Dear Home Branch who I miss so much, and young stripling warriors - or young men. I thought stripling warriors would be much cooler!
There are a few things that I wish to impart unto you all - especially the young men. I am serving in the Philippines Cauayan Mission, Ilagan Zone, in the Benito Soliven area for the Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have been in the mission field for eight weeks now, and my whole mission for four months next Wednesday. Now that you have some background, like the title headings in the scriptures, I want to get right to it.
I have never experienced anything in my life that has brought me greater joy than serving a full time mission. This is my routine every day: I wake up at six am to workout, eat breakfast, and get dressed - while church hymns or The Restoration movie is playing. I have personal study time from eight to nine to study the scriptures and out of Preach My Gospel. Nine to eleven is companionship study. We learn how to teach in unity and learn about the scriptures, and more importantly we learn about how we can apply them. We practice teaching in English and in Tagalog. Eleven to twelve is language study where I read the English and the Tagalog Book of Mormon side by side out loud for thirty minutes, and the next thirty minutes is reading Preach My Gospel and pamphlets, and practice teaching in Tagalog. I also try to learn five to ten new words a day that I use so that I won't forget them. Twelve to one is our lunch time and our time to prepare for the day. Then from one to nine pm we work. Our motto is "Work. Work. Work." The Lord said a marvelous WORK is about to come forth unto the children of men. Not a marvelous rest! (haha) We teach less-actives, investigators, and we find people. We return home around nine and immediately have our daily planning session which is a thirty minute period in which we plan for the following day. Then I eat dinner and workout again, and sleep. That's the routine of a missionary. You would think that doing that wouldn't be fun and it's so strict, but let me let you in on a secret. I have never been happier in my life doing that day in and day out. This is where true happiness comes from. Living this perfect gospel is where we find a sense of belonging, peace, comfort, direction, and eventually eternal life. Like I tell the many people here that I talk with, we cannot be "just" a member of this church. We have to be a saint of this church and we do so by living it.
I want to let you in on another secret about how to obtain a conversion by fire which is an everlasting conversion that will enable you to live the gospel at all times, in all places, and in all things. We must gain a testimony of The Book of Mormon. Christ is our foundation and our rock, but what is our keystone, or the thing that holds up the roof - the protection from the winds and the fiery darts of the devil? It is The Book of Mormon. If we have a testimony of The Book of Mormon, we have a testimony of The Restoration and we know that Joseph Smith was the prophet who restored it. We know that this is Christ's church and we know The Plan of Salvation because The Book of Mormon outlines it. We must embrace and gain a testimony of the power and divinity of The Book of Mormon if we are to live this gospel and endure to the end - so we are worthy of Celestial glory and worthy to live with our Father in Heaven, His son Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost, and our families for all eternity.
Young men: read The Book of Mormon every day. Read The Book of Mormon in the morning so you will receive strength throughout the day to prevail against Satan's attempts to snare you in his cunning traps, and at night to show your gratitude to God. I just recently finished The Book of Mormon for the first time in my life and I can testify to you with all of the surety of my heart that it is true. I felt the Spirit testifying to me as I read the last three verses of Moroni 10 and I did what he directs as well as what Jeffery R. Holland directs us to do. Read The Book of Mormon and ask if it is not true. Ask if it is true continually, not just once, so that your testimony will continue to grow. In Alma 32, it talks about nourishing your faith. Brothers and Sisters, I would ask you. Are you nourishing your faith so your roots will be strengthened or will the winds of Satan prevail when they blow?
Young men: looking back now...I wish I would have learned these things in my youth. I wish I would have known. You don't have to make the same mistake that I did. I would commit you to read The Book of Mormon and apply it. When you don't know what to do and you're lost in your life, read 2 Nephi 32:3. When you need help or strength to accomplish anything righteous, read 2 Nephi 32:9. I have had every question of my soul answered through The Book of Mormon. I want to testify that it is the most true book on this earth. I know Joseph Smith was The Lord's prophet who restored His gospel back on the earth today. I know that serving a mission is the greatest thing any young man can do in his early life and I know that it opens doors for his future. If you are a worthy young man and you don't serve a mission for Him who created you, you are making the biggest mistake of your life. If you are a young woman and you desire to serve the Lord, please serve. Sister missionaries are so incredibly important and I can't stress that enough. Because of two sister missionaries, my nephew was baptized and I had the honor of confirming him a member. I know that this work is our purpose. Alma 34:32 - this is the day to perform your labors. Let us labor in His vineyard with might like He directs us in The Doctrine and Covenants so He can pour out a mighty blessing upon us. We are all missionaries and we are all called to this work. The worth of every soul is great in the eyes of our Lord.
Brothers and Sisters, be missionaries. Let your light shine forth. A city on a hill cannot be hid. I know this gospel is true with all of the surety and faculty of my heart and soul. I know that our Savior lives and He is willing to bless us according to our obedience and faith in Him. I leave you with one more thing. When you gain a testimony of these things and you live this perfect and true gospel, you will receive a happiness you never knew you could in this life, and if it is that great in this life - imagine how great your joy will be in the next! I know the work I am doing is the work of God and I have never seen more blessings in my life and in the lives of my family before because of my service. I know the things that I have said are true and I cannot and will not deny them! I leave them with you in the name of our Lord and Almighty Savior, even Jesus Christ, Amen.