second Coming of the Savior, and the return of Zion. I now invite your undivided attention as we consider together elements of four verses from this chapter:

“And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying: … wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth.

“And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance. …

“And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;

“And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood” (Moses 7:59–62; italics added).


1. Be authentic and consistent. “A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake, and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest, and accurate. We should not exaggerate, embellish, or pretend to be someone or something we are not. Our content should be trustworthy and constructive.”

Authenticity is strengthened through consistency, he emphasized. “The gospel messages you share will be accepted more readily if your Christlike example is evident in the ongoing pattern of your posts.”

2. Edify and uplift. “We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than argue, debate, condemn, or belittle,” Elder Bednar explained.

Share the gospel with genuine love and concern for others, he added. “Be bold but not overbearing in sustaining and defending our beliefs, and avoid contention. As disciples our purpose should be to use social media channels as a means of projecting the light and truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into a world that increasingly is dark and confused.”

3. Respect intellectual property. “We and our messages should respect the property of other people and organizations,” he said. “This simply means that you should not create your own content using someone else’s art, name, photos, music,  video, or other content without permission.”

To assist members in creating uplifting gospel messages, Church leaders announced that the content in the Media Library on LDS.org, unless otherwise indicated, has been cleared for use by members without seeking permission from the Church, he explained. However, he emphasized members are not to use the Church logo or otherwise suggest that they are speaking for or on behalf of the Church when they share messages online.

4. Be wise and vigilant. “We should remember that the Internet never forgets,” Elder Bednar cautioned. “Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever—even if the app or program may promise otherwise. Only say it or post it if you want the entire world to have access to your message or picture for all time. Be wise and vigilant in protecting yourself and those you love.”

Elder Bednar said following these simple guidelines will enable members of the Church around the world to create and share gospel messages that will cause the light to “shine forth out of darkness” (Mormon 8:16).


To read the full social media talk From Elder Bednar click here
OR  watch in full here

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leadership Missionaries

We are happy to share some details of our mission with you. We were called to the Florida Tampa Mission.  We reported to the Provo MTC on April 1st for training. On April 11 we left for our mission in Florida.  Before we left we read Ralph's Grandma and Grandpa Cutler's history.  We learned that when his grandpa was the same age as Ralph and his Grandma was the same age as Aileen they were also called to a mission in Florida.

So like Grandma and Grandpa we started our drive to Florida.   One difference was we fortunately had air conditioning for which we were grateful.  When we arrived in Florida we were given the assignment to work in the mission office.  They needed assistance in the finance area so we spent three days of the week helping in that area.  The rest of the other days we spent time working as Member Leadership Missionaries as we were called.  We started out working in the New Tampa Ward with Bishop Bailey.  When we went to church on the first Sunday and introduced ourselves and told them we had been called to work in their ward his counselor said, "You guys are like manna from Heaven."

Bishop Bailey gave us a list of 20 people to start with and we went to work.  This ward covered an area of 12 miles long by 4 miles wide with 440 members.  We would choose 5 or 6 names every day and then we would have a prayer and go in the car to start searching. We knocked on doors.  Some would let us in and sometimes they would slam the door (not very often however) and sometimes they would just plain lie about who they were. We always could feel the spirit of the Lord with us.  It was hard to find some of these addresses even with the GPS, but on two occasions the GPS lead us to an address which was not the address we had put into the GPS, but was where we needed to be. A small miracle in itself, because the place we were to be in both cases were at least a mile away, but the GPS stopped us at these places and after knocking on the door we found who we were looking for.

In one instance she verified who she was and then when we tried to verify her address she got really, really upset and started yelling at us.  She said, “That is all you want the church keeps calling me for a correct address.  They don't care about me.”  We told her we did care about her that is why we were at her door.  She continued to tell at us about the way she had been treated at the church when she attended.  Finally she said something that made sense to us.  I said to Ralph she has been offended by somebody.  She looked and me and in a calm voice said,  “you are right.” Then we were able to have a pleasant conversation with her. She agreed to attend church and she did. The Bishop went to visit her. We found that she knew a lot of ward members because she had been active before she was offended. We learned who had offended her from some other ward members. It wasn't just one person it was a whole family from the Grandpa and Grandma down to all their children, spouses and children who all lived in the ward.  It was interesting to watch how she was treated and she was very forgiving.  It taught us a good lesson about being forgiving and about how to be friends to everyone. Velma Augillar became a good friend to us.

After 5 or 6 months we had sent out 110 members who had either moved or died.  We found one man who had been dead for 9 years and no one had ever checked on him.

At this time the mission President asked us to work in two other wards.  The area for one of the wards was ½ hour away.  We had already been traveling about 2000 miles a month in our car.  So this was an added challenge.  Again we had a spiritual experience each day.   We made many new friends and helped many people.  It would have been wonderful if there had been a couple to replace us to help work with some members we had been trying to help continue.

We love the Gospel and we were so happy we could share with others.  It was a wonderful experience.

-Ralph and Aileen Walker


Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Shortest Two Years of my Life

This last week, Sister Jenny Olsen and Sister Abby Smith both returned home from their missions.  It seems like the time passes so quickly.  August is now upon us.  Summer time has passed really quickly this year.  In two, short weeks my children will return to school, and summer will be over.

I attended the wedding/sealing of the daughter of my childhood best friend this last weekend.  I remember her being born and growing up and now she is married in the temple for time and all eternity. What a wonderful blessing the gospel is in our lives!  Thinking about being together as a family forever makes me extremely happy.  I think if investigators of the church could understand the blessing of being together as a family forever there would be no more investigators of the church.  They would all be members of the church.

Also at this wedding I found that my friend’s son (Nathan) has received his call to missionary service in the San Jose California Mission.  As I talked with Nathan about his call to serve, I could see in his facial expressions and body posture the anxiety, nervousness, and apprehension about the next two years of his life.   I remember receiving my mission call 25 years ago to serve in the Vina del Mar, Chile Mission.  I remember the same emotions.  I remember thinking about how long two years was going to be.  I remember lamenting about leaving my friends and family behind.  I remember thinking of all the good experiences that I would miss while I was away in Chile.

Now 25 years in hind-sight, I look back and remember all the good times I had while on my mission.  I may have left my Utah friends for two years, but I made new Chilean friends.  These friendships still exist.  It is fun to see my former mission companions and their families and their struggles with the same problems that we all face.  I read about people that were investigating the church while I was in Chile, and the progress that they have made as members of the only true church on earth.  These stories bring joy to my life.  I may have missed out on jokes and jovial times in Utah while on my mission, but I have fond memories of good times in Chile.  I remember how quickly my mission passed.  It seems like just the blink of an eye.  I don’t really remember being gone from my family.  They are all still here. And the good times that I was going to miss while away from Utah…they continue even today.

I look at all the blessings that I continue to receive because I served a mission.  (I thought a mission was giving and yet in hind-sight I see my mission as receiving).  I received the blessing of a stronger testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I received a greater understanding of the importance of prayer, hard work, sacrifice, service, scripture study and so many other gospel principles that I learned and practiced while on my mission.  While I thought I was giving up two years of my life to others, I have come to understand that really I have received a lifetime of blessings from my two years of service.

One of the bonus blessings I received is the fact that I now speak Spanish.  What a blessing!  I have traveled the world and used my Spanish in places that I never thought I would go.  I hate to call this a selfish blessing, but I have really enjoyed the blessing of speaking Spanish.  When I left on my mission I would have told you that learning Spanish was a necessary thing to do to serve in Chile and what a job it would be to learn.  But in hind-sight it is not so.  I enjoy speaking Spanish and I am grateful for the blessing and opportunity that I had to learn a new language.

As I spoke with Nathan, I told him those “uneasy” feelings are natural and that 25 years from now he will look back as I do at the small amount (two years) of service he gave and the mountains (a life time) of blessings he has received.

I find it interesting that in hind-sight I do not think about my two years of mission service as a long time.  It was but the blink of an eye.  The time passes so quickly.  I know everyone (me included) calls a mission the best two years of their life.  I think maybe I should all call it the shortest two years of my life.

-Daniel Burr