Monday, December 31, 2007

The Savior's Love and the Sissy-Stick

Though I live in AZ now, I was born and raised in Southern California. The following is a true account of one of my experiences growing up. Dan Olsen

Kevin and I drove to the surf shop anxious to see the custom surfboard just finished for me. The workshop smelled of resin and fine Styrofoam particles, illuminated by light streaming in through the window, hung in the air like lazy snowflakes refusing to hit the ground. The surfboard was gorgeous in every respect except one.

The tip of the surfboard was covered with rubber, making an otherwise stylish surfboard look like a sissy-stick. “No worries,” I told myself, “I’ll take it off later.”

A massive swell beat down on the Southern California coastline the following Saturday. Spray flew off the back of the waves as they crashed one after another, and salt air assaulted our nostrils. Donning our wetsuits, we looked at each other with a sense of anticipation, and started to paddle out into the violent surf.

My arms felt like spaghetti as I crested the last wave and passed through the kill zone, that area right in front of the crashing waves, where you don’t want to get caught as you paddle out. Unable to rest long, the entire horizon rose up letting me know that a wave fast approached. Exerting every ounce of energy, I paddled into position.

I turned my surfboard toward the shore and thrust my arms deep into the cool, blue water. I paddled hard, fueled by adrenaline as the swell picked me up. My board slid up to the top of the wave, paddling furiously, my board started to slide down. I placed my hands towards the top of my board and shoved hard, attempting to pop up to my feet. Too late, I recognized my folly.

My energy spent and my strength gone, my arms slipped off my board. I fell headlong in front of it; my momentum turning my body so that as I sunk below the water’s surface, the nose of my board walloped me right below my eye.

My head exploded in pain. Death’s long tentacles reached out to claim me and for a moment I thought I would slip into oblivion and its cold embrace.

Breaking the surface of the water, my lungs screamed for air and my head felt like someone pounded on a drum inside of it. Placing my hand over the right side of my face, a crimson stain covered my palm and ran down my wrist. I uttered a silent prayer as I began to panic. Seeing another surfer about twenty feet away, I called out to him. He glanced in my direction, but was unwilling to come to my aid.

Comprehension dawned on me that I floated in the kill zone as three more waves broke in rapid succession before me, each one, putting me through the spin cycle of the ocean’s massive laundry machine.

Disoriented and unsure of what to do, but knowing I couldn’t stay there, I cried out to my oldest brother, Kevin. If he heard my voice, I knew he’d paddle right into the kill zone for me. He was my brother, and I knew he loved me. Then I swam towards the shore. A few more waves pounded me without mercy until I finally realized that my leash, still strapped to my ankle, meant that my surfboard floated nearby. Pulling myself onto it, I held on for dear life and waited for the next wave. Whitewater enveloped me, but I refused to let go. My board sprung out in front of the wave and I rode it, defeated, on my stomach. Reaching the shore, I lay on my back hoping that Kevin had heard my plea. Soon he appeared, and relief washed over me.
He told me later that he hadn’t heard my call but felt impressed, that he needed to find me. My short but sincere prayer had been both heard and answered.

I called the surf shop about a month later. I let the builder know that I hadn’t wanted the rubber tip on my surfboard, being more concerned with image than safety. I thanked him for not asking my opinion. He explained that he no longer attached rubber tips, too many customers felt like I used to.

To this day, I believe that the tip was an answer to a prayer that I hadn’t even offered yet. Words can not adequately express my gratitude for the presence of the Savior, and my oldest brother; The One hearing my plea for help and letting the other know to come find me. I’m so grateful for God’s love; it is everywhere present. Without the rubber tip, the nose of my board would’ve driven itself deep into my eye and skull. The rubber tip on my sissy-stick saved my life. Each new day is a wondrous blessing and gift from a loving Father in Heaven, who patiently waits for us to call out to him in our times of need. He is ready and anxious to speak with us.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crystal's baptism

Crystal with cousins and friends after the baptism.

Crystal with her mom, Shanna.

Crystal with cousin Breanne and friend.

Crystal, just before getting wet.

On Friday, December 28th, 2007, Crystal Renee Amos, was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the Payson, AZ Stake Center. The baptism was well attended with many family and friends from out of town, and even, out of state, traveling to be a part of the event. All those present were richly blessed by the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit that attends such solemn occasions. She was baptised by Grandpa Amos, and uncles and aunts spoke and sang. David Randall gave a talk about baptism. The Spirit bore witness of his powerful testimony, as he too, recently joined the church.

Perhaps my favorite part of the evening, other than the baptism itself, was when Crystal shared her testimony of the gospel. In simple terms, she explained about how she came to know for herself that the church is true. She spoke of how she could "feel" the truth of the gospel as the missionaries taught her the discussions.

She is a beautiful daughter of God, who radiates an inner warmth to those she meets. I considered it to be a singular privilege to have been invited to watch such a sacred event.

Thoughts on Enos

1 BEHOLD, it came to pass that I, Enos•, knowing my father that he• was a just man—for he taught• me in his language, and also in the nurture• and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

My comments: The very first words out of Enos’ mouth was praising his father for teaching him his language and about the Lord. What would be the first things out my children’s mouth? What more can I do to help them know the Lord?

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle• which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

My comments: The scriptures talk of Jacob wrestling an angel all night. Alma, wrestled with the Lord in mighty prayer. Both men were greatly blessed, both men paid a price for that blessing. A price that we should all be willing to pay, but few of us are willing to do so. I taught a family in Montreal. They were a great family. They were our only consistent dinner appointment each week. We taught them everything we could. We gave their daughter a blessing. The spirit was so strong that everyone was in tears at the end of it. Regardless, they wouldn’t accept the gospel. The husband once told me, “I don’t think that I would join the church even if I knew it was true.” It broke my heart because they were such a good family. Ultimately, the question becomes, “Am I willing to wrestle with God, to receive the blessing I want?” Am I willing to get down on my knees and plead for forgiveness and remain there on my knees, until I receive an answer? The scriptures suggest that good things come to those that pay the price.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk• deep into my heart.

My comments: Sunk. Enos is graphically trying to express how deeply his father’s words embedded themselves into the very center of his soul.

4 And my soul hungered•; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried• unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

My comments: This verse shows that this wasn’t a casual experience for Enos, “my soul hungered,” “I cried…mighty prayer,” “all the day long…when the night came I did still raise my voice high.” He struggled and wrestled with God for forgiveness of his sins. He prayed a long time and still apparently hadn’t received the answer, so he kept praying until he did.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

My comments: Psalms 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. The Lord wants us to succeed in life. He will do everything He can to bless us. Some of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had came through repentance. It was at those times, that I knew how much God loved me.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

My comments: Ether 3:12 – thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. Enos had been taught that God was a God of truth. He believed what he had been taught even though the next verse shows he didn’t understand how it is done. Adam offered sacrifice not knowing why, merely that he was commanded to do so. It was after the trial of his faith that he received a witness.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

My comments: I ask myself this frequently. How can the Lord take a sinner like myself, who has done so many things wrong, and make something useful of me. The scriptures seem to suggest though, that is the Lord’s specialty. I certainly hope so.

8 And he said unto me: Because• of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole•.

My comments: Enos’ faith must have been unwavering. It is much stronger than mere belief. Lectures on Faith describe faith being a principle of action and power. Enos’ belief in what his father taught him became a principle of action, i.e. it motivated him to repent and seek the Lord. It became a principle of power as he exercised his faith and received the desired blessing. The third Lecture on Faith states, “Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and Salvation. First, the idea that he actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.” Lectures on Faith pg. 38.

9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire• for the welfare• of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour• out my whole soul unto God for them.

My comments: Once Enos had a hope of his salvation and tasted of the joy mentioned in verse 3, it is natural that he would desire others to enjoy it as well. 1 Nephi 8:12 “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” By comparing 1 Nephi 15:36 with D&C 14:7 we learn that the fruit from the tree is Eternal Life. The tree itself is a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ, from whom, salvation comes.

10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given• unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse• it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.

My comments: “the voice of the Lord came into my mind again.” This doesn’t appear to be a visitation from an angel or the Lord, rather it is the way most of us will receive revelation, through the prompting of the spirit, if we are in tune enough to hear it. The spirit does not shake a person, it whispers. We need to be calm and at peace to hear His voice.
Why do the Lamanites get promised that their seed will be preserved whereas the Nephites don’t? Because, where much is given, much is required. I have been given much.

11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed• unto him with many long strugglings• for my brethren, the Lamanites.

My comments: Line upon line, precept upon precept. Alma 32:30 “But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then ye must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith.”

12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed• and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires•, because of thy faith.

My comments: You can clearly see how Enos struggled, “labored with all diligence,” to receive the answers he received. It is not something he took lightly or for granted that he simply needed to ask the Lord for something, and he would get it. It reminds me of the verse, “Ye are saved by grace, AFTER all ye can do,” emphasis added. Grace is divine help to lift us above our own abilities. However, like Enos, we need to expend all of our energies for a righteous cause to receive grace.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

3 Nephi 4:15-18

15 And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites did return again to their place of security. And it came to pass that this nineteenth year did pass away, and the robbers did not come again to battle; neither did they come again in the twentieth year.
16 And in the *twenty and first year they did not come up to battle, but they came up on all sides to lay siege round about the people of Nephi; for they did suppose that if they should cut off the people of Nephi from their lands, and should hem them in on every side, and if they should cut them off from all their outward privileges, that they could cause them to yield themselves up according to their wishes.
17 Now they had appointed unto themselves another leader, whose name was Zemnarihah; therefore it was Zemnarihah that did cause that this siege should take place.
18 But behold, this was an advantage to the Nephites; for it was impossible for the robbers to lay siege sufficiently long to have any effect upon the Nephites, because of their much provision which they had laid up in store,

(Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 4:15 - 18)

My comments:
The robbers thought to conquer the Nephites by laying siege to their city. However, they were unsuccessful in their efforts, “because of their much provision which they had laid up in store.”
This shows how important it is for us to create reserves that we can draw upon in times of need, both temporal and spiritual. The church encourages its members to set aside a food supply and some money in savings for hard times.

Additionally, we need to have spiritual reserves built up for when life becomes difficult, as it always does from time to time. We need to have the faith that can sustain us through trials and tribulations.

In this example, the Nephites didn’t wait until times of trial, to start preparing; rather they proactively saw the need to have reserves in place, well before the siege was laid. Their wisdom in doing so sustains them through this difficult time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thoughts on the Tree of Life

Is the Tree of Life a literal tree with literal fruit or is it figurative? Answer, as with many things in the gospel, there are different layers of meaning that we can reach as we become more in tune with the Spirit. There may very well be deeper levels that I haven’t even begun to contemplate yet.

What do we know about the Tree of Life? “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

(Old Testament Genesis 2:9)

Here we see that the Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden. Was Adam and Eve allowed to partake of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden? Answer, Yes. “And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

(Pearl of Great Price Moses 3:15 - 17)

They were only forbidden to partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Some of the best information we have on the Tree of Life comes from I Nephi 11. Nephi is trying to obtain the interpretation of the dream his father had.

8 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.
9 And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all.
10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou?
11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof—for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.
12 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence.
13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

(Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 11:8 - 21)

In answer to his request to know the interpretation of the Tree of Life, Nephi sees the birth of Christ.

25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

(Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 11:25)

In this verse we see that the fountain of living waters is synonymous with the tree of life. What is the fountain of living water? “13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

(Old Testament Jeremiah 2:13)

13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

(Old Testament Jeremiah 17:13)

The fountain of living water is the Savior. When asking to know the interpretation of the tree of life Nephi sees the birth, life, and crucifixion of Jesus.

Conclusion: At least on one level, the tree of life is Jesus Christ. I could use several more scriptures to support this view, but I think what I have above should suffice.

But, when the angel states, “21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?”

Nephi responds that he does and that the tree is the love of God. Does this conflict with the view that Christ is the tree of life? “16 ¶ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

(New Testament John 3:16)

God’s love is most clearly manifested in offering his Only Begotten Son.

What does the fruit of the tree of life represent? 36 Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God.
(Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 15:36)

7 And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

(Doctrine and Covenants Section 14:7)

If the fruit is the greatest of all the gifts of God, and eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God, then the fruit equals eternal life.

This makes further sense with Christ being the tree of life. Where does eternal life come from? “17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.”

(Book of Mormon Mosiah 3:17)

While Adam and Eve were in the garden they were in the presence of the tree of life, Christ. It was only after the fall that they were cast out of the presence of the tree of life, Christ. What better way to describe being cast out of the presence of the Lord than, “31 So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.”

(Pearl of Great Price Moses 4:28 - 31)

Look at how the Lord describes his visit with the brother of Jared. “13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.”

(Book of Mormon Ether 3:13)

That seems to tie into the above scripture very well for me, i.e. being redeemed from the fall means being able to get past cherubim and a flaming sword to re-enter the presence of the Lord.

If the tree of life is Christ, what is the tree of knowledge of good and evil? “15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
16 Wherefore, 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.
17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.
18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”

(Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:15 - 18)

It seems apparent to me that if the tree of life on some level is Christ, then the tree of knowledge of good and evil on some level is Satan. Let’s think about this for a second. What does Christ bring? Life, both temporal and spiritual. What did partaking of the forbidden fruit bring? Death, both temporal and spiritual.

When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, whose counsel were they following?

How did the fall occur? Warning, I give the following as a possible opinion, I reserve the right to change my mind at any given moment, if I receive better guidance and inspiration. At the moment, I feel this to be more speculative than what I’ve stated above. Your mileage may vary. Also, if you have enlightenment to share on the subject, I would love to hear it.

How do we get to the tree of life? By holding onto the rod of iron that leads us to it. What is the rod of iron?

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

(New Testament Revelation 12:5)

15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

(New Testament Revelation 19:15)

19 And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

(Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 8:19 - 24)

25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

(Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 11:25)

The rod of iron is the word of the Lord. By holding onto it, i.e. listening to Christ’s commandments and following them, we can return to the tree of life.

In the Garden of Eden, whose counsel/commandments were Adam and Eve following when they fell? Who did they choose to follow? Obviously, at the time they didn’t know good from evil, which is why it is a transgression and not a sin.

Satan clearly must’ve thought that now that he had Adam and Eve following his counsel that he had frustrated the plan of God. Isn’t that the way it always goes though? If we dig a pit for others, we usually fall into it ourselves. Could the fall be that simple? i.e. they chose to follow Satan’s word, i.e. rod of something other than iron, and it brought them to him. By choosing to follow him, in ignorance, they were cast out of the Garden and mortality was brought into the world.

Could the fall have happened some other way? “22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

(Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:22 - 25)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Colin's last e-mail from Brazil

Wow what and exciting week! There is so much to write, I hope I can remember it all! Well, I told you all last week that I was called to be a trainer and that I would probably be staying in Imperatriz to train the new elder. We found out Monday night in our zone transfer meeting that it was I and not my companion that would be transferred. It was pretty shocking news but that’s just how things work around here… you never know whats going to happen. I had to pack my bags and say goodbye to everyone Tuesday and I left the bust station at 8 that night.
We got to the chapel in Belem at about 7 on Wednesday morning and I got to see a bunch of old friends from the MTC and other areas. Near the end of the transfer meeting, they finally called my name and announced who I would be training. They then told me I would not be REopening an area like I had thought but actually, I would be OPENING an area here in Belem. That means I will be working in an area and a ward in which nobody has ever worked before…Something that hasn’t been done in years. I was shocked and overwhelmed. I had no idea how I would manage to train AND open a new area.
My new companion’s name is Elder Corob from Rancho Cukamunga California. He speaks Portuguese pretty well and is learning really fast. I am doing my best to teach him by only speaking Portuguese but it is quite a challenge. He speaks a lot of English with me and I have to remember to only speak in the mission language.
Opening an area has proven to be a lot easier than I imagined it to be. The members here are incredible. They have helped so much and are so willing to give us anything we need. I think this is already the best area I have ever served in and I know it will prove to be even better. We started with just about nothing late in the week and just started knocking on doors. By the end of the week, we accomplished our goals of new investigators and other things that normally take a whole week to get. Amazingly, we had 5 investigators at church this week, most of them with a lot of potential to be baptized here soon. I know its going to be a huge responsibility to be the first missionary ever in this area and know it will be a ton of hard work to be able to do well here and set a good pace for the missionaries that come after.
Since our area is new, we don’t even have a house to live in for now. Until we can find one, we have been living in the zone leader’s house which is about 20 minutes by Kombe (VW van) to our area. Every morning when we leave, we have to flag down a van and pay them R$1 to give us a ride to our area and do the same thing returning home at night.
It’s getting close to Christmas so I am way excited to be able to talk to you all. I don’t know if there will be any ciber cafĂ©’s open next Monday but we will try to find one. If we cant find one, I will call you all to confirm the time I will call. Im pretty sure it should be in the morning but Ill have to wait till next week to be sure. Well my time is up, I hope you enjoy the pictures. Love you tons!
Elder Childs

Friday, December 21, 2007

3 Nephi 3:5-10

5 Therefore I have written this epistle, sealing it with mine own hand, feeling for your welfare, because of your firmness in that which ye believe to be right, and your noble spirit in the field of battle.
6 Therefore I write unto you, desiring that ye would yield up unto this my people, your cities, your lands, and your possessions, rather than that they should visit you with the sword and that destruction should come upon you.
7 Or in other words, yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us—not our slaves, but our brethren and partners of all our substance.
8 And behold, I swear unto you, if ye will do this, with an oath, ye shall not be destroyed; but if ye will not do this, I swear unto you with an oath, that on the morrow month I will command that my armies shall come down against you, and they shall not stay their hand and shall spare not, but shall slay you, and shall let fall the sword upon you even until ye shall become extinct.
9 And behold, I am Giddianhi; and I am the governor of this the secret society of Gadianton; which society and the works thereof I know to be good; and they are of ancient date and they have been handed down unto us.
10 And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.

My comments:
Giddianhi states in his letter that he is concerned for the welfare of those that do not belong to his band of robbers and murderers. In essence, he states that he and his followers are righteous, while those that do not support his wicked lifestyle are corrupt. He furthers his evil plans by telling the governor of the Nephites, that if the Nephites surrender themselves and their land, that they will be allowed to live.
Life is an important gift. Giddianhi offers what he considers to be most important, the right to continue living. However, he is misguided in his thoughts. What life is there if you are not following Christ? He is the way, the truth, and the life. Were the Nephites to be more concerned for their physical safety, than their spiritual life, they could be led astray here.
As stated in the Pearl of Great Price, “This is My work and My glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Anything that goes against that basic premise, threatens to ruin lives. Christ is the tree of life; we come to him and live. Giddianhi is following that same person that enticed Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit, the consequences of which were to invite death into this life.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Poem

Heavenly chorus praising,
God smiles glancing from on high.
Shepherds watching down below,
as a star lights up the sky.

Lying still in a manger,
see the newborn Prince of Peace.
Makes the lambs and kings wonder,
now, will the wickedness cease?

Rise tall City of David,
just born of a humble birth,
Lord of Lords, and King of Kings;
the Savior of the earth.

He'll descend below us all,
to escort us up above;
beckoning to us His call,
with unconditional love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 Nephi 3:1 - 4

1 AND now it came to pass that in the *sixteenth year from the coming of Christ, Lachoneus, the governor of the land, received an epistle from the leader and the governor of this band of robbers; and these were the words which were written, saying:
2 Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so.
3 And it seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that ye should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against so many brave men who are at my command, who do now at this time stand in their arms, and do await with great anxiety for the word—Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them.
4 And I, knowing of their unconquerable spirit, having proved them in the field of battle, and knowing of their everlasting hatred towards you because of the many wrongs which ye have done unto them, therefore if they should come down against you they would visit you with utter destruction.

(Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 3:1 - 4)

The governor of the Nephites receives a threatening letter from the leader of the robbers, rehashing the supposed wrongs and injustices inflicted on the robbers by the Nephites. In my own life, I have unfortunately witnessed several instances where wicked people have accused others with the very things that they themselves are guilty of.
The robbers state that if they wanted to, and that most of them do, they could easily slaughter the Nephites.
This letter reminds me somewhat of the threats of violence made by terrorists against America and her allies. According to the experts, they feel a need to warn the U.S. that unless it changes its policies and acts the way that they want us to, that they will have no choice but to inflict harm on us.
As a society, we need to prepare the way that they Nephites did, and as an individual, the fight against sin is always raging, and needs to be fought through inner spirituality.


I am currently reading and writing my thoughts on the Book of Mormon. There has been increased interest lately in knowing more about what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) believe. I need to preface my blog with, I am not an authority of the church. I am merely one of its members trying to learn more about my Savior and trying to draw closer to Him. My writings are my own thoughts, and do not necessarily represent the thoughts of the LDS church.

Please feel free to add any comments you like to my posts.