happiness secret

image from here

“In the story The Little Prince, the fox was wiser than he knew when he said, “Now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, trans. Katherine Woods [1943], 70). The odyssey to happiness lies in the dimension of the heart. Such a journey is made on stepping-stones of selflessness, wisdom, contentment, and faith. The enemies of progress and fulfillment are such things as self-doubt, a poor self-image, self-pity, bitterness, and despair. By substituting simple faith and humility for these enemies, we can move rapidly in our search for happiness.”

~James E. Faust, “Our Search for Happiness”

read here

“Every Step Closer” ~ with Kristin Stiles

Question: What is conversion?

Answer: Conversion is something hard for me to define. That’s in part because it’s not a single event or process; it is woven into the seams of every waking moment of our existence, and it is unique to each individual who undergoes it. What I do know about conversion is this: God tell us His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39)—so even in the moments where we think or do nothing, He is at work in our lives, inviting us to come closer to Him so that we can partake of that same work and glory. Isn’t rewarding to know that we’re that important to Him? Doesn’t realizing this is true for all human beings change our perspective of humanity in general?

Question: Why must one have a change of heart?

Answer: Having a change of heart is necessary because it is at the root of our lives here on earth. If we didn’t need to progress or change, than there would be no need to come here. No one besides Christ will be perfect during this life, but we have a commission to get as close as we can—and that is the great thing—because of Him, we can. There is no better way to thank the Savior, who died that we might change, than to take advantage of His Atonement. And frankly, we owe it to the spirit child inside us that misses Heavenly Father desperately and longs, more than anything, to be back in His presence. I find that the closer we become to our Savior, the more we desire this change of heart. Repentance ceases to be a punishment and burden. It becomes a tender mercy, the sweetest of blessings.

Question: What is the hardest/most rewarding thing about serving a mission?

Answer: The most rewarding part about a mission is that it’s hard. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but a mission is like its own mini life, and the things in life that require work and suffering at our hands mean the most. Overcoming challenges with Christ’s grace and establishing a pattern of daily repentance were some of my most cherished achievements from the mission. Being a part of God’s work in a very literal sense does something wonderful to you. Seeing a small part of how He views His children opens your eyes and working with them to get back to Him . . . it transformed every thought I had about the purpose of this life completely. It changed every thought I had about our relationship with God.

Question: Do you believe you have changed since serving a mission?

Answer: Sometimes people ask me, “How did you change on the mission?” It’s a common question, and an excellent one, but I think a better one is, “How didn’t you change on the mission?” RMs always talk about how much they changed on their missions, and there’s a reason for that. Here’s the thing—Ether 12:27—“when men come unto me, I will show them their weakness”. Every step closer to Christ, whether for yourself or alongside someone else, inevitably changes you. John 3:5 explains that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ. How can you know someone without being like them? Think of the people you love best in the world: family, friends, what have you. Are these not the people you resemble? Can you not point out a character trait or funny catch phrase you have borrowed from those close around you? We cannot come closer to our divine family without first changing to be more like them. Because the purpose of missionary work as a whole is the invitation to come unto Christ, to be like Him, to partake of all He has, than change plays an integral role in the lives of every missionary.

“The Strength to Endure”

“The Strength to Endure” by Elder Richard J. Maynes was a fantastic talk this October 2013 General Conference. Elder Maynes offers great advice about resisting temptation, enduring to the end, and becoming converted. Here are five quotes that I personally loved:

1. “Many of the challenges we face in life can be solved and overcome; however, others may be difficult to understand and impossible to overcome and will be with us until we pass on to the next life. As we temporarily endure the challenges we can solve and as we continue to endure the challenges we cannot solve, it is important to remember that the spiritual strength we develop will help us successfully endure all the challenges we face in life.”

I loved this quote because I think it is so true. There are so many things that I don’t understand. I find myself asking questions, such as “Why did that have to happen to that person?” or “Why does somebody have to suffer that particular challenge?” He seems to emphasize the word “temporarily” because these challenges we face in this life can sometimes be solved here, but sometimes we must develop hope and faith to endure trials that will become resolved in the next life. That’s not easy to hear. But it offers at least a little hope to those of us who are struggling.

2. “Heavenly Father has organized our journey through life to be a test of our character. We are exposed to both good and evil influences and then given the moral agency to choose for ourselves which path we will take.”

What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? What are we suppose to be doing? We are here to test our character. We are here to make choices. We have agency or the ability to choose between right and wrong.

3. “Endurance is an important principle found within the doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is important because the quality of our eternal future is proportional to our ability to endure in righteousness.”

This line is beautifully written. Endurance isn’t easy, but it is entirely possible.

4. “Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion. When our testimonies are strong and we are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, our choices will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will be Christ-centered, and they will support our desire to endure in righteousness. If our testimonies are weak and our conversion superficial, the risk is much greater that we will be enticed by the false traditions of the world to make poor choices.”

I believe this quote is a continuation from the previous quote. Enduring in righteousness is vital, but it depends on our testimony and conversion.

5. “Spiritual endurance also comes at a price. It is the same price: dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.”

How do you develop spiritual endurance?

Dedication.

Perseverance.

Self-discipline.

You really can endure trials. It takes faith, and it takes hope, but it is possible.

❤ I hope you have a beautiful day!

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-strength-to-endure

“To Consistently Renew Your Faith” ~ Riley Jay Barrington

“To Consistently Renew Your Faith” ~ Riley Jay Barrington

Question: Why did you choose to serve a mission?

Answer: Honestly, that’s a tough question. At first I never really thought about it personally – at least not before I was actually on my mission. As unfortunate as it sounds, I started my mission mostly out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, but mostly fear of letting my family down. At the time I felt that if I didn’t serve a mission, then the world would look down on me. My self worth kind of hinged on whether or not I served a mission. That being said, I am happy to note that with time, my mission became just that – mine. I was amazed at the effect the gospel had on people, including myself, and I came to really want to be there for me, and not for others. I came to love who I served and gained a desire to work. In the end, I chose to serve a mission because I wanted to.

Question: What does conversion mean to you?

Answer: Conversion to me really just means to consistently renew your faith. This, of course, includes both thought and action. Therefore, to me, conversion means that when you feel something is right, then you consistently try to act on those feelings. It means to be true to what you believe, and to stand up for it. It means that even when we feel down and defeated, that we still continue on until those times get better.

Question: Could you tell a trying/ challenging experience from your mission? What did you learn about yourself from this experience?

Answer: One of my favorite stories from my mission takes place somewhere near the middle of my first year as a missionary. It was transfer time and I was with a new companion, Elder Burrows. Both of us were relatively young in the mission, he younger than I, but I remember he was annoyingly chatty that day as we drove back to our apartment in Fontainbleu, Florida. It was my first time driving in the mission and I soon realized that I didn’t know the area as well as I thought I did. We had gotten onto the freeway and all seemed well until I started to see road signs displaying Key West on them. I knew that my area was nowhere near the Keys, and so I quickly exited the freeway, thinking that I must have driven too far already. My companion began to shuffle through the glove compartment to find a map, but the only one he found had been taped over to show only the borders of the Fontainbleu area. I eventually turned the car back around to head back to the freeway, realizing that Key West must advertise its whereabouts really early.

As we headed back I remember noting an intersection with a green light up ahead, and so I glanced over at my companion who was still trying to un-tape our map. When I looked back up, the street light had turned bold-red, and the car in front of me (a brown Escalade) was already at a stop about 20 yards in front of us. I was going 45 mph, and rammed head-on into the SUVs back bumper. Luckily, no one was hurt, but our car was completely demolished. The Escalade didn’t even have a dent! As the police arrived (and an ambulance) things seemed to slow down for me. When my mission president called to ensure our safety, I was told not to worry anymore – I wouldn’t need to drive for the rest of my mission… Not necessarily happy news, I began to “wallow in self pity”. Our area was massive, covering what seemed to be hundreds of miles. We had no progressing investigators, and in the past our area had been termed a “dead zone”. I didn’t really have much hope for the transfer, and already my companion was getting on my nerves. He had this ridiculously large smile on his face. I wanted to ask him what was wrong with him? Couldn’t he see that this was not a good thing that had happened? We were going to have to walk or bike everywhere in the sweltering heat and he was actually happy! Before I got a word out, he said, “Elder! Do you know what this means?” I obviously did not, but said, “What”. With an even larger smile he practically sang, “This means we are going to baptize a family this transfer!”

I remember wanting to punch him right then and there, but stopped myself. He would realize soon enough that our area wasn’t all that great. We eventually got to our area (a random man whose wife was a member pulled over and offered us a ride) and started to work. We had one true investigator at the time, but who we hadn’t been able to visit at all during the previous 2 months.

His name was Nelson Montilla, and although he came every week to church, his wife and 3 kids had shown no interest in the church and because of this, we hadn’t been able to establish a working relationship with any of them. The day after our car accident, Elder Burrows and I knocked on their door without calling them before-hand. Nelson answered and let us in! I don’t remember much of the actual lesson we gave, except for the very beginning. Elder Burrows and I had decided to begin each of our lessons with a hymn, and so on this particular day, we started our lesson with “Oh Esta, Todo Bien” (also known as “Come Come Ye Saints”). A feeling of overwhelming peace was there instantaneously, and as we sang the, the rest of Nelson’s family came out of their rooms to join us. It was truly amazing! We soon found out that Nelson was battling a brain tumor, which kept growing back after each operation. The song we sang had touched Nelson deeply and made him want more of that spirit that it brought, testifying that all would be alright. Nelson and I developed a great, close relationship and within weeks Nelson was baptized, soon followed by his wife, Jenny, and kids – Kathi, Genesis, and Nelsito. It was one of my favorite times in my mission.

I could stop the story there, but what came only a few months later defined the rest of my mission. Just after Halloween I was transferred to a new area, and so was not there when Nelson passed away in the middle of the night at the hospital, right after one last operation on his tumor. His funeral was beautiful – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people come to pay respects to someone before.

Because of Nelson my outlook on my mission completely changed. Instead of it being about me and the blessings I received, or the hard areas I was sent to, I began to really feel blessed to be a missionary. I realized that what really matters are the people around me – and the happiness that the gospel of Christ can bring them. It’s not up to me to decide whether an area is bad or “dead” or not. But it was my responsibility to give those people the chance to accept the gospel into their lives. I also learned that miracles come from bad situations, and that as long as we keep faith, we will see those miracles happen in our lives.

“You Guys Were Made to Be Our Missionaries” ~ King Eliason

Photo: “The Area of PJ”                                               DSCF2104

Photo: Baptism                                                                DSCF1571

Photo: “me reading on one of our long drives” DSCF1993[1]

Photo: The Wedding of Tatho and Kede DSCF4343[1]

Q: Why did you choose to serve a mission?

A: The reason why I served a mission is kind of complex. I was nineteen years old, and in the Mormon religion this is a tough age. People say that young men aren’t pressured to serve a mission, which is not the truth. For myself I was pressured into serving a mission. I did not want to go, life was good for me where I was at. I was nineteen years old I was attending a LDS institute class, we were studying in D&C 121. As we read verses 34-36, the words “…Many are called, but few are chosen…” really stuck out to me. In my head this meant God chooses favorites. I walked away from that class saying to myself, if God doesn’t want to pick me, cool, I’ll do my own thing! Later that night something told me to study that section again. As I read verses 34-36 in section 121, it hit me like a brick! God doesn’t choses favorites, we decide if we get to be chosen. Right then I told myself I’m going to do everything I can to do to have God choose me, and the first step was serving a mission.

Q: Do you believe that serving a mission is important? Why?

A: Yes! It is the greatest decision I’ve made in my short lifespan. As a missionary you learn so many things. Of course you learn the gospel; you go from believing its true, to knowing its true. Also you learn life skills, you have to make choices for yourself you can’t call mom and dad to help you make a decision. The greatest thing missionaries learn is how to love. I look at young men who don’t serve missions and I used to be mad at them, now I feel sorry for them. It is sad when young men don’t go because they miss out on so many lessons and blessings.

Q: What was the most rewarding thing about serving a mission?

A:  The most rewarding thing about serving the mission was being able to teach people. As we knocked on doors and people let us in, being able to teach them was the best feeling anyone can have. You bring light to a dark room. Still to this day I’ll look back and say did I really teach people? Did I help them on the path to their Heavenly Father? Yes I did, and there is no greater feeling than knowing I helped my brothers and sisters get in the right direction. The Savior did so much, so teaching and serving my fellow man is just a one way I can repay for what He has done for me.

Q: What’s a personal experience you had on your mission that changed you?

A: There was this couple named Tatho and Kede. I had just gotten transferred to new area called, Phuthaditjhaba. My companion and I was walking down the street and came across this couple sitting outside doing their washing. Of course we pretty much ran up to them to talk to them. They tried to run in the house, but we go there just in time. They were the nicest people you’ll meet. We taught them and invited them to church, they said they’ll come. Sunday rolls around they are nowhere to be found, so on our way home from church we stop by and they were sicker than dogs! So we made an [appointment] to see them later in the week. We went there and they ready for us, they had not only read the pamphlet we gave them, they had it marked as well. We taught the restoration, it was the most spirit felt lesson I ever taught. We saw them every day teaching lesson after lesson, they could not get enough of the gospel. When we taught the Word of Wisdom they poured out all the beer and wine. We taught the Law of Chasity, they couldn’t afford to move on their own, but Tatho started sleeping on the ground. They wanted to do everything they could to live the gospel, after that first Sunday I never saw them miss another Sunday. Their parents did not approve of them or the church, this cause[d] a great [trial] in their journey. After many struggles, we throw them a wedding, we [barely] had any money but it didn’t matter it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The next day both of them entered into the waters of baptism, one year to the day they entered into the temple with their son to be sealed for time and all eternity. They changed my life, I don’t know how my mission would have been if I didn’t meet them. I looked at them as we taught them and they had become more converted than myself and I was the teacher. One of many lessons I learned from them was, they know the gospel was true and they were going to do everything they could to live it. I made it my life goal to be as faithful as these two are. They used to joke with us saying “you guys were made to be our missionaries” it is so true for the first day I walked in we were best friends. If it wasn’t for them I truly don’t know how my mission would have went.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Phuthaditjhaba/105627616136494?ref=br_rs

http://www.google.co.uk/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Phuthaditjhaba&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=11mUUpv-L8OshQeGpYCoBA