Serving a mission was one of the easiest and hardest decisions that I have ever made in my life. The hardest, because it means that I will have to drop everything that I am working on: my schooling my dating life and my friends. However, it’s the easiest decision because Heavenly Father has already helped make that decision for me. It seems that everything beautifully moved aside so that I could go on my mission. And I have Him to completely thank for that.
I have felt His hand in my life. When you go to college or just leave your parents home you have to decide for yourself who you are going to be. Thankfully I grew up in this wonderful church that has steered me down the right path. All of the young woman’s campfire testimony meetings and the absolutely captivating Sunday school lessons have subconsciously helped me decide who that person is. I am a daughter of God who loves me and I love him. My goals are to have a strong faith of my Heavenly father and Jesus Christ. Seek after knowledge. Know of my divine nature and my individual worth. Make good choices and be accountable. Do good works have integrity and be virtuous. I would like to thank young women’s teacher for their support and kindness that they have shown me. Another gift that my Heavenly Father has given me is the Book of Mormon. It has helped me out so much. Given me the courage to repent from my sins, given me comfort when I felt alone, and has filled me with the Holy Ghost every time that I read it. One scripture that has always rings in my head when ever I need comfort is D&C 6:34-36: "Therefore, fear not, little flock, do good, let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock they cannot prevail. Behold I do not condemn you, go your ways and sin no more, perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not."
One day I was having a particularly hard time going to my Heavenly Father in prayer and confessing and forsaking a sin. Sin can be nasty. It can make you feel like you can never be seen by or have a conversation with Christ in prayer ever again. But this isn’t true! That is Satan telling you that you are not worthy. He doesn’t want you to repent, because repentance leads to happiness and he doesn’t want us to be happy. Heavenly Father doesn’t turn his back on anyone. He goes after the lost lamb and has so much joy when it returns. When I was having this hard time I read in Alma 36. Alma is telling his son Helaman of his conversion to the church. An angel came down to him and his companions and he commanded them that they stop trying to destroy the church of God. Alma is completely overwhelmed with his sins and he says that he is “racked with torment” then he says” while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a son of god, to atone for the sins of the world, now as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou son of god, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now behold, when I thought this I could remember my pains no more’ yea I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh what joy and what marvelous light I did behold yea my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain. Yea I say unto you my son that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea and again I say unto you my son that on the other hand there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy!” Those last verses of that scripture sound as if he is singing out in praise. This gave me the strength that I needed to forsake my sins. Reading those verses at that time in my life was a turning point for me. I believe that even if you were born into the church you must still be converted to the gospel. Sometimes, this is harder than coming into the church as a convert. When you grow up in the church you are so used to the Holy Ghost in your life compared to the contrast of never feeling the testifying spirit of the Holy Ghost before. You don’t realize what a blessing it is. Reading this particular scripture gave me one of the strongest testimonies that the gospel is true that I have ever had. For me this was my personal conversion moment. After that the atonement became such an important part in my life.
The atonement is the most beautiful gift that we have ever been given. If you have ever felt the blessing of the atonement then you know exactly how Alma feels in these verses. You yourself feel like singing “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy!” This joy once you have it is something that you want to share with others. It burns within in you. The Holy Ghost guides you to people that don’t have it. And when people feel that same spirit within them they too burn to have it with them always. Just like in Mosiah 18 when Alma baptizes two hundred people at the waters of Mormon. When they hear of Christ’s love and feel the Holy Ghost they “clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed this is the desire of our hearts.”
The reason that we can have this amazing joy is all because of the Savior. Christ satisfied the demands of justice for those who repent of their sins and endeavor to keep all of his commandments when he stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins. Because he did this he knows everything about us, all of our fear and pain and also all of our joy. He is the ultimate best friend. He is our advocate. A beautiful scripture that illustrates how much love he has for us is found in in 3 Nephi chapter 16. It is the first day of him visiting the Americas. He needs to return to the father but before he goes he heals all of the sick and afflicted and then he prays and blesses each one of the children. In verse 6 it says “and he said unto them behold my bowls are filled with compassion towards you.” And then in verse 20 and 21 he says “blessed are ye because of your faith, and now behold, my joy is full. And when he had said these words, he wept.” The Savior wept with them. He finds joy in our happiness. This scripture brings me so much comfort. In times of need I have faith that Jesus Christ loves me, personally and if I have this faith he will always bless me. The faith that the Lamanites and Nephites have can be found through constant prayer and reading the book of Mormon and the other scriptures.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It holds everything in place. Without it just like a keystone of a building, our church would crumble. (Sacred grove?) Joseph Smith would be a fake. And not only a fake but also he would be completely crazy to suffer what he did to bring forth a book that was not divinely inspired. But it is not a fake but a miracle. Sister Hinckley stated at one time that “either Joseph Smith had a vision or he didn’t, If he did not, then we are all engaged in a tremendous hoax; but if he did, then it behooves each of us to give all the time, money, effort and energy we can muster to promote the kingdom of God.” There are many stories told of a few who saw the book of Mormon for themselves, never denying its validity. Some even left the church because of prideful disputes but still testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was murdered and did not deny it even when he knew he could have saved his life by denying its divine origins. But all of these accounts can be torn apart and made fun of by Satan through people who do not believe in its words. You have to know for yourself of its truthfulness. And the only way to do that is to read it. If you read the book of Mormon you will feel the Holy Ghost testify to you of its authenticity.
A couple of years ago my family and I went to Palmyra New York. We walked around the sacred grove and immediately I felt the spirit inside of that forest. Tears came to my eyes and I knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had been in the sacred grove and had visited Joseph Smith. The Holy Ghost gave me one of the strongest witnesses that I have ever received. I have no doubts whatsoever that the church is true and I am so thankful for that amazing experience. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. I testify this to you. Every time that I pick up that book and read, the Holy Ghost comes to me as a witness. Elder Holland stated “I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world … that the Book of Mormon is true.”
I couldn’t be happier to be serving a mission. The Holy Ghost testifies to me everyday that the choice to go is right. I love this gospel so much. I love my Heavenly Father so much. I want to share it with everyone I meet. In D&C 4: 2 it states: “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” I am thankful for the chance to show my love for the Savior by serving him on a mission and spreading the message of the restored gospel to many who haven’t yet heard. I am also thankful for the second and third and twentieth chance that Christ has given me to turn around and come back to him. For all of his kindness I try so hard to show him of my gratitude. I love him so much. Christ says “If ye love me, then keep my commandments” How can we know if this gospel is a thing of God If we don’t do the works of God? The only way we can know whether or not this is the true church is to try it out for ourselves. Until we give it a fair chance, we are hardly in a position to pass judgment. We will come to know that the gospel is true by trying it out. I learned that from the Book of Mormon for myself. The prophets from the bible had similar tests : In John 7: 17 it states: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak for myself."