Tuesday, April 28, 2015

the FAREWELL



TUNING INTO the HOLY GHOST

This here is a picture I keep in my scriptures. On June 7th, 2003 of Rosinka Lake, Moscow, Russia. I was baptized in this lake as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Afterwards I was confirmed a member and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I remember the weight of my father’s hands upon my head, as I bowed my chin into my chest and closed my eyes to receive the ordinance. June 7th was my first encounter with the Holy Ghost.




My earliest memories of the Spirit were times when the Spirit bore testimony to me of the truths being spoken during testimony meetings, sacrament, the temple, general conference, family home evening, and Young Women’s. I was able to recognize the Spirit in these places due to an inviting atmosphere. It was in those surroundings I felt confident with my testimony and the feelings of the Spirit.  But those feelings did not always remain.  And I found the different feelings I had troubling as they confused me and led me to question what I really knew on my own. What bothered me most was when I was not at church, or after a youth activity, where did those feelings of confirmation go? Had I only imagined them? I would begin to doubt my little testimony and it would grow fragile as my uncertainty grew.

While these questions and feelings weighed down on me, I had never done too much to challenge them and search for the answer. The cycle of recognizing I had a testimony only to doubt it the next day continued. It was not until recently that I was able to gain some insight and further understanding. I hope today that I will be able to address you and share with you what I have learned.

First before diving into the wonderful blessing and privilege it is to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I will explain who the Holy Ghost is. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit without a body of flesh and bones. We recognize him as the Comforter, a Messenger, Spirit of Promise, and our constant companion. He helps guide us, bears witness of truth, and enlightens us. D&C 46: 9-11 reads:

9 For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts. 

10 And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church. 
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.”
We receive the gift of the Holy Ghost when we are baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. Baptism by water is significant to the washing away of our sins and being reborn,. The actual sanctification comes from baptism by fire, which is when we receive the Holy Ghost.
2 Nephi 31: 12-17 reads:
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
 15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is a blessing that we can utilize in our lives to help us grow closer to our Heavenly Father. The Spirit is a gift, one that will remain and help us if we enable it to. The Holy Ghost is constant, but are we?
A favorite talk of mine given by President James E Faust is called Voice of the Spirit. The imagery highlighted is an old radio with many different stations. President Faust teaches that in order to hear the Spirit we must “tune in” to the correct frequency. Otherwise the stations and voices will distract us. There are all kinds of voices, there are:
“Murmuring voices that conjure up perceived injustices.
 Whining voices that abhor challenge and work.
Seductive voices that offer sensual enticements.
Soothing voices that lull us into carnal security.
Intellectual voices that profess sophistication and superiority.
Proud voices that rely on the arm of flesh.
Flattering voices that puff us up with pride.
Cynical voices that destroy hope.
Entertaining voices that promote pleasure seeking
Commercial voices that tempt us to ‘spend money for that which is of no worth, [and our] labor for that which cannot satisfy’.
Delirious voices that spawn the desire for a ‘high’. I refer not to a drug- or alcohol –induced high, but to the pursuing of dangerous, death, defying experiences for nothing more than a thrill. Life, even our own, is so precious that we are accountable to the Lord for it, and we should not trifle with it. Once gone, it cannot be called back.”

President Faust describes all these voices as NOISE, noise which bombards us and pulls our attentions away from spiritual things and things of importance. He beckons us to listen to voices of righteousness and pay no attention to the worldly enticements. President Faust’s words helped provide me with perspective. Of course in a setting enriched with the Spirit would I feel the Holy Ghost more strongly- the noise is gone and the righteous voices able to be heard. Transitioning into a different setting such as school the noise returns and while the Spirit remains, it’s voice becomes much quieter- a whisper really.

D&C 130: 22 reads:

“22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
The Holy Ghost dwells within us, his presence is constant. Not only does he remain with us at all times, his guidance he prides us with is never changing. He will provide us with the means to benefit ourselves, as he beckons us to make the right decisions and steer away from obstacles. He will also help us in times of obstacles, as we cleave unto the light. The Holy Ghost will help us in our pursuits of righteous and worthwhile things. While he may be with us, it is up to us if we will listen to him. After some time of being ignored, it is only understandable that over time, our senses will become dimmed if we heed not to the voice of the Spirit.

Sister Burton, the Relief Society General President mentions how we can open our hearts and turn towards the voice of the Spirit. One way is through sincere and humble prayer. We can act promptly on spiritual impressions, search the scriptures daily, live the law of the fast, be worthy to enter into the temple, trifle not with sacred things, be prepared to move forward with faith, let the Lord decide the details of what He chooses to reveal and when, and heed prophetic warnings.

When we open our hearts to the voice of the Spirit, we become more susceptible to the feelings of the Spirit. We will be able to recognize his presence and receive promptings and personal revelation. The times I have felt the Spirit most strongly were the time I focused on actively seeking out the Spirit. The simple things such as saying my prayers, reading my scriptures, paying my tithing, and going to Church. These actions contributed to helping prepare me spiritually to receive the Spirit. At times I have often struggled with keeping these good habits, but I know that it is when I am making a conscience effort to feel the presence of the Spirit that my prayers are answered. Often the answers and confirmations I seek take time and do not come right away. Words, which ring truth to my ears, came to me in a blessing I received,

“Remember that prayers that are answered immediately are faith-promoting, but prayers that require time and patience are faith-perfecting.”

The Spirit is constant; the frequency, which he communicates with us, does not change. The volume at which we listen to the radio does. The answers we seek that take time are “faith-perfecting” and require us to do work. We need to be spiritually prepared to be spiritually enlightened. The Spirit can only communicate to us if we listen intently with open hearts and open spirits.

I am thankful for my parents and the teachers I have had who taught me about the Spirit. I am thankful for the scriptures and the pure and simple truths testifying of the Holy Ghost. I know now that I can pursue the Holy Ghost and while the Spirit is constant, I am the one responsible for my spiritual state and preparedness for receiving His word. The Holy Ghost is a gift we can study, learn from, and cultivate in our lives.

I wish I could go back and tell little madi that it is okay to not always have perfect clarity and explain that we live in a noisy world. Noise confuses us but we can “tune-out” the voices, which draw away from the Spirit. When we focus on things of importance and of eternal value, the clarity we seek can return to us. All I needed to do was “tune-out” the world and “tune-in” to the simple truths I knew to be true.

Brothers and sisters I would like to bear my testimony and share with you a few simple truths I know to be true: I know that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, who wants us to return to live with again some day. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon, which is the keystone to our religion. I know that when we read and study the Book of Mormon, we are able to learn more about the gospel and it's truths. I know that today's prophet, President Monson was also called of God and has the proper authority to receive revelation for the Church and people in today's time. I know that when we follow the prophet, we do not go astray. I am so thankful for the gospel in my life. I am thankful for loving parents and a wonderful family who I am sealed to be with for all eternity. 

and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

the DECISION

A little over a year ago if you had asked me if I would be interested in serving a mission, I probably would have lightly laughed and then ignored the question or said something along the lines of, "Oh that's not for me." Fast forward into the present, I will be set apart tonight as a missionary and report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) tomorrow afternoon!

What changed? Why do I want to serve a mission? These are some of questions I frequently ask myself.

Last winter semester I sat quietly in sacrament meeting. As I listened to the speakers and the messages being shared I felt heavily impressed that I would be serving a mission. Not that I might be serving a mission, or "Oh what a cool idea, missions are good," but that the decision had already been made. The thought came from no where. The messages shared in sacrament meeting had nothing to do with serving a mission and I had not entertained the idea previously. Think of someone pulling fruit out of a basket and then they pull out a puppy and hand it to you. Where did the puppy come from? No clue. The whole experience was overwhelming and I will admit, I was a little weepy.

I wanted to take time to consider my options but I already knew what I needed to do. After church I called up my parents to share with them the news.

The process of preparing for a mission was no simple feat. I am far from perfect and have definitely made some poor decisions in the past. Often I would look up and beg the question, "Why me?" I learned a lot about the process of repentance and Jesus Christ's atonement as I prepared to serve. The initial steps of preparing to serve a mission were necessary for developing my own testimony. I now have a better understanding and greater appreciation for the blessings of the gospel. I am so thankful for this church and how it has blessed my life.

When I think of my opportunity to share the gospel I get goosebumps! I am so excited for the opportunity to study and to share with others what I have learned. I know that those who I teach will also be the ones teaching me, for I have much to learn. I think of sharing the gospel like eating a cake. In two ways:

1) For as long as I can remember, my church life and my social life I have kept separate. Maybe not as drastic as the Berlin wall, but perhaps at times it may have been as extreme. In high school going to church was not cool, at least that is the way I felt. The way I carried myself was already so different: my standards, the way I dressed, spoke, etc. There was no way I wanted to tell my friends about my beliefs. The goal was to keep my friends and my religion, but to keep them in two separate spheres. Now when I reflect back I wish I had embraced my Mormon culture and let it shine through me. Who honestly cares what people in high school thought? My real friends would have loved me the same and that is all that matters.

I felt like I had this delicious cake, let's make it a coconut cake. I enjoyed this delicious decadent cake all to myself because I was too scared to invite my friends to have a piece. I never wanted to offend anyone and I was scared of the rejection.

2) I do not know every little thing about this Church or the gospel. Much like a (well we already have a delicious decadent coconut cake) raspberry cheesecake I only need to take one bite to know that "this" is a good cake -i don't need to know every single ingredient, or where the ingredients come from. The truth has been restored though the prophet Joseph Smith and the gospel, church, prophets -they are all good.

As I study and learn more about this gospel, Christ's gospel, my hope is that I'll be better able to teach others. However I know that my life has been enriched with both cakes, coconut and raspberry, which is why I feel it is important to share with others.I have much to learn and I know it will not be easy. I know these next 18 months will maybe be the hardest months of my life. However I believe they will also be the most enlightening, empowering, and spiritually strengthening months. I hope to serve the Lord and the Poles the best that I can.

My dear sweet sister will be the one attending my blog while I am away,

po┼╝egnanie !








the CALL

-the mission call