Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Hey all! Happy Thanksgiving!!!
The first week in the mission field has been so good. Just fyi, my P-day is Tuesday, not Monday. So that's when I can reply to emails and letters. We'll see if it changes when I actually go to Micronesia. (December 6th). I fly out with two other Sisters and 3 Elders, all who are in my district.
Wednesday was a little rough saying goodbye to my family... but to be perfectly honest (sorry fam), soon as I walked away and was walking into those doors, I was good. So good. I haven't even had homesickness hit in full force yet... but it's probably coming.
Basically they cram so much into your day here that you hardly have time to stop and think and take it all in. So, for those of you who have heard its like drinking from a firehose... yeah... basically. I love it though. The Spirit is so strong here.
I super love my companion, Sister Jones. She is so cool. I love my whole district, actually. The sisters in the district all have the same dorm. It's me and Sister Jones, Sisters Pokipala and Martin, and Sisters Petersen and Bullard. Then the Elders are: Elders Yamamoto (the district leader) and Hille, Elders Arnson and Robertsen, and Elders Roper and Lindeman. Elder Lindeman is actually from Lehi too, and he is in our stake. Pretty cool.
Our district bonded so well pretty much from the start. We all joke around (maybe sometimes too much), but have had so many Spiritual moments too. I love it.
That's really the best way I can describe my experience here. Spiritual, and uplifting. There are so many moments, and so many stories I could tell, so maybe I will just sum up what I have learned here, and share a story or two.
The first night, I got in bed a little later than I wanted. I was just opening up everyone's letters and stuff to read (thank you all for that, they were so sweet ^^) and the announcement came on that it was 10:30, lights out. I wanted to finish reading, but the awesome, obedient Sisters in my room were like, ok, lights out. They taught me the importance of obedience from the get go, and I have heard the word every day multiple times since. I still read everyone's letters.. just a day later =)
Lesson one: Obedience is key to everything out here!! If you don't obey, you don't have the Spirit, and you cannot teach.
Lesson two: be patient with yourself. You cannot run faster than you have strength.
Lesson three: Prayer is a real thing. Heavenly Father hears and answers. Maybe not in your time or the way you want, but He answers.
Lesson four: Like, for real. God answers prayers. And the Spirit is the best.
Ok this one needs a story. Kind of long, so bear with me. Sunday was AMAZING. Best Sunday of my life, no joke. So many good lessons were taught.
Obedience: If you do not obey, you will not have the Spirit, and investigators can tell.
Prayers: God always answers, but if you are looking for a specific answer and a certain way it will come, you will miss it.
A mission president got up in Sacrament and said this: "During the opening song, I was inspired to tell you all something. As King Benjamin says in Mosiah 3:4, he said he was speaking as a witness of Christ: Whatever we have been praying about, God has heard our prayers, judged them to be righteous, and asks we go and rejoice, and share that joy with others. The Spirit was SO strong. There was a total feeling of peace in the room, and love.
Sunday was seriously one Spiritual experience after another. We went on a temple walk as a district and bonded even more. Then we had another meeting. Another president taught, and he talked about developing the attributes of Christ. It is my goal to develop one attribute a week. This week I am working on Faith, and I challenge all of you to work on that also. I would love to hear what you learned.
Finally, as if all of this wasn't enough, we watched the talk by Elder Bednar called Character of Christ. I was soooo sad when I heard you can only watch it in the MTC since it was an MTC address, because I wanted to share it with all of you. But, basically, Elder Bednar said we have to put off the natural man. The natural man is the one who is all about himself: he turns in, he wants this, and he wants it now (he compared it to the Cookie monster, it was hilarious). But the Character of Christ turns out when the rest of the world would turn in. When He was suffering for the sins of the world, when three of his friends let him down and another betrayed him, when they came to take him to be judged of the world and crucified, did he complain? Did he say, why me? No. He healed a guards ear. When he was suffering more than we can even imagine, he still turned out. Elder Bednar challenged us to go find other examples, but the message is clear. To have the character of Christ we need to turn out, and forget about ourselves. Only then will we find ourselves.
Lesson five: Like Moses, after great spiritual experiences--or good things in life--bad experiences and trials are pretty much to follow. But, God is still with you. Just press forward, and He will help you, one step at a time. And good experiences will again follow.
Lesson six: Love. If you truly love one another, if you have charity, the pure love of Christ, you will not worry about how other people view you.
Lesson 7, my favorite one of all: If you "turn outwards" and have the "Character of Christ", you will lose yourself in the service of others. And in the process, when you are not looking, you will find yourself.
I promise that as you forget about yourself, no matter what you personally are going through, no matter your struggles: as you forget yourself, and love those around you, no matter who they are, you will come to find yourself. And you will love life.
I am learning that my purpose here is not to improve myself. My purpose here is to invite others to Come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored Gospel, through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. (Sound familiar RM's?) My purpose is to bring others the same joy this Gospel has brought me. And in doing so, maybe, just maybe, I will find myself too. =)
'Til next week guys!
Monday, November 14, 2016
For those of you who could not make it to my talk yesterday, here is a copy. It's more or less what I said ;)
To those of you who were able to make it, thank you so much for your love, support, well wishes, and contributions. I appreciate it, and I love you all!! It means so much to me!
To those of you who were able to make it, thank you so much for your love, support, well wishes, and contributions. I appreciate it, and I love you all!! It means so much to me!
Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Whitney Springer. I have lived in Lehi for 20 years. My parents are Jerry and Patrice Springer. I have one younger brother, Jayden, and an older sister, Kiera. She is married to Jerry Fox and they have an adorable daughter named Kalli.
Just to tell you a few things about me: I love and cherish my family and friends. I graduated last december from UVU with a Bachelor’s in Biology. I love everything about the outdoors; the ocean, the mountains. I love to hike and camp and just spend time enjoying God’s creations. I also have a deep love of learning. When I return from my mission, I plan to pursue a Masters in Marine Biology. Which is just one reason why my call to Micronesia Guam is so perfect!
The scripture I chose to be my mission scripture is: “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”(Ether 12:4)
Before I go into why I chose that scripture, I have a question for you. Do you believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins, and then was resurrected so that we could have Eternal life and live with Heavenly Father again? Now I ask you this: Do you have the faith that this same Atonement applies specifically to you? That it applies to the little things you’ve done, but that it also applies to the big things you’ve done, too?
Do you have faith that, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far maybe you have fallen, Christ suffered for you, and for you specifically, and all your sins, because He loved you more than we know, and He wanted you to return home. He wanted you to live with Him and Heavenly Father in the mansions he has “prepared for you” (D&C98:18).
Many of you may have answered yes to the first question, but no to the second. Why is that? Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves, that we say and we supposedly “know” that Christ suffered and died for God’s children so they could return and live with Him again, but when it comes to our personal mistakes, our personal sins, we think we’ve gone too far. We tell ourselves that we have gone past the point of no return, and there is no hope for us.
Don H Staheli said, “For some reason, we find it easy to have faith in the general application of the Atonement, but have a hard time believing that it can save someone like us. Our hearts are usually soft and tender for others, but sometimes hardened toward ourselves.”
Why is that? Is it because, even though we see the power of the Atonement working in other people’s lives, and hear their testimonies of it, we do not believe that it could also work for us? We could not, for whatever reason, begin to hope that, no matter what we have done, there is still a way back to Heaven for us. We think, “For everyone else, yes. But not for me.”
Elder Holland said, “… you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
We have to have the faith and the hope that Christ’s Atonement applies to us, personally. Let me read my mission scripture again.
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”(Ether 12:4)
Believe in God. Then begin to hope, hope that you can make it back to live with him. This hope comes of your faith. Then that hope can be “an anchor to your soul”, so you cannot drift astray, no matter the storms that combine their powers against you. This anchor gives you the strength to then lift others, “always abounding in good works.”
Just after this scripture, Moroni says, “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen.”(Ether 12:6) We all, I think, at one time or another may struggle to know that the Atonement works for us. Or, maybe it’s something else that maybe we don’t fully understand right now. Maybe it’s a trial, maybe it’s a temptation we face, maybe it’s some principles about the Gospel that don’t make any sense to us.
In 1820, there was a fourteen year old boy who did not understand what God wanted him to do; what church, if any, was God’s church, and taught the laws and commandments of God. So, he did what James instructs, he went and “asked of God”.
Prayer is a very powerful thing, when done with a sincere heart. We have been blessed with the ability to communicate with a Heavenly Being, and that communication goes both ways if we allow it to.
Hank Smith said, “God is anxiously waiting to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams; but He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”
It’s important to pray every day, and to continually have a prayer in your heart. Sometimes, though, with some questions, I think it’s important to go to a place that you feel closer to God.
Alma said “Humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.” He constrained us to pray for our homes, our fields, our flocks, for power over our enemies and over the devil. Then he said, “But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.”
For me, that quiet place where I feel closer to God is in the mountains. Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray. Moses went to the top of Mount Sinai. Christ went into the wilderness to fast and pray before his Earthly ministry. Howard W Hunter said, “The greatest task ever to be accomplished in this world lay before him, and he needed divine strength.” (Nov 1976, Howard W Hunter, The Temptations of Christ). When I go into the mountains, it’s like I am leaving the worldly cares behind me, and stepping up on a higher plane to commune with my Heavenly Father. There is just a peace there that I can only feel one other place: the temple.
The Temple—also called the “mountain of the Lord”—is also a place to go to seek divine inspiration. Attending the temple regularly will help us be more open to the Spirit and God’s answers to our prayers.
“8 And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”
Like Nephi says, we have to pray always if we want to know if we are doing what the Lord wants us to be doing.
Also keep in mind, the Lord remembers the prayers of the righteous. It’s easy for us to wonder if we have been forgotten. Nephi writes:
“15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (1Ne 21:15-16)
How could the Lord forget us, when he has “graven [us] upon the palms of his hands”? Have we, instead, forgotten the Lord? Are our hearts soft enough to have his name engraven on our hearts, to have his countenance shine through us, to hear his council, his guidance, and his answers to our prayers?
We need to soften our hearts so that we can receive those answers to our prayers.
But how does that council from Heavenly Father come?
The Spirit draws on what you already know, to teach you more and guide you. The Spirit cannot draw on an empty well, so study the scriptures and words of the Prophets.
2Ne32:3 reads: “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”
Understanding the Answer When it Comes
How do you know the answer, when it does come? First we have to learn to recognize the Spirit, and how it speaks to us, personally.
Boyd K Packer said, ““You have been taught all of your lives about the gift of the Holy Ghost, but teaching can only go so far. You can and, in fact, you must go the rest of the way alone to discover within yourself how the Holy Ghost can be a guiding and protective influence… Discovering how the Holy Ghost operates in your life is the quest of a lifetime. Once you have made that discovery for yourself, you can live in enemy territory and will not be deceived or destroyed. No member of this Church—and that means each of you—will ever make a serious mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Holy Ghost.”
Recognizing the Spirit
When we think of Powerful Spiritual experiences, we often think of the stories from the scriptures: God telling Moses’ people to only look at a staff and be healed if they were bitten by the snakes. God’s finger touching the stones for the Brother of Jared, or Jesus healing the sick and the blind. And sometimes the Spirit does speak to us in a more forceful, powerful manner. Elder Packer also said: I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction.
However, the Spirit is rarely manifested as an earth-shattering display of God’s power. Rather, it has often been described as dew from heaven or as dawn dissipates the darkness of night. But that does not take away from the power and effect the experience can have on you. Joseph Smith said, “the Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of His voice, by the display of His glory or by the manifestation of His power and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them.”
But how do we know the difference between our own thoughts and those of the Spirit? “The voice of the Spirit is the kind of voice that ‘whispereth through and pierceth all things’. Yet it is a ‘pleasant voice’.”(The Light Within, W. Jeffery Marsh)
Sometimes the Spirit isn’t a voice at all, but more of a feeling or Impression.
Boyd K Packer said, “We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have the words) which perfectly describe the Spirit. The scriptures generally use the word voice, which does not exactly fit. These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes, nor heard with our ears. And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one feels, more than one hears.”
Often, the Spirit has spoken to me in fleeting thoughts and impressions. And, perhaps too often, I find myself pushing those thoughts away. Sometimes it’s the sudden thought of a friend I hadn’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Other times it’s the thought to do something, which at the time seems silly. But usually, if I ignore it, I find out later why the impression came to me, and I always regret not acting on it.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, my mouth was too crowded and so they surgically removed one of my front teeth to make room for the one that had been pushed behind. After I got home, I went upstairs to ask my mom for a drink of water. She was on the phone or something, so I walked down the hall towards the kitchen to get a drink myself. I was leaning against the wall. I got to the top of the stairs, and blacked out.
At this time, my little brother (around 3 at the time) was sleeping, so when I had come up the baby gate had been open. My sister had the impression to shut the baby gate. That was silly, because Jayden was sleeping, but she did anyway. So when I passed out, instead of falling down the stairs onto the tile landing, I was caught by the baby gate. Next thing I knew, my mom was holding me and asking if I was alright.
I was blessed enough to have a sister who was open to the quiet, but strong, impression of the spirit that told her to shut the baby gate even though my brother was sleeping. Without her obedience, I would have fallen down the stairs when I passed out and maybe gotten seriously hurt.
Boyd K Packer also said about the Spirit:
“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all… Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.”
If you are used to having the spirit with you, sometimes you take it for granted, at least I know I do. But then when it is offended and leaves, at least for me, I feel sick to my stomach, unhappy, dark.
· Feelings not of the Spirit, but of the Devil
- Worry, fear, anxiety
· Feelings of the Spirit
o Always good
o Peace, serenity, Joy, Love
o “Sudden Stroke of intelligence” Joseph Smith
o D&C 8:2-3 “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.”
o Foreboding feelings that we should not do something or take a certain path in life.
o Thoughts that occupy your mind can be the Spirit. W. Jeffery Marsh said, “Learning to listen to Spirit-prompted feelings that press themselves upon us (feelings of urgency or impressions to do or to refrain from doing something) and learning to pay attention to the thoughts that come suddenly to our minds are ways of learning to hear the voice of the Spirit”
Another part of understanding the Spirit and the answers you may receive, or the lack thereof, is trust. We have to learn to trust our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us suffer, but sometimes that is the only way we can learn and grow, as well as come to know Him and ourselves better.
God doesn’t always take away your burdens and trials. But for me, when I have relied on God through my trials, I look back and they don’t look as hard as it seemed during the trial. I know that’s because my Savior was there every step of the way, helping me along, and even carrying me through.
Isaiah says, speaking for the Lord, ““For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.” (Isa54:7) He has not forgotten us. He never will. Either we are not really listening for the answer, or he is holding back to allow us to stretch and grow, and to learn to trust Him more.
That being said, it’s hard to trust God sometimes. Some trials I look back, and do say, “That was hard. That was really hard.” But, it was possible because I trusted in God.
Many of you know of the trial my family went through earlier this year. One night that my mom was in the hospital, my dad called me at work. Through tears, he said if there was any way I could get off, to come to the hospital. I remember one thing he said, ”It’s critical”. I left shortly after and hurried home to get my brother. I will never forget the drive home. I was pleading with God, not to take my mom. I needed her. I just kept repeating that out loud. Guardian angels must’ve been helping me drive home, because I could hardly see through the tears. “Please,” I said, “please don’t take her from me. I need her.”
Often, God doesn’t answer prayers in the way we expect him to, or in the way we want him to. Needless to say, thanks to countless blessings, prayers, fasting, and good doctors, my mom is still with us. It was a hard, long, and a terrifying trial. But, my family is stronger because of it: I am stronger because of it.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Trust in God. Even if right now, you don’t understand the why, even if you don’t ever understand the why in this life, trust him. Be grateful and recognize his hand in your life, and he will direct you down the path to salvation and exhaltation.
When No Answer Comes
What if no answer comes?
The Spirit will never lead us down the wrong path. Sometimes, if an answer doesn’t come, the best we can do is pray for wisdom and guidance, then make a decision and act on it. If it was the wrong decision, the Spirit will let us know as long as we remain open to revelation.
Boyd K Packer said: “Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough. Remember, you cannot force spiritual things. Sometimes we are confused simply because we won’t take no for an answer… Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them. The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there. ‘line upon line precept upon precept’. Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.”
Sometimes you may have a decision to make between two, or many good things. This job or that one? What career path should I take? Finish up school or go on a mission?
Not long ago, I was asking myself, and my Heavenly Father, this very question. It was in the back of my mind for awhile, until I received the strong impression to go on a mission. But now I was faced with a decision.
I knew that God wanted me to go, there is no denying that. But, I only had one semester left in school. I wasn’t sure what to do. So I prayed, I talked to my bishop, I prayed some more. I read my Patriarchal blessing. And I prayed again, and again. But it didn’t seem like I was getting a definite answer. So I decided it would be best to finish school, and then go on a mission. So I did, and I felt, and feel, at peace with that decision.
But something still didn’t feel right. At first, I thought it was just because I wanted to have some money saved up. So I got a good paying job. A loved one asked me, “What are you waiting for?” I told her it was kind of money, but even then it didn’t feel like that was the whole reason.
Then my mom got sick at the end of February. I knew later that was why I didn’t feel right about leaving yet. While she was recovering I was able to finish up my mission papers and get them submitted. This time, I felt right about the timing, too. And maybe there was another reason, too. But I know that the Lord’s timing is the best timing, and as long as I stay worthy and am in tune to hear the quiet whisperings of the Spirit, I can align my will with His, and become the person God wants me to become.
Elder John Groberg said, “[The Lord] generally does not point and say, ‘Open that door and go twelve yards in that direction; then turn right and go two miles’ But if it is wrong, he will let us know—we will feel it for sure. I am positive of that. So rather than saying, ‘I will not move until I have this burning in my heart,’ let us turn it around and say, ‘I will move unless I feel it is wrong; and if it is wrong, then I will not do it’. By eliminating all of these wrong courses, very quickly you will find yourself going in the direction that you ought to be going, and then you can receive the assurance: ’Yes, I am going in the right direction’.
President Boyd K Packer said: “Do not fear the future. Go forward with hope and faith. Remember that supernal gift of the Holy Ghost. Learn to be taught by it. Learn to seek it. Learn to live by it. Learn to pray always in the name of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 18:19–20). The Spirit of the Lord will attend you, and you will be blessed.”
I know that to be true. I know that if we continue to diligently seek the guidance of the Spirit, it will tell us “all things that we should do.”
I am so grateful for the love and support of my family and my friends. Thank you all for your continued love and support. It means so much to me, and I would not be where I am without you.
I love my Savior. I am so thankful for his Atoning sacrifice, that he loved me more than enough to suffer, bleed, and die for me.
I love my Father in Heaven. I am grateful for his guidance in my life, and for allowing me to learn and grow in my trials. I am grateful for the opportunity he has given me to serve his children in Micronesia.
And I am so excited to serve them. I cannot wait to bring the joy this Gospel has given me to them. I know this Gospel is true, and I love it.
I say these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.