Saturday, March 26, 2011

Protecting Our Title of Liberty

   Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a veteran of the U.S. Army. We talked much on the history of wars and the moral dilemnas and burdens carried by those that served. This wasn't the first time I had talked with veterans about the struggles of service, but I had a deeper realization of the great sacrifices of service men and women throughout the world this time around.
   As we continued our conversation he shared his different experiences over his years of service. He was away from home and away from his wife and children as he served his country and protected the liberties of his people.
   There is a great price paid by those willing to serve. They are away from family and loved ones and are unsure of the outcome of their service, but they do it nonetheless. Whether you are just out of high school or have a family of your own its always a sacrifice.
   My freedom, my family, my life, my liberty, and all things important to me are protected and secured by those answering the call to serve, and there will always be a price for our freedoms and liberties.

   In the Book of Mormon there is an account of a man named Captain Moroni. He is the best example of what a man of God does when he is at risk of losing his family and way of life.
    Moroni raises the Title of Liberty to rally his people together to defend their freedoms. It reads, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children."(Alma 46:12) This is what they fought for. This is what they protected.
   There is further scripture that shows the qualities of Moroni. "And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding' yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed a man whose sould did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery"(Alma 48:11)
These are the qualities I see in my friends and loved ones that chose to serve. I am honored to know that my freedoms are being protected, and I am humbled to see the sacrifices of the service men and women that serve and protect their countries. Because, the sacrifice is worth it. Because, God desires us to have the freedoms we so deserve. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Meaning of Our Work

   Recently I was reading through my first journal entries of starting my mission. There were a lot of changes I had to get used to, and I didn't know how to adjust. I just didn't know how to manage. So, I did what I had learned to do through much trial and error, I prayed and started to ponder the importance of what I had been set out to do.
   December 11, 2010 after being a missionary for ten days, and praying constantly for the strength to continue in my service, the Spirit had enlightened my mind.

"A great thing happened to me earlier tonight. We sang our last hymn as a district, The Spirit of God, and I already know the song pretty well so I was looking around. I look down and notice my tag, so I take it off and look at it and feel that amazing joy of being called to serve and having the Spirit of God with me.

 At that point I realized that would be the only time my name would be so close to my Savior in performing the same work and having the same purpose. This is a time in my earthly life that must be cherished. I will never have this opportunity to live in this capacity again." -My Journal Entry-

"It has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest by the power of the Holy Ghost..." Jacob 7:12
The Holy Ghost can enlighten our minds, give us a greater knowledge and understanding, but most important for me is He gives us comfort and peace. To know the importance of the work is what gives me comfort in offering my service to God.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What am I missing? Better Question! What have I gained!?

   So just recently I have been on facebook. As missionaries we try to use it as a means to share the gospel and bring the Spirit into others lives. However, having friends back home on facebook makes it so I peer through a window and see into the lives of loved ones back home.
   Last night was prom night back at my old high school and I noticed some pictures on my facebook wall. I see all these familiar faces and I say to myself "Oh, I hope they had fun!" Soon after I see a picture of my close friends back home and say to myself "Oh, gosh I really wish I was there with them" I realize how much I miss my friends, and begin thinking "Hmm, Elder George what did you do last night?"

Elder Sabin & me cleaning out the freezer

   It all hit me like a ton of bricks! I was being a missionary doing the Lord's work! I had one of the best and most memorable nights of my life. I looked at the things I had done and realized how great the work of being a missionary is. Elder Sabin and I were able to visit families and share the gospel with them. We shared how the gospel had blessed our lives and sought ways to help. We gave service to our fellow man just how the Lord would want us to. We even cleaned the inside of our freezer and somehow enjoyed the experience!

   Being a missionary means so much to me. It requires a little more effort and some helpful reminders, but the reward is amazing. I have been away from my family and life for three months, I have missed some good moments, but I have experienced some great ones. I have made my companion my friend0, I have given service to others, I have learned to cherish the little things in life, and most importantly I have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Me, Elder Heywood, & Elder Sabin

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Power of Testimony...Words of the Apostles

   General Conference is coming up in the next two weeks and it will be my first general conference I get to watch as a missionary. I'm pretty excited for it, especially when I remember how inspired and uplifted I feel after watching and listening to our modern apostles speak and testify of the gospel and the blessing it is to us in our lives. That desire to become better and to have the Spirit with me is always expected. Who would have thought that inspired men, apostles of God, sharing their testimony could have so much power to strengthen my own.
   That is and has been the purpose of the apostles and prophets since the beginning of the world. Prophets were called by God to share the gospel and testify of Christ. When Christ came to the earth and ordained the original twelve apostles they also had the same purpose to share the gospel and testify of Christ.

Christ Ordaining the Original Twelve Apostles
    In my personal study I have been doing a little research on the New Testament in the Bible. I was studying just to see why it was written and why it was compiled the way it was. So, in the beginning of the New Testament there are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
   Matthew and John were apostles chosen by Christ to help lead His Church and spread His Gospel. These men were a part of Christ's ministry, they were eyewitnesses to what Christ had done and shared what they had seen through conversing with others and recording their words. Most importantly they testified that what they had seen, Christ's ministry, had truly happened and that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
   Mark and Luke on the other hand were not apostles. For a long time I thought that kind of diminished the worth of their words, but I soon realized it magnified their worth instead of the former. They had such a strong belief in the gospel that they chose to follow the apostles and write their own testimonies, because even though they weren't chosen apostles from Christ they were still changed by His gospel.

The Current Twelve Apostles

   During general conference we get to hear from Christ's chosen apostles and let their words enter into our hearts and let the gospel change us just like it did for Mark and Luke. I love hearing Christ speak through his prophets and apostles, and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to listen and learn of Him.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Venting Frustrations

   Alright I feel like I have to share an experience that illustrates the difficulties of being a missionary. Everyone knows that the work is hard and often stressful. There are responsibilities and duties involved that require much on a young man or woman. I knew that I should expect to be tired for two years, I knew that I should expect to walk a lot, and I knew that I would give up activities of my old life to be a missionary, but I wasn't ready for this...
   One day Elder Sabin and I were meeting with a sister of the church. She hadn't been to church for a long time, and we had been meeting with her for the past several weeks. I was feeling lost and didn't know what to share with her to gain the right perspective about going to church. I couldn't figure out how to show her the importance of it and why we are so blessed when we go. Then I thought to myself, "Elder George, why do you go to church every week?" I then remembered the great feelings of gratitude and happiness towards Christ and His Atonement when I take the sacrament. I have personally come to appreciate His wonderful gift, and so I felt we could talk about that.
   I asked her what Christ's Atonement means to her, but she wasn't sure. After hearing that, and I'm ashamed to write this, I became angry inside. It was a horrible feeling! I thought to myself, "you mean to say after everything Christ suffered for and went through for our sakes you aren't sure!? It doesn't pierce into your soul and make you feel eternally grateful for His sacrifice!?" These thoughts and feelings persisted throughout our visit and I held back hot tears of pain during our prayer.
   Finally, we went back into the truck and I had to pause for a moment and pray for my heart to be softened, and my compassion to be greater, and my understanding enlightened. If I hadn't I would have lost the Spirit and become a useless representative of Christ.
   Throughout my week I have had opportunities to reflect and ponder upon that experience. I felt that perhaps I hadn't asked the question in the write way, or maybe I hadn't shared the message right. I'm pretty sure that's the case. Yet, I also thought of Christ's infinite mercy, and how he forgave even those that crucified him because they knew not what they did.
   I have learned that my biggest fear has been to share those deep feelings of my soul and have it be completely discarded and tossed aside. Its scary to bear a heartfelt testimony to someone and not know if they will truly appreciate it or throw it in the trash. I have also learned that fear is not of God and when we are rejected we must forgive even as Christ did. If we don't we lose the Spirit, and without it how can lives be changed and the Atonement of Christ be accepted.
   I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Great Is Your Calling?

   Recently, I have pondered the importance of my call as a missionary, yet not only my call but the call of everyone in the church and all the sons and daughters of God. As a missionary I am called to share the gospel with those who have not yet received it, and that is an important call to uphold. However, what is the importance of a bishop or a primary teacher or a Sunday School teacher? We know that the apostles are important, the general authorities are important, and the prophet is important, but what about those callings that seem less-important or less-noticed.
   Every call is important! Why else would Christ have it established in His church. Ephesians 4:11-12 reads, "And he gave some , apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Missionaries generally share that scripture to show that Christ had apostles and prophets in His church, but it also has another meaning. Those callings are to perfect the saints and edify the body of Christ.
   How important is it to teach children and the youth about gospel? How important is it to lead and direct a ward? How great is it to affect the lives of those you are able to share the gospel with? That's what it all boils down to; every church call is important no matter what. For all those that served faithfully in their calling and magnified their calling I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's your work that brings forth young missionaries that share the gospel with the world. Your work is great, and your burdens are many, but you never ceased to fulfil your call to serve! I love the great members in my ward back home and the wards and branches that I serve in my mission. Your influence was important to me, and it is important to God.
   How Great Is Your Calling? You already know, because it's a call from God!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Conversion to The Gospel of Jesus Christ

   As I continue my labor in the mission field I have been able to share my testimony of the Gospel with others. Its something I plan to do for the rest of my life. Sharing the Message of Christ's Atonement and Our Heavenly Father's love for us is my favorite part of this life. Most importantly, coming to know the Gospel for myself and personally knowing God's love for us has been the driving force in me serving a mission. It is important for me to share with others what I know: having families for eternity, marriages for eternity, and living in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for eternity. I share that with others by also sharing the evidences of God's love for us: being able to pray to Him, being able to read scriptures--words from prophets and apostles, and being able to feel the Holy Ghost--His Spirit--tell you the truth of Him.
   For me the absolute truth of God's existence and love for me individually and all of us throughout the world came to me on April 22, 2009. That was the morning that changed the rest of my life. That morning I received the answer I wanted to know all of my life. I have realized since then that I only got my answer because I first had a question, a question I really wanted to know. Is God even there?
   I had heard a voice enter into my mind. I knew it wasn't my own thoughts but something different. A powerful emotion overcame me as a message of love and happiness and most of all a message from God was given to me. I had received my answer. I knew He was there.

   So, here I am nearly two years later. Not much has changed. I'm still on the same course I decided, but I know a lot more. Its taken a lot of time and I had to keep working and asking questions, but my testimony has grown. After reading the Book of Mormon, The New Testament, Serving as a Missionary, and Praying, I have this much to share with you.

The First Vision: Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayers

   God really is there. He is your Heavenly Father and He loves you. If you need proof think of this. If he didn't love you and me why would he send His Son, Jesus Christ, to make it so we could return to Him. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God and it was translated by a prophet of God. Christ's Gospel is restored and His Church is here on the earth again. Most importantly, through Christ's Gospel we can become truly happy and know of God's love for ourselves.

   Continue to pray, continue to ask questions, and continue to seek Him out. "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen." (D&C 4:7)