Why Is Religion Important?

First off how was my week?It was great I got teach a couple of lessons, and to help several people out.  Despite what many might think, I am adjusting fine to the walking everywhere part of mission work (Thank you Disney World). My companion Elder Short and I are working hard to find people to teach.  And I’m having fun playing sports with other missionaries (I know I’m shocked too).  I’m still getting used to the inferior Apple iPad ™ and the lack of a keyboard.  Despite my woes with the iPad I’m writing a really long message today so wish me luck.

Why is religion important?

To many people this might be a question they have asked at some point in their lives.  And to many people the answer they believed in is—it isn’t.  But I have asked this question before and I have gotten a very different answer—it is everything.

To better show my side, I would like to ask another question.  What is the purpose of life?  This is not a question that can be answered by science, entertainment, and really it can’t even be answered by philosophy.  Ultimately the only thing that can fully answer this question is religion.

A great talk I watched recently was this this talk by Elder Holland entitled:

Bound By Loving Ties.

Many people today don’t follow a religion, and many who do don’t seem to practice it anymore.  In fact, there is a lot of discrimination directed towards people of faith.  A story from the Ensign I would like to share talks about two different people struggling with the same problem.

First, there is Nate, who recently got a great job and worked hard.  He made lots of friends at work, and had a great time chatting with them. Eventually he was comfortable enough to tell his new friends at work that he was gay. Almost immediately everyone around him stopped talked to him and he felt more and more distant. He was eventually fired from his job despite being one of the best workers, the boss told him something to cover up the real reason he was fired. He knew he was fired because he was gay.

Then there is Samantha.  She also recently got a great job and worked hard in it.  But soon word got out that she was Mormon, and soon coworkers would take time out of their day to insult her religion. Every time she responded by saying it was what she believes and that she didn’t want to fight over it. But still her fellow coworkers constantly ridiculed her beliefs, her way of life. It got so bad she had to quit her job.

What is the difference between these stories?  One is discriminated against because he is gay; the other is discriminated against because she is Mormon. Actually, Samantha faced more open and more relentless opposition.  Nevertheless, both of these cases are unacceptable and shouldn’t happen.  But the sad thing is that this does happens.

We need more respect in our world.  The main issue is that people judge others without fully understanding what the other believes in. I really doubt that anybody who is reading this, that isn’t a member of the Mormon church, understands a fraction of what we as Mormons believe in.  And likewise, Mormons probably don’t know what others really believe in either.

Many might justify discrimination against others by saying that they feel like others are pushing their beliefs on them. But as Mormons we share our religion because it makes us happy.  We don’t share to increase our membership, or because we gain a reward for sharing the gospel of our savior Jesus Christ. It is because we have people we love and we want them to be have the same happiness that we have found. 

Religion has brought me great happiness, and I hope it can bring others the same happiness it has brought me.

Regards from North Ogden East area of the Utah Logan Mission.

 

Why We Baptize

Just three weeks in and I have already participated in the baptism. Two investigators who we have been teaching were baptized on August 20th. Their names are Bridger and Savannah. Bridger is 16 and Savannah is 9, which is a bit of an age difference. 

Baptism1

Bridger and Savannah at their baptism

 

 My mission has been great so far, and I’ve learned so much as I have been teaching, and trying to find people to teach.  The work has been mostly finding people to teach, as there are not a lot of non-Mormons here in Utah.

Since I’m on the subject of baptisms I would like to share a few thoughts on that subject.

First off, I would like to explain how we perform baptisms.  My LDS friends and family reading this blog will already know this but I’ll explain anyways. We baptize by immersion, which means we fully dunk the person getting baptized under water. They have to be fully immersed in the water, if only for a moment.  

Now the real question some of you might be asking, why do we preform baptisms and why is it such a big deal? 

It’s simple really—Jesus Christ was baptized and because he was baptized so are we.  Then why was Jesus baptized?  Because baptism is an extremely symbolic act that shows devotion to God. When we are baptized we promise to take upon us the name of Christ and act as he would act.  Of course nobody is perfect like Jesus, but it is important that we try to be the best we can be and as Christ-like as possible.  Baptism is also symbolic of death and rebirth; we are buried under the water to show the death of the old life we had, and are taken out to show the birth of the new life we are given.  Ultimately baptism is how we show God that we want to follow him and want to live the way he wants us to live.

Many might think that as missionaries all we are concerned about is getting baptisms. And while we focus a lot on baptism, as it is the first step in God’s plan of salvation, we don’t force people to be baptized.  In fact, to be baptized into our church is not easy. You have to follow commandments that God has given us, and you have to be interviewed before you are baptized.  And most of all you have to want to be baptized, and your family has to want you to be baptized.  If all of these requirements are not met the church will not baptize you.

At the end of the day baptism is extremely important to us as Latter-day Saints. And as we live our lives, we have baptism and the promise we made as a constant reminder of who we should be like.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the perfect example.  Amen.

Service is Fun!

This week was fun.  I was called a janitor by a little kid.  I am
learning a lot about how to be a great missionary.  One thing that I
struggle with is that missionary work is very extroverted. I’m sorta
introverted so I struggle with opening my mouth and speaking.  But
I’ve learned that as you open your mouth and speak, things will get
easier.

The scriptures say that when you are in the service of others you are
in the service of God (Mosiah 2:17).  I’ve learned that when you serve others you
become happier; and missionary work is service. When you are doing
something selfish it is easy to become self critical or to start
shutting others out of your life.  But when you focus on serving others you
just become happier because you don’t focus on those negative things. It’s is kinda hard to explain but serving others is something everyone should do.

That’s all for this week.

Regards from North Ogden East.

Prayer, Faith and Walking

 

Hello, how are you?  I’m just fine.  Thanks for asking.

This has been a fun week.  Despite the fact that I’m still adapting to
the high altitude and the extreme dryness I have been having a great
time.  Missionary work fills you with this certain kind of joy that
really makes you be happy a lot.  Yeah I might be living on my own
(sort of not really), and I have to walk about 14 miles every day, but
nowhere else have I got to help people without having to think about
myself.  This kind of selfless service brings you happiness.  One of
the things that people didn’t talk enough about before my mission is the joy you get
from going on a mission.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that prayer is extremely important.
Maybe even the most important thing you can do each day.  Pray is a
two way communication between you a God.  Isn’t that such an amazing
concept.  That when you pray you are talking with God.  Honestly
praying and expecting an answer might be the biggest act of faith you
can do.  (Faith is believing without seeing, another good word would
be trust).  It’s no wonder why investigators who pray are more likely
to join the church because when they pray they exercise their faith.
And just like muscles, when you exercise your faith it becomes
stronger.  Faith is the most important thing for investigators and
members alike.  Without faith there is nothing.  But with faith we
have everything we could possibly want.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen