TRANSFERS!!

Tomorrow I’m getting transferred to Winfield, West Virginia! My new companion will be Elder Espinoza, who I have not met. I’m excited! A new start in a new area will be really great. I’ll send my new address this coming Monday, but a good rule of thumb would be to just send anything to the mission home at:

West Virginia Charleston Mission
888 Oakwood Road, Suite 310
Charleston, WV 25314

I guess that Winfield is pretty close to Charleston, so I imagine it will be a more rural area. No hollers (hollows) yet! There have been a few out here in Ohio, but for the most part we’ve worked in fairly densely populated areas thus far.

I wanted to share just a few of the things I felt from General Conference this weekend. There were many recurring themes, but the one that stood out the most to me was the gaping division between the ways of the world and the laws of God. I have felt an almost constant reiteration this past month on the topic of the commandments. It has come in personal study, lessons we’ve taught, sacrament meeting, Sunday school, revelations in quiet moments, I mean LITERALLY constant reiteration. I remember sitting in a Saturday session of General Conference and realizing how all of that had been preparation for what was to be shared in Conference.

This month I learned that the commandments are not rules or laws assigned by an Omnipotent Dictator; rather, commandments are laws of nature, specifically human nature, which are shared with us by a Benevolent Father who wants us to be well aware of what will make us happy or unhappy in this life. God has not set commandments to cause us to be obedient to Him; rather, He has given commandments to instruct us on what will keep us safe and lead us home to Him.

Commandments are less like rules in a game or sporting event, and more like boundaries on a highway. Picture yourself driving on a two-lane highway through the mountains. On your left is a double yellow line, and on your right is a guardrail. Those boundaries are not arbitrary restrictions, set there to "keep you in line", they are for your protection. If you cross over the left, you are likely to collide with an oncoming vehicle. If you cross over the right, you become subject to the natural law of gravity, and collide with the ground.

So we find ourselves in a time when the world has decided that the natural laws of human happiness, which God has lovingly instructed us in, are outdated and inapplicable. Society is painting over the yellow lines and bulldozing the guardrails.

Thankfully, we have a prophet! We have the priesthood keys of revelation, prophecy, and seership! We have the words of a loving Father in Heaven who outlines exactly where these boundaries lie, and often He even instructs us which highways are still safe to travel!

On a separate note, I don’t know who said it in this past conference, but I remember hearing something stated along these lines: "We do not currently have to endure the trials and the adversity that the early saints did. This will not always be the case."

I don’t know what’s coming, but I want to be prepared for it. I pray that I may plant my feet firmly on the Lord’s side.

As usual, I am out of time. I never get to share the good stuff! Haha… These past six months in Portsmouth, OH have been marvelous. I have been privileged to work with some magnificent missionaries. I thank my Father in Heaven often for assigning me to work with Elder Ryan Carter. He is an incredible man, who has been very prepared to love everyone he meets while serving in the Lord’s vineyard. I have been very blessed these past three months.

I know that there are only good things ahead. In the words of President Pitt, (in the giving of which I’m not quite sure if he’s quoting the movie Astro Boy):

"Onward and upward!"

Love,

Elder Williams

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30 September, 2013 17:58

Well this post is going to be an adventure for sure! I can’t begin to describe how much I have learned this week, and I’m going to try to summarize it here. It’s hard to share specific experiences on here. Anyone who knows me will know that I’ve got the situational memory of a goldfish. Give me a movie line or a scripture and I’ll never be able to forget it, but ask me what the name of the guy I just talked to was, or what happened yesterday, and I’m toast… Thank goodness for planners out here!

Interjection: CHECK OUT THIS SPIDER!

Look at the size of that thing! I was pretty sure it had its fangs sunk into something when we took the picture too. Pretty gnarly.

I have learned a lot of really powerful lessons though, and I’d like to start by listing some topics and then building from there, for my sake.

1. A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

mmm… that’s all I’ve got for now. Haha…

In 3 Nephi 9:20, we learn:

“And 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…”

We hear this phrase often as Latter-day Saints. But honestly, until this week, I didn’t understand it. I studied contrite spirit a little earlier on my mission, but “broken heart” seemed pretty straightforward to me.

This past Tuesday the Ashland Zone had Specialized Training with President and Sister Pitt and President’s Assistants. During one of his teaching portions, President Pitt talked about our Savior’s suffering and death on the cross. He read some scriptural witnesses and shared some of the science behind it, which I still don’t fully comprehend, but the point of his teaching struck one of the Sisters. I remember clearly the moment when, with a shaking voice she said, “He died of a broken heart”. I fear that I am treading on sacred ground by sharing this experience as I am. The Spirit was tangible in that room as we spoke of the love of our Savior for us, and I pray that you will feel that love as you read this brief account.

But what I learned in that moment when she said that was the true meaning of a “broken heart”. In that moment I recalled every instance of “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of my Father, who sent me” in the scriptures. “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done”. I realized that the word “broken” as used in the scriptures was not referring to damaged or hurt emotions, as I had always assumed. Rather, the word “broken” used in the scriptures is the same as that used in reference to a broken horse, a broken shoe, or a broken glove. When a wild horse becomes broken, it becomes submissive to its master. When a glove or shoe becomes broken, it becomes malleable, it stops resisting the will of the master.

The Savior commands that we allow our hearts to be broken. I want to quote again what I shared last time from C.S. Lewis:

“Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work. I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself; my own will shall become yours'” (Mere Christianity, p.167).

The Savior commands us to give up our will for His, as He gave up His will for the Father’s. His death, releasing His spirit and giving up His life, was the ultimate act of submission to the Father’s will during His earthly ministry. He truly did die of a broken heart. But it didn’t end there. In 3 Nephi, we learn that He continued after His death to do as the Father commanded.

And now, the Savior commands us to give up our desires, our sins, our selves, for His self, just as He relinquished His for the Father’s. This is the doctrine of becoming “one”.

John 17:19-23
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

I love my Savior more than I have ever known.

Elder Williams

23 September, 2013 17:14

Well, I’m sure that I’m behind the times, but I just stumbled across this website! http://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/a-new-vision?lang=eng

Oh that I had a few hours right now to spend on that site! Along the right side are the words "Using This Site", followed by 3 steps. I skipped to step 3 today, but I plan to go back to steps 1 and 2 this week during companionship study time.

I wish that every member would catch this Spirit! The Lord is serious! It’s happening! It’s all going forward! I hope that you can feel that by now. I feel it every time I read a letter from home and learn about the incredible things happening there. I feel it every district meeting, zone meeting, zone conference, and training meeting. I feel it when I read from the Book of Mormon the stories of the great missionaries of old. I feel it when we teach investigators and members and testify of our purpose as missionaries. I want so badly for every member, everywhere to feel it!

OH MY GOODNESS I JUST REALIZED! General Conference is coming up in like 2 weeks! Holy cow I cannot wait! Man… That’ll make just under 6 months out here. I feel like I am still at the beginning of my mission, and then I realize that I’m almost 1/4 of the way done! That’s hard. I feel so unprepared still. Elder Carter and I have recently felt very strongly that we need to return to the basics and study the missionary lessons in Preach My Gospel chapter 3. We have had some really great experiences lately (and some really bad experiences) that have helped us to see the importance of the basics. I want to share just a couple of the lessons we have learned recently:

While studying in Lessons 1, 2 and 3 of PMG Chapter 3, (the chapter containing the missionary lessons that we teach), we realized that each lesson is centered on the Atonement.

1. The Restoration (introduction to the atonement; the fact that it happened; the conditions of the atonement are mentioned)

  • The fourth principle we teach in the lesson of the Restoration is "The Savior’s Earthly Ministry and Atonement". During this portion, we explain that Jesus Christ fulfilled the atonement to allow us to re-enter the presence of our father in heaven.
  • Also, in the first principle "God is our Loving Heavenly Father", we find the words "Central to our Heavenly Father’s plan is Jesus Christ’s Atonement".

2. The Plan of Salvation (the need for, act of, and blessings from the atonement are explained in depth; the conditions of the atonement are stated)

  • At the heart of the Plan of Salvation lesson is the principle titled: "The Atonement". This is the largest portion of this lesson. In this section we read, "Christ promises to forgive our sins on the condition that we accept Him by exercising faith in Him, repenting, receiving baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving faithfully to keep His commandments to the end of our lives."

3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ (the effects of and blessings from the atonement are re-explained; the conditions of the atonement are explained in depth)

  • The principles focused on in this lesson are those mentioned in Lesson 2 as the conditions upon which the atonement becomes enacted upon us. This is explained by Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14:17-18:
    17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.
    18 Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire…

I’d like to share a portion of a letter I received from Elder Raffensparger explaining grace. I feel it is very applicable to this. He stated:

"We are all saved by grace and grace alone. Because of the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected and will receive a heavenly glory."

"The laws of Justice and Mercy, must be understood to understand Grace.

Justice demands that a punishment be paid for breaking a law (spiritual or temporal). Jesus Christ paid that price. So placing Himself as mediator or creditor for us, because He assumed our debt, and we are now indebted to Him. This is Justice.

Mercy is: as we are now indebted to the Savior, He sets the new agreement terms. He requires that we repent, and deny ourselves of all ungodliness. We must use this gift that He has given us to become all that we can become. When we make mistakes we fall, so we must stand back up, dust ourselves off, pray and repent, and get back on the horse. Because He paid the price, He has the right to set the terms for us to receive mercy. This is Mercy.

See Alma chapter 42 to see this in scriptural context.

Grace is the saving piece. His Grace is His willingness to have come to earth from on high to experience life, and to bear all of our burdens and give us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. We do not earn grace. Just as we do not earn a sunrise or a sunset. But we accept the blessings that come, and do all in our power to accomplish and become what is required of us. We use the gift of the day to better ourselves, to learn and to grow. Grace is the sunrise on a new life, and new decisions to help us become more like the Savior.

When we make mistakes we fall from grace, the new testament teaches us this: Romans 4, Galatians 5, and Hebrews 10. When we repent, we come into compliance with the Savior’s will, and then there is nothing more we must do. We must only repent. Repentance is a very wide subject and can include many different things depending on what the Lord requires of us. In order to repent we must be humble. When we humbly repent, His Grace is sufficient. Because repentance causes a change within us. We are not trying to prove to God that we should be worthy of a higher glory.

This repentance helps us, trains us, prepares us, to be comfortable in His presence for eternity. Romans 8:17 teaches us that we may gain all that the Savior has gained. As joint heirs, we must become as the Savior did. The Savior is perfect and resisted the temptation to sin. Having done so he was the only one who could help us become perfect. We are only perfect through His atonement as we repent. If we do not use the day(the Atonement) given us by the sunrise (Jesus Christ Himself) then nothing changes and we will not be prepared and in the necessary state of being to be comfortable standing in the presence of a Perfect Father who gave us a responsibility to learn and to grow here on the earth.

This is Grace. The potential to become all that He desires for us to become. His Grace helps us achieve the otherwise inachievable. Were it not for the understanding of a loving Father who showed us by example that it is possible to do as He commands, and then a sacrifice of a son He sent show us the way to do what the Father commands, we would avail to nothing.

Grace is the power and the fuel to get through difficult times, not the extra boost at the end. Grace provides us with the ability to gain Justice, and Mercy. Were it not for Grace we would avail to nothing. We must only repent; which means to change, and become as the Savior.

Seek the Lord’s will in this the time of your life. His Grace is sufficient for all man who Humble themselves before Him. (Ether 12:27) We will make weak things become strong, so long as we are willing to Work for Repentance. Our works do nothing for us, save it be for the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Christ is the reason any of us can be and become anything more than we are. He fought for our agency to choose, which allows us to give that Agency to the Father, and be blessed and set truly free.

Nothing is truly impossible for the Lord. I testify that Grace is the power, the only power by which we are saved. As we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, and exercise faith in Him, he is the difference. I promise that His Grace is sufficient, for those who are humble before Him."

Well, I thought I was only going to share a portion of it, but as I read it, I felt that almost all of it was needed, somewhere, by someone. Wherever and whoever you are, I want you to know that there is no reason I should have received this email from Elder Raffensparger, unless he had been prompted to share it with me. Likewise, I have been prompted to share it with you.

I testify as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ that there is nothing, not one thing, that any of us could do to earn our salvation or exaltation. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." As missionaries, we are commanded to "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9). That is the message we preach. Christ has made available to all men the glorious blessings of His atonement, on conditions of repentance. I feel to quote C.S. Lewis:

"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’"

Hmm. I love my Savior. I love being here. Thank you, each of you who have pressed and prayed and supported and loved and prepared me to be here.

2 Nephi 33:6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.

Alma 26:16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

D&C:128:22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.
23 Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!

Elder Williams

16 September, 2013 18:01

Alright, so, I’m gonna make a little confession here. I always used to think it was a little strange for my Dad to post his meals on his blog and facebook and whatever else… but I’ve been on a pretty big kick for living the Word of Wisdom in actuality recently, and with that, I’ve started cooking a little more and branching out in my food colors, and MAN IT’S EXCITING! CHECK IT OUT!

OOH

LA

LA!

Heck yeah buddy! Folgers has nothing on waking up to a mutilated raspberry, blueberry, and banana pancake smiling at you! That’s all-American baby! (No syrup necessary, all rights reserved).

Also, I would like to give a shout-out to MRS. SARA CARTER who I just recently learned stumbled across my blog. This is Elder Ryan Carter’s mother, and she is amazing. Not only does she send her son just about every dessert known to man (which he lovingly tempts me with every time he takes a bite) But she has sent me, not one, but TWO of the most comfortable shirts known to man, and I am now more loved by Elder Carter, for representing his beloved University of Oregon Ducks, and also by the people of Ohio, for representing Ohio State University BOOYAH! You rock Mrs. Carter. Pictures to come. Someday. Maybe. Yes, probably.

So, today on missionary work, I would just like to direct every person in the world to listen to “The Missionary Next Door” by Diana Hoelscher. You may have to purchase it, but I promise you, if you have any desire to see your family, your ward, your friends, or the work of the Lord become successful, you will pay whatever price you have to or stream it on youtube (or go drive around with your friend who owns it) to listen to this talk. The things she shares are so simple, and so incredibly life-changing. For any parents who ever wondered how to help their children develop a deep and lasting conversion, for any parents who wished they themselves were more converted, for any WARDS WHO HAVE JUST BECOME RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF THE FINDING FOR THE MISSIONARIES.. *ahem *ahem… for any person who ever wanted to see their loved ones receive the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that they themselves have come to love so much, I exhort you with all the feeling of a tender missionary to purchase and listen to this talk and to implement piece by piece into your families, and into your lives, the things she experienced growing up. I want this for my family. I want it so badly. I want to be that kind of father. I want my wife to be that kind of mother. I want my children to be fortified and have the sacrifice of our Savior so deeply into their hearts, and the love of our Savior so deeply in their veins, that no winds, no shafts in the whirlwind, no hail or mighty storm of the adversary could shake them from the rock upon which they are built. This is the kind of home I want, for me, and for every member I know.

I love my Savior. Because of Him I am changing every day out here into somebody I was always meant to be. These changes are coming at a cost. I am being forced to give up all of my ungodliness just to stay alive out here. This is the hardest purifying experience I have ever been through. How grateful I am to know that on the other side of this storm, when I have made it through by the grace of God and my faith in Jesus Christ, I will be someone far greater than I ever was before. Please pray for my companion, Elder Carter, just once, when you read this. Just a little prayer, to ask God to strengthen him, and help him to be patient with me, and to become the missionary I wasn’t ready to train him to be. He is a great man, and I love him, and I will be forever grateful to God for sending him to me, to teach me so much about who I am.

I testify that this is the work of the Lord, and His glory, and that there is no greater joy that I have experienced in my life, nor can I imagine a greater joy, than seeing someone enter into the fold of God. This week, my dear friend Shawna Boggs was baptized, and became a part of my church family forever.

The church is true.

Elder Williams