This is the last week that I will be emailing you from the States before I finally get to go serve my people! Thank you for the package and all you have been able to do for me and for Elder Riddle. Yep, I leave in less than a week and have all my travel plans and everything (What an exciting and nerve racking day that was, to know that I was actually going!) I'll be flying from Salt Lake to Denver, then Denver to Munich, and Munich to Donetsk to continue the next chapter of my mission. The MTC has been such an incredible experience for me and I know that the real reason I was called Russian speaking is because I needed to be here for 12 weeks to get my head screwed on straight ;) There have been so many lessons that I have been able to learn this past week and the entire twelve weeks, but I want to speak on only a few things since I don't have a ton of time and still have to pack today, (YIKES!!!). I think in totality though, all the lessons that I've learned have been focused on actually understanding the Gospel and my relationships with each member of the Godhead.
I never was really into missionary work at home and didn't really understand it completely, nor do I now, but what I can say is that this is the Lord's work. The Lord's work is a work of Rescuing all his children, active, inactive, and nonmember alike. But it is not just missionary work that I'm talking about. One of the biggest eye opening experiences for me is realizing that Heavenly Father's "Work and Glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," is missionary work that we all were foreordained and sent here to do. We are all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him (Moroni 10:32-33), we are all to seek to build Zion (1 Ne 13:37), but we all, and I mean all, are here to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost, so that they can endure to the end." (PMG p1). This is the work we are all called to as members of the Church: to aid all, including ourselves, in coming to Christ to partake of His Atonement so that we can all together return to our Holy Heavenly Fathers presence who loves us more than we can even imagine.
Are we using the Atonement in our daily lives? I think one of the easiest phrases I use on a lesson is "because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can all receive forgiveness of sins and be able to return to Heavenly Father"....is that a very personal statement for a person (who can barely understand me in the first place ;) who has never even heard of Christ or of the Atonement? No. Is the Atonement a personal topic that we each can define in our heart of hearts that isn't merely an end of the Road pick-me-up when I cant go any farther, or is it the literal blood of our daily salvation bringing us closer and closer to Him who beckons all to come unto Him? (Mat 11:27-8) I know that the Atonement can be used in so many ways as it literally our only hope is this life. Take time to ponder the Atonement this week and just what it means to you. Some questions that might help thinking might be: "How does the Atonement blessing my life every day?" "How is the Atonement of Jesus Christ helping to become better?" "What do I feel and do on a daily basis because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?" "Am I continually repenting and using the Atonement?"
As a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can promise that if we merely learn more and apply daily the redeeming balm of the Atonement, we can and will become more than we could ever hope for, and become all the Father wants and knows we can be. Please use the Atonement!
So, stepping off the soap box for a second, I want to talk about an amazing experience that I was able to have this last Sunday. We had auditioned to sing in the Sunday MTC Fireside this last week and hadn't heard anything from the music people since...so we got discouraged and stopped practicing after a few weeks of nothing. However our lack of faith, we were able to receive the invitation to sing this last Sunday at the Fireside. We were elated and began to practice again with the 3 days we had left till we performed. We were nervous and excited when Sunday rolled around, but tried to keep in mind the advice Sister Nally, wife of President Nally of the MTC Presidency, said to us: "Musical numbers are not about you! (I seem to be getting this message a lot lately ;) It should invite the spirit and be totally for them." So that's how we performed it. It went absolutely incredibly and with thanks to God in our hearts, we were able to get the best compliment anyone could ever give: "Thank you for that musical number. I felt the Spirit so strongly." When that Hymn that is so sacred to me speaks of dying for others, serving others, and sacrificing completely of ourselves, I think of Him that had no friends in the lonely Garden, and hung by himself on the cross. I think of Him who did no wrong and sacrificed everything for me...for us. I think of Him dressed in white sitting on the right hand of the Father, on his knees with us as we plead for forgiveness and He in return says to the Father "Behold thy son who did no sin and paid this price, forgive them Father." And in those last lines of that hymn, as we come to do as the Savior did, and strive to learn of Him, and become like him, we too will have the opportunity to kneel down at the Master's feet with tears in both of our eyes and as we look at the Tokens in His hands as see that we know them...for they are our hands too. His face and love...we felt as we daily partake of the Atonement. And His eyes - the eyes we have been striving to see through these many long years. And then will come the words: "My friend, well done. well done."
May all with in the sight of this email know of my deepening testimony of my Savior, even Jesus the Christ. Every day I have the opportunity just like you to become like and do as He would do and does. I still make mistakes and need to repent almost hourly it seems...but that's okay. He suffered for us so that we would not have to suffer. I know the Atonement is real and works in our lives in so many more ways than we even realize it if we will let it. Thank you for all your incredible examples to me and how much you make me strive to become more like my Savior. With Moroni, I commend and exhort all of you to "seek this Jesus of whom the prophets have written." (Ether 12:40). May God make me an instrument! and you as well as we bring to pass this great work!