Sunday, November 29, 2015

11-30-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We had some wonderful experiences in the mission last week. We always love gathering the mission and seeing all of our missionaries! Of course it was an amazing privilege to be taught by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Sister Blickenstaff and I were also blessed to attend Elder Gathright’s family sealing, officiated by Elder Stevenson. Yesterday we attended a great district conference in Jiayi, where 10 MP holders were sustained, reaching the number needed to establish a stake! Thank you so much for your fasting and prayers! We heard once more from Elder and Sister Stevenson. To coin a phrase from Oliver Cowdery, “These [are] days never to be forgotten” (JSH 1: 71, footnote).

Although it was a busy week, I was grateful that I took the time in my personal study to review some of the talks from our recent general conference, taking several pages of notes. I was looking for teachings that are particularly relevant to missionaries and missionary work. For example, I was encouraged by President Uchtdorf’s teaching, “God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 23).  This reminds me of the Lord’s statement to Joseph Smith, “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:34).

Elder Richard J. Maynes used the analogy of students attempting to make a pottery bowl for the first time to teach us the importance of having Christ at the center of our lives. He said, “If our lives are centered in Jesus Christ, He can successfully mold us into who we need to be in order to return to His and Heavenly Father’s presence in the celestial kingdom. The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 28).

Many of you mentioned in your weekly emails how much you enjoyed Elder Larry R. Lawrence’s admonition for each of us to ask the Lord in sincere prayer, “What lack I yet?” We can receive direct and straightforward inspiration on how to improve. He also taught, “When we read our patriarchal blessings, we are reminded that our Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward. To Him, our direction is ever more important than our speed” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 35).

Think about how your mission is a time of preparation in light of Elder Robert D. Hales’ counsel, “Your responsibility now is to be worthy of the person you want to marry. If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 46). And this timeless advice from Elder Dalin H. Oaks, “The healing and strengthening power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is for all of us who will ask” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 64). As well as from President Monson, “When we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear, and we will receive His promised blessings” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 83).

How blessed we are to have prophets, apostles and other Church leaders to give us inspired counsel and direction, tailored to our needs and our circumstances. How crucial it is to have eyes that see and ears that hear. It is my hope that we will study these teachings and use them to improve ourselves and to help others more fully come unto Christ.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

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