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Sunday, May 19, 2013

God is our Loving Heavenly Father

Have you ever wondered about the nature of God? People talk about Him as if He is an obscure, all-encompassing blob of something that cannot be defined. However, God is our Heavenly Father. We are His spiritual children, and Jesus Christ is our elder brother. Heavenly Father loves and knows each of us personally and individually, and wants us to be able to live with Him again. He has a body of flesh and bone, just as we do. In Genesis 1:26, we read of how God created man in His own image and after His own likeness. This means that our appearance and form is modeled after that of God and that He is a distinct physical being. We lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to Earth. He has provided a plan for us in which we can grow, progress, and learn. This plan involves us coming to Earth, receiving a body, and living a mortal life. We have the opportunity to follow God's commandments and make righteous decisions, showing that we love Him and want to obey Him. As we obey Heavenly Father's commandments, we grow a closer relationship with Him and get to know Him better. We learn of our individual and important purpose of living and what we need to do to help others live righteously. Heavenly Father gave us our free will to make decisions. He does not force us to do what is right; we have the power to choose. This life is a time of testing to see if we will come back to Him and serve Him. He sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to the Earth and atone for our sins. Jesus Christ died so that we may repent and be forgiven of our wrongdoings and become purified, better people. In this Atonement, Jesus also suffered all the pains of the world. We can look to Jesus Christ for support and compassion because He has literally felt all of the pains, sorrows, discomforts, and anxieties of our lives. He is the only person that has a perfect understanding of what we are personally going through, and this knowledge gives us faith, hope, and strength to press on when the going gets tough. I know that Heavenly Father cares about all of us deeply, in a fatherly loving way, and He pays attention to our lives. He mourns with us as we suffer, celebrates as we do what is right and are prosperous, and encourages us to persist. Heavenly Father is always there for us, and any feelings of distance from Him are a result of us walking away, not from Him leaving us behind. I invite you to develop a relationship with your Heavenly Father, just as you would with an earthly father. Get to know Him by talking to Him through sincere prayer, reading His word in the scriptures, and doing His will by following the commandments He has given us. As you make an effort to come to God and to follow Jesus Christ, you will be blessed and inspired.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm back!

So I know that I have kind of been neglecting this blog for the past month...I guess final exams, moving, and being crazy busy with things to get done will do that to you. But I'm home and have a lot more free time! I guess I should give a bit of an update on the many events that have been happening in my life recently. I received my mission call on my 19th birthday (how fitting, right?) and opened it with my family and roommates. Here's the video: Mission Call Opening!

It was such a special moment and has made me even more excited to serve the Lord as a missionary. I have already grown to love Brazilian culture, the Portuguese language, and the people there. I can't wait to bring happiness and knowledge to others about the great blessings of our Heavenly Father that await them. Ever since I have received my mission call, my testimony of the gospel has strengthened as well as my knowledge that I really am supposed to go on a mission. I have felt the attacks of Satan in my life ten-fold, but also the blessings of the Atonement and of a loving Heavenly Father. I know that any stumbling blocks that appear in my life trying to prevent me from going on a mission are surmountable if I keep the faith and continue to do what Heavenly Father wants me to do. An example of this is my visa paperwork. Obtaining a visa for Brazil is especially difficult, and the Church Travel Office impressed to me that if I did not have all of the paperwork they gave me sent back to them by May 7, that my visa would be delayed and I would probably not be able to go on my mission on time or would have to go elsewhere. This stressed me out at first because I wasn't returning home until April 30, giving me exactly 1 week to gather over ten documents, most of which needed to be signed, notarized, and authenticated by the State. I was worried, but prayed that I would be able to get it all done in time. Though it was not an easy process, everything did work out and fell into place. I was able to get my paperwork in a day early even! Of course, it isn't definite that I will get my visa on time still, with the complicated laws of Brazilian visas, but I am confident that whatever does happen will be right and that I can go forward with faith that things will turn out as they should. I am so excited to serve as a missionary, and Heavenly Father has blessed me so much even just in the past week that I know that He loves me and is watching over me and my family.