26 April 2009

The Manti Temple

I’m currently in the car with my mother, my grandmother, and my best friend. We’ve been in the car since early this morning.

Where did we go? Somewhere so inexpressibly important to me already, I feared that the day I get married would be the first time I would actually see it—and even that would be all right with me, so long as I finally got the chance.






The only thing I know about the place is that I want to be endowed and married there, and I’ve known that since I saw it for the first time. Until today I had never seen it in person before, and I couldn’t have asked for a better circumstance in which to finally do so. Two of the most important women in my eternal life were with me when I saw the temple I will likely be endowed and married in—something I never dared hope for, let alone ask of all involved. And yet… it happened. And I couldn’t be happier, and I know they can tell. The second we came close enough to see the temple above the trees, my face lit up and I got so excited. Temples are always exciting and beautiful, but this one… how can I explain it?

Only one word even begins to express the feeling: Home

I have no idea what it looks like on the inside. The rain was FREEZING cold, but I didn’t care. My mom drove me around the parking lot in probably a dozen circles so I could take plenty of pictures. She helped capture many of my favorites angles, and between what we were doing and what we were talking about, that line of demarcation that always seemed to be between us actually became thin enough to be unperceivable.

While I was happily snapping away, my mom said some things that will definitely stick with me over the coming months—how a close friend of our family (also LDS) told my mother, unbeknownst to me, that the reason she could not enter the temple with me was because she wasn’t “worthy” ; how my step-father is bothered—I’d even say hurt—that even if I have a ring ceremony like I plan to, I’ll still be married by the time he actually sees me. I got the chance to explain to my mother how much it hurts me to have to do that, but I honestly have no idea how to do damage control on the whole situation. The only thing I could think to say is that there are plenty of LDS people who aren’t worthy to enter the temple, so she shouldn’t take it personally. Perhaps that wasn’t the best way to deal with what I wanted to say—I mean, I’m more concerned with her thinking that LDS faithful are some kind of Pharisees doling out judgments, or that she isn’t worthy of God’s love if she isn’t temple worthy—because neither of those things are true. People who don’t obey the rules don’t have the spiritual strength (because obedience can be equated with strength, in my experience) to endure the presence of God. “Worthiness” is so much more complicated than this person made it seem when they were talking to my mother, and the remark didn’t help the situation. It hurt my mother’s feelings, made her angry, and made her think things that simply aren’t true.

Really, I should be grateful that my mother didn’t just say, “Screw you AND your temples.” In another stage of my life, I know that’s probably what I would have done. But no… she was there, helping me to take everything in. She may not understand everything I wish I could explain to her, but she understands that there’s SOME reason I believe in them so much, despite all of the repercussions for doing so. She said it was a beautiful building, and she’s amazed that it was built in the 1870’s. She gave me this experience that I wanted so much, and I’m just trying to take in that it actually happened.




What struck me about the Manti Temple was how close to home it actually was. As we drove through Manti it reminded me so much of my hometown. I kept joking that I would fall in love with a temple over 2,000 miles away from home, only to find out it’s in a town just as country redneck as the one I was running away from. I mean, just down the street from the temple in one direction were cows and the smell of manure, across the street was some kind of rodeo arena, and in the motel across the street there was an ATV parked outside. It was so much like the county I’m from in Maryland, I have to wonder if stepping into my future won’t be the escape I had hoped for—and probably with good reason. Running away is a temporary, and sometimes even a necessary solution—but I don’t think that’s really something I should do anymore. That’s part of what made today so special—that fact that everything was so open between us. After years of trying to hide things from my family, to be diplomatic, and to keep the situation sterile of any bad feelings by not addressing it at all, the thought of even approaching anything positive about the church with my family has become a terrifying thought. But after today, I see it doesn’t have to be.

I don’t know what else we’ll end up doing while we’re in Utah, but I know the day we leave she wants to do Temple Square before we fly out of Salt Lake City. I’m excited to go back to Temple Square because I haven’t been there since General Conference in October of last year, and I’d like to see the Joseph Smith movie again while I have the opportunity—especially if I can see it with my family. I’m not sure if my mother saw it when she went to the DC visitor’s center, and it makes me crazy that I wasn’t with her to help her to answer the questions I know she would have had, but this time there are TWO of us to handle the situation. Out of the mouths of two and three witnesses shall all things be established, right?

And no, it isn’t all about conversion here… but being able to face the idea is a definite plus, and I need to stop being afraid to believe in it. That’s a mistake I’m looking forward to correcting in the future… and by “looking forward to,” I mean “more terrified than anyone need quantify.”

All in all, it was a good day. I hope to have more like it in the future. I’ve been trying to plant seeds quietly and carefully over these past 2+ years, and now it’s time to reap the harvest. White fields, sickles, threshing, and all of that.

23 April 2009

By Study and also By Faith: Passing Brother Merrill's Class



Look at what I made! You would not believe how many times I looked over this thing to study for my Pearl of Great Price exam. I'm so neurotic about religion finals--they're the only ones that have mattered to me at all this year--and I find that making PowerPoints has been an effective way for me to study. Once I figured out that I could post PowerPoints as YouTube-style video objects, I thought I'd post them for posterity's sake.




Here's one I also made for the second half of the Book of Mormon. Both PowerPoints are for classes I'm taking from Byron Merrill, one of the leading professors in the faculty for the Department of Religious Studies here at BYU. I have been so impressed with his classes and how much I've been able to learn in so short a time. I love his assignments, I love the way he teaches (no PowerPoint from him folks), and I love how you actually have to KNOW the scriptures to do well in his class. He loves his students, and it's plain to see how much he cares that they gain a testimony of the scriptures for themselves, and I will always look back fondly on the memories I've had in his classes.

10 April 2009

Why I Believe in Jesus Christ

Because the Resurrection is Not a Fable

Each of us will have our own Fridays--those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death--Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or in the next, Sunday will come.

I testify to you that the Resurrection is not a fable. We have the personal testimonies of those who saw Him. Thousands in the Old and New Worlds witnessed the risen Savior. They felt the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. They shed tears of unrestrained joy as they embraced Him.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 30

08 April 2009

General Conference 179.4

Sunday Morning Session
Henry B. Eyring presides
Choir: Now We'll Sing with One Accord

Choir: O My Father (GASP! LOVE IT!)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - Our Saviro gave Himself in selfless service
Matthew 16: 24-5
Missionary service - senior couples and youth; temple work. Lose/ forget yourself; go to work.
"You can never love the Lord until you love Him by serving His children." -Thomas S. Monson
We rejoice that there are so many Saints that put aside themselves to raise their children.
We appreciate your unselfish service in all you do.
Some mock and call our faith "blind obedience." Do not hear man more than God. Satan seeks to sift us as wheat, make us common. "We cannot walk/talk/do as other men because we have  a different destiny, and we must fit ourselves to it."
We live in the Me Generation - the great and spacious building - a sense of entitlement - pride. DON'T BE GREEDY!
Remember where you came from.
Gambling is based in theft; contrary to the Law of the Harvest (that which is gained through work and learning)
Mother Theresa - we should be more like this in our Church. Actively make a difference in the lives of others to feel uplifted. If you want something, WORK for it.

Elder David A. Bednar - Consider this: "I wish I had been a temple worker before a stake president."
Temple preparation is essential to all of our Church programs. Should be  our goal in all things.
The purpose of gathering the Saints is to build temples. The reason we do missionary work is to take our brothers and sisters to the temples.
To take the Sacrament on covenants to be "WILLING to take upon us the name of thy Son." In order to take upon us His name, we must go to His house. The temple is the expansion/ fulfillment of the baptismal covenant.
Will bring more opposition from Satan, but we need to move forward under the Promise of the Lord. The wisdom of the Lord is greater than the Devil.
Temple covenants provide protection; we should seek devout, uncasual temple worship. We need these covenant blessings.
The Devil despises the Purity of the Lord's house. Be pure. Let the first of the covenant you made in the temple burn within your heart. Honor that standing. Look forward with great anticipation to the say when you will receive those temple blessings and covenants.

Gary E. Stevenson- "Do you think we  are lost?"... "Grandfather, you are NEVER lost when you can see the temple."
Replace some leisure activities with temple service. Seek it always. If you will touch the temple, it will touch you.
Only the home can compare with the sacred nature of the temple. Does your home compare? The circumstances? Decorum? The people that dwell there? The conversation? (Don't complain, FIX IT!)
Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family.
Understanding the eternal nature of the family with draw you to the temple.
THE HOLY TEMPLE and HOME are sacred and united in purpose.
You are never lost when you can see the temple.

José A. Teixeira - Heavenly Father will teach us our place within His plan.
Moses 1: 39
Navigate our lives to eternal goals. Divine assistance is available to help us succeed.
Moroni 7: 13
Choices have consequences.
GPS - "Where am I? Where am I going? How long will it take to get there?"
But the GPS will lose its signal underground, and it takes time to re-establish connection. The Holy Ghost/ conscience is like this.
"Decisions determine destiny." - Thomas S. Monson
The Lord will do nothing save He will warn His Prophets.

F. Michael Watson - Give the horse the reigns. We may not be able to see the path, but if we trust the guidance of those before us and those with us, give them the reigns, we will be led to camp.
Psalms 24: 3-5
"You may not like the things the prophets council... but it will redeem your name" Harold B. Lee
Remember where we've been and what we've been taught.
Heed and obey the council of the prophets.

L. Tom Perry- Single sheep stuck on the mountain, blocking traffic. "Where is the shepherd?" Member-based missionary programs are most effective.
Give courage to those around us.
The blessings of the fullest gospel are rooted in its ordinances and faith in Christ.
Open our mouths and testify. Testify of Jesus Christ, of Joseph Smith, of the Book of Mormon. Ponder what it means to feel lost, and what it means to be the spiritual shepherd, to save that sheep.

President Thomas S. Monson - Ponder and apply what we've learned.
Let your parents know how much you love them.
Warning - Satan will work harder than ever to ensnare us. RESIST HIM--especially on the internet. AVOID PORNOGRAPHY--sound this warning to all, everywhere. CEASE NOW! Get back on the straight and narrow and stay there. Go to the temple often. Receive peace and renewed resolve to keep the commandments. Remember the Savior in the temple. When we do proxy work, we literally become Saviors on Mt. Zion.

07 April 2009

General Conference 179.3

Sunday Morning Session
(Found this marker behind the couch. The 'Tab' Choir is wearing the same color.)

Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Palm Sunday; when Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey, a fulfillment of prophecy. People greeted him with waving palms and garments. He knew their celebrations would be brief.
Gave us a key of knowledge that unlocks happiness, peace, and fulfillment.
Has a plan of happiness for His children. His children may hunger for meaning and look for new solutions--anything less than Christ is not enough. The Gospel has the answer to all of our problems, ALL of our problems. We yearn for freedom from guilt and sin, and so we repent. We are then endowed with the fire of the Holy Ghost. We become peacemakers in our home, developing patience, long suffering, and charity. This is the way. It is not  a quick fix. We have to stay with it. Apply and reapply. These principles will not be corn on the cob by the afternoon on the day we plant the seed. (Alma 32)
Discipleship is a journey. Discipleship is not a spectator's sport. Ours is not a secondhand religion.
We can begin where we stand.
Now is the time to have meaningful Family Home Evenings. Embrace His Gospel, walk in His footsteps. We all come short, but the atonement has the ability to make us WHOLE. Even though we may give up on ourselves, He never will. It is never too late. It is always the right time to walk in His way. he will fight our battles, is our salvation, the Way.

Neil L. Anderson-
"I know who I am. I'm a nobody... Brother Anderson, you're a nobody too. If you forget it, He'll remind you." Boyd K. Packer
Our friendship will move with us through the veil. I have seen the loyalty and honesty, the Power of God, the blessing of nations in our leadership. Our responsibility is not trivial. Our keeping of these keys of destiny will be a badge of honor in eternity. We must remember who we are, and what we have in our hands. We are NOT alone.
We must not shrink away from what is uniquely and singularly ours in (the Gospel and) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christ said "This is MY church... Nothing shall overthrow it. He bids us come! Brothers and Sisters HE LIVES

Steven E. Snow- We need to get on with our lives.

  • Follow the Prophets - change; steady, pragmatic council.
  • Keep an eternal perspective
  • Have faith
  • Be of GOOD cheer - It's easy to feel forgotten, but pretty stupid to feel forsaken. Laughter and humor-be of good cheer.
"Took off my hat, and spit, and thought, and said All Right."
Choir: Redeemer of Israel
Barbara Thompson- "Be fixed in your purpose or Satan will get you." Hymn, The Time is Far Spent
Christ has asked us to do things to help bring others unto Christ.  He has promised He will strengthen us. Pray always, and grow through scripture study. Return to the temple. Bless our families and homes.
"Bless the Bishop because his eyes are broken." (Little girls are so cute)
Accept help from others because it's often that His help lives in them.
We must be fixed in our purpose though Satan may oppose us.


Jeffrey R. Holland- Message directed to those who feel alone for whatever reason (all of us at various times)
I speak of the loneliest journey ever made.
Palm Sunday- Soon enough, Christ was forsaken. "No fault in this man," but Pilate scourged him anyway. His hands couldn't be more unclean.
Barabbas, a godless "son of the Father" was released, and Christ was condemned.
And then Judas... we are not the ones to judge him, but Christ said it would have been better for him not to have been born.
Let this crushing, brutal cup pass from Him is his prayer, and yet His disciples sleep.
We do know that these precious ones would not stand and He warned Peter. It ends with Peter weeping bitterly.
Always the blessed women stayed close to Him.
most difficult moment--moment He may not have anticipated.
When His divinity leaves Him.
"My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me?"
But the Father was NEVER closer.
It was required--central to the significance of the Atonement. Christ never did wrong, but He had to know/ sense what it was like to feel totally, abjectly, completely alone.
The ultimate trial of Good, and God! Against ALL odds, Jesus restored physical life and brought redemption out of total despair.
Because Christ was alone, we NEVER have to be again. Never let these events be repeated in our lives. He already had to walk alone once.
This Easter week and always may we stand by Jesus in all things, even in death, as He stood by us in death, alone.

Choir: This is My Beloved Son

Thomas S. Monson- Growing signs of the times. It would be easy to grow cynical and fearful. Turn our thoughts away from trouble. God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of peace, understanding. Count your blessings and have joy.
Our troubles may not be removed, but we will be strengthened to stand.
3 examples:

  1. His great-grandparents - "At peace with the world in a land they loved." Journey. Buried their son at sea. Courage.
  2. Blind Polynesian - received a blessing. Thanked His God for true sight of both light and darkness, so long as he can see truth.
  3. Mother in east Prussia - Her husband was killed. Journeyed to Germany, and had to travel 1000 miles on foot. Took her faith, without food and money. Temperatures dropped. 3 year old daughter passed. Dug a grave with a spoon. Buried her 7 year old son, her 5 year old son. Then her baby daughter, and the spoon was gone. Dug a grave with her hands. How easy it would be to die. GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY! She prayed more fervently than she ever had in her entire life. I shall SEE my children again! I will raise them and even though I don't desire to live, I will live so we can return to thee. She knew God lived!
Our promised blessings are beyond measure! Comfort and sustain us. Nothing in this world can defeat us.
Choir: We Thank Thee oh God For a Prophet

06 April 2009

Happy Birthday Church!

Millions shall know "brother Joseph" again.

General Conference 179.2


Saturday Afternoon Session
President Uchtdorf presides
Hymn; j/k, not a hymn

Robert W. Cantwell- Yay tithing!

M. Russell Ballard- "You're going to TEXT you conference talk?"
Some of life's most valuable lessons come from those who have fone before us. Look to examples of faith, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Sometimes you get the rookie treatment, and sometimes we don't.
Look to the scriptures--they will ALWAYS be relevant. Learn so you don't have to exhaust your spiritual strength making the same mistakes.
DO NOT COLLAPSE INTO THE DARK AGES! God will never abandon His children; rather, humanity and its civilizations walk away form Him into the darkness of sin and iniquity.
Technology and expansion has hastened the work, but have also enabled the deterioration of sacred values and commandments.
RECOGNIZE these patters you see all around you. The choice is yours, but BE WISE, and wisdom is tied to experience. Be WILLING to learn from the experiences of others.
"You can't do a Google search to gain a testimony."

Quentin L. Cook - When we behave as we should, harsh criticism will lose its weight.
Be a peaceMAKER; not just tolerant of both good and evil through silence.
You can correct the translation of Hell all you want, and it won't change false belief but slowly. TEACH truth! Most of mankind isn't doomed by default, nor they saved--Fate is earned, which proves forever that fate, in that sense, has never been true. Love all men, and persuade ALL men to repentance.
Salvation is free. Teach everyone this.
Exaltation is NOT free. Teach everyone this as well.
The Plan of Salvation is big enough for all of His children.

Kevin W. Pearson - Faith, and a desire for greater faith - More than recognizing--is a principle of ACTION. In nothing else will we find UNFAILING ASSURANCE. Is the greatest thing we can ever give our children. If we desire more faith, we MUST be obedient.
Be the valiant and virtuous young woman in whom that light of faith will burn--NOTHING WAVERING.
Doubt is not a sign of maturity. Fear and faith CANNOT coexist, so destroy fear AS WELL AS building faith. We have a choice. Make BOTH of them.
6 Destructive D's:
  1. Doubt
  2. Discouragement
  3. Distraction
  4. Diligence
  5. Disobedience
  6. Disbelief
No need to fear or doubt.

Rafael E. Pino- The only true comfort comes from God. This is the time to show that we will obey our God. The only true comfort comes from God. This is the time to show that we will obey our God.
(again) D&C 121-123

Richard G. Scott- Because I love you, I will speak to you plainly. When a temple is conveniently nearby, plan to go and GO--no matter what little things get in the way. Establish your own goals, but stick to them.
Understand the importance of the Atonement of Christ, and His relationship to Heavenly Father. Express what temple blessings mean to you.
Remove your watch. Think of the symbolism. Think of the service you provide, and the person for whom you provide that service.
Do your family history work!
Never ask WHY? - Ask what He would have us learn and thank Him for that blessing of trust.
Never complain; if we are living worthily, all things things will be taken care of.
Keep your temple covenants and all will be okay.

Russell M. Nelson- Prayers follow patters of Christ.  Lord's prayer; Two corrections:
  • Forgive use our TRESPASSES as we forgive THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US
  • Suffer us not to be led into temptation (Deity will NEVER lead us into temptation.)
The spiritual sustenance of the Sacrament cannot be obtained in any other way. Pray always for help as we resist evil.
Intercessory Prayer - pleas from Christ for the fullest joy we can ever hope to obtain. If we really care, we will pray. Always pray for and help others to develop their ability to feel the presence of the Holy Ghost. Fasting will enhance our prayers.
The Lord will accept that which is enough; better than too much!
When should we pray? ALWAYS! Never cease.

05 April 2009

General Conference 179.1

179th General Conference, Saturday Morning Session


Watching the morning session in
my friend's bed at Hinckley Hall
Choir sings Press Forward Saints

Neil L. Anderson 

Sustained (everyone raised their hands twice, ha ha)
"It's the longest walk you'll ever take." Thomas S. Monson

Thomas S. Monson

Re-evaluate ourselves. The Church is doing well.
"I have felt those prayers."

Choir sings Hymn 7

Robert D. Hales

Care for the widow. President Monson grew up in the Depression and always cared for the widow.

Speaks to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by debt. Want more than anything else to control yourself. Be filled with hope of/ in the Savior.  Through Him, all things will be for our good.
Satan knows how/when/ where to tempt us. Ask for help. Seek DIVINE assistance.

Provident Provider- joyfully living within our means, prepared for a rainy day. Keeps basic commandments.

Remember "thou shalt not covet." It will make you poor temporally and spiritually.

2 lessons from marriage:

  1. Newly weds; was in the Air Force and missed Christmas together; saw a beautiful dress; told her he's buy it for her- "We can't afford it."
  2. Coat- "Where would I wear it?" & "Are you buying this for me, or for you?" Added money instead to mortgage fund and children's education fund. (There's always a better way to spend money that isn't needed.)
Tithing- LAW; as in NOT OPTIONAL.
Family budget- teach our families the difference between wants and needs.

Satan's weapon: Addictions (Physical pleasures).
Want more than ANYTHING else to do His will - "I will give away all my sins to know thee." - Love for Him/ His love IS enough.

Margaret S. Liffeth

Peter; "feed His lambs" through respect for each other and reverence for God. Strengthen our children in these things. This should be our example.
Reverence isn't just sitting quietly, it's thinking about the Savior.
Self mastery is not just the root to self-respect, it's essential to it.
Teach our children to call our leaders by their proper titles; our chapels as holy houses of God. TURN OFF OUR CELL PHONES.
Love your class; the distracting child needs your love the most. "Every child deserves a chance to progress." If there's a problem with our children, there's a problem in the ward. Take concerns to the ward council.

Michael A. Neider


The new Young Women's value (Virtue) also helps to support the Priesthood. Support that calling. Be earnest students of inspired direction from His prophets. Eliminate mistakes and sloth in implementing God's plan. Utilize more of the youth leadership.
"You. Church. Today." (Was the story of a young man in Mexico who was the only young man in his age group attending church. With his limited Spanish and only one phone contact, he got the other brothers to start coming back to church. The above was all he knew how to say in Spanish, and was what he said to the one boy he called.) Sharing the gospel and reaching out to our brothers and sisters doesn't have to be difficult. Re-activation can really be that simple.
Give the women's organizations  tasks to complete--there is work they can help with, and even work that only they can do.

Allan F. Packer

Wonderful time to be alive, especially for the youth. Is a time to prepare and to work out our own salvation. Know that we know. Understand that Heavenly Father is REAL and His love for US is real; that the Savior and His atonement are real. Learn to apply that truth and the revelation it brings.
"Packer, TACKLE HIM!" (Story of when he was playing football in high school; he heard his coach yelling this from the sidelines.) Learned to listen for/ to his coach's voice and trusted it.

Alma 32 - Test to trust

Pay attention to thoughts and feelings of your mind when it comes to thoughts and feelings of your mind when the Spirit comes and learn to recognize it. Ask for truth in prayer.

D. Todd Christofferson

We have all we need. We have each other. We can build again.
We need strong Christians who can sustain hope through troubled times... faith against moral relativism and militant atheism.
Remember the ordinances and covenants, inside and ourside of the temple.
John 3: 16, 3 Nephi 27: 20
What is it that allows us to convert tribulation into triumph?
Blessings we are given are designed to help us proceed with success in that task that is ours. Steady supply of gifts and support. Does not mean we will always have peace. Challenges allow us to strengthen genuine faith. Face life with hope.
You've sustained much faith despite those that scorn you from that great and spacious building.

D&C 97: 8-9. 

Be honored to suffer for Christ's namesake.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
The endowment of faith is for those that will keep their faith. Comes through the Holy Ghost. Force by which Adam was quickened in the inner man.
Moses 6: 61
Holy Ghost allows others to feel and be strengthened by him and press forward.
God WILL keep His promises to you as you keep your covenants with Him.

Choir

Consider the Lilies

President Henry B. Eyring

We all have one challenge in common--we all deal with adversity. Fear and anger may come; "How could this happen?"; can be hard for us to hear from those we know to be blameless. We've gome to see such doubt from generations in times of war. We must remember that our Heavenly Father and our Savior live, and love us.
We are being prepared to lead an endless posterity to eternal life.
The joy of forgiveness can only come through the Savior's atonement. Even when you feel that love, it may still test your courage to endure.
D&C 121-123
Thou are not yet as Job.
The Lord will rescue His disciples.
Those who accept trials will be sustained to eternal life if they are faithful.
Prepare your hearts for the times ahead. Tragedy did not erode their faith. It tested it and strengthened it.
Care for the widows. Widows should also care for each other.
Alma 34

It's a habit to see others in need, others with less. SEE THEM and minister unto them.
"Make full proof, make FULL PROOF, of thy ministry." 

He set a course for each of us that will bring us home and purify us.

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