Normally chocolate doesn't top my grocery list, but when you're living in Belgium it's ridiculous not to...
Aug 20 (8 days ago)
to me, julie
Seriously though, we have good chocolate here and I've only bought the "cheap" stuff. One of these days I'll have to splurge and see what the real stuff tastes like. Maybe if I'm still here around Christmas I'll send some in a package home :) In addition to the chocolate, I'm really enjoying Belgium. I can't remember if I've said this in previous emails, but I really feel like Anterwerpen is why I was called to this mission. I don't know what the Lord has in store, but I really hope I am able to fully do all He needs me to.
I gave a talk again on the 12th in sacrament meeting. It uses some of the same stuff from a talk I gave in Haarlem, so hopefully it isn't too redundant. Also, it was originally written in Dutch, so if it doesn't flow well, that is maybe why...I hope you enjoy it anyway!
We are all familiar with "the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel...first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost," (Article of Faith 4). But, how many of us are familiar with the fifth, endure to the end?
Preach My Gospel defines this principle as, "remain(ing) true to the commandments of God despite temptation, opposition, and adversity throughout life," (PMG, 70). A good friend of mine explained it as "enjoying to the end." With these two definitions I want to share a personal experience with you all.
Before my mission, I really enjoyed running, working out, and racing. I remember especially a specific race from last summer. I had to run 8 miles with obstacles, or opposition and adversity, all throughout. Some of the obstacles included jumping over fire, climbing over walls, crawling through mud and under barbed-wire, and other obstacles undescribe-able for me in Dutch. I love running so I thought the race would be easy for me. Oh boy was I wrong!
The obstacles were difficult, but the running more so because there were many switchbacks and no distance markers. Thus, I could hear the finish line the whole time but I had no idea how much longer I had before I was there. For me enduring to the end was the most difficult part. Luckily, friends of mine were present to support me. Actually, it was their support that helped me. And that is precisely what our Heavenly Father has asked of us in order to endure.
In Romans 12:21, Paul says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." How better can we do that than through service and missionary work?
President George Albert Smith, the eight prophet of this latter-day dispensation, has said, "We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter," (Sharing the Gospel with Others, 190 or PMG, 12).
In the Book of Mormon there is a beautiful example of this idea of helping others so we can better endure. In Alma 16, the Lamanites have just destroyed the people of Ammonihah, "...and taken others captive into the wilderness. Now it came to pass that the Nephites were desirous to obtain those who had been carried away captive into the wilderness," (Alma 16:3-4).
I find this very interesting. The people of Ammonihah are completely killed. Completely! And others are prisoners. If I was one of the Nephites, I think I would be more concerned for my personal safety and the safety of my family and friends rather than worry about the safety of the "others." But, the Nephites are a good example for me. Do you all know what they did?! They went to their church leaders to ask for guidance. The spiritual leaders of the Nephites gave specific guidance about how they could free the "others." The Nephites were exactly obedient, "...and they took their brethren who had been taken captive by the Lamanites, and there was not one soul of them had been lost that were taken captive. And they were brought by their brethren to posses their own lands," (Alma 16:8).
I think it's safe to say the Nephites have "share(d) with our Father's other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," (President George Albert Smith, PMG, 12). Can you imagine, not one soul lost?! How can we bring others to the divine "lands" they've inherited?
Luckily, we also have specific guidance from our present day church leaders. In the previous General Conference, Bishop Richard C. Edgely gave beautiful counsel here over in his talk, "The Rescue for Real Growth." He said:
"Regardless of our individual calling—home or visiting teacher, Sunday School teacher, bishop, father, mother, or General Authority—all can engage in the rescuing effort in a meaningful way. After all, bringing all—our family, nonmembers, less active, sinners—to Christ to receive the saving ordinances is the divine calling that we all share. ...our commitment as members of Christ’s true Church stems from the fact that the Lord suffered for every single one of us—the nonmember, the less-active member, even the sinner, and every member in our own family. I believe we can bring thousands to the joy, peace, and sweetness of the gospel, and hundreds of thousands, even millions, in their following generations, " (Ensign, May 2012, 52).
Or, in other words, we must enjoy to the end despite obstacles. I know we can all endure the race of life, thus:
"Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into bsinging. Let the cdead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the dKing Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to eredeem them out of their fprison; for the prisoners shall go free," (D&C 128:22, see also D&C 24:8).
I know through the Atonement all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (PMG, 52). Like my race, it is not always easy to endure, neither was the Atonement. But, Jesus had support from an angel, I had support from my friends, and we can all support each other.