24 November, 2014 17:27

My dear beloved friends and loved ones,

How grateful I am to be here as one of the Lord’s missionaries. This week we had a beautiful experience, as we were blessed to see a family attend church for the first time. As I listened to the first talk which extolled motherhood and honored mothers, I was so grateful to have this single mother of three children there. To know how much it meant to her to be honored for her sacrifice and hard work, I was just so happy. As the talks started, I saw her ten year old daughter begin to look around the room. I said a silent prayer asking for help to help her listen to the talks. The idea came quickly, and I pulled out a pen and a pad. I wrote down “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Savior”, “Lord”, and “God”, and invited her to tally up each time the speakers said each word. After a while her mother joined in pointing out the ones she missed. It was a great time.

The second speaker spoke on gratitude. He talked about looking at the same beautiful scene and having three different reactions. The first, to see the negative. The second, to miss it entirely. The third, to see the good, and appreciate the beauty of it. I realized that I had forgotten one of the most important elemnents of the beautiful prayers of faith that I mentioned last week. When I started this last year, it began as a sacrifice of asking for things in prayer–I wanted my prayers to be prayers of gratitude. In those prayers, my heart swelled. I found joy in some of the smallest and easily-missed blessings. I wanted to do it for a month, and it quickly became clear that I needed to ask for things as well. The scriptures teach us to! But I wanted to stay true to my promise, and so I thought of ways to ask for blessings without asking. But the central purpose was that I wanted to be more grateful and show more gratitude to my God, my Heavenly Father. Without that element in the prayer, a whole lot of really incredible blessings would be missed. =)

I hope that you are all enjoying your holiday season as much as I am. I hope you are feeling the love that God has for you. I hope that you find purpose and peace even in the difficult moments. I find that when I take a second to pause and turn my thoughts heavenward in those moments, God is there with me, always, and he always tells me so. So don’t do it on your own. You don’t ever, ever have to. I promise.

I love you. I love my God. I love my Savior, “my Jesus”, Nephi says. =) I love my family, and I miss you, but I am so happy to be missing you right now, because I know that I am right where God wants me to be. Please pray for me to find strength in this journey to focus my thoughts and heart always on this work and my calling. I have such a short time here, and then it’s over. Please pray for me to have that strength. And I invite you to join me the remainder of November in these Prayers of Gratitude and Faith for “No-Ask November”. 6 more days. =)

Daniel,
Happy birthday brother. I pray for you often. I have thought of you so often these past 2 transfers! I met a man who reminds me so much of you, and it was awesome to have him in my company for a while. I hope your birthday is a hopeful looking to the future. You have a lot of hope and good desires for your life and your future, and I love that about you. I’d welcome an email from you so I can write to you directly, but either way, just know that I love and look up to you. Miss you brother! I’ll see you soon too. =)

Love you all. Thank you.
Elder Williams

17 November, 2014 17:29

Dear wonderful, magnificent, noble, family and friends,

I LOVE THIS SEASON! I know I say that a lot. But I really mean it. I LOVE the Holiday season. Ok, really quick, scroll down to the bottom of this entry and look at the first picture and will someone please tell me what the heck that thing is?! That is the second one I’ve seen. The first one was knocking on our front door trying to get in. It wouldn’t let me send in-line pictures, but in the second picture I want to introduce you to Elder Ryan Vest, Companion Extraordinare, and Richard. =) Richard is one of our very dear friends. He’s been in Lynchburg for some time, and we met him about 12 weeks ago. He’s been coming to church with us quite a bit recently, and he’s basically become one of us. =D But Richard is moving to Texas. =( Please pray for his safe travels and his success in obtaining work when he arrives. He is a good man with a great road ahead of him. We love him and will miss him.

I’m doing something really fun this month! I call it “No-ask November”. Basically, I don’t ask for anything when I pray. It forces me to be creative in my prayers when I’m seeking specific blessings. As a result, my prayers turn into faith-filled prayers, where I consider what I have to do and commit to do it. For example, instead of saying “Please help me to have the strength to resist temptation”, it turns into something like “Heavenly Father, I know that you want me to stay clean and worthy always, I know that you have promised that the scriptures provide a shield from the adversary, and so I commit to read from the Book of Mormon for 20 minutes each day. I know that you will strengthen me to resist temptation as I do so.” It makes such a difference in the way I feel when I pray. Instead of pleading from a position of weakness, I express confidence and trust and faith in God and in myself, and I commit to DO something to help the situation. This process has led to some of the most faith-filled prayers I have experienced on my mission, probably ever.

Elder Vest and I are working hard to become Preach My Gospel missionaries! We received a magnificent promise from President Salisbury this past mission conference, and it has filled both of us with a renewed determination to be the best men and the most dedicated missionaries we can be! It’s super hard, and Satan knows our weaknesses definitely, but there is a different Spirit as we are reaching for that goal. Our trials and stumbles aren’t discouraging anymore, instead, they provide us with learning experiences that feed our ability to move forward. When we stand back up, we are even better equipped for the journey ahead. I don’t know what that stems from… Faith? Hope? We know that God’s promises are real. Always. EVERY time. And we know what He has promised us right now. And we know what we were called to do! I love being a part of this work, so much. I am so grateful. I look back on what I went through to get here and I am just… amazed, at what the atonement of Christ has done for me individually. I see it working in the lives of the people we love here every day. But it doesn’t come until we ask for it, and not until we’re willing to do what he asks of us. But when we do… it’s indescribable.

Please know how grateful I am for your prayers and your support. Know how much I love you, and love to be missing you right now. =)

This work is true. The Lord is in command of this church and Gospel. I bear my witness of it, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Elder Williams

10 November, 2014 16:16

Dear Family and friends,

I forgot what it felt like to give my all. I didn’t know that I had forgotten, but I had. Somewhere in the past 6 months I stopped giving everything I had into my mission. I was still doing missionary things, still teaching the Gospel, and still seeing blessings and converstion and feeling joy, but something was missing. What I felt this past week, what I felt in its fulness last night at 6:00 pm as we headed out to work, what I felt as we watched our prayers answered… I have not felt in quite some time. It feels incredible. I remember it now. I had forgotten.

Last night about 6:00 we knelt in prayer. It was my turn to pray. That prayer was different. I knew what I wanted when I knelt. I already felt it. We had three hours on a cold Sunday night without any real plans, but I felt in my heart what had been building since our interviews with our mission president a little over a week ago. It was a spiritual excitement, more than a hope–a knowledge, that the Lord would use us as his hands and feet. There was no question as to whether we would have the courage to talk to people, there wasn’t even an agreement to do so, we just felt it. A love for the work and a love for life and our calling. We just went out to be the Lord’s missionaries. We prayed in faith to be led to a family who had been prepared, and then we went.

Around 8:00pm, after a handful of positive interactions, and a few prayers for guidance, we felt to walk down a street we had tracted previously, around this same time of night. At 8pm, our criteria for knocking on a house is lights on inside and outside, unless otherwise prompted, and so we went. The first three with lights on were doors we had knocked previously with no response. Tonight, all came to the door, and all kindly dismissed us. We crossed the street to knock on a happy looking, well-lit home. When he came to the door, he said he didn’t even hear us knock, but as he passed the window he noticed white shirts and ties on his doorstep. He stood with us for a moment and then invited us in. It was a beautiful experience that followed. We learned that his family had been friends with a member family who moved out of our area a few years ago. We learned that on numerous occasions that member family had shared gospel testimonies and experiences with this man and his family. We learned that he had read from the Book of Mormon previously, and as we testified of its power when it is read with the intent to know if it is God’s word, he committed to read it again. We saw love and peace and a desire for the Gospel within the walls of that home. As we walked home last night, we basked in the joy of living the Gospel and fulfilling our calling.

I know this is the work of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that our God lives and loves us, and that He has our eternal happiness as His greatest desire. I know that I have been called by a living prophet of God, and commissioned to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for such a short time. I hope never again to forget that. I love this Gospel and the light that it brings into the hearts and homes and lives of those who faithfully live its teachings. I love my Savior, and I love my Father in Heaven. I know they live.

I was told by my former mission President that this missionary service is supposed to create a barrier between our past selves and our new lives. These are two years for us to forget who we were, to become new creatures, to be built through obedience and sacrifice into men and women who will serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength until the end.

So, I’m not giving up, and I am getting back to where I was, and moving on to where the Lord needs me to be.

This is Christ’s church. I promise it.

I love you so all so much, and pray for you daily. Thank you for everything. =)

Elder Williams

3 November, 2014 17:12

Helllooooooooo!!!!!!

So I promised I would write about Virtue. =) It has been a beautiful study. I asked a few questions as I studied:

1. What is virtue?

I learned that Virtue is purity of thought and action. Preach my Gospel teaches that Virtue originates in your innermost thoughts and desires.Virtue is also a commandment (D&C 4:6; 38:24).

2. How do we obtain it?
In my experience, our thoughts, more than anything else, determine our actions. If our thoughts are unclean, we will fight living an unclean life always. If we control our thoughts and keep them always virtuous (through regular scripture study, prayer, temple attendance) we will easily live a virtuous life.

“Your mind is like a stage in a theater; in the theater of your mind, however, only one actor can be on stage at a time. If the stage is left bare, thoughts of darkness and sin often enter the stage to tempt. But these thoughts have no power if the stage of your mind is occupied by wholesome thoughts, such as a memorized hymn or verse of scripture that you can call upon in a moment of temptation. By controlling the stage of your mind, you can successfully resist persistent urges to yield to temptation and indulge in sin. You can become pure and virtuous.”

As with Charity, we should also “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled” with Virtue.

3. What are the fruits (evidence), and the blessings of virtue?
In D&C 121 we are given these things as a result of letting “virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.”

  • Our confidence will wax strong in the presence of God
  • The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion
  • The Doctrine of the Priesthood will distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven
  • Our scepter shall be an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth

In D&C 4:5 and in 2 Peter 1:5-10, virtue is listed as one of 10 attributes which, if we diligently seek to obtain, will make our calling and election sure. “For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”.

Hope that was enlightening =). More than a beautiful study, it has been a beautiful experience, and I attribute my increased revelation and my increased love for the scriptures in large part to my recent prayers for a greater measure of virtue.

So we had Elder Renlund of the First Quorum of the Seventy visit with his wife this past week on a mission tour. He told this story:

Elder Renlund’s wife and daughter wanted a dog. Elder Renlund felt firmly that the dog should be a big masculine dog with a name like “Spike”, so when he walked him around the neighborhood people would point and say things like “look at all that muscle”. His wife, however, wanted a small, feminine dog with a pretty name. Well, in marriage comes compromise, so they bought a toy poodle and named her “Lady”. “That dog was useless,” Elder Renlund chided, “but the one thing she was good for was that if you threw a ball she would run and pick it up and bring it back.” Elder Renlund said he would sit and throw a ball over and over again, and Lady would never get tired of returning it. One day Elder Renlund was bored, so he picked up two balls and threw both of them. Off ran lady, grabbing the first ball and heading back, then she saw the second ball, dropped the first ball, ran over to the second ball, picked it up, and started to head back. Then she saw the first ball again, so she dropped the second, ran to the first, picked it up, and started heading back. Then she saw the second ball again, so she dropped the first, ran over, looked at the second ball, looked back at the first, looked back at the second, and then walked over to her bed and laid down. Elder Renlund likened this experience to having an “eye single to the glory of God”. An eye single is like having only one ball we are chasing. Is our eye single?

Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

I wanted to include some stories of miracles and successes we have seen lately, but I spent a lot of time on the other stuff, soooo I don’t have time anymore. Lynchburg is incredible though, and this transfer is especially wonderful. We just had our interviews with our mission president, and I feel again like the light is coming on here. The sun is rising, and my life is filling with light. I love this work. I love love LOVE it!

In closing, I want to bear my testimony of the Savior’s atonement. It is real. It is so very real. I wish I could tell you how real it is. In Alma 34:31 it says “Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” I have felt that immediacy. I felt it again last night. I am so grateful for the gift of repentance. Please don’t take it for granted. Please don’t live in pain and regret. The Savior has taken the price and burden upon him. Soften your heart and turn to him and you will feel the immediate blessings of the great plan of redemption. I love this Gospel. It is so true. I pray you may come to know it as I know it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,
Elder Williams