Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WEEK 88: Where Can We Find Joy?

March 23, 2015 

I love the mission!!! I can't appropriately express through words, my gratitude for this outstanding opportunity to be serving the Lord full-time in His work. There is no other experience offered like this, anywhere in the world! Being able to grow, mature, and learn at an exponential rate has been quite the uplifting time, over the past months. Studying and learning of the Gospel was definitely not something I ever thought I would love so much. There is so much knowledge to gain when the Gospel resources are added to your tools. Study the scriptures, Gospel books, and the words of the Modern-Day Prophets. If you apply what you learn, you will become a new person. Someone you have never even thought existed within yourself--Someone who has never even crossed your mind.

Genaro was baptized on Saturday, and confirmed on Sunday! An incredible experience. He's 19 and is now a solid member of Christ's Church! When the baptismal prayer was pronounced at the service, something really hit me. “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ..” Websters Dictionary defines the word Commission as “Authority to act for, in behalf of, or in place of another.” The Priesthood Authority of God has truly been restored back to the earth and it's people. Jesus Christ himself was baptized by John, who also held the Priesthood (Luke 1:8). It is so essential. God entrusts his Priesthood and responsibility with those whom He can trust. With those who are willing to sacrifice for Him. It's a marvelous thing when you really think about it. Maybe a very simple doctrine, but it amazes me.

So get this! Genaro was baptized at 12:30pm on Saturday. Later that night around 9pm, got a text from him. He asked “What if I don't want to be a part of religion?” My heart dropped! NO! This was not about to happen! Turns out, he got browsing on YouTube and came across a bunch of anti-stuff. We asked if we could come by and he agreed. He tried showing us some anti-video and we let him know we've came across a ton of people who have the same concerns as him. He shared an experience he had when he came home from his baptism earlier that day. He fell asleep and had a dream. In the dream, he was in a cell-like room. His back was up against a cold wall, and he couldn't move his body or speak. He saw a dark figure. The dark figure put his hands on Genaro's head, and he woke up. As he told us this dream, it caught me by surprise. It brought back memories of my second area in the mission, North Salt Lake. There were 2 other people that shared very similar experiences with me of when they were sleeping. Of them not being able to move or talk. These individuals were very close to baptism. Instantly, we had an impression to share a Prophet's similar experience. The Prophet Joseph Smith. When the boy Joseph took it upon himself to ask of God which church was right, he too felt an overwhelming power come over him. Right when he was about to do something great.

"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (JSH 1:15-17)

We testified to Genaro that the adversary does not want him to confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost, so he was going to do anything to stop it. We testified that Joseph Smith truly is the first Prophet of our the Restoration of the Gospel. We promised that if he followed through with everything and received the Holy Ghost, things would smooth out. There is opposition in on things. If we will just obey the Lord, He will deliver us. Genaro was confirmed and is doing well.

Miracle!! A non-member named Jordan showed up to Genaro's baptism after she saw the baptism invitation info on Facebook! She thought she'd come with a friend to check it out. Turns out, she's met with missionaries for 2 lessons and has been coming to church for a month! She just moved into our YSA ward! And she wants to get baptized this coming Saturday! We have scheduled to meet with her literally every day before Saturday in order to cover all the material needed before baptism. I call this, “chain-baptizing” haha. God is good. Just one more reason to love the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. Find, teach, baptize, retain, and reactivate all day!!

If there's one thing I've learned from being out here in the field, it's that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what will bring to the searching soul, everlasting happiness. Joy. Joseph Smith once said:

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God”

For some who don't believe in a God, happiness is still usually their objective in life. The only difference, is that pleasure (usually more instant and always temporal) is what they usually gravitate to. Nothing the world offers as “happiness” is ever long-lasting. Ever. If the “object and design of our existence” is to find happiness, then we need to be searching for the forever lasting happiness. This kind of happiness takes work. It takes patience. It takes persistence. It takes effort. It takes a different kind of mindset. It eventually takes everything we possess.

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” -Joseph Smith
Think about it like this. If Bill Gates came up to you and said, “If you give me all the money in your bank account, I'll give you all the money in mine.”, would you even hesitate to accept? Money has no value in the eternal perspective, so that analogy only goes so far, but do you see the point? Heavenly Father offers us an equivalent to all that he has. But He requires that we give him our all. When in reality, is only our will. That is the only thing that we have to give. The rest of everything we own is actually His. How long and what will it take for us to allow our will to become “swallowed up in the will of the Father”? Why do we hold back? What are we waiting for?

“I say, if you want to enjoy exquisitely, become a Latter-day Saint, and then live the doctrine of Jesus Christ.” -Brigham Young

A simple principle I've come to learn and love is obedience. And the fact that it brings blessings and happiness. We are in this life to “fill the measure of [our] creation”. We do that by obey an all-wise and knowledgeable Heavenly Father who knows how to help us do that. It's quite simple when you think about it. I feel like we often make it much more difficult than it needs to be! If we wish to discover joy, we must be willing to pay the small price of obedience and sacrifice the things we feel are important or of worth to us, and obtain the much greater blessings that are in store for us from a loving Heavenly Father.

“Men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

Study the Gospel, learn the Gospel, live the Gospel. You'll find lasting joy, I promise you! Rely on the Lord in all you do! Trust him. And make choices that will lead Him to trust you. Make every decision with the eternal perspective in mind. Do your best and try your hardest to “fill the measure of your creation. Repent when you mess up, and keep your head up and you'll find joy in doing so.

Keep up the good work!!
~Elder Carroll

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