Monday, April 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

April 15, 2013

Hey!

Since this is my last real week to email home I wanted to send some summarizing thoughts about my mission.

Being a missionary the past two years for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been an incredible experience! I have faced more difficulties and grown more than perhaps during any other stage of my life so far. I have learned truths of eternal significance. 

Testimony. It is said that in bearing your testimony you will find it. I have found that to be very true as I have frequently shared my conviction of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In times of doubt and disbelief the Spirit of God has reaffirmed the faith I grew up with. By guiding others along their spiritual journey I myself have taken great strides down the path to return to our Heavenly Father. I have felt the love of God pierce through sadness and despair. I have learned for myself the truthfulness of this church. I planted a seed and watched it grow within me. The great swelling motions described in the 32nd chapter of Alma have been felt within my own breast. I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the church that Jesus Christ established in antiquity. 

The Word of God. We are invited by Nephi to feast upon the words of Christ. Before my mission I rarely accepted that invitation. I have now drunk deeply from the living water contained in the scriptures. In particular The Book of Mormon has been a beacon of light to my soul. When I had been out on my mission for a year I made a commitment to myself that I would read The Book of Mormon once a month for the rest of my mission. That has been a life changing experience for me. As I pored over the sacred pages again and again I received further light and knowledge. My heart has been changed permanently by the powerful Word of God. I love The Book of Mormon with all my heart and I know it is true. If I were to choose one thing that I love above all else in this supernal record is its consistent messianic message of Jesus the Christ. I have come to know more fully who my Savior is through this inspired text. I have learned of His attributes and His love for us - the children of God. The eternal importance of Christ and His Atonement has been emblazoned upon my soul by The Book of Mormon. 

Service. I have learned of the great joy that is found in the service of your fellow men. I have always loved helping others but I understand service in a much fuller way. I have seen my efforts rejected and ignored by others and I think of our Savior who must feel that rejection much more deeply. I have tried to turn outward instead of inward and know the joy that losing ourselves in the work of the Master brings. 

Relationships. I understand better how to build relationships with others. I am less naive and gullible about what is out in the world and will protect myself better. I have learned that often when you give love to others they return it back. I am better at working with individuals and helping them learn and grow. Whether that is an investigator or companion. I see now how much a good example can influence an individual. I have been changed by the example set of other powerful missionaries and members. 

Prophets and Apostles. I have gained an appreciation for the living prophets and apostles. I bear witness that they are servants of the Almighty God. I love to read their words and their stories. Sermons given by the brethren have given me strength and comfort in times of need. I love Elder Holland. His talks gave me strength in the beginning of my mission that got me through the day. I read one of his talks multiple times per day. I said to myself figuratively speaking,"If Elder Holland knows it is true that is good enough for me." I love President Monson and know he is the Prophet of God on the earth today. 

Family. I have felt a hole in my heart where my family used to be. I learned how important my family was and is to me. The time to email home was like a sanctuary from the cares of life. I realized how much my father meant to me and the role model and example he was. I love his humility. My mother became my hero. Her conversion to the gospel and subsequent mission service have made me admire her immensely.  I can say like the stripling warriors that I did not doubt my mother knew it. My siblings have been my best friends and faithful writers and cheerleaders.  Even though I have missed my family I know it has been worth it to help other families grow in the gospel.

Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change lives forever. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change my life forever. I understand a little better the strengthening and redeeming power that emanates from Christ. I have felt his love and power deep within my soul. It has made my heart full and to borrow a Book of Mormon phrase has made me want to sing the song of redeeming love. I have felt encircled in the arms of His love. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Regardless of specific doctrines or principles I know that the name of Jesus Christ carries inherent power. I love Him.

Converts. I have loved seeing others join the Church. I have made incredible friends who I will love always. But even if all my converts fall away or don't stay strong I know that I have converted one person. Myself!

I will always be grateful for the unique opportunity to serve a mission. Thank you all for support and encouragement. 

Love,
Elder Arnold

Watchmen on the Tower

April 8, 2013

Hey!

Life is just grand! We had a really great week here in Irvine. I always really look forward to General Conference and it never disappoints. Even better than Super Bowl Sunday!

Exciting story of the week. There is a lady that we have been trying to teach named Lisa. She had a great friend in Colorado that really prepared her to be taught. So when we knocked into her 6 months ago she readily received us. However we hadn't been able to get back in to teach her. This last week we were able to teach her. We got in and answered a bunch of questions that she had. Like what is the process of joining the church and other good things like that. Flash back to a couple of months ago when I was in an interview with President Bowen. We were talking about my investigators and he shared a scripture with me that I could share with Lisa. So at the end of our lesson I pulled out this scripture and had her read it and insert her name into it. Doctrine and Covenants 39:5-10

 5 And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me.

 6 And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.

 7 And now, behold, I say unto you, my servant James, I have looked upon thy works and I know thee.

 8 And verily I say unto thee, thine heart is now right before me at this time; and, behold, I have bestowed great blessings upon thy head;

 9 Nevertheless, thou hast seen great sorrow, for thou hast rejected me many times because of pride and the cares of the world.

 10 But, behold, the days of thy deliverance are come, if thou wilt hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name, and you shall receive my Spirit, and a blessing so great as you never have known.

As she began to read the tears streamed down her face. Every word brought the Spirit so strong. I am grateful for an inspired mission president. 

General Conference was awesome. The prophets are truly inspired. I really loved Elder Holland's talk as I always do. Also I thought Elder Callister in the Priesthood session was really good. It is great to have prophets who act as watchmen on the tower to warn us of danger. 

Love you guys,
Elder Arnold

Monday, April 1, 2013

Irvine, yeah!

Hey everybody!

So anther wonderful week here in Irvine, the immaculate city! I was so excited that it was Easter yesterday. So awesome. I loved our Sunday service. It was so uplifting to really think about Christ and His Atonement. I was able to reflect on when I have felt touched by the power of the Atonement which has been frequent during the course of my mission. I have felt his strengthening and comforting hand reaching out to me as I have sought Him. 

One thing that the Bishop shared in the 3rd hour was from the Last Supper. When the Savior said that one of the twelve would betray him they all asked, "Is it I?" The humility that these men must have showed to recognize their own human weakness and ask if they were capable of that. I really liked the idea of that whole thought. 

We also talked about doubt in our lives. I had actually just come across a scriptural expression in the Book of Mormon that says look forward with an eye of faith. I really liked that. In life we can either rationalize and explain away the spiritual experience and feelings that we have or we can view them through an eye of faith and see the hand of God. I feel like I have chosen to look with an eye of faith but that isn't necessarily an easy decision to come to but it is so worth it!

So happy news. The Anaheim East Stake where I served for more than a year has been putting on a performance called Savior of the World. We were allowed to go if we could bring an investigator. I got Natalie to go and it was super awesome. I had dinner with Jeremy's family before hand and it was so awesome to catch up with them. Then I got to see tons of people that I knew super good at the performance. And the musical itself was super good. All in all a great experience. You forget how close you get to so many people that you serve around. I love it!

Gotta go! I am trying to read the whole Book of Mormon today and I am only in Alma. 

Love ya,
Elder Arnold