Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wise Men and Women Still Seek Him

Last week the entire mission came together for only the second time in my 15 months as a missionary. Many heart-felt testimonies were shared by departing missionaries and we received inspired addresses from the Assistants to the President. One thing that really touched me was the symbolism of the wise men, which Elder Abbott spoke about. He shared a message about who the wise men were, how they came to Bethlehem, and in what manner they adored Jesus upon arrival. The wise men came from afar in search of Jesus Christ. As many others, they saw a new star appear but they, unlike the rest, recognized its significance and followed it. As the scriptures read, there were times when they could not see the star in the sky but they had studied and knew that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. They knew the importance of that famous birth and that city is where their travels took them. They pressed forward and "when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."

Life is much like the adventures of these wise men. Sometimes we must press forward with faith even though the evidence of what we believe in is not visible. Clouds of trial may momentarily block our guiding star but though such may be the case, through the Spirit, prayer, and the scriptures, we know where we must go and what we must do. Then, when we finally reach Christ and stand before him, we will have gifts to offer him. They will not be gifts of material possession but it will be us that we offer--every good thing we have cleaved unto and every good deed we have done. I know that if we seek after Christ, we will be able to find him (Acts 17:27). Glancing behind us, the trials we faced will be minor bumps on the road, for then we will be in Bethlehem. We will be with our Savior. Indeed, as Elder Russel M. Nelson said, "Wise men and women still seek Him."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Special Appearance: Elder Williams

Hey everybody, this is Elder Williams commandeering the keyboard from Elder Manciati's capable hands. Just for a day. I guess what I wanted to talk about for a couple sentences here was the principle of change.  First, I will have to share a story.
  When I made the decision to serve a mission, two things had to happen: I had to tell my dad, and then I had to tell my mom.  My dad was easy, I remember his face when I told him alone in his room my decision to serve.  The prospect of telling my mother was a bit more than formidable.  As long as I can remember, my mom has been pretty adamantly opposed to the church.  I feared for what this decision would do to my relationship with her, and her family, all of whom I love dearly.
 It was a long "discussion", involving a lot of arguing and tears, but my mom finally said, "Honey, I just want you to be happy.  If this is really the choice you want to make, then I will support you."  She also asked me to make her a promise.  This promise was that, no matter what, I would still come back to her as her son.  I wouldn't change, I wouldn't become just another "mindless, robotic missionary".  Well, I did what any son who dearly and endlessly love his mother would probably do, and I made her that promise.
  As I have served on my mission, I have learned a lot, but I was always mindful of that promise.  I was, and still am, probably, bound and determined to do this work in my own way.  But what I've learned about myself and the gospel over the course of my 14 months thus far is simply this:  I made a ridiculous promise. What is more, I made an impossible promise.
 Change is not voluntary.  Whether it is conscious or not, every choice we makes shapes us.  The very foundation of Christ's gospel is the principle of change.  We can either change for the better, or for the worse.  But we will change, that is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow in the east, or the release of yet another insufferable "Twilight" sequel. 
 I've realized over the past couple months that I have been holding myself back.  My fear of changing has limited my growth, stunted my potential, and may well have hindered the Lord's work.  Change isn't bad.  Obedience is not a swear word. If anything, obedience and changing through repentance takes Far more willpower and courage than being blown about by the winds of the world.  I've had a change of heart, and a change in attitude.  I know I have a long way to go before I will become what the Lord sees in me, and I know I've come a long way from that day I made a sincere promise to my mom.
 I'm still my mother's son.  I know that will never change.  I won't deny I'm different than I was, but that doesn't mean I'm still not Trey Williams.  I think most people that know me will agree. ;P I guess to summarize this long perambulation through the mind of Elder Williams would be to simply share this:
 We are all asked to become perfect through Christ, but that road to perfection is different for everyone.  Perfection does not mean sacrificing your identity to fit a cookie-cutter mold of what we picture "perfection" to be.  Becoming perfect through Christ is constantly and consistantly changing to become the very best Us that the Lord knows we can be.  Each of us is a masterpiece in the making, each choice we make is another brushstroke on the canvas.  For now, all we might see is a mish mash of colors and shades, of dark times and of light, thrown haplessly together.  The Lord is the Master, and He alone can see the potential that lies in the rough sketches.
 Thanks for reading, I love you all!
Elder Trey Williams

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Moooooving Mountains

Random acts of service are... well, random. Who would have thought that volunteering to help at the local library meant shoveling mounds of fecal matter for several hours. While it was tough work bending down constantly and scooping poo, someone had to do it. With the help of other volunteers, a beautiful garden was planted and the Petaluma Library front entrance had a welcoming face lift. Shoveling cow waste is like a trial or obstacle we face in life--it stinks! At first glance we might think: how can a ton of fertilizer possibly be moved? Though it initially appears difficult and daunting or even overwhelmingly stressful, there are tools to help us through those hard times. A shovel together with a wheelbarrow are wonderfully useful. Likewise, we can use the tools gifted us to accomplish difficult tasks. As missionaries, we face difficult tasks such as building up the faith of members so as to help them to share the gospel with their friends or finding people to teach in an area that has recently proven unfruitful. We have, however, wonderful tools such as the bishop, the ward mission leader, and, of course, the members to help us be successful. In the end, what we put into our trials and challenges is what we get. “[One] of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy... Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work” (President Ezra Taft Benson). If we are willing to work and place our faith in the Lord, we can overcome and endure the tough times well. Whether a mound of cowpie or a mountain, our faith (work and belief) can move it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunset in Petaluma

Red. Yellow. Orange. Fiery.

The sunset on one Petaluma evening a few weeks ago appeared to be an incinerating furnace of beauty. It got me thinking: how is the sunset like our lives? How is the sunset like the Gospel? The sunset is that fleeting moment before the darkness, that last gasp before the termination of day. One cannot, try as he might, run in the sun's direction and prevent it from disappearing into the horizon. Today on exchanges with Elder Braegger, we read from Elder Christofferson's Ensign talk, "Reflections on a Consecrated Life." In it he entertains a particularly enlightening thought: "Those who believe that our bodies are nothing more than the result of evolutionary chance will feel no accountability to God or anyone else for what they do with or to their body. We who have a witness of the broader reality of premortal, mortal, and postmortal eternity, however, must acknowledge that we have a duty to God with respect to this crowning achievement of His physical creation." At the end of our day, when the light has been put to rest, an accountability must be given of what was done with the time and talents given us. "And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not bprocrastinate the day of your crepentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the dnight of edarkness wherein there can be no labor performed" (Alma 34:33).

Oftentimes when going about our daily lives, little or sporadic attention is placed on the sun's placement in the sky. Perhaps it is only at sunrise and sunset when most of our attention is directed towards this giant sphere of gas. Likewise, much joy comes into our lives with the birth of a baby commencing its time on earth. As we near the end of each day and the end our the end of our lives, we either reflect back with joy on what was accomplished or with regret on what was not done. The Lord admonishes us to not procrastinate our repentance but to assume accountability and press forward with steadfastness in Christ, being perfected in Him. We must not allow ourselves to fall into the snares of Satan, who would have us believe that he is "no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in [our] ears, until he grasps [us] with his awful cchains, from whence there is no deliverance." I testify that if we ourselves live a consecrated life, we will at the last day see that sunset with joy, admiring the beauty and wonder of it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pure Testimony

"And this he did that he ahimself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might bpreach the cword of God unto them, to dstir them up in eremembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure ftestimony against them" (Alma 4:19).

What powerful force our testimonies can be. They can inspire our kids, siblings, and even parents to change and stand a little taller. They can spark someone's life and be the kindle that will eventually ablaze a raging fire of faith. They can touch the hearts of others, as the Holy Ghost carries words of inspiritation and encouragement into the very fibers of that vital organ of feeling. Our testimonies, indeed, can move mountains.

In the scriptures we read that Michael and the spirit children of our Heavenly Father "aovercame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their btestimony; and they loved not their lives unto the cdeath." In this same way, we can overcome the influence of the devil in mortality as we feed off the words of each other's testimonies. I know the Lord loves us, cares about us individually, and knocks at our doors continually--often times through the words of others. I share my testimony with all of you that Jesus is our savior and that he invites us to come unto him and be saved. I know that if we place our trust in him, that he "is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." Share your testimonies with others and "let your light so shine before men[!]"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Listen Closely

Today at district meeting, the weekly meeting where missionaries in an area get together to discuss missionary work and help uplift one another, district leader Elder Williams set up a rather instructive object lesson. He selected Elder Ravia to be the main participant and directed him to exit the room for a brief moment. He placed a post-it note with a picture of a "golden investigator" that he had previously drawn underneath the trashbin and instructed all in the room, me being the exception, to shout at Elder Ravia and misguide him as to the golden investigator's whereabouts. I, acting as the Spirit, was told to be a soft voice that constantly guided him to the treasure. When Elder Ravia commenced, he was beat upon by a tumult of noise. Elders Harper, Christensen, Williams, Weiland, Reed, Thueson, and Russell all shouted false information while I did my best to talk with "a bstill voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper." Elder Ravia eventually listened to the right voice and found his prize. When evaluating, Elder Ravia said that he heard the "still, small voice" but was distracted from listening to it by the many other voices in the room. So it is with the Spirit in our lives. In 2 Nephi 32:5, a perfect recipe for success and happiness is laid forth as we learn that the Spirit will show unto us all things what we should do. All we need to do to receive the blessings of the Lord is to shut out all the exterior, degrading voices and  then listen closely. The Spirit's voice will lead us to all truth.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

For those that know not the mannerisms and quirks of the Manciati Clan, I wish to relate a particular past time my family has enjoyed since childhood—that is, watching Disney movies. One notable film that has been viewed as much as any other in my home and perhaps quoted more times than any other film is Alice in Wonderland. The story digresses from the book by Lewis Carroll but it takes on a bestowal of Disney ingenuity and entertainment. To most people Alice in Wonderland is not at the top of their list, but for the Italian-Ecuadorian Manciati’s living in Los Angeles, it can be said that the film is an integrated piece of our way of being and even our sense of humor. Curioser and curiouser, isn't it? Recently, the prophet Thomas S. Monson, who is also the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, alluded to the story of Alice in one of his discourses:

"When faced with significant choices, how do we decide? Do we succumb to the promise of momentary pleasure? To our urges and passions? To the pressure of our peers? Let us not find ourselves as indecisive as is Alice... You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. She is confronted by the Cheshire cat, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?” The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Unlike Alice, we all know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for by choosing our path, we choose our destination.  Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed—the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny." http://new.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/the-three-rs-of-choice?lang=eng

What is the purpose of our lives? What road are we taking? Do we know our destiny? Are we just merely “going with the flow” and promenading purpose-less around Circle Street? Are we pacified and content with sitting on a bench enjoying the view? Perhaps we are stalled and have lulled away into subconciousness on an air mattress inside a pitched tent on the wayside. Perhaps we block the road for loved ones or strangers that earnestly seek to press forward? I think that sometimes it is necessary to pause on our journey to see where we are going, what road we are taking, and what we are becoming. If we have strayed from the path, there are always switchbacks that will get us back on course—the length of time to do so varying on how far we have strayed. There are many paths to take but we must most importantly remember that there is one that will lead us back to our Father.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

May we be like Alice and find the way home to our Father while overcoming the march hares, mad hatters, enraged queens, tweedle-dee's, and tweedle-dum's that may want to deter us from the straight and narrow way.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Revelation

It has been revealed to me by a certain Elder that there is a new version of Lds.org!

Here it is: new.lds.org

Check it out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Armed With Righteousness

 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory" (1 Nephi 14:14).

As I was reading my scriptures a few nights ago, I stumbled onto this scripture--a stumble that made me pause to regain my footing. Having heard many times that we must put on the "whole armour of God" so as to be protected from the attacks of the adversary, this scripture offered a refreshing, new perspective. Righteousness is our protection and preparation for the war that is life. Arming ourselves with righteousness affords us safety as we make our way through enemy-infested woods, such as inappropriate situations or sites on the internet, or as we meander through potentially dangerous mountain roads, such as peer pressure in High School. The story of Moroni's army illustrates the importance of being prepared spiritually when battle is upon us.

"[Moroni] had aprepared his people with bbreastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing— Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their aswords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their bstones and their slings; and they were cnaked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites; But they were not armed with breastplates, nor shields—therefore, they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites because of their armor, notwithstanding their number being so much greater than the Nephites.

"And it came to pass that the Lamanites, when they saw the Nephites coming upon them in their rear, turned them about and began to contend with the army of Lehi. And the work of death commenced on both sides, but it was more dreadful on the part of the Lamanites, for their anakedness was exposed to the heavy blows of the Nephites with their swords and their cimeters, which brought death almost at every stroke. While on the other hand, there was now and then a man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by their abreastplates, and their armshields, and their head-plates; and thus the Nephites did carry on the work of death among the Lamanites." (Alma 43:19-21, 36-38)
I have come to realize in my life that just as a Lamanite without a shield is vulnerable to heavy onslaught, our lives and souls can take a brutal beating when exposed to sinful devices. We must constantly put up our defense especially when the enemy of all righteousness is one that never ceases to plan our demise. We can trust in God that if we are armed with righteousness, though we may still have minor casualties like the Nephites, we will overcome the opposing army of temptations and trials. I know that as we sharpen our swords and enhance our armor by keeping the commandments, we will have the "power of God in great glory" to press forward and progress towards our desired destination. Failure to do so will make us vulnerable to the consequences of sin.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Miracle!

A rather exciting thing happened yesterday, but that you might more fully appreciate this blessed occurence let me first provide a little background. We have an investigator, Abel, who, as investigators sometimes do, had recently ceased to progress in his learning of the gospel. There has been minimal communication between us over the past month and contact has slowly diminished to zero. We were about ready to drop him off our records this week when lo and behold there came a most-unexpected miracle! We arrived early to our weekly English class to feast upon a chicken that was so graciously provided by a member in Petaluma. To our surprise, Abel had just pulled into the church parking lot and was about to leave when he saw us. He had decided to come give English class a shot because of a boredom that had overcome him and he arrived an hour early because of a time misunderstanding. We consequently met with him and invited him to dinner where we shared a pleasant time together before our language lesson. Had not a very particular series of events taken place, Abel may have been lost forever!

"Miracles" are real and they take place according to our faith. "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men? (Moroni 7:27). I know that miracles have not ceased. Miracles of varying proportions take place every day of our lives and if we take a step back, we can see God's influence in our lives. I am grateful that another opportunity was gifted us to teach Abel by our loving Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Walk Among Giants

Welcome to Muir Woods.

I stand all amazed.

There is beauty all around the redwood forest.
This is the view looking up from Earth.


This is called a redwood burl. What are burls?
An impressive experience occured yesterday--one that I will treasure for the rest of my life. We decided sporadically to go see the Muir Woods redwoods. Have you all seen Jurassic Park? Do you remember the look of wonder and shock on Doctor Grant's face when he gazes upon a Brontosaurus for the first time? Do you remember the orchestra of music commencing its award-winning ensemble in dramatic fashion? That is how we felt as our eyes met the Lord's largest floral creations. "Impressive" is inadequate. "Sublime" touches the surface as to the beauty and wonder of those majestic redwoods. On our drive home, normal trees appeared as little bushes to our glance, and the buildings as fallen logs.

Hiking through this national park, the "heartbeat of the Earth" spoke to my spirit and I felt happiness. It was clear to me that this Earth in all its wonder is part of God's eternal plan for his children. Have you ever wondered if there is a Creator? Have you ever wondered why we are here?  I testify that there is a plan--a plan of redemption, a plan of happiness. Learn more about this plan on the church's website: http://mormon.org/plan-of-happiness/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

The adventure that is life often leads us to reflect on our past--be it with remorse, joy, regret, longing,or everything in between. As I travailed through another week of missionary life, my mind was inexplicably caught up in certain corridors of my mind where the lights have been off for quite some time. As I walked these vast hallways, turning the switches on and off as I walked through, and as I began to "feel" those environments again, I recalled a simple yet profound conclusion stated in Alma 41:10 "Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness."

Why is wickedness never happiness? The very next verse gives an equally correct declaration and a response: "And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness." God, as he did with the apostate Nephites towards the sad end of their existence, will not always "suffer [us] to take happiness in sin" (Mormon 2:13). Elder Eccles, an assistant to the president in the California Santa Rosa Mission, wrote this week's mission letter. In it he recalled a recent experience where he and his companion joked around about their way of being in high school. In the process of conversing, they both came to a quick realization that they did not ever want to be those people again. I share in their seeming disgust of our past-selves and at the same time am grateful that I have learned this important lesson in my life. Wickedness never was happiness. Happiness has come into my life as a direct result of repentance and keeping the Lord's commandments, whatever the effort, price, or self-control required. "Consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41). A popular youth speaker, John Bytheway once said "There are two kinds of pain in life: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons." I know these things are true from personal experience and I know that as we strive to change our lives to be more aligned with God's commandments, he will bless us and we will feel joy. Jesus Christ invites all men to come unto him with full purpose of heart and to be healed by his atonement and his love. May we choose to do so is my prayer.

Here is a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson that will shed perhaps more light on the above subject.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Always Grateful, Never Satisfied

Yesterday, the California Santa Rosa Mission was privileged by the visitation of Elder Christoffel Golden, Jr of the Seventy and his wife Diane. It was a beautiful conference in which we heard from and were instructed by these two and by our beloved President and Sister Bunker. There were also speeches given by the senior zone leaders pertaining to the "state" of their zone and various testimonies. The Spirit was poured out in great abundance as we discussed a wide-range of topics and fielded questions from the missionaries. Present at this conference were the Ukiah, Eureka (who travelled nearly four hours to attend), San Rafael, and Santa Rosa zones, comprising almost fifty percent of the mission. Overall, it was a fantastic learning experience for all within the Yulupa Chapel walls in Santa Rosa.

The most impressionable item discussed was the role of Jesus Christ in the plan of happiness and in the atonement. We read Alma 7:11-13 along with various other scriptures, and Elder Golden expounded on the fact that Jesus "knew all men," meaning that he literall knew the conditions of our personal lives. It is for this reason that in the scripture recently cited, we read first that Christ went "forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." It was after knowing our situation perfectly, after feeling the state of our whole existence, and after taking upon him "our infirmities, that his bowels were filled with mercy towards us. He could then willingly and perfectly take upon himself the weighty price of our sins. As we were taught by a special witness of Jesus Christ, I felt as Brigham Young who said "the Holy Ghost proceeding from the individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of that man was true."

Someone very special to me recently suggested that I explain why I chose as the title of this blog "Always Grateful, Never Satisfied." The reason is simply that learning is eternal and true gratitude is a catalyst. As we work at our goals and seek diligently to improve our state while in this life, our natures will be changed. Our gratitude will then propel us and allow our nature to be changed furthermore. We cannot be satisfied with our lives and think "all is well in Zion" to the point that we cease to progress. We are then in danger of losing the light that we have already received. "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath" (Matthew 25:29).

I will close this post with one more scripture to satisfy your scripture pangs: "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

May we be always grateful, never satisfied.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thank You

Cooking is a real talent. It requires practice, patience, technique, and the intangible ingredient of love--qualities that I have not been able to channel to my kitchen experiences. I want to dedicate this post to the wonderful sisters of the Rohnert Park Fourth Spanish Branch because of their marvelous skills with knives, pans, beaters, whisks, and sour cream. It is easy to overlook the impact that a home-cooked meal has on a missionary's day. Eating at a member's home is a tender mercy of the Lord and a wonderful service. Instead of fluttering around with ninety-nine cent macaroni and cheese or microwaveable pizza, missionaries can enjoy a peaceful moment with the members they are called to serve.
Thank you so much Sister Paredes, Castillo, Sanchez, Guadamud, Lopez, Medina, and Escamilla for the wonderful meals that you have provided me and my companions during my time in the Petaluma-Rohnert park area. You sweet sisters not only provide food for our temporal needs but also nourish our spirits with the love and gratitude of your hearts.

A Book of Mormon king, King Benjamin, instructed his people that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." The King of Kings said: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  We missionaries appreciate all of you around the world who do engage in the terrific service of "feeding the missionaries." Our admiration goes to you for being so charitable and loving. I know that as we serve our fellow men, however great or small they are, we serve God--the greatest of all. May we carry that service forward to all men.

Why give service?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perfect Brightness

The Good Samaritan
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men."

We had a lesson yesterday with a member who has been struggling to attend church and we read with him the verse partially-quoted above from 2 Nephi 31:20. We were in the midst of reading it when into my mind entered a sudden enlightenment and clarity.

Faith. Hope. Charity.

We must press forward with unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, with a perfect assurance and hope that following His example will lead us to eternal life, and with his "pure love" guiding our actions. It is a simple summary of what are lives should entail and, as Alma states, if we have faith, hope and charity "then ye will always abound in good works" (Alma 7:24). I know that by actively living the Gospel, we will continuously harvest these qualities within us.

What is the promise for a life saturated with these three Christ-like attributes?

"[Behold], thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Look at these pictures. What do you see? Do you see families? A churchy background? Does your focus rest on the expressions? Is there an unusual event about to take place? Or do you see, as I do, happiness and joy? Do you see, as I do, individuals upon which a great change has come to pass? Do you see, as I do, lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Violeta and Jorge are two of my favorite people in the entire world. They have been great examples of faith in their decisions to follow Jesus Christ and enter into the covenant, or promise, of baptism with Him. Consider this statement by the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi: "He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh." I testify that such a deep love exists and can be felt by trusting and confiding one hundred percent in our Savior. He is the rock upon which "ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Helaman 5:12). Baptism brings forgiveness, offers an opportunity for change, is the way to enter if it is our desire to dwell with God eternally, and most important to our current mortal experience--joy!

Who is Jesus Christ? What is it about His Gospel that changes individuals and blesses their lives?
Click to learn more about Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Stroll Through Nature

It is overwhelmingly incredible how perfect the physical nature of this world is. The order in the structure of every creation, be it small like an atom or large like the planets that twirl around the sun, passes all our understanding. Today we went with a group of four other missionaries to play a round of golf in the beautifully vast hills of Petaluma and Cotati, California. It was a clear day--not cold, nor hot--and the green was as soft as a baby's bottom. The spirit of the game was enjoyed by all despite our mediocre golf skills and the fact that our overall scores were higher than our blood pressure readings. During this time our eyes, noses, and ears were immersed in a pool of beauty. I do not mean that we fell into one of the hole-side lakes (what blessing that would have been given the sunny conditions), but we were able to see the simple, yet extravagant creations of our Heavenly Father. "Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it" (1 Nephi 17:36). I bear testimony that God exists and that we, as His children, are heirs of His glory if it so be that we follow his commandments and develop in ourselves Christ-like attributes so that we may become as He is. How grateful I am for the works of His marvelous hands!

The Savior Lives!

By way of official commencement to my blog, I would like to share with you all that I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). All are free and abundantly invited to follow the King of Kings, be changed by his infinite atonement, obtain forgiveness for their sins, and find true peace in a world of disorder and chaos. I testify that it is only through His merits and our obedience to His laws and ordinances that we can experience this lasting joy and eventually recieve "eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7). I have not seen Him but I testify in his holy name that He lives and that He loves us.