Sunday, September 25, 2011


A few Sundays ago my companion and I were eating lunch with the family next-door when we heard a huge bang, and all the lights went off. Our neighbor said, "Oh, another tree must have fallen and knocked down some power lines." Really? They do that? That's the sound it makes? It happens enough that that is the first thing she thought of? Those were the thoughts running through my head. And then came, "If a tree fell in the woods and no one was there to hear it, would it still make a sound?" Maybe I'm not smart or intellectual enough, because I've never gotten the depth of that question. I'm always like, "Yes, of course it would, why wouldn't it?" I can't see why anything else would happen, a tree falls, it makes a sound, it shouldn't matter if there's anyone around to hear it or not.

But the other day when I was pondering this I thought of the Atonement. The Atonement is like my hypothetical tree that makes a sound no matter what. We can choose to use the Lord's Atonement, or we can choose not to, but the the Atonement still happened. Christ suffered for our sins, our weaknesses, and felt our trials and pains,1 despite whether or not we turn to Him for repentance or help.

Although it's clear to me that if a tree falls it will make a sound, it's not always so easy to recognize how all-encompassing the Atonement is. I think there are two main times when we, as God's children, forget this. First, when we believe that we can't possibly be forgiven because of the seriousness of what we've done, and second, when we're stubborn and choose not to turn away from our sins and mistakes, and towards Christ. Both are not good, and both are still atoned for by Christ. But we can only take advantage of that when we acknowledge Him and allow the Atonement to work in our lives. Christ has already suffered: He knows how we feel, He is just waiting for us to humble ourselves, to ask for help, to forgive ourselves. The tree is falling, it is going to make a sound, it's up to us to decide if we want to be there to hear it or not. We can all choose to experience the Atonement. I love Alma the Younger's description of his repentance,

"I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold when I thought this, I could remember my pains on more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain... there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you,..on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."2

That is the joy that is available to each one of us. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Atoned for "all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be"3. I know this. It has already happened, for each one of us. Now, we just have to choose to have faith in Christ and His Atonement and experience that joy for ourselves.   

2. Alma 36:18-21
3. Mosiah 4:7

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moments of Joy

I love this video. I've been thinking, myself, about the moments that matter most. The moments that make me smile, the memories that make any hard or difficult time not so bad. Here are a few that I have had over the past two and a half months.
-Rolling out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to see this message from an amazing friend on the bathroom mirror.

-Getting a letter from home that says exactly what I needed to hear.

-Walking into the house next door with all the lights off and the children shushing us because they have devised a brilliant plan to trap a mouse they saw .

-Feeling like the work for the day has been fruitless and then having someone open the door and invite us in and tell us we are the answer to her prayer.

-Getting home after a long day to this surprise on our door.

-Reading a verse in the scriptures and seeing something I've never noticed before.

-Spending a day at the Medford temple.

-At dinner one night a mom asked her children "Do you know what water molecules are made of?" and her 6 year old son, in all seriousness, answered "Spam?"

-Seeing beautiful scenery on long four hour drives to and from Santa Rosa.

         Just South of Ferndale                                 About 50 miles north of Santa Rosa

-Catching sight of a 60 year old man in a full suit ridding a razor scooter down the street.

-Seeing people I love enter the waters of Baptism and make covenants with our Heavenly Father.

These are some of the moments I have been blessed with on my mission. And I know they are tender mercies from a loving Heavenly Father. What are the moments that have made a difference in your life?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Missionary Stories

This video is amazing, it's two missioanries sharing an experience they've had on thier missions that helped them learn of God's love for them (the missionaries are actually from my mission :) ).

Heavenly Father knows us and He watches over us. I know this is true for every one of God's children.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthday Musings

I had my birthday on Tuesday, so I"m now one year older and (I hope) wiser too. Maybe because I just had my birthday, and I've now lived on earth for 22 years, I've been thinking a lot about earth-life. Why do we come to here? What is our purpose? I do know that we lived with God before and that we came to earth to become like Him; to get a physical body and to be tested 1.

To be tested? How does that work? God knows us perfectly, He knows what decisions we are going to make, and how we are going to turn out. Why do we need to be tested if God already knows what is going to happen?

I have thought about this a lot. And I think that it comes down to two things. First, we are tested so we can know for ourselves, and second, without the experiences of earth-life we would never become the people that we can be.

So- for the first part, yes, God knows what choices we will make but we are not all-knowing, so we don't. I think it is like when we were little kids and our parents would dish up our plate with food and sometimes they wouldn't put something on it and we would say "Hey, what about that raspberry pie?".  They would say "I know you, you don't like raspberries, so you are not going to like raspberry pie. You are just going to leave it on your plate and not eat it." They may have been perfectly correct but when they said that I always wanted it even more. Unless I had the pie on my plate and actually had the opportunity to eat it or not, I was never really sure if I would have. Our Heavenly Father knows, but we don't. We wont be able to stand before the judgment bar of God knowing that our Heavenly Father is sending us to the right place unless we are tested. We come to earth so we can know for ourselves and be able to "acknowledge... that all His judgements are just"2.

The second reason, I think, is the most important. Life is sometimes, even often, hard, difficult, and painful. It seems so unfair. Why would a loving God send us to such a place? Our Heavenly Father knows our potential, but we cannot reach that potential without the trails and growth that come from life. I will admit it, a mission is hard. You are away from friends, family, and the familiar, doing things that are not easy or natural, and working harder than you probably ever have before. But because it is so hard I think I have learned more and grown more in these last two-and-a-half months than I did in the previous two-and-a-half years. There is no way I could have not gone on my mission and had someone come to me and say, "So, if you would have gone on a mission you would have learned this, and gained that attribute, and you would know how to do such and such. Those things are all now a part of your character." I can't learn those lessons, get those attributes, or know how to do those things without having experiences where I learn, gain, or do something new. Before we came to earth we had grown as much as we could. We couldn't reach our potential and become the people our loving Heavenly Father knows we could become without the opportunity of coming to earth.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that I'm a little older today than I was last week and I might be a little bit wiser than I was too: but I've come to the conclusion that that is what life is. A time to get older, grow, learn, experience, and to prepare ourselves to once again meet God; with both Him, and now us, knowing who we are, who we have become, and who we can continue to become into the eternities.       

1. Preach My Gospel "Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve p.49
2. Alma 12:15