Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016 "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home"

I'm in a trio now for the next week and a half until transfers. We will be covering the Centreville 1st ward and the Centreville 2nd ward. Elder Strawn is the other missionary that we're with. It'll keep us busy and we're excited!

Michelle's baptism was such a great experience! She has some extened family that are members of the church and they drove a few hours to come support her in her decision to be baptized! A couple members of the ward gave a couple of super great talks and there was a lot of support from the ward there! I had the privilege to be the one to perform her baptism! Michelle's daughter was baptized last summer with her cousin (from her fathers side) and on my very first night in Centreville (January 21st), we went to her house with Bishop Deursch because they had just moved into the ward, and we wanted to go to meet her daughter Kaylie. Michelle was actually one of the very first people I met in the mission field! So it's pretty cool to see the progress she has made in the last couple months, from knowing little to nothing about the church, to becoming a member! Her testimony has grown a lot and she is such a great example to her daughter! She was confirmed in sacrament meeting yesterday and she is already being a missionary to her friends! She has a close family friend named Hassan who she invited to attend her baptism, and he also came to church to see her confirmation. It's great to see her desire to make this a priority in her life, and I know this decision is going to bless her and her daughters life more than she can even imagine right now!
Elder Shelley and I with Michelle and her daughter Kaylie right before the baptism! What a special day for their family! Kaylie is only 10 years old, which is crazy because she's almost as tall as me!

This is Bishop Duersch, his wife and kids with Michelle and Kaylie! Nicole, Addie, and Marshall are the kids. It was fun to have Marshall sit in between Elder Shelley and I as we taught. He was "mini-missionary Marshall!" This is such a great family and I'm grateful for their examples and the time that we've been able to spend in their home teaching Michelle! 

In 2nd Nephi chapter 31:17-21 we read: 
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. 

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ..."

Repentance, followed by baptism by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, are the "gate" by which we are to enter, but it's certainly not all that is expected of us! We need to "press forward" and "endure to the end" striving to keep all of God's commandments throughout our lives! None of us are going to be perfect, but that's why our Heavenly Father lovingly and willingly sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for each of us. We all will mess up, but we can turn to Him to receive forgiveness and to feel the peace and happiness that comes from His atonement. We're so excited for Michelle as she continues on the "straight and narrow path" that leads to eternal life with our families and with our Father in Heaven!

This week we also were able to teach another lesson to Megan! We taught her in the Jonas family's home, who live just a couple doors down from her! As we discussed the Plan of Salvation, she expressed that she has felt so blessed and so much closer to God as she's continued to learn through attending church, seminary, and meeting with us! Her friends do a tremendous job in being an example to her and loving and supporting her! She still has the goal to be baptized at the end of this month, so we are excited to help her reach that goal! We're going to teach her again later tonight.

We were also finally able to meet with Phyllis again! (Refer to my letter posted on March 1st). We stopped by and talked with her for a little while. She told us that she was able to go to "The Savior of the World" production that that the stake put on at the DC Temple Visitors Center during Easter weekend, and she loved it! She went with her neighbors who are members of our ward. We shared a couple scriptures with her, and encouraged her to watch some of the general conference talks. She told us how much she loves hearing President Uchtdorf speak, so we pulled up his talk from last weekend on her computer and she said she would watch it after we left! That talk is entitled "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home." It was a great talk! I love it when he explained the following: 
"To me, the parable of the lost sheep is one of the most hopeful passages in all of scripture. Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears.
It matters not how you became lost--whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children."

I know that the Savior truly knows and loves each of us! I know that He is always there for us, even when we are lost! It is so comforting to know that "it matters not how [we] became lost" but what does matter "is that [we] are His child[ren]. And He loves [us]!" I know He is there. I know he wants us to turn to Him! I'm grateful for the tremendous opportunity I have to help people access the enabling power of His atonement and His gospel! There is no greater source of peace and happiness than that of our Savior, that comes from following His commandments! He is the one who carries us when we feel like we can't keep moving forward and He is ALWAYS there, even when we may not realize it.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Duvall

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