Monday, March 21, 2016

Hindrance or Help

Hello Everyone!

Well this week has been one for the books.  We had some amazing things happen, but one that stands out in bright contrast.  We had a teaching appointment this week centered on the Book of Mormon.  We focused on its purpose, meaning, blessings, and the living witnesses that my companion and I bear of it.  The person who invited us in is what I would refer to as worthy of honorary degrees in Religious Studies.  Never in a persons home have I seen more books on religion and science.  But what was more was the fact that they understood them.  They had studied and thought out the scriptures alongside the world around them and had come to amazing and accurate conclusions about the way God works.  Needless to say that if we were to do a side-by-side comparison of pure knowledge and intellect I was far out-classed.  

But this brings me to the point that stuck out to me as I sat on an extremely comfy sofa in a small apartment in Cicero, New York.  The point is thus: no intellectual understanding and comprehension in any number of various fields can compensate for a field you don't care about.  Our desires dictate our actions, and if we don't desire to know more on a subject, we never will, despite our amazing intellect in any other field.  

As I sat in the room of someone who could quote and cross reference scripture upon scripture from the Bible, this thought came to mind as we discussed a subject upon which she lacked understanding, and we had the expertise: The Book of Mormon.  As we discussed we reiterated the point we had begun with, that a testimony of the Book of Mormon only comes if we will humble ourselves enough to read it and pray about it with a sincere heart and real intent.  Again and again we found ourselves led back to this point of all points.  If we were to base our beliefs on pure doctrine we were on a level playing field.  Our beliefs about Christ and his divine nature, the Atonement, faith and works, and the need for authority were seeing eye to eye.  After some discussion our fellow follower of Christ noted what my companion and I had felt before, that the only things we disagree on are Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  I don't think I've stated more clearly and boldly the point that I had made at least a half dozen other times in various ways with this individual that there is but one appointed means to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of Almighty God and that the Book of Mormon has divine origins and the power to change lives.  The Spirit was present and I knew that those present could feel it.  

So when my companion voiced the simple question of: knowing all of this, will you read the Book of Mormon?  My heart sunk with righteous sorrow as the response was what fell on my ears as a capitalized and well punctuated 'No.'  My companion and I were saddened by this answer, but respected the answerer and after a closing prayer of gratitude for the occasion to meet, we left.  

After all of this it brings me back to the subject of our desires.  What do we desire, and why?  Do we truly desire to live with our Father in Heaven once more?  Do we truly desire answers to our questions of the soul?  Simply put, do we desire what we say we want?  In this scenario our questioner was wanting to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but lacked the true desire to act.  As Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it "what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become".  If our desires are 'lukewarm', or as Revelation 3:15 puts it, if we are "neither cold nor hot" we cannot gain our desires, we will simply lack the motivation to act consistently. 

If we do truly desire the good, God has promised us blessings unknown.  And that we will be able to achieve our righteous desires if it be in line with God's will.  Our righteous desires, that we consistently work towards, will be a great boon to us and to the world we live in.  

This experience has caused me to question my desires deeply, mostly focusing on the question "Do I love ____ more than ____".  I have to ask myself frequently if I love God more than I love a comfy bed at 6:30 AM.  I have to ask if I love the people around me more than I love getting lost in thought and contemplation while those around me need my words and actions, not my thoughts.  Our desires are ours "It is up to us. God will facilitate, but He will not force" (Neal. A Maxwell "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts).  I hope that each of you truly desire what is right, and more importantly what is right in the sight of the Lord.  

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Gailey

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Open Your Mouths

Hello Everyone, it was around 60 degrees yesterday, now we're back to the 30's again.  If you ever dislike the weather in Upstate New York, wait 5 minutes and it'll get worse.  

This week I'd like to talk a little bit about a subject that's been on my mind lately.  We've been focusing on finding here in Liverpool since two of the people we were teaching regularly have now been baptized and we find ourselves in need of finding new investigators.  One of the best ways I've been able to find people on my mission has been through OYM-ing, or street contacting.  I can't tell you how many times I've stomped up and down busy streets at all times of the day and how many miles I've put on my shoes.  

But one of the hardest things to do is to actually say something to the people that you come in contact with.  Being outside and walking is hard enough, but actually talking with people is often where this opportunity to find becomes and opportunity to walk around aimlessly.  As I've thought over my mission and all of the walking and talking that I've done, I had the thought come to mind "Well I'm willing to talk with people, that's not as hard as my mind makes it seem.  But what out of the entire scope of the gospel can I share with THIS person in particular?"  I pondered for a while and turned to one of my favorite scriptures about opening your mouth, namely Doctrine and Covenants 33:8.

"Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness."

All I have to do to be like Nephi is to open my mouth?  Just tell me where to sign!

But as most, if not all, of us have come to find out, having an open mouth while you're walking around is only going to guarantee you a few bugs to fly to the back of your throat.  To ensure blessings akin to those received by Nephi there is more we must do.  And oddly enough as scriptures have a habit of doing, they expounded the problem of "Well I can't just open my mouth and have it be filled by any old idea.  What guideline could I have to base whatever I say off of."  In the following verses, specifically verses 10 and 11, this guideline is given:

"10 Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying:Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;

 11 Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost."

We could exactly copy the above phrases, which would carry all of the principles that need to be conveyed, but as I was reading I noticed that this phrase is nothing more or less than a brief summary of the Doctrine of Christ.  Well this helps me as a missionary and is then necessarily a help to all members of the Church.  If we teach or preach on a gospel subject in a missionary manner, it should in some way relate back to the Doctrine of Christ.  If you think about most questions that arise, they can all be tied back to the Doctrine of Christ in some fashion.  The Doctrine of Christ is the thesis statement for the gospel, and as such can be tied to any point found therein.  

Isn't it amazing how much beauty can be found in simplicity?  I think it is.  

But I hope you have a great week, I'll write to you all soon!

Love, Elder Gailey