Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Week: 54: General Conference is like Christmas!

Hi Everyone!

My brother Garret in an email told me that on his mission it really felt like Christmas on General Conference this weekend. That is true!

I figured no one wants to read another novel, so I decided to leave you the links to the very talks themselves. From what I understood of the talks, each speaker answered at least one question concerning our relationship to God. The following questions are not the titles of the talks, rather I made the questions so that you could select according to your own personal interest. 

P.S. My personal favorite was the one that is under "Am I Good Enough? Am I acceptable to God?"

Who Am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

How can the teachings of Jesus Christ bless my family?

What is Prayer?

Who is Joseph Smith? Why do we care?

How can I feel a more personal connection to God?

Am I good enough? Am I acceptable to God?

How can my guilt from not being a super-mega-member missionary turn into faith and hope?

What stumbling blocks might be stopping me from having a testimony of Christ?

What is the importance of the Book of Mormon?

What is God's love? What is the balance between justice and mercy?

How can I understand more about God?

How can I have patience in trials?

How can I be more satisfied with my efforts to share the gospel?


How can I have joy?

How can I make the sacrament a weekly spiritual checkpoint rather than a Sunday routine?

How can I be confident with my standing to the Lord?

Where can I go to stay on the path?

What does it mean to worship God?

What is righteous judgement? How can judging like Christ, help me parent my kids?

How can I be more thankful?

How can I really get to know God, instead of just "knowing about God"?

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Why should I expand my church calling regardless of what it is?

What can we do when we are ready to throw in the towel and give up?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

What is the price, and what is the reward, of helping our children understand the gospel?

How can I turn pain and regret from past experiences into peace and relief?

Hermana Bernal

Week 53: Women's General Conference

This week was especially great because of the General Women´s Conference that was transmitted to the whole world in all different languages! Something that really got me thinking was a story that Elder Uhtdorf mentioned- A little girl is walking, enjoying the beautiful sound of a bird´s hum, when she excitedly tells her grandma, ¨Listen! Listen" , without understanding that her grandmother can´t hear, becasuse she is deaf. After being told that "grandmother can´t hear very well", she gets up close to her grandmother´s face and says, "Listen harder!!". As silly as it sounds, Elder Uchtdorf reminds us that not being able to hear, does not mean that there is nothing to listen to.

This Saturday and Sunday in the morning and afternoon we get to hear General Conference, when all the face of the Earth is invited to hear a prophet of God (and many other inspired leaders- men and women) But I would like to touch briefly (haha no not briefly, this email turned out to be really long) on the question, Why prophets?

In the book of Amos in the Old Testament, God revealed to the prophet Amos "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets". What does this mean? That God will do NOTHING without before telling His "secrets" to his prophets. What are His secrets?

Around 4000 B.C. God revealed to Noah that there was a BIG storm coming.. one that would even flood the Earth, but because in those days it barely rained, nobody except his family listened, and a bunch of wise animals that got on His ark. For me that is a pretty big secret, a foretelling of the future. The prophet Noah promised that all who got on the ark would be saved, but the people were free to choose for themselves.

Another example is Moses. A famous one for his big tablets he had when God revealed to him the 10 commandments, and we know he talked with God face to face (Exodus 33:11). We know that just like God promised blessings to the family of Noah on the ark for being obedient, there are promised blessings for obeying the commandments revealed to Moses.

But why does God call a prophet? The same reason a coach has a captain for His team. Just like the Soccer Coach can´t play on the field with his players, God uses the captain of the team (all the rest of us are the players) to keep the game plan in order, because obviously it gets pretty awkward and there is a lot of confusion if some players are not in agreement with what the coach has explained is the plan.

Jesus Christ came to clear up all confusion- "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets, I am not come to destroy, but the fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). or when He also explained to the people in the Americas "Behold I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets have testified shall come into the world" (3 Nephi 11:10). From the beginning the prophets explained a Savior would come the world, and He did. And just as they exaplined He would be rejected and crucified, He was. Luckily the Bible was preserved to give us access to many of "God´s secrets" from the beginnning to years after Christ´s death. But Christ came over 2000 YEARS AGO. That´s a long, long, time. What has happened in those 2000 years? Is all crystal-clear as it was 2000 years ago? Is everyone still on the same page about who is God, if He´s a spirit, a being of flesh and bone, is He, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost all one or are they 3 separate? Have the differences in climate, technology advances, home and family issues of the world today caused a change in the "game plan"? If so, what´s the coach saying to the captain? or was God just kidding when He said "Surely the God will do NOTHING but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants, the prophets". What kind of future events might we need to be prepared for that we aren´t currently prepared for?

An example. When I was living in Marcovia in Honduras, I lived in a colonia called "Renacer" (reborn), right next to "CARE", "Los EspaƱoles", "La Paz", and "Cruz Roja". Around 20 years ago Hurricane Mitch had swept away homes and families. Shortly before that, Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet at the time spoke in General Conference about the necessity of Home Food Storage. Those who followed that counsel here, were saved.

Before my misson someone asked me, "Do you follow the teachings of Joseph Smith?". To that I responded, "I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ". I feel it injust to talk about prophets of today without explaining a little bit about Joseph Smith. He lived in 1820 and as his age increased, so did the number of existing churches. The conflicts of doctrine were puzzling as he read in the Bible that "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). But with more churches than McDonalds on the Earth how could it be possible? Could God have multiple doctrines?

Joseph Smith took it upon himself to investigate further, and after reading in James 1:5 he learnedv that if anyone has a question for God, and is willing to ask in faith, God will respond, and will respond liberally!!

When Joseph Smith asked in prayer which of the existing churches was true, He didn´t get an answer from his mom, from his friend, from his pastor, God responded. God, with Jesus Christ on His right side appeared to him and began to explain the game plan that had gotten so confused over 2000 years.
A question I have pondered a lot on my mission is why Joseph Smith? Why did God have to appear to him when Christianity already existed? When we already had the Bible? The easy answer is- because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He called prophets from the beginning, so of course He will call a prophet to make the next move. But another answer that has helped me understand is found in 2 Peter 1:20-21. When the Apostle Peter has just explained that he was an eyewitness of the moment when God from Heaven said "This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". In verses 20-21 he explains that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Up until Joseph Smith was called as a ´prophet, the people were left alone as far as interpretation of the scriptures. Without an eyewitness, someone who can speak face to face with God like Noah, like Moses, like Peter, the Bible was left to private interpretation.

Do we Mormons "believe in Joseph Smith"? We believe he was a prophet of God, but his purpose and the purpose of each prophet since then has been to help us be better believers in Jesus Christ. Prophets are not perfect people, because they are not Gods, they are humans- they make mistakes. We cannot base our faith on the faithfulness of other people. I feel a little sliver of their pain when I feel the frustration of hearing about someone who has stopped going to church because of a mistake or comment a missionary has made. I feel a fraction of a sliver of the dissapointment of rejection when someone (this week) ripped a pass along card of Jesus Christ yelling, "BUSQUEN A DIOS BUSQUEN A DIOS, NO A JOSE SMITH" (look for God, look for God, not for Jose Smith). I can´t imagine that it would be like to fulfill the task of not making one mistake, and receiving all the rejection Christ encountered. I´m grateful for a family who followed the prophet´s counsel of nightly family prayers, family scripture study, weekly family night. I am so eternally grateful to see the examples of my parents who offered me a safe home, who taught me the game plan as crystal clear as they could, to what the coach has revealed to His captain. I´m doing my best to be updated on what the challenges foreseen are today, and I invite you to listen carefully to what ways God has updated His game plan to his servants.


Till next week!

Also, here´s a bunch of pictures!! the couple in pajamas are Ivis and Josue! and the last two pictures are of my new companion and I, Hermana Gomez and us when we went to the beach today! Woo!