Doubt Your Doubts

Well, yesterday, we managed to have an appointment with E, one of our investigators who is actually doing really really well right now. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and we set a baptismal date for the 22 August. We’re pretty sure that we’ll be able to get it sooner, but right now he’s working through some of his fears.

His biggest fear right now is not that the Book of Mormon might not be true, or that Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet, instead, he’s afraid that his 25 year-old daughter won’t come to see his baptism in the Bodensee. (If you want to see pretty pictures, google image that, I’m sure it’ll be real nice.) He’s a little worried that Jesus won’t accept that baptism because he has doubts that it could be a “bathing” and not an actuall baptism, but his main concern is his daughter. He was telling us that he talked to her about the Book of Mormon and he told us her response.

I will be completely honest, when I heard this, it took everything in me not to laugh.

E’s daughter’s response to The First Vision was that the people that Joseph Smith saw were not God the Father and Jesus Christ, rather extraterrestrials. Her argument was not that Joseph Smith was a crazy person, someone wanting attention and made them up, but instead, she suggested that they were aliens. And Erwin in all seriousness, bless his heart, was enthusistically describing to us why he knew it wasn’t extraterrestrials that appeared to Joseph Smith.

“I know it wasn’t these extraterrestrials that came to Joseph Smith because they would be humans, which means they wouldn’t be able to read the minds of the ancestors who put the gold plates in the ground!”

I have heard a lot of things on my mission, but never have I had an investigator come to his testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith because he knew that aliens didn’t direct him to the plates.

I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways and he knows all of us very very well.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about difficulties in believing certain principles of the gospel, whether or not you’re investigating the church or if you’ve heard the stories from the day you came out of the womb, everyone has doubts.

I think that idea is something that people reject quite frequently, the idea of having doubts. It’s okay to have doubts, but you shouldn’t let your doubts take over your life.

President Uchtdorf, in a General Conference address said, “My dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Doubts come in at us from all sides, and if we allow them to, they can keep us from great things the Lord has prepared for us. It’s a tactic of the devil to get you confused about what you actually believe.

Don’t lose faith and don’t lose hope. I promise that as you go to the Lord with your honest concerns with a heartfelt intent to find answers and peace to your questions and doubts, the Lord will give you that. There have been times in my life when I doubted everything that I had ever been taught was true. I thought for a while that the wool had been pulled over my eyes and that I had been deceived. For a long time I let my doubts get the better of me.

The only way that I found the faith and the strength to build a testimony was through diligent study, prayer, and church attendance. Our testimonies are built on a three legged stool, and if you lack one of these three things, scripture study, prayer, and church attendance, you could find yourself balancing a testimony in precarious ways.

I cannot express to you how important it is that you stay focused on the gospel, because that is what will bring you true happiness and joy. There is nothing in this world that is more important than the teachings of the gospel.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Pray. Cry. Plead with the Lord for help. I promise you that it will come.

I love you all, and I know that you can overcome any doubts and fears that you may have through the grace and mercy of a loving Heavenly Father who wants to give you great things if only you believe. But believing starts with a great big leap of faith into the darkness. But you won’t find yourself plunged into a long dark pit. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, you will always find your feet firmly planted on solid gospel ground.

I love you so much!
Stay strong!




​Yesterday, after we got home from our Mother’s day Skype, Sister Smith and I were walking home in the freezing pelting rain. As we were going we were half groaning and half laughing at our ridiculous situation. Before we were halfway home we were soaked head to toe in ice cold water. As we passed the half way point the dump of water calmed down a little bit and the sun began to peek though the rain clouds. As we turned a corner we looked to the horizon and saw the most brilliant rainbow I have ever seen. 
Unfortunately the picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was so clear and so crisp, and so PERFECT!


It was perfectly over Singen and it was BEAUTIFUL!

we just stood on the corner and marveled at the beautiful gift Heavenly Father gave us after we had just trudged through the rain trying to get home.

As I stood there looking at the rainbows I was just reminded of how a rainbow is formed. Light enters into a single droplet of water and is refracted back out of the raindrop, which, in a prisim-like way creates the spectrum of colors.

It’s just incredible to me that light refraction can make something so beautiful.

But then I realized it’s pretty much the same thing as it is with the gospel. A single sliver of light enters into a single person which then refracts more light out into the world and it creates a beautiful rainbow for all to see.

Okay, so the parallel is a little weak, but I was just struck by the beauty of the rainbow yesterday and thought that I would share this little gift above the earth that the Lord gave us yesterday.

I would say that we are all rainbows in our own ways and in our own lives more than we would think. Everytime we give out something good in a positive way, by being an example or by simply practicing what we believe, then we are able to see miracles. Some as simple as a rainbow, but one that still gives joy and happiness to all who see it.

I love you all, sorry for the short email this week, but a picture’s worth a thousand words and you’ve got two! (And hopefully a video in dropbox)


Revelatory Experiences

Well, this week was quite a trip. We were away for most of it, which made it a little difficult to do some missionary work! But there was also an amazing miracle! One of the Elders’ investigators, Maria, got baptized! Finally! We had been there with the Elders for almost every appointment and it was so great to see her finally get baptized!


Benji (our GML), Sister Smith, me, Maria, Elder Bartholomew, Elder Garrett

She’s so tiny and I had to hem the dress that she’s wearing-by HAND! ANd the slip as well! I was in a serious state of stress! But, it’s okay, everything worked out okay, and it didn’t look too bad. So, when you look at the dress, don’t judge the crooked hem-line. 🙂 Oh boy!

But this week we had Mission Tour in Zürich with Elder Timothy J. Dyches. He spoke in the General Konferenz before last. It was really interesting to see what he spoke about. And let me tell you, we got the marriage talk. From Elder Dyches AND from President Miles. So…that was interesting. Elder Dyches sent President and Sister Miles out of the room for a few minutes and then he asked us to list the attributes that President and Sister Miles have. He wrote them down on the board and called Pres. and Sister Miles back in and then showed them how much all the missionaries love them. Then he pointed to the attributes of President Miles and said, “Sisters, when you go home, you need to find a man with these attributes.” Then he pointed to Sister Miles’s and said, “Elders, when you go home you need to find a woman, preferably a return missionary, with these attributes.”

President Miles got up soon after and said, “Elders and Sisters, missionary work is the most important thing you can be doing. Right now. There is no greater work than what you are doing. Right now. One day you will go home and do something better and more important, but missionary work is what is most important right now.” It was just crazy! Sister Jaynes told me afterward that she knew what she had learned from Mission tour. She said, “I need to go home, get married, and have babies.” But there were some people who didn’t even pick up on the marriage talk. It’s really weird how that works…

On Thursday morning we headed off to Munich for a rather large finding day with Munich and Stuttgart Zones as well as the people coming in for MLC (Mission Leadership council) Which is why we, from the Freiburg Zone, were there. 

How exciting! Then two days of meetings and we were back on the road, a four hour trip back to Singen.

But something that stuck with me from Mission Tour or maybe it was MLC (have you ever noticed that we really like to abbr. in the church? Did you see what I did there?) Sister Dyches talked about all the meetings we go to in the church, especially as missionaries, and she said, that they shouldn’t be just meetings, they should be Relevatory Experiences.

I have been thinking about this a lot. In the church, and not just as missionaries, we are expected to go to a lot of meetings, church meetings, meetings for our callings, meetings for Relief Society, Young Women, Elder Quorum, Young Men, Primary, Chor, etc. And I know, personally, before my mission, that I thought of meetings as…well, meetings.

By raise of hands how many of us have ever dreaded going through another church meeting? In fact, sometimes I feel like the word was almost something to be abhorred. Meetings! How TERRIBLE! But, in the end, these meetings are inspiried. That’s why it’s a commandment to go to church, to be edified by the good word of God. These are not just meetings, these are opportunities to be relevetory experiences. And it takes the right attitude to enjoy that revelation.

C.S. Lewis said, “God gives where He finds empty hands” I would say that we can come to church with our hands still loaded up with all our worries and cares from the week. We’re still holding onto the bag of annoyance because the dishes didn’t get done, and we’re still cradling the zucchini of sleep because we stayed up too late watching TV. And don’t forget we’re glued to our smart phones playing angry birds or checking facebook.

Do those sound like empty hands to you?

We all have the chance to receive revelation, but we have to be ready for it. So leave your bags at home, leave the Zucchini in the garden and leave your phone in your pocket. 

My challenge to you is to sit in your next meeting and have a revelatory experience. Trust me. You’ll find you enjoy church more than ever before. I promise you that you will get more out of these meetings that the Lord has inspired for you. Answers to your prayers will come. Worries and sorrows will be soothed, and you will feel the love of God more abundantly in your life.

I hope you enjoy your revelatory experiences and that you realize that your empty hands give the Lord an opportunity to give you something better.

I love you all!


I Add My Own Witness

I have found that, just like I am always ready and anxious to curl up with a good fairy tale or a good book, I am always in the mood for a good miracle. Unfortunately, this miracle doesn’t involve heroic rescues or knights in shining armor. (Sister missionaries stand out enough, we don’t really need to be toting swords or shiny helmets… Looking like Jehovah’s Witnesses is bad enough, we don’t need to look like we belong in a Medieval fair.)

But that’s not the point of this particular sword, the point is that Sister Smith and I experienced an amazing miracle this last week. It was Sister Gurney’s birthday this week (She’s the wife in the ehepaar in Singen) and we had grand plans to heart attack the inside of their house. So, off to DM we went to print off a birthday card for Sister Gurney. 

As we were printing it off, a woman that worked there came over and asked us, in English, what we were doing here. She pointed to my name badge and she was really nice. She asked us a lot of questions and asked where she could learn more. We both felt like we couldn’t ask for her information, but she said that she’d seen us around, and we’re in DM almost every week, so we were sure we would meet her again. 

So we headed off to Müller to find paper to cut out into hearts. While we were in the store we heard, “Mormonen, oder?” I’ll be honest, I chose to ignore it. How many times on my mission had someone tried to pull me into a fight by egging me on with those very words to get my attention. But then the man said it again. I couldn’t ignore him now.

I asked him how he knew about the Mormons and he said that two boy had shown up at his door a couple of years ago, had given him a book and then had never come back! He said that he had read the Book of Mormon (and he called it by name) and he said, “Ich habe immer noch interesse.” I still have interest. And then he offered to give us his phone number! We called him last night and he didn’t answer, but this morning he called back early and was very excited that the “Mormonen” had called him. 

This experience was so cool to me! I have never really been contacted in a store before, and I just think it’s so incredible that the Lord puts us in the right place at the right time. Especially since Sister Smith and I had been planning to go to Müller first and then DM. I know that miracles happen! 

A second large miracle that happened this week was with Erwin, one of our investigators. He comes to church every Sunday and has a bromance with our GML(Ward Mission Leader?) Benji, and he’s just awesome. Erwin has told us, in very straight terms that he has no intention of getting baptized. None. But this last week we met with him a couple of times, and he said that he would get baptized in the Bodensee this summer if his daughter got baptized on the same day. So…this Sunday we’ll be praying and fasting that his daughter will be open to meeting with us and to one day getting baptized with her father. He’s made incredible progress and he’s just been doing so well. He’s even started reading in the Book of Mormon and told us for about ten minutes how much he loves King Mosia.
Another miracle happened at an Ausstellung in a city called Überlingen on Freiday. It was a huge success. I’m not sure how it is in other missions, but it was so incredible for us when we gave out over twenty Books of Mormon out to people on the street in just under two hours. It was incredible just to see the willingness of the people that we talked to. 
I never realized before my mission how important the Book of Mormon is to missionary work. I actually didn’t even realize the significance of the Book of Mormon in my life and the effect that it has on you when you diligently study and pray about what it says. 
This morning I read a talk by Elder Holland called Sicherheit für die Seele and it was so incredible. This talk has been made into a Mormon Message and you can watch it here: I would ask that you take four and a half minutes of time now to watch it, because Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord has the ability to give testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon with eloquence and power in a way that I could never hope to achieve.

But I would like to add my witness of the Book of Mormon, to be written by angels in heaven and to be placed among those of Joseph & Hyrum Smith, the apostles and prophets of these latter-days, and to all those who have borne testimony of it’s truth. I know with a surety that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have read it, I have pondered it, and I have prayed about it. My answer came and I know of it’s truthfulness and divinity. I know that the Lord inspired the writers of the Book of Mormon so that it could come forward in these days, to touch this lives of millions of people. 
I am convinced that the Book of Mormon contains the answers and the peace to these questions and worries of life. The answers are within the pages of that Book and I promise you that as you read it with real intent, you will find out for yourself the truthfulness and the incredible witnesses and testimonies of others before you will be proven. I know with absolute surety that the Book of Mormon was translated by the word and power of God. And I know, that Joseph Smith, an unlearned farm boy from New York was a prophet of God. 

I may never have to give my life for my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I don’t think that will ever be required of me. In fact, I think the Lord has given me, and perhaps most of us, the responsibilty to live our testimonies of the Book of Mormon. Let people see the difference in you and let them understand that you are different because you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wear it PROUD! Stand up for what you believe in and be BOLD when you speak. 
Your testimonies, no matter how simple they may be, can touch the hardened hearts of battered men. Trust in the Holy Spirit to take that knowledge to the hearts of those who will listen and you will witness miracles. 

I promise you that, if you haven’t already received a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, if you get on your knees right now and ask God, you will receive an answer that it is true. And if you’ve already received your witness, I can promise you that if you get down on your knees right now and ask God for an opportunity to share your testimony of the Book of Mormon you will receive that chance.

I invite you to do whichever is applicable to you now. 

I leave my testimony with you, a testimony that I proclaim, freely and proudly because I have received my own witness.
I love you all!

For Us

This past week I was left in a tizzy, never sure what was going to happen next and I ended up seeing the world from many different, and not always so many comfortable perspectives this week. 

I guess you could say this week was hectic-in it’s simplest terms. 

Monday our p-day ended a little early because we had to go wish our Relief Society President ‘Happy Birthday!’ and then it was off to Oma Voigt’s for Family Home Evening and Mandarin Orange-Quark (kfark) dessert (YUM!) Then it was home again home again and we fell into bed only to wake up the next day to a crazy crazy day!

We went to and appointment with the Elders, and to get there we had to hike, literally, a few kilometers from the closest train station to get there. (I seriously doubt these people were found dooring.) After we had some very interesting wild plant pasta cooked by a hippy we headed out and managed to make our train to get to Lahr. We even had enough time to print out our train tickets without having to struggle. When we got on the train we found the Schwenningen Elders and were chatting and catching up when the ticket controller came around and asked for our tickets.

Now, a little education on how the German train system works. You can buy a ticket by kilometers, but most of the time, it’s a lot easier AND cheaper, when you simply by a ticket by the state. In Bayern (Bavaria) you can buy a Bayern ticket. In Badden-Württenburg, you can buy a Baddy. Sister Smith and I both spent four transfers in Bayern and, even now, in a different state with different tickets, we refer to them as Bayerns. 

The Elders had joked with us a little bit when we called our tickets Bayerns, but it turns out that we weren’t lying. We did, indeed, have Bayerns in Badden-Württenburg. 

Do you see where this is going?

So the train controller came over, looked at the ticket and in a very sing-songy Schwäbisch dialekt declared, “You’re not going anywhere with this ticket.” We hadn’t realized till this point (once we had already been on the train for half an hour) that we had the wrong ticket! If you’re caught with a wrong ticket then you get heavily fined, at LEAST double the amount you should have paid. So Sister Smith and I stared at each other for a moment and I stared at the ticket in disbelief. I wanted to die from embarrassment. 

THANK GOODNESS we are obviously foreign! The man was very nice and just let us buy the Baddy on the train (which is not something every controller will do). So Sister Smith and I started scrambling to find any euro bills we could find. We managed to pull together the amount necessary and the man went along his merry way. I suppose we were even more lucky that it was apparent that it was a mistake, and they had been ordered by the office, sonst there would have been no way for us the purchase a Bayern. 
But once we completed the two hour and twenty minute trip to Lahr we realized that the ticket we had ordered for Thursday to tausch back was also a Bayern, which left us out ANOTHER 27 euro. 

Once everything was all figured out Sister Brinck and I hopped on the train for our two hour and twenty minute trip back to Singen. During which Sister Brinck got a shocked look on her face and said, “Oh no, that’s not good.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. 
Sister Packer and Sister Smith were in Lahr without a phone.

Luckily we had decided to tausch back the next evening, and after a fallen out appointment we were back on the train on Wednesday for the long train ride out to Lahr and back. Yes, I spent over eight hours on a train last week, just going back and forth on Austausch. I was going stark-raving mad being cooped up in a train for so long. 

But, no worries, Sister Smith and I ate McDonald’s and it temporarily solved the stress of the wrong tickets and other things.

Then Thursday we arrived at the church for interviews with President and Sister Miles and a few more fallen out appointments because of Easter, and then I realized, late Saturday night that, in the stress of the week, I had forgotten to write my talk for Sunday. 

I quickly wrote a talk, told myself it would have to do and hoped and prayed that the Lord would make it be okay. 

(I was secretly hoping that they would somehow forget about my talk, or that they would somehow they would realize that the language I had been speaking to them in was actually Klingon…or something. But alas, Horst Schäffer checked with me three times to make sure I remembered that I had a talk to give. 

So, I gave my talk.

I have to say, Easter is my favorite holiday, simply because of how much meaning it carries. 

The sacrament song they sang was, ‘I Know That My Redeemer Lives’ and I looked out into the congregation and the Gurney’s son, who speaks no German, began to cry while the song was being sung. I was struck by this and began to cry while sitting up on the stand. Thank goodness I had the entire sacrament to pull myself together, but unfortunately, it was all too soon that I had to get up to give my talk. 

What I said in Sacrament meeting yesterday is not important, because I simply want to impress upon you what I learned in my hurried preparation for this talk and in my desperate prayers and contemplation during the sacrament yesterday morning. 

In Ether we learn that when we have faith in God then we can hope for a better world, even a place at the right hand of God. But how is that possible when one day, we will all die. 

If you believe in Jesus Christ then the answer is easy. Of course we’ll be resurrected. But you would be surprised at how many people don’t actually have that assurance. The knowledge that we have a loving Heavenly Father, one who sent His Son to the earth, to be persecuted, betrayed, tortured, and nailed to a cross on Calvary after having carried all of the pains, all of the sorrows, the lonliness, the sadness, the guilt, the depression, and every other possible  horror that humankind could experience just a short time previous, is not common knowledge. 

Jesus Christ came to this earth so He could suffer for our sins and pains and everything else possible, just so we could live again. Jesus Christ died for us. He died so that we could be freed from the chains of sin and hell. And how grateful are we all for that wonderful, all powerful sacrifice.

But, perhaps more important than His suffering in Gethsemani and the completion of the Atonement on the Cross of Calvary, is the fact that Christ lives.

Without His triumph over death, the Atonement of Jesus Christ would have been for naught. 

So, yes, Christ died for us, but more importantly, He lives for us. Now. 

I give my testimony to you of a Living Christ. Who made it possible for me to live again and to be freed from the chains of sin, of hell, and of death. 

Doctrine & Covenants 42:46 it says, “And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them.” We all will be resurrected and death will not sting when we believe in Christ, who lives, today. For me, for you, for us. 

I just wanted to end with the lyrics to what is now my favorite song. 

The Way He Was Raised
Josh Turner

He always wore those worn out flip-flops
Spent hours in his daddy’s workshop
He loved being on the water
Fishin’ with His friends

He always listened to the old folks
When they’d tell stories and crack jokes
Didn’t talk back to his mama
When she got onto Him

Oh, thats just the way He was raised
Had to finish all His chores fore He could go outside and play
They always went to church, thats where He learned how to pray
And that’s just the way He was raised

He grew His hair out when He got older
Grew it clear down to His shoulders
Started hangin with the outcasts
When He went off to town

Some called Him a troublemaker
Even some said a lawbreaker
No matter how they talked about Him
He never put nobody down

Cause thats just the way He was raised
When people start to gossip He’d just walk away
He always loved His neighbor no matter what they’d say
Oh, that’s just the way He was raised

On a cross, on a hill
That long haired boy was killed
All our sins washed away
When He walked out of that grave

Oh, thats just the way He was raised
There’s no way we can measure the sacrifice He made
He knew He had to die for our debt to be paid
Oh, that’s just the way He was raised

It took the hand of God to roll the stone away
And that’s just the way He was raised
Yeah, that’s just the way He was raised

I love you all so much!

Unto Me

Well, life as a missionary goes on here in Singen Germany. I unfortunately have no exciting pictures from a crazy p-day today, but living in the land of castles is not always a fairy tale. Or maybe it actually is, just not the part that you would like to read about. 🙂 Every fairy tale has to have it’s lack of dramatic moments doesn’t it? Or have I just been living life wrong?
The highlight of this week include that we managed to get a couple of appointments with Marina-finally! The only problem is that she believes she was baptized by Jesus…I think it was a great oversight of whomever put Preach My Gospel that they left out the section titled What to do if Your Investigator Thinks They Were Baptized by Jesus in a Previous Life. A great oversight indeed. But if any of you lovely folks have any suggestions on how to deal with that, please, let us know. We’re kind of at a loss…
We also got a new investigator, Christel, she’s HYSTERICAL! She has a beard and has a TERRIBLE Schwäbisch dialect. It’s almost impossible to understand! This is what happens when you travel to small towns near the boarder of Switzerland. It’s a troublesome place…
That’s pretty much it for all the excitement, things are about to pick up these next couple of weeks with Austausch, interviews, Mission Tour (with Timothy J. Dyches) in Zürich, and then the end of a very short five week transfer. 
Yesterday, in Sacrament meeting the Choir (which the missionaries in every ward are ALWAYS a part of) sang ‘Ein Armer Wanderer’ in Englisch: ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief’. I remember the last time I sang that song was on January 13th 2013, the day of my farewell talk. I believe this is my favorite hymn simply because of the story it tells. (And many of you know how much I love stories!)

Don’t worry, I’ve got the lyrics all ready to go for you!
1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief 
Hath often crossed me on my way,

Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why. 
2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.
3. I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.
4. ‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
I think this song is one of the most descriptive and most beautiful hymns that we all know and all love, but are afraid to sing because of how long it is. This song has spoken peace to my soul more than once on my mission and throughout my life as I’ve gone through difficult times. I am not the only person who enjoyed this song or who used it in times of comfort. This hymn was sung shortly before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail. It was the Prophet’s favorite song and it held several parallels to the Prophet’s life. 
But I have no intention of comparing the Prophet Joseph’s life to this song, instead, I have every intention of comparing our lives to this song. I would venture a guess that we all have many opportunities presented to us throughout the week to help others, to help them to be better, to be lifted up and to be brought a little closer to our Heavenly Father. This moments will likely be small, likely insignificant and unnoticed by those of the world, but there is someone who will always see the good deeds we do, however small they may be. 
The last verse of this song does me in every time, “Of me thou hast not been ashamed, These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
When, in the last day, our judgement day, we stand before the great Creater of the Universe, the Almighty God, the Redeemer of the world, what will He say to us? “Well done, thou hast served me all thy days?” I would like that to be the words that come from Him on that mighty day. We should follow the wise words of King Benjamin when he said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.”

Every good deed we do, is unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the flip side of this coin, every bad deed we do is also unto Jesus Christ. 

I am convinced that the greatest reason the Lord sent me on a mission is because I needed to learn charity toward my fellow men. And I can promise you that you will find that charity is not an action, it’s a lifestyle. Charity infuses your body and your mind and you desire to help others to be happier and to do better. I can promise you that as you seek out ways to serve others, selflessly, then you will find the richness in the words of the Savior in Matthew 10: 
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
I promise you, that as you seek to selflessly serve others you will find greater peace, happiness, joy, and love in your life. As you lose yourself in the service of others, those people that need it most (cause let’s be honest, the person you would be willing to take a bullet for is usually the one standing behind the gun), those who are struggling, you will find your life. I ask you all to spend a little time today, or even tonight and ask the Lord to give you someone to serve. 

Though this promise was extended in the spirit of tithing, I would like to ‘redress’ it a little bit. I believe that if you go to the Lord today, in honest, sincere, and humble prayer to find someone to serve, the Lord will pour out the blessings of heaven upon you. As it says in Malachi 3: “…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Try the Lord. Prove Him. 

Test your faith and ask the Lord to give you this opportunity to serve and it shall be well with you at the last day.

I love you all!


Made Perfect in Weakness

This week everyone of us that watched conference was edified and uplifted. And if you weren’t you should’ve been. And if you didn’t watch, you should’ve. 

So if you haven’t watched conference, I suggest you go to it right now and watch something that has the potential to change your life-literally.

My idea for my weekly email this week changed this morning as I received some news that distrubed me and I realized why the greatest emphasis I receieved from conference was different than what I expected.

This weekend while watching conference I was struck by how many messages of strength were given. Strength in difficult times, strength in good times, strength in times of doubt, and strength in times of knowledge. 

I was impressed throughout conference about the need to stay strong in the gospel and stay that way. 

I have heard of too many experiences on my mission, from my mission and from back home of people leaving the church, getting caught up in other things, reading something that turned then away, or getting offended because someone forgot to say hello to them at church on Sunday.

I have been sitting here for the last few minutes typing something and then erasing and then typing again and erasing because I am not sure how to articulate this to you because of the brevity and importance that strength in the gospel, despite social factors is vital. 

There are a couple of main reasons that I have seen why people choose to leave the Church they are as follows:

1. Got offended

2. Found ‘scientific evidence’ that contradicts doctrine

3. Slowly lost their testimonies

4. Dreged up some historical ‘fact’ that causes them to doubt. 

5. Were confronted with an argument that was too good not to be true

My answer to all of these questions is simply this: 

There will always be questions we will not be able to answer in this life, but the answers will one day come. On the list of qualifications for eternal salvation there is no where that says that we need all the answers to all the questions. Before my mission I always pictured salvation and the entrance to exaltation came in the form of a rigorous testing period here on the earth where we were to learn all that we could and be the best people we could be (which is true to this point) but I thought that, if after I died I had not lived a perfect life, or as perfect as I could get then I would be denied entrance. But then, I thought, that, if by some miracle I managed to make it through this life as a perfect person  then I would still be confronted with the multiple choice question test and then the lengthen short answer section (timed of course) followed by an essay explaining why I deserved eternal exaltation and entrance into the celestial kingdom. And then if I managed to survive a second death after the timed test I would have to stand before Christ and have to listen to him flip through sheet after sheet of every single little sin I had never repented of from the age of eight till I died. 

I would then have to hope that the Lord would be merciful enough to maybe give me entrance into the Terestriale Reich. Maybe

I always had so much fear for death and for judgement because I felt that I was not doing enough. There was no way that Lillie Marguerite Maren Hammock would be granted entrance into the Celestiale Reich after she had live a horribly unperfect life because she was so terribly weak and didn’t know how to follow Christ as exactly as He required.

My dad always told me that there were two reasons why people didn’t do things. Fear and pain (granted he was talking about tests and studying in school, but I think it can be stretched into an eternal principle). And I guess you could say that I was afraid of the pain that would come to me if I didn’t live a perfect life and so I decided that it wasn’t worth working so hard and then failing in the end anyway. I was so terrified of my own personal weakness that I had already decided my own fate. Luckily I was saved from my own fear and my own doubt, but I came close to giving up entirely.

There are so many voices in this world that will tell you that you aren’t enough. 

You aren’t rich enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not tall enough, not skinny enough. And sadly, there are people that believe it. 

But there is always Someone telling you that you are enough. The Lord Jesus Christ is one of the voices cheering us on, telling us that we can keep going and telling us that He’s waiting for us there, at the end, to pull us into His arms and tell us that He loves us. He’s going to give us strength and carry the burden with us, because He experienced it already.

Christ is always going to be telling us that we can make it, He’s always going to be rooting us on, but it’s our decision of whether or not we choose to hear it. Just like we can turn up the volume on a speaker, we can turn up the Savior’s influence in our lives. But we can also turn it off. We have to be so careful because His voice isn’t going to come in over the radio yelling at us, it’s going to come quieter and softer and we have to be willing to constantly listen. 

We are all weak, Heavenly Father knows that, but He gave us His son so we could live again, so we could return, not so we could fail. 

I’m not sure what will happen on judgement day, but I’m almost certain that there will be no test, no essay questions, and no listing of our fauts. Instead I believe the Lord will simply ask us if we loved Him and if we tried our best to follow Him.

I know that the questions the world throws at us to cause doubt in our minds can be terribly damaging to us, especially because many times we are so weak. But I know that the Lord will strengthen us. 

 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We can be made strong in our weaknesses, but it’s our choice if we choose to trust the Lord, or trust the world. If you trust the Lord then you will know that you will have eternal salvation. I will take that over anything the world could ever give me. 

Stay strong, and if you’re not as strong as you would like, get strong. Go to church, read the scriptures, and pray. The Lord wants to help you, let Him.

I love you all!

I Will Encircle Thee

This last week ended with a wonderful ‘bang’ so zu sagen… The temple! It was so wonderful to be there on the grounds and to feel the spirit of it. It’s interesting how quickly you can forget the spirit that resides there when you haven’t even seen a temple in over a year. I consider myself very lucky that Sister Smith and I got to go. It also reminded me a bit like Utah, being there again (if you get my hint?).
It was just so nice to be there again and to feel the peace that I have desperately missed in my life. If you have a temple in your near, go to it. Don’t wait till next week or till you think you have time, go while you can because it is AMAZING!
Seriously, I would not miss that experience for anything!
I’ll tell you a little bit about the craziness of Saturday morning:
So, we were anticipating transfer calls, waiting to find out the fate of us here in Singen. A benefit of having the Zone Leaders in your area is that they call you first if you’re staying, and they tell you if you aren’t on their list. So, Saturday morning comes and Sister Smith and I are running around like crazy people, trying to function because we’re so nervous. And so, off on our run (yes, I go running every morning-not something any of you would have suspected from me, and it is probably a major factor in the 35 pound weight loss on my mission) we got a text message from the zone leaders saying, `We’ve made all our calls’. 
Sister Smith stopped running and started screaming, ‘What? Why?’
And immediately we called the elders.
Because we had been running Sister Smith was out of breath and the poor elders thought she was hyperventalating. Elder Garrett sounded really worried for her and told her that she didn’t need to worry, we were staying together, someone else just had to call us.
It was less than an hour later that President Miles called us and told us that we were staying together, but that we would be the Sister Training Leaders in the Frieburg Zone.
That was unexpected. So, we’ll just be going to a few more meetings and doing a couple more austausches this transfer, it’ll be fun, but it’ll also be fast! This five week transfer is going to fly by!
It was shortly after we received our call that we were rushing to get ready and get downstairs to where the Gurney’s were waiting for us to take us to the temple. And then we commenced the two and a half hour drive to Bern to the temple. While we were there, we saw a member from Sister Smith’s first area, Neumarkt, who recognized us both and told us that the 12 o’clock session would be new. We were so excited, pulled a few strings and made friends with a few very nice temple workers and we got in the session at noon. It was so interesting! I love the temple and I am so glad that I got the chance to go!
It was interesting being in the temple because there were some workers that didn’t speak German or English. I was spoken to in French and Italian and I had no idea what they were saying. The only thing I understood was when they came over to me and said, ‘Session?’ in their varied pronunciations.

But it was just so wonderful and so peaceful to be in the temple and to know that I was there and able to feel the love of the Lord. 

It was while we were sitting in the Bride’s room, waiting for our session to start, that I picked up a Book of Mormon and I read one of my favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants, section six. And a few verses stuck out to me greatly:

“Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee becaues of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. 
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. 
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
-D&C 6:20-23

I just love these verses! They were so wonderful to read and to put my name in the place of Oliver Cowdry. (You can also put your name in there too, in fact I would recommend it!)

I just think about all the times that I have searched for answers to questions and I’ve asked the Lord and there was no obvious answer. It’s always in reflection that I realize that I have received answers to the questions that I have, sometimes the answers don’t come in an overwhelming moment of BAM! That’s the truth, or YES! that’s the correct path. But instead I just see a lot of moments that the Lord has spoken peace to me and I have felt comforted. 
I feel that those are the most difficult answers to recognize. And sometimes it’s easy to become complacent in our lives and not ask for answers when we know we may only get a small answer like this one, but honestly, knowing that you have the Lord backing you up, having Him send angels on your right and on your left, that should be what keeps you praying. 
THe Lord wants to help us, he’s waiting to give us answers, we just have to ask!

I love you all!

The Weakest Saint

Well, we had a wonderful P-day in der Schweiz today! In the beautiful city of Lauftenburg! Woo!Image

My hair is gone and I am all ready for the summery days that we’ve been getting glimpses of in the beautiful land of Deutschland. Unfortunately, they didn’t last for the weekend. 

But this week I have really been thinking about the atonement and what it means to me. I feel like I talk about it a lot…in fact, I feel as though in every email I’m talking about the Atonement. Simply because it means SO MUCH!

But I was just thinking about the hard times that we’ve been having lately in Singen with people we thought were doing so well and then suddenly took a nose dive. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s how it is…

And it’s always in those moments, when things seem to be going terribly, that I feel as though I’ve been hit to my knees and I don’t have any more strength to keep moving. (which, Sister Judd, if you remember the letter your brother wrote you with the Rocky quote, yeah, that’s still very much in my mind.) And so I sit there, driven to my knees because of the difficulty of the week or the day or the year even (been out in the field for over a year-say what?!), and I think about how much I cannot do this work on my own. 

But every night, when I, literally, fall on my knees to pray, I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine, “Satan trembles when even the weakest saint falls to his knees.”

I don’t know abut the rest of you, but I would say that I rank pretty low on the ‘Saint Strength Scale’. But still, we’re on the Lord’s side, the Lord, the Creater of the universe, the almighty God, the Father of our spirits-how can we lose?

This morning I read a talk that Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave in a CES devotional in 1997 and a particular part struck me deeply:

“I can tell you this as a parent: As concerned as I would be if somewhere in their lives one of my children were seriously troubled or unhappy or disobedient, nevertheless I would be infinitely more devastated if I felt that at such a time that child could not trust me to help, or should feel his or her interest were unimportant to me or unsafe in my care. In that same spirit, I am convinced that none of us can appreciate how deeply it wounds the loving heart of the Savior of the world when he finds that his people do not feel confident in his care or secure in his hands or trust in his commandments.”

The Lord wants us to come to Him with our problems. He suffered for them, He knows how it feels, He knows what we’re stuggling with and how to help us. We just have to confide in Him.

Another quote from this same talk said:

“Considering the incomprehensible cost of the crucifixion, Christ is not going to turn His back on us now. “

I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that I have been left alone. But thank goodness that Jesus Christ was always right there, helping me, even if I didn’t realize it. 

So whether you’re simply struggling with life and feel as though you’ve been left alone, remember that the Lord hasn’t forgotten you, perhaps you’ve forgotten Him. And if in this midst of doubt, or at any time in your life, you find yourself pushed to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray. Make the tempter tremble with your spiritual trust in the Lord. Jesus Christ died for you, show Him your gratitude. 

I love you all and I feel your wonderful support. 





Please read the above a little more carefully and consider the repercussions of the fact that the missing letter just so happens to be on a sidewalk in Singen because of the lack of public toilets in Germany. 

Today we were on the very famous high point of Singen, Germany- Hohentwiel.

It’s a really old castle that’s set up on a mountain in the middle of the city. You can see the entire city, over the Bodensee and into Switzerland. It was beautiful and it was a lot of fun. Because this isn’t America there were no restrictions or people telling us we couldn’t climb up on to the ruins. I will try to send some pictures in the next couple of weeks. We had a BLAST up there, running around and climbing up and taking some pretty epic pictures. 

We’re only slightly bumped and bruised, but thankfully no one fell from the highest of our climbing points of about thirty feet… 

But this week I just really wanted to talk about the Atonement, the Blessings we receive from it, and the natural Consequences of using the Atonement. It’s as easy as ABC. (get it?)

To start off with, before my mission I didn’t understand the Atonement, I’ll tell you right now that I think the Lord was a wise man for sending me off on a mission even if the only lessons I learned were about the many facets of the Atonement. 
Before I walked through those fateful doors at the MTC on 6.2.13 I thought I was the biggest spiritual giant that had walked the path of life. And now, 13 months on my mission I feel like I’m wandering among the dandelions. The humilty that came to me early on when I arrived on my mission allowed me to realize that I wasn’t going to schaff these eighteen months alone. It would be impossible to go through the most strenuous times of my life without a little bit of Heavenly help. 

 Once upon a time I would’ve told you that I know everything about the Atonement, I had used it enough in my life, so I would think that I would have known enough.  Today, I would tell you that I’m just beginning to scrape the surface of the great and eternal sacrifice our Lord and Savior made for us. 

I would like to share with you a few of those surface shavings, if you have the time to listen to my small insights on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the single greatest event in the history of mankind. 

I would have told you thirteen months ago that the Atonement was there so that we could be redeemed from our sins and damit (through it) we would be resurrected.  Which is true, but the over-arching power of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ extends far beyond transgression and giving immortality to every person who ever chose to receive a body. 

 Today, I understand it as much more than that. While the Atonement helps me to come clean from the things that I have done, it gives me the personal strength to continue to resist temptation so I don’t fall into those deceivings of the devil. 
But even further beyond that I understand the Atonement as a steadying force. 
The Atonement has become the glue that holds me together. It’s become something that I use when I’m sad, depressed, angry, hurting-physically, mentally, emotionally, frustrated, happy, confused, frustrated, desperate. The atonement goes beyond all comprehension how far it has carried me. 
I even learned this week that the Atonement can be used to help your stomach like certain foods, something that has come in handy on my mission. 
The atonement is not just for our sins, though we should not lose sight of that purpose, but it goes much further than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. 

The blessings that come from the Atonement are also a very special experience. We feel renewed, rejuvenated, and happy. It may be so that all is not well in the world, but all can be well in our hearts, amidst the storm of life that we all must navigate through. By utilizing the Atonement we are enabled, qualified, strengthened, and loved. The blessings of the Atonement are so readily available in our everyday lives, we just have to recognize them. Today, my challenge is that you try to count fifty of the blessings of the Atonement that you have seen in your life. You may have trouble limiting it to just fifty. 

The final thing that I wanted to talk about is the natural Consequences that come from using the Atonement. Just like the natural consequence of sin is guilt, pain, suffering, etc. The natural consequences of using the Atonement are happiness, freedom, joy, peace, etc. 
I had always considered it strange that the apostles and propheten spoke about the freedom of the atonement, but freedom is probably the largest natural consequence of using the atonement. 
By utilizing the atonement a change is wrought within us. We become new creatures in Christ, putting the natural man aside and working to become a disciple, a true follower of Christ. The freedom doesn’t come because the rules changed, the freedom came because we changed. 
When we use the Atonement in our daily lives, the Lord’s will becomes our will and eventually, we will only want what the Lord wants for us.
We may not reach complete unity with the Lord in this life, but, we believe in Eternal life don’t we? Eternal life is a lot greater than just plain ole immortality.
We’ve got an eternity to learn to be perfect, my friends, but let’s show God that we’re trying to be perfect on this earth while we still have time.

I love you all and I hope you understand that the Atonement is one of the sweetest aspects of this Gospel for me. The Atonement is the Good News that we preach to all the world because it is the cause of redemption for the whole world. Don’t just use the Atonement, enjoy it.