Monday, June 19, 2017

"Houston is getting more righteous!" - President Mortensen


We got transfer news and I am leaving Bear Creek! I am super surprised because I have only been here for six weeks, but I know I needed to be here and Heavenly Father now needs me elsewhere. So, I'm kind of sad but mostly just excited for a new adventure! Hermana Twitchell is staying here and I will be back for the baptisms of those we found during these last six weeks. 🎉

Me with President and Sister Mortensen

This week was also one of the BEST WEEKS EVER because Hermana Sheirbon (who is now Amanda... still not used to that) my mission mom (trainer) came back to visit! She came with my mission grandma Hermana Lowry! So I got to finally meet her!

Overall we had a great week and saw a lot of miracles! We were visiting people on the ward directory that we didn't know, and we found an inactive man who told us he wants to come back to church! He let us in, and we taught his wife and two kids who aren't members! They were super excited! We taught the Restoration and they asked what they had to do to get baptized. They came to church yesterday and started reading in the Book of Mormon together! We were setting the return appointment and the 15 year old son said that we needed to come back even sooner because he couldn't wait to learn more.

We were also able to set a baptismal date with Cesar Ruiz, from the Ruiz family (the part member family we started working with last week.) He is super pumped! Then we read the story about Ammon chopping off arms and he now loves the Book of Mormon and is excited to read more. (He is an 11 year old boy!)

We spent Saturday helping a family move. (Which made me realize how out of shape I am!) They were super grateful for our help, and it turns out it is another part member family! So, Hermana Twitchell will be back this week to go teach them!

Because this ward is literally the best (I will miss that) we had two parties this week! We had a Father's Day dinner/fiesta and then another party in the park the next day. The park activity was really fun because they grilled up a bunch of carne asada. We ended up having a giant water balloon fight/ confetti egg fight at the end. This member named Marvin brought a bunch of hammocks and his newborn puppies. I was chilling in a hammock, holding a puppy and I mentioned how much I like hammocks, so he gave me one of them! So I am super happy with my hammock straight from Honduras! 🇭🇳

The sad part about this week is that we had our last zone conference with the Mortensens! It was really emotional! President and Sister Mortensen gave us their last trainings. It was so good! I learned so much! Here is just a snippet of what I learned; I literally took pages of notes and nothing I say here will do justice to the Spirit I felt and what I learned. (This is really long so if you don't want to read it all you can just skip to the pictures at the bottom of the email 😉)

Sister Mortensen gave a really good training about enduring to the end. She talked about how in order to expect someone to endure to the end they have to understand the why. She talked about how we spend a lot of time in this mission explaining to why to people (why of church, why of the Book of Mormon, why of commandments etc.) because she and President want to make sure we understand the why so that we do these things for the rest of our lives. She talked about the importance of teaching the why to our kids. She talked about how she saw a teenager take a selfie in the chapel. Their parent told them not to do that, and the teenager asked why. Instead of actually explaining why it wasn't appropriate the parent just said "we don't do that in here." She then contrasted that story with a mission in the South Pacific several years ago. The missionaries in that mission kept bringing food into the chapel and leaving a mess. The mission president told them to stop, but the problem persisted. The mission president reminded them at a zone conference that it was not okay to do that, but the problem persisted. Then the mission president had interview with one of the missionaries and took him inside a chapel. He said "Elder, in about five years you will be standing in a chapel like this in a circle with your priesthood mentors. What will you be doing?" The missionary answered that he would be blessing his baby. Then the mission president pointed to the front and said "and eight years after that you will stand in a chapel like this in a circle with your priesthood mentors again. What will you be doing?" The mission president talked about how he would be confirming that child a member of the church and would bestow upon his child the sacred Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then the mission President talked about how four years after that he would be sitting in a chapel like this and he would watch his son, newly ordained to the priesthood, pass the sacrament for the first time. Four years after, in a chapel, he would watch his son worthily bless the emblems of the sacrament. Then the mission president asked him "now do you understand why we need to keep our chapels sacred? These chapels will bless your life and the lives of your posterity forever." After he helped the missionaries understand they why, the problem stopped. There was never a problem again with food because even when new missionaries came in the older ones would explain the importance of keeping chapels sacred. She talked about a lot of other good things too, but I loved that story! I have spent my entire mission reading Luke 22 with people and explaining why we have to go to church every week, Revelation 12 and explaining why we have to keep the commandments, etc. But, by teaching the why so much I now understand. I will now partake of the sacrament every week for the rest of my life, I will keep the commandments because I understand they protect my agency, I will never go another day in my life without reading in the Book of Mormon. Because I understand, I will make sure my children understand too.

For President's training he talked about how we need to teach our children about agency. President told us when he got set apart he was told that his success as a mission president would not be manifested in the number of baptisms in the mission while he was here, but that it would be manifested by if the children and grandchildren of the missionaries he watched over grow up in the safety of covenants. He told us in his many years serving in the church he has heard parents say they will not force their kids to go to church, go on a mission etc. because their kids "have their agency." President said people who say that do not understand agency.

In Moses 7 we read about how the Lord wept because of the sins of the world. In verse 32 we read:

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

The Lord gave us our knowledge and our agency (freewill.) In verse 33 He tells us why.

33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

The reason he gave us agency is so that we will choose Him. A perfect plan is in place. The Creation happened so that we can prove ourselves and show that we will do all things He commands us. The Fall is part of the plan because it had to happen; we were in a perfect state perfore the Fall. Physical and spiritual death are a result of the Fall. Physical death has an endpoint; the resurrection will come to pass. Spiritual death (separation from God) does not necessarily have an endpoint; if we do not choose God we remain dead spiritually. We are already cut off from His presence; The only choice we have to make is if we want to live. God gave us agency to choose Him because we love Him. The only way to overcome spiritual death is through the Atonement by using our agency the way it was designed. The reason we have agency is so that we can love Him and choose Him. The point of agency is so that we are able to overcome spiritual death and live forever. The way to overcome spiritual death is to be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and retain it through the sacrament. In a leadership conference with General Authorities once someone said that they could choose to pay their tithing or not and Elder Bednar said no, the choice was if they wanted to choose to brake their covenants, which leads to death. They only thing we can choose is to remain alive. We can cancel our covenants, but all else leads to death. We are born dead; the gospel gives us life.

In 2 Nephi 2:14 we read:

And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

All of God's creations are either something to act or something to be acted upon. We were created to be a thing to act, but we often aren't. Sometimes we let things act upon us: permissiveness, technology, the world (great and spacious building,) our body, our emotions, our circumstances etc. If we ever aren't happy it is because we have allowed something to act upon us. We are agents to act and not objects to be acted upon. God gave Adam dominion over ALL things. He did that so the test would be worthwhile and agency would work. If He had given Adam dominion over 99.9% things it wouldn't work. In verse 16 we read:

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

We can do nothing of ourselves unless we are enticed by one or the other, God or Satan. They both have to exist. We have agency to love and choose God. Opposition (made up of "opposing enticers") are the conditions that have to exist. A parent is an opposing enticer (hopefully on God's side.) If a parent says they "will not force" their kids the destiny of that child will be Satan; if a parent sits on the sidelines and does nothing there is only one opposing enticer at work, the world (Satan's side.)

Parents should be the principle enticers for righteousness. In Doctrine and Covenants 68:25 we read:

And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

The commandment of the Lord is that parents must teach their children to understand. Kids need to understand the why. If parents do not teach their kids, nothing will happen. When someone understands they will act. In order for understanding to happen there has to be an enticer.

Both President and Sister Mortensen talked about how idleness is a Spirit killer. It's easier for parents to not check their kids' phones or listen to what is playing through their headphones, but, this is about life and death. The enticement for righteousness has to be just as strong as the opposite. The world will not take a break, in fact, there is an active interest to destroy. President told us that, thankfully, the enticement for righteousness prevailed in our lives because we are here on missions. But, no one can choose without being enticed. That's why parents must push their kids to go to church, go on missions, and be baptized. That's why we as missionaries have to badger people to go to church, get baptized etc. We have to badger, they are dying. Captain Moroni didn't care if he was bothering people. If we aren't enticers of righteousness we are doing nothing to help the kingdom of God.

President talked to us a lot about permissiveness and how we can never be permissive. We must expect our kids to do great things, and we have to help them. If we ever aren't encouraging good we are allowing evil.

President reminded us how Satan wants to keep us from making covenants because covenants are safety. Just how Satan attacked us really hard right before we went to the temple and missions, Satan will try his hardest to destroy us right before we get married. President told us once we enter into the new and everlasting covenant and continue living the gospel the influence of Satan will dramatically decrease. Satan was only able to entice Adam and Eve when they weren't together; when we find the right person and are ready to get married in the right place we must not unnecessarily delay it. President gave a really powerful testimony and ended by saying, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and will be forever. I expect no less of you."

So, I will really miss them! We ended Zone Conference by going out the door one by one so they could all hug us, take a picture with us, and give us some final words individually. On June 30th President Peterson will get here. President will show him how to do some office things, and then he will give him the phone, keys, and will take off the same day. President Peterson will get set apart by an Apostle the night before and once the wheels of his plane touch down in Houston he will be our new mission president. I will miss the Mortensens, but I already love the Petersons and have been praying for them!

I hope you all have a great week! I will let you know next week where I went and who my new companion is!


Hermana Bettridge


Amanda and I! I love that she still wears mission appropriate dresses even though she doesn't have to anymore 😉 
Mission grandma, mom, and daughter! (All dramatic blondes) 
I got to see Hermana Barrera! ❤️ 

Last district meeting (they are holding up Elder Jones because he is going home)

Last district meeting (they are holding up Elder Jones because he is going home)
Chilling in hammocks with puppies

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