Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 25, 2013

Thank you so much for your gifts! You are all so sweet, and I love you all so much! I hope all of you have a FANTASTIC Christmas, and that you are able to feel the joy and happiness that comes from the Savior and our sweet family. I know that I have this Christmas. I am so blessed to have you in my life - and I am so happy that I get to spend eternity with all of you.
I don't have much to give this Christmas, but I do want all of you to know that I love my Savior. I know that it is because of His life and death that we celebrate His birth. I know that He lives. I know that He loves each and every one of us, and that through Him, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven again. He really is the Prince of Peace. He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. He is my Redeemer, and my best friend. I know these things, and I testify of Him, with my whole heart and soul. I am grateful everyday for Him, this gospel, and the opportunity I have to spend the next 17 months inviting others to come unto Him.
I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!!! Have a wonderful day! :)
Love always and forever, Ashley

December 23, 2013


I can't believe it is Christmas this week. It doesn't feel like it at all!!! But this week has been really great! And I am just getting more and more anxious for 2 WEEKS from now for when I'll be in PUEBLA! Ahh! So exciting :)

So last Tuesday, Elder Rasband (presidency of the Seventy) spoke at Devotional, and he talked about Spiritual Gifts! It was a really great talk! The best part though was after at Devotional Review. Our district leader, Elder Auten, decided that we should all go around one at a time and tell each other what spiritual gifts we have noticed in that person. Not only did that help me with my own confidence as a missionary, but it really made me realize that I was called at this time for a reason, that I was put with my district here for a reason. We all are so different, and because of that, I have been able to learn so much from each of them. 

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to host the new missionaries that came to West Campus! That was a fun experience! It's like I'm a senior now and we were welcoming in freshman, haha! 

Thursday was INSANE. Ok, so good news is that myself, Hermanas Jones and Linford and Elders Werber and Thorne all got approved for our visas! Still keep praying for Hermana Bowers-Nunez please! My heart would just break if we weren't all able to go to Puebla together, but I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for her if that's not the case. So on Thursday, we were all supposed to go to Vegas for the day to meet with the Mexican Consulate. We left at 4:30, got to the airport at6:30 and were supposed to board at 8. At 9:30 AM, we were finally able to board the plane, where we sat for an hour. The airport had been closed down to one runway because of the snow and after that hour, they shut down the airport. So our flight was obviously delayed, so we got off the plane and waited for another hour until they told us that our flight had been cancelled. Boo. So we had to spend the next 3 hours getting on the Trax and finding our way back to Provo, all in the snow. We were with 6 other Mexico-bound missionaries and about 8 Finland-bound missionaries that were supposed to go to San Fran for their visas. So we were quite the group! It was definitely an adventure! They aren't sending anyone to get visas this week, so hopefully we'll be able to try again next week sometime. But it definitely wasn't a waste of a day, we were able to talk to so many people. oh and DAD, I met Thurl Bailey!! Haha, he sure is TALL. He says Hi to you too :) But we also met a lot of people who didn't know about the church. Hermana Jones, Linford and I sat next to this couple and we talked to them for over an hour. They are really amazing people! And even though we didn't get them a Book of Mormon or anything, I think we were definitely able to plant some seeds there. So Thursday was good :) Long, but good.

Friday was a sad day :( It was Hermano Rasmussen's last day (because he got married on Saturday) and we were all so sad! Hermana Larsen is still teaching us, and now, Hermano Savio is teaching for Hermano Ras. He's pretty cool, but I do miss Hermano Ras! When he left, we gave us his "Rules to Live By". Here they are! They are awesome!
1. No excuses: When something goes wrong, take full responsibility. When something goes right, share the credit, especially with God.
2. No complaints: Spend the time you would to whine finding a solution in which you will be an integral part.
3. Never Give Up: Though I may not be the one with the most talent and intelligence, I will be the one with the most drive and determination.
4. Be perfect in Repentance: Though I may not be perfect, I will be perfect in repentance and worthily partake of the sacrament each week
5. Seek earnestly to know and do the will of the Lord: His thoughts will be my thoughts and his will my will.

The rest of this week has been pretty normal otherwise! I'm really excited for tomorrow evening and Christmas. We will be definitely listening to some apostles and watching Christmas movies and stuff!  So it should be a good week :) 

I love all of you so much! I love being a missionary! My favorite scripture this week is Moroni 9:25. Because Christ was lifted up on the cross, and died for all of us, He is truly able to lift US up when we are low. I love my Savior. I know that this church is the true church, and that the Gospel truly does bring happiness! 

Have a fantastic week and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :) 

Love, Hermana Smith

December 16, 2013

Hola, family and friends!

It has been a crazy week! Haha, I'm not even sure where to start! I guess I will just go day by day!

On Tuesday, we had devotional and Elder Quentin L. Cook came and spoke to us! It was amazing! We also sang in the choir, which was a super spiritual experience. I love the MTC choir! And I love the General Authorities! They truly are men (and women) of God, and they always say the things that us missionaries need to hear! I'm excited to hear whoever will be speaking tomorrow at Devotional.

Wednesday was the tough day. But it was good too! We got two more districts in our zone - a district of 8 Elders and a district of 6 sisters. The sisters are intermediate, so they is why they are all together. They kinda keep to themselves, but they're very nice. The Elders are hilarious! And they all sing really well, so we made sure that they came to choir with us yesterday. I'm excited to get to know all of them more the next 3 weeks. Yeah, 3 WEEKS til I'm in Mexico! (Hopefully!) My district finally started hearing about visas this week, and Elders Anderton and Auten are actually in Las Vegas today meeting with the Mexican Consulate and receiving their visas. Please pray for the rest of us and all the other missionaries that we will be able to hear about our visas soon! But anywho...on Wednesday, we had a really rough lesson with one of our investigators, Laura. We weren't working great as a companionship, and I could tell that Laura wasn't believing anything that we were saying. I left that lesson pretty upset with myself and Hermana Linford, and I didn't even know what to deal with it. I just went into the bathroom and kinda fell apart, haha. After a few minutes, I just got down on my knees and started praying, asking for help and comfort. And immediately, and I mean immediately, I could feel the Spirit fill that little room. It started at the top of my head and moved down until I felt completely peaceful and calm. In Alma 7:11-12, it talks about Christ's Atonement, and how He suffered for ALL things in our lives. At the end of verse 12, it says that He did this, "that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." The word "succor" means to "run to the aid of". I truly felt that Wednesday night. I know that my Savior has felt everything that I have gone through, and that if we ever need help, all we have to do is ask. He WILL run to our aid. 

After Wednesday, the week got WAY better! Don't get me wrong, Wednesday was still an awesome day, and I treasure every single day here. But we all have rough patches, but as long as we learn from them, they will help us to grow!

On Friday, I had another really neat experience with the Spirit. All of us missionaries have been struggling with the concept of asking inspired questions. So on Friday, Hermano Rasmussen decided that we were going to practice asking inspired questions! So he asked us to, with our companions, ask inspired questions. He told us not to say a word until the Spirit prompted us to. So, Hermana Linford and I just sat there in silence for about 5 minutes. I had a question come to my mind a couple of times, but Then she asked me a question. It kinda threw me off guard, the question she asked. But as we talked through it, I found that it really was something I needed to talk about, something that I had really only talked to Heavenly Father about. Then I asked the question that had come to my mind and...she started to cry. And we talked, and I asked more questions as the Spirit directed, and she was really able to open up to me about things that had been troubling her. It not only brought us closer together as companions, but we were able to recognize the significance of asking inspired questions. After that exercise, Hermano Rasmussen wrote a question up on the board, a question about repentance and the Atonement. He asked it, pretending to be Christofer (the investigator that he pretends to be), and immediately some missionaries in my district started saying things. And he kept asking it again, not satisfied with the answers, and asking how he could change. I felt like the Spirit was running me over like a train, but I just kept my mouth shut. With 8 missionaries in a room, it's been easy for me to just sit back and listen. But then Hermano Rasmussen looked over at me and asked, "How can I change? How can I change my ways and desires?" And I just looked at him and quietly asked if he had faith in Jesus Christ and the Atonement. He sat there for a really long time and then looked back at me and said, yes. Then I bore my testimony that through faith, and through the Atonement, he could change, that Heavenly Father would help him to change. Then he smiled at me and said, "THAT is how you are going to feel all the time, and I promise that your investigators will receive testimony of the truth of your words through the Spirit." It was a really cool experience. It really helped me gain confidence in my abilities as a teacher, a helper to the real Teacher, excuse me. After that, our lessons have improved so much, and I am just that much more excited to go to Mexico! It truly helped all of us!

And yesterday was amazing! I just love Sundays! And I know I say that every week but it's true! Sister Ann Madsen, a cute older Religion professor at BYU, spoke at Relief Society, and she gave an amazing talk. And Hermana Linford and I decided to watch a talk from last conference and we watched, "You Can Do It Now!", the talk Pres. Uchtdorf gave at Priesthood Session. It's fantastic, go watch it if you never have before! We said goodbye to another district...and I'm going to miss them a lot! It's crazy how close you get in such a short amount of time. We went to choir, then the Sunday devotional. The BYU Men's Chorus came and sang to us :) It was really good! And then we finished the night by watching "The Testaments". 

I am so grateful to be a missionary, a witness, a representative of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. I know that He loves us and that only through Him can we return to live with our Father in Heaven again. I know that the Book of Mormon is true! I love the Book of Mormon. I seriously can't get enough of it every single day. There is a true power that comes from that book, if we study it and truly apply its teachings into our lives. I love all of you so much!!!! I hope you have a fantastic week, and that you will feel so much joy and happiness this Christmas season.

Love always,
Hermana Smith

Photos: Us with Hermanas Marx and Edwards, Us with Elders Wilcox and Keith, and Us with CUPCAKES that some random Elder gave us last week! Awesome week!

December 9, 2013

Hola from the CCM!

This week has been a FANTASTIC one! I´m not even sure where to begin! 

Tuesday morning, we went out at 6:30 to find snow! First snow of the year that has actually stuck! It was pretty for the first hour or so...but now after a week of walking in it, we are extremely ready for Mexico! (Where it is sunny and 70 degrees every day!) On Tuesday, we also started teaching our new investigators for the first time this week, Laura and Christofer. Laura is really hard to get through to but Christofer is doing awesome! During our second lesson with him, we both felt strongly that we needed to commit him to baptism, which we definitely weren't planning on. And he said yes! It was so exciting! We also had an amazing devotional Tuesday night. Elder Ballard was supposed to come speak to us, but he got snowed in up in Salt Lake! So instead, Bruce C Hafen came and it was spectacular. I absolutely love the devotionals here at the MTC!

On Wednesday, we did TRC for the first time! There is where we go and practice with members, teaching them a lesson and they give us feedback. One of the sisters, Hermana Applegate was super sweet. We shared the Restoration with her (I can now recite the First Vision completely in Spanish!) and she shared a little message about how we all have our own "sacred groves", moments when we have called upon God with all our hearts, searching for answers. And he always answers, even though they're not in visions. But they are still so meaningful to us. I loved that!

Thursday and Friday were pretty normal days...haha. Oh, except I got a special package of HEATHER'S AMAZING COOKIES on Friday! Yummmmmmmmy! Totally made my week. They were so good. And my district loved them! Gracias, sweet sister!

Saturday was a crazy day, but really awesome. We started by doing service (cleaning the cafeteria) then had gym, and then, when we were in the middle of studying, our building had to be evacuated! I guess there was a huge gas leak at one end of the building! They had to call the fire department and everything! So that was crazy! I also had my first funny language moment on Saturday... so during our lesson with Laura, I wanted to ask her "Do you desire to be better, Laura?" Well...I got a couple words mixed up. the word for better in Spanish is "mejor". And...the word for woman is "mujere". I was so confident that I was saying the right thing when I asked her, "Do you desire to be a woman, Laura?" She gave me an extremely confused look, so I said it slower and even more earnestly! Then Hermana Linford busted up laughing and then Laura exclaimed, "OHHH! MEJOR! not mujere!" I was so confused and then Hermana Linford told me what I had really said. I am just grateful that we weren't teaching Christofer, haha!! 

Then yesterday was just amazing. Sister Neill Marriott, the 2nd counselor in the General YW Presidency, came and spoke to us for RS. She talked a lot about charity, and how we can develop charity, and how it will help us as missionaries. It was just beautiful! We watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional for our Sunday night devotional (which was awesome! I hope you all watched it!) and then ended with watching the Joseph Smith movie. Love it. So great! I love Sundays here at the MTC :)

One thing that I have been working on this week is developing certain gifts of the Spirit. I decided to go through my patriarchal blessing and list the gifts that I have been asked to strive to obtain from Heavenly Father. As I have studied how to obtain this gift, and have applied what I have learned to my studying, praying and general everyday living, I have seen a great change. I have found myself seriously feasting on the word of God, and my mind has been completely overwhelmed with personal revelation. I know that God has asked me to seek this gift for a reason, and I know that it will be a lifelong process. But I have already seen how seeking after it has blessed my life, my desires as a missionary, and my ability to teach others. I encourage all of you to search your patriarchal blessings this week, and really seek (or continue to seek) after a gift that the Lord would like you to develop. I know that it will bless your life, just as it has begun to bless mine!

I love all of you so much! You are amazing examples to me, and I know that I wouldn't be where I am without you! Have a fantastic week!

With all my love, 
Hermana Smith

For the pictures:
First picture is my zone! Most of them left this morning, it was so sad! But we get two new districts this week!
Second is with two of the sisters that left, Hermanas Hill and Costley, and Sister Marrcov, our branch´s first counselors wife

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 1, 2013

Hola mi familia y mi amigos! 

This week has been a great week! We did a lot of teaching (some good lessons, and some that we can definitely learn from!) and tried to fill our heads with as much Spanish as possible. It's kinda crazy to think of how much Spanish I knew 2 weeks ago compared to now. This morning, I was reading "Preach My Gospel" Spanish! And I knew almost every word! The Lord has blessed me so much this week, even though I know I haven't deserved it, haha!

I should probably let you know that on Wednesday, Hermana Linford and I took a trip up to the MTC health clinic. I know Heather remembers this, but a few months back (when we were running a lot) I kinda did something to my knee and never figured out what happened. Anyway, it started hurting a lot again when I got here, and she finally convinced me to go see a doctor. The doctor was nice, and he thinks that it's nothing major. He thinks that a certain tendon in my leg around my knee just gets irritated and inflamed after a lot of exercise. I can't run AT ALL anymore, at least not until after my mission, and he prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication for me to take when it hurts. Two Elders in my district also gave me a blessing. It has helped a LOT. There is almost no pain in my knee anymore. I still have to go back in 10 days so they can make sure it's not a bigger problem but I honestly think that it's taken care of. So yay! But the cool part to this story is that when we went to the pharmacy to get the medicine, the pharmacy's card machine wasn't working, so they could only take cash. Hermana Linford and I didn't have enough cash with us, but the pharmacist just took out his wallet, put some money in the register and said, "Go get 'em, Sisters!" I was so grateful for his act of service towards me. Like I said, the Lord has blessed me more than I deserve.

Thanksgiving was great! At first, I woke up feeling really homesick, but as soon as the day started, most of those feelings melted away. We spent all day at the main campus. Elder Russell M. Nelson came and spoke to us that morning! He gave a fantastic devotional, about how to truly become the Lord's missionaries! Then we had a Thanksgiving Dinner for lunch, walked around the temple and sang lots of hymns. Then we had a devotional about the church's humanitarian program, and then....we helped prepare 350,208 meals for Utah kids who don't get enough food! It was an awesome experience! You guys might have heard about it, we heard that it was on the news or something? But it was really wonderful. We have truly been given so much, and it was a wonderful feeling knowing that we were helping children receive the proper care that they deserve. After the humanitarian project, we ended the day with watching "Ephraim's Rescue". If you haven't seen it, go watch it! It's good!

After being here a full week, I now know what they mean by "the days are long, but the weeks are short". I can't believe I've been here for as long as I have! And it's kinda funny, because my district is actually scheduled to be here for 7 weeks! We were apparently supposed to report the 27, but they didn't want to make anyone report the day before Thanksgiving. But for the way transfer are in my mission, we have to stay here for an extra week. Which I am grateful for, because that's more time I have to *try* to learn Spanish, and to spend with my district. The other Hermanas and I have grown so close the last 11 days! I think that's why Thanksgiving wasn't as hard as it could have been, because we were still with family. I love them so much! 

Yo se, con todos mi corazon, que Jesucristo es mi Salvador. Mediante Su Expiacion, volvemos vivir con nuestro Padre Celestial. Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios, y es verdadero. La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es la iglesia verdadera. Dios nos amas. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. (It's not perfect, but it's the truth!)

I love all of you so much. Thank you for your letters, I absolutely love them! and I will do my best to answer as many as I can. I love this Gospel, with my whole heart! This is the Lord's work and I'm glad to have the honor of wearing His name on me all the time, for the whole world to see!

With all my love,
Hermana Smith

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Hey y'all :)

So now you guys know that my p-day is Mondays :) I'll probably be sending emails around this time every p-day, just so you know :)

So, being a missionary is SOOOOOO amazing! I absolutely love it! I'll give you the quick run down of my adventures over the last 5 days.

Wednesday was crazy. After I was dropped off, they took me into all these different buildings and I found out that I would be staying at the MTC WEST CAMPUS! (AKA: Wyview) Home sweet home! That's where (almost) all the Spanish-speaking missionaries are, which is really cool because we all can just speak Spanish to each other at mealtime, walking to and from classes, etc. It was a little weird at first, living in an apartment just like my old one, doing laundry in the same place...but it's all good now :) My companion is Hermana Linford and I just love her to death! She is 19 (just barely though), from Counsel, Idaho, plays the flute, youngest in her family... and we have discovered that we are pretty much the exact same person! Except for the fact that she can speak WAY more Spanish than I can. I am actually the only person in my district who didn't take Spanish in high school, so I'm definitely the furthest behind. But it actually works out really well. We are learning so much together, and we are just getting started! My district is so awesome. We are ALL going to Mexico Puebla South, which is totally awesome! Most districts aren't like that! There are two other sisters in our district, Hermanas Jones and Bowers-Nunez (we also share an apartment with them), and then 4 elders, Elders Autin, Werber, Thorne and Anderton. We are all SO close, and we do everything together (even the things we aren't forced to do together!)

On Thursday, we started working so hard. My teacher, Hermano Rasmussen, only speaks in Spanish, so we had to learn how to pay attention very quickly. My day consists of waking up around 5:30 (we have breakfast at 6:30), and we start studying at 7. Then we have lunch at 11...then more studying or class. Then dinner is at 4 and then we study some more, until 9:30. We live in our classroom. They are really long days...but it has been going by so fast. We have gym time everyday too, in these giant white "burbujas" (bubbles) I'll attach a picture of them :) They have basketball, soccer, volleyball and four square courts, but we mostly run laps and do strength training. 

On Friday, Hermana Linford and I taught our first lesson to "Ana" SPANISH. To say the least...we crashed and burned! But it's all uphill from there, right? I am so amazed at all the Spanish I have learned in the last 5 days. It is so amazing, and Heavenly Father has truly blessed me when it comes to picking up the language. 

Saturday was my hardest day this week, but it was also the best day. The other days were hard, but Saturday really got to me. We taught Ana again Saturday morning, and Hermana Linford and I felt SO prepared going in there. But Ana asked us questions that I could answer in English, but I just couldn't in Spanish. Hermana Linford just amazed me though, and was able to answer her questions good enough, and said so many words that she didn't even think she knew! I was so happy for her! The Spirit was so strong when we bore our testimonies though. But I walked out of that lesson feeling super discouraged. And I felt super bad for Hermana Linford, because she was stuck with a companion who can't speak Spanish. All day, negative thoughts stirred in my mind and I was so frustrated with myself. But then that night, during class, Hermano Rasmussen decided to boycott learning grammar and phrases...and instead taught the lesson that I think we all needed to hear. He talked to us about the worth of souls, and had us study some scriptures in Alma 26. He then told stories from his mission in Chile, and the Spirit was so strong, and his message was so powerful. Then we read Alma 13 together as a class, and that was the first time I completely lost control of my emotions (don't worry, Hermana Jones was crying too). We are called by God to be His missionaries. We have been fore-ordained. We have been preparing our whole lives and pre-mortal lives for our missions. We have the potential to become ANGELS, declaring His gospel in Puebla, Mexico. But it requires, faith, applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and being sanctified through the power and grace of God. No one is perfect, and no missionary is perfect. The Lord does not expect me to be perfect, he only asks that I try my best. ...But the miracle of Saturday night was as Hermano Rasmussen talked in flawless Spanish for that last hour and a half...I understood every word he said. The gift of interpretation of tongues is real! The language of the spirit is universal! The gospel is true! I went home that night with so much gratitude in my heart - to be able to have a district so focused on the work that we can invite the Spirit into our classroom, for a teacher who understands the importance of teaching the lessons we need, and for my loving Heavenly Father, for loving me and comforting me, even when I feel like I least deserve it. 

Sundays are pretty awesome :) We have Sacrament meeting in the bubbles, relief society, district and zone meetings, devotional at the main campus, and films that night. I was super sick Saturday and Sunday that put a downer on things. I had a really nasty cold/cough that kept me up for most of Saturday night, and on Sunday, my head just felt like a giant beach ball got stuck between my ears. But I'm better now, no worries! :) Prayers and medicine go a long ways!

I love you all!  I am so happy to be a missionary. There is nothing else that I'd rather be doing with my life right now, than serving and inviting others to come unto Christ. God loves each of us so much, and I feel so blessed every day to have the gospel in my life. I can't wait til I can help the people in Puebla to feel of his love, and learn of how to return to live with him again. This is a beautiful work, and I'm so blessed to be a part of it. You're in my prayers!! 

Love always, Hermana Smith

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sister Smith's Farewell Talk

This is the copy of the farewell talk I gave today. I didn't say it word for word, but this was the basic outline of it. Thank you to all of my friends and family that came today! It was a fantastic day!

The Parable of the 10 Virgins

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them;
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

The parable of the 10 virgins was given by Jesus Christ, and is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13. There are multiple interpretations of this parable, which is understandable because everyone understands parables differently. However, it is known that the bridegroom spoken of represents our Savior, Jesus Christ, and that the time of His coming indicates the Second Coming. Today, I would like to talk about the lamps and the oil that the 10 virgins possessed, what it means to me, and how you and I can apply this parable into our lives, so that we can be prepared to meet the Lord again. I am hoping that the Spirit can be with me as I speak to you today, and that your hearts will be touched.

All ten virgins in this parable were ready to meet the bridegroom, or thought as much. They knew who he was, and they were patiently waiting for His coming. They had their lamps, ready to light their way. However, as the parable indicates, half of the virgins were wise, and half were foolish. What separated these two groups? The amount of oil that was in each of their possession. As I have pondered on this parable, I have found that I relate the lamps that the virgins had to a basic testimony, a knowledge that each of us here have, or hope to gain, and the oil to  true conversion.

A testimony is available to all of God’s children, through the power of the Holy Ghost. It requires exercising a small seed of faith, sincerely seeking, knocking, and asking for the truth. And it brings happiness, increased accountability, and the knowledge of our purpose in this life. Testimonies are a beautiful blessing from our Heavenly Father, and they spark the start of our journey towards eternal life.

But they are not enough. So why is conversion so important to being prepared for the Second Coming and living with God again? We cannot stand on a testimony alone. If we try to, we will not be able to resist the storm of temptation or withstand the forces of evil that is already here, and increasing every day. True conversion however will give us the endurance we need to stand up to wickedness and to avoid it. True conversion leads us to becoming more like our Heavenly Father

In the scriptures, we are told that we must become even as He is, to be “spiritually-minded” and to put off the “natural man”. In Mosiah 3:19, it says, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

In True to the Faith, it says this concerning conversion: “Conversion includes a change in behavior, but it goes beyond behavior; it is a change in our very nature. It is such a significant change that the Lord and His prophets refer to it as a rebirth, a change of heart, and a baptism of fire.”  Elder David A. Bednar puts it this way. “True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ... Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony…. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.”  Conversion is personal. When the 5 foolish virgins asked the 5 wise virgins for their oil, I don’t believe the wise ones were just being selfish. The oil, oil of conversion, cannot be shared, it cannot be taught. It must be “bought for ourselves”. It also cannot be purchased at the last moment, not in time for the coming of the Bridegroom. The wise virgins with the extra oil were invited into the wedding with the bridegroom, but when the foolish women came back, the door had been closed to them. It is something that we have to be preparing for our entire lives, and can’t be left for the final hours before the Savior comes.

So how can we become converted unto the Lord? How do we obtain that extra oils to fuel our lamps? Again, as Elder Bednar said, consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.  So what is the Gospel? It is the plan of salvation, made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is following the principles and ordinances set forth in the scriptures: faith, repentance, baptism, the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. When I was younger, I used to think that these first principles and ordinances of the Gospel were just a one time deal, applicable before I was eight, then once I was baptized and confirmed, all I had to do was “endure to the end”. Except, my little 8 year old mind didn’t understand that phrase. I didn’t know what that meant.  To me, the word “endure” meant that I had to withstand suffering and trials, which we do in this life. But the word “endure” can be more simple than that. It can mean “to continue” or “to remain”. And to me, that means to continue to apply the principles of faith, repentance, baptism and living in a way so we can keep the Spirit with us always. We have to continually “seek for the things of a better”. We must be constantly trying to become more like the Savior. Conversion truly requires our whole heart, might, mind and strength. We need to fuel that fire with daily prayer, scripture study, service, weekly attendance at church, sharing the Gospel with others and regularly attending the temple, being true to the sacred covenants we make there.

None of us are perfect, and we will make mistakes. I know that I have. But through the Atonement, we can and will become clean again, if we put our faith and trust in the Savior. I know that the Atonement is real. I know that with my whole heart, for I can see how it has changed me and blessed my life, and continues to bless my life every day. The sacrament that we take each week cleanses us so we can start on a clean slate again, just like baptism. It gives us the opportunity  to prayerfully contemplate what we need to change in our lives, and gives us the chance to do so.

We can not be converted by ourselves - it requires the grace and power of God. It requires humility and faith. In 3 Nephi 9:20, it says, “Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.”  

One of my favorite examples of conversion comes from the Book of Mormon. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are amazing examples to me on what it means to be truly converted. In Alma 23:5-7 it says, “And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time. And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them - yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away. For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren.” The Anti-Nephi-Lehies had testimonies of the Gospel, just like you and me. And through belief, personal revelation and “the power of God working miracles in them”, they became converted and they never fell away. I love what they teach us in the next chapter even more. When their brethren came to destroy them, they stayed true to the covenant they made with God to never fight against any of their brethren. They buried their weapons as a testimony of their faith, as a witness of their conversion. In verse 19 (Chapter 24) it says, “And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.” Brothers and sisters, that is conversion. Being firm in your faith, never wavering. Burying our own weapons of war that we have inside us, to become more like our Savior and Heavenly Father. As we put off the natural man and hold true to the covenants and promises we’ve made with the Lord, a mighty change will come into our hearts. When we do this, oil will be added to our vessels, day by day, drop by drop.

It is important to remember that conversion never ends. We will never reach a point, at least not in this life, where we can stop and say, “I have reached my max level of conversion. I don’t need to work on it anymore.” Conversion is an ongoing, daily process. Once we have become “converted”, we must continue to strive for “greater conversion” and so on and so forth.

We have been blessed with the knowledge of the gospel on the earth today, and Christ’s church has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We are all like the ten virgins, knowing that Christ will come again, and we are waiting for that day. But are we preparing as we wait? Are we foolish, or are we wise? Are we continually seeking to become truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or are we relying only on the testimonies that we presently have, no matter how large or small they may be? Do we have an abundance of oil to fill our lamps, or are they about to run dry?

I would like to end with one last scripture, found in D&C 33:17. “Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom.” I invite all of you today to think of one thing you can do to become more converted to the Gospel. I know that if you do this, and strive for it with all of your heart, might, mind and strength, you will feel of God’s love for you, and your testimony will grow. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 Must-Read LDS Talks

"Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto."
~D&C 11:21-22~

 I am so grateful that we have the direction of a living prophet, apostles and other church leaders in our lives, who are the mouthpieces for the Lord in these latter-days! These 10 talks have changed my perspective, my actions, my attitude and my life. I would encourage everyone to take time to read even just one of these talks. I promise that the Spirit will impress you with thoughts on how to improve your own life, as it has done for me.

"The Hope of God's Light"
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
General Conference April 2013
Favorite Quote:
“God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.”
Read it HERE

"Being A More Christian Christian"
Elder Robert D. Hales
General Conference October 2012
Favorite Quote:
"This is the call of Christ to every Christian today: “Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep”—share my gospel with young and old, lifting, blessing, comforting, encouraging, and building them, especially those who think and believe differently than we do."
Read it HERE

"His Grace Is Sufficient"
Brother Brad Wilcox
BYU Devotional July 2011

Favorite Quote:
"Jesus doesn't make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”
Read it HERE

"Missionary Work and the Atonement"
Elder Jeffery R. Holland
MTC Address June 2000

Favorite Quote:
"I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world."
Read it HERE

"We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father"
Sister Elaine S. Dalton
General Conference April 2013

Favorite Quote:
"As daughters of God we are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences. And yet our part matters - because we matter."
Read it HERE

"The Great Commandment"
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
General Conference October 2007
Joseph B. Wirthlin
Favorite Quote:
“Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won’t profit you at all.”
Read it HERE

"Put Your Trust in the Lord"
Elder M. Russell Ballard
General Conference October 2013

Favorite Quote:
"It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord's errand. While the outcome is a result of the exercise of one's agency, sharing the gospel is our responsibility."
Read it HERE

"An High Priest of Good Things to Come"
Elder Jeffery R. Holland
General Conference October 1999

Favorite Quote:
"Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed."
Read it HERE

"Your Happily Ever After"
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
General Young Women Conference 2010

Favorite Quote:
"It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life's story will develop."
Read it HERE

"We Never Walk Alone"
President Thomas S. Monson
General Relief Society Meeting October 2013

Favorite Quote:
"Your Heavenly Father loves you - each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. IT is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God's love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simple always there."
Read it HERE