Monday, April 26, 2010

Revelations on life, learning, missionary work

Wow. Another crazy week has passed.

Projects at the MTC are moving forward at full speed; we’re moving this week (again); I didn’t make the final round for the job I applied for at the Church Office Building; graduation day at BYU made me nostalgic for school; and my human resources training seems like it will help me at work and in life. But the most interesting thing that happened this week was that I think I am a bit closer to understanding the type of work I love and what I really want to do in life.

When I was younger (from the beginning of conscious thought through college) I envied people and storybook characters who had their lives all planned out. They loved math and were good at it, so they became statisticians or mathematicians. Or they excelled and loved writing and became writers. They had the key ingredients of passion and ability to shape their lives and help them find fulfillment in their work, and they fulfilled the commandment to share their talents with the world. I, on the other hand, somehow ended up with a grab bag of assorted gifts and talents – from writing to swimming to teaching to singing to physics – without the accompanying passion to pursue all of them. I’m definitely grateful for the talents I’ve been given, but I didn’t even have the passion to pursue one of them – I’ve never been able to imagine myself happily situated in a career doing any of things I’m good at. I would have gladly traded most of my talents (example: Debate. Who really wants a talent for debate? I got nominated as the best debater in my class in high school. That would be fine in itself, but many of my friends claim I am constantly in ‘debate mode’ – even in casual conversations. Since I don’t know how to turn the over-assertive ‘debate mode’ off, life would be simpler if I lacked the talent) for direction in life. I actually asked the Lord, sincerely, if He would do the exchange – like when, for Nephi, He took war and replaced it with famine – but He explained that my situation was different. I had been given my talents for a good reason, and part of the reason was that I needed to figure it out. My patriarchal blessing is conspicuously vague on the subject; it says that as I choose my vocation in life, I’ll receive blessings from the Lord. And so I’ve tried a lot of different vocations with the hope that one would turn out right. I’ve written books, worked on video games, performed in plays and movies, and done educational research. I’ve been a teacher and a curriculum designer, studied half a dozen languages, started a business, and taken courses in everything from plant propagation to computer science. And nothing felt right. But, somehow, through it all I’ve felt like I’ve been guided. It’s like each job or training is a piece of some massive, intricate puzzle that I really can’t understand. But, along with the years of dance or the jobs that I’ve held, are accompanying miraculous stories. The thing I’ve been searching for is trying to understand what I really want to do in life – something that makes me love life – that makes me get up in the morning and give thanks to God. And, as much as I love learning, it definitely isn’t physics research, or aromatherapy or even music or teaching classes on food science. But I think I’m closer to knowing what it is.

It all seemed to fall together this week. I was nostalgic for school when BYU was full of new graduates with their caps and gowns, and I wondered what I had learned in the last year. Not just knowledge, but what I had learned about myself. And, looking back on the things that made me happy, I saw a pattern. I’m happiest when I’m helping other people make changes in their lives, and when I’ve helped change organizations to better meet the needs of people. It’s that simple. I used to think that my passion in life was teaching. Then I realized that I couldn’t teach the same subject year after year without going crazy. Then I thought my passion was learning, and realized that there were plenty of things I didn’t want to learn. And so now I think I’m closer – and the passion of my life is enabling and motivating change – bringing people and organizations closer to Christ. At least, I think so. That could explain my love of learning – because it enables me to change my own views and beliefs about the world – and to improve my actions to become a better person. It could also explain my love of teaching people, because I love to help them gain and apply knowledge in their lives. And it’s why I’m passionate in changing organizations – because through change we can work with greater efficiency, with better results and happier customers and employees. When I thought my passion was teaching or learning, I said that I wanted to change the world of education. In reality, I just want to change the world. Changing education is just a part of it. So there’s my talent and passion – learning, applying, and teaching others principles that apply in their lives.

Wow. That’s exactly what I do in this letter each week. I look at my life, synthesize the things that the Lord has taught me, share how I am applying them, and then try to create an invitation that others can follow. And, proof that I am at least closer this time to finding what makes me tick, for the last 5 years writing this letter each week has been a major element that has kept me going and given me purpose in life.

So when I was rejected from the job offer at the Church Office Building, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. Two of my bosses and the Lord had mentioned some aspects of the job that hinted that it probably wouldn’t be right for me, and I realize now that I was just grasping at straws, trying to make sense out of what I couldn’t yet make sense.

And so I’m still at the MTC. I had an amazing revelation this last week while on my way to the temple. I was trying to identify the vital behaviors of missionary work – what makes a missionary who is successful in implementing the rest of the missionary behaviors different from a missionary who does everything right, but rote. The realization came as the Lord taught me that the Spirit is the most important element in the work. “If ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach.” It’s not, “If ye receive not the Spirit, then your lesson won’t go well,” or “If ye receive not the Spirit, do your best anyway.” The message is clear, and the impact is far-reaching. In missionary work, having the Spirit is the most important aspect. If you have the Spirit, the work will go forward. If you don’t, “ye shall not teach.” My interpretation: the vital behaviors in missionary work are: 1: Be exactly obedient (to be worthy of the companionship of the Spirit). 2: Schedule time to ask for guidance and listen to the Spirit each day (prayer, planning, and study time). 3: Always be in an environment where you can hear the promptings of the Spirit, and keep a prayer in your heart. 4: Act on every prompting from the Spirit, immediately. 5: If the Spirit leaves, get out of bad situations immediately. Then stop, repent, pray, and don’t move until it returns.

Sometimes life can seem to be a massive puzzle… where you only see the back side of individual pieces. I know it has been that way for me. But I also know that God loves us and wants us to be happy. And, if we will look to Him for guidance, He will help us to become the people He sees in us. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have the ability to change, to grow, and to be happy. And, if we will follow the guidance that we receive at the hand of the Lord, someday we will be made perfect. My invitation this week is simple: try to identify one of the things you love in life – not just the things that are fun, but the things that hold so much value that they contain part of the purpose of your life. Look at your past, the things with which the Lord has blessed you, and your dreams for the future… and then find a way to do more of the things you love most. I’m going to figure out this week if there is a graduate program that will help me learn to help people change their lives (hopefully something other than psychology). Then, when you have found it and applied it, go out and be missionaries! Share your love of life with others… and they will come closer to Christ.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Influence and Education

I fell asleep this afternoon without intending to – a sure sign of being tired if there ever was one. Longer hours at work have been nice, since I've had the opportunity to have a major impact on our projects at the MTC, but they've also been draining. My uncle also had a late-into-the-night birthday party during the week, an aunt had a pre-marathon party, and I got home late last night from a date. So I guess there are plenty of reasons to be tired. At least for today I've made the commitment to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Which means writing while the sun is still up instead of staying up until two in the morning.

I've had some interesting experiences this week. Wednesday morning I woke up and began singing (as is customary) and, while leaving the apartment, noticed little blue paper notes on the outside of my neighbor's doors. Something about the stairwell at my complex has always made me want to sing, so, still singing a song from Phantom of the Opera, I turned and found the same note on my door. It was an invitation to a Relief Society activity, and I turned back to the stairwell. Then, suddenly, the door across from mine flew open and a woman in her late thirties cried out, “You! You have an amazing voice. I need to know your name! Come in! Come in!” She ushered me into her apartment, which was a bit messy; what hit me first, though, was a row of 6 well-cared-for potted plants in the middle of the room. Everything but the plants was in chaos. “You must think I'm crazy for living in a house this messy. I'm crazy to live in a house like this. How could anyone live in a house like this? I'm sorry. I need to get a piece of paper. Don't go away.” She rummaged through a drawer and found a piece of paper and a marker, then asked, “What's your name? Are you a missionary?” I was dressed for work, which includes a suit, tie, and a white name tag, so I smiled. “No – I just work at the MTC.” I gave her my name, and she tried to explain why she needed it, but in her anxious & excited state I was only able to catch something about Sandra Bullock, Christ, miracles, and a story. As I left, the Lord told me I had just been involved in a missionary experience... I just have no clue what it means yet.

A friend at Institute has had a massive rash for the last month. Her doctors put her on intense medications and were still unable to treat it. I suggested that she change her diet – eliminate sugars, fats, and empty carbs – and she took me seriously. Today in Church she was smiling and rash-free; the culprit was probably a daily ice cream shake from her new workplace.

And then, as I was leaving work on Friday, I talked with one of my managers. His office is the home of “the candy drawer” - a drawer that, for years, has stayed full of candy no matter how much you take out, and to which everyone is invited and entitled at any point in time. I don't think I need to share my deepest feelings as regards the drawer. He mentioned that he had recently felt promptings telling him to live more healthily. Even more amazing – he had already made plans to act on the promptings, from getting a bike to buying fruit to bring with him to work. He then let me in on a secret: the candy drawer just received its last refill before death by attrition. Wow. Miracles happen every day.

I signed up for a Human Resources training this week and I've been reading a book to prepare for the class. The book is titled Influencer and is really interesting. It suggests vital behaviors that enable people to make an impact in others' lives and how to implement them into change models: Focus on a few vital behaviors that will achieve the result you need, then use a variety of motivational and enabling methods to help change happen. As I read, I was able to see how true the principles are, and how I've unwittingly applied them already. Over the last year, I've had plenty of opportunities to share why I eat healthily and to invite others to do the same. But a year of lunchtime platitudes has done very little except instill a mild sense of guilt in my coworkers – because, in their hearts, they didn't believe that eating healthily was worth it. Or they didn't believe it was possible. Taking healthy food with me each day – and helping them to have their own positive experiences eating healthily on a daily basis – has suddenly changed my workplace. People bring carrots and apples and a healthy lunch; others are spending more time exercising and drinking more water. The book explains how telling stories, and allowing others to experience their own stories, is a hundred times more useful than simply verbally telling information.

I can see other applications: helping friends make life changes, helping missionaries to change their paradigm in the curriculum we are writing, and, ultimately, changing the world of education. Someday, along with 3rd-party assessment tools that will enable students to choose their own courses in life, I'll create classrooms where students are taught by students – and where students who have learned just a bit more are held accountable to the success of the students they teach. In a system like that, there would never be problems with too much teacher-directed class time. There would never be issues of whether something was good for a student or plausible for a teacher. And, by making students into teachers, students would learn more than ever before. Obviously it would have to be carefully crafted... and require a major shift in culture. But I think it will be possible. Someday.

Recent events have shown me an interesting turn in my life: for the first time, I am studying things I never wanted to learn, including behavioral psychology. It, along with political science and law, was the only thing I ever “knew” I didn't want to study... and I have always avoided it like the plague. Part of my avoidance of psychology was a fear that, if I really understood how people acted and why, I would automatically become manipulative and treat people like 'patients' that needed curing instead of really caring about them regardless of the outcomes. In the years that have passed, I've learned how to better love the people around me, and now I find myself reading through social science reports, summarizing findings from journal articles, and applying social science principles to my life to help me be a better influence in the world around me. Am I afraid that maybe it will backfire and push me further away from the people I love? Of course I am – nothing terrifies me more. But that means that I'll always have to rely on the Lord... and, with Him at my side, I can't go astray.

So the lessons I am learning are similar to the ones I learned last week – learn to love everything, be a good example, and help others make changes in their lives themselves. If I had possessed the executive power to ban junk food from the face of the earth, a year ago I would have done it. Today, I feel like I do have that power – the power to help people make better choices and become who they really want to be – all I need to do is use it. I know that God loves us, and that He placed us here, in life, among one another. He could change us... and put us in situations where we would have to choose the right, but, instead, He entreats us, blesses us, encourages us, and helps us along the road to righteousness. I think we can all do the same in our everyday lives with others – be a friend, a helping hand, a listening ear, a kind gesture, a loving embrace. And then the people will come closer to Christ – of their own accord. I know that God lives. He sent His Son for us, and He will guide us in accomplishing His work. The work is moving forward. Go out and be missionaries!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just another week

This week has been amazing. I think the theme of the week is making a difference in the lives of others. Following General Conference, I made the decision to take healthy food with me each day to work. My reasons were multiple; it would ensure that I had healthy food to eat (as opposed to simply skipping meals), show my coworkers that I cared about them, hopefully influence their eating habits, and give me a chance to serve them. So, Monday morning, I arrived to work with a tray of chopped carrots, crackers, homemade hummus and salsa. It was an instant hit. In the days following, I took other healthy foods – carrots, celery, olives, apples, oranges, pears, and homemade dips from hummus to peanut butter. And already, after just a week, my coworkers are mentioning how much they appreciate it and how it is affecting their dietary habits. “I tried to go eat my normal food... but I just couldn't – I felt like I wanted something healthier” was one comment, followed by, “I think we are all going to become converted to eating healthier.” One even brought his own healthy food to add on Friday afternoon. Wow. For some of these people, we have had conversations about eating healthily for a year now, with no visible changes. And now, within a week, I begin seeing results from simply taking the time to share part of my life with them. They are bringing healthier snacks with them to work. They take less trips to the “candy drawer” (a manager keeps one of his drawers full of candy available to anyone who wants it – right now I am openly at war with him). They eat healthy snacks instead of skipping food altogether. And I love it – being able to bless their lives and give meaningful service is worth whatever it costs me in time and grocery bills. And since I only buy produce that is on sale, I feel great about it anyway. Grocery shopping and food preparation has become an opportunity to find ways to bless the lives of others. Amazing.

In my quest to help people become healthier, I've been trying to find even more ways to become healthier myself. I attended a wellness seminar through BYU Human Resources a few weeks ago on using diet to reduce cancer risk. I felt validated while he talked about focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, eating foods in their natural form, avoiding processed products, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But he mentioned one thing that made me squirm – watching the sodium content of foods. Excess sodium intake causes an increased risk of cancer, and, worse for me, an increased load on the heart. Heart problems run in my family, so I went home and looked at the foods I eat. Two foods in particular shocked me – canned tomatoes and canned beans. Eating a can of tomatoes puts me just shy of the maximum allowable sodium intake. A can of beans is only slightly less. So eating a can of beans and a can of tomatoes (which is easily normal fare when I'm hungry coming home from work) is way more than what is healthy. My first thought was to try finding something to substitute. After a few hours of research, multiple trips to hardware and other stores, and failed attempts at finding calcium chloride, I returned home one day with a 40-lb bag of potassium chloride. If you buy the 1 oz Morton size that is labeled “Salt Substitute,” it costs you $4. If you buy the 40-lb Morton size that says “Additive-free Potassium Chloride,” it costs you $20. Follow up on the manufacturer confirms that the big bag really does have no additives. There was no deliberation on my part. Potassium chloride, however, has a slightly different taste from normal salt. In some things, it tastes just fine. In others, it leaves a strange metallic taste... and makes me think of unripe bananas. So I'm experimenting and learning how I can use it in the long term.

I gave a talk today in church. My topic was assigned as the article from the March Ensign titled “Digital Detachment and Personal Revelation.” All week I struggled to determine how to give the talk – whether to base it off of personal experiences, stories, scriptures, quotes from the prophets, or another point of view. Obviously, I would probably use all of those, but what would be the defining factor – the key ingredient to tie it all together? My ward is sleepy during Sacrament meeting, but they also really need sound doctrine. And, because they are students and young adults, they need something incredibly memorable. What would work best? After spending time during the week, all day Saturday, and most of this morning trying to find the right pieces, I finally followed the prompting to reuse the format of a talk I gave about a year ago about a boy named Jack. In the talk, I told Jack's story multiple times. Each time, Jack made a fatal mistake en route to school which caused him to fall into a pit, get bitten by rattlesnakes, and die. After reviewing the mistake and teaching the associated doctrines, I retold the story. This time Jack applied the associated principle and bypassed the pit of rattlesnakes... until he made another mistake, fell into another pit of rattlesnakes, and died. The story is easily related to the spiritual consequences of making poor decisions, but the physical interpretation (each of the five endings goes: He fell into a pit and got bitten by a rattlesnake. He died. The end.) is just absurd enough to be both memorable and funny. Since the talk was on personal revelation, as Jack followed more and more of the steps to personal revelation, he got closer and closer to school. The five steps to receiving revelation I outlined were: Unplug from distractions, ask the Lord for guidance, study it out in your mind, keep a record of your promptings, and work hard.

On the surface, the talk seems to have had the motivating effect we needed. At one end, the bishopric was approving and people made references to 'unplugging' from digital distractions in Sunday School and Priesthood meeting. At the other end, ward members asked me why Jack didn't use Yahoo maps on his iPhone to not get lost; others made strange comments about my choice of snakes. Either way, they were listening and at least remembered the story for the two hours that followed. Hopefully they will also remember the principles behind it.

I'm seeing an impact in other parts of my life as well. A friend mentioned that she had a case of hives that doctors haven't been able to cure. She had open sores in many places because of itching. I handed her a bottle of lavender oil and she mentioned today that it worked amazingly well – her skin is finally healing. At Institute, the couple in charge of refreshments took interest in my diet and has begun to bring foods that could be categorized as uber-healthy: no-sugar-added, no-fat-added, vegan, whole grain cookies, homemade hummus, homemade pita bread, and assorted vegetables. Wow. And I've had more and more opportunities to help people at work.

For me, finding little ways that I can share things in my life with others has made all the difference this week. From taking food to work to telling stories in Sacrament meeting, I feel like I am influencing the people around me and helping them to make better decisions in their lives. And that is one of the things that makes me happy – being able to invite others, in whatever way, to come closer to Christ.

I know that God is our Father. He loves us and answers our prayers. And He gives us the opportunity to bless the lives of others here on the earth. My invitation to you this week is to look at your life and find something little you can do for others, and to do it. Maybe it's simply smiling at everyone you meet. Maybe it's making a phone call each day to talk with a friend. Whatever the choice, I know that as we strive to bless the lives of others, the Lord will bless us and help us (and those we serve) come closer to Him. Go out and be missionaries!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Revelation at General Conference

I'm not sure what to say. When I attend General Conference, I feel like the Lord is speaking directly to me – as if the speakers wrote their talks as direct answers to my questions. I don't want to write about anything other than Conference, but copying all 20 pages of notes would be long-winded even for me, so I'll just include a few of my thoughts. It's a bit haphazard, but you'll probably benefit from reading your own notes more than reading mine. My invitation to you (if you haven't already done so) is to review and write your own feelings and the promptings that the Lord gave you this General Conference.

Some of my thoughts:

The father always, always, always should administer to the ordinances of salvation for his family. He can choose others to give blessings and make decisions... but he should always, always, always administer to his children in the most important ordinances.

We can be certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us.

For those who eschew evil and live good lives, things can get better and better, even in difficult times.

How do we know our path of duty in a time of crisis? We pray.
Humble, sincere, inspired prayer makes available all the guidance we need.
I wonder if this means that I need to find the answer to my questions outside of General Conference... if the Lord is teaching me that He wants to have a more personal conversation. I can definitely understand that – I haven't been as faithful in everything as I should be... as I want to be.

I don't know if I will know what I need to do... other than stay close to the Lord, pray for His guidance, have faith, have hope, and move forward in the work. I don't know what that will mean. Perhaps it means making plans... trying new things, knocking on doors to see if they will open. I don't know what will happen at all. And I wonder.

Mothers have an impact and effect on their daughters... and everything that a mother does becomes a part of her daughters forever. Maybe that means that I need to find a mother that knows – a mother who is so completely engaged in the Gospel... and then look for her daughters.

How can I bless the lives of others? I'm not sure how to make an impact in the world.

I need to rescue others... I need to reach out to people... and I don't know exactly how.

The people who paid their life's savings for a Bible... and ran the risk of being executed. What did they know that we lack?

Take the time to obey the Lord – to do the things that the Lord has asked me to do and to be obedient to the commandments He has already given me.

You can't give the knowledge you have to your children. You can't. You can't. They have to learn it for themselves – the same way that we learned it.

Blessing: If you will do this [follow this pattern to teach your children], your children will be able to see afar off and hear the trump... and be a blessing to your family and your posterity.

I will give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
If we want it deeply and truly enough, that enemy can and will be rebuked... forever more.
The light of the Gospel can and will shine where we feel it has gone hopelessly and helplessly dark...

If we are sick and ask the Lord to bless us,... I need to do all the things necessary... it appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge and then to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.

Healing blessings involving the power of the Priesthood. We will need this power (the Melchizedek Priesthood to bless the sick) more in the future than we have needed in the past.

“Our faith is in Jesus Christ and is not dependent on outcomes.”

The Missionary Department just posted a job on the Church website. Should I apply for the job? I think I want to be there. That means I'll have to apply for the job. Would I be happy? Yes – it's a learning experience and another type of teaching experience. Life goes on. And it will get better. I'll talk with my boss about it on Monday, and I'll work on my resume and application this week to make sure that I make a perfect fit.

Wow. I think I just heard the answer to my question. “A mission call is the most important work that you can do.” It is definitely clear, and while he meant it in a different way, it feels like the answer.

So that's my decision. I'll talk with my boss and apply for the job in the Missionary Department; I'll ask some people for references... and we'll see what happens. Will it affect my work in Development? Yes, but I've felt that I needed to look for a new job for a while. I've felt that I needed to move in a different direction for a few months now... and I can help train others to take my place in the department. Yes, it will be sad – and I'll miss the people in the department. But it feels like the right thing to do... and we'll see how it works... if it is the right direction... if I end up getting the job. The likelihood of getting the job is minuscule in the first place; I don't know what will happen. But I'll try it. Who knows? Maybe it will work out. And maybe I won't get the job and life will go on. Who knows?

What will my bosses think? And what do I think? I hope they don't feel like I'm abandoning them... like I'm pulling up roots in the middle of a project where they need me. But do they really need me? They have teams and others... and I know that, while I am a part of development, the department has created amazing things in the past and will continue to create great things in the future – with or without me as a part of them. It would be preposterous to think that development really needed me... or would it? I don't know. I don't feel like I'm really needed right now... and I think that the project will go on and be implemented without me.

Lord, I want to do this. I want to apply for this job. And I want to get it. Please help me to get this job, if it be Thy will. And if it be not Thy will, please help me to understand Thy will and how I can accomplish it.

Patience is not passive resignation... nor is it failure to act out of fear.
It is active waiting and enduring... staying with something and doing all that we can, bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not enduring... it is enduring well

So what does that mean for me? It means that I'll apply for the job, and if I don't get it, and while I'm applying, I'll do everything in my power to bless the Development department. And if I don't get it, I'll keep moving forward.

Wow. Patience is an important thing. And I know that the Lord will eventually help me to know His will in my life. Patience is a good thing to learn at this point in my life; patience in finding an eternal companion: actively dating. Patience in choosing someplace to live: finding a home and working to make it a better place. Patience in attending graduate school: working and learning and applying. I haven't really waited very long – a year for graduate school, three years of waiting for a family.

I wonder. I can see that the Lord wants me to learn important lessons. I can see that He wants me to bless the lives of the people around me – doing things that I probably wouldn't have been willing to do had I a family to support. Be patient. Act now. I guess that's the same answer He has always given me – the same answer I've received for the last 3 years. Is it enough? Be patient. I can be patient. Act now? I can act; I am an agent unto myself and I can make a difference in the world. And I can and will act... and the Lord will direct me.

Learn what the Lord expects of you.
Plan how to do it.
Act on your plan.
Share with others how your experience changed you and blessed others.

At least that last part sounds like my weekly letter.

I'm planning to talk with my boss on Monday; I'll tell her what my plans are and all of the information that I have about the potential job. I'll ask for her help, and let her know what I'll ask for if I have the opportunity to choose when to start (I can ask her & my other supervisors for input on that if it comes to it). And then I'll move on. Or I'll keep working there with diligence.

Looking at what has happened in my life in the past, it's completely possible that this may not be the right choice. I mean, every job I've ever gotten was not posted online, wasn't available to the public, wasn't even offered before it was given to me.

True love requires action. What actions do I accomplish to show others that I care about them? I can show my love to others in so many ways...

Get up early tomorrow morning and make healthy food to take to work.
Celery sticks (probably not – people want 'calories')
Carrot sticks
Fruit? What kind of fruit can I take that would last all day?
Apples. I can take full-size apples

Teaching is actually helping others to have spiritual experiences. We can't be perfect examples. But we can do a lot. So how does this apply to the MTC? How does this apply to everything that I do in my work?

Wow. I feel so thankful for everything that has happened in my life – the people that I've known, the God that loves me, the Savior that sacrificed His life for me... and Who is risen from the grave to heal and save me. O Lord, please bless me. Help me to share the light of the Gospel with the people of the world... to shout it out with joyful voice and to make a difference... to bring Thy children back unto Thee. That's all I want. I just want to be a missionary... to change lives and to teach the Gospel all the days of my life. Help me to do Thy will.

The tragedy of spiritual death is much, much worse than the tragedy of physical death... and we can look around the world and see massive disasters that kill thousands, spiritually. What are we doing to help them? We are willing to send teams of doctors, money, supplies, and everything else to help those who are physically suffering. But what do we do when there are people who are suffering in the Spirit? People who are dying from infidelity, selfishness, pride, dishonesty...? Why don't we send massive relief teams there – to change their lives? I would join a team that was dedicated to preach the gospel in Naples, or in France, or in California, or in Provo. I think we need to have something like that – spiritual disaster relief programs. I don't know how you could do it. People are often so hurt that they cannot tell the difference... and they don't want the help of others. But spiritual help is so important... and much more important that the physical relief that comes with relief efforts. Maybe it would simply be a team of teachers – people who travel the world to teach principles of optimism, agency, wisdom, honesty, and other universal principles. You start with the basics, and move forward.

Suddenly that sounds like something that would be amazing. Groups of teachers that teach moral principles – that serve as moral guides in places where spiritual problems have occurred. Teachers who help children and parents to come to a knowledge of the truth for themselves. And teachers who accomplish a portion of missionary work by helping others to come unto Christ.

“You have come to this earth at a glorious time... the opportunities of this earth are nearly limitless... but we have been placed on this earth in a perilous times... the adversary is trying to ensnare us in a web of deceit.”

We are the rising generation... who are we? Who am I? And where do I fit in, in my generation?

The Lord loves us and will bless us as we call upon Him.

I invoke the blessings of Heaven upon each of you... that Heavenly Father will bless you and your families... may the messages and Spirit of Conference find expression in all that you do – in your homes, work, meetings, comings and goings.

I know that God loves us and that He hears and answers our prayers. We are guided today by living prophets and apostles who receive revelation for our sakes. Every time I attend General Conference my faith in revelation is reaffirmed. Reflect on what you have learned this Conference and share it with the world. Go out and be missionaries!
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