December 13, 2013

Week 18 (9 December 2013)

Segunda- It was one of my favorite p-days so far.  I am usually super stressed-out on p-days, but today was different.  Oh, and I got a package!  From my family!  Y'all are the best and let's just say that Swedish Fish never tasted so good.  You know me too well Mom. :)

Terca- We had our district meeting in Cruz Alta this morning as usual, but we missed our bus home.  It was a blessing in disguise because we were stuck in Cruz Alta (where they have a mall and cheap clothes) for three hours.  So we went and bought some well deserved and much needed skirts.  I got two new ones that are super comfy and were quite cheap.  It was great!

Quarta- Sister C~ and I went to visit a recent convert that just moved here and it was kind of awkward.  She has health issues.  After our visit I realized that I had not been treating her as I should have been.  It can be hard sometimes even as a missionary to not judge and to see the good in people, but the President reminded me today of how the Savior treated everyone.

Quinta- It rained all morning, but then we went to pick up R~ for his baptismal interview and there was sunshine in our souls today.  Every day I can see him glowing with the light of the Gospel a little bit more, I literally can see it.  When I mentioned that to him he said that he sees it too, and he feels it as well. :)

Sexta- We found out about transfers today... (Drum roll please!)  I will be staying in Panambi but I am getting a new companion.  Sister P~ is her name and apparently she is the and is one of the best of the best in Santa Maria.  I am really excited!!  I will miss Sister C~ and am a little nervous about the change, but God know what I need and what I can handle, so I am ready.

Sabado- BAPTISM!!  R~ was baptized today.  I felt the Spirit more during the baptismal service than any other time so far on my mission.  It was great.  He was baptized by a recent convert who just received the Priesthood last Sunday so it took a little time to get him under the water, but it was great.  Afterwards the Sisters and I sang "I Am a Child of God" in English (because he loves English and is one of our best students).  It was great.  He is such an amazing youth and has so much potential!

Domingo- R~ received the gift of the Holy Ghost and was very involved in our lesson in Sunday School along with some other investigators of the other sisters who were visiting.  I love Gospel Principles!

I can't wait to talk to y'all on Christmas!  Have a great week!

Sister Phelps

Week 17 (2 December 2013)

Tender Mercies:

Segunda- We had THANKSGIVING today and it was great!  I mean they don't have some ingredients here that we wanted, but tudo bem.  We ended up having rolls, chicken, sweet potato casserole (we think, it was some type of vegetable...), stuffing, apple juice, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It turned out great and I am proud of us.  Pode casar... (haha).  People in Brasil say this when someone cooks well. :) I also made an apple turkey and he turned out quite handsome.  I will send you a pic.

Terca- I have been reading the New Testament recently and have been able to rediscover stories about the life of Jesus Christ that have really touched me and inspired me to be better.  I am so grateful for personal revelation and the scriptures!

Quarta- So my knee has been bothering me off and on for the past few weeks and I have been praying really hard lately that I can have days without pain.  Today was one of those days.  We walked to and from our lunch appointment that is about 45 minutes away and I felt no pain.  It was such a great blessing.  (I haven't really had pain since...) :)

Quinta- We are teaching a young man right now who has a great testimony and even shares the gospel with his friends and invites them to activities and church.  Today we challenged him to pray about a certain date for baptism and his heart was changed and he realized that he really does want to be baptized.  I am so grateful for youth, and the potential and power that they have.

Sexta- We did splits and Sister G~ and I were set free in Brasil.  We were able to teach a lesson (with the help of a member) and invite tons of people to our branch activity Sabado, and they understood us! Overall it was a good day, and boosted my confidence in my Portuguese. :)

Sabado- Our activity was a success!  We had 61 people there which means that we overreached our goal!  We played games, shared a message, sang a hymn, and then ate churrasco.  It was wonderful, it was one of the first times that I felt like I was in a ward again.  We really need to help this branch grow so that every Sunday and activity can feel like this.

Domingo- The President of the Branch here is really getting into this missionary thing.  I am so grateful for his support.  Seriously, the help of the Presidente and the members is crucial and the support is growing here in Panambi; I couldn't ask for anything more.

Overall it was a good week.  The work has been slowing down in some aspects, but picking up in others.  I am so grateful to be a missionary and to be serving the people here in Panambi!  Keep up the good work in your own ward too!  Be best friends with the missionaries and ask what you can do to help them reach their weekly goals!

Love y'all! (Amo voces)!
-Sister Phelps

Henry the Apple Turkey

November 25, 2013

Week 16 (25 November 2013)

Tender mercies. . .

Segunda-feira-  We had a lesson for family home evening all planned out and then had the sudden feeling that we needed to watch a cheesy seminary video, so we picked one and watched it with the less active family we were visiting.  At the end of the video they all had such great comments about how the message touched them and how it was just what they needed to hear.  I love cheesy seminary videos. (It was the one about the armor of God).

Terca-feira-  There was a giant thunder storm tonight and we were twenty minutes from home when the worst of it hit, but we had to keep going in order to make it home in time for curfew.  We were almost home when the thunder and lightning started and it was really close.  As we huddled under our umbrellas and ran up the hill we were both praying so hard to make it safely home and we did.  Seriously, we could have died, it was a Texas worth thunderstorm.

Quarta-feira-  We found a couple today who acted like they were not interested at all in our message, but by the time we left and after we had lovingly answered all of their questions and doubts about the church, the husband told us that we were welcome in their home anytime.  The Lord really can change people hearts when the Spirit is present.

Quinta-feira-  We were about to go home about fifteen minutes when we decided to run by the house of a contact that was never home when we went by.  He was there!  And he and all of his family members, and extended family that was visiting were so open to our message and it was just perfect.

Sexta-feira-  I got sick along with Sister S~ with a little stomach bug, but it passed very quickly and we didn't have to miss out on much because it disappeared so fast.  Seriously.  Twas a miracle.

Sabado-  Our baptism fell through, but tudo bem.  She is still coming to church.  Sister C~ and I were a little down after that happened so we went home and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" and it brought up our spirits instantly.  Man, I love that movie.

Domingo-  We had 35 people in church today!  That is a tender mercy in itself.

-Sister Phelps

Week 15 (18 November 2013)

One baptism down milhoes to go!

This last Friday (Nov 15) I had my first baptism of the mission.  His name is W~ and he is a great guy who has really gained a testimony and a love for the gospel.  He has a lot of friends in the ward, which has helped more than anything else in his conversion (after the Holy Ghost).  He received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday and it was perfect.  The spirit was so strong in that sacrament meeting and I am so proud of Him.  Wahoo!

Tender mercies. . .

Segunda-feira:  We had just cleaned the entire apartment and were on our way to use the computers and go shopping when Sister G~ found 10 reals in the middle of the road and we all got super excited.  Next thing I know there are 2 reals right in front of me,  I pick it up, look around and boom see 20 reals in the grass next to us.  So we found 32 reals in the street on our p-day.  Sometime the miracles of the Lord are SO obvious and it just helps us remember that things happen that we don't even notice.  The Lord really will bless His poor, tired, hungry missionaries when they try to do their best.

Terca-feira:  I have started taking the reigns more in our lessons and it has been nerve wracking, but fun to practice teaching in different ways and using my vocabulary more.  I taught a lesson by myself today and it was so hard, but I know that the gift of tongues in real.  Today I didn't feel like I was speaking my best, but the people we were teaching were able to understand me.  So, God was blessing them with the gift of interpretation of tongues, luckily. :)

Quarta-feira:  We had a hard day and everything fell through including our last chance to meet with W~, our investigator who has his baptismal interview tomorrow.  We walked to his house, which is about 35 minutes away and he wasn't home, so we sat at the park outside his house and waited.  After about an hour and a half of waiting and a lot of praying he showed-up out of the blue and we were able to teach him and get home with one minute to spare before curfew.

Quinta-feira:  R~, our awesomely amazing investigator, called us tonight and bore his testimony over the phone about the power of the Book of Mormon.  Apparently he had been having a hard day, started to read, and his whole day turned around.  I love it when we get to hear the sincere testimonies of our investigators.

Sexta-feira:  WE HAD A BAPTISM!

Sabado:  I was in charge of teaching the English class this week and have been talking a lot to my companion about what I want to do with my life after my mission.  I still don't know, but one of our students (a recent convert) randomly said "you should be a teacher."  (He said it in Portuguese) but it really was an answer to prayer.

Domingo:  Yesterday we invited a man to come to church and didn't expect him to come, but he showed up and gave lots of good feed-back during Sunday School. :)

Sister Phelps

November 13, 2013

Week 14 (11 November 2013)

This week was pretty crazy, but good crazy for the most part.

Segunda-feira:  Today we had planned a family home evening in a members house and invited a family of non-members, but they never showed-up... but during the last five minutes of our lesson their daughter came and we were more than relieved.  I still don't know why this was such a blessing, but it changed our entire night.  I am grateful for those small things, thoughts, impressions, and actions of others that can change you entire day for the better.

Terca-feira: Some days my Portuguese is better than others and today was one of those days where I wake up from a dream in English, my companion says something to me in Portuguese that I have heard a millions times, but I just cannot understand what she is saying.  So that is how my day started, but we had Zone Conference today in Cruz Alta and miracles happened while we were there.  I started talking to some of the other missionaries and sometimes I didn't even realize I was speaking in Portuguese and I felt so comfortable.  Right now that isn't the case still, but the Lord truly will bless us with the words (in English or Portuguese) that we should say, but we have to be comfortable with ourselves.

Quarta-feira:  One of the recent converts in the branch gave us a reference so we went to talk to her at the shop she owns.  I had been carrying around a Book of Mormon and felt like I needed to put it back in my bag before we went into the shop.  As we introduced ourselves to her one of the first things she said was that she preached for her church and did work like us and one time someone read out of a book or scripture that wasn't the Bible and she didn't listen to anything that she said.  So we are going to start by talking around the restoration a little and getting her to realize that this church is true.

Sexta-feira:  J~'s mom is awesome.  We had this idea the morning before we were going to go talk to her and decided to read with her in Alma 56 : 45-48 about the mothers of the army of Helaman.  We went on to talk about the great importance of moms and how they can truly affect the life and righteousness of their children.

Sabado:  English class was great!  And afterward we were able to teach R~ about the Plan of Salvation and follow-up about how we asked him to pray to know if the Restoration was true.  He received his answer in a dream.  I have never received an answer like this, but God knows us personally and answers our prayers the way we need them to be answered.

Domingo:  We got 44 people to stake conference today in Cruz Alta!  It was a miracle.  With lots of fasting, prayer, and work we achieved our goal!!

I love you!
Sister Phelps

November 4, 2013

Week 13 (4 November 2013)

Tender Mercies. . .

Segunda-feira (Monday):  During a really rough time today my companion and I were sitting in a little park about five minutes from our house and these three really beautiful white butterflies kept flying around us.  It is little things like that which help me remember that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and gave us such a beautiful world to live in.

Terca-feira (Tuesday):  One thing that I have learned on the mission is that when we need peace all we have to do is ask for it.  Say a little prayer in our minds with a sincere heart and God will give us all of the comfort we need.  He really does love us.

Quarta-feira (Wednesday):  We were able to meet a young man who is very different than most other people we meet here.  He is one of those people that I would have been afraid to share the gospel with before the mission, but my companion and I both felt like we should invite him to our English class.  We did and he loved it.  So, this tender mercy is that Heavenly Father can let us see His children the way that He sees them, with unlimited potential if we have love for everyone we meet.

Quinta-feira (Thursday):  Halloween.  I was pretty homesick today and wanted something American. . . so bad!  Next thing I know we walk past a restaurant that just started serving burgers this week!  How cool is that.  I ate the burger and it was good! Not quite the same as Wendy's or Red Robin, but it made me feel right at home.

Sexta-feira:  Every single appointment that we had today fell through, but we met two perfect investigators that really came out of nowhere into our path.  God is so good!  Every time we pray together, my companion and I pray that we will find those people who God has prepared for us, sometimes the answer is more obvious than others, but we will always receive blessings from our Father in Heaven.

Sabado (Saturday):  We were able to have a special meeting with the ward members today about how we can work hand in hand with the members in the Work of Salvation!  Some of the members were a bit hesitant when we had shared our ideas in the past, but today everyone was on board and their hearts were opened to our message and the importance of each member in this great work!

Domingo (Sunday):  We met a young man on the street a week ago and were finally able to meet with him and teach him.  Earlier today I was having a lot of doubts about my ability to speak Portuguese, but during our lesson with him he did not believe me that I was American and said that I had no accent at all.  How cool is that!  He really boosted my confidence with that little, maybe insignificant comment.

I love Brazil.  I love being a missionary and am so grateful for all of the support and prayers!

Com Amor,
Sister Phelps

Week 12 (28 October 2013)

Thursday- We were on our way to an appointment when two guys across the street from where we were walking started calling us.  We usually ignore that kind of thing because they usually want trouble, but this time we both looked.  The two guys looked slightly familiar, but we could not figure out where we knew them from.  We met them the FIRST WEEK here in Panambi and taught them every single lesson on the street and gave them one of each pamphlet, but they lived in Sao Paulo.  Guess what, they moved here!

Friday and Saturday- Our baptism fell through, but I hope that we will have it on the 16th like we are planning.  Other than that all is well here in Panambi.  I will be here for at least one more transfer.

Love you all!
-Sister Phelps

October 24, 2013

Week 11 (21 October 2013)

Oi familia!  Como voces etao!?
Esta semana foi muito boa, e estou muito animada para meu primero batismo Sabado que vem!

Hey family! How are y'all!?
This week was very good, and I am very excited for my first baptism this Saturday!  Our investigator is wonderful!  After only having a Book of Mormon for nine or so days she has the strongest testimony of its truthfulness!  I am so excited for her!  Sister C~ and I are going to sing an EFY song in Portuguese for her baptism (if we find time to practice) and I am stoked!

It has been a pretty hard week because summer arrived (for a few days).  Right now it is raining cats and dogs, but I am sure the sun will be back in full force in no time.  I already have quite the tan line from my watch and my sandals, it is pretty sweet, my hair is also noticeably lighter which I don't mind.  So other than having a very hot sun shining down on us and huge hills to hike below us, all of our awesome pesquisadores moram muito longe de nossa casa.  (Live very far from our house).  But it is all good.  The harder the work, the more blessings we get, right?

We have a couple who I love dearly that sincerely want to be baptized.  It is not easy to change your entire life for the church, to come unto Christ, but they know that it is worth it!  How cool is that!?

This week we painted a house, it won't let me upload the picture, but I will try and mail it eventually.  It was the house of one of our investigators, T~.  We showed up to teach her a lesson, but she was painting so we borrowed some old t-shirts from her and painted in our skirts.  It was a lot of fun and I have the paint on my skirt to prove it.  Haha.

It was Sister C~'s birthday this week so we went to an all you can eat pizzeria with a recent convert and the other Sisters that we live with.  All I am going to say is that I ate my money's worth.  The pizza here is SO GOOD! I like it more than American pizza. . . (there isn't red sauce, they mix it up more.)

We had our first English class and it was a success.  Three kids from one of the families we teach showed up and were ready to learn.  I am excited to teach this Saturday too!

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Amo voces!
-Sister Phelps

October 14, 2013

Week 10 (14 October 2013)

We have a lot of wonderful investigators who are seeking the truth, and guess what, WE HAVE IT!  The hardest part so far is getting them to church on Sunday.  We have many people wanting to be baptized and learn more about the Gospel, but if they aren't going to church they technically aren't progressing, so that has been a little frustrating, but all in the Lord's timing.

Okay, to answer your questions . . .

-Water bottles: all of the houses have filters, the one in our apartment is one of the best they have around, so the Mission President is looking out for us, don't worry.  I don't drink the water except the water from our apartment in a water bottle that I always have with me.

-Exercise:  My companion and I both want to lose weight, so we do abs, cardio, and strength building exercises every morning and at night if we aren't already dead from scaling the hills of Panambi.

-Scripture Study:  One hour of personal scripture study every morning is not nearly enough... Every day I read my patriarchal blessing, read the Book of Mormon in English for about 20 minutes, read ) Livro de Mormon for 30 minutes, and then study either Pregar Meu Evangelho or General Conference talks.  I am trying to figure-out the best method for learning, but the trick is to be thinking about my investigators the entire time.

-Sundays:  I love Sundays!  We had 24 people in church this week!  Wahoo!  Our goal is to get 50 by December, so we have a lot of work to do, but I am so ready.  We have Sunday School combined first as people trickle in, then we split into classes.  There is a class for new members and investigators, which is usually most of the congregation and then the normal adult Sunday School class.  We don't have many youth or kids, but that should change soon.  Do you remember that story that Thomas S. Monson told about the branch in Canada?  How they had to build it up slowly with great faith in order to get a chapel?  Well, that story is Panambi.  I love it here.  The members and even the less-actives are wonderful!  They have such strong testimonies and sometimes just need that little extra boost to get back on the right track.

-My area:  I am not sure how large our area is, but from our house to one end is 40 minutes walking, and the other is a little more than that, and of course our investigators that are the most ready live as far from us as possible on different sides of the map.  Haha.  I am going to get a lot of sun and exercise in Panambi.

-What do I eat?:  Everything.  In our house I try to only eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.  It is hard but I really want to be as healthy as possible as I do this work for the Lord.  For lunch at member's houses we have rice, black beans, vegetables, and some type of pudding like dessert.  It is all good, so it is easy to overeat, but watching portions and eating slowly is the way to go.

Thank you! I love you so much! You are always in my prayers!
-Sister Phelps

October 9, 2013

Week 9 (7 October 2013)

This weekend was amazing!!  I love General Conference so much and am so motivated to get this missionary work rolling faster and faster, as everyone should be!  One saying that three different speakers in conference used has really helped me in the past few weeks to get through the mission, and as Elder Holland said in his talk last General Conference (April 2013) that this saying helped President Hinckley through his mission as well is "Be not afraid, only believe."  How powerful.  This saying can apply to any aspect of our lives and in each minute of our lives because we all struggle with something.  Everyday my testimony is tried and often doubts form in my mind about aspects of the Gospel, or of my ability to do this divine work that I have been called to do here in Brazil.  Each time I remember these things. . . "Be not afraid, only believe," I have a loving Heavenly Father who is eagerly waiting my return and is watching over me every second of everyday, and I have been given the power to do this work and have been set apart by the power of God on the earth today, the Priesthood. 

Each of us is here on earth for a reason, we have already chosen to follow the plan of salvation and knew, even before we were born, that this life would not be easy.  But in order to become like our loving Father in Heaven it had to be done.  I am so grateful to be a missionary and I believe that the Lord will bless me with the gift of tongues more abundantly if I erase my doubts and only believe. 

One other quote that I love from conference was from President Uchtdorf.  He said, "Please brothers and sisters, doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."  I know this church is true.  We have been blessed with a knowledge of the gospel where so many of our brothers and sister have not.  SHARE IT WITH THEM!  You can do it! It is never going to be easy, but will be worth it!

This week was interesting.  Many of our investigators have been struggling to understand the concept of apostasy and the need for a restoration.  Many of our appointments have fallen through, and my companion had the flu on Friday, but all is well.  We were able to come to Cruz Alta (about 45 minutes from Panambi) to watch conference, and luckily they had it in English for the Americans.  Our little branch rented a bus on Sunday and came to join us in Cruz Alta.  Not many were able to come, but those who came were truly strengthened.  That is one thing I took for granted growing up where the church is more prevalent.  We have three young women, zero young men, and two primary children, but the work is moving forward. 

So. . . I thought that being on a mission would help me get better at being on time to things, but as Sister C~ and I sprint to the bus stop (every time) and barely make it I am forced to rethink things.  Haha.  Sister C~ is hilarious and I hope that as I get better at speaking Portuguese that we can become better friends.  It truly is a miracle that I can understand so much Portuguese for the short time I have been out.  And actually today marks 2 months in the mission.  CRAZY huh!?

I am loving it though! 

I love you so much!  Have a great week!

-Sister Phelps

September 30, 2013

My Mailing Address

Sarah would love getting your letters!

Caixa Postal 06
Centro- Cruz Alta- RS

Week 8 (30 September 2013)

This week was great!  We had so many miracles happen in Panambi. 

First and foremost we have an investigator that has committed to baptism on the 12th.  I am so excited for her and hope that it all goes through smoothly.  She is a wonderful woman and has such a beautiful family.  Hopefully they will all become as excited about the church as she is.  We met her by knocking on the house where she works.  After our first lesson she told us that she had never let anyone in the house while she was working, but she felt something when we asked to come in and now she has found the Gospel.  God works miracles through missionaries. I love it!

Our other progressing investigator is a mother as well.  We ran into her when we were crunched for time and asked if we could share a message with her another day.  She looked at us like we were crazy and told us that we should come in now instead of later.  As we taught her the Spirit spoke to each of us and she told us that she knew our message was true from the moment she saw us.  Our second lesson with her was about the First Vision.  It was my first time to give this lesson all the way through, in Portuguese, to a real investigator, but I tried my best and the Spirit did the rest.  I will never forget that moment.  It is times like that which truly remind me why I am in a foreign country teaching people about the church of Jesus Christ.

I know that this church is true.  This is the church that Jesus Christ established while He was here on the earth and was restored through Joseph Smith.  We have a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, we have Twelve Apostles, and the Priesthood!!  Don't be afraid to share it with others.  Oh and this week we have the great opportunity to hear from the prophet of God, I am so excited for General Conference and the wonderful reminders, lessons, and guidance we will receive through the mouth of servants of God.

I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be a missionary and God is giving me wonderful tender mercies.

So, a lot of the people in our branch and a few of our investigators are interested in learning English, so Sister G~ (the other American sister in Panambi) and I will probably start that up soon.  The problem is that I feel so unprepared to teach people English.  haha.  I love the people though and the culture of Rio Grande do Sul.  They have a custom here where they drink this concoction of greens (which taste a lot like grass) and hot water.  I am not a big fan, but every single person here drinks it at all times of the day.  Good thing it is not against the Word of Wisdom, or we wouldn't have any converts here.

The language is getting better, but my brain is starting to get very confused because it wants to think in English and Portuguese so there are times when nothing, and I mean nothing, is going on in my head.  It is really weird, but I am hopeful that it is a sign.  The Portuguese will come!

Please let me know what else y'all want to hear about.  It is hard to remember sometimes.  I love you all!  You are in my prayers!

Sister Phelps

September 23, 2013

Weeks 6-7 (23 September 2013)

I haven't written for two weeks, so this is going to be very summarized, sorry if I leave anything out.

My last week at the CTM was great and I felt ready to go into the field. (I laugh about that now...) So on Monday we had training all day and then Tuesday morning my district went our separate ways and off we went. We flew to Porto Alegre and then took a five hour bus ride to Santa Maria. We got to meet our President and Sister P~ and I felt instantly at home. I am where I am supposed to be right now and I love it here. We had in field training with the President and then were assigned companions. My companion is Sister C~. She is from Sao Paulo and is a perfect fit for me. We are so similar in our testimonies, our likes and dislikes, so it has been pretty easy to get along so far even with the language barrier.
Porto Alegre airport
We were assigned to labor in Panambi which is a city of 30,000 people and only ten active members. There are about 100 inactive members in our branch so we have the responsibility and privilege to try and strenthen our branch by reactivating members and finding new people to share the message of the restoration with. It surprised me at first how many people let us into their homes to share a message with them, but if there is one thing I have learned here it is that no matter what language you speak everyone understands the Spirit and a smile. If you have those two things with you you can accomplish anything. Sister C~ and I live with two other missionaries in a cute little apartment building. All of us are working in Panambi, which already shows you that the Lord wants his work to move forward here.
Panambi outside my window

Random things about Brazil: There is a stray dog on every corner, people listen to American music ALL THE TIME. I ran out of time, but send me your questions and I will answer them next week. I love you all so much! You are in my prayers.

Sister Phelps

September 14, 2013

Week 5 (11 September 2013)

It has been one of the toughest weeks, but I have grown a lot and figured out what kind of missionary I want to be... A HAPPY ONE! For about a week I was kind of stuck on a few problems that I had been having, but when I sat down and really thought about how I was feeling as a missionary I decided that I didn't smile enough.  It is crazy how powerful a smile is.  It can change someone's day or even open their heart to hear what message you have to share and make them wonder why you are so happy all of the time.  So, even when you are having a rough day find a reason to smile.  There are so many around you; you know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you have a loving family, you have a Heavenly Father who loves and knows you personally and you can talk to Him about anything.  There are so many more, but just keep this in mind!  It is so powerful!  All of the missionaries I have ever known, when I think of them in my mind, they are always smiling, I want to be that missionary.

Last Thursday all of the missionaries and I that came straight to the CTM on August 7th got to go to the police station to be fingerprinted.  It was a lot of fun and we ran into some Americanos who have been serving here for quite a while and it gave us hope.  One Elder said that he dreams and thinks in Portuguese; I can't wait until that is me!! I love Brazil and am so excited to learn Portuguese!

One of our investigators is getting "baptized" on Sabado! I am super excited for him and am even more excited to meet all of the real investigators in Santa Maria when I get there in CINCO DIAS!  I cannot wait.  I will be flying to Santa Maria with seven other missionaries, three Americanos, and four Brazilaros; needless to say, this is going to be one fun plane ride.  This also means that I have no idea when my next p-day will be because I will be in Santa Maria.  Hopefully we get to email you when we get there, but I'm not sure exactly how that works.

We have two Brazilian roommates who are hilarious.  One thing that makes Brazil even more amazing is that most of the people have a great sense of humor so I feel like I fit in well.  (Sometimes I am not sure if they are laughing at my awful Portuguese or at the joke,) but either way we bond through laughter because of the language barrier.

One of the things that my District has been focusing on a lot this week is the importance of focus.  Making time to study and plan is pointless if you are not focused during those times.  The most important lesson I have learned this week is that when the spirit is with you it is easier to focus on your work and your studies.  I know that I can still use my time more wisely, but this little epiphany that I had this week has helped a lot. :)

It was Brazil's Independence Day on the 7th.  Because the biggest meal of the day in Brazil is lunch, let's just say that I had no room for dinner.  They had delicious meats and tons of our favorite vegetables, but, best of all... THERE WAS SORVETE (ICE CREAM!!) I have been wanting ice cream since I got here so now I officially know that dreams come true and prayers are answered. :)  But really though, that was some amazing ice cream!  I LOVE BRAZIL!  And I love the Brazilian National Anthem.  You should look it up.  It is super fast and super fun, and if you listen to the crazy piano part we get to hear it played live every time we sing it because Presidente Degn is a concert pianist, aka, the coolest person EVER!  I love the Degns!  That is one of my favorite things about being here in the Brazil CTM, is that you get to know everyone personally, including President and Sister Degn.

So... things that I miss most about the US... you all knew this was coming.  I mean I have been in a foreign country for six weeks almost.  I miss my family A LOT, I miss macaroni and cheese, my dog, having milk whenever I want it, bacon, BYU, having some alone time (don't get me wrong, I love my companion, but I need a break every now and then...), my iPhone because I am constantly wanting to know the conversions for kilo to lbs, fahrenheit to celsius, miles to kilometers, etc.  Anyway, I know that this is where I am supposed to be and I feel privileged to be able to serve a mission even if I miss some things about the past.

This Church is wonderful.  I love this gospel.


Love ya!
-Sister Phelps

Week 4 (4 September 2013)

So, to answer the questions... Sisters are allowed to wear sandals during the summers in Santa Maria (but only closed toes shoes are allowed at the CTM.) I am not sure about the mosquito repellent, but deodorant is a yes, bring it and no, they do have peanut butter here!  I'm not sure exactly what the other questions were.  Send me a list and I will get back to you next week, (my last Wednesday in the CTM.)

Okay, it has been an eventful week.
Last Wednesday we got 5 new members of our district, so now there are four of us going to Santa Maria at the CTM instead of only two, which I am super pumped about.

Last Friday we were able to bus into the center of Sao Paulo and go proselyting instead of walking around by the CTM, which is what usually happens.  My companion and I were able to place six O Livro de Mormons, it was an amazing and humbling experience.  You don't realize what the real world is like until you experience it.  People want to hear about Jesus Cristo, and would love to get their hands on a Book of Mormon, but they don't know it exists.  Let them know!  The first woman I talked to was sitting next to me on the bus.  She was a Catholic and had been all of her life.  When I told her about the Book of Mormon and offered her a copy she was so touched, she said that I was able to touch her heart, and truly, that is the whole reason why I have left my family, school, friends, and everything else back in the States.  I love the people of Brazil, they are so full of love and the light of Christ, now all they need is A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos do Ultimos Dias.

I have the funniest Peruvian roommates.  They are hilarious and it is never a dull moment in our apartment.  One of them is super funny and love talking about American movies, songs, and culture.  We help her with her English and she knows the most random sayings in English and says them all the time, like "hasta la vista baby!"  Unfortunately we are moving up a floor tonight because we are getting Brazilian roommates, which should help our Portuguese.  I am excited, but sad that we are leaving our little Peruvians behind.

On Saturday night Sister S lost her voice.  She wasn't able to talk normally until yesterday so I had to teach most of the lessons myself, but it was a good learning experience.  I just felt bad for her because she felt like her Portuguese was fading because she wasn't able to practice it that much.

On Saturday we ate lunch and none of us were very hungry and we were saving room for the dinner before Fast Sunday.  Little did we know that in South America they fast from Almoco to Almoco (lunch to lunch) instead of Jantar to Jantar (dinner to dinner).  Right after our small lunch we were told this.  Talk about a bummer, but we learned that fasting is truly a sacrifice and that we can do hard things.  It wasn't really that bad, haha, just a little confusing.

Okay, I cannot believe that it is already September.  Wasn't I just about to leave for my mission, this is insane!  I am loving how fast time is flying, but am also sad to leave the CTM in only two more weeks.  Wow, it is all becoming very real now.  During our meeting on Sunday one of the counselors of the CTM presidency said something that really changed the way I have been looking at missionary work lately.  He said, "You all have already decided to become missionaries, but now you must decide what kind of missionary you want to become."

WE GOT OUR FIRST BAPTISMAL DATE!  Our investigator W (who is actually our instructor Irmao V) now has fully committed to live the law of chastity and be baptized on October 5th.  I am so excited.  It is an amazing feeling to see someone be interested in what we are teaching (in broken Portuguese) and absorb the message of the restoration with enthusiasm and be willing to change his life in order to come unto Christ.  Things aren't going as smoothly with our other investigator, but we are going to try new tactics this week to get her more interested.

Patience is my theme this week.  Having a companion can be very hard at times and is the thing that I am struggling with most right now, but tudo bem, all is well.  I never realized how hard and even painful patience can be, but as I practice having Christlike charity and compassion towards everyone it is becoming easier.

This morning we were able to go to the Sao Paulo temple.  We had two hours before our session started so we had the opportunity to help in the laundry room.  I also did the session in Portuguese.  That was quite the experience as well.

I wish you the best with this upcoming week!
I love you all and hope you are having a fantastic week.  You all are wonderful!

Sister Phelps

Week 3 (28 August 2013)

It has been an eventful week as always. 

Sister S and I are really getting the hang of things and are able to get our message out quickly and invite the spirit more abundantly even though we are lacking the language skills we want.  The language is coming along though.  I am going on a English fast for a few days this upcoming week, so we will see how that goes.  Our investigators are not "real," they are our instructors pretending to be investigators, but we treat them as if they were truly investigating the Church.  W was able to make and keep some difficult commitments this week including preparing for baptism and living the Word of Wisdom.  He always has so many questions and is progressing so much each day.  F on the other hand is not at all interested in our message and we still have to figure out what she needs in her life and how we can apply the immense blessings of the gospel to her at a more meaningful and personal level.  She isn't as quiet as before and is beginning to keep her commitments and see us more as friends instead of teachers.  Needless to say, I love them both and cannot wait to get into the compo (field) and serve God's children and help them come unto Christ and change their lives in order to return to Him one day.

I heard a statistic this week (which could be a little off because the man who told me was speaking Portuguese really quickly, but I think this is what he said... haha).  There are now 99 visa waiters in the states and guess how many got their visas this week... 2.  Crazy huh!?

During personal study this week I have been studying and trying to gain more insight into the things in my patriarchal blessing.  One of the most powerful realization I had this week was about the power and importance of the Priesthood.  Dallin and Dad, you hold the power of God, what a privilege, and because of the Restoration that power is on the earth again for everyone to utilize if they have faith and believe in God's limitless power.  I love this Church and am so glad to be serving a mission and through the power of the Priesthood I have been set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ to serve the people of Brazil.  Man, I am so happy!  :)

Meals were pretty much the same this week, but something spectacular happened...WE HAD DORITOS WITH DINNER!  Best day ever.  Seriously though, Americans, take advantage of Wal-mart and HEB... haha.

This morning we had the privilege of going to the Sao Paulo temple.  It is my second favorite temple for sure.  The inside is just so beautiful.  I love the temple.

We are getting four new missionaries in our district from Provo today.  Two elders and two sisters.  I am way excited and a little anxious to see how the dynamics of the district change with newbies here.  It should be fun!

Things I would have done before coming on my mission...
-Studied Portuguese grammar (I am now wishing I paid more attention in 7th and 8th grade Spanish class, conjugations are definitely not coming easily), but other than that I love Portuguese!  A LOT!!  It is a beautiful language.
-Read the entire missionary handbook once a week before the mission.  It is your life line, and it is good to know the rules before you get here so that strict obedience comes naturally.
-Stop saying slang now.  Anything you would not feel comfortable saying in front of the Savior or President Monson should not be in your vocabulary.
-Do something good constantly.  It is amazing how many things you can accomplish in one day when you aren't watching TV or surfing facebook... Make time for things.  Set goals.  Accomplish them. 
You will feel much more prepared as you use your time wisely.  The section in Preach My Gospel about this is super helpful.

I love you all and wish you the best of luck in everything you are doing.  Familia, know that I pray for you every night, at every meal, before bed, during personal and companion study, and any other time I pray.  I love you all sooo soo much and want you to succeed.  You are all wonderful!

Sister Phelps

August 23, 2013

Week 2 (21 August 2013)

It has been quite the week.

We have two new investigators and so far things are going great!  We got W-- to pray for us and read a lot of the Book of Mormon.  We challenged him to be baptized and he promised to prepare, but he didn't want to set a date.  Our other investigator has been more of a struggle, but my companion and I are learning how to better plan our lessons in order to meet the needs of our investigators.

I have been getting headaches a lot because of all the knowledge that I am trying to cram into my head.  I have to keep telling myself that I need to first learn the language of the Spirit and the Gospel and then I can better learn Portuguese.  Hopefully it will start to work.  Haha.

Saturday was a lot of fun.  For service, instead of cleaning floors in the CTM or dusting, we got to go out onto the street and pick up trash.  It was a neat experience.  People kept talking about "the Americans" who were serving them and we were able to share with some of the people around us about why we are in Brazil.  I already love the Brazilian people and I haven't even been around them very much.  It is an amazing culture centered around family and Christ, just like our church!   My message is perfect for them. 

For example, we were able to bus over to the Campinas temple this morning.  The CTM instructor was in our mini bus, van thing.  He kept telling the Elders that they should talk to the bus driver about the church.  They eventually were able to start up a conversation with the man and the CTM instructor began to tell him all about the church, how we believe that families can be together forever and the man seemed really touched.  He came and picked us up after the session and we game him a The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a picture of Jesus, O Livro de Mormon, and a picture of the First Presidency.  He seemed very touched and I truly hope that he will look into the church.  Even though this man may never get baptized, we have planted a seed that might lead to something greater.  Another wonderful thing about this experience is that as the instructor told him about the church I was able to understand nearly every word that he said.  If that is not the gift of tongues, I don't know what is.  The CTM is a wonderful place.  One thing I didn't realize is that this building was dedicated as a temple would be, it is more than just another church building.

Last night for devotional, we were able to watch an address that Elder Bednar gave in the Provo MTC on Christmas Day in 2011.  He said a few things that really changed the way I am thinking about my mission.  He hammered home the idea that we are not here for ourselves.  We are here because we are truly "representatives of Jesus Christ."  He also said that we need to develop in ourselves the "character of Christ."  Which he explained is turning outward and helping others when the "natural man" would want us to turn inward and think only of ourselves.  I am so grateful to be here in Brazil, preparing to serve the people here with all of my heart.  I hope to learn to see everyone around me as Christ would see them and becoming more and more like Him every day.  As I wear my nametag, it doesn't just say "Sister Phelps," it also bears the name of Jesus Cristo.  Eu sei que Jesus Cristo es meu Salvador, e todos pessoas Salvador. Ele e Pai Celestial amo nos. I am honored to represent them as I strive to serve and as Elder Bednar said, "Missionaries are visual testimonies of the love of Jesus Christ."

Thank you for all of your love and support.

August 14, 2013

First P-day

Our day starts at 6:30 like all other missionaries, we go straight to breakfast and then have time for personal study in our classroom.  Our district is so fun, but kind of small.  At the moment it is comprised of two trios, one trio of sisters and one of elders.  Unfortunately they are taking my third companion and giving her to a sister that just arrived from Provo this morning, but it was fun while it lasted!  Yesterday he shared with us his conversion story and why he served a mission, and it made me realize that as missionaries, we are not only finding people to baptize and bring to Christ, but those people that we find  could serve missions, or have children that serve missions.  It was quite the ipiphany. (I can't spell... haha.)

The language is coming along.  I can get my point across for the most part, but conjugations are really messing me up.  I am wishing I remembered more about 8th grade Spanish.  The Rosetta Stone that I used this summer seemed to help a lot though and my entire district relies on me to tell them how to pronounce things.  It makes me feel good about my Portuguese.  The only time that I really get frustrated with language barriers is when my companions and I teach our "investigators."  They are professors and professoras in disguise, it makes it more fun.  Our last investigator's name was E--.  She was only 16 and had no interest in learning about Jesus Christ or the church and claimed that she only asked the missionaries to bring her a Book of Mormon because it was free.  As we got to know her more we found more that she had in common with church members and she eventually came to church with us and was able to feel the Spirit.  She really was interested in the sacrament and connected with that concept of the Gospel.  Irmao V-- told us that the only reason he began listening to the missionaries was because he was interested in the history of the Nephites and Lamanites, but then he learned to hear and heed the Spirit and became converted.

After language study we have lunch, which is a bigger deal than dinner here.  In Estados Unidos families gather for dinner, but in Brazil they eat lunch together as a family.  We then have classes that are more focused on missionary work, teaching lessons, and learning to love the people and the culture of Brazil.  Around 4 we eat dinner and then have an hour or so to prepare to teach our investigator.  It is really nerve wracking, but better to learn here than in the field.  We get a snack around 9 (which is another thing they do here in Brazil) and then we plan for the next day and have to be in bed by 10:30.  The days are long and seem like they will never end, but I love it.  I feel so productive and now I wish I had used my time more wisely this summer.

This morning we were able to go to the Campinas Brasil Temple.  The Sao Paulo temple is currently closed for cleaning, which means that I get to go to two temples in Brasil before I leave the CTM.  Something that struck me today as I was sitting in the temple is that I never want to be separated from my family.  I am so grateful for this knowledge that I have that families can be together forever.  I realized that is why I am serving a mission; to bring people closer to their Savior and by doing so help them get to the temple with their families.

Last thought before I have to go.  This week Presidente Degn (of the CTM) told all of the new missionaries one very important thing.  "You cannot convert others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if you have not first converted yourself."

I love Brasil and am so happy to be here!

Sister Phelps

August 5, 2013

Mission Pictures

Tomorrow I am off to Brazil to serve the Lord for 18 months! Before I leave I wanted to share with you my mission scripture. Ether 12:27 says...

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 
I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my 
grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; 
for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, 
then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I was able to take my mission pictures this morning. The lovely Sister Penman was able to take them for me. :) Look out... there are more to come!

July 31, 2013

Becoming a Consecrated Missionary

Becoming a Consecrated Missionary
Given by Elder Tad R. Callister, of the Seventy
Provo Missionary Training Center
October 7, 2008

"Many years ago I entered the Mission Training Center as a young enthusiastic missionary. The training was shorter and simpler then, but the spirit was just as powerful. I have long forgotten most of what was said, but an observation made by the president of the Mission Training Center struck me and has remained with me to this day. He said in essence: “Every mission has a number of good, even great missionaries, but most missions only have about five or so consecrated missionaries – those who are willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice.”

Today I believe we have many more such consecrated missionaries. But to those of you who are not quite there, but would like to be, it is you to whom I would like to speak today – about becoming a consecrated missionary.

What is a Consecrated Missionary?
What is a consecrated missionary? It is a missionary who is willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice and to hold nothing back. It is a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion to this work – to submit our will to God’s will whatever it may be. Every missionary who has been to the temple has covenanted to consecrate his all. The book of Omni records the depth and breadth of that covenant: “Yea, come unto me, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26).

The law of consecration is the law of the temple, it is the law of the celestial kingdom, and it is the law of a celestial mission.

Parley P. Pratt was such a consecrated missionary. He had served as a missionary for more than 25 years of almost constant labors. He had just returned from his latest mission in Chile. He was hopeful that he could now remain at home and enjoy his family, but such expectations were short lived. President Brigham Young called him to serve yet another mission– this time in the eastern states. One can imagine the feelings that must have swelled up in Parley’s heart. Perhaps he thought, “Haven’t I given all that a mortal could be expected to give? Don’t I deserve to spend some time with my family and friends? Can’t I just relax for a while?”

But Parley P. Pratt was a consecrated missionary. On September 7, 1856, shortly after learning of his call by Brigham Young, he offered the following tender reflections and prophetic insights: “I have desired, after travelling for twenty-five or twenty-six years, mostly abroad, to stay at home and minister among the people of God, and take care of my family; but God’s will be done, and not mine. If it is the will of God that I should spend my days in proclaiming this Gospel and bearing testimony of these things, I shall think myself highly privileged and honored. And when the Spirit of God is upon me, I think it matters but very little what I suffer, what I sacrificed–whether I secure the honor or dishonor of men, or where I die, if it so be that I can keep the faith, fight the good fight, and finish my course with joy. I have all eternity before me, in which to enjoy myself.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. xxv.)

Sometimes there is a temptation to withhold part of the offering. Such was the case with Ananias and Sapphira, his wife. The scriptures tell us that they sold a piece of land. Under thelaw of consecration they were to turn over the entire sale proceeds to the church, but secretly they kept back part of the price. The consequence was devastating – they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-10). Sometimes good men, perhaps even great men, can’t quite bring themselves to put everything on the altar of sacrifice, and in the course lose their eternal lives. So it was with the rich young ruler. He had kept the commandments from his youth up. Then the Savior declared, “Yet lackest thou one thing. Sell all thou hast and distribute unto the poor…and come follow me.” But it was too much to ask, and he went away sorrowful, unwilling to put his all on the sacrificial altar.

Peter, overhearing the conversation and understanding there could be no shortcuts to eternal life, no holding back, declared in contrast: “We have left all and followed thee” (Luke 18:18-28). Perhaps we have one or two things which we lack, that we hold back from the sacrificial altar, that prevent us from becoming a consecrated missionary. May I discuss some of those, so that hopefully we too might become like Peter and leave our all on the altar of sacrifice.

Put On the Altar of Sacrifice Any Disobedience.
First, a consecrated missionary puts on the altar of sacrifice any streak of disobedience he may possess, however large or small it may be. He has an unrelenting quest to be exactly obedient. King Lamoni recognized that Ammon was a consecrated missionary, for he said: “Even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them” (Alma 18:10). When I first entered the field as a mission president, I met several times with a missionary who was struggling with obedience. One day in frustration he blurted out: “What then is it you want me to do?” I replied: “You have missed the point. It is not what I want you to do, it should be what do you want to do?” There was a moment of silence and then he made this insightful observation: “You are not just asking me to change my behavior; you are asking me to change my nature.” He was so right.

If you only change your behavior, then you will be the same person you were when you left home, subject to the same problems that plagued you then. But if you change your nature you will go home a new man or woman, with the power and discipline to conquer your old Goliaths. If you only get up at 6:30 am because your companion does, you have merely changed your behavior. If you get up whether or not he does, you have changed your nature. If you speak good words but entertain bad thoughts, you have only changed your behavior. If you also change your thoughts you have also changed your nature. With the Lord’s help we can transform our natures. King Benjamin gave the key as to how we can do it. We must become “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mos 3:19).

That is the key – to submit our will to God’s will.

One missionary, upon going home told me that he slept in one morning. His companion said to him, “It’s time to get out of bed.” This missionary responded, “I don’t want to.” His companion replied, “It’s not about what you want, it’s about what the Lord wants.” The missionary said; “I have never forgotten that – a mission is about that the Lord wants, not what I want.”

A consecrated nature will cause us to be obedient, not because we have to, but because we want to. Such a nature may cause us to change the music we listen to; it may cause some to be more positive in their speech, or more exacting in following the morning schedule or more diligent in their studies. Whatever it is, the consecrated missionary will read the white handbook with enthusiasm, anxious to obey and follow every rule with exactness, knowing that it is not a book of restraints, but a book of blessings. He will have an overarching, burning desire to do the Lord’s will, not his.

Leave Our Fears on the Sacrificial Altar
Second, consecrated missionaries leave their fears on the sacrificial altar and open their mouths with everyone. This will be one of your great challenges in the mission field. It sometimes separates the consecrated missionaries from the good missionaries. I recognize there may be multiple reasons why someone doesn’t open his mouth at all times and in all places – why he holds back a part of the offering. It could be a timid personality, or a fear of man, or a streak of laziness, but whatever the excuse may be, it must eventually be overcome. It never outweighs the Savior’s command which states: “And thou must open thy mouth at all times.” (DC 28:16). This injunction is repeated again and again in the scriptures.

On another occasion the Lord said, “At all times and in all places he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump both day and night.” And then comes the promise to those who do: “And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men” (DC 24:12).

Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it. There is no magic pill that makes us courageous, no passage of time that strengthens us, no memorized approach that emboldens us. We are left only with the compelling counsel of King Benjamin: “And now, if ye believe all these things, see that you do them” (Mosiah 4:19).

Years ago my grandfather was serving as the president of the Rotterdam Branch in Holland. He told of a woman who came to him destitute, who had earned the equivalent of an American quarter for the entire week. She asked if she needed to pay tithing. He looked at her for a minute in her impoverished condition, and then said: “Sister, if this were my church, I would not take your tithing. But it is not my church; it is the Lord’s church, and tithing is a principle upon which blessings of the Lord are predicated.” (LeGrand Richards Speaks, P. 185.)
She paid her tithing.

If I could as a Mission President, I would have exempted some missionaries who struggled with opening their mouth. I knew how hard it was for them, but I couldn’t. The command to open one’s mouth is not my command. It is not the command of Preach My Gospel, it is not the command of the missionary department, it is the command of the Lord who has spoken on this subject again and again through his living prophets. Sometimes we have to be like Nephi and say, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne 3:7). Eventually we must do more than tell the stories of the Book of Mormon; we must live them.

The Lord, in speaking to a group of departing missionaries (like you), told them five times to “preach by the way” (DC 52:10-27). We preach by the way when we talk to people in the parking lots, when we speak with people in elevators, when we speak to people in the stores or on the bus or at the gas stations. Consecrated missionaries preach by the way at all times and in all places, both day and night. Sometimes we have missionaries who are so worried about offending people that in the process they never ever save them.

I had an assistant who used to say, “If you want to baptize a few people you talk to a few people, if you want to baptize a lot of people you talk to a lot of people and if you want to baptize everyone you can, you talk to everyone you can.” But the Lord gave an even further reason for opening our mouths. He declared: “And it shall be given thee from the time thou shalt go [out of thy apartment in the morning], until the time thou shalt return [to thy apartment in the evening] what thou shalt do”. (DC 28:15-16). In other words, you will have the spirit from the moment you leave your apartment until the moment you return to your apartment if you do what is required in verse 16: “And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing. Amen.”

The reason it is so important to open our mouths is that every time we do so we exercise faith, and every time we exercise faith we invite the spirit and miracles into our lives. Consecrated missionaries open their mouth with everyone.

Put Our Romantic Passions on the Table
Third, a consecrated missionary puts his romantic passions on the altar of sacrifice; he has a locked heart and a focused mind. He is never flirtatious, he does not have an eye on the cute BYU coed or the friendly young single adult, nor is his prime focus with the young women after sacrament meeting. He is not obsessed with his girlfriend back home. He rises above all of that.

In my day the white handbook contained this all-inclusive statement: “Put out of your mind all thoughts of home, school, your girl and worldly things.” It was a powerful reminder that our mission was the sole focus of our mind and the sole passion of our heart. As hard as it may be, the consecrated missionary disciplines his passions. His eye is riveted to this work. He is like the thoroughbred horse with his blinders on. He races ahead, seeing only track and finish. If an inappropriate thought enters his mind, he drives it out with a hymn or scripture. His mind does not go with the flow. Rather, there is an active, concerted, conscientious effort to keep his mind pure and clean.

When David saw Bathsheba on the rooftop, he continued to watch – that was his downfall. When Joseph was tempted by Pharaoh’s wife, the scriptures say: “[He] got him out” (Gen 39:12), and that was his salvation. It is no different with our minds. Alma taught this principle to his son Corianton, who had unfortunately unlocked his heart to the harlot Isabel. Alma scolded his son severely and said, “Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many, but this was no excuse for thee, my son.” And then he gave him the remedy to be a consecrated missionary, “go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross [or discipline] yourself in all these things.” (Alma 39:4,9).

You young missionaries who enter the field, will be surrounded, almost immersed, by those in immodest clothing, by suggestive billboards, by magazines and papers that have lost all sense of moral decency. If you garnish your thoughts with virtue unceasingly (DC 121:45) the consequences will be monumental in your life. As a missionary you will have confidence that the Lord will hear and answer your prayers. The Lord himself promised: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (DC 121:45) In addition, when you go home and date, you may not only have a romantic courtship, but one that is also clean and wholesome. And when you are married you will be a loyal and true spouse. If every action is preceded by a thought, then every consecrated missionary must first have a clean and consecrated mind.

Give Up Pride
Fourth, a consecrated missionary gives up his pride on the sacrificial altar. The Lord made it clear, “And no one can assist in this work except he be humble and full of love” (DC 12:8). Pride manifests itself in many ways – one way is disloyalty to those who are our leaders.

Loyalty is much more than a reluctant submissiveness. It is an active pursuit, not only to follow the counsel of our leaders, but to seek their counsel. A consecrated missionary hungers and thirsts for instruction as to how he can be better, and how fortunate we are to have so many missionaries in the world who manifest that spirit. Again and again missionaries would ask me in the field, “President, what can I do to be a better missionary.” And oh, how they became so.

Pride may manifest itself in jealousy of companions. I think of one of the finest elders of our mission. I never heard him say “I.” It was always “we” or “my companion did this” or “my companion did that.” Though his words always credited someone else, somehow you always knew he was the driving force behind it all. Pride may manifest itself in a reluctance to confess our sins. We may be too embarrassed to do so, or fearful of the consequences or unrealistically hoping the sin will somehow vanish if we serve an honorable mission. But at the root of each of those excuses is pride.

On one occasion a missionary came to me with a belated confession. I asked him what motivated him to come. He responded: “I finally disclosed to my companion that I had something to confess to the President, but I didn’t want to go home. Then my companion said something that struck me to the very core. “Elder,” he said, “there is something even more important than your mission.” Somewhat surprised I replied, “What is that?” Then came his answer: “Repentance – repentance is more important than your mission.” The young Elder who sat before me said, “President, I knew he was right. And that is why I am here. I want to repent.” Not too long ago I received an invitation to attend his temple sealing.

Some have honestly asked, “When should I confess?” When the sin is of such a serious magnitude that it may trigger a disciplinary proceeding or continues to linger in our minds so that we cannot have peace. If we then fail to confess, our spiritual horizons become limited. It is like being surrounded by a circular, impenetrable wall. In such a circumstance, we have some limited room in which to move, but we are trapped. We will look in vain for a slit through which we can squeeze, an opening through which we can pass, an end around which we can travel. There are no end runs, no secret openings, no hidden passages. Serving a faithful mission does not obviate confession; months and years of abstinence no not erase its need; one-on-one pleading with the Lord is not a substitute. Somewhere, sometime, somehow one must face the wall square up and climb it. That is confession. When we do this our spiritual horizons become unlimited and we become entitled to the promise of the Lord. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

Pride may manifest itself in a defensive attitude or a multitude of excuses. On one occasion I reprimanded a missionary for an act of blatant disobedience. He started to offer excuses; finally I said, “If you want to offer excuses I cannot help you. If you are willing to acknowledge the wrong, I will work with you and we can build for a constructive future on a sure and solid foundation.” That day he had to choose between rationalization and repentance. Fortunately he chose the latter.

One night I was with an Elder Choi and Elder McClellan. We were talking to a mother who was reluctant to let her 17-year-old son be baptized. For at least ten minutes of the conversation she chastised these elders severely, and literally “raked them over the coals.” No doubt they were embarrassed, perhaps even offended, particularly since their mission president was present. In my estimation they had done nothing wrong. Instead, they were taking an undeserved whipping of substantial proportions. I thought, will they fight back, will they argue, will they defend their position? To their credit there was no argument, no excuses – simply the humble response that they were trying to do what was best for her son and if in any way they had failed to do so they were sorry. They were not trying to win an argument. They were trying to save a soul. With that humble spirit, her heart softened, and finally she agreed that she would listen more carefully to the message her son was being taught. They were consecrated missionaries – every ounce of their pride had been put on the altar of sacrifice.

We Put our Negativism and Sarcasm on the Table.
Fifth, consecrated missionaries are willing to give up any negativism or sarcasm. Instead they are optimistic and positive. They have a 24-hour smile. They live the invitation of the Savior, “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). There is not a negative
bone in their bodies. There is no rejection at the door or on the street that can dim their enthusiasm. They are willing to pay the price of repeated rejection for the hope of a single conversion. Whatever the world throws at them, they throw back a smile, because they know they have the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Consecrated missionaries are like Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, who left for their missions to England. Their families were poverty stricken, they were sick, and there was little food available for the ensuing months. Heber and Brigham, finally able to raise themselves from their own sick beds, kissed their wives and started on their journey. Brigham recorded: “It seemed to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at the thought of leaving my family in such a condition.” (Men With a Mission, p. 71.) But before they were out of sight, Brigham directed the teamster to stop. He and Heber mustered all their strength to stand, they raised their hats over their heads three times and shouted, “Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel.” We have such consecrated missionaries who can shout “Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Israel” even when they are bombarded with rejection, or illness, or disappointment – who have unwavering faith in the promise of Paul: “let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9).

Consecrated missionaries are extra-milers. They put on the table of sacrifice every ounce of their energy, every hour of every day. When Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, he collapsed at the finish line into the hands of his well-wishers. A journalist, sensing all that was involved in that historic moment wrote: “The runner, open-mouthed, thin-legged, knowing only pace and goal, spending his strength so that the finish, at one mile, there was nothing more.” For a consecrated missionary there is nothing more to give at the end of the day. He has put it all on the altar of sacrifice.Consecrated missionaries are missionaries who would finish the marathon. They aremissionaries who would go the full fifteen rounds. They are missionaries who carry no whiteflags.

Years ago at family night we would have wrestling as part of the evening activities – our children loved it. When the kids were little I would sometimes hold them down and ask, “Do you give up?” At first they would say, “Yes Dad, I give up.” Then I would say, “No, you never give up, you never give up.” As time would pass and I would ask the question again, they would quickly reply, “No, Dad I never give up.” Consecrated missionaries never give up on the Lord’s work. They never throw in the towel. They would have made it from Palmyra to Salt Lake Valley. Nothing would have weeded them out along the way. For you see, they had unwavering faith.

Consecrated missionaries are out of the apartment by 10:00 a.m. They do not come back before 9:00 p.m., except for lunch or dinner. They speak to everyone. They knock at one more door. There is a quickness in their pace and an urgency in their work. You can see it in their faces.

Years ago I was a young missionary in Washington DC. I was on an exchange with an Elder Hafen. It was a bike area. We had an appointment across town but the rain started to pour. He asked, “Should I cancel the appointment?” I replied, “This is your area, you make the decision. “He thought for a moment and then replied, “Let’s ride.” I love those words – “Let’s ride” – rain, sleet, snow, it doesn’t matter – “Let’s ride.” That is the spirit of a consecrated missionary.

When consecrated missionaries are exhausted and nothing is left, they rely upon their faith, and the reserve tanks of energy somehow carry them through the day. They too become recipients of the promise to Joseph Smith: “In temporal labors thou shalt not have strength for this is not thy calling.” But then the promise: “Thou shall devote all thy service in Zion; and in this thou shalt have strength” (DC 24:7-9).

What Does it Cost to Become a Consecrated Missionary?
What is the cost to become a consecrated missionary? Some time ago I saw a movie on the life of Martin Luther. He was about to be tried for heresy. Shortly before he was to meet with the Court of Inquisition, his spiritual mentor (a monk who had trained him and loved him) was cutting his hair with a razor. At one point the monk reprimanded Luther for having turned the world upside down, leading the world in revolt – Protestants against Catholics.

Then in a stirring moment, Luther grasps his arm and asks: “You wanted me to change the world. Did you think there would be no cost?” You young missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost. It costs everything that you have on the altar of sacrifice – your fears, your pride, your laziness, your disobedience, your weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back. When you came to the mission field you burned the bridges behind you, you burned the ships in the harbor. There is no retreat to your former life. You cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field.

That is a certain formula for frustration. The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar. That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God.

What Is the Power of a Consecrated Missionary?
What is the power of a consecrated missionary? Suppose I were to give you the
following options, which would you choose?
-100 mediocre missionaries or 80 consecrated missionaries?
-100 mediocre missionaries or 50 consecrated missionaries?
-100 mediocre missionaries or 20 consecrated missionaries?
-100 mediocre missionaries or 2 consecrated missionaries?
(by the way, the names of those consecrated missionaries are Alma and Ammon)

Nephi realized that power comes with consecration, not numbers. Laman and Lemuel could never understand this. They could not comprehend how they could get the brass plates. After all they said, “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 he can slay fifty, then why not us.” For them it was all about numbers – 50 was more than 4, therefore they could not prevail. But for Nephi, man’s power was inconsequential. It was only the Lord’s power that counted. He replied: “For behold he [God] is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even his tens of thousands” (1 Ne 4:1). The power of a consecrated missionary is without limit. It is manifested in so many ways. As to Nephi (son of Nephi), the scriptures tell us his words were so powerful, that for his detractors, “it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words” (3 Ne 7:18). When the sons of Mosiah preached the gospel, the scriptures declare: “They taught with power and authority of God” (Alma 17:3). And as to those consecrated missionaries who thrust in their sickle with all their souls, the Lord promised: “your sins are forgiven you” (DC 31:5). Those are the powers and blessings of a consecrated missionary, and that is why the Prophet Joseph said; “it is not the multitude of preachers that is to bring about the glorious millennium; but it is those who are ‘called, and chosen, and faithful.” (TPJ 42). In essence – the consecrated.

Consecrated Missionaries Serve the Savior Because They Love Him.
What is the driving, motivating force for a consecrated missionary? It is the Savior and His Atonement. If we fail to be obedient, if we fail to be humble, if we fail to be fearless, perhaps we intellectually understand the Atonement, but somehow we fail to grasp the underlying love of his sacrifice. Once we feel that, as well as understand it, we will be driven to give our all. We will realize that our all is a small repayment for his all.

Becoming a Consecrated Missionary.
Each of us might appropriately ask, “What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?” There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved – God will compel us to change, to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zone again and again. If we are lazy or idle, he will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, he will press us until we have a child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses.

Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming a consecrated missionary, the Lord has promised that if we have faith in him, and humble ourselves before him, that he will make weak things become strong unto us (Ether 12:26-27). I believe that. I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater than the potential strengths within him. Why? – because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls. I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that he recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be, striving to put our whole souls on the altar of sacrifice. At first, consecration may seem like Mt. Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable, but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we have attained the summit.

May we not be content with being a good, even a great missionary, when we have the capacity to be consecrated missionaries. Mormon declared with boldness: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people that they might have everlasting life” (2 Ne 5:13). May it be so with each of us, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Spiritual Preparation


Preparing for a mission is tough. After five months of waiting for August 7th it is finally almost here, and I feel as unprepared as ever. It is hard for any future missionary, whether they are called to serve in Japan, Brazil, or Montana to fully wrap their mind around what needs to be done in order to feel "ready" to serve the Lord for 18 months. I often ask myself the question: "how could I better prepare myself spiritually for this journey that I am about to embark on?" After months of gathering insights into mission life and the best ways to prepare I thought I might share what I have learned for myself and from others who have prepared or who are preparing to serve missions.

1. How can I best prepare myself spiritually to serve a mission?

One of my best friends who is currently serving in the Arizona Mesa Mission said "read the entire Preach My Gospel and Book of Mormon before you go. That will help more than anything else." Even though this tid bit of advice may seem like a "duh" moment for some, it is always a good reminder to go back to the basics. While finding random sites about missionary work might help you feel more at ease about moving to Indonesia for 18 months it will not help as much when you get into the field. The missionary department and General Authorities of the church created Preach My Gospel to be read, pondered, and diligently studied by all members of the church, especially future missionaries.

The greatest help to me so far as I prepare myself for the overwhelming spiritual experience that I am bound to have in the CTM and in the mission field is getting to know my Savior and Heavenly Father more fully. As I have diligently sought to become closer to them over the past few months I can honestly say that I have never felt happier about life in general. Last week I went to teach a young man with the sister missionaries in my ward. We taught him about the restoration, and as Preach My Gospel outlines, we began the lesson by reassuring the investigator that he has a loving Heavenly Father who knows Him personally. Telling Him this powerful truth would not have been easy if the sisters and I did not know, without a doubt, that it was true. KNOW FOR YOURSELF. If you aren't sure about a gospel principal because you have never quite gained a testimony of your own, do as James 1:5 directs, "ask of God". I have heard many missionaries say that one of the most powerful stories you can share with an investigator is the story of your own conversion, and how you personally came to know that the principals that you have been teaching them are true.

Begin good habits NOW! Start waking up earlier than ususal and going to bed at a decent hour. This is one of the most common tips that I have received from my friend who are out in the field. Adjusting to mission life can be hard so start now. A few other good habits to strengthen include not only reading your scriptures everyday, but STUDYing them! Don't be afraid to take a lot of time to really get to know your scriptures. They will be your best friend on your mission. Praying morning and night (if you are not already doing so will help as well).

Learn to listen to the spirit and follow it's promptings. When you are out in the field with investigators, remember that the spirit does the converting and you need to be in tune with that spirit in order to help those you are teaching come closer to Christ to reach their spiritual milestones.

Go out with the missionaries in the ward and attend any mission preparation classes that you can get your hands on. Any opportunity to practice bearing your testimony, answering gospel related question, and hearing what other people have to say about missionary work or the gospel in general will help a ton.

July 29, 2013

My Farewell Talk

 I gave this talk on July 28th 2013. Hopefully you can gain new perspective on ways that we can receive personal revelation from our Heavenly Father as you read.

Read JSH 1:11-13.
·         11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
·          12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
·          13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

Steps to receiving Personal Revelation
1.      Find a specific question.
2.      Pray with real intent.
3.      Search the scriptures for an answer.
4.      Continue in prayer and fasting.
5.      Listen.
6.      Ponder what you have learned through the spirit.
7.      Act. (showing faith in God)
8.      Show gratitude.

1.      Find a specific question.
·         We will not find an answer unless we first have a question.
·         April 2008 General Conference- David A. Bednar said, while talking of faith:
o   (Going back to Joseph Smith) “Joseph’s questions focused not just on what he needed to know, but what was needed to be done! His prayer was not simply, “Which church is right?” His question was, “Which church should I join?”
·         During the first step of receiving revelation we should already be committed to acting on whatever answer we receive.

2.      Pray with real intent.
·         From the same talk from Elder David A. Bednar he said:
o   “As we speak of prayer, I emphasize the word meaningful. Simply saying prayers is quite a different thing from engaging in meaningful prayer. I expect that all of us already know that prayer is essential for our spiritual development and protection. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. And even though we recognize the importance of prayer, all of us can improve the consistency and efficacy of our personal and family prayers.”
·         Under Prayer in the Bible Dictionary it says:
o   “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

3.      Search the scriptures for an answer.
·         In October 1979 President Howard W. Hunter gave import insight into the importance of scripture study:
o   “Scriptures contain the record of the self-revelation of God, and through them God speaks to man. Where could there be more profitable use of time than reading from the scriptural library the literature that teaches us to know God and understand our relationship to him? Time is always precious to busy people, and we are robbed of its worth when hours are wasted in reading or viewing that which is frivolous and of little value.   Reading habits vary widely. There are rapid readers and slow readers, some who read only small snatches at a time and others who persist without stopping until the book is finished. Those who delve into the scriptural library, however, find that to understand requires more than casual reading or perusal—there must be concentrated study. It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing. Not only should we study each day, but there should be a regular time set aside when we can concentrate without interference.”
4.      Continue in prayer and fasting.
·         Heavenly Father wants us to show that we are humble enough to heed his word. By fasting we show that we are willing to sacrifice and act and are committed to our cause.
·         In Exodus 34:27-28 Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord. It says:
o   27 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
o    28 And [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
o   Moses was committed to receiving this sacred revelation. We should take fasting just as seriously.

5.      Listen.
·         One of the greatest lessons that I have learned this last year as I prepared to serve a mission is the importance of silence. I used to think that a long pause while searching for the right words to say was out of place, but the more I learned about the spirit the more I began to understand that it is called the “still small voice” for a reason. We have to listen carefully in order to be guided by the spirit.
·         We each hear the spirit differently and need to learn how he personally speaks to us so that at any moment we will be able to listen and understand what it is trying to say to us.

6.      Ponder what you have learned, through the scriptures and spiritual promptings.
·         It is often said that faith is like a seed. In Alma 32:28 it says:
o   “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
·         I believe that personal revelation goes hand in hand with faith, in fact, it is hard to have one without the other. We can gain and strengthen our faith through personal revelation, and we receive personal revelation through actions of faith.

7.      Act.
·         In Alma 32 it says concerning the seed:
o   36 “…For ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
o    37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
o    38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root…
o   41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”
·         In James 2:14 it says:
o   “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
·         For example: what good is a car if you never drive it, or a book if you never read it. In John it also uses the example of a body without a spirit. What would be its purpose?
·         I know that as we go forward with faith, that as we act on what answers we receive from our Heavenly Father, that we will be blessed beyond measure.

8.      Show gratitude.
·         President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2010 General Conference said:
o   “My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

·         --Given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the recent Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting
·         We human beings have a strange tendency to complicate simple things. We set up rules, laws, bylaws, processes, and subprocesses. Eventually, we pile up load after load until we end up under a huge weight of expectations that are so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them, let alone meet them.
·         Too often, we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations. However, when we focus on the “why” of the gospel, much of the confusion fades away. Why are we here? Why are we asked to obey the commandments? Why is the Atonement of Jesus Christ of such value to us?

Why am I going to serve a mission? Why am I here on earth? Why do I have a testimony?
I challenge you to find your “why” through the steps above.

I know that as we sincerely seek out God, our Heavenly Father, we can become who he knows we can be. We are children of God and He loves each one of us. I KNOW that Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God and given the authority and power to restore Christ's church to the earth. I know that we have a living prophet to day, President Thomas S. Monson. I believe in Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. I know that he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and then died on the cross that all of God's children may return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God and that it contains great truths and is another Testament of Jesus Christ and goes hand in hand with the Bible. I know these things for myself because I have done as Moroni directs... 
"(3) Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
 (4) And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 (5) And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

You can know these things for yourself as well if you follow the scripture above. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.