Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Good afternoon brothers and sisters, I am so excited to be speaking today mostly because of what this means. Today is my farewell talk and tonight I will be set apart as a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints! I have the amazing privilege and opportunity to be serving a mission for the Lord. I report Wednesday to the MTC in Provo to begin my studies to hopefully become an effective missionary and to learn the Russian language and then I will eventually serve in the Ukraine, Kyiv mission. I'm really excited!
I was asked today to speak on gospel principles and their importance in preparing to serve a mission, and really there importance throughout our lives. When I first learned I would be speaking about gospel principles, my first thought was the fourth article of faith, which says,
"We believe that the first principles and aordinances of the Gospel are: first, bFaith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, cRepentance; third, dBaptism by eimmersion for the fremission of sins; fourth, Laying on of ghands for the hgift of the Holy Ghost.."
These are great principles and ones I know I will be testifying a lot of on my mission, but then my ideas of what the gospel principles were expanded, and I was reminded of this book, entitled, "Gospel Principles" An entire book with almost fifty chapters containing gospel principles. I love that this book has been the study book of choice for our relief society and priesthood lessons this past year and will continue to be this year. It really shows our need to return to the basics of a Christ-centered life. In this past general conference, Quinten L. Cook, one of the twelve apostles noted in his talk that a colleague of a friend of his had studied democracy across the world and this friend
"was surprised at how critically important religion is to democracy. He pointed out that in societies where the citizens are taught from a young age to feel accountable to God for honesty and integrity, they will abide by rules and practices that, while unenforceable, promote democratic ideals. In societies where this is not true, there cannot be enough policemen to enforce honest behavior."
And how true that is, nothing can substitute or make up for the lack of integrity. And we can gain such integrity by living the gospel principles.
In preparing to serve a mission, I have really seen the fruits of two deep principles of the gospel and those are the law of sacrifice and the actions we should be taking to live a consecrated life.
So, first, the Law of Sacrifice: the requirement to give things up to the Lord, anciently in the form of an animal, and today to give of our time and talents to the Lord. By way of human nature, it doesn't seem much fun or appealing if it is a requirement, or an obligation. Recently I have redefined the "Law" of the Law of Sacrifice and understood it the same as Newton's Laws of Motions, especially the one that states,
"for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"
Understanding the "Law" of the Law of Sacrifice in this way to me, is that when I decide to sacrifice something on behalf of the Lord, something as simple as staying up an extra five minutes to read my scriptures, there will be an equal reaction from my Heavenly Father to bless me. Much more appealing to sacrifice.
An experience this past year has also helped me to understand the Law of Sacrifice a little better. I go to school back on the East coast, and one semester I had the wonderful opportunity of living with a great friend of mine named Jamie. Even thou Jamie lives in a one bedroom, very small apartment, we attempted to make it work as I transformed her tiny living room into a bedroom and I slept on the futon. I lasted one semester in that living situation, but enjoyed my time rooming with one of my best friends and moved out. Well, the following semester, another friend of Jamie's found herself in a pretty unfortunate situation. She had been kicked out of her home, left with no job or place to stay while she attended school. Jamie, filled with a lot of compassion toward her friend offered up her futon as a temporary home free of cost until she could figure something out. Her friend was so grateful and promised to stay neat and to continue to look for a job. Well I didn't check back in with Jamie and how her new roommate were doing until a few weeks later. Jamie and I went out to lunch were she explained to me her situation and her feelings. The new roommate had not become a nuisance, but more thoughtless and inconsiderate for the great act of compassion that Jamie was providing to her. The job search became less zealous, the complacency with the living situation was overriding any motivation to move out it seemed. Jamie said to me something along the lines of, "I know I am a fortunate person to have what I have and therefore I should be willing to help out people who don't have what I have. And I don't even mind that this friend doesn't have a job or isn't paying rent, but the simple observation that her efforts to find a job or another place to live have become less than zealous makes it really hard to have compassion on her. If she could just show a little more gratitude by her actions to attempt improve her situation, I wouldn't mind continuing to help her out"
Well Jamie got quite an unexpected response from me. I said, "Jamie, I just had an epiphany as you described this situation, you say you want to be compassionate and help someone less fortunate , but you would be compelled to more compassion and to help your friend out even if she just showed the smallest signs of wanting to improve her situation through actions, and that must be exactly how God feels toward us! Heavenly Father wants to bless us, but it makes it harder for him to do that when we are not putting in the effort to improve our lives in any way."
Jamie, who was looking for some consolation and advice on how to fix this situation was less than thrilled with my response, but I thanked her for her account because it helped me realize that to Heavenly Father those little things, those little sacrifices, are big things to him and he can more freely bless us when we show him some effort in our lives. Thus, the Law of Sacrifice.
Next, the importance of living a consecrated life. To consecrate is to dedicate, to make holy, or to become righteous. One of the many great talks given in this last general conference was by D. Todd Chrisofferson, an apostle, entitled "Reflections on a Consecrated LIfe." In it he gives counsel on how to we can consecrate our lives today. The five elements he details of a consecrated life are first purity, then work, then respect for one's physical body, service, and finally integrity. I just want to focus on the last one of integrity. Integrity encompasses a lot of gospel principles, including honesty, purity, and steadfastness. In his talk D. Todd Chrisofferson recounts this story.
Years ago I became acquainted with two families in the process of dissolving a jointly owned commercial enterprise. The principals, two men who were friends and members of the same Christian congregation, had formed the company years earlier. They had a generally congenial relationship as business partners, but as they grew older and the next generation began to take part in the business, conflicts emerged. Finally, all parties decided it would be best to divide up the assets and go their separate ways. One of the two original partners devised a stratagem with his lawyers to secure for himself a significant financial advantage in the dissolution at the expense of the other partner and his sons. In a meeting of the parties, one of the sons complained about this unfair treatment and appealed to the honor and Christian beliefs of the first partner. “You know this is not right,” he said. “How could you take advantage of someone this way, especially a brother in the same church?” The first partner’s lawyer retorted, “Oh, grow up! How can you be so naive?”
Integrity is not naiveté. What is naive is to suppose that we are not accountable to God... One who lives a consecrated life does not seek to take advantage of another but, if anything, will turn the other cheek and, if required to deliver a coat, will give the cloak also.
I have read a book the past little bit entitled "Valient in the Testimony of Christ" by Joseph Fielding McConkie. In it he offers this counsel of the responsibility we have to consecrate our lives and live what we believe. He says
As Latter-day Saints we covenanted in the waters of baptism that w3e would "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places that we may be in. Mosiah 18:9 This does not mean that we are forever forcing our profession of Christ on all who have the fortune-or misfortune, as the case may be-to be in our presence. It does mean, however, that our speech and actions will always be such that the LIght of Christ can shine through us. Our actions are our testimony. In all occasions in which we are invited to teach and to preach, our testimony is what we teach.
When we work towards consecrating our lives and work towards living simple gospel principles each day, we are sharing our testimony with everyone we come in contact with. Not by preaching, but by doing. In this book it says you cannot separate belief from action. And i think that it goes both ways, you cannot say believe something and then live your life another way.
It has been really intimidating growing up with the counsel from the apostles and prophet that every member should be a missionary. But if we can spread our testimony through our actions, it really should be quite easy. When I reflect on my life and i invite each of you to do the same, think of every person you have come in contact with, deep and casual relationships, coworker of different jobs, customers, students, friends back to high school , middle school. We come in contact with so many people throughout our lives, and how great the thought would be if we could say we have been honest with every single one of them, that we exercised compassion as Christ would do if he were here. When i reflect i see so many missed opportunities to share my testimony of My Savior, My Heavenly Father, the Holy Ghost, and the Plan of Salvation by simply living simple gospel principles. And that motivates me to continue living righteously so that others may see the Light of Christ that emits from me.
We should be working toward a point where sacrifice and integrity and the other elements of a consecrated life are natural desires for us. But sometimes they are not. We can be thinking we are living the gospel with every ounce of energy we have, but our hearts may not be in the right place. There was a point in my life when I was attending church, doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing, but I was unhappy and not enthusiastic about the gospel. I knew I had a few distractions going on in my life, but I figured that was normal and could not be affecting my spirituality. Well I turned to the lord in sincere prayer for an answer on how I could return back to a state of happiness and love for the gospel. And I found my answer in a scripture that came up in my scripture reading that night. In third Nephi chapter 13 starting in verse 19 it reads,
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where amoth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
But lay up for yourselves atreasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
At that point in my life, I realized, my treasures I was pursing were not holy, and thus my heart could not feel holy. I needed to redirect my treasures so that there were eternal in nature and only then could my heart feel the spirit once again. And it didn't happen overnight, I even prayed to my Heavenly Father to help me have more righteous intentions, and He did. Just as the scripture says, I do not want treasure that exists temporarily, I want everlasting joy. And because that is where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.
I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers through the scriptures and by teaching us through the holy ghost and for me, and those the most important reasons to me for living the gospel principles, in order to be worthy to receive answers to my prayers.
I look forward to serving and sharing my testimony and giving up 100% of my time and talents to the Lord while on this misison.
Good morning brothers and sisters and Merry Christmas! I hope you all have enjoyed the past few days and few weeks with your family and friends and feeling the spirit of Christmas! I am Kylie Little, the daughter of brother and sister little in the ward, but most of you probably know me. And most of you probably know that I’ve received a call to serve a mission for the lord and I am oh so excited. I will be leaving in 2 and a half weeks to prepare to serve in the Ukraine, Kyiv mission and learning Russian! Ever since high school I’ve really had a special interest in world cultures and world affairs, and I am so excited to be going to an area of world with so much history and to be a part of it for awhile. And also bless the lives of those there with the gospel.
I have been asked today to speak on the spirit of Christmas and how we a can experience this wonderful feeling throughout the entire year and share it with others. President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of the church today has said the spirit we feel at Christmas time is the spirit of Christ. So how can we have the spirit of Christ with us all year long? The best way I could think of to share my ideas with you is to bare my testimony of a few ways I have felt closer to my savior, my heavenly father, and the holy ghost over the past year as I have prepared to serve a mission.
The first and foremost principle that has been essential to my spiritual development has been to gain a better understanding of who I am, who exactly my heavenly father is and what our relationship is. I know that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, just as we are all his sons and his daughters. I know that the Joseph Smith account of the first vision is true, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and from this we learn that they both have bodies. Like I have a body!! Like each of you have a body! Do you know how amazing this concept is! God, our Heavenly father, is not some alien creature, or someone so incomprehensible that some people have given up trying to explain Him. We are the same form. He has a glorified and perfected body like each of us will have one day, and he is willing to listen to us, help us, and bless us when we seek his hand in our life.
A few weeks ago in a Sunday school class in another ward I attended, the teacher posed the following question to the class. “If you could have one hour to sit down face to face with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, what would you ask them?” Immediately, immediately a question sprang from my heart. It is not to know the answer to a doctrinal conundrum, or ask why a certain event has happened in my life. What is most important to me, what I would ask my Heavenly Father face to face if I was given the opportunity is this: “Do you really love me? And do you really believe I can succeed in this life?” just as quickly as the question arrived, I received a most beautiful feeling of warmth, comfort, and love within my chest, as an answer from my Heavenly father, that yes, he does love me, and He not only wants me to accomplish everything I want to in this life, but he has never doubted in me. And each of you can obtain this knowledge by asking our Heavenly Father in sincere prayer. I can hardly describe the courage I have gained to go forward in life from gaining this knowledge. Heavenly Father, no further questions. I don’t need to know anything else or why certain things happen in my life. I know that my Heavenly Father loves and is looking out for me and is always believing in me and I can always turn to him for help. Through prayer, which is my second principle that has brought the spirit of Christ into my life.
I now have a visual image of who my Heavenly Father is, someone with a glorified body who is the great creator, and I know that he loves me. These truths have made it so much easier and frankly natural to drop to my knees every time I say a personal prayer. And as I lower myself to the ground, I am sufficiently humbled to begin to address our Heavenly Father. He knows what’s going on in our lives; there is nothing we can hide from him. But we need to show our faith in Him by updating him on our lives, our feelings, and our desires.
Over the past few weeks my prayers have included the line, unfortunately, I know, “Dear Heavenly Father, I hate my job. Please help me to get through this next shift, the next four hours. Please.” And countless times my Heavenly Father has blessed me with a moment at work where I felt appreciated, or when I felt needed, or for a small moment I brightened someone’s day. My heavenly Father knows that this is all I need to make it through a day at work, and I know that he is watching out for me, and when I begin my days with him, he helps me to have a good day. When we offer up a prayer to our Heavenly Father, whatever the circumstances, whether we need to be comforted, whether we need to be reminded of His love for us, or whenever we simply ask for safety as we go about our day, He hears us and he blesses us.
The Third thing that I have found has blessed my life and the lives of those around me is best summed up in a quoted from Joseph Fielding Mcconkie. Can’t go wrong with a name like that. This is from one of His books (Valiant in the Testimony of Christ, pg 170):
“…our whole experience in life was intended to be…[in] movement forward. Knowledge, testimony, and wisdom are all things we grow up into rather than obtain at a given point. No one would say I received my education on a certain day. Education is an ongoing thing. We might say that we completed a given course or part of our education at a given time or place, but the process goes on. It goes on or it shrivels up and dies.
So it is in the realm of spiritual things. Spiritual knowledge is a living thing, and as such it must continue to grow and change. If we are to follow the path that Christ followed, we must continually seek to advance from one grace to a greater grace.”
When I read this I immediately thought of my dad. My dad is always switching up his study habits. For awhile he was reading the New Testament, and then the next time I check in with him he’s in the Old Testament, and then the next day he is commending the servant of a servant of a servant from the Book of Mormon for their amazing acts of faith. He draws comparisons between different scripture stories and time periods and shares it with us, his family. The most amazing part of these study habits is that I don’t remember him being like this before. He always set a good example of reading the scriptures, but the depth that has he achieved now I feel has developed over the past few years. He has evolved his study habits to deepen his understanding of the gospel in order to continue bless his maturing family. I admire this quality and thank him for his devotion to learning and knowledge.
The few things I have shared with you so far are ways to improve our lives and welcome this spirit of Christ into them: to come to know that our Heavenly Fathers knows us, loves us, and wants to bless us and to open our hearts to him through sincere prayer with faith, and then to also continue to study the gospel with evolving habits. The last two things I want to talk about are ways to help bless the lives of others and bring them the spirit of Christ. And these are Charity through perfecting listening to the Holy Ghost, and then the Priesthood.
A few weeks ago, President Peterson of the stake presidency stood at this pulpit and gave us some advice that has not left my heart since. He advised us to never suppress a generous thought. Never suppress a generous thought. A good way to live your life, absolutely, but deeper than that…Generous thoughts always come from the Holy Ghost I believe. The Holy Ghost provides inspiration for all that is light and good. If any of us have suppressed a generous thought, and I know I have, which I should have so obviously recognized as the Holy Ghost prompting me to bless someone else, how many other thoughts, more subtle, have I suppressed from the Holy Ghost that could have blessed me or those around me? Each of us would describe the promptings of the Holy Ghost in different ways, and that fine, but the important thing is that we recognize them immediately and act on them unquestionably. In my own personal pursuit of trying to recognize the Holy Ghost speaking to me, for example, I’ll have a random idea pop into my head, like take one freeway way over another. Once I recognize that thought as having really no source within my own conscience, I say a silent prayer for a confirmation. And if I feel at peace after, I can thank the Holy Ghost for the prompting and proceed to follow it. And I encourage and challenge you all to increase your recognition and gratitude for the Holy Ghost. We should be recognizing and receiving promptings daily to help bless our lives and the lives of other with the light of Christ.
Lastly, I want to bear my testimony of the priesthood and how this has blessed me profoundly with the spirit of Christ and how I am so grateful for the priesthood. On LDS.ORG the first descriptive paragraph of the priesthood that is accessible to anyone who searches it my topic says this:
“The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth.”
The priesthood is such a blessing in our lives to invite and act as Christ would if He were here on the earth, so what better way to have the spirit of Christ than to do his work by his power.
In Matthew 16:19 Jesus Christ is describing his priesthood to one of his apostles, peter, and says
“And I will give unto the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever thou shalt lose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven”
The priesthood binds things as they are on earth in Heaven, meaning eternal marriage, eternal families, and sealing the covenants we make on earth like at baptism and in the temple. And things loosed on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. To me, personally, this scripture means that the chains from sin that bind me on this earth can be loosed by working with the proper priesthood and authority and remain loosed as I continue throughout the eternities. My sins can be washed away forever. A few weeks ago I was out with the missionaries listening to a simple lesson about the beautiful gift of forgiveness and the atonement. I was overwhelmed with such gratitude for this atonement. I felt impressed to email my bishop back in Boston where I’ve live the past couple years who helped me make my weaknesses become strengths and helped me become more pure in the eyes of my Heavenly Father through the proper use of the atonement through the proper use of the priesthood. I thanked him for his wise counsel, his support, and his priesthood. Because I have been washed clean by his proper priesthood authority, I have found so much happiness and joy now in my life, and I know it will bless the lives of my future family, and the joy will continue on with me into the eternities. The impact of his helping me with his priesthood to use the atonement is eternal. And I know that the priesthood is eternal. In his response email, among other things, my bishop said, “Congratulations, Kylie, you have discovered the value of the gospel and the atonement.”
I know that I have discovered the joy that this gospel can bring me and I never want to lose it. It is a pearl of great price that will continue to bless my life and I strive to live the gospel. I am excited to share this testimony for the next year and a half and also the rest of my life. I am thankful for my family and this ward for loving me and nurturing me to get me to this beautiful point in my life and I know that my family will continue to love and nurture me as I continue on. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
There is soooo much yet soooo little i have to say about the temple. I just did what i needed to to do there, felt an amazing spirit and absolutely enjoyed it. I have been reflecting on the gospel principle of "enduring to the end" recently, and I feel i have a better understanding of it at this point in my life. The concept of enduring to the end is taught to investigators as the step that follow baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. I think that enduring to the end means that while we understand a very small portion of the gospel at the time of our baptism, and we know that there is so much more to understand after baptism, enduring to the end is having the faith that further knowledge will be revealed to us as we continue living worthy and true to our baptismal covenants. I feel the same way at this point about the temple endowment. I understand a wee bit of what happened, and i know there is gigantic amounts of symbolism and importance that i don't understand yet, but i know that what I felt was the spirit there testifying to me that is was true and i will continue to learn as i continue to ponder and live my life worthily. Thus, enduring to the end.
Okay, but aside from spiritual stuff. We walked into the St. George temple and once I told the man at the front desk my name, he said, "Oh, Sister Little, you are going on a mission! to the Ukriane! We're so excited for you!" It felt so awesome and i felt so welcomed and the people there expressed their excitement for me to serve. The matrons and temple workers there were so bubbly and sweet. One of the first things i did was to go to the back offices so that they could sit down and check over my record information to make sure it was correct. As i was waiting for the matron to assist me, a male temple worker, older, around 60 approached me and started talking to me about my mission and how excited he could tell i was. (the whole day i had a smile ear to ear that i was at this point in my life-worthy and ready!) Well in the middle of our conversation, he says, "well, I am really sorry sister, but I'm afraid..." my heart sunk to my stomach thinking that something administratively had gone wrong and listened as he said, "... I'm afraid youre going to be distracting all the missionaries in the field with your beauty, they aren't going to be getting any work done!" i smiled and said i think that my physical attraction will disappear when i am set apart and i will only be spiritually beautifully for my mission, because that's what's important. He said, "Oh, I don't think that's whats going to happen" with a big smile on his face :)
so next i went to get changed and i was escorted to the "bridal changing room" and as i passed through the hallway i saw like three beautiful wedding dresses hanging up waiting for their brides to return from their sealing. Okay, honestly, for half a second i was sincerely sad that i wasn't there to be sealed to a companion, or even have a male counterpart to go through this, my first temple experience, with me and feel what i am feeling-nervous, excited, just all the emotions. So i stopped in my tracks and stopped the matron that was leading me and told her that today, for me, it wasn't call the bridal changing room, but the sister missionary changing room. She agreed to call it that for me and i was ready to continue on.
As i said the matrons were so nice and were feeding off my excitement and smiles, and i was told multiple times throughout the day that i am going to be a great missionary because i am energetic and excited about going. WHY NOT be excited about going?!!! I made those matrons just as proud of me as any of the brides coming through which helped a lot with my little pains of loneliness.
So many people from my home ward came to support me, more than i expected given the hour and a half drive to the temple, but it was seriously a ward party in the celestial room. I didn't realize i was supposed to whisper and be quiet until we were about to leave, so hopefully i didn't distract from someones introspection and reflections, but whatever, i was soooo excited to be there and doing what i was doing.
So this evening i was set apart...and it was such a cool experience. I initially wanted it to be just me and my family in the room, but my bishop advised that more people come. I had twenty people in the room to support me and nine honorable, melchizedek priesthood holders who are close to my family and my heart in the circle as i was set apart (usually it is just the stake pres and the dad), but I couldn't turn down more priesthood authority surrounding me as i was set apart...it was so powerful. Two people in the circle are men who are preparing to serve their missions in S america and australia and what an opportunity for them to exercise their priesthood authority to help set me apart! so cooool!
I am so ready. I can just feel it. I am a missionary now. No if ands or buts about it. and the most important part is that i am absolutely certain in my mind that that is true. I am ready to go out and touch the lives of those i meet in the mtc and then in the ukriane with the light of christ emitting from my heart. I cant hardly contain it all in the confounds of my physical body. I am so excited! I can't wait!!!