Let Your Light Shine

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Elder Brown, Brother Adams, the Adams dog, and Elder Brown’s new companion at Bishop Adams home.

 

January 23, 2017

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

Today I would like to talk about this scripture, and more importantly the personally significant it has in my life.

This is a very famous scripture.  It is directly from the lips of the Savior himself, spoken during his sermon on the mount.  In this scripture light is used as a symbol (as it often is) to describe how we as followers of Christ are examples.

The nature of light strike me as wondrous. When light enters a room, it fills the darkness which allows us to see. Darkness doesn’t overpower light. Yet there is a limitation to light—it cannot travel beyond an object.  No matter if it be a wall, or a covering, or us—light simply cannot move past something that is in the way. A bushel, as used in this scripture, simply means something that covers or blocks the light.

What Christ is saying is that we need to let the light which we have shine, so that darkness can be chased away, and we can see. And just in case you didn’t know this, that light is the Gospel, or a testimony of the Gospel, depending on how you look at it.

Yet in my own life I struggled with this.  Growing up in areas that are not predominantly LDS made me feel like I stood out, or a Christ put it, it made me feel as if I was set on a hill.

And for me as a nerdy little kid growing up, I did not want to be the center of attention, I wanted to enjoy my life and be happy; and I believed that being in some kind of spotlight would shatter the happiness I had.  So, I hid my light.

Since I was little I always had a testimony of the Gospel: I believed in Jesus Christ, I knew I had a Heavenly Father, and I even had a pretty good witness that the Book of Mormon was true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That testimony—that light, which I had was precious to me—in fact it was sacred to me.  Yet I was afraid that if I shared it, it would be cast aside and that nobody would see how truly important it was to me.  So I hid my light.

As time went on and I grew up that light which I hid  was definitely fading.  My testimony was fading.  I still believed, but not with the same heart I did when I was younger. To me, the Gospel made sense intellectually and I  basically I decided that if I had to bet on if God was real or not, I would bet on him being real, as I didn’t have much to lose if I was wrong.  Reflecting on this time it amazes me to see that when a light is hid, it does not stay the same—it shrinks.

Perhaps Christ thought of this when he used a candlestick as the source of the light, or, to be more plain, fire.  Fire is symbolic in so many ways, but in this case I see the importance of fire in two different ways.  First, fire gives off light.  Second, fire will go out if it doesn’t have oxygen. If you cover a flame it will use up all of its oxygen and die. Therefore,  in the case of this scripture it is possible to lose that light, or testimony, but only if you keep it covered.

Which I did.

So, that testimony suffered, and probably the only thing that keep it going at all was attending church.  But I soon found that a dim light covered by fear doesn’t help much.

In high school I went through a really rough spot in my life, that as far as I know nobody knows about.  I don’t wish to go into detail about it here, but I’ll just say I didn’t have much hope in myself at all. My light was on the verge of going out, and it scares me, I didn’t know what to do.

But God knows what to do.  And as it happens, one day in AP United States history, near the end of the year we had a project in which we could research any part of American History in depth and make a presentation on it. Earlier that year we spent about ten minutes covering Mormon history, and since I am a Mormon it made me really excited to study that.  So when it came time to pick a project, I picked a project about the Mormon pioneers.

Without a doubt in my mind I can say that that was one of the most important decisions of my life.  For the first time in such a long time I was going to be open about my heritage as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My topic, Mormon pioneers, did not even touch really religious subjects like prophets or faith, but to me I was never more excited, or more scared to present anything.  It was the project that I researched the most for, the project that I read the most sources for, and most importantly it was the project I cared about the most.

I will never forget that project; not for the conversations that it opened up about religion—it didn’t lead to much discussion; not for the grade which I got—yes, I got an A; not even for what I learned from it—a deep admiration for Mormon pioneers. I will never forget this project because what it represented to me. This project was me casting the covering from off  of the fire and letting it breath.  This was me letting my light, no matter how dim or unkempt, shine.  This was me putting my faith in my savior and saying I want to return to live with my Father in Heaven again.

And I was amazed.  That light, which I had hid and covered, grew. And though it may have only affected me, I felt like I could finally see again.  I felt as if I had again a hundred witnesses that God lives, that the Church is true, that Jesus is my savior, that I am a son of God! That increase of light which I got from that project has grown since then.  It has only been fanned as of late.  To me the Gospel is real. To me it is real because I saw it change me, and I saw light come back into my life.

I want to finish this extremely long post by declaring my witness, that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and Redeemer. That his scriptures contain the words of eternal life.  That Joseph was called to be a prophet and restore the light of Christ to the world.  That the greatest joy I have ever felt in my life came from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

And just because I want to take up even more of your time today.

Additional Resources: Scriptures:

– Luke 11:33-34

– 3 Nephi 18:24

– D&C 50:24

– John 3:16-21

see JST – D&C 88

General Conference:

“Joy and Spiritual Survival” By President Russell M. Nelson, Oct 2016

“Sharing your Light” By Neill F. Marriott, Oct 2014

“Converted unto the Lord” by Elder David A. Bednar, Oct 2012

Videos:

Patterns of Light: The Light of Christ

Patterns of Light: Discerning Light

Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation

Regards from Elder Brown.

Transfers

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My North Ogden East District Selfie. I have not mastered the art of looking into the lens while taking a selfie.

 

January 16, 2017

So, for the first time in forever, I actually got transferred. I will no longer be in North Ogden East area. Which makes me sad considering that this has been an awesome place, and a great place to serve in. But I am happy to leave and go to something else. I need change honestly.

Before I say where I am going, let me tell you my recap of this my time in the North Ogden East Area.

The Days of Short:

I remember first coming here to North Ogden East, still intimidated about being a missionary. I had no idea what to expect.  But I took one look at the suburbs and Ben Lomund mountain and I just knew I was going to have a great time. My trainer, Elder Short, was exactly what I needed, someone who was like me and who wanted me to be the best missionary I could be. We had a great time those three months. We baptized, found people, taught, walked, and we were missionaries.  Those summer and fall days helped me get used to Utah. The odd abundance of trees in this area also helped.  It felt like home the moment I got here.

New companion and New Work:

When Elder Richardson arrived things changed a lot. This was the first time I didn’t have my trainer here to guide me, and the first time I had to take charge of the area for myself.  During this time I learned to love this area and the people here. These last weeks were some of my most spiritual experiences that I have ever had.  I learned so much about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and very importantly I learned more about myself.  And after this past six weeks I know for a fact that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Holy Ghost is our guide, and that I have been called and prepared for everything that God put in my way.  I learned how to give support, how to care more about others than myself, how to teach people, how to put first things first, how to study scriptures, how to call upon God in my trials, and how to lift myself up.

Finally, without further ado, I am going to Fielding Utah.

I will be finishing the training of Elder Whitby. This will be a car area, because the Fielding Stake is huge. Also there are polygamists in my area so yeah, this will be fun.  The area is very rural and there are only seven companionships (fourteen missionaries) in the whole zone. But that is really all I know, so yeah.  It will be fun.

I have a lot to pack, and not much time to pack, so I won’t be able to message anybody else today sorry.

Regards from Elder Alexander Brown

P.S. My New Mailing Address is:

Elder Alex Brown

Box 95, 15307 N. 5475 W.

Riverside UT, 84334

More Pictures:

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My North Ogden District from left to right: Elder Bower (district leader), Elder Hansen, Me, Elder Richardson (otherwise known as my twin), Sister Ricketts, Sister Schultz.

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Snow drifts in North Ogden.

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Snow Problem

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Did I mention that I like snow?

 

January 9, 2017

So, this week has been a very weird week, and that is mostly because of the snow and then the lack of snow. We were forced to stay inside our apartment because the temperatures were so low it was dangerous. (Apparently). So that was weird.

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And I met a turkey.

Then it started to warm up, and then rain which caused massive issues across the valley, because now we have ice everywhere once it froze.  The ice caused me to slide on my side down a steep driveway, which actually
was kinda fun. (Besides falling in my side, and losing a cookie I was holding).

 

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I really, really like snow.

But now things are cooling down again, so more cold weather.

Not going to write much this week, but next week is transfers.  So.  It begs the question, “Will I stay or will I go?”

Regards from Elder Brown.

 

Guest Post From My Mom

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Me loving the snow and looking like a powdered donut.

 

January 2, 2017

Growing up I have been very pleased to have two wonderful parents who are very spiritual people.  They have always shared their experiences with me and have taught me a lot.  Today I asked my mother to write for the blog, and to talk about how she feels about me being on a mission.  I hope that this post today will help somebody. I might ask others to write for my blog as well in the future.

Without further ado, here is my mother:

Alex asked me to write about how I feel about Alex being on a LDS mission. I reluctantly accepted. Reluctant because I would much rather hear from Alex. He is the missionary after all.

I am not sure how being a mother of a missionary differs greatly from being a mom of a freshman at college or in the Peace Corp or things like that. Sure, I do not get to talk to Alex except on Christmas and Mother’s Day. But from talking to friends whose sons are at university I don’t think I am missing out on a lot of conversation. It turns out that young men newly sprung from the confines of home don’t call their mothers nearly enough.

Instead I will mention a few things about mothering in general.

I expect my son to learn and grow—on his mission, in school, in life. I expect Alex to do his best and try his hardest at everything he does. And I expect that he will mess up or fail frequently. When that happens, I expect him to pick himself up, dust himself off and try again.

I have this saying that I would recite to my kids to try and motivate them. “When you do your best, your best gets better.” I have no idea where this phrase comes from or where I first heard it, but I would recant this saying as often I as could hoping it would have an impact. I wanted my kids to understand that improvement requires effort, steady effort over time and pushing ourselves to do our best strengthens us. I hope that when Alex gets home from his mission he has applied this principle to his life and strengthened his compassion, faith, love, knowledge, wisdom and work ethic. I hope he learns to not shy away from a challenge.

I do not worry about how he is doing. I am sure he is getting enough to eat and has a warm, dry, and hopefully clean place to live. I admit that I have occasionally looked up what the weather is like in Ogden, but not more than once or twice. Sure, there are dangers out there, but Alex would face most of the same dangers at university or at home. I am glad—no—I am extremely happy that he chose to serve.

And I really hope that he is SERVING. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon about service that goes like this: I tell you these things that you might learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17) I hope Alex learns to forget about himself and focus on others. Learning to forget himself and help others will serve him well for the rest of his life. Jesus Christ taught this when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s sake, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35).

Raising children reminds me of the myths where the hero tries to capture a shape-shifting god to gain some boon. The hero grabs hold of the god, who instantly changes form—horse, bull, snake, goat. Only the hero who could hold on through all the changes receives the reward. Believe me, there have been times during these years of mothering when it was all I could do to keep holding on. But then you get to the point where the rapid and wild changing stops. It is time to let go; and instead of the tiny infant you held to your chest all those years ago, you are looking at a man. Fully grown and confident. And you have your reward.

With regards, from Chapel Hill

Helene Brown

More pics: