Well this week had some weird stuff happen, but we had a good week! I can't believe that this next week will be my last FULL week as a missionary! It still doesn't seem real that I'm going home. I don't really know what to talk about it yet. I'll probably make this week just like any other week and that's how it should be.
We are still having a lot of success with Eric. He's been coming to church and doing the things he's supposed to! He really enjoyed church this week. We're meeting with him again this Tuesday to go over the a Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had some good questions about the sacrament and so I'm sure he's excited to get some answers to his questions. He's a great dude.
Another amazing thing that happened this week was that UNCLE TOMMY CAME TO CHURCH. Uncle Tommy is an investigator that has been seeing the missionaries for literally a decade. He's never come to church before. We usually do service for him once or twice a week by moving firewood inside so he can use it for his wood stove. He's an older guy so he can't do it himself. I have been inviting him since the beginning of the month to come to church to hear me give a talk. He finally accepted the standing invitation of about 8 or 9 years to come to church! That is proof that you should never give up on anyone no matter how long you've been working at them! God works in his own time, and people commit on their own time. Never give up on someone even if they haven't progressed in 25 years! There is always a chance for them to change and inviting them as often as possible will give them more of a chance to change! There's always hope with people! I was so happy to see him I hugged him! Haha. He's an awesome man and he's come a long way in life. I will definitely miss him. It was one of my personal goals to get him to church before I went home and I'm so glad that he came!!!
I'll attach the notes and points that I went over in my talk from Sacrament Meeting. Everyone really enjoyed it, especially the poem I read and what I said about Procrastination and decisions. I think it went really well and that I was able to get my point across very clearly!
This week was a good one, and I'm excited to go through MY LAST WEEK. It'll be a party! Every week is! :)
Elder Sean Bills
The Simple Truths I've Learned on My Mission
Thank you for the opportunity to let me speak to you before I leave my mission. I never thought that this day would come! I've always felt like I'd be a missionary forever. These past two years have been the best of my life and have taught me many things. I know that previously the topic of "Plain and Simple Truths" was talked about today. I would like to focus on that topic as well and give you my personal knowledge of certain simple truths that the lord has taught me while I've been able to serve Him. I know that as we all serve the Lord in many different ways, we can be taught plain and simple truths personally, that will remain treasured up in our hearts for the rest of our lives and in the life to come!
Every failure brings a seed of equivalent success
2 Nephi 2:11 - "11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility."
As a missionary, I've given a great and diligent effort in working to help the people I was assigned to serve. I have seen some large disappointments at times. These disappointments were very heart wrenching to me and my companions. We would care so much for someone and do all that we could do to help them make the commitment to be baptized, but opposition would stand in our way and sometimes it wouldn't budge enough for that goal we had for them to be a reality. Luckily, when failure is present, The Lord will always bring a seed of equivalent success to you with it. That seed may be simply be a lesson learned for the next time, but it will come. The lessons I've learned from opposition will be invaluable to me in my life in the future. I would advise everyone here today to take with them a great lesson from all opposition in their lives. Take failure as an opportunity to grow stronger and ask the Lord for strength to try again. If you are going on the right path in your life, God will always help you keep going when you may fall down. He will do this until you finally have succeeded in whatever you may be righteously pursuing.
All individuals have the agency to choose
2 Nephi 2:7 - Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
It was hard to learn that everyone had the choice to receive the message I was sharing or not. Elder Bednar gave great insight on this recently in a worldwide missionary broadcast. He said that you may bring the Holy a Ghost unto the hearts of those you teach, but not into. In the end, it will be their choice to let the Spirit into their hearts. It is only my job to facilitate an environment that enables the Spirit to operate on the other person.
Preach My Gospel: Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation. You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith. If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken, and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit." We all have agency.
Luckily, in accordance to the law, I always know I can make a good choice over a bad choice. This is something I did not fully understand before my mission. I didn't think twice about my decisions and I had the tendency to justify why I wouldn't make the right choice at times. Now I understand that I have the agency to choose either way no matter my circumstance.
Keeping commitments is the first thing repentant souls do
Keeping missionary commitments prepares people to keep sacred covenants with the Lord. Covenants are so important to keep.
The truth that I've learned in many situations with different people, is that keeping your sacred commitments to the Lord is the key to enduring to the end. Not just your baptismal covenants and temple covenants, but your personal commitments you make with the lord on a daily basis. The commitments should be goals that help you become more Christlike in your life. Elder Larry R. Lawrence: "The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a “course of steady improvement.” As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home." We may not be perfect, but God's ultimate goal for us is our progression. God does not require us to be perfect today, but He does require our progression. As we let the Spirit guide us in what we can personally improve on, we will be able to live the last principle of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Enduring To The End.
At the beginning of my mission, I was prompted by The Spirit to make a personal commitment to the Lord to strive to study Preach My Gospel every personal study session that I was able to have on my mission. I've gone through that book over and over and over. The blessings I've seen from reading this book every study session have blessed me in so many ways. It helped me apply the important principles that were needed to be an effective missionary.
"As we strive to keep our covenants, our feelings of inadequacy and imperfection begin to fade, while the ordinances and covenants... Come alive" - Linda S Reeves
When we keep our covenants, we are exercising our ability to choose and our faith.
There are miracles in this church today
Moroni 7:35-37 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
Fort Jackson experience
Having an attitude of faith and hope will make miracles happen
In your mind, fear and doubt cannot be present at the same time as faith. We must consciously choose to have an attitude of faith instead of fear or doubt. There's a poem that I love reading from time to time to remind myself that I can always choose to have faith and be success conscious, even if my circumstances are pushing doubt or fear onto me.
"If you think you're beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win, but you think you can't, it is almost certain you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begin's with a fellow's will-
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks HE CAN!"
Elder Neil L Anderson: "Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil. By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice."
We can always choose to have faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. It may not be the easier choice, but it will bring us eternal joy as we choose it.
Having an attitude of faith is a choice that we can make everyday. It will always be an option.
Experience about Mt. Pleasant and my companion.
He went home because he couldn't take it anymore. Had 2 months left.
New companion, white washing.
We prayed to know what our duty here was in the area and we had a great attitude with it no matter our circumstance. We had success.
Elder Kopishcke: "follow the principles of Preach My Gospel regardless of your circumstance"
The last two I would like to speak about, are very important to me personally. They are procrastination, and decision.
Procrastination brings trouble
Procrastination is a widespread problem in the world today. I have seen it with so many people. Sometimes I see it in myself. Although they may feel like they are trying their best to be confident and make sure they're ready for the next step, they are in reality, putting off the choice to follow Christ until tomorrow.
Elder Donald L Hallstrom: Many of us place ourselves in circumstances far more consequential than embarrassment because of our procrastination to become fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know what is right, but we delay full spiritual involvement because of laziness, fear, rationalization, or lack of faith. We convince ourselves that “someday I’m going to do it.” However, for many “someday” never comes, and even for others who eventually do make a change, there is an irretrievable loss of progress and surely regression.
Procrastination will cripple your life. Amulek says this in the Book of Mormon: Alma 34:33-34 "33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. 34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
The symptoms of procrastination:
The habit of putting off until tomorrow that which should have been done last year.
Spending enough time in creating excuses to have done the job.
Refusal to accept responsibility of when it can be avoided.
Willingness to compromise rather than put up a stiff fight.
Compromising with difficulties instead of harnessing and using them as stepping stones to advancement.
Planning what to do if and when overtaken by failure instead of burning all bridges and making retreat impossible.
If you feel like you have those symptoms, make the choice to change right now to change for the better. It is something I have learned and that I know will bless your life. For years I have seen procrastination ruin the lives of those I have wished to help. Please help yourself and choose not to procrastinate. It will be hard to do avoid procrastination every day, I even struggle with it sometimes. But if procrastination becomes a habit for you in your life, Heavenly Father will not be able to help you the way you need it.
Talk about people and their problems.
Decision is the antidote to procrastination
Alma 30:8 "8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve."
Indecision is a form of procrastination. We need to decide TODAY if we are willing to follow God or not.
Decision is the medicine that many need in order to cure procrastination. It is a principle that frees the soul, empowers the personality, and lifts our spirits out of the ruts of sin that we can find ourselves in. My greatest lesson that I have learned from the Lord is that I must decide every day, to live on the righteous path and to follow the Savior's example. When I make this decision daily, I do not forget to do what is right, and I do not procrastinate repenting of my sins and shortcomings.
Here is what I've read about decision in a book recently: it says "procrastination, the opposite of decision, is a common enemy which practically every man must conquer. You have a brain and mind of your own. Use it, and reach your own decisions."
2 Nephi 2:16 - 16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
We have the power as human beings to make decisions on our own. We need to make decisions promptly in our lives and create a habit of quick, righteous decisions in order to know that we are following Chrjst's example to the best of our ability.
I challenge everyone here to decide today to make s change that they know they need to make in order to follow the Savior on the road to discipleship better. If you don't know what you should change, pray that The Spirit will prompt on what you can improve on, and then take action quickly and act as if there is no turning back. This is the only way we can obtain salvation.
This is His restored church
The Book of Mormon is God's word for our day
The church is an organization inspired by God to bless His children
God loves me
Repentance is something to live everyday