Sunday, December 7, 2014

How do you measure darkness?

Dear Family and Friends,
    Hello! Talofa! Kia ora! Hola! Malolele :)
This week has been a great week. I have a lot of things bouncing in my mind. I will do my best to share these things with you in an orderly and clear manner. First, we had a wonderful week. Lots of miracles. We were able to talk to 162 people about the He Is The Gift video, and the importance of Christmas. A record for us so far this transfer. Another miracle occurred. We have been doing family scripture study with a less-active member for about a week now. It has been wonderful. This week past she shared with us how she started making a study journal as we had asked her to do. As she was making it, she said she felt so warm inside, so good. She felt the Holy Ghost. How excited she was to have felt His presence and how excited she was to show us her study journal. It was so cute. I just feel so happy when people do what we ask them to do  because we know it will make them happy. They just have to be willing to put it to the test and see for themselves.
Also this week we had Zone Conference. We were asked to give a talk and I am including my talk in this email.
My talk:
Throughout this week I have pondered upon the question "What am I doing to become a more effective missionary?" As I have done this I have identified two main principles that I would like to address today.

            The first principle that has greatly impacted me is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. President and Sister Hudson reminded me of this important tool with their beautiful motto "Good, better, becoming Great in Christ." I have come to understand why this has impacted me so greatly after I read the talk by President Uchtdorf, "Fear not I am with Thee." The process of changing from a good state to a better state is only made possible through Jesus Christ thus the importance of why we should have faith in him. Faith that we can change, that we can "put off the natural man and become a Saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord" (Mosiah 3:19).  President Uchtdorf exemplifies this principle through Peter, who tried his upmost best to follow the Saviour. When confronted with his association with Jesus Christ, Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus. Afterwards as the record recounts He went away and wept over his betrayal. It wasn't until Peter saw the Risen Christ that he changed. No longer was he afraid. (See Mathew)
            How did this mighty change occur? What made it possible for Peter to move beyond his frightened state into the mighty missionary that we all know him to be? It began when Peter truly understood the magnitude of what Christ was telling the world, that if men would have faith in Him and His divine calling as the Saviour of the world He would change them.
            It is through Christ and His Atonement that we can change. He helps pull us out of the quicksand of regret, remorse, sorrow, sin, pain, and anguish. He keeps us from sinking down; He raises us up and enables us to turn our natural tendencies into Godlike characteristics. Truly this knowledge has changed me as it has Peter, and it has helped me become who I am today. I am able to be changed because I know or have faith in the Saviour's promise that I can be better each day as I laid aside my natural man and in its place become more like the Saviour. This brings me to the second principle that has helped me to be an effective missionary, and that is having faith in Jesus Christ.
            Faith as stated in the Bible dictionary is "a principle of action and power." It is to "have confidence in something or someone" (pg. 669-670). A companion of mine once interchanged the word faith with trust, and when she did faith had a whole new meaning for me. When we trust Christ, we believe Him when He says that we can be forgiven and overcome all things through Him. We trust that all things will be made right through Him. We trust that He won't back down on His word.
            When I truly allowed myself to have full faith in the Saviour, I saw a mighty change in myself. No longer did I consciously or subconsciously choose what I believed the Saviour could change in me, but I let him have every part of me to shape as He knew best. As Peter came to know I too have come to know that I could, can and do change… every day. All because Jesus Christ meant every word He ever said, and this allows each and every one of us to obtain and have Faith in Him, to trust in Him.  This knowledge brings me closer to Christ.
            My cousin shared a thought with me that I feel exemplifies how these two principles: Faith in Jesus Christ and The Atonement of Jesus Christ has helped shape my missionary service. He shared how we become the most effective teachers, when we understand and live the things we teach. Most importantly when we really fully understand and apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives. I know this to be true. I have experienced it myself. We can only help others come to the height we ourselves are standing at. This is why we cannot help anyone beyond our own conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I have understood this I have been able to rely upon the Saviour more and feel Him pulling me and those I interact with each day closer to Him and our Heavenly Father. Relying on the Saviour each day has helped me lay in the dust those things that would hinder me from being the missionary Christ would have me be. Jesus Christ has made me the missionary I am today.
            I testify of a loving Saviour, a brother, and a friend who is Jesus Christ. As we rely on Him and believe Him… He will change us. He will lift us to higher ground and help us to become like Him. As we allow our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement to always work in our lives we will be "made perfect in Christ" (Moroni 10:32). Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sister Sudweeks

Wellington Zone

Paraparaumu Ward

These talks we were asked to read. I have really been touched by them, so I thought to include an expert from one and the other one in whole. Elder Pearson is the one who spoke to us this weekend.

"Earlier this year as I prepared an Easter message, the question arose of why the Church doesn't celebrate more openly the events surrounding Easter. When you think about it, as members of the Church we actually celebrate Easter week every Sunday by partaking of the sacrament. It was on the Thursday before Easter Sunday
when the sacrament was established. As we partake of the sacrament we recommit ourselves to remember the Savior's sacrifice and to keep His commandments. At the same time we are promised to have His Spirit to be
with us at all times and at all places. Think about what happened during the week following Palm Sunday and culminating in Easter Sunday, when Jesus Christ rose triumphant from the tomb. He broke the bonds of death and made it possible for all mankind to be resurrected. For us as missionaries, as servants of the Lord, this is the core message we take to the world—"I know that my Redeemer lives." Make sure that your missionaries never forget this. Keep this in mind when you and your missionaries partake of the sacrament on Sundays and when you invite people to attend sacrament services with you. Partaking of the sacrament is a very sacred act. If you explain to those who seek truth what the gospel and the sacrament can be to them, you will touch their hearts. Because of Christ's sinless life and through the profound miracle of the Atonement, He created a way for us to be purified and glorious—a way for us to return to our Heavenly Father and to receive eternal life. But it is also interesting what else happened as a result of His rising from the tomb. This act of love transformed a band of frightened, worried disciples into a dynamic group of fearless missionaries who changed the world.The events of that day have the potential and power to do the same for every servant of the Lord, for every missionary, for every one of you who is proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ."
From President Uchtodorf's talk "Fear not I am with Thee."

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
April 2009

I humbly invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost as we discuss a vital principle of the gospel: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I acknowledge with deep appreciation and love great examples of true faith and faithfulness in my own life. To goodly parents, family, priesthood leaders, beloved missionaries, wonderful children, and a precious eternal companion, I express my deepest love and gratitude. I acknowledge my own need and desire for greater faith as a disciple and witness of Christ. There has never been a greater need for faith in my own life than now.

As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children "to understand the doctrine of … faith in Christ the Son of the living God" (D&C 68:25). This requires more than merely recognizing faith as a gospel principle. "To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone" (Bible Dictionary, "Faith," 669). True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. "Faith is a principle of action and of power" (Bible Dictionary, 670). It requires us to do, not merely to believe. Faith is a spiritual gift from God that comes through the Holy Ghost. It requires a correct understanding and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His divine attributes and perfect character, His teachings, Atonement, Resurrection, and priesthood power. Obedience to these principles develops complete trust in Him and His ordained servants and assurance of His promised blessings.

There is no other thing in which we can have absolute assurance. There is no other foundation in life that can bring the same peace, joy, and hope. In uncertain and difficult times, faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little.

"Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith" (Bible Dictionary, 669; see also Romans 10:14–17). Do your children know that you know? Do they see and feel your conviction? "Strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ" (Bible Dictionary, 669).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: "Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws the greater will be the endowment of faith" (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 264). If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient. When we teach our children by example or precept to be casual or situational in obeying God's commandments, we prevent them from receiving this vital spiritual gift. Faith requires an attitude of exact obedience, even in the small, simple things.

Desire is a particle of faith that develops within us as we experience divine truth. It is like spiritual photosynthesis. The influence of the Holy Ghost, acting on the Light of Christ within every human being, produces the spiritual equivalent of a chemical reaction—a stirring, a change of heart, or a desire to know. Hope develops as particles of faith become molecules and as simple efforts to live true principles occur.

As patterns of obedience develop, the specific blessings associated with obedience are realized and belief emerges. Desire, hope, and belief are forms of faith, but faith as a principle of power comes from a consistent pattern of obedient behavior and attitudes. Personal righteousness is a choice. Faith is a gift from God, and one possessed of it can receive enormous spiritual power.

There is a quality of faith which develops as we focus all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. It is seen and felt in the eyes of a great missionary, a valiant and virtuous young woman, and righteous mothers, fathers, and grandparents. It can be seen in the lives of individuals young and old, in every land and culture, speaking every language, in every circumstance and station in life. It is the "eye of faith" spoken of by the prophet Alma (see Alma 5:15–26)—the ability to focus and be steadfast, continually holding fast to true principles, nothing wavering, even when the mist of darkness confronting us is exceedingly great. This quality of faith is exceedingly powerful.

However, "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. … The Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other" (2 Nephi 2:11, 16). And so it is with faith. It can be enticing to choose doubt and disbelief over faith.

As Jesus returned from the transcendent spiritual experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, He was approached by a desperate father whose son needed help. The father pleaded, "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us."

Jesus replied, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

"And straightway the father … cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:22–24).

Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other. The simple fact is we all need to constantly build faith and overcome sources of destructive disbelief. The Savior's teaching comparing faith to a grain of mustard seed recognizes this reality (see Matthew 13:31–32). Consider it this way: our net usable faith is what we have left to exercise after we subtract our sources of doubt and disbelief. You might ask yourself this question: "Is my own net faith positive or negative?" If your faith exceeds your doubt and disbelief, the answer is likely positive. If you allow doubt and disbelief to control you, the answer might be negative.

We do have a choice. We get what we focus on consistently. Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan's direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change. I will refer to these influences as the "Six Destructive Ds." As I do, consider their influence on you or your children.

First is doubt. Doubt is not a principle of the gospel. It does not come from the Light of Christ or the influence of the Holy Ghost. Doubt is a negative emotion related to fear. It comes from a lack of confidence in one's self or abilities. It is inconsistent with our divine identity as children of God.

Doubt leads to discouragement. Discouragement comes from missed expectations. Chronic discouragement leads to lower expectations, decreased effort, weakened desire, and greater difficulty feeling and following the Spirit (see Preach My Gospel [2004], 10). Discouragement and despair are the very antithesis of faith.

Discouragement leads to distraction, a lack of focus. Distraction eliminates the very focus the eye of faith requires. Discouragement and distraction are two of Satan's most effective tools, but they are also bad habits.

Distraction leads to a lack of diligence, a reduced commitment to remain true and faithful and to carry on through despite hardship and disappointment. Disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but it need not lead to doubt, discouragement, distraction, or lack of diligence.

If not reversed, this path ultimately leads to disobedience, which undermines the very basis of faith. So often the result is disbelief, the conscious or unconscious refusal to believe.

The scriptures describe disbelief as the state of having chosen to harden one's heart. It is to be past feeling.

These Six Destructive Ds—doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief—all erode and destroy our faith. We can choose to avoid and overcome them.

Challenging times require greater spiritual power. Consider carefully the Savior's promise: "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33).

I humbly declare that God, our Heavenly Father, lives and loves each of us, His children. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He lives and personally leads His Church through President Monson, His anointed prophet. Because He lives, there is always hope smiling brightly before us. In a household of faith, there is no need to fear or doubt. Choose to live by faith and not fear. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

This zone conference was amazing. On top of that we had Stake conference (their main message was to flood the earth with goodness. by doing this with social media. I would encourage you all to share authentic, sincere, real, inspirational messages with people on social media about the church. I promise you will be filled with the spirit of missionary work.)
   In Zone Conference we talked about how we are all filled with light. Glory if you will (See David Archuleta's song Glorious.) We obtain more light as we are obedient to God's commandments See D&C 130. So how do you measure darkness... by the absence of light. May we all be filled with more light as we are more obedient and diligent in keeping those commandments. 
   President Pearson stressed to us that we must either Do or Do not. THere is no try. Likewise in doing the things the Lord has commanded we either do it or we don't we don't ever do half of keeping a commandment. We are either fully keeping it or fully breaking it. He encouraged us to do WHAT EVER IT TAKES (WEIT) to see miracles, see blessings. I know this is true for us in our own lives. If we will do what ever it takes to obey Heavenly Father he will bless us ten fold. And why do we want to do this? Because the only way we can Become who we are meant to be is by being obedient. Truly our attitude determines our altitude that we will soar to be like Heavenly Father. We will only get what we focos on. 
 I love you all so much! May we focus on the things of eternity that that might be what we get I pray in the name of  Jesus Christ.
Have a great week!
Sister Sudweeks

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