Mornin’! It’s been a fast week! We had lots of lessons this week and kept busy with our current friends and some new friends we made. The members in our ward have been such a blessing, especially this week (but always of course) and they’ve really taken some time to get to know the people we are teaching. I think it makes such a difference in our friends progression when they feel not only welcomed by people in the ward/branch, but they start making friends that care about their lives and their interests. It’s been a great blessing to see the love our members have for the friends we are meeting with. I loved what Elder Oaks spoke about this General Conference when he talked about why we go to church as a whole people, and then members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically.
As he spoke about the need for a church, he quoted a previous church leader, about why we go to church that hit me so powerfully:
… we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility. … If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.Spencer W. Kimball
I’ve thought a lot about this phrase, “If the service is a failure to you, you have failed.” Some might feel attacked by that statement, but I feel like it is an urgent reminder about why we attend church. I suppose the first question to ask is, why do YOU attend church? Is it because of the people there? Because you would feel judged by others if you didn’t? Because you have a calling/position? Why do you go?
This was a question I needed to ponder. Especially after leaving for my mission, I felt I attended church to get to know members and to be an example. But I also remember my first couple sacrament meetings, when the bread and water is passed around. I knew this was a time to reflect on the covenants I made to God to always remember him and to be an example and a disciple of his. A time for me to reflect (if I hadn’t already had an opportunity throughout the week) on how I could’ve been better and the goals I want to set for myself to be more Christlike. This was also a time for me to focus more on Christ’s Atonement which stretches further than my sins, but also everything I feel and suffer.
As these were my first few weeks away from home and my family, I was distraught. Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t leave my dog for more than a few days for Girls Camp without being a mess. And this was the first time I was away from my parents and siblings for more than a week and I just wanted a blessing from my Dad and a hug from my Mom. I felt inadequate as a missionary and wondered, “what am I doing here?” Even though I had pondered this and knew why. I began to look more desperately for answers to questions I had and to feel the comfort and peace I so desperately needed. I began to open up to others a little more, and found that learning about their trials and serving them left me feeling a lot better.
I love a quote we read in Relief Society yesterday from a talk in the last General Conference in April:
As I started going to church with a mindset of service and helping others, church became something I was excited for every week. I was going there for a purpose.
I was reminded of another concept I studied a lot a few years ago about getting what you put into something. This scripture in 1 Nephi 16:29 is talking about when Lehi’s family was being guided by the Liahona, an instrument given to them by the Lord as a compass to know where they should go.
“… and it… changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it.”1 Nephi 16:29
They were guided and led according to the faith and diligence they gave. I love what President Spencer W. Kimball said about how we do not go to church to be entertained. We go to worship the Lord and serve others. And no one but ourselves can take that responsibility to make church a meaningful experience.
It makes me think of one of my favorite Bible verses:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.Hebrews 13:8
When Jesus Christ was on the Earth, he established leaders and authority to exercise God’s power on the Earth (we call the Priesthood). “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” I testify that Jesus Christ is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that modern day revelation proves that he still speaks to us today to guide and direct us.
I’m still working on making church services more meaningful and not just going to go. I want to be able to go to learn more about Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and how to live worthy to recieve and recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost so I can be guided. So I can serve the way He would have me serve.
Anyway, I just thought Elder Oaks’ talk was inspired. A thought that just came to mind was, “how can I apply the principles I’ve reviewed from Elder Oaks’ talk to home centered learning?” In the height of Covid, attending church in person was not an option and home and family centered studies were put into play. The pandemic did not catch God by surprise and we were prepared to have material to study from home: Come Follow Me.
I’ve thought a lot about my home and what I can do to after I return home to help make it more of a refuge and “… a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) It may be something I study and ponder throughout my mission, but I suppose I can invite you all to do the same.
How can you apply the principles Elder Oaks taught about, to your home?
I have a second invitation, and something I will be doing and hopefully you all can join me in! A few months ago, our Mission President invited us to read the Book of Mormon front to back, studying Charity- the pure love of Christ — before General Conference. I finished a couple hours before the first session of Conference started haha. That’s not surprising at all! [sarcasm increases]
I invite you all to read the Book of Mormon from the Introduction, through Moroni 10, before General Conference April 2022. If you go to Gospel Library and click “Study Plans” and select the Book of Mormon and put in the end date for April 1st (the day before GC April 2022), it will tell you you need to read 1-2 chapters a day if you start today.
Two chapters may seem like a lot, but if you spend 5-10 minutes a DAY (probably 15-20 minutes if you’re marking and journaling along with reading), that’s the same amount of time it would take you to watch one episode of a standard kid’s show, and half of a standard adult show. (Based on my experience- don’t quote me lol) Can’t we spend 15 minutes each day dedicated to learning of the Lord, finding answers to questions that affect us temporally and spiritually, and in the process bring so many blessing on our lives, the lives of our family, and others we share it with, so much so that we will not have room to receive the blessings Heavenly Father will pour out upon us? This includes spiritual protection against temptation.
If you’re still thinking, “gosh, I would love to, but I just don’t even have the time for 15 minutes,” I would encourage you to even just listen while you’re taking a shower, or eating breakfast. Listen while you eat during a lunch break. And if that still isn’t very plausible, try praying and ask for a way to fit it into your busy schedule. Have a crazy family with 6 kids and two dogs that run around rampant in the mornings and throughout the day that you have to keep track of and clean up after, along with all of the chores and projects you need to work on? cough cough Tell them they get a special treat (doesn’t necessarily have to be sugar) if they sit down for 10 minutes to listen to scriptures. BOOM. Quiet time, AND an opportunity to read the word of God.
Hehe. Well, I hope everyone has an amazing week! Remember the invitation! What do you want to study in the Boom of Mormon? Love you guys!
Sister (Katie) Malan