Hello my wonderful family,
I would like to take some time to speak to each of your individually today. We'll see how this goes ;)
Mom and Dad,
I recently started a study of the Book of Mormon where I only highlight those things which stand out to me about the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I may have told you about it earlier, but I would like to share some of the things I have already learned in only reading the first three chapters of 1 Nephi. It has been a wonderful experience. The first thing I have learned is that we are blessed according to our faith. Our faith is not measured by he blessings we receive. There are many men and women who had to endure great hardships and yet had tremendous faith. Look at Joseph of Egypt. He was given trial after trial, but still maintained a firm faith in Christ. That faith eventually led to Joseph's being blessed to become Pharaoh and save his family, and many others, from starvation. Even though Joseph did not see the end of his trials he endured to the end in righteousness. The second thing I have learned is, no matter what keep the commandments. When times are hard, keep the commandments. When times look bleak, keep the commandments. Only through 100% obedience to God's commandments are we able to receive 100% of the blessings. It is a very simple math equation 100 = 100; 98 = 98; 50 = 50. Nothing less than the best for the Lord. Third, I have learned more deeply the great importance of bringing this gospel to all the world. In 1 Nephi 2:12 it states, "And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them." Later in verse 1 Nephi 3:31 we read, "And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even slay fifty; then why not us?" Laman and Lemuel had just seen an angel. They later on they hear the voice of God. They knew that there was a God and acknowledged His existence, but they had no idea who He was and what He could do. In 1 Nephi 4:1-2 Nephi takes time to educate them by using a scripture story, "And it came to pss that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea,or even his tens of thousands/ Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea." Many people have no clue where to turn for the truth. They desire to know that there is someone who can deliver them from their pain, guilt, grief, and shame, but they don't know. They need the gospel of Christ and it is found in the Book of Mormon and other Holy Scriptures. The Book of Mormon is used most because it is the "most correct of any book on the earth... and a man [will] get nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book." (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) The Book of Mormon explains doctrines so clearly that there is no mistaking the power of God and His Son's Atonement. I know that the gospel of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, is the only way back to our Heavenly Father. Thank you for being such great examples to me of these principles and helping to teach me the way to grow in my understanding throughout my life. I love you.
Matt, Anne, David and Robert,
I love you all! I testify to you that the gospel is true. As you read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to take time looking for the promised blessings and testing their reality. Through this your testimonies will grow and strengthen. As I have studied the blessings of the gospel, I have found that they are everything I have ever wanted and all I have to do to receive them is obey the commandments. It is that simple. Obey the commandments of Heavenly Father and He, in His own time, will give us all the blessings we stand in need of. It takes a lot of patience to endure to the end, but it is certainly worth every minute, hour, or day. I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is His son and it is only through Christ that we can be saved.
Tanner and Ali,
It fills me with joy to know that you have been able to enter into the covenant of Marriage. I do not pretend to understand all that is entailed in that covenant, but I know the blessings of honoring that covenant. It leads to our eventual exaltation, life with God and our families forever! What a grand blessing. I love you both and am happy to hear you are doing well. I would like to hear more ;), but I know time is crunched. You are both great examples to me. Thank you for all you do.
You look gorgeous! I was in awe as we talked on Skype :) I love you. If you don't remember anything else I say, remember that I love you and God, your Heavenly Father, love you. The trials in your life are small and fade way eventually, but the blessings of keeping God's commandments through them remain with us our entire existence. The spirit is a grand gift with many gifts connected to it. I know that you are doing all you can to have the spirit with you. A word of advice, see how you can help others receive of that spirit as well. Not just missionary work to non-members, but enabling all of God's children to receive this incredible gift of the Spirit and all the blessings that come from it. As you do so, your life will be filled with an even deeper spirit than you can imagine and you will feel God using you to bless the lives of many through your small actions. This is what brings true happiness. It is the nature of all young women to give and to please others (Elder Richard G. Scott). You will be blessed as you remember not only that you are a daughter of God, but all others as well. I love you.
You are amazing! I cannot believe the incredible talents you have. Your natural abilities are many. I love you dearly. I am excited to see more of who you have become over the time I have been gone. You have grown in many more ways than one ;) Remember that light shines into everyone we have a choice to either share that light and reflect it to others or to hold the light. Who are we to hold inside of us the love our Father has for each of His children and not share it. You do a marvelous job at being a window. Others can see the light coming from your face and eyes as you stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places (Young Women Theme). You are a great young woman. Continue reading the scriptures! They will bless you with an understanding of God which will help you to stand against the lies of the devil. He tries to make sure no one feels hope, but with the scriptures we know that hope cometh in and through the Holy Messiah, who is mighty to save (Mosiah). I know the scriptures are true. I know that we have a prophet alive on the earth today. Sharing is caring. Caring for others makes us happy.
I love your hair! :) You look beautiful and I can't believe you are in eighth grade already :S. Just remember that your older brother prays for you always. I hope you're finding friends and feeling comfortable where you are. I know it can be hard at times to fit in, I have been there. Others have relationships that they have had since they were little. You and I have had to start relationships from square one, but it is a great gift and blessing to know how to talk to others and build relationships with strangers. I have found it easier on my mission to go and talk to everyone because of my being in your situation now. Remember that God loves you. He knows who you are and He knows who to bring into your life to help you be happy. I love YOU!
I love you kiddo. You are my best friend and little brother. I look up to you. You have great gifts and talents. You are a funny kid and I love you. I would write more but I ran out of time a little while ago. I will write more to you next week buddy.