Letter from November 24, 2014
Transfers are on . It's not set in stone that I'll be leaving, but when we went to dinner with President Snow Friday night before the "Meet the Mormons" showing, he asked Sister Walton: "So, are you ready to take over the area? We can't keep Sister Robinson here forever!" So naturally we're feeling pretty inclined to believe I'll be kicked out of here. I am excited and nervous. Mostly I'm ready for a change. Serving in-valley is apparently a whole different ball game - so much more fast paced and rigorous and busy.
Our showings of "Meet the Mormons" was a HUGE success! An announcement for it aired on the radio for a week, and we put an ad put in the paper. We had over 300 people show up for the friday night showing and close to 100 on saturday! At the end of the movie of course everyone was in tears, and then Brother Nelson (who was conducting the evening) stood up and thanked everyone for coming and invited all the full-time missionaries to come to the front and introduce ourselves. All the elders in our district (and some more from our Zone) came, so we had an army of missionaries it seemed. It was so powerful and so awesome. I was grateful to be a part of it. There were quite a few nonmembers there, too, which made it all even more exciting. President Snow was impressed and said: "One of us needs to write this experience up and distribute it to all the missionaries in the mission to set a gold standard for them to follow!" We told him it wasn't us, it was the members. Our ward did a phenomenal job of putting it all together. I wish I'd taken a picture of it, but I never got around to it.
Happy Thanksgiving this week! Give everyone my love. And eat some of EG's pecan pie for me! I'm sure it will be so fun to see the Bettingers. Tell them I love them and miss them. Please take lots of pictures to send to me! We're not sure if we'll be eating at the Hauck's on Thanksgiving - Sister Hauck said she has a family member who is really sick, so they might head out to California last minute. If not, we'll go eat with one of the widow's in the ward, Sister Bayne. Either way, it will be a great day! I'm excited for turkey and mashed potatoes.
This week I was reading through old teaching records in our Area Book and found one on a less-active woman in the ward that we've been meeting with weekly. The entries on her record dated back to over a year ago. One of the previous missionaries had written something to the effect of: "_____ believes she'll make it to the celestial kingdom because 'she just feels it.' Need to emphasize the importance of keeping the commandments with her." For some reason I was particularly alarmed by the comment of this sister in the ward, I think because it is an attitude that I've observed in many other members of the church (and people in general). I think, generally speaking, sometimes we have a tendency to overestimate our righteousness; or maybe we believe that we are doing "enough"; that we are "safe". But salvation is not a one-time thing. It is a lifelong endeavor and requires that our FAITH in Jesus Christ leads us to ACTION in obeying Him. Complacency is a sneaky and ultimately devastating trap of the devil, and becoming too "comfortable" can end up being one of our greatest downfalls. It scares me when I recognize these things in myself. It is not enough to simply be "a good person" - we must follow the commandments of God. "If ye love me, keep my commandments,"the Savior said. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." (John 14) We come to know God and His Son by living as they lived.
God is not a comfortable God! Jeffrey R. Holland (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) teaches:
"Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.11
God is a JUST God, as D. Todd Christofferson explains:
"Justice is an essential attribute of God. We can have faith in God because He is perfectly trustworthy. The scriptures teach us that “God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round”11 and that “God is no respecter of persons.”12 We rely on the divine quality of justice for faith, confidence, and hope.
Indeed, there are essential attributes of God that make Him a God. Because He is not a comfortable God and because He is a perfectly just God, He is "bound when [we] do what [He] say[s], but when [we] do not what [He] say[s], [we] have no promise" (D&C 82:10). We must accept and obey His commandments in order to one day inherit His happiness and glory. This kind of salvation is not something that we "just feel". It is a promise given to the faithful. This naturally gives an urgency to the need to keep the commandments, especially in daily prayer and scripture study. Elder Patrick Kearon says: "Disregarding what we know to be right, whether through laziness or rebelliousness, always brings undesirable and spiritually damaging consequences." Spencer W. Kimball taught: "I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns." Quentin L. Cook admonishes: "Please understand that having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keeping His commandments are and always will be the defining test of mortality." And we are told in the book of Romans: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (chapter 2, verse 13).
May we all be strong and disciplined and courageous enough to keep all the commandments, all the time. May we not allow ourselves to become lazy, rebellious, or complacent. The blessings and promises of salvation are real if we obey by turning our faith into action.
I love you all! Have a wonderful week!