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[!]"