Friday, May 1, 2009

Doing Good, No Matter What the Cost (Apr 5 09)

Dear Family and Friends,

This last week was amazing. I finish student teaching on Wednesday, which will probably make me cry... but life goes on. And hopefully I have left a legacy of love and faith for my students to remember.

General Conference was amazing. From the Saturday Afternoon session where I sang in the choir (look for me in the bottom left corner), to the sustaining of General Authorities and other officers in the Church, to incredible talks that seemed written just for me, this weekend has changed my life for the better.

Each time I attend or watch General Conference, I am filled with a firm testimony that God truly knows and understands my problems... and that He speaks with His servants here on the earth. I go to Conference with questions, and, every time, my questions have been answered. Sometimes speakers simply bring the Spirit with their testimony and the Spirit teaches me something completely unrelated to the subject of their talk. Sometimes they mention something and the Spirit adds more to what they said. And sometimes they come out and give me the answer I need. The answers I've found in Conference have helped me make difficult decisions, understand trials, and step forward with faith into the unknown. I do not personally know anyone who spoke in Conference this year, and they, upon inquisition, probably wouldn't know my name, let alone the deepest desires of my heart. And yet they, by virtue of simply following the guidance of the Spirit, have had a lasting impact in my life.

I wonder how many people leave General Conference or read the Ensign and are silently touched and changed forever. I'm sure that everyone within hearing congratulates those who spoke, but is it possible to ever really understand the total impact of their words? Do any of us ever truly understand the impact we have on others?

I spent this past summer with my family. One day while we were at the outdoor pool a few miles from my house, I felt like I needed to immediately go home. This was not a very convenient feeling, as my parents had just arrived in the only vehicle brought to the pool, since the rest of us had ridden bikes. The pool would also close only a half hour later. The feeling persisted, and, somewhat confused and frustrated, I drove home. I arrived and checked everything from the furnace to the drain pipes, wondering if some major emergency had caused the prompting... but nothing was wrong. My thoughts were, “I'm here. What should I do?” Within moments, another prompting came. This time, I felt like I needed to wait, and that someone would call and tell me what I needed to do. So I went outside and sat in our van in the driveway with my cell phone in my hand, waiting. Only a few minutes passed before my phone rang. It was my younger sister, who was just leaving the pool. She had forgotten to set the DVR to record the “Hannah Montana in 3D” concert that was showing that night and needed me to start the recording.

As I hung up and realized that this was the reason I had been prompted, I felt a powerful mix of emotions. Shock, that the Lord thought that a Hannah Montana concert was important. Awe, that He cared enough about my sister to value something that was valuable to her, if only temporarily. Amazement, that the Lord would use divine revelation to ask me to do something so mundane... and gratitude, that I had followed the prompting. Perhaps the Lord was testing me – to determine if I would follow Him in little things before entrusting me with other responsibilities... or perhaps He wanted to teach me how far He would go to bless His children.

Another time the Lord used me to touch the life of one of His children was on my mission. My companion and I were looking for an area to visit in the little town of Quartu, Sant'Elena. As we looked at our makeshift map, one street caught my eye. It caught his eye, too, and we knocked every door on the street. We got in once that entire evening (which was actually not bad for Quartu during the winter), but the family wasn't really interested in the Gospel. But we still felt like there was a reason why we had gone to that street... and returned the next day... and the next... and the next. The family we had taught once was never home again, and all of the people who had asked us to maybe pass back were very hostile when we returned. It seemed that nothing was happening until we met a man on the street one afternoon and began talking with him. We didn't recognize him, but he mentioned that he had spoken with us a few days before. We then remembered – he had opened the door but wouldn't let us into his house. We talked with him about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the doctrine of eternal families in this little walkway between the front door and the door to his house. He mentioned that he had read the pamphlet we had left on the family and prayed about it... and that He knew it was true. Because we followed a prompting, we were able to find, teach, and baptize Ignazio and help him to understand and apply the principles of the Gospel.

We can each receive quiet promptings from the Lord throughout our lives. But when we receive a prompting from the Holy Spirit, we can't tell if the final result will be recording a Hannah Montana concert or permanently changing the life of a son or daughter of God. Sometimes we never know in this life. But we can know that by following the promptings of the Lord we are accomplishing His work. We are doing good in the lives of others - since promptings that come from the Lord are those that invite us to do good and come unto Christ. If we will commit to following Him, He will direct our paths and help us to become more like Christ. As you ponder on the messages of General Conference and recent events in your life, whether by watching conference on, pondering, or reading the talks in next month's Ensign, you will feel prompted by the Lord to do things. The Lord never teaches us something without asking us to do something to apply what we have learned. I challenge you to follow those promptings, no matter what they are or how hard or inconvenient they may seem. I promise that as you do so, you will come to better recognize the voice of the Lord in your life. You will become an instrument in His hand – not only to accomplish tender mercies in the lives of teenagers, but also to help to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

I know that God lives. He sent His Son to live and show us the way. He speaks today through a prophet of God, and we can receive personal revelation from the highest if we will simply listen and obey. Follow the promptings of the Spirit, and He will bless you with strength and faith. Go out and be missionaries!

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