Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Easter!


I can't believe you are so close!  Yet so far!  ... You definitely came here on a good weekend.  The weather is beautiful out!  I can't wait to hear about your trip!  That is so exciting about Bishop Hong!  Wooo!!  He is going to be so great!

Well, it has been yet another great and eventful week!

C, C, and C were all baptized this last Saturday!  It was a wonderful service.  Elder C and I spoke on Baptism and the Holy Ghost.  The Spirit was strong.  It has been so much fun teaching these children.  Their Dad wasn't able to baptize them, but he gave a wonderful prayer at the end of the service.  He started crying and it was very powerful and moving.  We had a great time!

Investigator Report:
El: Finished the 2nd half of Lesson 4.  Getting baptized this Saturday!
J, Ai, Ni: Didn't get to meet with this week because of Spring Break.  Set to be baptized on the 21st!
Ki, Al, RJ: Didn't get to meet with because of Easter.  Set to be baptized on the 28th!
G: Taught Lesson 2.  Still working towards baptism for May 5th.
A: Taught the first half of Lesson 4.
S: He was out of town this week, too.
Jand A: Didn't get to meet with them.  Brother E said A has really been reading the Book of Mormon and writing down all her questions.  I'm excited to meet with her hopefully soon!

Food Report:
Monday: Chicken Casserole
Tuesday: Prime Rib (Yumm!)
Wednesday: Pork Chop
Thursday: Chicken Katsu
Friday: Pei Wei Spicy Chicken (Pei Wei!)
Saturday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Sunday: Ham, Fruit Salad, Mashed Potatoes, Deviled Eggs, Green Beans, etc. (EASTER!)

Did you know that Tuesday was Tucker's Birthday.  Thursday was Krista's Birthday.  Friday was the Church's Birthday.  Saturday was the Baptism.  Sunday was Easter!!  So much cause for celebration this week!

Oh!  We had dinner at the Terry's for Easter (Sister T is the one that went to Clark High School and showed me Dad's picture in the yearbook).  Sister T put together an awesome Easter Egg Hunt for us!  I found 3 eggs and Elder C found 9.  The eggs were hiding so well!  They made it too hard...But it was so much fun!

Spiritual Thought:
(You get another long one for this week!  I typed it up in a Word Document so that is why it looks the way it does).

To Facilitate And Nourish Testimony
Elder Sean Edwards April 2012

Our Testimonies Must Be Strong

We live in a day of moral decay. We live in an era of uncertainty. We all need to gain a personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ so strong and resolute that it will motivate and promote a righteous lifestyle that will help us to press forward with faith in this ever-changing world. A testimony is a sacred witness of truth. President Uchtdorf said, “When we talk about testimony, we refer to feelings of our heart and mind rather than an accumulation of logical, sterile facts,” (1). We are blessed to have access to magnificent examples of powerful testimonies. These examples of solemn attestations of eternal gospel truths are found in the words of ancient prophets, which we read in the scriptures, and modern day prophets and church leaders, who we hear from every General Conference. Sometimes the seemingly perfect, steadfast testimonies of others cause us to ask ourselves,“Why can’t my testimony be as strong as his or hers?” Sometimes these questions of doubt can come even when we feel we are doing all that we can: reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, keeping the commandments, fasting, and going to church. I would like to give 4 examples of things that prophets in the Book of Mormon did to strengthen and fortify their testimonies that we can then apply to our lives.

Lean On Another’s Testimony

In the beginning stages of building our testimony, we must understand that a testimony is a process. Alma said,“[we] cannot know of [a] surety at first, unto perfection,” (2). Sometimes we need an example to look towards. This same Alma that I just spoke of had a father named Alma who solidified his testimony by leaning on another’s. There was a time when the Nephites were ruled by a wicked king named Noah. King Noah willfully disobeyed God’s commandments and “he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord,” (3) so the Lord sent his chosen servant, Abinadi, to preach repentance. Within the royal court of King Noah were his priests who also heard Abinadi “[speak] with power and authority from God,” (4). We read in the seventeenth chapter of Mosiah,“But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken, for he knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified against them; therefore, he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace. But the king was more wroth, and caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him. But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken,” (5). This marks the beginning of a wonderful change within Alma. Abinadi's testimony ignited Alma's spirit. It was his jumpstart to an unfailing testimony of the gospel which commenced at his trust and interest in Abinadi’s witness. Because Alma leaned on Abinadi’s testimony, he gained the testimony sufficient enough to help the work of the Lord in baptizing about 204 people at the waters of Mormon, establishing the“Church of Christ” (6), conferring the priesthood, teaching and preaching the gospel, helping his son, Alma, gain a testimony, and much more. President Packer said of his youth, “I did not then have a firm testimony that the gospel was true, but I knew that my seminary teachers…knew it was true. I had heard them testify, and I thought to myself, ‘I will lean on their testimonies until I gain one of my own.’ And so it was,” (7). For me, I have used my parent's and my grandparent’s testimonies as a framework for building my own. It has helped me immensely.

Find Something To Hope For

There are so many people in the Church, our brothers and sisters, who are wavering in faith and unsure in testimony. Many are ready to “call it quits.” If the previous statement rings true to you: Do not leave! Do not quit! It is my promise to you that there is in the Church at least one gospel doctrine intriguing enough to prompt you to stay. For non-members, surely there is a gospel doctrine intriguing enough to give you the push to start. Enos said the doctrine he favored was “the words which [he] had often heard [his] father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints,” which he allowed to “[sink] deep into [his] heart,” (8). Enos said that he “often” heard about eternal life and joy. This leads me to believe that Enos “often” thought about this particular doctrine. Because Enos found something to hope for, it led to prayer, a forgiveness of his sins, stronger faith, his own conversion, and, of course, an increased testimony. As a youth, I recall singing Hymn No. 256, “As Zion’s Youth in Latter Days.” Some of the lines read: “As Zion’s youth in latter days, we stand with valiant heart, with promise shining in our eyes, resolved to do our part,” and “As Zion’s youth in latter days, triumphant, pure, and strong.” In my teenage years, I did not feel so “triumphant, pure, and strong.” In fact, I felt crippled in my testimony of the gospel, but I found something to hope for. The doctrine of eternal families fascinated me. I could not imagine my life without my family and the thought of being with my family forever brought me much happiness. Although I struggled in my youth, the hope I had in eternal families helped me to endure, and sometimes that enduring meant conquering challenges day by day and little by little. The hope I had helped me to stay active in the Church, continually pray, and not give up. Because I found hope in a gospel doctrine, my testimony was nourished and strengthened. You, too, can apply this principle, like Enos did, and hope in eternal life, eternal families, prayer, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and whatever eternal truth excites you.

Notice God’s Hand In Your Life

A natural byproduct of recognizing God’s hand in our lives is a reinforced testimony. As we think in our minds, see with our eyes, and feel in our hearts the tender mercies we have received, the blessings we have been bestowed, and how the Lord leads us to righteousness and joy, our testimonies are fortified. Sometimes events occur that cause us to immediately see God’s hand in our life. A few years ago my Mom, Dad, and younger sister were traveling back to New Jersey from spending a Summer in Utah. My Mom was driving on a highway in the left lane on a beautiful, clear, sunny day. All of the sudden, a thought came into her head to move into the next lane to the right. She signaled and moved. The next thing she saw was a car from opposite traffic come flying across the median going 70 miles an hour. The car hit a semi-truck that had pulled up beside my family in result of my Mom changing lanes. It was a devastating and horrific scene. My Mom, Dad, and younger sister would not have survived the crash had my Mom not heeded the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost. That day, I immediately saw God’s hand in my life and my testimony of God’s love and the protection the Holy Ghost provides when we listen to His promptings increased and grew. Other times, more often than not, we have to think and ponder to notice God’s hand in our life. Nephi gives a great example of this. On the third attempt to get the brass plates from Laban, Nephi found Laban on the floor “drunken with wine,”(9). The Spirit exhorted Nephi to slay Laban with his own sword for “it is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief,” (10). Nephi then says, “And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise. Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass. And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause – that I might obtain the records according to his commandments. Therefore I did obey…” (11). Through careful thinking, Nephi recognized, “The Lord promised my seed prosperity, but in order to receive blessings, they need to keep the commandments. In order to keep the commandments, they need to know the commandments. In order to know the commandments, they need the brass plates on which they are written. And, that is why I am here now.” In noticing God’s hand, was Nephi’s testimony strengthened? Yes, indeed tremendously. If we recognize God’s hand in our lives daily, our testimonies, too, will become like Nephi’s.

Bear Testimony Frequently

In helping a testimony to grow, it must be born and shared with others. We can bear our testimonies privately to a friend or publicly in church. Whatever the situation, whenever testimony is shared, testimony is strengthened. Alma the younger bears his testimony often throughout the Book of Mormon. Some of my favorite examples of Alma bearing his testimony is when he shares what he knows to be true with his sons, Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. To each of his sons, Alma bears testimony of Jesus Christ. To Helaman: “…the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise,” (12). To Shiblon:“…there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness,” (13). To Corianton: “And now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people,” (14). Was Alma’s testimony strengthened as he bore it? Undoubtably. Elder Oaks said,“Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them,” (15). However small or simple or even non-existant we think our testimony is, if we bear our testimonies of what we do know to be true or even of things we hope to gain a spiritual witness of, our testimonies will strengthen, grow, and climb to new spiritual heights, for we know that we cannot obtain all knowledge at once. The Lord has said, “…I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an hear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more…” (16).

Testimony Blessings

As you implement these suggestions, according to your choice, I encourage you to continue to read the scriptures, pray, fast, go to church, keep the commandments, and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost. And, if you are not doing these things: Start now! It is true that we live in a time when we each need to gain a personal testimony. It is a solid testimony combined with righteous actions that will allow us to withstand the earthquakes of adversity and when the Richter scale of temptation is at its worst, we will remain calm, steadfast, and unshaken. As we lean on another’s testimony, find something to hope for, notice God’s hand in our life, and bear testimony frequently, we can develop a firm, self-reliant testimony that will change our lives and the lives of those we come in contact with. It is my testimony that God loves His children. Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who, through the Lord, restored Christ’s true church for these days. The Book of Mormon is true. I know it is. President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today who leads, guides, and directs our course back to Heaven. Following and living the gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, is the only way to eternal life with our Father in Heaven, Savior Jesus Christ, and families. A testimony of these unchanging truths is essential. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1) "The Power of A Personal Testimony," 2006.
2) Alma 32:26
3) Mosiah 11:2
4) Mosiah 13:6
5) Mosiah 17:2-4
6) Mosiah 18:17
7) "Counsel To Youth," 2007.
8) Enos 1:3
9) 1 Nephi 4:7
10) 1 Nephi 4:13
11) 1 Nephi 4:14-18
12) Alma 37:45
13) Alma 38:9
14) Alma 39:15
15) "Testimony," 2008.
16) 2 Nephi 28:30

....End of Spiritual Thought.

Well...I love you all SOOOO MUCH!!!  Thanks for all the love, support, and encouragement.  Keep writing!  I love hearing from you!

Elder Sean Edwards