Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On March 14, 2014, I did a presentation on my mission at a Friday Forum at the Lethbridge West Institute of Religion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I created a very detailed Power Point Presentation for the occasion and had my camera record the entire presentation.


The link to the presentation is above

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 2, 2014 - Recieving My Missionary Certificate

I finally received my missionary certificate in the mail and it says that I served an honorable mission and that I should be very proud of what I have done from March 2013 to March 2014! YEAH!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Returned Missionary Talk - March 23, 2014

I started out my talk by explaining that I had originally put six months on my missionary application, but when I received my call, it said twelve and since then, I have told anyone who's asked that the Lord extended my mission for me because he knew that I would need a year to learn what I needed to learn and do. I also thanked my mom, brother, and other surrogate family members for choosing/being available to come and hear me speak.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, has taught, “The Lord from the beginning of time has provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with him in serving others.”

From March 2013 to March 2014, I had the wonderful opportunity of being a missionary at the Bishop’s Storehouse in Lethbridge and it was truly a life-changing experience. Some may think that missionary work is limited to going from door to door, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not have it in their lives, but there are many ways to be involved in missionary work. The four fold mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is to proclaim the gospel, to perfect the Saints, to redeem the dead, and to care for the poor and needy. All of those missions need those willing to serve the Lord.

For those who may not know or what the Bishop’s Storehouse is and does, it is a place where those in need can go, after speaking with their Bishop and receiving assistance in filling out an order form, to receive food for themselves and their families. It is a safe haven that is run and carefully maintained by missionaries and volunteers and the Spirit is very strong there, as it is maintained and run very much like the temple; the work is done in a spirit of reverence and love and the facility is kept exceptionally clean so that the focus can be on having and giving opportunities for spiritual experiences.
In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 4, Verse 1, it says, “For behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men,” and I firmly believe that the four fold mission of the Church is included in the marvelous work that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Caring for the poor and needy teaches both givers and receivers about Christ, what He truly is and stands for, and how all can come unto Him. 

Caring for the poor and needy is also charity and compassion; charity is the pure love of Christ and He needs people that are willing to carry out that work with a heart full of love and a willingness to be refined through the opportunity of missionary service. In order for people to have enough faith in Christ to want to emulate Him as much as possible, we first have to love the idea of Him enough to not only desire, but seek him out. As it says in James 1:5, “…if we lack wisdom, ask of God…” and caring for the poor and needy allows those giving the service to let the receivers see Christ through them, thereby giving the spiritually hungry a chance to become comfortable with the idea of seeking Him out and doing it.

God formed the whole Plan of Salvation because He loves ALL of us and did not want anyone to be forgotten who, even now, desires to be remembered. The Plan of Salvation was also created out of the love for the growth we could experience and for the potential we could achieve. Hence, the Church formed various outlets, including the Bishop’s storehouse, so that those who needed the help and love of they who had love to give could do so in way that would help those in need to feel safe and loved.
As a missionary, my job was not only to help people fulfill their temporal needs, but also the yearning they had for compassion. The Atonement has granted me the ability to become compassionate and so, like Christ performed the Atonement for us, I was able to administer love, compassion, and hope to those who needed it. Many see the Atonement as a loving act, but when it fails to make an impact in our lives, we naturally tend to automatically think that God and Christ must not care about the temporal and eternal welfare of every individual in existence. Likewise, I saw people come to the storehouse with the fear of being judged upon them, but they didn’t need to be afraid, as the storehouse missionaries are like any other missionary; we see all people as beloved children of God and that they are worth time and love.

Many are fearful of love because they feel unable to understand or accept love of an unconditional nature. Sadly, many have only been exposed to love and compassion of a conditional nature and thus, they are afraid of Christ and His Atonement; they are afraid of the free offering of love of an unconditional nature because it is an unfamiliar concept to them. Nobody is immune from challenges that life may present, but everyone can have the love of God and Jesus Christ if they want it, which is something I tried my very hardest to share with patrons and fellow missionaries whenever I could, with the reasoning that if people were made to feel safe at the storehouse, they wouldn’t be afraid to come back if they needed help at another time. 

If I were to be anything but compassionate and caring, would I be an effective missionary? No, I wouldn’t; for the Spirit only dwells with those who seek to be engaged in good works.
I had first tried to serve a mission back in 2009, but I wasn’t ready for a variety of reasons, but the Lord did not give up on me even though I thought missionary service would never be possible for me. This life is the time to learn and grow that we may become wise through experiences given to us by our loving Heavenly Father and over the course of the next four years, I became better acquainted with that fact and it turned into belief through various experiences in the refiner’s fire. I needed to have my own rock bottom to happen first so that I could understand and know how to empathize with those of others.

It was the Lord’s way of telling me to apply Doctrine and Covenants section 18, verse 10 in my life, “For behold, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” and I really took my time accepting that I was of worth. With patience, love, and the experience of being able to progress to financial and temporal independence through miraculous intervention, I was helped to be made aware and willing to explore the knowledge and opportunities unlocked by the power and love of the Atonement that allowed me the chance to change and become one who could learn to love others, but also show love unto myself under any circumstances. It’s easier now to accept that I am valuable even though some may not think so.
Being a missionary has helped me develop confidence, compassion, patience, charity, and a whole host of other Christ-like qualities that I really don’t think I could have obtained without taking this last year of my life to engage in missionary service. Of course, I was nervous at the beginning, as all missionaries are, but I highly recommend heeding a piece of advice given to Gordon B. Hinckley by his father when he was having his own struggles in the field; simply put, “Forget yourself and go to work.”

When we forget ourselves and go to work, we find ourselves experiencing joy through seeing the joy and blessings others receive through our sacrifice. President Thomas S. Monson says, “We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate in our hearts an attitude of gratitude.” Gratitude for what we have and what we’re able to do helps us to not measure our efforts against those that others put forward and we can find joy in what we can offer the Lord.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says that, “In some quiet way, the expression and feelings of gratitude have a wonderful cleansing or healing nature. Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure.” There have been areas of my life where I have not been so successful, but my mission is certainly not one of them; the Lord, through his redeeming Atonement, has given me what I need to serve honorably in caring for the poor and needy.
This past year has uplifted me spiritually while I have endeavoured to help others fulfill their temporal needs. In John 6:27, it reads, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed.” See, working to help others in need helps us to seek after that which endures and will help us on our ever-pressing goal of an eternal life of happiness.

In John 6:34-35, it says, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh unto me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” I, and other storehouse missionaries, serve as a stepping stone; when we help fulfill temporal needs, that extending of love and compassion opens the way for those who are helped to see the possibilities and endeavor to fulfill their spiritual needs.
In terms of gratitude, President Dieter F. Uchtorf, Second Counselor in the General Presidency, said that we should love what we have and that we should “never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” During my year at the storehouse, I found much relief in setting aside any problems I had in favor of giving service to people who came to the storehouse seeking help.

When one has gratitude for how they can serve the Lord, a sense of reverence develops in terms of realizing the importance of opportunities. As time went on, that sense of reverence became stronger and I was better able to connect with the spirit, thus helping me to be a more effective missionary. The spirit taught me how to take the gentle approach with patrons and fellow missionaries and the gentle approach is vital to missionary work because that’s what Christ was. It was also part of my job to show people through my example that Christ’s love is unconditional and that the Atonement’s purpose is to help ALL people.
If there was ever a time where I had not shown that compassion, I would feel like I had failed in my role, but thankfully, that never came to pass and I always left each shift grateful that I could be of help to others who came forward in need. When patrons stepped through the door of the storehouse seeking help, it became part of responsibility to help them feel welcome, safe, and like they were not a burden.  

Everyone needs a helping hand up now and then and that’s not horrible. I served with many wonderful people, both individuals and couples, and all of them had very valuable lessons to teach me about how I could become both a better missionary and a better person. Along with the people, all experiences I had during my year of missionary service had valuable lessons to teach me and I am grateful that I looked for what there was to learn.

A very spiritual experience that occurred was that I went to High River twice during my mission to assist with the cleanup following the flood in summer 2013. The first time, I went with the Raymond Stake and it was very emotional to see what the flood waters had done, but the Spirit was very strong because of the time spent cleaning out flooded basements and trying to offer compassion and hope to those we helped. Not too much later, I went to High River again with the Byam family and we went to an area known as ‘The Hamptons’ that had spent six weeks under water. It was a risky enough area to be in that nobody under 18 was allowed in there.
The experiences in High River reminded me to count my blessings and even when I was at the storehouse assisting with making food kits that were to be sent not long after the flood happened, I was overcome with gratitude for my blessings and that I had only had to experience the 1995 flood and nothing worse.
Even though I wasn’t on a proselytizing mission, I was still a missionary for a year and I came to realize some very prevalent truths that many, including me, may not be aware of or simply forget from time to time depending on a variety of reasons. A mission, whatever kind of mission it may be, truly changes a person’s life forever and it is very hard if not impossible to go back to being who you were before, as a mission is a paramount transformation to assist with the rest of one’s temporal and eternal lives. Doctrine and Covenants Section 4, verses 1 and 2 say, “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.  Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.”

Now, we are the most grand of all works that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have created, but in order to become marvelous, we must be willing to “forget ourselves” and go to work just like President Hinckley’s father told young Elder Gordon Hinckley when the young man struggled to find joy in what seemed very difficult work, yet it was an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop character. Embarking in the service of God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength will help us grow into the marvelous work we are meant to become.

During the course of my mission, I had constant opportunities to better appreciate the variety that God gave to all of his creations, as I met and helped many people from all walks of life. We all come from different circumstances, but our circumstances do not have to define us and our choices can give us a better future from a difficult present and a harsh past. We are all beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and we need to remember that Christ died for us so that we could all have the chance to see and live up to the measure of our creation.

At the beginning of my mission, I figured that people would be curious as to what exactly my mission entailed, so I wrote a very detailed blog about my experiences and posted it so that people could have the opportunity to understand what I was doing for the Lord.

I made a special point of recording my experiences so that I would always be able to remember them and be able to use what I learned to make future experiences just as memorable. The experiences I have gained in my year of missionary service have left me with gratitude and a reverence for the hard work that missionaries put into engaging in the work of the Lord.

Every part of the Lord’s work needs to be done by someone and I am grateful to do whatever I can to help the work along because the Savior took the time to ensure my eternal future. It is only by the Atonement of Christ that I was able to rise above my past self and the limited expectations I and others had for that past self. I will forever be grateful for all that I can and will do for the Lord’s kingdom. For out of simple works come great miracles and that is a solid truth.

In relation to simple works producing great miracles, I am reminded of the saying ‘try your best’, which was looked upon with reverence at the storehouse because it was such a safe environment; we missionaries and volunteers all strived to just do better with each new opportunity and if we made any mistakes, we learned from them. 

Focusing on just trying our best is something, not just missionaries, which we all need to remember and earnestly strive to apply in our daily lives. If we all make that effort, we are being reverent towards the Lord in that we are trusting His ability and desire to help all of us live up to the measure of our creation.

The Atonement, which made it even possible for me to rise above my imperfections and engage in missionary service, is there to help us realize that we are of infinite worth to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As children of God, we have the right to act and treat both ourselves and others as precious treasures that need love, care, and growth opportunities to survive. By wholeheartedly serving those who came to the storehouse and bestowing upon them compassion, I, with the help of the Holy Spirit, helped those individuals planted seeds in their hearts that told them that they have value to God and Christ.

As I reflect on how I was able to help others as a missionary and will hopefully be able to help others in future opportunities that the Lord will give me, a question comes to mind; do we apply reverence to ourselves when we are engaging in works based on the gospel of Jesus Christ or do we neglect ourselves in favor of seeking perfectionism? Like my best was good enough at the storehouse, our best efforts are good enough for Heavenly Father and the Atonement gives us both strength and courage to endure in faith; we just have to earnestly seek after the help.

If we are invited to take on a role in helping the gospel progress or be brought forward, we need to seek courage from the Atonement and God will be there with us every step of the way if we just act in faith and just do it. Even though taking advantage of opportunities that God gives us may be going out of our comfort zone, we shall receive endless blessings and those who have our example to help guide them will also be blessed. The Atonement helps us go the distance and I am very grateful that the Atonement helped me go the distance enough to serve a mission and embrace any future opportunities that will come my way.

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 14, 2014 - Friday Forum Presentation

I voluntarily gave a brief presentation on my year-long mission at the Lethbridge Alberta Institute of Religion on the west side of Lethbridge, Alberta. I had a Power Point presentation prepared and read it while filming so to give everyone the opportunity to see what the last year of my life has been spent doing. Here is the link to the video and if you want the Power Point emailed, ask me.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March 4, 2014 - Last Day In The Field

Daylight had already sprung when I got the 7:15 a.m. bus from my house to downtown via a bus change at the university; after that, I got a taxi from downtown to the storehouse. When I arrived at the storehouse, I checked the produce, stocked cans of diced tomatoes on the shelf, and also helped stock toilet paper on another shelf.

After prayer with Woolfs, Gallups, Sister Rogers (a new sister), and Elder Goodsell and a compliment given by Elder Woolf about how great it was to work with and get to know me, everyone divided into pairs, with me working with Elder Goodsell, and worked to fill the out of town orders.

Once the orders were filled, I worked with Sister Gallup and taught her how to fill the cottage cheese and sour cream portion of the orders where others either filled the meat orders or prepared for the farewell party that was held for Sister Bly, Sister LeFeuvre (who couldn't come), and I.

A little after 11:30, the party started in the break room and Elder and Sister Peterson, Elder and Sister Gallup, Elder and Sister Woolf, Grandma Woolf, Elder and Sister Hodder from the Field Office, Sister Bly, Elder Goodsell, Brother Murray and Brother Nathan Kyler from the Field Office, Elder LeFeuvre, Elder Bullock (the out of town delivery driver) and Brother Reeve from LDS Employment all came to the party, which was complete with food and a lovely cake.

Anyway, Elder Woolf said that my service and I are appreciated and that I had all done a lot of good stuff for the storehouse. Sister Bly is continuing to volunteer there for now and Sister LeFeuvre was unable to make the party due to not feeling well, but I did get to say goodbye to her on the phone.

After the applause, Elder Goodsell said a prayer to bless the food and everyone got eating.

Pictures were taken after the luncheon was done and I will miss everyone I worked with.

 Elder Woolf and Sister Woolf.

 Sister Bly.

 Elder Hodder and Sister Hodder from the Field Office.

 Sister Rogers.

 Elder Goodsell.

Brother Murray (left) and Nathan Kyler.

 Elder Peterson, Sister Peterson, and Grandma Woolf.

 Elder Gallup and Sister Gallup.

 In honor of M*A*S*H, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1, 2014

Sister Bly very kindly picked me up at my house and brought me to the storehouse. Shortly after we arrived, we had prayer with Elder Kearl, Sister Kearl, and Elder Goodsell. We then got busy doing paperwork and helping patrons for an extended period of time before things got quiet again.

Around 11, Sister Bly and Sister Kearl summoned me into the break room and surprised me with a bit of a party that included food since it is my last Saturday serving at the storehouse as a missionary; Elder Kearl and Elder Goodsell were also there. Anyway, they had all got and signed a cute card for me and they also got me an amazing book authored by President Monson.

I also got a photo and said goodbye to Elder and Sister Kearl since my last day is Tuesday and they don't usually serve on Tuesdays unless they sub for someone else.
I will miss the mission, but the Lord only wanted me for a year and He truly knows best.

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

I took the bus to the college and got a taxi from the college to the storehouse. When I arrived, the order hadn't come yet, so I topped off shelves. Once everyone had arrived, the group (Gallups, Elder Goodsell, Petersons, volunteers, and Grandma Woolf) had prayer and then we worked on stocking various parts of the storehouse. When the fresh food order arrived, I helped sort it and then did some more stocking, including filling the celery area in the cooler up.