The First Time…

As I was listening to this talk one question that He posed stood out to me: Do you remember the first time you knew there was a God and could feel His love? After pondering that question I thought…no I don’t remember. There has just always been a God. There has always been someone up there with control over everything and knowledge of everything. Some of you are aware that I did not grow up in the church. I joined two and a half years ago. Just prior to that I was of the opinion that yeah maybe something was up there but I didn’t know who or what or why and I didn’t care. I had never felt His love or a necessity to have him in my life. I was pretty sure if there was a “big guy upstairs” he had forgotten that I was down here. So when did I first truly feel His love? In 2012 I had finally decided that I needed to go to church. I felt like something was missing and I needed to find it. I asked people around me what church they went to. I knew I wasn’t catholic. I knew I wasn’t Lutheran. I had been to a Protestant church once, and a baptist church a few times. But I wasn’t really feeling the jumping and hollering thing anymore and didn’t want to stand and sing for that long. I had no idea what I was, or if I was anything. I was staying with my best friend and her roommate was talking about church. I asked her if I could go with her. The entire time I was sitting in sacrament meeting all I kept think was that I was forgotten and that God, if He was there….didn’t want me in His church. By the time I got to third hour I was feeling so alone and forgotten I was ready to give up my whole search for a church, and that’s when it happened. These are the words that hit me in relief society that day by president uchtdorf:

You are not forgotten.
…wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.

It was that moment that helped me to know that my Heavenly Father loves me. That was the first time I knew.

The rest is history. I met with missionaries, I read the Book of Mormon, I prayed, and three weeks later… I was baptized. I took the first steps to knowing my Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. I took the first steps to eternal life. What were my next steps?

In the end of 2012 I started getting this crazy idea that I should go on a mission. At the beginning of 2013 that  crazy idea turned into me putting in my papers, withdrawing from school, and leaving for Montana. Why did I think this was so crazy? I came to montana to share with people the truths that I know and I how they can have an eternal family of their own, and I didn’t even have an eternal family. Not a single person in my family joined with me. To this day that’s still true. It wasn’t until about four months into my mission that I got it. I was working with a family in Absarokee Montana and the parents were coming back to church and the boys were getting baptized and I felt as if this was my family. The last night I was there I told the boys, “I may never get to be sealed to my family forever, but you can.” And I read them this scripture from doctrine and covenants:
“And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.”
By Sharing the gospel with this family I was making them my eternal family. Maybe that’s not really what it’s saying, but I truly felt that they were my family, and that I would see them again. Them having eternal life together helped me to know my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.

What is eternal life? It is to know our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. I will pose to you another couple of questions posed in last general conference by elder Jorge klebingat and I invite you to ponder the answers to these questions:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God?

Do you have a personal witness that your current offering as a Latter-day Saint is sufficient to inherit eternal life?

Can you say within yourself that Heavenly Father is pleased with you?

What thoughts come to mind if you had a personal interview with your Savior one minute from now?

Brothers and sisters, You have a great gift. You know what it takes to return to live with your Heavenly Father. Share that gift with others, that they might know their Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, that they might have eternal life.

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I Will Not Deny the Christ

I was asked a few weeks ago to give a talk on the book of Mosiah in The Book of Mormon. Mosiah starts with King Benjamin giving a sort of farewell talk before he dies, and this is really hard for him because his “whole frame doth tremble exceedingly” while he is standing trying to speak (Mosiah 2:30). Like all good talks, his ends with a powerful testimony:

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:15)

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Sharing the Gospel is Hard…

Do you know what’s funny to me? When people talk about how they have to build friendships before they can share the gospel, and then I think to myself, “Imagine if all the missionaries in the world built friendships with people before sharing the gospel with them. Imagine if Jesus Christ built friendships before sharing the gospel with people.” Sharing the gospel is not scary.

About sharing the gospel President George Albert Smith said, “That is your mission, my brethren and sisters of the Church, that is your responsibility. Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with His other sons and daughters these glorious truths….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.”

Let’s focus on the really scary part of sharing the gospel: OUR EXALTATION IS DEPENDENT ON IT! I understand how sharing the gospel is terrifying. Trying to tell people about something that you love and not knowing how they will respond. It’s hard, but not impossible. Heavenly Father never tells us to do anything that is impossible. We are taught that Jesus Christ set the example for us when he was baptized, though sinless. Could this not extend to him also setting the example for preaching the gospel.

I am not saying that you should go out and knock on doors and invite everyone to church (although actually yeah you should definitely do that) but also just start with simple conversation.

Friend:What did you do this weekend?

You: Oh I hung out with the kids and on Sunday my family and I went to church and we had a really great lesson on….

We, the missionaries of the Montana Billings Mission, call that an OYM (open your mouth): a genuine attempt to turn the conversation to the gospel. You have started a gospel conversation and it is up to them if they will allow you to talk more about your church experience. You have invited them to hear more in a way. This is a great start, and can lead to many people hearing about the church in a positive way.

I invite each of you this week to start gospel conversations. OPEN YOUR MOUTHS! Heavenly Father made them and He can help you say the right words. I love each of you, and I love this Church and this gospel, but most importantly I love my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ who have given me this opportunity to share the things I know to be true.

 “After all that has been said, [our] greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel”-Joseph Smith

testimony

Repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. What do those words mean to you? To any active Latter-Day Saint they can be recognized as the steps in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was taught these steps as the steps of a ladder. You start with faith which leads up to repentance which will step up to baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the last rung of the ladder is enduring to the end. But then I began to see it more as a circle because as we continually step forward we must always have faith and repent and remember our baptism and confirmation by partaking of the sacrament. Enduring to the end is a continual process of the living the gospel. So, after seven months on my mission, I’ve come to see the gospel of Christ not as a ladder nor as a circle, but as both: a winding staircase. As we progress forward, though it does come back around, we go higher each time–closer to our Heavenly Father.

stairs

Jesus Christ said that in his gospel “ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” I’ve already once spoken about becoming as a little child, but want to talk more about it. What do I know about children? After working with children for three years I know a few things: they are honest, loving, they learn more easily, they are not as corrupted by the world as adults are, they are more ready to believe gospel truths. We must become as they are. We must be honest in our beliefs, loving towards all men, learn all that we can, strive to not be corrupted by our world, and be ready to believe gospel truths.

Why do I tell you this? Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service says that Heavenly Father “wants every one of His children to find peace in this life and a fulness of joy in His presence after this life. It is my purpose as a called and set apart servant of the Lord 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.” I know that by living the gospel that I preach I can come closer to my Heavenly Father and thereby bless my family and “honor my father and mother” both earthly and Heavenly. I know that you can begin now to live this gospel: to come unto Christ, repent, be baptized, and become as a little child. I invite you to meet with missionaries wherever you are. That decision will bless your life and your family. I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

❤ sister Myers

 

If You Know Not, it be Because You Ask Not

question

3 Nephi 5:13–“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life.”

I invite each of you to ask me questions about the church if you have any. I am always open to questions. I am not a perfect teacher. I can only tell you what I know, and I can try to learn what I do not know. I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is my privilege to answer your questions, it is my purpose to invite you to Christ.

❤ Sister Emmalee A. Myers-Parraz

Missionary from October 2013-April 2015

Member from April 2012-eternity

Hope is Jesus Christ

She said that hope was a thing with feathers but I don’t think it’s that weak, hope can turn a mouse into a lion it can make the shy to speak, hope is a lot like faith it can give a person wings, it can take the greatest ship and move it far across the seas, hope was in the cries of Job when he refused to hear his friends, hope was in the arm of David who didn’t know if Goliath was his end, hope was in the eyes of the adulterous woman as her accusers began to leave, hope was in the heart of Jairus when he was told not to fear but to believe, hope was the sight of the prodigal son and the hug that healed his soul, hope was the title of liberty that was just a coat on a pole, hope was the page that Hyrum turned down before the bullets flew, hope was in the brave pioneers going somewhere new, hope comes from our savior from his atoning sacrifice, hope for love and hope for peace and hope for eternal life, hope was in the blood that came from every pore, hope is the sounds of his knock on our heart’s door, hope was the cries, “Abba,” and “Nevertheless, thy will be done,” hope was in this moment made for every single one, hope was in the suffering to take the trials and the pains, hope is in the fact that he would do it all again, hope is an abiding trust in our Lord of Lords and King of King, hope helps us stand as witnesses at all times, in all places, and in all things, you can say that hope is a bird but birds all fly away, hope is my savior Jesus Christ and He is the same forever and today.

❤ and written by sister emmalee a. myers-parraz