Monday, April 20, 2015

Living Testimony

My last blog post, to wrap up the two years...

Whenever missionaries in this mission go home, they have the opportunity to share their "dying testimony." Dying has too many negative connotations. I like to think that what I'm sharing is a "living testimony". Because that's exactly what it is; vibrant, alive, growing, deepening, real, and tangible. Something you can nurture, support, and strengthen, or neglect and lose. So, this isn't my dying testimony, this is my living testimony.

There are things that I know to be true, there are things that I believe to be true, and there are things that I'm still working on.

I know that God, Our Father, lives. He lives, and He loves us; He loves me. He knows His children, and He is doing everything that He can to help us to return to be with Him. I know that His work and His glory is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39), and that His purposes are eternal and complete. He is our Father. And we can know Him. I truly believe that I have grown closer to Him, and that I know Him better.

I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is real. I know His love is real; it's tangible and personal, and everything you could possibly wish for. I know He came to Earth to teach us, to lead us, and ultimately to die and be resurrected for us; for me. I know He suffered for my sins and died, and I can't comprehend that, I don't know all the details, but I know it happened, because I have felt it. I have seen it work in the lives of others, and of myself. There is a cleansing and a sanctification that comes only in and through Jesus Christ. He lives. He truly overcame death, and He conquered the enemy of all righteousness. I know that my Redeemer lives.

My father sent me this picture, it was painted for the family of a missionary who passed away on his mission. It has become one of my favorites, because of the truths that it displays, and the feelings it evokes.

I'm eternally grateful for what my Savior has done, is doing, and will continue to do for me. I love Him, and I have come to know Him better as I have served Him. The relationship that we cultivate with the Savior is the most precious, personal, and sacred relationship we can have. It is so important to me, and I strive to build it every day.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the Lord's kingdom established on the Earth. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and as Joseph Smith, I know that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by it's precepts, than by any other book." I love this Church. I love the temple. I love our prophet, President Thomas S Monson. 

My testimony fills me with incomprehensible joy and peace. It's something that anyone can develop, if they will try. If you need help, reach out. My testimony has moved me to become someone different, someone better, than I was before I had it. It's become a driving force in my life, a fuel for conversion, a fuel that will never run out. 

I love being a missionary. I love it so much. And as the Three Nephites in the Book of Mormon, I "have desired that [I] might bring the souls of men unto [Christ], while the world shall stand. And for this cause [I] shall have fullness of joy" (3 Nephi 28:9-10). It doesn't end, it continues, and I can continue to strive to be a better missionary, a better representative of Jesus Christ, every day.

I have read the Book of Mormon several times since I have been on my mission, and my favorite verse of scripture is found in 3 Nephi 9:13-15, and invitation from the Savior, and it reads:

"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if you will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God." (emphasis added)

I know these thing are true, "and for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ... and also that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ... and I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ" (Mormon 3:20-22).

In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Forecast: Awesome

I can count the days on my fingers and toes.

That's interesting.

Also, I will only have one more blog post, so next week will be the last one! I'll fill you in on how the next two weeks are going to pan out (no more surprises). This week we'll be on exchange in Moorestown, and we have a ward party on Saturday. For this coming Sunday, the ward choir director surprised me by announcing that we would be singing one of my favorite songs that we are working on - a neat rendition of My Heavenly Father Loves Me - for my last week! Next Monday, we'll be headed down to the shore, to have dinner with one of my favorite families, from my first area! At the end of next week, I'll go to the temple on Friday with the other departing missionaries, and on Saturday with a family from Downingtown that is going to be sealed! My last Sunday will be a Stake Conference Broadcast, and on Monday I'll get dropped off at the mission office. Tuesday: game day.

It's so interesting to see it all written down. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father is keeping me busy busy busy! The members here are being wonderful, and totally spoiling us with meals and service opportunities. They're great. The weather is beautiful, mid 70s.

Life is good. Missionary work is the best. Miracles every day.

General Conference is also now fully loaded on the Gospel Library App, so we have been tearing that up, in a sense, and I find as I'm reading that there are things that I missed, and also things that I learned from the Spirit that aren't actually in the talks. I love it when that happens, except that I can't highlight it and section it off all pretty-like... oh well.

On a random note, we had my last zone training this week, and I did a musical number with Sister Johnstone. We sang Because I Have, which is from Because I Have Been Given Much but with a different verse about missionary work that I wrote. It was a lot of fun, I was going to take a video and put it on here, but I forgot. Sorry.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the Spring; God is good!

Elder Horne

Monday, April 6, 2015

Meetings + Revelation

This past week was full.

Full of meetings. So, so, many meetings.

Thursday: district meeting. It was wonderful, I learned a lot, we talked about the Holy Ghost; all in preparation to receive revelation from our next meetings!

Friday: zone conference. It's like, an all day deal. We left around 7, got back at about 6. It was my last zone conference, so naturally it was sentimental and happy and sad. All the departing missionaries were able to share their testimonies at the end with the 6 zones that were there. That was really awesome, I'm grateful that I had that opportunity, and also the opportunity to hear from my fellow old missionaries. It was just a wonderful day. Wrapped up great, coming home to Chinese buffet.

All leading up to...

General Conference!! Saturday and Sunday. It was so lovely. Absolutely wonderful. The talks were amazing, the choirs did fantastic, equal amounts of "ooh" and "ahh." Lots and lots of notes and insights and nuggets of pure wisdom. I just loved it completely. My mind was just blown, so now I'm working to compile all my notes, to recall all the things I was inspired to write and do.

And it was Easter Sunday as well! Beautiful day, here in Jersey, and it was such an amazing Easter. Watching Conference, and then being fed by members whom we love. Lots of food. It was just a tremendous opportunity to reflect on the resurrection of the Savior by listening to the words of the prophet and apostles, and church leaders; to contemplate on all that He went through, all that He has done for us.

Wonderful, wonderful week. I'd encourage everyone to, as President Uchtdorf mentioned, remember Easter throughout the entire year, and to view or review the messages taught at Conference!

Elder Horne

Monday, March 30, 2015


Happy Spring!

The surprise that I had for this week cancelled last minute, so hoping that we can make it happen sometime soon... 

This past week was fantastic. The weather is warming up, which means more walking and talking, and we have been so blessed, and seen so many miracles. God loves His missionaries. And, everyone else! 

The church has a new initiative for Easter! #BecauseHeLives. I would encourage everyone to check out: and watch the video "Because He Lives." There are different methods that you can share the video with friends and family, and we are trying to share it with as many people as we can!

I'm so grateful for the Resurrection of the Savior and for the time that we have to reflect on that this time of year as we look forward to Easter Sunday. I know He lives!! Because He Lives, we too will live. We can be happy, we can be filled with light, we can grow, and change, and become better. As children of God our potential is limitless, and Because He Lives we can access that. Because He Lives I have become a different person, a better person, and that would be impossible without Him. "I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives!" (Hymn 136).

Find Him!

He is Here!

Elder Horne

Monday, March 23, 2015

Team Canada!

New companion!

Elder Froc is from Canada! Yay! He has dubbed me an honorary Canadian (like I still needed that...), and we love Canada, so life is grand.

Although, despite loving Canada, I still wasn't very happy to see snow, again. When just a few days prior it was 60s and sunny. Happy first day of spring!!

Usually you take your pictures before you start driving, but you never get as great a shot...

Free Rita's for the first day of spring! It was cold! And snowy! 
But hey, it was free Rita's...

Thankfully, the weather has again warmed up and the snow is gone, again. Hopefully for good.

Surprise for week #1: new companion, and snow for spring. I know, not super grand, but next week's surprise will be fabulous!

One of my favorite scriptures this past week (I'm still on track, by the way; don't fall behind!) is found in 2 Nephi chapter 1, verse 15: "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." Does it get any better than that?

We are having a blast. Warmer weather means more people outside, including us, which means more people to talk to, which means happy happy happy. Oh my goodness, I love talking to people about the gospel, it's the best. Seriously. So, everyone just needs to come to New Jersey as missionaries. You'll love it!

Elder Horne

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book of Mormon Challenge!

Here we go!!

The last six weeks! For the last transfer there have been some changes. Elder Lake is being transferred, so I will be getting a new companion tomorrow! I'll be sure to follow up with who my new (last) companion is and where Elder Lake has gone.

Before Elder Lake left though, I was able to take him to get his first Rita's water ice!!

It's been a lot of fun training Elder Lake, I'm excited to see where he goes next. He's a good elder.

The weather this week has been fabulous, spring is here and I am so happy! It's warmer out, the sun goes down later, and life is perfect. Seriously, things are great. The other day we were out finding some new investigators, and realized we were right next to the river, so we popped over somewhere I could get a better picture. Sadly my camera missed both the sunset, but it was pretty and I just really like water and bridges okay.

Anyway, we have so many exciting plans for these next few weeks, I AM SO EXCITED. They'll come as surprises though, so stay tuned to see the things that I post for these last few weeks. 

As I mentioned last time though, the Book of Mormon challenge! So, I will be reading the entire Book of Mormon in 6 weeks. It's not too bad, only 5-6 chapters a day. I'll attach a chart that you can print off that has each of the days marked so you will know where  you should be at. Although you'll be starting a day late (it started yesterday) I would still encourage you to go for it! The first few chapters aren't very long.

I just love the Book of Mormon and the Spirit that it brings. I stand with Joseph Smith when he said "the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by it's precepts, than by any other book" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). 

It's true!

Elder Horne

Here's the chart I mentioned:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Snow, snow, go away

The snow continues...

We had the biggest snowfall so far this year this past Thursday. It threw everything off, so that wasn't super exciting. I'm not sure what it officially was, but I'm thinking it was around 6-9 inches in places. We couldn't drive at all, and nobody lives that close by, so we decided we would go and shovel all day! It was really neat. Just by helping them to shovel their walks or their drive ways, we met a lot of nice people, we got a lot of hot chocolate, and someone who invited us in so we could teach them about the Restoration! There were a lot of miracles, and a lot of snow.

It's warming up now, it's around 50 degrees outside and all the snow is melted or melting. Hopefully spring is finally here!

Earlier this week we also got our new iPads. I guess it's nice having a new iPad. Having to re-download and configure things hasn't been extraordinarily fun, but the training videos that they have for us are pretty neat! Different apostles and church leaders talking about digital devices, and to think we are the very first missionaries to be watching these videos, that was pretty cool.

The temple is still on the horizon! We are figuring out if we can make it some time in March, but we will certainly be going there in April!! Everyone just needs to go to the temple and be happy.

This past week we also got to go to the bishops storehouse to help out there, so that was pretty sweet. I hadn't been to a bishops storehouse since I was in high school and I went to the one in Seattle. It was awesome being able to help out there, and be involved in that aspect of the church that we don't see very much. It was also incredibly exciting because Elder Murphy was also serving there, and he's the best. A lady took a picture for us, but I still haven't been able to get my hands on it.

Something I really liked in my reading this past week (I've been just studying out of 3 Nephi, since I finished the Book of Mormon again a couple weeks ago, and will have a fun challenge/activity for you guys next week) was this: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings unto them, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings unto them of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth." (3 Nephi 20:40, see also Isaiah 52:7, emphasis added). I loved pondering on the statement: "Thy God reigneth," but more so on the repetition of "bringeth" and "publisheth." I want you to think about that repetition, and why the Savior stated it that way.

Love you guys!
Elder Horne

Monday, March 2, 2015

Next Month...

So, there is another elder in the district who goes home the same time I do, and he has been so kind as to frequently remind me how many days we have left... It's all just numbers though, so I haven't really paid much attention to it. Until yesterday, when he said, "hey, we go home next month."

Ya. That's not okay.

March, go home.

Anyway, not a whole lot has happened since last Tuesday. We are continually battling the weird weather, we had freezing rain on Sunday. I always think freezing rain is really pretty, although it did make things more difficult for us, and the YSA ended church right after sacrament meeting. So, that wasn't the most fun.

However, I did get another plant... I know I was trying to stop, but it's so difficult! They just grow out of the earth like it's nobody's business! This one I got from a very nice member family. His name is Chai, since this family also answered my prayer and helped me out with some lemon ginger tea because my throat was trying to kill me.

We have been experiencing awesome miracles, and all the best of everything (despite the weather), and have rescheduled the temple trip for April, except this time we'll be going to the Manhattan, New York temple! If I don't get transferred, that is (fingers crossed).

And just for an awesome quote because it's awesome: "Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world." Elder Holland

Elder Horne

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"White As Snow"

And I thought I had a lot of pictures last week...

SO, this week was slightly different than expected, but still tremendously awesome and great.

Destiney's baptism was Tuesday, and it was such a wonderful experience!! There were so many people there, and everything went perfectly. Except that Elder Lake forgot to bring a change of shirt, so I had to mummy wrap his sleeves in paper towels before he would put his suit jacket back on. Other than that, it was perfect.

Than, we were preparing to go to the temple with them on Saturday, and we had found 47 names for baptisms from their family! We were so excited! Everything was ready and perfect and happy! Until they cancelled the trip due to snow and rescheduled for September... immediate sadness. We'll figure something out so we can go soon.

We also had a mission conference yesterday! This is the first time our mission has all met together in at least 5 years! Elder Evans of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy, and Elder Allen of the 5th Quorum of the Seventy came and presented training to us on using our digital devices! We will be getting new iPads next week (maybe later) and they'll be rolling out all these new updates in stages. It's exciting stuff. They were awesome.

And... I took a lot of pictures... this is only like, 10%.

Destiney's baptism!!! 

So... we never take selfies, and so when the roads are bad and I'm sliding the car everywhere,
that is when we take seflies. 
And even when I'm taking distracted photos I still manage to be super squinty...

Yay, driving in the snow! 

I made a little snowman outside our apartment! Finally!

I also finally made these cupcakes that my family sent me mix for. 
They turned out pretty good, I messed up the frosting, so it was a little runny... you can probably tell.

Driving past Philly on our way to the Mission Conference!

My "daughter" Sister Johnstone and "grand-daughter" Sister Gomm!

Elder Hunsaker was my zone leader in Downingtown, and then also here in Jersey
Now he is in Linwood!


Oh, and someone gave us a painting of the Last Supper,
so that was pretty sweet.

Elder Horne

Monday, February 16, 2015

Snowy Valentines

I have pictures.

This week was a lot different than I thought it would be! That's one way to put it. It's been really cold, and we went on exchanges, and just lots of things to keep us busy.

Valentines weekend was great! Just before Valentines day, we decided to go to the college campus and hand out a ton of pass-along card valentines! We basically just wrote on a ton of pass-along cards, and tied some ribbon and a Dum-Dum to each one and walked around campus passing them out. It was a lot of fun! We met some awesome people, most of whom wanted us to learn that it was singles-awareness day and tell us their sad story of being single of Valentines Day, but it was still great!

The family sent me this awesome awesome package. I was blown away to see something incredible. An orchid!!! It still doesn't have a name yet, but we're getting there. We've had a busy week okay.

She makes our bathroom look prettier, that's for sure. 

Also in the package was some mix for Red Velvet Pancakes. So, for breakfast we made those. I promise that they were actually really good, but in this picture they kind of look like beef patties... The eggs also look awful (they had red food coloring in them). I thought about taking a picture with different lighting to make the food look good, but I thought it was fun how unappetizing they look in this picture!

Oh, and in this picture the pancakes might look slightly burnt, I don't know why that is.
They were perfect.
The bacon on the other hand, ya that got a little burnt...

Most of Valentines day we went and stopped by a lot of the widows in our ward and gave them some Valentines cards, which was a lot of fun. I don't know if it's because I'm a missionary, or what, but all these older ladies in the ward just love it when we stop by. Especially when we have cards and candy! Well, who wouldn't want that???

The night of the 14th however, things took a turn. We walked outside of the church before heading home, and we stumbled upon this. (Note: everything was clear an hour beforehand) 

We were so surprised! All this snow just came from nowhere, and it was falling fast and heavy. I had the enjoyment of driving home through all the snow (none of the roads were plowed by this point), which hasn't happened in a long time because we either are told not to drive, or the roads are clear. We made it home safe though, so all is well.


Both of our church meetings are cancelled for Sunday and the baptism is rescheduled. Come on snow! That wasn't too fun, I'll be honest. The snow wasn't too bad in the morning when we woke up, it had stopped overnight. It was really really windy though, and cold.

See? Not bad.

Now it is still really cold, and we are waiting for more snow this week. Hurray for hot chocolate!! The baptism will be on Tuesday, and we'll be going to the temple on Saturday, so be prepared for even GREATER pictures next week! Happinesss!!!

On random notes: I had a service for my dead plants. Luke has been dead for awhile now, Leia followed soon after (twins!), Bonsly had been struggling, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was doing just fine until recently! He still looked okay, but his roots failed and he fell over... Meg is fading fast, so you might see her soon...

Buried in their own dirt... 
"dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19)

On another random note! I rearranged my desk. I wish I took a 'before' before. It was messy, and I had all my stuff up here, but I decided I wanted to go for a more concise, sophisticated desk. Minimalist.

There is still quite a bit of stuff, I know, but at least it is slightly more organized and clean!

That's all.

Elder Horne

Monday, February 9, 2015

Family History Missionary Work

This past week was fantastic!

We are so excited for the baptism this coming Sunday, and then going to the temple the following Saturday with their family.

Awesome miracle. Our mission president told us that we needed 10 male names from this recent converts family history for us to take to the temple, if we wanted to go. The only people this family knew were the parents, and the grandmother. That's all we had to work with. We were wondering how we would be able to find 10 male names to take to the temple, when we could barely get started finding information! Well, after a couple hours, finding more information on the parents, we finally figured out one of the grandfathers names. As we were cross-checking things on, we found something that almost made me fall out of my seat. Some kind soul had made a public family history of this family, going back 5 generations, and it started with the grandfather!!! This family went from having almost no idea about where their family was from, who they were or where they lived, to having dozens of documents linked together, providing invaluable information. So exciting!!!! It was such a miracle, we had been praying that we would have a breakthrough somewhere, and decided to turn to even though we weren't familiar with it, and the Lord provided. We had hit a roadblock, and the Lord led us where we needed to go, so we could help this family.

Family history work is so exciting, and so thrilling! It's incredible.

We've been keeping busy preparing for the baptism, and doing all we can to make that the best experience, and then also helping to prepare for the temple trip, so we can make that the best experience for them as well. Happiness happiness happiness.

We will make sure we take pictures, because I have been slacking on that lately. So, brace yourselves.

Elder Horne

PS All my plants are dying, so that's not happy...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cheesecake + Temples

Sometimes when you're waiting to Face Time you're Zone Leaders, you take a few selfies... in the high council room, on the nice swively chairs. Because yes. 

And sometimes I have this for my breakfast... 
(That would be caramel hot chocolate, by the way)

So, pretty much living the life over here. 

This week starts another transfer. Elder Lake and I are staying together (thank goodness), but the rest of the district is changing, so that'll be fun to either meet some new missionaries, or be reunited with friends. 

About that snow storm that never was... ya... I would have taken some pictures to post, but there wasn't really anything that happened. So, that was a fun false alarm I guess. Apparently it hit further north, but we were fine. The weather has been fine. Winter hasn't been nearly as merciless as last year was. I'll count my blessings and not my snowmen.

We have an investigator who is planning to get baptized on February 15, so we are working really hard to make sure everything is planned and perfect. She'll be going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead shortly afterwards, so that will be incredibly fantastic! Plus we'll be there, so I will be so happy I might explode. All the happiness, all at once. Look out. The temple is the best. Everyone should just go to the temple and be happy. 

Cheesecake + Temples = Happiness

So, naturally, there is a lot of happiness going on over here. Always all the time. And now you have the formula, so go and be happy too!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Growing Fast, Growing Up

Because I only ever talk about my plants...

Man, Meg is growing up way too fast! I am worried that she won't last until the end! I'm not sure how long flowers live, but this is how much she's grown already.

This is where she was at earlier this week.

Here she is this morning.

They grow up too soon. All my summer plants are pretty much dead, which is unfortunate.

For everyone who looks at this blog, they probably think that missionaries are just weird botanists. So much plants...

Anyway. This week was really really full, and I'm having a hard time remembering anything. We had another meeting in Broomall (3 weeks in a row we've had to drive back to PA) for all the goldens and their trainers. That was awesome. Elder Lake is growing up fast too! Before I know it, he'll be off in the mission doing grown up missionary work all on his own!

Going out into the storm. Speaking of which, we're supposed to be snowed under this week. So, if you don't hear from me next week, start shoveling. We haven't experienced any of the snow or wind yet, but I guess it's supposed to hit later tonight. We'll see what happens. I'll take pictures (hopefully) and post those next week. 

Also, ever since a member of the ward out here was called to serve in the Thailand Bangkok Mission, I keep hearing about it everywhere. So, here is an awesome video that the Church shared on Facebook that other day that I thought was awesome. Probably because I'm a missionary, but maybe other people will think it's awesome too.

Love you all!
Elder Horne 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Omega Ekato

100 Days.


Whelp, that's weird.

I decided I would do something minimalist and undistinguished, just so that nobody else would realize that today is my 100 day mark. So, obviously, I bought myself a plant.

Her name is Omega Ekato. I originally had just named her Omega, because she is the last plant that I plan to get while I'm on my mission (I think that caps me off at 10). She's a paper white lily. Then, when I realized that today was my 100 day mark, she became Omega Ekato - "last hundred" - in Greek. Rough translation, but we'll roll with it. 

"Meg" for short.

This past week was extraordinary.

We had the longest zone conference of my life. Seriously. Usually they go from about 9-1. We didn't leave this one until 6:30. They had told us it would be going from 9-5, instead of 9-1, but obviously we went a little over on top of that. Also, half of the mission was there. 6 zones. 

Needless to say, probably the best meeting that I have ever been to my entire mission.

All the feels.

Mainly, my heart was just really, really, full. The spirit was just filling me to the brim. And then some. I was able to see so many missionaries that I love, listen to wonderfully prepared talks and training, sing hymns, and just bask in the Lord's love. All day. Especially at the end of the meeting, when all the departing missionaries were bearing their testimonies, and I realized, next zone conference, I will be up there. Then all of us singing the mission hymn. Too much.

All of it, all of it was just so so good. 

I also learned that Jonathan (remember him? He was baptized in the beginning of November when I was in Downingtown), baptized his daughter the other week.

So much happiness. 

"Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel... my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." (Alma 26: 11,16)

Elder Horne

Monday, January 12, 2015

Walking and Talking!


So I apologize about the rush last week. Things have been good, albeit cold. We are working, and things are awesome.

This Sunday I was asked to give a talk on sharing the gospel, but the speaker before me went long, so I just had a couple minutes to bear my testimony. Rather than let all that preparation go without being shared, here is the talk that I wrote! Remember, the audience was to the people who were at church, some of these things I have posted about before.

Many, many talks have been given about sharing the gospel. Prophets and apostles have taught us the doctrine, and I believe we have a decent understanding of what missionary work is and why we do it. My plan today, then, is to share from my experience, what I have found missionary work to be, and why I love it so much. 

In the premortal existence, we "shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) as we learned about God's plan for us, "to bring to pass [our] immortality and eternal life" (Moses 1:39). We chose to follow this plan: to come to earth, to receive a body, and "prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). We knew that we could do it, but we also knew it would be hard. That this would be the hardest thing we would ever do. 

Now we are here, and life isn't easy. Yet we have found a pearl of great price. We have found that only by choosing to follow God's plan can we find happiness and peace. As we keep the commandments and God blesses us, we prepare ourselves to return to be with Him. By knowing what God has asked us to do, we know how to return to His presence. 

How did we come to possess this pearl of great price?

For most, if not all of us, it was through the ministering of another person, the missionary efforts of another. 

True, we believe in angels and that God calls prophets and reveals His gospel directly to them in every dispensation, whenever it has been lost. For the majority of us however, this knowledge has come from someone sharing it with us. Maybe that person was a mother, a father, a spouse, a friend, a teacher, or a prophet. Whoever it was, because of that individual - or more appropriately, individuals - we have learned of our Heavenly Fathers plan for us. 

I can look back on my life, and recall the family and friends that shared the gospel with me; foremost being my parents. My mother teaching me the simple and powerful truth that families can be together forever, instilling in me that desire to strive towards that great goal. My father teaching me about the importance of covenants, of the priesthood, and teaching me how I should act in accordance with those covenants. Seminary teachers who unfolded the scriptures to me in the wee hours of the morning, and I'm sure if I was more attentive and awake I could have learned even more. 

I'm eternally grateful for the individuals who loved me enough to teach me, and to help me learn about God's plan for me, and where I fit into the big picture. Learning the gospel, as in the premortal existence, brings a profound sense of joy and purpose into our lives. A joy that is indescribable, and seemingly insurmountable. 

However, because God loves all of His children, and wants them all to return to Him, He has promised us more. More joy and more peace, if we endeavor to share it. I've looked back on spiritual experiences in my life where I have thought, "it doesn't get any better than this." Well, brothers and sisters, it does. I can promise you it does.

I've seen it, I've felt it, and I know it. 

There was a man in one of my past areas who we met through his wife. She has been inactive for many years, before they were even married, and so his exposure to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was minimal, and not entirely positive. I had the opportunity of working with him for more than six months. We answered question after question, and helped him fight addictions that had been a part of his life for more than 50 years. 

I had the honor of baptizing this man, and the Sunday before I left the area, seeing him ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. 

I remember writing home that week. I told my family, "This. This is happiness." If you would have asked me how I was feeling at that time, I would have told you a perfect 10/10. I still feel that same joy now, but since that experience, I have continued to share the gospel, and that joy has continued to grow. 10/10 has become 15/15, 20/20. It grows! The love and joy that we can feel when we share the precious truths we know is unfathomable. I have felt a part of that love that Heavenly Father has for His children, and I know that there is even more that I can still experience. 

On my mission, I've been living the best years of my life thus far. We have all lived our lives up to this point. I can promise you that there is more. Still more that God has in store for us, more than we can imagine. 

Ammon and his brethren went among the Lamanites, filled with the spirit and joy, as their souls had been redeemed, but I know that they returned home with greater joy, and stronger faith. As Ammon told his brethren:

"But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls. 
"And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
"Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruit of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto your there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name." (Alma 26:26,30-31,35)

I stand with the sons of Mosiah in knowing that sharing the gospel is hard. It has always been hard, and it will continue to be so. Because, as Elder Holland said, "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?" (Missionary Work and the Atonement, Ensign Mar 2001)

Brothers and sisters, the gospel that we share is the gospel of Jesus Christ. His life, His teachings, and most importantly His Atonement. That great atoning sacrifice, as He stated through Joseph Smith, "which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit - and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink - nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men" (D&C 19:18-19). 

I've seen that Atonement work in my life and in the life of others. The Savior didn't do it for Himself, but for us. I know that is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!


I don't have a lot of time, but pictures are worth a thousand words, right???

Late Christmas picture!

New Years Eve!

So this is my friend Daniel. He married a girl from the ward out here. 
While I was at BYU, we had the same latin dance class together, great times!
So, it was nice to see him on New Years Eve.

Also, we love sushi!

Apparently Elder Lake loves it a little bit more than I do!

Love you! Happy New Year!