Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Testimony Tuesday: The blessings of missionary service.

So I spent a lot of time reading conference talks today and watching Mormon message videos- because I got asked to teach Relief Society on Sunday... so prepare I must! So yeah, I figured no better time than the present to get ideas of what to teach :)
There are always so many wonderful things I find- be it in the scriptures, conference talks, institute, church... the list of inspiring things to learn from the gospel is endless. So I had a thought. Because I feel like I'm always having spiritual thoughts come into my head that I want to share on here. So I decided to do a "testimony Tuesday" type thing... and try to post on Tuesdays about one of those lovely spiritual things from the week. We'll see how well I do :)
But anyways... today I read many talks. But one that I liked specifically was from the October conference of 1983, titled The Blessings of Missionary Service and given by James M. Dunn. Yes, it's over a decade older than me, but the things it talks about are just as relatable to now as they were over 30 years ago. I also think it was given in the Priesthood session and was aimed at Elders going out on missions.... but again, it relates to all of us I think. Especially with all the sisters going on missions nowadays :)
I would recommend that anyone read the entire talk, because it's great. Even if you're not going on a mission or have already served. But especially if you are preparing to serve or thinking about it. Here's the link to it to make it a little easier for you :)

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite things from the talk... but again, I encourage you to read it yourself and get what you individually can from it :)

One of my favorite parts was when Elder Dunn talked of his own mission, and his experience as he performed his first baptism there. He raised his "arm to the square... saying.. "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you."
"I had heard of being commissioned to paint pictures. I had heard of people being commissioned to serve as military officers. But when it occurred to me that I had been commissioned by the Savior to baptize in his sacred name for the remission of sins, I felt a rush of testimony and pride and gratitude that went through my entire soul. I knew that I was in the service of the most important master of all."

This just popped out to me. The missionaries serving now- all elders now and in the future have been commissioned to baptize in the sacred name of Christ. COMMISSIONED. I found a definition for the word that I liked.
Commission- The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty.

granting powers. That's what sticks out to me at least- that the Lord is granting his priesthood power to these boys so they might baptize people as new members of his church. They are doing so by the power, the commission of God. Pretty powerful I thought. What could be more powerful than the power of God? Missionaries... how could you ever doubt your ability to serve? You have the POWER of God on your side.

I won't be performing actual baptisms as a sister missionary, but I can be "commissioned" by the Savior to serve as a missionary of his church. I will be called as a missionary to teach the gospel and convert others as well as myself. :)

Another thing I loved:
"No missionary that ever lived failed to influence the lives of many for the better REGARDLESS OF THE NUMBER OF CONVERTS he may have gained."
I feel like it's sometimes hard for missionaries to not measure their success by number of investigators or baptisms during their missions. But I honestly believe that a missionary can have a successful missionary even if they have no baptisms at all. At a fireside the other day a returned sister missionary explained that she was her most important convert. A mission doesn't only work to convert others, but to also more fully convert oneself. Regardless of the number of converts, every dedicated missionary will touch the lives of so many people. That I'm sure of :)

There were just so many wonderful things I loved in this talk. Here are a few more...

"With respect to his personal challenges, every missionary will tell you, as I tell you now, that as he presses on and exercises his faith there comes the most extraordinary spiritual sensation: a flow of confidence, courage and power to overcome, a knowledge that God is WITH HIM and that he CANNOT FAIL with God on his side-- regardless of the nature of the problem or even the results."
-- God is with us through all our difficulties faced as a missionary as well as throughout life in general. He will not leave us alone. He is ALWAYS there to support and strengthen.... especially when we are in his service :) He can give us the confidence, courage, and power to overcome.

"It has been my experience that while serving full time as a missionary I have felt more energized, more enthusiastic, more optimistic, and more confident in doing what I was doing than in ANY OTHER THING I've done in my life."
-- I want to feel that enthusiasm, optimism, and confidence. I want to experience the joy that I know comes from bringing others unto Christ. Especially after going to Sarah's baptism on Saturday I can't wait to be one of those who gets to teach and bring people to the gospel.

In speaking about one converted family, Elder Dunn mentioned large red letters on the living room wall, translating to "And I Third."
"Well, I figure it this way. God is first. My family and others come second. And I am third."
-- This is something I'm sure we all could remember more. And I AM THIRD. We place God above everything else in our lives- above possessions, friends, even our families. And our families above everything else. Only then can we begin to think of ourselves. What an example of selflessness and humility.

And lastly...
"Above all the benefits and blessings of missionary service that come into the life of a missionary-- and that which brings unparalleled PEACE AND COMFORT to the soul- is the TESTIMONY which comes to him, perhaps not all at once, perhaps line upon line."
I know that a missionary who truly dedicates him or herself to serving the Lord as a missionary will experience amazing growth and spiritual brightness. But there are also missionaries who can choose to simply go through the motions. Only be there because of whatever reason. But I hope more than anything else to more fully convert myself as a missionary. If I have no baptisms or reactivation, I hope that I might at least come home knowing that I have gained a greater testimony and increased the presence of Christ in my own life.

So basically, this makes me excited to serve. Lots of things have been doing that for me lately. I'm getting so eager for when I finally submit my papers... what a wonderful day that will be when I get to go out and serve as a full time missionary! :) The gospel is true and I love it.

Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, here's another link to 50 General Conference Talks on Missionary Work. I haven't had the chance to read any of them yet, but I'm sure they're just ggrrreeat! So I thought I'd share that too :)

So cheers to missionaries and the wonderful work of serving the Lord and converting others to his gospel :) And to hopefully a new tradition of "Testimony Tuesdays".... we'll see :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

A lovely weekend.

I'm not sure what much can beat a weekend of baptisms, family, and friends. :) This weekend I got to make unexpected plans to go home because I found out Sarah was getting baptized :) It was a lovely, laid back weekend, but full of lots of wonderful adventures.
Friday afternoon Kenzie was nice enough to drive up North so I'd have a way home for the weekend. Since we were going through the trouble of a roommate "roadtrip" we just had to stop at Pizza Pie Cafe.... since I told them about it quite some time ago. Sadly, it was a little disappointing... not as fresh and tasty as normal, but still all you can eat pizza (and gold fishy crackers from the salad bar) so pretty good... :) Carter met up with us there too, so they could to have a little bonding time with him ;)
Carter and I went to the Provo temple... it was my first time there and such a wonderful time! There really is a spirit at the temple different from anywhere outside, and that spirit can be felt wherever you are in the world- whatever temple you are in. It is most definitely the house of the Lord :)

Saturday continued in its wonderfulness... starting with Sarah's baptism!
I am so excited for her and to see how her life is blessed as she comes closer to Christ. Sarah's a silly girl. A little crazy sometimes... ;) but she's so great and I know Heavenly Father loves and knows her individually. It makes me think of D&C 18:10, 15-16 (SCRIPTURE MASTERY! :)
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"
This scripture is so true. I know that Heavenly Father must have been overjoyed to see Sarah come unto him and be baptized. The worth of EVERY INDIVIDUAL SOUL is GREAT in the sight of God. He LOVES each of us unconditionally. He KNOWS each of us better than we know ourselves. This scripture is wonderful... and it makes me so excited to go out and serve my own mission later this year! I can't wait to get my call and even more to leave to wherever I get called. I am so eager to teach the gospel to others and do all I can to bring them unto Christ their Savior. The gospel is true and I want the whole world to know it. :)

We also went to the Salt Lake temple on Saturday! So really, it was just a weekend full of baptisms... pretty great :) Cailey, Carter, and I went together and had a most wonderful time :)
Of course, we had to get some pictures by the amazing entrance to the temple...

Such a good experience. I need to visit other temples more often. Although I don't know if anywhere will ever replace going to the Bountiful temple... It's just sort of home for me :)

Hayden and I rode bikes later. Because we live on a lovely hill, we just ride back and forth on the only flat street around. Still pretty fun. I just love riding bikes. Sometimes I really wish I lived somewhere where riding bikes was the norm, and an option (it's kind of hard to get around the hills of Bountiful on a bike! :/ ). but really, bikes are great. So is Hayden :)

This here is our "cool biker" look. We're pretty cool :)

And then we had to get a picture of our "vroom vroom" expressions... as we revved our "engines". OH how I love that boy! Just look at that face... 

It really was necessary to ride bikes, because this was Hayden's last day a a 9 year old. That's right, he entered the DOUBLE DIGITS on Sunday! My little Hayden is 10 years old now. Scary. And sad. :( I think I might cry when I see him after returning from my mission... he'll be a DEACON! Craziness.
Hayden is such a gem. He's so sweet and so FUNNY. I swear his mind is 10 years older than the rest of his friends his age. I treat him like I do an adult... but it's still crazy that he's growing up. He's the little baby! Little Hayden! He just can't get old. ;)
We had a lovely celebration of him on Sunday and also made FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS!
I actually thought it was pretty great... Carter and I were making bracelets, and almost the entire family ended up joining in! I thought it was pretty cute having the family sitting around the table making friendship bracelets together... :)

Carter and I made red, yellow, and black anklets. The colors of the German flag in preparation for his mission there :) FORTY-FOUR days til he heads for the England MTC! Oh meine gute... so crazy but so exciting! :)

Sunday night I drove with Heidi to Provo. I got a little taste of her exciting BYU lifestyle ;) an awesome A Capella fireside, ward prayer, and game night. And I was thrilled to see Thomas and get to spend a few hours talking and catching up a bit on life :) Although he kept me up way too late... But actually, he's getting his own mission call very soon... like THIS WEEK! Probably... :) I'm so very proud of him. He's such an example to me. I know he will be an amazing missionary wherever he is called. He is one of the friendliest people I know. I'm sure investigators, companions, ward members, and everyone else in his mission areas will just ADORE him. He's pretty great :)

And lastly.... today I drove back to Ephraim. All by myself. I didn't die or even get nervous like I normally do when I drive fast... and I even drove faster than my typical 60 mph on the freeway ;) I actually passed other drivers. Rather than myself being passed. I was pretty proud of myself. I figure I've got to learn how to drive on the freeway sooner or later... so I guess this was probably good for me :)

But yes, all in all a pretty gggrreeaattt weekend! Unexpected, but wonderful. Baptisms, bikes, birthday, and bracelets! (Plus Provo, Tommy, and driving... but those don't alliterate ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I'm going there someday.

I am one of those girls who loves her Pinterest wedding board. I almost take pride in that thing. Call me a silly still-teenager, but I dream about having the "perfect" wedding. Quite often actually. (Just watch me never get married ;). Sometimes I just scroll down my different "pins" when I'm bored, and sometimes I just scroll down my wedding board specifically. It just makes me excited, you know? ;)  So I was scrolling through my "Happily Ever After" (wedding) board, and I realized how few pictures I had of this wonderful place. I counted. I only had 7 temple pins out of 800 wedding-related pins. Lately I've been thinking how much the fancy dress really doesn't matter, nor do expensive decorations or food, invitations or announcements. What really matters? This place:

The TEMPLE. The single most important part of my someday hopefully wedding plans.

There are temples literally "dotting the land". In countries all over the world. People speak different languages in these temples- be it German, French, Spanish, English... but the message is the same and the gospel is the same. The sealing power is the same and eternal marriage is the same. How could I take for granted this central part of my future wedding and plan for life and all of eternity? I feel like sometimes we even place too much emphasis on which temple we'll get married in. I want pretty pictures in front of Salt Lake, or I want it to be somewhere exotic like Hawaii. But I guess these details don't really matter. It doesn't matter if you choose the temple in the middle of the bustling streets of New York City or if it's up on the mountain of Bountiful. What matters is what happens inside of whichever temple you choose. What matters is that you can be sealed to your spouse forever. For all of eternity with that person you love second only to God. 

So I guess I just wanted to recenter my focus and talk a little about why that particular focus is so important to me. Yes, I might still dream occasionally about the "perfect" dress, ring, or reception. But I hope my dreams about being married in the temple never leave my mind. This is what, above all, I am aiming for. This is what I dedicate every day to. Living the way I should so I will be worthy and able to go to the temple someday with my love. 
The GOSPEL IS TRUE. It is true here in Ephraim where I'm at school and it's true up at home in Bountiful. It's true in bustling New York City and in the Swiss Alps. It's true in Antarctica... even if only for the penguins ;). It is true wherever I get called on my mission and where all my friends have already been called. God lives. And he is everywhere. The gospel isn't only true in Utah :)

I'm so grateful for the knowledge I have about God. And about temple marriages. That my parents were sealed in the temple and that I and all my siblings are sealed to them as well. That I will someday have the opportunity to be sealed to my own eternal companion. This is the greatest blessing. I hope I never take this for granted again, and that I will always remember that this is what really matters on that someday when I get married. I would trade a beautiful white ballgown for a tattered dress, and a magnificent cake for a cookie if it meant receiving those temple blessings. (I'm just sure glad I don't have to make such an extreme trade ;). Really though, if it came down to it I would choose a temple marriage over any of the glamorous wedding details. Your wedding day is just a day. The temple is for eternity. Which is more important? :)

I love to see the temple. I'm going there someday. I'm just excited for the day when I won't say someday anymore. :)

So next step? Pin some more temple pins ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This boy named Carter.

Carter's been begging asking me to write a post about him... so finally, here it is! I figured with it being Valentines weekend and all that I was justified in writing a post about this little gem. :)

So this here is Carter. He's quite silly, and quite a handful. It's always good to make sure anything breakable is safely put away in a safe place if Carter's around. He likes to chase my brothers around, give my family "pinchy-butts", and chase people around the house with toilet plungers.

Sometimes I think he belongs in my wacky family more than I do ;) I'm pretty sure he's meant to be a Shelley ;)

Once upon a Junior year... we met and quickly came the best of buds! 

He's my first kiss and my first Valentine :)

He's my best friend...

He makes me feel like a princess- telling me I'm beautiful even when I'm dead tired or have no makeup and crazy hair. 

He makes me feel like a kid... :)

He loves me despite all my quirkiness...

We've gone on lots of good adventures together.... 
Like Geode hunting...

Sleeping at City Creek to win "Train" tickets... with my mom :)

Picnics at the park...

Riding his moped when my mom's not watching ;) (only once around the parking lot... :)

And "all night" parties that only go til midnight....

We've gone to dances together....

And even to San Francisco! (our Senior choir trip :)

His voice sounds AMAZING when he sings. It melts my heart. It is like melted chocolate on strawberries. I LOVE IT. ;)

He'll dance in the rain with me...

And sacrifice hours and days for the things that are important to me. (Like the FCCLA fashion show...)

And FCCLA stuff in general...

He stands in the cold to take cute pictures with me :)

and makes me smile, laugh, and just be HAPPY 

He keeps me in line and from being too rebellious :)

And even puts up with our quirky family rituals and traditions ;) (like this ceremonial pool-filling ;)

He wakes up at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise, go hiking, cook breakfast, or simply have more time together.

He sticks with me even when I look like this...

This boy is my best friend. He's the one I talk and laugh with, and the one I cry with when I'm feeling down. He does things we both love, and even those things he doesn't love so much. (like sitting through Pride and Prejudice or the Lizzie McGuire movie). We don't always agree, and we don't always have perfect days... but he is always willing to spend time with me- whether I'm in a wonderful mood or having that time of the month, he loves me still the same (or at least acts like it). He's pretty great :)

In about seven weeks, this lovely boy will head for the England MTC and then be off to the Alpine German Speaking mission. He will be gone for TWO years. HOLY COW. It's still hard for me to believe he is leaving. But I am so excited for him. I will miss him tons- I've already started feeling that now and he hasn't even left yet! It will be hard saying goodbye. But I can't wait to see how much he grows and learns on his mission, and for him to experience submitting himself to the Lord to serve and convert others as well as more fully convert himself. He will do great.
So this is Carter. He is crazy, He is spunky. He is patient. He is loving. He is my best friend. He is Carter.