28 September 2009

Why Not Read Every Day?

About nine months ago, when I was in Faro, I was talking with Irma Holtzclaw. She was such a great example of diligence. Seriously, she did everything perfectly. She and Irma Machado were fantastic at reading from the Book of Mormon every day. My studies were great, and I was learning a lot. I was focusing on Preach My Gospel and I felt like I had just perfect studies. One day Irma Holtzclaw asked me if I had read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover on my mission. That took me by surprise and I had to respond that no, I had not read the Book of Mormon in its entirety. But from then on I resolved that I would do so before I went home.

This was a turning point for me in my mission. I had loved my mission and had been happy in the service of the Lord, helping any who would listen, and even those who wouldn't. But as soon as I started really studying the Book of Mormon, everything changed for me. I was anxious to read more and learn more. My studies took on a whole new meaning. But what's more than that, I was so much happier. It didn't matter what happened--I was happy in the work.

The Book of Mormon became especially important to me when I was asked to serve in Setubal. That was a very trying time for me. We had NO ONE to teach when I got there and then my companion got very ill. We spent a lot of time in the apartment, so I decided that I would dedicate that time to studying the Book of Mormon. So I did. It was incredible. Even though everything was hard and I was going through a trying time, it was all okay because I felt the love of the Lord in my life. I was blessed with more charity than I thought a person could have. I was happy. I was at peace. My study of the Book of Mormon changed me. It wasn't just something that was nice, or that helped me. It was something that literally helped me to change my very nature.

Being home, it has been difficult for me to feel that way, but I have noticed that when I actually spend time studying the Book of Mormon, rather than just reading it, I feel that same peace and I know that the Lord is aware of me and my life.

The Lord says "a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men"(D&C 4:1) in the Doctrine and Covenants. I had always thought that He was referring to missionary work, but truly the Book of Mormon is marvelous and wondrous. It is what we as missionaries use to help others come unto Christ. It is the good news. It is the means for the change that we all need to have so that we can become better day by day. Why else would we have the Book of Mormon, than to learn more about the Savior and to become like Him? This is the power of this Book. It changes people. It changed me. And it will continue to do so as long as I truly study and apply what I learn. Why wouldn't I want to read daily and experience great joy every day?

27 September 2009

Do I Bite My Nails?

This was written on 22 September 2009. Please see sisterthomasinportugal.blogspot.com for the original post.

I've recently been studying the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants. As I was reading section 3 I was impressed when the Lord says to Joseph, "But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work." Joseph had just lost 116 pages of scripture. That's no small mistake. I'm sure he knew the levity of that error, but the Lord told him in essence, "You're not perfect. Yeah, it was a big mistake, but you're still learning. Just don't do it again." And what is amazing to me is that Joseph learns. He doesn't do something like that ever again.

So I have a friend with a horrible habit: he bites his nails incessantly. Now, I don't bite my nails. I actually think it's gross, so I always volunteer to help people stop. I remember once I was sitting by him watching a movie. He had asked me to help him stop biting his nails, so we had agreed that I would push his hand away from his mouth whenever he went to start biting his nails. So the movie started. His hand went up. I pushed it away. Ten seconds later his hand would go up again. I would push it away. This pattern continued until the two of us gave up. He must have tried to bite his nails, I don't know, 20-30 times in just ten minutes. It was absolutely exhausting. This happened over four years ago. Recently I was talking to this friend and he was still biting his nails as much as ever. Nothing has changed in four years. He told me that he stopped biting his nails on his mission, but that when he got back he started right up again.

How many times have I done something of a similar nature. I am in no way, shape, or form perfect. I do try to do my best, but I find that I make the same mistakes over and over and over. When I was on my mission, I went through the same trials repeatedly. I think the Lord was trying to tell me something. He was trying to teach me and it just took me a long time to figure it out. How amazing it is to me that Joseph only needed to be told once and he changed. That is true repentance. It's changing. It's being different. The Lord is so patient with me. I didn't even have the patience to push my friend's hand away for more than 10-15 minutes.

The Lord is so patient with me, but this is not to say that He doesn't expect us to change. The Lord goes on to tell Joseph in section 5, "Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation—mine anger is kindled against them."All the Lord expects of me is that I change and that I do better every day. Surely, it's not as hard as I make it out to be. I just need to be more aware of my own nail being drawn to my mouth.