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January 18, 2016

Straight Out of The Rez – New School, New Friends, New Life

When I was 9 years old, my mom and I moved to Utah to live with Grandma Ellen. She was the mother of my mom’s foster mom when she was in the LDS Indian Student Placement program.

The day before I started 5th grade at my new school I remember asking my mom and Grandma Ellen what clothes would be appropriate to wear on the first day of school. I wasn’t sure if the dress code would be different from the schools I attended on the Reservation (Rez).

Grandma Ellen suggested that I wear something a little dressier than jeans. I didn’t have any clothing that was “dressy” so Grandma Ellen found a pantsuit that she thought would be perfect.

The first day of school arrived. I put on the light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side. I walked to school since it was just one block down the street.

As I approached the school I saw other children arriving who were ALL WEARING JEANS! The closer I got to the school the more anxious, embarrassed, and mortified I became. I just wanted to run home and hide. Just as I had thoughts to turn around my friend Mindi saw me and ran towards me. (A few days after moving in to my new home, my neighbor Mindi came over to introduce herself. We developed a quick friendship). That morning she said nothing of my attire or how different I looked. She only invited me to join her friends who were playing a game in the school playground. Mindi introduced me to her group of friends and told them how cool I was because I was a real American Indian who had lived on the Indian reservation. Throughout the entire day none of the school children made fun of my clothes, strange accent, or just how different I looked from everyone else.

Shortly after starting school my mom and I started receiving discussions about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the LDS (Mormon) missionaries. I enjoyed learning about the plan of happiness. But there were times I wanted to be playing outside with my new friends from school rather than sit in an hour long discussion with adults. One day I decided to ditch my gospel discussion and stay after school to play with my friends. One of them asked me why I wasn’t at my appointment with the missionaries. I told them I didn’t want to go. This group of friends told me that it was very important to attend these appointments with the missionaries. They then walked with me back to my house to listen to the missionaries’ lesson. To this day I don’t remember what gospel lesson I received that day. All I remember is how these friends made me feel LOVED.

After receiving all of the gospel lessons, I felt what I was taught was true doctrine and I decided to get baptized and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My mother made the same decision too. Our baptismal date was January 2nd. In attendance were my mom, Grandma Ellen and her family, church members, the missionaries, and my friends; the same friends who had extended a hand of friendship on the first day of school.

That afternoon after my baptism, I remember playing outside in the snow with my friend Mindi. At one point she said to me, “Today you made one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life”.  It’s been over 30 years since that day and my memories of those friends, who made such a huge impact in my life, are an eternal  treasure. I am deeply grateful for their kindness, their love, and their friendship. What I thought would be one of the worst days of my life wearing a light blue, polyester pantsuit with yellow flowers on the side turned out to be one of the best days of my life. So many other “best” days have followed, all because some 9 year-olds chose to fellowship instead of shun, to lift instead of belittle, to encourage instead of bully, to love instead of hate. They were simply doing what Jesus would do – love one another. Their gift of friendship played an important supportive role in my accepting the precious gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that God is our eternal Heavenly Father. I know that God sent his only Begotten Son because He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He loves me. He rescues me. He heals me. He can do the same for you.


August 23, 2014

What is a Mormon Baptism? from a 13 year old

Filed under: Baptism,Mormon Baptism,What is baptism? — Ryan Best @ 9:56 pm

        My name is Leslie Robins.  I am 13 and I would like to share some things I have learned about baptism, the covenants we make with our Father in Heaven when we are baptized and how to keep those covenants every day.  Baptism is the first saving ordinance of the Gospel. Or in other words the first step on the path to Eternal Life with our Father in Heaven.

  When we are baptized, we enter into a covenant, which is a two way promise with God.

We promise that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.  In “True to the Faith” by President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, “When you take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you see yourself as His.  You put him and his work first in your life.  You seek what he wants, rather than what you want, or what the world teaches you to want. “   The first sentence in this paragraph says, “You see yourself as His.”  To me this is saying that we need to remember that we are children of God, and remember our Father in Heaven, and remember that he loves all of His children.  We treat ourselves and others with deep respect and kindness.

The second sentence says, “You put Him and His work first in your life.” To me this means serving others, being a missionary wherever you are, thinking about what Christ would do when you make a decision, and not putting others things ahead of doing His work.

The last sentence says, “You seek what He wants, rather than what you want, rather than what the world teaches you to want.”  This means keeping ourselves worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us.  This also means looking past what the world teaches us to want and remember that when we leave this life, we won’t be able to take money, fame, and other worldly things with us.  But we will take our knowledge with us.

We also covenant to keep the commandments.  In a talk called, “The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom, and of the Kingdom,” Elder Robert D. Hales counsels us on how to keep this covenant. He says,“ By choosing to be in the kingdom, we separate-not isolate- ourselves from the world. Our dress will be modest, our thoughts pure, our language clean.  The movies and television we watch, the music we listen to, the books, magazines, and newspapers we read will be uplifting.  We choose friends who encourage our eternal goals, and we will treat others with kindness.  We will shun the vices of immorality, gambling, tobacco, liquor, and illicit drugs.  Our Sunday activities will reflect the commandment of God to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. We will follow the example of Jesus Christ in the way we treat others.  We will live to be worthy to enter the house of the Lord.”  I like that quote because Elder Hales gives us very clear instructions on how to keep this covenant on a daily basis.

The last promise we make is to serve the Lord.  A well-loved scripture says, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17)   In order to keep this promise, we need to serve others.

Alma taught that we should be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”  There are many ways to serve others sometimes someone may be in need of a bigger act of service, but sometimes an act of service can be something very simple.  Just being a friend to someone is a way of keeping this commandment.  When we bear each-others burdens and mourn with one another that eases pain and makes us think of others more than ourselves.  The perfect example of service is Christ.  Throughout his whole life, he was serving his fellow men.  Jesus Christ also knows every sorrow and every pain, physical and emotional.  By serving as He did we learn to feel the kind of compassion and love He has for us and others.

When we make these baptismal covenants with our Father in Heaven, He in return covenants with us that He will always allow us the companionship of the Holy Ghost, that we will receive remission of our sins and be able to live with Him again.

So how do we keep these covenants today?  In a talk called, “The Power, Joy and Love of Covenant Keeping,” Sister Linda K. Burton said that we can keep our covenants by, “always remembering the Savior and always keeping Him commandments, which includes keeping His Sabbath Day holy.  We do it by always remembering Him as we have our personal and family prayers, daily scripture study and Family Home Evening.”  When seek to know more about Christ I am drawn closer to Him and feel the love of my Father in Heaven, the Atoning power of my Savior Jesus Christ and the constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

Partaking the sacrament each week in Sacrament meeting is a way to renew these baptismal covenants.  Since we cannot be perfect every day, I am so thankful there is a way to still be cleansed of my sins each week.  When I fully repent and then take the sacrament I am as clean as I was the day I was baptized.  When we take the sacrament we are witnessing to our Heavenly Father that we will always remember the sacrifice of His son not just during the sacrament but always.  Another quote from Sister Burton says, “Keeping covenants is essential for true happiness.”

And I know that keeping our covenants will bring us true happiness in this life and in the life to come.

This is me on my baptism day with my dad, Mark.

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