Yesterday was so filled with the Spirit, I will write you some of my notes I took at ward conference, then I will talk about Norman's baptism. Just know that I thought about my family a lot yesterday and wanted to share the incredible knowledge I gained. I promise you this is all worth reading.
Bishop Oyler- He sees many come into his office, and they are struggling. It's never about if Thomas S. Monson is really a prophet, or if this is really Christ's true church. The question is always does God exist. They say they want to believe, or maybe even believe like they used to. It is normal and ok to question and doubt! It causes us to reflect on spiritual experiences that have built our testimonies. Bishop said he never felt huge spiritual experiences reading his scriptures.For him it has come through serving other people, whether at their homes or yards or coming out of his bishop's office in tears. He says those are times when he feels God exists, because that is when God's love is manifested. He said there was a time in his life when he wanted to know if he had truly repented, not because he doubted but because he honestly wanted to know. He read in Luke (I didn't catch the exact reference, it may have been 22:32) and realized it was when we have a desire to serve other people that we have truly repented. That is when the Atonement works.He has never seen God or Jesus Christ, but he believes and wants to believe they are there and live.
It might seem a strange thing to say its ok to question, but then the stake presidency speaker really elaborated on it, this was my favorite talk from the day-
President Stewart- James 1:5 says...that giveth to ALL men...Moroni 10:4 says...he WILL make it manifest unto you...We can still have faith, even if we are not sure.If we had a perfect knowledge, then faith would be dormant. Alma 32 :12 (the theme of the day) helps us to understand that we may never get out of the lacking perfect knowlege stage. The gospel of Jesus Christ is faith, repentance, baptism, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end- no where in there does it say have a perfect knowlege, in fact it asks for faith which is to NOT have a perfect knowlege.Sometimes our life trial may be that we never do get a sure witness throughout our life (later I learned of a story shared in priesthood how one man served 3 missions and said he never felt he got an answer if Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he had faith anyways). Alma 32 has three references to patience, and 0 about instant gratification!
He says he is a believer because he doesn't want uncertainty to crowd over the things that are important. He gave an example of his daughter after she got engaged. She called almost every day and kept freaking out to her parents if she was doing the right thing, how can she know for sure he is the one, etc. He said he got tired of it one day and said then dump him, and she said what?!, and he asked if she loved him. She said yes, and he said than you have to be willing to take a leap of faith, or else you might miss out on the greatest things in life. When Christ asked Peter if he would leave him, Peter says "to whom shall I go? Thou hast the answers for eternal life"- we have to be willing to trust the Lord and lean not unto our own understanding. (I was reminded of the phrase "God can't drive a parked car.")
He said he was a believer because of Alma 32, because of King Benjamin, because of Lehi's dream, Luke 15, Luke 24, and Alma at the waters of Mormon. There are powerful accounts all in the scriptures of the Lord's work. His life has been changed for the better because he has chosen to be faithful. Have the faith and the willingness in life to say "it's God".
Wow! I loved it! I have been working with families who are struggling, and it really is doubt crowding over their faith. While its normal to question, we should come out stronger not break apart. We get scared, and fear is the opposite of faith, when we don't know what will happen to us- but he does. Trusting in Him in key to conversion. We have to realize we are all His, everything around us is His, including our time,the only thing we can truly give Him is our will. Our gift of free agency allows us to choose to keep His commandments, but I feel there are definitely levels of keeping the commandments. We do it because we are told its good for us, and then its because you love the Lord. I know as we seek to know if He is even there, we will feel He is, whether that be through the scriptures, prayer, or service to others, and that we will feel He is truly our loving Father in Heaven.
Instead of teaching the Restoration during the intermission, we shared testimonies. My companion and I shared ours. I have not felt that moved at any of our baptisms yet. I felt the Spirit stirring inside me as Norman went down into the water and came up new. I had seen such change in him, more humility and trust in the Lord that he was ready. I had seen how emotional his wife got, and how much I KNOW this will bless their family. I know that God loves us and He sent His son Jesus Christ to atone for us so we can all change, repent, and enter the waters of baptism.
I want to hear all of your testimonies or why you believe/have faith this week.
Please write me at my permanent address:
Sister Laurel Martin
California Oakland/San Francisco Mission
4945 Lincoln Way
Oakland, CA 94602
I love you.
picture 1: our korean kids! sally and louis. my comp and I are really dressed up because we also had interviews with President Meredith that day
picture 2: I ran into Alyssa Madsen from Bay City at the Visitor's Center. my eyes are kind of closed
picture 3:Norman's baptism