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.