Dear Mom and Dad!
Staying out of trouble is always a good thing! It's not something hard to do here when you are focused so much on learning! :) I hope that things go well with your quest to do taxes and that everything comes out well!
First off, I've been talking with my teacher who went to Paraguay. He's told me a bunch of cool stuff, including that some families hand make guitars, and that those guitars are really great! It's something I'm really willing to look into on my p-days, if I have the time!
I've been continuing to do a verse by verse "analysis" of the Book of Mormon, which I'm pretty sure I mentioned last week. I really enjoyed going through 1 Nephi 8 yesterday. It reminded me of my Book of Mormon class, and I've gotten a lot out of my studies so far! :D
This past Tuesday's devotional was given by Elder Richard G. Hinckley and his wife. Sister Hinckley's remarks were focused on the importance of keeping journals and recording out thoughts and feelings while studying. (See 3 Nephi 23:13). Elder Hinckley talked to us about avoiding the "Groundhog Day Syndrome," referring to the movie. He gave us six steps. First, understand your purpose. While he was talking about MTC life and a missionary's day-to-day life, understanding our purpose helps us to know why we are here and what we need to do to get there. (See John 3:16, 2 Nephi 31:19-20, Alma 34:32 and Alma 37:44-45.) The second step is to be obedient. Obedience is the first law of heaven, and in obeying the commandments of the Lord, we will find greater happiness and a love of all men. The third step was "be clean." He meant that we need to be worthy, and that through our clean thoughts and good actions, the Holy Ghost is able to guide our lives. The fourth step is to work hard. Working hard helps us to realize the benefits and blessings of this life, which includes our families. I'm kind of adding my own thoughts to this step, because Elder Hinckley only talked about being an effective and productive missionary, which everyone should be anyway. The fifth step is to love the people. Without love, we don't care what happens to them, which is completely and utterly hypocritical of missionary work.. I know I am here to invite all to come unto Christ, that through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring (persevering) to the end, everyone can live with our Heavenly Father in eternal life. The last step is to exercise faith. Without works and our good deeds, which are because of our love for our fellow men, and our willingness to follow the Savior's example, faith means absolutely nothing. Likewise, without faith, our works don't mean much.
I've learned so much here at the MTC, and I can't quite explain it all in a letter. Most of it would be in Spanish! ;) What I can say is this: I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith, because of his faith and efforts, sought to know which church was true in 1820. God, our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, appeared to him as two completely distinct and separate beings. An angel of the Lord revealed the location of records of God's dealings with the Ancient Americans. They too, like the Bible, had prophets, comparable to Moses, Noah, and Adam. Through the power of God, Joseph Smith was able to translate those records into what we have today - The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. And it is just that - another testament of our Lord and Savior. Though the power of the Holy Ghost, we can pray to Heavenly Father to know its truth. All we have to do is have faith in Jesus Christ that He will answer us, and sincerely and intently ask in prayer. Prayer is a two-way communication with Heavenly Father… I know that He listens to our prayers and wants to answer. All we have to do is ask. When we do as the apostle James and the prophet Moroni directs: "Ask of God... and it shall be given you." "Ask with a sincere heart, having faith in Jesus Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost." (See James 1:5-6 and Moroni 10:3-5). Our answers won't be huge - they will be silent promptings in our hearts and minds. I can't tell you how the Holy Ghost will touch you, because every person is different. What I can tell you is that when I've prayed with faith about a decision I've made, my body is filled with a feeling of knowing my decision is right. If the decision is wrong, I feel an emptiness. I promise to all that if you read the Book of Mormon, even just parts of it, and ask with faith and a real desire to know, and a willingness to act on an answer you receive, that God will answer you. I've done it. You can do it too. I know that the Book of Mormon can answer the questions of our souls.
I hope everything is going well with everyone! Take care of yourselves! God bless!
Final Pictures July 10, 2012
5 years ago