Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Why Go To Church?

Sorry for the really long post.  I was making up for forgetting to post in so long;

     I was 18 years old, living at university.  I thought I had the best life I could possibly have.  One Saturday night I decided I would play video games late into the night (as I  often did).  I played game after game and got more and more engrossed as the pile of wrappers and soda cans piled higher and higher.
     Patrick walked slowly down the long road that led to his small flat.  After another 12 hour shift at the burger factory he was very tired.  He was living in a place where he shared a kitchen with 5 other people, he had been away from his family for quite some time and lived alone. He lived in London while his family was spread throughout the world, his wife was in Jerusalem while his children were going to college in his homeland of Nigeria.  He worked over 50 hours a week for about 7 pounds an hour in order to send his children to school.  
     He was horribly alone and was deep in thought as he unlocked his front door and stepped inside and walked upstairs to his flat.  While he felt very blessed to be living in the United Kingdom, and able to make far more money than he would have been able to if he had been living in Nigeria in order to give more opportunity to his children, he still was not very happy.  He was not happy to be living away from his family, he was not happy to be living in a foreign country, and he especially was especially not happy that he felt all alone.  
     After sitting on the edge of his bed pondering, and trying to keep the loneliness at bay, Patrick decided he would have yet again another early night.  He wished that he had someone to just speak with, just one person who was a true friend to him.  His flat mates were just that, flat mates and nothing more.  He sighed; he could handle it, he had to, for the sake of his children getting a quality education. He knelt to the side of his bed and prayed for some heaven sent help. 
     I played late into the night, not really giving any thought to the morning.  When the last round of my game ended I looked at the clock and gasped at the time.  It was 6 am!  I had church in just 4 hours.  I had wasted away all evening and I realized I was going to have a rough morning when I woke up.  I quickly slipped into bed, not even bothering to change my clothes.  
     The next day, I slowly opened my eyes to see light pouring in the window.  I sat up straight and then turned towards the clock.  Church starts at 10 am and goes until 1 pm... and it was 2 pm!  I had slept right through my alarm and right on through the whole of church!  I sighed, it was too late now, so I figured I might as well enjoy my mistake and went back to bed.  
     About an hour later one of my good friends named Brandon stepped in and realized what I had done started laughing his head off at me.  I blushed in embarrassment. After more than a few jokes we finally left to go get some food.  I didn't really think much of my mistake the rest of the week if I'm completely honest.
     Finally a break!  Patrick woke up to his alarm at 8 am, nearly 3 hours of extra much needed sleep compared to normal.  His boss at the burger factory had told him that he couldn't come into work because he hadn't used up his vacation time for the year.  He was given a 1 week paid vacation, and he was planning on using every ounce of it.  
     The thing he feared was to spend all week just sitting in his flat thinking of his family but being unable to do anything more than give them a phone or skype call.  He normally had to wake up at around 5 am and then ride a long bus to work and work late into the evening.  Feeling rather happy about how rested he felt, Patrick went for a trip to the market to keep himself occupied.  He decided he might buy himself a new pair of shoes if he could find one he liked.  He opened up the door and stepped out into the world, the busy city of London.
     The week past like any other, and Sunday came once again.  This time I was prepared, I arose and went to church, I showed up about 5 minutes before it started which meant basically no one was there yet.  But I was happy that I had woken up on time and that I could repent of missing church the week before.  30 minutes past and a bit into the meeting I realized I didn't see Brandon anywhere.  
     After the meeting I raced to his room and knocked on the door "Boom, Boom, Boom!" Just like a police officer in the movies, I was going to get to the bottom of this!  Brandon opened the door a few seconds later, he looked like he had woken up very recently.  I asked him where he was for church and his answer was that he had woken up a little late and decided he would just play video games instead of going to church.  I blushed and then hypocritically chewed him out for missing church.  In turn he let me have it for not going the week before.  
     After squabbling like pigeons over a piece of bread for a while we both apologised and made a pact to go together to church the next week.  I was shocked that someone would choose to skip church largely because of my failure to go to church.  There is a scripture in Isaiah 58:13+14 that says; 
"13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
     I know these words are true, but I had always been confused at how vague this promise is for keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Usually I find promises for keeping commandments are very specific.  I realized the promise is very specific here after this experience.  I saw that the words of Matthew 5 are true where it says that we are the light of the world, that a city set on a hill cannot be hid.  In other words, I know that there is always someone watching, someone learning from the things I do.  
     In this experience I did not feel the blessing was to ride in a high place though, I might have already been a "city set on a hill" where people were noticing the things that I did, I'm not too sure of that.  But I am sure that the promise came into effect that I was blessed with the heritage of Jacob.  His blessing was to have a very numerous group of righteous people come about as a result of his righteous example.  The blessing being the father of all of the children of israel.  I saw this heritage of Jacob because as I kept the Sabbath day holy I have seen how it affects others around me to make better decisions and to be better.  But the blessings don't end there, because us both having a willingness to keep the Sabbath day holy, we were both able to be on missions to teach others about Christ.
     I was really blessed by Brandon's example as well, that he was willing to go to church so that we could sort of team up in order to encourage each other to wake up on time.  So I guess in that when I think when you keep the Sabbath day holy, you really bless the lives of those around you.  
     It was the 3rd day of Patrick's vacation and it was already getting a little old, of course he loved the break, But work helped keep his mind off any loneliness he felt and off the other problems he was facing.  As he walked along he was running just a few errands, he was deep in thought.  So deep that he wasn't really watching where he was going.  He pondered on the usual things he tended to think about, he prayed in his mind as he walked and asked God if he could send some help as he had done countless times already.  
     He decided he would take a shortcut home, usually he avoided the route because Peckham had a bad reputation.  But because the sun was shining and there were a decent number of people out and about he though it would be perfectly safe to cut through a rougher part of town.  
     On my mission I was standing outside the house of one of the people we had been teaching about the church.  He had been very nice in the past (unlike many others)  it was a long day and I had been hoping to finally have a set appointment with someone go through that day.  Unfortunately it didn't go through, the man never answered the door, he must have forgotten our appointment, or maybe decided he wasn't interested anymore without even fully hearing us out.  We walked slowly away from the door and down a few flights of steps.
     We decided we would speak to people in the area on the street in that area and see if we could have any better success there.  We walked slowly down the path trying to stop people along the way. 
     Patrick practically ran headlong into 2 mormon missionaries.  1 was from Spain and the other was American.  Because he still had about a weeks worth of vacation he decided to have them over that Week.  That missionary was me.  On our first visit to his home we taught him about the gospel and shared the Book of Mormon with him.  We could tell that something was bothering him but we couldn't tell what because he hid it well.  After a few Sundays of coming to church, I could see that he seemed to be doing much better.  We talked to him about it and he said, "As I was alone, now I am not" Church had a personally uplifting effect for him.  The blessings of church attendance are personal, that much was clear to me.  I also know that they can apply to many of the people around us.  I know that attending church has helped me to "Ride in the high places".  Patrick did end up joining the church and is fully active today.
     As a last scripture I am reminded; Matthew 6:26 "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" God knows our needs and wants to help us, many times he can only give us that help if we are willing to accept it.  One of the ways that we can accept that help is through follow the commandments, including keeping the Sabbath Day Holy to the best of our ability.  Coming to church may often be hard, but it's always worth it. 


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Pooh Sticks

     This past past preparation day we decided we would go to the 100 acre wood (yes that is an actual real place).  So after getting permission we picked up some other elders and as the 4 of us we went searching.  Along the way we had some trials, we got lost about 34812903812 times, we almost ran out of fuel, then the nearest petrol station was about 6 miles away and we were running out of time (the 100 acre woods are in the middle of no where).  Anyway, by the end of it I was really tired and just wanted to go home.  We saw the bridge though that is the bridge in Winnie the Pooh where they play Pooh Sticks.  We played a round of Pooh sticks, and I came out with the win which I was very excited about.
     When you play Pooh sticks what you do if you aren't familiar to the game is you each take 1 stick and go to the bridge.  Then determine which way the water is flowing.  You all then throw your sticks in the water at the same time on the upstream side of the bridge and then go to the other side of the bridge and wait for your stick to come out the other side.  Then comes the tricky part, you have to remember what your stick looks like because if the stick that comes out the other side first belongs to you then you win!  It is a childs game but because that is what the bridge is famous for we all had to play.
     So if I'm being honest, there aren't really that many appropriate parallels to Pooh sticks and Baptism, I really did end up enjoying the trip out the the 100 acre wood, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about baptism which is very important.  In preach my gospel lesson 3 under where it talks about baptism it says; "Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ." (bold added) I am struck by the word disciple.  When I think of a disciple I think about the word discipline.  I have found that it is often not easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  To me the word disciple means a follower.  In other words when we are a disciple of Jesus Christ we do not just listen to him, but we do the things he would want us to do.
     When we are baptised we promise to be disciples of Jesus Christ, I love the words in the New Testament "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:29) I love it because to me a yoke is a symbol of discipleship.  When we are baptised we take his yoke upon us, if we are willing to do this then it will be huge in increasing the quality of our lives.

Pooh Bridge

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Packet of Mints

     I must have been about 10 years old.  I went through the supermarket with my mother and my older brother. I dragged my heals as deep as I could into the tile floor and begged my mother to buy me every snack, sweet, and sugary morsel I could see.  Eventually we came to the checkout line and that seemed to be the straw on the camel's back.  My mother told my brother and I that we could pick 1 item each.  Those clever marketing and psychology specialists who put all the chocolate and chewing gum in the checkout line.... I'll have a rant about them in another blog post possibly... But for now, my young heart leapt for joy and I felt I had just had a momentous victory.  I scanned through the many choices several times and then grabbed a packet of mints that I thought were amazing.  Somehow, I made it through the line and accidentally held on to the packet of mints without having them scanned by the cashier.  In other words, before I knew it I had become a shoplifter as I followed my mother out of the shop.
     Thoughts raced through my 10 year old heart.  "I am a villain" and then I thought, "I wonder how long they will put me in prison for," last of all I thought, "This is all my mom's fault!"  Months passed by, I never said anything, but about six months later the guilt from this experience weighed deep into my soul.  For some reason I could not seem to forget something as simple as stealing a package of mints that probably would have cost no more than 60 cents.  One day, I was sick, and after staying home from school I confided in my mother about the horrible guilt that I felt from my dishonesty.  We drove back to the shop around 6 months after I took the packet of mints and paid for them.  I'm sure the manager had a laugh later that I cried my eyes out as I admitted my guilt over 60 cents.
      But I am reminded of the story of Karl G. Maeser, a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was quoted to say,
     "I have been asked what I mean by “word of honor.” I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I might be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I’d die first.”
     Being perfectly honest is something that I strive towards everyday.  As we live by our "word of honor"  we can be blessed with increased peace of mind in our lives, others around us will trust us more, and we will feel more accountable for the things we do and say. This increased accountability will increase our performance in all areas of our life.  We will also have the spirit more in our life as we follow Jesus Christ's example of honesty.  If we mess up, we can make use of the atonement through sincere repentance.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Spirit of Christ

So, this week I reflected on geology.  I was recently able to go and visit Seven Sisters, which in basic terms is a big cliff made out of chalk that is on the southern side on England, right on the coast.  It has some pretty breathtaking views and was a good day.  I got chalk all over my shoes, trousers, and hands.  It took a while to clean myself all up afterwards.
     Something that I saw that I thought was really cool was that when the tide is down you can walk along the coast at the bottom of the cliffs, all the rocks there are made of chalk and have a green slippery moss on them that isn't the most attractive but this area creates a nice place for a bunch of small sea creatures to live. I was hopping from rock to rock when I saw one of the rocks had split down the middle.  This is a picture of it:

     As you can see the outside is pretty gross while the inside is bright and shinning white. This rock is equally as white on the inside as the rocks that are still up on the top of the cliff side. A popular scripture comes to mind from the Book of Mormon which says:
     "For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
     But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him."
     I was honestly a little bit surprised to see how white and clean looking the rock was on the inside despite the circumstances it was in.  That even though it was in conditions that would easily lead to becoming covered in grime and moss, it was still shockingly white.
     There is a way that we can keep ourselves pure despite bad circumstances.  This is to follow "the spirit of Christ"  and to follow what we know to be right.  When we do this, we can find stability and blessings.  The quality of our lives will improve here and now.  These blessings are immediate as well as long lasting.  They increase as time goes on and help confirm to us that what we are doing is right.

Saturday, 3 May 2014


     Some time ago, I remember buying a little bit of furniture for a new flat I was moving into, and a friend gave us a sofa as a gift because she knew we didn't have enough furniture.  Upon delivering all the furniture we ran into an interesting situation w here everything went in except the sofa.  The problem being that the front door was unusually narrow.  The other problem was that the flat was not on the ground floor, it was 1 floor up.  After a few awkward situations with storing it, a few weeks later we finally organized for a friend to come with a ladder.  He pushed the couch up the ladder with his head (no small feat) and we stood at the top and pulled it in through the window.
     Then, a few weeks later, there were university students we knew fairly well that offered us another couch.  We foolishly accepted, forgetting all the problems we had the last time we tried to get a couch into our flat.  But notwithstanding this we took a look at it and it was quite a bit smaller than the last couch and we assumed it would fit this time.  But after dragging it about a mile and a half over to our flat and trying about 20 times to fit it through the doorway, it felt a lot like fitting a square peg into a circular hole.  We sat for a few minutes out on the sidewalk with the couch in silence.  Then I slowly sat down on the couch and placed my back carefully against one armrest and my feet on the other laying down.  Then I kicked as hard as I could and snapped the arm right off.  After that the couch fit right through the doorway and we later had to fix the couch ourselves.  
     All this drama of getting these 2 couches into our flat makes me think sometimes.  I ponder somewhat regularly on repentance.  To repent to me means to change in a way that puts my will more in line with God's will.  Repentance is more than saying sorry, it is showing that you are sorry, by doing all you can to not be a repeat offender any longer! I am far from perfect, but I try my best to repent when I do fall short of what God asks me to do.  Often I make a resolution, never again will I do that again!  NEVER AGAIN will I accept a couch as a gift!  Only to realize in the moment just a small while later that I am making the same mistakes that I thought I had left in the dust.  Often they are even things that I had thought I overcome, only to see myself doing the same thing.
    When these things happen I find it is important to not get discouraged.  I was very frustrated when the second couch didn't fit through the doorway.  I started to have flashbacks and fears emerge from the memory of the first couch.  Just know when faced in these situations, that this happens to everyone.  Everyone at some point doesn't quite measure up, and they do it more than once.  They commit to being better and they do not reach that commitment.  The key is to not give up or allow discouragement to slow your progress.  God does not demand instant perfection, but rather he pleads for constant progression.  As you repent regularly you will come to see that it is always worth it.
     Remember also, how much easier prevention is than repentance.  Don't be the person who says they will sin now and repent later.  The Book of Mormon teaches that "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God".   No matter how good it sounds at first, sin always results in a decrease in happiness for someone. It would have been so much easier to just not accept the second couch, rather than have to break it and then do all I can to fix it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


     When I was about 17 years old I decided I wanted to learn how to dive off a diving board.  I had no more experience than the ability to swim as well as having gone through the typical lightweight cannon ball escapades.  I told my parents, and they signed me up for some diving lessons.  I was embarrassingly caught on the first day, in a class of six with five 13-14 year old girls.   But I decided I would endure and continue on.  My desire to learn how to dive drove me forward.
     First the teacher walked us through the basics, and then we did some diving off the ground by the side of the pool, then slowly we moved up, to diving without jumping from the lowest diving board.  Then eventually we were ready to attempt a full on jumping swan dive.  I was very excited for this, a few of my friends had self taught themselves how to do it and now I would be able to show off the next time we went swimming!
     When my turn came, a few of the girls had gone before me, and 2-3 had been successful in pulling off the maneuver.  I got up there and did the carefully measured out steps and footwork the teacher had taught me.  But as I cam to the edge of the board, I chickened out, and I buckled my knees instead of jumping off the edge.  After teetering for a moment on the edge of the board, I awkwardly slipped off the board and dropped the 3 or 4 feet down into the water.  As I came out of the water I heard the subsiding laughs of the girls in my class.  My pride wounded, I waited for my next attempt.
     When my turn came I went for it again, but this time I jumped off the board with a bit too much enthusiasm.  As I turned to go headfirst into the water, again I was not 100% committed to the maneuver, I didn't fully trust the proven technique to stay committed to the dive and tried to pull out.  The result was devastating as I slammed belly down on the water which subsequently knocked the breath right out of me. After coming to terms with the pain, I slowly got out of the pool again.  
    Commitment is a huge part of our faith.  What we get out of the gospel comes from how committed we are to it.  Now I'm not saying necessarily that if you are a little less to the gospel, that the result will be as painful as a belly flop.  But the difference to holding back on just a few things in the gospel makes a huge difference.  Also in order to commit ourselves we must know what we are committed to.  Just like me learning to dive, where I had to understand the theory and the technique of it all, we also need to learn all we can from the scriptures, revelation, and church leaders in order to know how we can be firmly committed to the church.
    For myself the blessings I have seen most readily when being as committed as I can have been that I feel the spirit so much stronger and more readily, I understand the gospel much better, and I see God's promised blessings fulfilled all the more periodically.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

General Conference is Here!!!

     So taking a side step for a week I wanted to talk about general conference.
This week on Saturday and Sunday the 5 and 6 of April at 10 am and at 2 pm MDT, a living prophet will speak.  That is either true or it is not, but either way it is a bold and very interesting claim.  For myself, I know it's true because I have heard the prophet speak and I have felt the spirit bear witness to me that he is a true prophet.  My invitation is to watch conference!  It is always so uplifting and I always learn so much.   here is a link you can watch it live: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch?lang=eng or watch it after the live showing by following links to general conference through lds.org.
   When I was about 8 years old I had a problem.  I had no idea as to whether I liked carrots or not.  I decided though that because they were a vegetable I didn't want to try them.  I had eaten them about 2 years before and I thought I could remember what they tasted like.  I could think of nothing so disgusting as eating a carrot.
     After going through life this way for a long time, every time I was offered a carrot I would deny it, all based on 1 experience that was only a shady memory.  Eventually I tried a carrot again and today I know that they are actually ok tasting, especially if they are prepared well.  I learned this through personal experience.  If you have negative experiences with faith in the past I would invite you to give it another try.  While painful those experiences may be, you really have very little to risk by dipping your toe in and trying to have a small spiritual experience.  General conference is a great way to do this.  From the comfort of your own home you can learn and grow and feel the spirit.  If this happens then take a further step of faith and see if the trend continues, try attending a local sacrament meeting.  I can promise that is a step you will never regret. It wont necessarily be easy, but it will be the first small step in the right direction.  

The LDS Conference Center