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July 21, 2016

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

In 2013 I was reacquainted with my cousin Sindy. We are only a year apart in age and had been close as children, but because of extended family dynamics we didn’t see one another for several years. We both married, had children, lived in San Jose, California and led our own lives… even though we lived only miles apart.

I contacted Sindy when I found out she had stage 4 brain cancer. I was devastated for her, her husband and her 4 children. What do you say to someone you haven’t spoken to in 40 plus years…especially when you know they are going to die?

Well it was much easier than I thought. We just started where we left off years earlier. I could tell Sindy’s perspective on life was very different now. She wasn’t raised in a religious family and really had no need of church and God. But now she was hungering and thirsting for answers. The difficult part was that many of her friends from various religions were trying to “save her soul”. They wanted her to go to their church or have her repeat certain phrases so she could be assured that she would go to heaven. I knew I had to be careful and let the Spirit guide me in sharing the gospel with her.

I sent her a Book of Mormon with my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ written inside. I also wrote her a letter assuring her that I knew her soul was just fine and that Heavenly Father was very aware of her and loved her unconditionally. That opened doors to further conversation about the church. I knew the Lord was leading me along this path. I was able to feel His extreme love for her.

One day as she struggled with the effects of chemo, losing her abilities, and hopelessness I asked if she would like a blessing of comfort. I explained what that entailed and she agreed. I asked a former bishop, Steve, in my San Jose ward to visit her and give her a priesthood blessing. Steve is a great man with a solid testimony and is always looking for a good missionary experience. I went to the temple the day before I knew she would be getting the priesthood blessing and our family fasted on Sunday for both Sindy and Steve.

Sindy and Steve formed an instant friendship. It’s as if these two had been friends before. Steve and his companion stayed several hours at Sindy’s home getting to know her, talking about the gospel, and answering Sindy’s many questions. As far as Sindy was concerned Steve “walked on water”. She was so comforted by his presence and his blessing. He explained many truths to her that day, all of which rang true to her.

I thought this would only be a one- time meeting, but Steve stayed in contact with Sindy and reached out to her family (who weren’t interested in the gospel at all). He became a friend to them and was there at Sindy’s side the night before she passed away.

I knew I wanted to do Sindy’s temple work, but couldn’t quite find the words to say to her. Finally Steve gave me the courage to ask. She was delighted, humbled, and felt very unworthy of this blessing. She knew she hadn’t gone to church in her life and felt undeserving. As both Steve and I taught her about “the plan of salvation”, she really began to understand the Savior’s love for her and for all His children. We sent her a paper to sign giving us permission to do her work in the temple. At this point she was so weak she could barely sign her name. But it was good enough. She would remind me quite often that I had agreed to do her temple work. She didn’t want me to forget. It was obvious that it was foremost on her mind.

Sindy passed away February 1, 2015. A year and 3 days later we were at the Mt. Timpanogos temple. My daughter, Kellie, acting as proxy was baptized in behalf of Sindy. What a spiritual feast that was! We went on to do the rest of her ordinance work by proxy and I know that Sindy was there with us.

I learned so many things during this journey. I surprised myself with my reluctance to share the gospel that I love dearly. I’m a convert after all! Where would I be without my friend who had the courage to open her mouth and love me enough to share what she held most sacred and dear? I had forgotten about that special missionary spirit – that special feeling the Lord blesses us with when we share the gospel with others.  I had forgotten that we are the Lord’s hands and voices. If we don’t act and speak, who will? I had forgotten that there are so many who are searching for truth. Would we deny ourselves and others of this great gift?

One of my favorite scriptures is in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”

Sindy and I are forever reunited. We have an eternal relationship that will never end. She is in the spirit world teaching the gospel (very enthusiastically, I’m sure) to our family. I am here trying to gain a relationship with her family so they too can have the blessing of the gospel in their lives.

What’s not to love about this gospel!


February 26, 2016

Lead Into Gold

Filed under: alchemist,Atonement,Book of Mormon,Christ,gang,God,gold,inmate,kintsugi — admin @ 4:41 am

Over two years ago, I sent a Book of Mormon to an inmate who belonged to a gang when he was arrested.  That book completely changed his life.  Recently, I received a letter from him that included the following:

“There’s a style of Asian art [kintsugi] where the artist fixes a broken bowl or a broken flower pot with gold.  So instead of glue or some other adhesive, the artist uses gold to put the pieces back in place.  This creates something beautiful because every crack, chip, and jagged edge is now golden.

“In my broken places, God has given me gold.  That’s how the Atonement fixed me up.  So when I say ‘God has turned my mess into a message’ I’m sincere because, really, I’m a new man in Christ.”

I love that analogy, because I think of God and Jesus as alchemists, turning our lead into gold.  In fact, I see the Atonement as not so much repairing the broken places, but as creating a whole new pot or bowl.  I mentioned this to my friend and he agreed.  Eventually, that pot or bowl—you, me—can become gold.

Dave Trottier

May 28, 2015

Youth Mini-Mission Message: God Answers

Filed under: God,Prayer — admin @ 2:06 am
The past week I have been struggling with everything, including the gospel.  So last night I got down on my knees and asked for help and strength.  I then asked to re-affirm and feel it again, if this was the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  Immediately  a thought popped into my mind and said, “You already know.”  I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and if we ever have a question and we ask God with a sincere heart, he will answer.  I testify of that. 

April 21, 2015

What Does God Look Like?

Filed under: First Vision,God,Heavenly Father,Jesus,Joseph Smith,religion — admin @ 3:08 am

I was born and raised in Southern California.  Growing up as a child my family was not associated with any church or religion.  My father, however, was raised in a religious home but did not carry on that tradition after he married my mother.  They were good and honorable people who worked hard and loved their children.  My parents were a “perfect match” for each other and enjoyed the blessings of an exceptional marriage, but practicing a particular religion was not a part of their lives. 
I, on the other hand, had friends who “went to church”, so I “heard” about God from them.  Often, as a young girl, I would lie on the green grass in our front yard looking up into the sky wondering to myself, “If I looked really hard in the sky, would I be able to see God”?  Then I would ask myself, “I wonder if His face will appear in a cloud, or will He be standing on a cloud?”  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I always thought in my mind that God would be in the image of a man.    
Over the course of my childhood, I attended a few churches of various denominations – none regularly.  Sometimes I went alone but mostly I went with girlfriends.  I don’t remember looking for any particular “doctrine”; I was simply drawn to “going to church”, and finding out what God looked like. 
Years flew by and soon I found myself graduating from high school in 1956.  I had a best friend who was a Mormon, and she was planning to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  She and I decided that it would be fun to be roommates, so, I asked my parents if I could attend BYU with my friend.  They replied that if I could save enough money, I could go.  I worked and save all during my senior year and the summer before I was to leave.  Finally, I had saved a whopping $500.  I could go!    
It was there at Brigham Young University that the Joseph Smith story sank deep into my heart.  When I heard that Joseph Smith, at the tender age of 14, actually saw a vision of the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, as two separate and distinct personages in the form of a man – my youthful questions were answered!  I knew without any doubt that this was right.  There was a special feeling that came into my heart that told me that this doctrine was true.  We were created in His image, so why would He look any different – except that he is an “exalted man”, and therefore, has a “glorified” image.  It is in Joseph Smith’s testimony that I learned of our relationship to our Heavenly Father and to His Son Jesus Christ.  He is the Father of our spirits, and Jesus Christ is His perfect and only begotten Son in the flesh.  Jesus came to earth to teach us how to live, and to redeem us from our sins through his infinite Atonement.  We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  Though we are eons away from perfection, we can become like Him — that is Heavenly Father’s promise to His children.  
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormons”) was restored to the earth in this last dispensation of time – as prophesied by ancient prophets – through the latter-day prophet Joseph Smith.  He was visited by Heavenly beings and given keys of the Priesthood in order to establish the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful to know where I came from, why I am here on Earth, and where I am going after I die.

April 6, 2015

Heavenly Mathematics and its Effect on the Mortal Condition

Filed under: God,mathematics,obedience,righteousness — admin @ 11:05 am

In this world, too many seem to get caught up with temporal mathematics in describing and formulating how to address many of the temporal conditions we find ourselves in. In so doing, they rely on supposition and theory as to what the problem is, then go on to create mathematical or computer models to come up with viable solutions.

Too often, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, as so much of the approach to the issue is centered on different and competing objectives or desired outcomes. Some honestly seek truth and have a deep desire to improve the human condition, while others may seek to enrich themselves by riding the wave of popular consensus for their own power, popularity, and gain.

I have watched in wonder, for example, the debate on global warming, who or what is responsible and how to address it, assuming that it is a bad thing or that it bodes ill for humanity. The conflicting views are not always debated with the intent to seek truth, but to either gain some advantage or to seek to control the habits of others.

Too often, those who oppose the theory, in vogue at the time, are seen as heretics of a sort and their points of view are, therefore, dismissed out of hand, without serious consideration. Labels are thrown around such as global warming fanatics, or deniers, depending on which side of the issue one is on.

In all of this confusion and uproar, I wonder why so few have attempted to apply heavenly mathematics to address issues of concern about the mortal condition we find ourselves in?

We know that temporal mathematics, when appropriately applied, can help us to discover truth and help us arrive at solutions, which are true and accurate. Temporal mathematics, however, does have what are called unknown factors. Frequently, we label these as “X”. Some problems elude solution because we do not know enough about the unknown factors.

Here is where heavenly mathematics comes to the rescue, for this is a more exact science and it is, as Elder Maxwell states, “things as they really are.”

Take for example the issue of global climate change, considered to bode ill for humanity. The Lord has by direct revelation and commentary told us how to adjust the environment and climate for our good, thus mitigating any hazardous effects we may face.

The Lord states in Malachi 3:10-11 (and repeated in 3 Nephi 24:10-11) “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for you sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” This sounds like a conditional blessing that will provide ample agricultural production.

In 2 Nephi 1:9 (and reiterated in Jarom, Mosiah, and Alma) the Lord states: “And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of the land…and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and shall dwell safely forever.” This sounds like a solution to terrorists and other calamities we currently face.

We have some real life examples in the scriptures of this promise, but none greater than that found in 4 Nephi 1:23 …”and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.”

During this approximate 200-year era in Nephite history, the people multiplied, prospered and had such abundance beyond compare, but more important is that they did “have no poor among them” and they did  “deal justly one with other” and “there could not have been a happier people upon the face of the earth”.

We are also told in the scriptures that “the whole earth groans under the weight of iniquity” and immorality of mankind. Perhaps this is a greater contributor to adverse climate conditions than we suppose. In fact, there are countless examples of how the earth and its climate are directly impacted by how we live our lives.

One could go on and on with example after example of how well heavenly mathematics solves our greatest problems, subdues the earth, tempers the climate and is made conducive to our well being and happiness, but even in heavenly mathematics there is an “unknown factor”.

The unknown factor, which is not unknown to God, for “He knows all things” but is sometimes unknown to us, is what we will choose and how we will decide to live our lives each and every day.

It is an eternal principle that when we behave, as God would have us behave and live as we have been counseled, we will be blessed. When we seek to obey some other voice, we will not do as well, will be “left to ourselves” and place ourselves at the mercy of the effects of broken eternal laws.

In both temporal and heavenly mathematics there are, however, some constants, which never vary.

The constant in heavenly mathematics is that our well being and that of those we live among, is directly proportional to our degree of obedience to heavenly laws and our righteousness.

So, what should our goal be, how can we best assist the human condition? I believe the answer lies in the account of Abraham and the Lord, debating the future of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In the Genesis account, we find Abraham asking “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” He and the Lord then go on to whittle down the number of righteous that it will take to tip the scales in favor of sparing the cities. They go from “per adventure there be 50” all the way down to 10 where the Lord states that “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.”

Like the leaven in one of the Lord’s parables, and the salt that has not lost its savor, I would submit that if we do all we can to follow the Lord, follow his example and his counsel, we would contribute to the welfare of all. In so doing, It just may be that our contribution will help to increase the number of those that  are needed to “per adventure” there be sufficient in the city, enough to spare the population from the ill effects of our environment or any other calamity.

Ron Forstner

March 29, 2015

Youth Mini-Mission Message: Courage

Filed under: courage,family,God,Heavenly Father,Jesus,miracles — admin @ 1:04 am

I have never witnessed a miracle such as those surrounding Lazarus at Jesus’ side. I have never stood in wonder and amazement before God or angels as did Joseph Smith.  But I know through small and simple things great things come to pass.  
I have seen miracles in my life. They may not be big to some, but they mean everything to me.  I’ve seen God place people in my life and in my family’s life.  
My sister unknowingly married a terrible, abusive man.  Her once innocent countenance turned cold and her attitude to her loving family grew distrusting.  Through seven hard years alone my sister endured, until one man reminded her how much her family loved her and regardless of what she had done, they would love her.  
Within that year she came back.  She had the courage to leave, to be in a better place, to come home. 
C.H. 10th Ward youth member (blog post submitted by anonymous)

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