Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kirstin’s letters:

December 11
This week is transfers – both I and my companion are going to new areas. It was really hard to say goodbye to the members of the Stevenson Ranch ward; they are so amazing. I am in Canyon Country and my new companion is Sister Young; she is waiting for her visa for Brazil. The area and apartment remind me of Chatsworth even though it is different. The people here seem pretty great; the ward is more on the missionary minded side which is great! We also have a lot of older people in the ward and there are more less actives, so we have a lot of work that we can do. So far we have already met a few potentials as well as a new investigator. Our new investigator is Freda – she is from the south and has a thick accent but she is really cool and is absorbing the lessons and enjoys them.
One thing that happened at transfers was Sister Myler and her neice, Kelsey Sherry (soccer player for the local college), came and the spirit was really strong. Hopefully she will be ready to take the lessons soon! She is so sweet and it would be wonderful if she could be baptized.
My new area is in the mountains more so there is a bit more wind and it is freezing! It rarely gets above 60° and the low so far has been 34°! California isn’t supposed to get this cold. I am already wearing jacket/coat layers because it is just way too cold for me! We had our ward Christmas party this week and it was really great. We got to meet a lot of people in the ward. My companion, I and the elders led the ward in singing some songs and I realized that I was singing the loudest because many weren’t singing much – what a way to introduce myself to the ward.

December 18
There was a lot of variety that happened this week. Monday we got to play soccer with our zone and that was super fun, but it was really cold. My team won though. On Tuesday we had zone conference and it was so amazing – I took about 13 pages of notes because of how cool and energizing it was. Our motto for 2014 is: “A culture of high expectations.” A lot has been changing in the way we do missionary work in our mission, but it has really been emphasized that our purpose is to baptize and because of that strong focus, we have been changing the way we work so that we can baptize more.
Later in the week we went on exchanges. I joined Sister Naylor and we found a new investigator. Her name is Rosemary and it was such an amazing door contact – we just knocked and we started telling her who we were and we shared with her how much our Heavenly Father loves her and she started crying. She told us that she was just barely sitting at her table praying and then we showed up. She felt that it was a sign from God and she let us in and we talked with her and prayed with her; it was so incredible! I know that the Lord is preparing His children and that he works through us, His weak and simple servants to find His children and bring them back to His family. It is just amazing to feel the Holy Ghost testifying through you to the hearts of our brothers and sisters. I know it’s not because of me that people choose to follow Christ, it is because of the Spirit that has the power to seal the testimony of Christ upon the hearts of His wandering sheep. I was definitely a huge miracle to find Rosemary!
We also met with a sister that has met with several missionaries but has not made any progress. She sees us as friends more than teachers of the gospel and is not really receiving what the Spirit has to teach. We may have to drop her which is really sad. We found two more investigators through a referral. They are a Fijian couple and we ended up teaching them the entire first lesson. It was kind of hard to know if they understood it all or not because there might be a bit of a language barrier. Hopefully when we meet with them next we can get a better feel for what we need to do with them so that they can progress towards baptism. I also have to work hard at pronouncing their names.

December 24
This week has been absolutely crazy! First we met an Egyptian Christian orthodox couple when we knocked on their door. They let us in (which is rare) and we thought that we would be able to share the Restoration with them; but we were wrong. They ended up just being Bible bashers saying that Mormon wasn’t a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is evil. We were just as polite as possible and by the end of the visit they were nicer and they said that maybe they would come to our church to see what it is like. We’ll see what happens. It was really a great experience for me (my companion had a harder time with it) because while they were talking I just had the impression that they are Father’s children and He still loves them regardless of how they are now. He still loves and cares for them and they are my brother and sister, so you just have to be happy around them and let them find their way on their own. These kind of experiences also really strengthens my testimony that this church is true because the only reason why people fight against the church is because it must be true; it either is or it isn’t there is no gray area. Think about other religions, others don’t fight against them nearly as much as they do the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The reason why people fight so hard is because it’s true, whether they understand the reasons for them fighting it or not; this church is true! I’ve had my share of Bible bashers, but this one definitely stands out more for what I felt while we were talking with them.
On a lighter and happier note, we got to go to the temple this week. It was so incredible to be there around Christmas time and the Spirit was so strong! At one point while we were going through I had a line from a hymn pop into my head and the song was #131, ‘More Holiness Give Me’. The phrase was “More longing for home” meaning our heavenly home with our Heavenly Father and how wonderful that will be when the day comes! I got to see most of the other missionaries and few members from my previous areas and wards. We took some pictures at the temple and then the member that brought us took us to In-N-Out for a meal and then afterwards we worked the rest of the day – it was great!
This week we met with Savitri Devi (Fijian wife), her husband was not there this time. We gave the lesson with some very basic words to help her understand. We also got her a Hindi Book of Mormon so that she can understand it more. We are going to try to go back again soon and we might have someone in our ward that speaks Hindi which should help.
We visited our ‘eternigator’ (forever investigator) and she surprised us by feeding us and then an hour and a half later we went to our regular scheduled dinner with an English lady and listened to fun stories from England. I was beyond full! We also found another investigator, Rosia, and she seems interested but is very soft spoken and very quiet. She has two boys ages 3 and 5 months. We will meet with her more after the holidays.
Later that night we went with our district to do caroling – the street had a lot of houses really decorated with lights and then there was one house that was not lit so we sang carols at the house for a while. We also handed out a ton of pass-along cards and everyone was so happy. It’s crazy how busy this season is as a missionary; we knock on tons of doors and a lot of people don’t answer and yet we still find a way to talk with people and be busy.
The members here are really spoiling us – they give us so much food. We have been given chocolate, a pie, and groceries to last us until February. It’s nice and we love the members, it’s just a little too much for just two girls to eat on their own. It’s fun though, we just laugh at how much weight we are going to gain this season and how our New Year’s resolution will be to get it all off!
On Monday we had a zone activity – a white elephant gift exchange and it was so much fun! I ended up with a giant candy cane (I have no idea what I am going to do with it) and mistletoe – that’s really not useful on the mission, but it was still super funny!

May you all have a great and wonderful Christmas.

Love Sister Reese

Sunday, 8 December 2013

November 26, 2013
On Wednesday we had interviews with the president. Our mission president is so amazing; he is inspired to help lead and guide the mission towards bigger, better, and greater things. We then moved on Thursday to our new apartment. The move wasn’t too bad, my companion and I moved as much as we could on our own and the things that couldn’t fit in the car we loaded into the trailer. One of the senior missionaries, Elder Jeppson, drove the truck with the trailer and we moved in and got everything set up. We even have a small garage so we have a little more room to store things.
Oscar is still trying to get an appointment to be interviewed for his temple recommend, but he lost his aunt this week which was hard on him because he was really close to her. He seems to be doing okay and even looked happy on Sunday at church. We are still working on ideas on how to work with members and so we started sharing the story of Cornelius (Acts 10) – think of Peter as the missionary and Cornelius as the nonmember and the angel as the member. It worked and we had a family refer us to their friend.
It has been very rainy and cloudy which means that it has been cold. I have been bundling up but it is still pretty cold. I got to hold a real Emmy Award;
one of our members is a sound producer on some really big shows and he has won three awards and he actually told us to hold them so he could get a picture and send it home. It was pretty cool! I saw six robbers in our apartment complex Sunday night! They were very stealthy; one came out, checked the surroundings then moved to another corner and another came out. They were really organized and fairly quiet. I was the only one that saw them because my companion had gone to bed early and I went out on the balcony for a moment and saw them. The robbers had their traditional masks that never move because they are raccoons! That was really interesting to see 6 raccoons sneaking around and digging through the trash.
We had a great p-day – it started by us setting up a prank on the elders in our complex and ward. We took them on an adventure by having them follow clues to 5 spots where they did different activities and we covered their door with balloons
. When they finished, we had a water balloon fight.
We won. The elders told us that we had better watch our backs because the war is on!
Well that is about all for now.
Sister Reese

December 3, 2013
This week we were able to get a lot more done; first, we met with Murlin (a less active member of 40+ years) with a member and it was a pretty good lesson and Murlin was happy. We taught the plan of salvation and it helped him out a lot to understand more of the eternal perspective and where he is now and where he can be. We also had exchanges so I stayed in Stevenson Ranch and another sister came up while Sister Lind went to Studio City for 24 hours. On exchanges so many miracles happen. We got 3 new potential investigators and one new investigator. The three potentials are Mina – an Indian in the 20’s; Marissa – she is Hispanic and has been to church looking for somewhere to go; and Victoria – we met her in an RV park and she came to her door and asked us to come inside and pray with her. We held hands and said a prayer then she told us that she had been homeless and she was now living with a friend and her son-in-law, and he was going into surgery after a hand injury. She gave us her information for us to return and teach her. Then another miracle happened – we were knocking on doors in an apartment complex and we were nearing the end and we saw one door and almost passed it but we decided to stop. A young guy (30’s) Lynn, answered and invited us in to meet with him and his wife. We taught the first lesson and he had a ton of questions and it was really great! I even had a thought/image of him passing the sacrament – I believe that he will be baptized but am not sure when.
We were invited to a member’s home for Thanksgiving and they had tons of food. I tried many things I’ve never had before, like berry pie, and it was pretty good. We were sent home with a lot of food so we were set for a few days. We spent some time playing with the children building a wood castle.
Church was amazing we heard many great testimonies and it was really spiritual. We also got news that there are going to be transfers. I will find out Tuesday where I will be and who my new companion will be. It was really hard saying goodbye; I just love the members here so much! They have literally become like a second family. I’ll miss everyone; but the president knows what he is doing and I really respect him for that, he is so inspired for this mission and he is incredible. Monday morning we helped set up the chapel for the upcoming Christmas concert.
Anyways, that about wraps it up for now.
Sister Reese

Sunday, 24 November 2013

November 11
I don't have much news this week - we didn't get out much because my companion, Sister Lind, has been sick all week. We went to Urgent Care but the doctor just told that she had a sinus infection when the symptoms were not even close. We really don't know what is going on yet.
I have been reading through the Bible dictionary and have read some really interesting things. There is often references to books in the Apocrypha which makes me want to read them when I get home.

November 19
My companion has started to fee better this week but we did not get much missionary work done because we have to move and we had to pack up the entire apartment, not just our stuff. We are getting help; however, moving the furniture. Oscar is going to be getting an interview soon so that he can get a temple recommend which is really exciting.
I tried shrimp and pumpkin pie this week. The shrimp is just very plain and the pie wasn't the best for the first few bites but then began to taste better.
We also saw Brenda Song (from the Disney channel) and she was outside her house with some friends and the members we had dinner with live across the street. She said 'hi' to the dad. Sister Lind really got excited once we were in the car and had driven down the road a bit. She was screaming and really excited, it was funny. Our members just need to introduce us to her.

Love Kirstin

Freezing missionary

November 6 (later that evening)
I found out today that I am going to die... A member we went out to dinner with told us that California can get into the 30's and sometimes less. If I am freezing in 60/70's, I am going to die! I want you to pull out all my coats and jackets and take a picture of them all so that I can see which ones I want. I also think that I am going to need more blankets. I'm just trying to be prepared before it gets really super cold. I am thinking that California is going to be colder than Utah, just without the snow...I'm a bit nervous because I am already freezing nearly to death!! I need like a personal heater or something, I don't know how I am going to survive this winter. CALIFORNIA IS COLD!!!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

6 November 2013
My companion and I received permission to go to the temple this week and it was awesome.
It ended up being stake temple night and we did a chapel session too; and it was huge! There were a few deaf people in the group so we got to see the ASL session, which meant that we didn't get to see the new movie this time; oh well, it was still great. I love the temple so much, it is just incredible. The LA Temple is really beautiful too; it's amazing.
In other news, Oscar received the priesthood last Sunday, so hopefully we can get him to the temple to do baptisms soon. Oscar has been called as a ward missionary which is so great! He has learned and grown so much since the first time I met him; it is so great to see how quickly the gospel blesses people's lives once they are on the right path. That was definitely a highlight of this week.
We get to teach a less active (less active for over 40 years) again this week. His name is Murlin and he has major health issues; but we're trying to help him come back and learn again. We are teaching him like an investigator since he doesn't remember much about the church and its teachings.
On preparation day this week we had a district activity and we played football, ultimate Frisbee, and soccer. The field was a bit wet and made things slippery. Don't worry, I only hurt my back and ankle a little bit; all is good though.
Well that's about all for this week.
Love Sister Reese

Sunday, 3 November 2013

October 21, 2013

I have yet again another week filled with changes. We are in another trio because one of the sisters in the district is a Temple Square missionary and she went back and her companion has joined us until another sister comes out. I was supposed to be a trainer this transfer and would have had to move but the girl that was supposed to come didn’t so I don’t have to leave and I am still in Stevenson Ranch with my companion Sister Lind.
I just love this area so much and am so glad that I still have the chance to serve here; it is definitely my favorite area. The other sister that joined us is also named Sister Reese. She is from Georgia and her grandma and grandpa are converts so we don’t have any relation. It has been really interesting having two Sister Reese’s in a companionship.

There is new area that will have a companionship in so my companions and I and some elders with the housing coordinator help get an apartment ready. It was really fun and it is a nice apartment. Afterwards Elder Young (coordinator) and his wife took us all to McDonalds for lunch. I ate my very first McDonalds hamburger; it was okay, just plain and I certainly wouldn’t get one if I have other choices.
Later we cleaned an investigator’s house; she is a hoarder and lives in a trailer house so it is small and there was a lot of stuff. It was really disgusting and she even felt that the chicken that was moldy was still good. Yuck! I don’t know how can spiral down like that. We made some improvement and hopefully she can get a hold of things and make a better life for her and her 6-year-old daughter.
We taught several people this week and had different levels of success. We had a great Sunday; it was the primary program and it was so cute. The primary is large here and they did a great job. Kelsey, a potential, and soccer player for the local college even came to church. Hopefully she will be receptive to hear the lessons. After church I felt that we needed to go see a less active couple in our ward. They have two kids, a girl and a boy, who are both on missions in Spain. He used to be the ward mission leader and his wife is not a member. We spent some time talking with them and they are really friendly and said that they would like to have us over for dinner sometime. We really hope to start teaching them soon.
October 24 marks my 6 month out; it is really crazy to think that I have been out for half a year and that I have a year left. Time really does fly when you are having fun!
For Halloween the ward had a trunk-or-treat party and we decorated our car and had a game for children to play so that they could earn candy. It was called the ‘MTC’ and the children had to decide by looking at pictures, what a missionary could bring to the mission field and what had to be left home. It turned out really well and the children did a pretty good job with it.

Until next time.
Sister Reese

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Letter Excerpts

Excerpts from Kirstin’s Letters:

Oscar Delgadillo was officially baptized September 29, 2013. It was such a great baptism. Oscar told his daughter that it was him being baptized right before he changed into his whites. It was so sweet and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Sister Lind, me, and Elders Chandler and Choi sang “Come Thou Font “and it was great; the Spirit was really strong. Oscar called us the next day to say thank you and he said that he didn’t know that music could bring such power and Spirit. Oscar, his daughter and son-in-law all shared their testimonies and it was so powerful to everyone there. It’s so great to see another child of God come back to the family of Father. Oscar is such a humble man; he is just an amazing person.
After the baptism we had a meeting that had the wards readjusting their boundaries; we stayed in the same ward and picked up some from another ward that includes another investigator that may be close to baptism. We will meet them soon.
I truly believe that I have now become an official Californian; I now have to wear a warm jacket because I get cold in temperatures of 60 – 70 degrees. I don’t know how I am going to survive when I go back to Utah; especially since I will be going back at the end of October. I am wearing a wool coat here and I carry a blanket in the car to wrap up in just to keep warm. I think my blood is really thinning out, I seem to be cold all the time. Sister Lind (my new companion from West Valley, Utah) and I have been busy getting use to our new area. We have this one community that is really nice with a lake that has ducks, fish and turtles.
We have picked up some great investigators: one lady was baptized a year and a half ago but never came back to be confirmed so we are going to try to bring her back so she can be re-baptized and confirmed. We are also teaching a Richard, who is a boyfriend of a less active member so we are trying to teach him and bring her back to church, but we will need to get them worthy since they are living together. We have three possible investigators that are married to members; the other is a friend of one of the young women in our ward – she has been to girl’s camp and church before, so hopefully we can teach her soon. We had a zone training meeting taught by the zone leaders and I learned so much; in 1 Nephi 13:34 it talks about ‘other books’ in our time and one of them is Preach My Gospel because it is such a powerful tool to help missionaries teach the gospel. Everyone should read this book; it is so powerful for anyone who wants to share the gospel with their friends and neighbors. I also came to realize a connection between missions and school: they both have a set schedule for a certain amount of time that doesn’t change very often. Although your schedule is the same from day to day, you are learning and doing new things each day. Missions are the greatest; I think everyone should serve a mission because you really do learn so much. I have learned so much like gospel principles in better detail that it will help me in my future life as a parent.
General Conference was Christmas for missionaries: by the end I was so full spiritually that is was so amazing. Between sessions on Saturday, we had a baptism which just made the whole weekend so spiritual. One talk I liked was Adrian Ochoa (2nd counselor in YM) he said “Your mission service will be the single most important thing to prepare you for the rest of your life.” It is so true; I’ve learned tons of gospel principles in more detail.
Oscar was confirmed a member of the church on October 13, 2013. It was so great to see him finally receive the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost to help him throughout the rest of his life. One of my first investigators in Studio City, Annette, was baptized; I didn’t get to go back for it but I was told that it was really special. Now for some sad news; our investigator, Richard, the one living with his girlfriend (the less active sister), dropped the lessons. His girlfriend said that he was not interested and that she was ‘so not interested.’ (She used to be a Relief Society president.) She left a voice message and her tone of voice was really harsh which is so sad. We picked up Cindy, a new investigator from the elders after the ward boundary shifts and she has been taught most of the lessons and already has a strong testimony. She wants to get to know the Book of Mormon better before she commits to baptism.
This week Sister Lind and I help out at the mission home with cleaning and re-organizing. One day we work so long that we didn’t get dinner so the senior couple missionaries took us out to dinner and we talked until it was time for us to go home. We really got to know them which was really cool. The major event that happened this week was the visit of Elder Kopishke of the 70 who taught us so much. I took 8 pages of notes during the day long conference. Some phrases that he said that I really liked were: “If you invite, you have succeeded.” “The righteous man falls 7 times a day, but each time he gets back up.” “Young adults should go on missions” (this one was really cool, no it’s not commanded for girls to go on missions, but in this day and age of wickedness in the world, it should be required – I think at least…). I really like how he taught – by the Spirit and with the scriptures.

Sister Reese

Sunday, 25 August 2013

August 12, 2013

Dear Family,
This week was pretty fantastic; we got to meet some more members and get to know them better. It can be hard to catch people because they aren’t home much during the day; they all work. They are really nice and they are amazing members; so willing to serve and they try to be missionary minded and bring their friends to the knowledge of the truth. They are preparing their friends because they want us to meet them; they are really great and down to earth. My companion and I bought flowers and gave them to our bishop’s wife and she loved them! Then we made the mistake of telling the elders what we did and now they are trying to top us; but, they haven’t done anything yet. We also made brownies this week so that we could give some to our investigator, Oscar.
I also got to go on exchanges this week and I went up to the Newhall are for the day with Sister Walgren (from Pleasant Grove, UT) and it was so amazing how many miracles we saw. We found a ton of solid potential investigators, including a family that seemed really interested in what we were saying. We taught them most of the first lesson and then we covered some other topics here and there. The dad told us when we walked up that he was tired of his church because they were so repetitive, he needed a change, and something that would teach his kids right. (They are 13 & 15.) So we talked with him about the church and the youth programs and he was really interested. We spent over an hour talking with him and his kids; it was amazing! He also talked about a Bible story and it wasn’t very good and he was asking about why it happened that way. My companion did not know the Bible story very well so I was able to clarify it for him since I was familiar with the story. He would be a great member; he seemed like he really could be but he wasn’t; he has been prepared to hear the gospel which is incredible! They are a Hispanic family and they speak English very well. They are so cool! We also met many other really prepared people and we planted tons of seeds with other people too. It was just a great day! We were able to invite several others to church and many of them said that they would try to make it. We also talked to one of their investigators, Zeki, who is from Turkey and still learning English. I was able to say ‘hello’ to him in Turkish (my college roommate taught me since she was Turkish) and he was really impressed and we started talking more. He told the sisters earlier that he would get baptized once he accepted Christ as his Savior. He still doesn’t believe that yet, but he is interested in the gospel and has many perfect questions that can easily be answered. He is 22 years old and used to be Muslim; but, he is awesome. He is coming along and he will understand the truth eventually.
On Sunday, our investigator, Oscar came to church and he came to the gospel essentials class with us and the teacher had Oscar introduce himself to the rest of the class and he said that he can’t wait to be a member! In relief society I sat next to a lady who was transferring her records over to our ward. As we talked, she began to cry as she told me about the trials that she was going through and that she had a prompting to join our ward and she said that her son is serving a mission in Mexico. She is so sweet and she wants to take me and my companion out to dinner or lunch sometime when things settle down for her. Later we had a session with Oscar and taught him some of the commandments and one of them was the Word of Wisdom. He has been drinking coffee and tea; but, once we told him that members are not allowed to do that, he immediately said he would stop drinking coffee and tea anymore. We know that he will succeed because when he is set on doing something he will do it. He told us that last week in priesthood meeting they talked about being kind to everyone and the next day he decided to be nice to one man at his work that people gossiped about and he just said, “hey, how’s it going?” and the guy was caught off guard, but was happy Oscar talked to him. We talked to him about the temple a bit too; his daughter was married in the temple so he knows a little about it already. We are planning on having Oscar getting baptized on September 8 and the bishop is going to announce in sacrament meeting. Oscar wants to surprise his daughter with it so he talked to his son-in-law about clearing up her schedule and his side of the family’s calendar so they can all be there for his baptism. The Spirit was so strong during his lesson and I was impressed to tell him how much God loves him and that Heavenly Father is proud of him for everything that he is doing and it made Oscar cry a bit; it was so powerful. I can’t wait to see him baptized. (His date of baptism is during the week of transfers; I hope I don’t get transferred before this happens.) What a great week!
Love, Sister Reese

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

3 Months Out

On July 22 we went up to Stony Point Park which is a huge hill covered by scattered rocks. Our zone went there and we hiked it and had fun. We got to one rock that was 6 ft. higher than the rock we were on and so one of the elders got up on it and then helped a few of us up. It was really cool because it overlooked most of the valley. It was a little hard on the way down because there was dirt everywhere which made it slippery; luckily I didn’t fall hard enough to hurt anything.
We had a meeting with one of our investigators, Jeannette, we talked to her about the importance of the Book of Mormon, prophets, and watched the Restoration video with her. The Spirit was really strong with her, but it still didn’t feel right to ask her to be baptized, she still needs some more time to learn, which is okay. We didn’t get to meet with Pilar or her son this week so we are hoping that she still makes it to church which would be the third time she has come and her date for baptism is August 10. If they don’t come her baptismal date would be pushed to August 24 which would be sad because she is absolutely ready for the gospel; so we hope to see them at church.
I finally got roped into singing in sacrament meeting; my companion and I sang 'Song of Ruth' and it went pretty well. One of the elders in our zone was hit while on his bike; but he wasn't injured and people came to talk to him to see if he was alright and they found a few investigators that way. I still hope I never get put on a bike; that would be dreadful. I'm glad we have a car; it makes things so much nicer. We did find out that they will be splitting are area and that part of it will be bike; so we will see what happens.
Well, transfers have come and I have been transferred to Valencia, CA. My new address is:
Sister Kirstin Reese
25343 Silver Aspen Way #325
Valencia, CA 91381
My new area is really close to the mission office so you can still send things there and I will get them almost as frequently. The area is crazy rich, and I mean everyone. My apartment is the most expensive in the mission; but, we also have the best gym and I personally have the 'Miracle Bed' which is the only one that the mission owns, so I am pretty lucky with that. The downsides are that I am opening a new area with my new companion; most every home is in a gated community and we can only work through members. Our apartment used to be an elders' apartment and they didn't clean very well as they were leaving.

Sister Reese

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

July 1, 2013
This week as been busy but slow. We had a zone conference and the entire mission came because the mission had not been officially split. (The mission is officially split as of July 1 and my first trainer is now in the new Bakersfield mission.) The mission was great and President Hall is excited with being able to start a ‘new mission’. At district meetings, so far, I am the only one who can play the piano a little bit. I only know 3 songs but I am working on other songs so that I don’t have to play the same songs over and over; but, it is better than not having music at all. The music coordinator of the ward has asked me to sing in sacrament meeting and is working on some of the music that I brought with me to see which one she wants me to sing.
I had an interesting Sunday this week (good and bad); it started of normal – going to our church meetings. After our ward meetings we stayed to go to the Korean branch’s sacrament meeting because a lady from our ward was singing and we told her we would be there to listen. The meeting was all in Korean and it was pretty cool to hear the language. There were only 23 members and afterwards, we were invited to their luncheon. There was one other person there who spoke English so we mostly spoke with him. After that we went with the Korean elders to an appointment they had with a blind 15 year-old who wanted to meet sister missionaries because he didn’t know that there were any. The family invited us to dinner and they kept bringing out more and more food. I ate with chopsticks and am getting pretty good with them because I keep having Asian food. (I have been trying tons of different food the last few weeks and some of it has been really good; but, there are some parts that just don’t taste right and my companion agrees with me most of the time. ) After the Korean dinner we went home and updated our records and books while we let our stomachs settle since we had another dinner appointment later in the evening. This dinner was made from organic food but it still filled us up again. We stayed for a while talking with the member because she was going through a rough time.
We had a really great P-day this week; it was a zone activity. We went up to the Calabasas rock (where we went 2 weeks ago) and we had lunch and climbed some of the rock up there. It was a really clear day and we could see the ocean really well and could see some islands and a boat out there. There was a nice breeze even though it was 108° and it was really peaceful. Later we went to dinner and then to Jamba Juice. It was really great for me at least; my companion got car sick on the way up and back and so did Sister Satini (another sister group we went with) and she ended up throwing up outside the car. I was surprised that I did not get car sick since I usually do and I did not take any motion sickness medicine. The next day, my companion was still feeling sick so she slept most of the day; we did make it to an appointment with an investigator and to a dinner with a member.
A couple of days ago a girl was raped in our complex by and our neighbor told us about it and made sure we were okay. As for Pilar, we met with her son, Lawrence and he brought a friend. They have had some problems with the law, but not too serious. He really wants to learn and he has a lot of questions. Pilar and Lawrence came to church for the first hour. We hope they keep coming. Well that is about all; more later.

Sister Reese

Monday, 1 July 2013

Mission Update

June 25
So last week we had transfers and my new companion is Sister Wettingfeld. She is pretty nice, and at first it was a little weird because we didn’t know what to expect, but we got over it quickly and it is all good. I am in the same area; they typically try to keep people in the same place for about two transfers. So I am still in Chatsworth (porn capital) for now. Chatsworth is pretty nice though; it’s hard to find people most of the time but it’s a nice area.
On a p-day a while ago we went hiking with some other companionships and there are some cool sights that we saw of the ocean.
Pilar, the Philippine, that we have been teaching says that she wants to be baptized. She says that the message we share is what the world needs. She is ‘golden’ because she believes all that we are telling her. Each time we teach her and leave her with commitments, she does them and believes what we say. Last time we asked her to pray to know that what we are teaching he is true, and she said that she has and she knows it is true. (She is Catholic and knows some of the same doctrine.) She will even remember everything we teach her, she tells us about Joseph Smith and him restoring the church and about the atonement, etc. She even will reread the pamphlets we give her so that she does remember it more. At our last meeting with her, we asked her to be baptized on July 13 and she said yes, but the date will probably have to be pushed back a bit since she works every other weekend and she needs to attend church 3 times before being baptized. She also wants her son to join her, so we need to find a way to get him to come and if he does, she will be jumping into the baptismal font!
We haven’t been able to get in contact with Robert (the one being cursed) yet, but we are still going to try. Our neighbor isn’t interested at all. His health is declining (because he drinks beer and smokes all day long), but he is pretty nice. Sometimes he’ll ask us to go to Burger King and get him some sandwiches and he lets us keep the change. He’s a nice guy but he isn’t willing to give up his current lifestyle.
There are Korean elders living in our apartment complex and we see them all the time. One day they saw some bobby pins and were trying to put them into their hair but they could not figure them out and kept saying “ow” trying to get them in. It was really funny. On Monday we got to play soccer with some other missionaries and a few nonmembers. It was really fun; I’m surprised that I am still able to play after not playing for so long. Before you ask, no, I didn’t get injured; just a couple of bruises, so don’t worry about it. I even made the first goal which was great. I hope we do this again because it is tons of fun.
The work here has been kind of slow though; our other investigators have been harder to contact, but we still have a few that we get an appointment with. Hopefully it will be picking up more, but we’ll see. It can be hard to find people in California because a lot of people are either rich (self-centered and don’t care for religion), crazy (those that try to bash us or those that know what they should do but don’t), or too worldly (like into porn and they like the money too much to stop). Anyways it’s just slow right now.
Love Sister Reese

LA Temple and new companion

My companion was transferred up to Lancaster and she will be in the new mission when it splits. She was supposed to leave at the transfer meeting on the following Tuesday, but the president called Monday evening (the week before) and said that she is leaving Wednesday after we get out of the temple and that my new companion will be waiting for me outside the temple. My new companion is Sister Wettingfeld and she is from the Salt Lake Temple Square mission; they send these missionaries out into the real proselyting mission for 4 months during their mission. She has been out for 9 months and is to be my trainer, but I think we are training each other. She is super bossy and I don’t like being forced to do things; but it’s only the third day, so we will see what happens.
Earlier this week (last Saturday) we went to a baptism for an Iranian girl and it was really different because a lot of people there only spoke Farsi, so there was a translator. This translator also translates for general conference and the Book of Mormon recording. Sister Dyreng and I were asked to speak at the baptism about the restoration and the translator was translating what we said. It was very different since I’ve never been translated before. We also met with one lady and as we were teaching her we found out that she went to the masters college in Santa Clarita where they teach them how to bash Mormons. After the appointment we never went back. We also taught Sharon (the lesbian) again. We taught her the first lesson and then asked her to be baptized and she said that she wants to but not for a while. She wants to get out of her relationship because her partner is sort of abusive, which is perfect so she won’t get too upset at us when we teach the law of chastity. We are hoping to help her be ready in the next month or so.
The LA Temple is amazing; I definitely want to go back again sometime. It’s different from the Draper temple. We got to do a chapel session – the first counselor of the temple presidency spoke to us and he had a lot of good things to say. It was also really cool to see all the missionaries there (about 100). I think that I will be singing in church in a couple of weeks; we’ll see how it goes.
Love Sister Reese

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Letter from Kirstin June 3 & 5

June 3, 2013
Dear Family,

This week has been kind of slow, but we did get a new investigator; her name is Sharon and is from the south. She is in her 60’s but looks like she is in her 40’s. She worked for the army in destroying chemical weapons and she is a lesbian. She was married twice before and has kids, but her first husband was abusive, which is probably part of the reason why she is lesbian. Her partner in in Iraq working kind of as a geologist (I think she detects bombs/mines in the ground.) Sharon used to be a Jehovah’s Witness but she said that they just weren’t logical; one minute they would say ‘God loves you’ and then the next they would say ‘You will burn in hell for your sins’ and she didn’t like it. We taught her the plan of salvation and she loved it because she said that it made sense completely. Next time we teach her we will be going over the Restoration. We have also been talking to a lot of people (a lot of door knocking) and we have actually met a lot of Iranians (mostly speaking Farsi and very little English). There has been a back-order on Farsi Book of Mormons so we are not able to get these for them. I don’t think that we will be teaching them since they do not speak English and we do not speak Farsi.
Later we met a lady from the Philippines and we gave her a Book of Mormon and she wants to read it and she wants us to come back and teach her and her son because she wants him to also hear the gospel. She told us “There is such peace around you guys”, she is like the perfect investigator; I can’t wait to start teaching her.
There are a lot of things happening in the mission soon (transfers). My companion/trainer is being moved to the Bakersfield mission (when the mission is split) and I will be getting a new companion/ trainer. I’m not very excited about this since I really do not know what kind of a companion I could get; will they be excited about the work or not?
The weather continues to get worse here, the other day it was 104° F, it is dreadful. I hope I get used to it soon or it cools down a bit so I don’t die of heat exhaustion (which I kind of experienced but not too badly.) Other than that it is going pretty well, the work is picking up.

Love, Sister Reese


June 5, 2013
This is more of an update since a lot has happened after I already sealed the first letter.
Those that know me, know that I love Russian, and met a Russian lady as we walked around and I got to try a little Russian with her. She spoke English because she has been in the US for 20 years. It was great!
We went back and taught the lady from the Philippines and it was amazing! She used to be Catholic so she knows a lot of the doctrines which is great. When we first met her we told her to read 2 Nephi 31 which she had read. It was such a great lesson and at the end we asked her to be baptized and she went to the side of answering; she asked us how we do it and after we explained it, she said that she wants her whole family to be baptized. She has a son & her husband in England and a daughter that lives in Santa Clarita and a son that lives with her. She and her husband are separated but not divorced. We asked her to be baptized on June 29 but she didn’t really say a date since it will be probably 6 weeks before she can be baptized because she is a nurse and works every other weekend and they have to attend church at least three times before they can be baptized. She is definitely interested.
After meeting with her, Satan came after us. We went to dinner with a member (the one who is 84 years old) at a restaurant and we met some crazy people. One of them kept talking to about how he can see orbs and he can travel to different realms and sometimes a wall will come up when he is trying to talk to people, he said that we would hear about it and accept it. No chance. He kept talking so we just walked away. Then this guy’s friend comes up to us next and said that we don’t read the Bible, we told him we do and he said “no you don’t or else you would know that it says God is a jealous God and you shouldn’t have any other Gods.” We told him we didn’t but he was being rude about it. Then he called us Satan. Really? So dumb. So we just said have a nice day and walked away. We finally sat down with our member to eat dinner and while we were eating this guy came up to our table and tells the member to pray for us and she was so great and cute, she said “I’ll pray for you,” but the guy said “no, you need to pray for them, they are demons.” Then he started talking about global warming which our member said that she didn’t believe in, then he started talking about the resurrection and that he will be in heaven. He was so crazy; he doesn’t understand anything, not even the Bible correctly. He finally left us alone for a while until my companion and I went to get dessert and he came up to us again and said that we shouldn’t hate people; we said that we don’t. Then Sister Dyreng said you are provoking me, I’m just trying to eat. Then he said “why don’t you just say God bless you?” We said “God bless you” and he walked away and called us Satan. Satan knows that the Philippine lady is ready and that he is trying to break us down, but it’s not going to work because we know what he is doing and we are not like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. We are built on the rock of our Redeemer which is a sure foundation. (Helaman 5:12).
Anyways, that is over and it’s a new day and we are back on track again. We have six investigators, many formers and potentials, and we are hoping to have at least two more investigators this week. We want to have a total of ten before Sister Dyreng leaves in about 1 ½ - 2 weeks. The work is really flourishing here and that’s the best part.
Love, Sister Reese

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sunday, 9 June 2013

May in the Mission Field

May 9, 2013
I am out in the field. I am in the Chatsworth area (porn capital of the world) and my companion is great, we were meant to be; when I saw her it was like love at first sight. We went out street contacting for a while and talked with two people that we plan on meeting up with and teaching. This area is like starting from scratch, there are no investigators. Much of the work we will do is working with the less active members. We have a car and a blackberry phone and a nice apartment. We also have bikes, but we’ll see if we actually use them. We had a member feed us dinner and she is amazing. She is 84 years old and invests in property. She does all the maintenance on the apartments that she rents out and even finished putting in a sprinkler system in her yard without any help. One of her grandfathers played ball in the street with Joseph Smith’s children; she has a fascinating family history. We have an interesting neighbor; he is on social security, drinks beer, smokes all day and is huge flirt. We got his mail for him (he has a bad back and can’t move around very easily) and we slipped a Plan of Salvation pamphlet into his mail. He is really funny.

May 20, 2013
The work is moving along; we have two more investigators and one potential that we are teaching/working with. Our first investigator is Jennette, she is from El Salvador and we met her my first day working in the field and she is really receptive. Our other investigator is John, he has had a hard life, but is now ready to receive the message of the gospel. Our potential is Robert. He has quite a story…he has an ex-girlfriend who is cursing him and sending devils/demons after him and he is kind of freaking out. He has been given a Book of Mormon and has asked for a Bible to read. He goes down to Mexico every once in a while to see a witch doctor to cure him of the curses, but when he gets back his ex-girlfriend curses him again. We are going to teach him the Gospel, with a focus on faith, baptism, the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood.
I like working with investigators more than the less active members because I like teaching the lessons; in most cases the less actives already know the lessons and they chose to leave for some reason or another. We had stake conference this week and I was able to sing in the choir, we sung “This is the Christ” one of my favorite songs. The stake president gave a talk on how members should be helping more by working with the less actives so that the missionaries could work on finding new people, which is what I think it should be.

May 25, 2013
An update on the work, the ward is very unsupportive of missionary work except for a few members. We have four investigators right now: Jennette and her son Francisco (from El Salvador), Nancy (a member’s mom who is here until June/July), and John (a recovering meth addict). We have other possible investigators: a lesbian, a bar tender, and one who says he has been on a spiritual journey to look for something that’s missing because the Jehovah’s Witness can’t answer his questions who is from Israel. As soon as we started talking with him he went off about how great God is and that people are too obsessed with the world these days. The work is moving along and it will get better over time, but at least there’s more than less actives for us to work with. One less active that we see is Flora, she is 94 years old and in a rest home and the only reason she is considered less active is because she can’t go to church because it is hard to get up and move around. Other than that she is very spiritual and active in doing what she is supposed to. The bishop feels that she should make more of an effort to come to church so that she can get the sacrament; he doesn’t think that they should take her the sacrament every week (this is frustrating for me because I feel that she should be given the sacrament if she is worthy; I guess the bishop has his own ideas and I don’t know what they are.)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Life in the MTC

My companion is Sister Baxter from Bountiful, Utah and she is kind of reserved and really nice. We got to go to the gym and we played volleyball. I don't know if we are allowed to dive for balls, but I accidentally dove for a few balls...I'm going to have to work on that. We spend most of our time traveling to classes, cafeteria, rooms, etc. The food here is better than the U of U cafeteria, but still not that great. I mostly have salads, hard boiled eggs and tater tots.

Monday, 20 May 2013

A Typical First Day at the MTC

* Go to the curb and say goodbye
* Host walks with you to the door, but you go through the door on your own (without your luggage)
* You pick up your badge, room key and a few other things. You check your information for correctness
* You go back outside (different side from where you came in) and meet with your Host and drop your stuff off at your room
* You grab your scriptures, Preach My Gospel, notebook and a pen
* You are then led by your Host to your classroom to meet your teachers and those in your district
* After a quick lesson/talk/intro you head to another presentation (like a fireside) and then to dinner
* After dinner you get to go back to your room and make your bed and unpack a bit
* After that you go to another meeting
* Then you can go back to your room to get ready for bed

This is just basically the first day's schedule and then you get a different schedule that you will follow for the rest of the time you are here and then they may still give you another schedule after the first week. It can be super hectic though, you go to class then straight to dinner (or another meal), then the gym, class, another class, etc. But every day is mostly different. After the first week it is a bit more normal though; it will at least feel like it is a bit more normal.

I have seen a ton of people I know here: Sister Lewis (stake), Sister Ward, Sister Vincent, Elder Lambson, Elder Reghr (stake), Elder Gillespie (ward and neighbor), Elder Adam (stake), Elder Creamer, Elder Abbott (Denise's son from HOSA), and Elder Smith who I got to play volleyball with one day which was really fun. They are all amazing people!

As much as I love my district, the Elders, bless their hearts, are tone-deaf. My companion and I harmonize (I'm soprano and she's alto) and all is well, until the elders start singing...It makes me want to shove forks in my ears, but they make up for it with their humor. They are all super funny and my favorite two words to say when it comes to the elders is 'exact obedience.'

I wasn't able to join the choir like I wanted to because you have to go to 2 choir practices (Sundays) so that you can sing on Tuesdays, but I won't be around for the second Tuesday. I knew there was a reason why I wanted to be here three weeks instead of two before I even got here. That is one thing I really don't like about here, all English speaking missions can't join the choir; I am deeply upset about this. The food isn't the best (for my tastes at least), mostly all I have here is salad and some fruit. The cookies here are great, they are just the ideal kind of cookies you could ever have!

Sister Reese

Monday, 22 April 2013

Mission Farewell Talk!

My Farewell talk: I know this is a little long, but I hope it can help you with anything that you need help with:

Christ-like Attributes

Good morning! I have been asked today to speak on Christ-like attributes. The nine attributes listed in Preach My Gospel include: faith, hope, charity, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience. While all of these attributes are important and crucial in order to be like Christ, I will focus on the attributes I find to be of greatest value and importance as well as adding to the list.

Ether 12:6, “…Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” You won’t get very far without faith; faith in Jesus Christ is one of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and as stated by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quarm of the 12 Apostles, “Exercising faith in Jesus Christ is essential. It is the foundation of the plan of Salvation. When that faith is coupled with sincere effort based upon a willingness to harken to His counsel, great personal growth and blessings follow.” “…by faith all things are fulfilled…If there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after the trial of their faith.” Ether 12:12

One person that I think of who has had a trial of their faith is Job. He was a very righteous man who was careful to avoid doing evil. For Job’s trial, he lost his expansive livestock, his servants, and his ten children’s lives due to robbers and natural disasters all in one day. Job was also afflicted with skin sores, and yet he still praises Heavenly Father. Job’s wife encourages him to curse Heavenly Father, but Job refuses to do so. Job’s friends come to comfort him, but after a while they blame Job’s losses and curses on his own wickedness, and Job refuses to believe it and his friends are offended and leave him abandoned in his sorrow. Job still praises God and for his unwavering faith, he is blessed with health, longer life, and double what he had before his trial began.

Job is a great example as to how we should have unwavering faith and trust in the Lord throughout our life. Doctrine and Covenants 121: 7-10 announces: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversary and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if though endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.” These scriptures are always good to look back to if you are every having a hard time, it can comfort you and reassure you that you are never alone. The more you realize this principle, the stronger your faith will grow in the long run. Job was given back twice as much as he had before he endured his great trials, and D&C 127:4 likewise speaks to us to “…let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts. And if they persecute you, so persecuted they the prophets and righteous men that were before you. For all this there is a reward in heaven.”

Patience can be defined as the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. By those standards, patience can easily be one of the hardest attributes to acquire for oneself. Patience doesn’t come very quickly; it is a process through experiences that help us develop our patience over time. President Thomas S. Monson put it best when he said that “Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”

With technology now, we, as a society, are very accustomed to receiving instantaneous answers without having to wait too long. This is a factor in weakening our patience, but it is not the only reason. Impatience can come from many other sources, and each person is different in what they can and can’t be patient in.

Here are a few ideas on how to become more patient, but this is not all that you can do. First off, you need to figure out why you are impatient, what sorts of situations or triggers cause you to lose your patience. Then keep track of what your triggers are in a journal. Once you have them written down you can try to focus on trying to be more patient when a certain situation comes up. This can involve altering your attitude bit by bit, and trying to relax when you feel like you are becoming impatient. Being patient will help you grow closer to Father in Heaven because you will be happier with yourself for your efforts and how it impacts others around you.

When you are patient you are able to hold up under pressure and are able to face trials calmly and hopefully that all will turn out as it should. In Alma 34:40-41, Amulek speaks to his people about patience by saying, “…my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty, least ye become sinners like unto them; But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.” If we endure to the end and try to be more patient, we are becoming more like Christ, the perfect example for all of us to follow.

Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. Ammon has a great sense of humility when he proclaims, “ ...I do not boast of my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I wil rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; year, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” (Alma 26:11-12). Ammon gives praise to the Lord not for his own efforts, because he knew that it was the Lord that allowed him to do all that he had done in converting King Lamoni and his people to the gospel of Christ. We are also instructed by the Lord in Ether 12:27 that “…If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in ne, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” That is a powerful promise that the Lord gives to all of us; if we are humble, He will turn our weaknesses into strengths. This would be a great goal to strive for, and all we need to do is to learn to be more humble, not boasting in what we have done, but thanking our Heavenly Father for all that he has given us.

In order to be like Christ, we have to put off the natural man and be submissive, meek, full of love, humble, teachable, and have a contrite spirit that is open to the principles of Christ and willingly accept them and follow in His footsteps so that we can return home to him. King Benjamin told his people to “…Humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith…If ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and yes shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, of in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4:11-12)

Diligence is steady, constant, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. Diligence is all about doing what you are told and when you are told to do so, no procrastinating. Two weeks ago we were fortunate to hear general conference and messages from the general authorities. They provide us with counsel and advice as to what we should be doing to strengthen our faith and become more like Christ. We are supposed to act upon the counsel that they give us, but most of us don’t always get around to it immediately. That means, that we are not being as diligent as we could be, but it’s not too late to start incorporating their counsels into our lives. 2 Peter 3:14 tells us to “be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” General conference should still be fresh in our minds, and now would be the perfect time to go back and re-read what our leaders have counseled us to do so that we can learn more and become more like Christ, day by day.

Obedience is the first law of heaven; it is an act of faith. As you are obedient, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke on the topic of obedience and the commandments last conference and said, “…the commandments are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy…Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings… His commandments and blessings do not change. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws…Obedience to law is liberty.” Obedience to all the counsels of the Lord will help us to become stronger people and strengthen those around us by our example and desire to do what is right. As stated in D&C 82:10, “I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

We receive blessings when we are obedient, just as the wise man was a symbol of a man who was obedient and the foolish man was a symbol of a man who was disobedient. The wise man built his house on a rock, while the foolish man built his house on the sand. When the storms came, the foolish man’s house was destroyed and fell, while the wise man’s house stayed firmly on the rock. That rock was the foundation of Christ, but it was more than just knowing who the Savior was, the wise man followed the teachings of Christ to make sure that he was secured in righteousness so that evil could not tear him down. The wise man started building his house deep within the rock, not just on the surface and following some of the commandments; he followed all of them to the best of his abilities.

President Thomas S. Monson stated that “A soul-stirring account of obedience is that of Abraham and Isaac. How painfully difficult if must have been for Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, to take his beloved Isaac into the land of Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice. Can we imagine the heaviness of Abraham’s heart as he journeyed to the appointed place? Surely anguish must have racked his body and tortured his mind as he bound Isaac, laid him on the alter, and took the knife to slay him. With unwavering faith and implicit trust in the Lord, he responded to the Lord’s command. How glorious was the pronouncement, and with what wondered welcome did it come: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do though anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Abraham had been tried and tested, and for his faithfulness and obedience the Lord gave him this glorious promise: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Although we are not asked to prove our obedience in such a dramatic and heart-wrenching way, obedience is required of all of us as well.”

Our obedience to the Lord will be seen in how we live our life from day to day, and the Lord knows whether you are following His commandments or not, even if no one around you knows. If you obey Him in public and in private He will readily bless you for continuously living a righteous life.

The standard dictionary defines charity as: benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor. Whereas the Bible Dictionary says that charity is the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ. It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence. The definitions in the bible dictionary and the standard dictionary are representative to me of Zion and the world. We live in the world be we should not be of the world. My 9th grade seminary teacher described it best by saying that Zion was on one side and the World was on the other and there is a small crack in between the two sides. We have one foot on each side to begin with, but as the world grows stronger and more contrary to the teachings of righteousness, the two sides start to distance themselves from each other. If we are still trying to be in both the world and Zion, your feet are just going to spread out more and more until there is no turning back and you are stuck, and then you finally fall. If you choose early to be in Zion, you won’t fall. The world is very deceptive and enticing, but we just have to make sure we have our priorities in order, so we won’t be caught off guard, because when the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past. (Thomas S. Monson)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also teaches that “Eternal life is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ. The Apostle Paul illustrated this in his famous teaching about the importance of charity” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 it says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” “The reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness is that charity is not an act, but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes.”

We need to be charitable to everyone because “… the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to parish.” (2 Nephi 26:30) When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all that you can to serve others and help comfort them when they are in need of comfort. Charity alone envelops many other attributes, like faith, hope, patience, diligence, and obedience. You need to listen to others and see their points of view, and be patient with them. You need to have faith and hope that through charity anything is possible. You need to be diligent and obedient in serving to help out where ever there is a need.

Moroni testifies that we need to “…cleave unto charity which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moroni 7:46-47). Charity is an attribute that we must constantly be trying to improve, because of charity, Christ gave his life for us so that we could live and be forgiven of our sins.

Now I want you all to think about your best friend, the person you love most. The person who has always been there to support you no matter what. They could be a role model, a friend, a family member; whoever you feel you can trust most in the world. Now keep that person in mind, but think about the person you dislike, even hate the most. Maybe it’s even someone who doesn’t like you and you know that they don’t. Now compare the two people. Would you be willing to die for both of them, or just the person you love? Christ died for both of them, because he loves everyone, even if they don’t love him back. He died for all of us, but could we die for the people we don’t like?

Forgiveness is another trait that I think is important to mention when speaking of Christ. D&C 64:9-11 says that we “…ought to forgive one another; for he that fogiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye out to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.” No matter the sins we commit, we can be forgiven of them, although some may take quite a bit longer and have a lot more involved to cleanse the sin, it can be done. Christ wants to forgive everyone, that’s why we have the atonement, so that we can return home to our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ sets the perfect example for us and shows us how we can return home.

In closing, I would like to say that I know that Christ lives. He is not only our Savior and Redeemer, but He is our brother and our friend. The Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Christ. This is the restored gospel, and I am so blessed to be a part of it. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and we have a living prophet today. There is not stronger foundation, then the foundation of Christ with The Book of Mormon as the cornerstone of our religion. By listening to the counsels of the prophets and following in Christ’s footsteps, we can be strengthened and protected throughout our lives. I say these things in the humble name of Jesus Christ, Amen.