Finding Direction in the House of the Lord

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Yesterday I was leaving to go to Vann’s house around 4pm. As I knelt to pray, I felt a pressing feeling like I should go to the temple. So, I did. I had some family names from LaDawn who needed initiatory work done, so I decided to start there. Last time I went, I felt pretty anxious throughout the initiatory, so I was grateful this time to find that I felt better about it all. I really enjoyed it. When I reached the last name, it stood out to me. Floyd Jenkins. I decided when I finished that I would also go through an endowment session. I decided to take Floyd Jenkins through.

It was a great session. I think what added to it was that I knew I hadn’t come just because I wanted to. I had felt compelled to come. It added a little urgency to focus and to pray and really pay attention for answers and communication from heaven. Doing this resulted in a very special experience. I noticed a few things I hadn’t before. Most of all, though, I felt like I was where I needed to be, and that I was in the presence of my Father. When I arrived in the Celestial room, it felt like home again.

I thought that was the end of this story.

When I woke up today, I saw the news about the Supreme Court decision. I didn’t read much about it, but the little that I saw as I glanced through my Facebook feed left a feeling of weight on my heart and mind. I prepared myself for my morning studies, ate a little, and then knelt to pray. I prayed my feelings out to the Lord. I told him I felt an urgency, like I needed to really focus on preparing myself for all that is coming. As I prayed, there was one place I wanted to go. The temple.

So I went. I felt an urgency in that as well, for which I am grateful, as it got me there just in time for the 12:15 endowment session. This one was an odd contrast from my session yesterday. It was easier to pray and focus my heart and soul, perhaps because I really had a need today. My question was my own. As a result, I felt like the endowment went by very quickly.

As I sat in the celestial room, again I felt very strongly a sense of peace, and felt like I was home. Between yesterday and today, I received very strong direction regarding what I need to be doing right now.

Since returning home from my mission, I’ve felt a great draw toward finding a companion. It’s probably partially because of loneliness, and partially because of hope for the future and a desire to move forward in my life. I’ve struggled a lot with the trials of dating, and it has really been a source of anxiety and stress since returning home. What I experienced today was an odd mixture of feeling the importance of finding a companion, and understanding the greater need to focus on preparing myself.

More than at any other time since returning home, I feel like right now I am prepared to hear and follow that instruction.

I have so much to do, so much to become, and time is a precious commodity. I have so many goals and dreams! And the Lord has blessed me with so many talents that I want to develop. So I’m building routines to work practice and study and training into my days, and I’m having an amazing time of it. But the message today was clear, and was a culmination of yesterday’s impressions: it’s time to get serious, Ben. There isn’t time anymore to be too tired to get out of bed, or too distracted to write that essay right now, or “not really feeling” studying the scriptures, or too enamored to leave the girl and go home so you can go to bed on time. It’s time to buckle down and get serious about becoming who I am meant to be, who I WANT to be. As for the companion, she’ll be there when you’re ready.

So I’m gonna get serious. And I’m gonna make mistakes, but I made promises today and yesterday, and as long as I remember promises, I do my very best to live according to them. So here’s me remembering my promise:

I promised that I would make the healthy and wise and prudent choice. Whenever the natural man was drawn to the easier and better-feeling option, I would choose the higher road. I promised that I would do everything in my power to be successful, in life and education and career and the Gospel.

There are so many good things ahead 🙂

I am so grateful for this Gospel. For the perspective I have, and the connection I have with heaven, which allows me to have experiences like this. I would be alone without them, seriously! No, autocorrect! I said slime, not alone! I would be slime! I would have wasted away to nothing and been a completely worthless ball of ambitionless slime were it not for a loving Father in Heaven, a perfect Savior, and an infinite, all-encompassing atonement. They see in me what I never believed about myself, not until I heard it from them. And because of the atonement, I can get there. I’m GONNA get there!

So here’s me getting there. 😉

Two weeks home…

My dear family and friends,

These past two weeks at home have been some of the BEST weeks I can remember! I began a blog post shortly after returning, but it was late and I’ve been trying to keep the habit of retiring early and rising early! My body has naturally kept me to the rising early one, ha ha…

But I wanted to share some incredible experiences!

1. Touring the mission with my parents:

My parents met me in the mission home on Thursday night and we had plans to fly home Monday morning. So from Friday to Sunday we were able to drive through the West Virginia Charleston Mission and visit a few of the people with whom I had shared so many wonderful experiences. Well, each day we prayed that we would have opportunities to be missionaries. Each day our prayer was answered. =) But probably the best was the last day. We had planned to go to church in Portsmouth, OH. It started at 10:00 and we had a drive that would put us there about 10:10. I knew, however, that the drive into Portsmouth would probably be the only day for me to see my beautiful best friend Shawna. So after prayerful consideration, we decided we would take the time hit and make the detour. We knocked on her door around 9:50 and she came out, started at the sight of me, and promptly said “I hate you.” I grinned and embraced her. Shawna was baptized shortly before I left my first area, and we shared a wonderful bond during that time. We offered her a ride, she quickly dressed, and we headed to church.

When we arrived at the chapel, we were disappointed to find the parking lot empty. As it turns out, it was Stake Conference day, and church was being held in Huntington, WV–two hours away. *facepalm* After more prayerful consideration, we all decided to go visit some of the members who were unlikely to have driven to Huntington for church. Lo and behold, we chose right! The first door we knocked was Austin and Wanda. Wanda came to the door, and in a grouchy tone said “well, come on in.” That one caught me off guard! Haha, but we obediently entered. The six of us gathered in the living room and relived some memories together. Then I asked if we could hold a testimony meeting in their living room. They obliged. My dear friends, that living room was sacred that day as each one of us present bore our testimonies of this Gospel. Each one of us was touched by the Spirit that day, and things were shared that will make me forever grateful for finding that empty church parking lot. It was a perfect Sabbath day.

2. The plane ride home from the mission:

I had two neighbors on two legs of the flight from Charleston to Phoenix. I honestly can’t remember the first right now, but on the second I sat next to a male who was a few years younger than me. He was reading a book, so for a good portion of the flight we were silent. Finally he adjusted enough that I was able to ask what his book was. It was a book on the physics behind the formation of the universe. We talked about his passion for physics and understanding things. At one point I asked if he had ever considered a Creator in studying physics. We talked about laws and I shared the understanding of a God who creates by using laws. He appreciated the concept of a faith that allowed for science and reason. We had an amazing discussion, and at the end of the flight, I reached into my bag and pulled out the hardback copy of the Book of Mormon I was given by President and Sister Pitt when I first arrived in the mission two years prior. I remembered hearing once that if the only Book of Mormon you have to give away is your personal copy, give it away! =) So I handed it to him, and he was super grateful as he accepted it. He promised he would read it.

10:10, time to get ready for bed. =) To be continued… (with pictures!!!)

Two years, tomorrow.

I do not have words to express my feelings.

Tomorrow is the final day of my assignment to the West Virginia Charleston Mission. At 9:00pm, I’ll hug my mother, then my father. After 3 days of travelling with my parents, I’ll be released as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Every day leading up to this, it just hasn’t been real. Not for 2 years. But today, it’s real.

This has been the greatest experience of my life.

These past two weeks have been remarkable, arguably the best of my entire mission. I have felt light and love increasing and expanding constantly within me over the course of them.

I bear my solemn witness that Jesus Christ lives. I know He lives. It is beyond a hope or a belief. I know it. I know that his atonement on our behalf paid the price for everything. Every pain, every sickness, every sadness, every sin. We don’t have to bear it! We don’t have to feel it. I have felt His grace powerfully during these two years, and in the years leading up to them. I know that the power of the atonement is real. I am in His debt forever.

I am so excited for all that is to come. I love life and I love LIVING it! I have so many plans now, and I’m so free of chains that would stop me from accomplishing my goals. The future is so bright. =)

So I want to share my tenth gift I have written, and I have a few to choose from.

Last time I kind of promised but didn’t deliver on one, so I want to share it now.

Gift 10: A testimony of obedience and sacrifice

We’ve been taught that obedience is the first law of heaven, and is the greatest trial of this life. We learn in 1 Samuel 15:22 that obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience to God’s laws binds God to act and deliver on the blessings that are promised (D&C 130:21; 82:10). As Latter-day saints we are taught the principle of sacrifice in such laws as fasting and giving offerings. Obedience lays the foundation, and without it there is little power in sacrifice. But when we have both, God’s power cannot be held back. In prayer we are obedient, and when we couple it with fasting, the power is magnified. In tithing we are obedient, and when coupled with offerings, God’s blessings pour out upon us and others.

My dear friends, I bear my testimony that there is power in obedience and sacrifice. I have seen those blessings poured out throughout my mission. I have learned to obey, (which, in my experience, is by far the more difficult of the two). When coupled with sacrifice, miracles happen.

I love my Savior. I love my Father in Heaven. I will never forget these two years, nor will I forget the people I have met and grown to love during them. You will be forever in my thoughts and prayers. I love each of you. I will visit, and I will pray for you, and we will be eternally bound by our experiences together in this life. I know that is true. Don’t give up, don’t turn back, and don’t lose hope. Jesus Christ Lives, and we will live forever because of Him.

I bear this witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Williams

Gift 9: A testimony of miracles

Well helllllooooooooo everyone!

This week was fantastic! Miracles in abundance. =) I want to share some with you. First, we had a great talk last Sunday from our stake president, President Jones, regarding miracles, and I wanted to share from that!

President Jones taught us that God is a God of miracles (2 Nephi 27:22). He taught that miracles are merely evidence of God’s interactions with the natural world, and are evidence of God’s love for us. He taught that there are three kinds of miracles:

1. Miracles that occur immediately, such as when a child offers a prayer for help or with a question and gets an immediate answer.
2. Miracles that occur over time, which often require effort and faith on our part. He said, “the fact that these require effort on our part does not make them any less miraculous”.
3. The miracle of forgiveness and conversion, which is when God give us what we need (regardless of what we want) to become more.

He taught that miracles are evidence of God’s love for us. We seek miracles of deliverance, while God desires to bless us with this third kind, the miracle of forgiveness and conversion.

Miracles of this third kind have been given in abundance over the course of my mission. This third kind of miracles came most often in the heat of trials when what I wanted most was definitely a miracle of deliverance! As a missionary, these miracles have come through the companions and members with whom I have been blessed to serve, through weather conditions and sickness and the commandment to work in spite of them, and through emotional opposition from both internal and external sources. I’m sure there have been many more…

4 young adults just came into the library and started talking to us and asking us questions.

Yes. Miracles.

Gift 9: A testimony of miracles

When I get home I plan to take some time to document some of the miracles of my mission. When I do, I’ll share some here. Thank you all for sharing in the miracle of my mission with me. I have loved it, and will be indebted to the Lord forever for this marvelous gift he has given me. I know this Gospel is true. I know the Lord lives. I know He loves us. I bear witness of that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Williams