Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My ways, your ways, or OUR ways?

Hey everyone!  Hope everyone had as good of a week and were able to work on pushing through even if the wind is blowing against you as you are biking up the hill of life.

 This past week has been life-changing for me. We had a mission conference with a member of the Quorum of the Seventy who came to visit, named  Elder Corbridge, as well as an Area Seventy too. Boy, was it a treat to listen to him!  He has written the famous missionary talk called "The Fourth Missionary" (for those who might be familiar with it) ...  a lot of missionaries around the world have this talk as well and Elder Corbridge has spoken in General Conference a few times. He was running low on time, so that kinda' stunk, so we could tell he was jumping around a lot;  but one thing I noticed was how well-versed he is in the scriptures.  I swear he could quote the whole Book of Mormon.  Also, he told us of a cool vision he had one night and it blew everyone's mind. So, anyways, he REALLY focused on the Spirit; he said the greatest gift we can get on earth is the Holy Ghost and living worthy to have it always is most important. We get baptized to be cleansed and worthy to receive the Holy Ghost; we have commandments to keep us worthy to have the Spirit with us, etc. His words and teachings really hit me and changed my perspective on a lot of things.

The next morning I received revelation on a passage of scripture that Elder Corbridge had mentioned.  He had read just one verse but I decided to read the whole chapter to better understand its context. It is Isaiah 55. He told us that the Lord ALWAYS teaches us using repetition, like " knock, seek, find" ... same thing, but just used in different words and ways. Also, he told us that effective teaching is like a trip. We have to figure out our destination (doctrine), route (principles), and conclusion (application). The Lord teaches us often times in the scriptures using this form and structure. So, after I read Isaiah I started looking for these patterns and I found them. The Lord starts off basically saying there is no cost for salvation, everyone can "come unto me" (meaning the Lord) and be full of joy ...  so that is our "destination" ... salvation.

Then He says that we must seek Him and be rid of our wicked ways and thoughts, and turn towards him.  In other words repent because "he will abundantly pardon." Then He says that His ways and NOT our ways, or His thoughts and NOT our thoughts. But everyone thinks that means He is talking down to us, but really to me it is an invitation. Because we sin and fall short, His and our ways are divided;  but if we just forsake our wicked ways, change and ALIGN our thoughts and ways with His thoughts and ways then there will be no separation ...we will be one, and it will be OUR ways. The Lord doesn't want us to be below Him; He wants us to rise up unto Him and His attributes by becoming more like him. (Route to achieve eternal life) 

Then in conclusion He says in verse 12 "ye shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace".  If we just apply the route, repent, change our thoughts, and think of our destination of salvation then we will come to the application,  This is where I act on what I have learned. I now know the doctrine, I know the principles, and now I need to apply it.  For example: praying daily and repenting, learning more about the Savior's ways in the scriptures, etc. 
What I love about that promise at the end is that we will have peace and joy and those feelings only come from the Spirit of God... which is EXACTLY what Elder Corbridge focused on ...having that Spirit to be with us always. 

I won't tell you which verses and the ones in which the Lord repeats basically the same thing because I'd then ruin the surprise of seeking it yourselves!   I don't know if this is all doctrine, per se, but what I used to compare it .  I know I felt the Spirit teach and reveal more things to me and I wanted to share it with you all. It was a miracle I came across a random chapter that aligns  EXACTLY with what Elder Corbridge was training us on. I testify that as you strive to make your ways not so divided from the Lord's ways you will receive power beyond what you can imagine; strength, peace, hope and salvation.  May all of our ways be more in align with the Lord's ways and may they ultimately become OUR ways.

Peace and blessings, 

Elder Taylor 

SERVICE: we cut out weeds on an entire block!

Bday Dinner with the Moe Family

Have not ever met a family who knows what these are (aebleskivers) ... I grew up eating this deliciousness!!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Push on; don't justify and quit

Hey!  Hope you all are doing fantastic and have had a wonderful week. As I have been thinking of this past week and what I wanted to write about nothing really came to me really hard... just little impressions.  So I hope I gather them all in a way that you can understand.

My goal for this last week was to deepen my conversion... you can never deepen it too much right? Well, because of it I feel that I have had a lot of great trials, lessons and experiences to help me with that goal. I have been chastised, yelled at, blessed, strengthened, received deeper knowledge, humbled and so forth. These things seem to be how it is every week in a life of a missionary, but I've just noticed it more this week. 

I was able to go on exchanges in the Bandeleier ward, which was awesome to be back, but they are on bikes. Not only that but to get out to that area it is basically all up hill. Well, being myself and all confident (or maybe "prideful" haha) I thought it wouldn't be that hard because I'm pretty fit right now so I can do it. Well, I was SO wrong!  That huge hill creamed me. I felt like a sissy but I had a great time to ponder and be taught by the Lord. He showed me physically how life is ALWAYS going to be; that it isn't like this just on the mission but for the rest of your life. Also, it is SUPER cold here now ...like if it rained it would totally snow; so we are freezing all of the time and that day it was super windy. So, not only am I biking up a giant never-ending hill, but all of a sudden these large waves of strong/cold wind would hit and that slows you down even more. So I had a choice... do I give up and give in because its really hard and can justify why I can't do it and quit?  I'm sure I had enough excuses why I couldn't really keep going and keep giving it my all.  Well, once I decided I would be a sissy and give up my strength and mentality grew... I just kept pedaling and pushing forward with faith and hope that I could do it.  Well, then all of a sudden I was at the top of the hill. I got a 1 min break because of a light then went on to conquer another hill. But that's how our life is; we don't always have it easy. We may spend most of our lives climbing up a hill on a bike, then only have a minute break at the top until we are having to go up another one, but because of that I'm stronger.  I was humbled in that fact of how hard biking is... especially in the wind. If we know how to use the gears on the bike properly it will help us get up that hill but does that just mean we stop pedaling? No.  All it is there for is another tool to help us finish our task. So it is with our lives; as we are on our spiritual bike climb, don't forget that you can "shift gears" and if it is too hard to peddle you can you can change that gear ... we need to use them. Our gears are our modern prophets, scriptures, wisdom from friends and family and leaders, support from others, power of prayer, church, covenants to give us strength, and, of course, our Savior's atonement. We can switch to any one of the spiritual "gears" whenever we need its help to get up that hill and keep our pace. We need to have faith and WORKS. I'm reading in Miracle of Forgiveness and a statement in it really hit me. It says, "The Lord will not translate ones good hopes, and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself."  Don't get off the bike, don't justify why you can't finish or that you have probably made if far enough and want to ride back down. No.  You finish even if you go at the slowest pace it doesn't matter if you are using those gears to help.  All that matters is that you finish. The Lord can't tell you to get off the bike and He will bike up the hill for you.  No, you still have to pedal but He will for sure coach, help and encourage you the whole way. 

At the end, after I biked up all of the hills, I was able to bike down it all!! I was looking at the left and picturing myself struggling up this very hill and how thankful I was that I didn't give up because the ride down was amazing and I felt accomplished, and I learned great lessons. So it is with our lives; you will someday get to enjoy the ride down and feel that satisfaction.  There are always great blessings for us, and most are worth the struggles. I testify that this is true! Trust in Him . 

Your Friend and brother in the cause,

Elder Taylor  

Only one pic this week! 
On exchanges with Elder Jewett.
 I figured I should get the typical missionary pic with the helmet 
and bike at least once on my mission.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roots of Your Testimony

Hey guys!  Thanks for reading my emails. 

This last week we had zone training on Friday.  The section I chose to train on was bearing our testimony frequently in lessons as stated in Preach my Gospel. Well, as I pondered this the next morning I was reminded of a memory ... of where my testimony in the prophet Joseph Smith was rooted. So I challened the missionaries to think and remember of a time in which someone or they themselves felt the testifying spirit come over them. For me I wish to share that experience: 

When I was 12 years old and just entered into the young men's program we went to visit the Mormon Battalion  While there we watched the Joseph Smith movie.  I didn't really know too much about his life so it was really eye-opening , but I really felt a connection with Joseph... as if I knew him. In my mind I was thinking I would have totally fought off the mobs and put my life on the line for this man. After the movie I was saddened that he was killed, but grateful for all he did. We had a testimony meeting and I felt the Spirit nudge me to bear mine, but I fought it...  I had felt emotional the whole meeting. I didn't want to go up and cry like a baby in front of all the young women!  haha  But I ended up going up. Guess what happend?  I cried, but I bore a testimony that I didn't know I had on the prophet Jospeh Smith. All I remember is leaving there KNOWING that Joseph was a prophet of God and I could never deny that. From that point on I never lived perfect. I wasn't too into the Gospel or bearing my testimony often but when ever anyone would talk bad about Joseph at school or anywhere I would ALWAYS stand up for him because of the testimony that had been rooted in my soul. Now, because of that root I have been able to grow in that testimony and bear witness of it every single day of my mission. As I remembered that it brought me back to the foundation of my testimony (my roots), and how often times we lose our focus and the  basics of what got us here to this point in our life. 

My testimony has grown tremendously... I honestly feel that I have gotten to a point in which I could never deny the things I teach, feel or believe ... even if my life was staked on it. I'd rather DIE in my faith and testimony than to DENY it.

Three nights ago we went to a member's house to teach a YSA-aged guy who had questions.  The son of the member is friends with this guy and the son is on a mission right now. So we sat down and he mentioned that he's a thinker. Well, he started off asking us why we know the Book of Mormon is true.  Powerful testimonies were born but then he came out with note cards full of anti-mormon literature. In a loving and non-bashing I used analogies to help him understand things.  He spoke of SUPER deep doctrine and more like other people's speculations in the church than doctrine, and he was so caught up on this stuff.  (I won't share what it is though.)   Well, I told him an analogy... I asked him if he goes to the gym?  If I had a bench here with three plates on both sides that was over 300 pounds and asked you to rep it 10 times could you? He said no.  I said, ok, if i had a 10 pound plate on both side and said for you to rep it 10 times could you? He said easy!  I said ok, the things you are focused on right now and are getting caught up on are the 300 pound weights ... but to even reach to that  level you have to start with the 10s and work your way up. But if you go into the gym not even believing you can reach that goal and are not working your hardest to get it by going and lifting consistently (Church), eating healthy (reading the Book of Mormon daily), and being diligent in your goal and staying motivated (praying for help and answers often) then you won't get the result that you want. Having faith that doing those things will get you to that 300 pounds will help you achieve it through diligence, but if you listen to "other" people or look at other sources saying that doing those things won't help you reach that goal to bench 300 then you will lose faith in it and question it. 

Well, sadly he went back to his question and wouldn't really listen and that's fine, but I just pray that something impacts him. That he actually trys to have faith in this Gospel and in the Book of Mormon, and asks God SINCERELY wanting to know if this will help him. Just like the sciptures teach milk before the meat; we can't expect to understand super deep things until we build a strong testimony in the simple principles that bring us true spiritual joy, strength and knowledge.  Then as our roots grow we will understand the meat or the 300 lbs doctrine or speculations. 

Brothers and Sisters: don't get caught up on these things that you hear and read that don't truly pertain to faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end because Satan will start trying to destroy and dig up the roots that have been growing. You don't go to a Ford dealership to asking about the new Chevy Malibu because they are going to tell you that they have a Ford Fusion that is way better and tell you false things about the Chevy. If you want to know the belief of LDS people, or more importantly, the truth that the Lord has taught by His prophets and the real truth of God... go to the actual sources.  I testify if you do that you WILL receivee your answers, you WILL receive deeper roots in your testimony and you WILL receive further light, knowledge, and peace in knowing our one true God and His true doctrine for His children.

I invite you all to go back to the roots of your testimony and let the Holy Ghost remind you of experiences because that is what happened to me.  Record them in a journal and cherish it. Read also Alma 32 37-43... it talks about the roots of our testimony.

All my love to you,

Elder Taylor

Check out my new ride! I'll be driving this instead of my car and walking... I wish ! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Transfer

Hello everyone!  Hope you all are staying warm in this change of seasons. 

This past week has been great!  I am super happy with the Elders and Sisters we got transferred into this zone.  They are all awesome and everyone is already close and has that camaraderie.  That is exactly what I have been noticing lately ... that as missionaries, or just all of us as members, or just as God's children ... that when we are positive and happy we get along great with others. This life is meant for us to enjoy so why not have fun and laugh and live with those around you. 

There is a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants.  The Doctrine and Covenants are a set of scriptures which are revelations that the Lord has given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in which he has recorded down for us today to learn and study. The section is 130 verse 2 and it says, " And that same SOCIALITY which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy."  How wonderful that will be!  I think of when we have transfers here or a really big zone conference and all the missionaries are so excited to see one another and catch up and the joy it brings them...  imagine how it will be in the next life? The closest I think I will ever be to this in my life will be when I return home from my mission. Seeing my father and brother and sister and all the others I love and have not seen for 2 years... I feel that the sociality there will be the strongest that I will reach here in mortality. That reunion will be strong of love, joy and laughter. 

But as we know there is opposition in all things. Being TOO social can lead down the other direction. We must still be focused in our cause and always build connections with others, but when we are influenced in a negative way by our peers or when our sociality with them starts to pull us from the iron rod that is when the issues begin. So don't justify being in certain places or with certain people just because the scriputres say it is great to have sociality with others, because the scriputures say we shouldn't do things that even appear to be sinful.

As we follow the commandments of God and strive to be focused on our purpose here in life I promise that our sociality with others, but particularly those of our faith, will grow and that our relationships with others are good and are of God. 

May we all continue to have positive, loving and healthy relationships with others. 

Love , 

Elder Taylor