CON MUCHO AMOR
Monday, May 11, 2015
Hey there family and friends! I am full of a lot of emotions, thoughts, and feelings as my two years have pretty much came to an end... its so crazy to think that two years ago i was in Mexico learning the language and all and adjusting to the missionary life and preparing to leave to Honduras,then getting to Honduras and starting a two year journey. Its hard to believe that this two year experience is coming to a close. I know that this journey has been like nothing i could have ever imagined to say the least, It has been full of a lot of ups and some downs jaja but its been the most memorable 2 years of my life. Looking back and reflecting a lot these past few days my heart has been really filled with a lot. My year at the Air Force Academy was quite the year and then leaving for a two year mission to serve others and give back to the Lord i wasnt quite sure what was going to happen. But now looking back, these past 3 years have really been incredible. I would not change a thing. Most importantly i would not change a thing to have served the lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength every day for the past two years. I can honestly say i have given the lord what i have and have enjoyed every single day and learned more than i ever thought that i would learn, what i have learned here with be with me for my entire life. I can say that i am coming back a man. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings that i have. I am so thankful for the United States, and all that we have on american soil. I would not trade a thing to be an american citizen. We are free, blessed , and given so much opportunity that we MUST not take for granted. We must stand up for what we have and believe cause not every country has it. I have seen and been apart of so much and my love for being an american has grown ever farther than i thought it would. We are more blessed than we can ever imagine. I am so blessed to be an American. With that being said, we need to be more thankful for the things that we have. My gratitude has changed like no other... we are all spoiled and take the little things for granted, bathrooms running water, and all the little things far and between, we must thank our heavenly father for EVERY little thing that we have. My level of gratitude for the states has grown and my love and respect for other people in other countries as well has grown like no other. My love for the culture here is imense. The Honduran people really are amazing. They are extremely humble and loving and have taught me what life is really about. I have gotten the big picture to say the least... And most importantly these people have helped me grow closer to my savior jesus christ and the lord himself. I have served these people and they have served me. They have taught me what service is all about. The lord served all of us throught the atonement of jesus christ. He gave us all he ever had. He died for each and every single one of us and gives us the opportunity to return and live with him once again. I love my savior jesus christ and god. They are my fathers in heaven and have done so much for me, the people here and each and every one of you. I know that the lord lives and loves each one of us. I know that he wants us to succeed in all aspects of life. We just need to be willing to do his will. Doing his will and not ours is the hardest part in life. But, i promise you that as you do what the lord has in store for you, you will be blessed like no other. I have seen it in the life of other and also in my own life here while being on the mission. Through service one can feel the love for others and know what really brings true joy. I have seen the lords hand every day in this work, i know that this work ishis and we are just his representatives at this time. This work is his and we are helping the rest of his sons and daughters come unto him and recieve the blessings that he can poor upon each and every one of us. The lord lives my brothers and sisters. I invite each and every one of you to be obedient to all the lord commandments and you will be blessed in these lattter days. I promise you that. I know that the gospel of jesus chirst is the best thing that we can have in our lives. It changes one and helps change so many others. I have seen it and been a personal witness of this for the past two years. I know that you guys can all have similar experience, but you must do your part. Obedience brings blessings. Are you willing to do what the lord has in store for you.....have the faith and believe me that being faithful to the lord in all that we do , you will be blessed and you will live a much better life. I love this work, i know its true and there is nothing better. I am so thankful for each and every one of you, you have changed me and i know that its throught the gospel of jesus christ and friendships and families and the atonement of jesus christ that one day we will all have the opportunitty to live together once again, i know this to be true, i testify that the lord lives, and loves us and wants the best for each and every one of us. I love you guys. I am so thankful for you guys, i cant wait to keep in touch and grow together. I know all that i have learned will and can be put into practice starting thursday when the airplane touches down on US SOIL BABY! I am so thankful for the time i have had to serve the lord and my loving brothers and sisters of Honduras. I love you guys. Cant wait to see and talk to you guys. LOVES....
Eler Mariano Long
Monday, May 4, 2015
Well there family and friends.... I really don’t know where my time has gone. Two years ago... I was flying in with this view and didn’t know what in the world was going to happen... Here I am two years later, completely changed for the better and really don’t know what to say. My life has been forever changed and I don’t know what else to say but THANK YOU for all the love and support, you guys are the bomb. I miss and love you guys and just over a week I will be leaving this airport with a completely different view and perspective on EVERYTHING in life. I would not change a thing, this has been the best experience that I could have asked for. The Lord lives and loves each and every one of his children. What do you do for him... I love the Lord and each one of you. I love you guys and cant wait to talk and see many of you. LOVES LOVES LOVES. Make it a great week. Do something special this week. I love you guys with all my heart! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM... You are very special. Thanks. Have a great week.
Aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward.
Con mucho amor,
Monday, April 27, 2015
Hey there familia and amigos! I hope that all is good and that you’re kicking alive and doing well! I am sweating my you know what’s off, but am working hard and enjoying every day more and more. At the same time I am READY to be in the promise land and see how things have changed and all. I can’t wait to see and hear from familia and friends, but until then I am enjoying the best thing ever, living in Honduras!
It’s been great to say the least, what an experience that it has been... I wouldn’t have done anything different. It’s been crazy, full of great and exceptional experiences and serving people that are really the best people. It’s been fast to say the least and I am just trying to make the most of every last day... while getting through the heat. It’s been SO hot it’s not even funny. Like 95 and hotter every day with humidity to make you die.... but I can’t complain because there are way worse problems I could have. So lets get down to it.
So this week I was in my area one time all week... yea… so that was way different than before. I was in different areas of my zone. So I got to visit with a lot of the missionaries and a lot of different areas and meet a lot of great people. I just love working with people so much. I have learned so many things from so many good people. It was an excellent time and the week went by super fast.
It is always wonderful to see people that are really changing with the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. It is always good to see, hear and feel the testimony of someone that has been converted, really converted. I wish I could sit down with each of you and share the amazing and incredible changes I have seen in people. This isn’t just people making changes. I have seen many of them do things that would seem impossible. It has happened because of the Savior and his help.
EVERYONE has a story, what is your story? We need to make our own story in every aspect of our lives. It will make us be such better people. So it’s always great to see other people and all. It’s a great time. Other than that this week... that’s about it, all is good!!!
We have a baptism and hopefully another one before I leave. I am working hard giving the Lord my very best every day.
Please watch, learn, and act!
LOVE U GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!! CAN’T WAIT TO SEE AND TALK TO MANY OF YOU. HAVE A GREAT WEEK!
AIM HIGH IN ALL THAT YOU DO AND PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD
WHAT DOES THE LORD HAVE IN STORE FOR YOU THIS WEEK........
LES QUIERO MUCHO!!!!!!!!!!! TENGAN UNA BUEN SEMANA
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Hey there familia and friends! Well, I really don’t know what to say besides I literally have died this past week.... you can’t even imagine how hot it really has been this past week. It’s been miserable. I am not going to lie haha I really haven’t slept for an entire week. And the bad news is that it’s not going to get better any time soon, supposedly this week is supposed to be upper 90´s all week.... so yea and throw in the humidity in there and yea... that makes it for a good one to say the least. During the day it’s bad but really it’s just the nights that really get to you. So yea enough about the sweat report to say the least.
This week we spent most of our week finding new gators to teach, so we did a lot of contacting and finding some new gators to see if they are ready and chosen. So it was good to get after it this week finding new people. It was a lot of fun to find some new familias and good people and we made it fun and got to meet some really great people.
I really love the Latin culture. It’s great and the people are sooo amazing, I am going to miss them so much. But I guess I will just have to find Latins to hang out with in the states and maybe even find a Latin wife…wouldn’t that be sweet JAJAJA…you never know! So other than sweating like crazy and just finding and leaving the area better than when I arrived here, we are just plugging away. I want to leave the area so that when the new missionaries come in after me it’s ready and people are doing good, I am just working hard to help the new guy that comes so there is lots of work to follow up on.
I can’t believe that in just a few short weeks I will be going home. That is crazy to say the least!! What else do I have for you? So this week there was a fire and we tried putting it out so it didn’t reach the house and all but we had to finally call the firefighters so yea I about got stuck in there because the smoke caught up so fast and I could barely see or breath. So I bent this pole back... my adrenaline got going so bad that I really don’t know where all the strength came. So the pic below is of me destroying the pole and getting out before dying. So yea the force of the body is incredible under panicked situations. Good stuff.
Today we had a barbeque with the zone and I and two buddies did all the cooking and grilling. Don’t laugh dad, we can cook, you’d be surprised. It was a good time today doing that. Then we played some volleyball with towels and water balloons. This week flew bye and I really don’t know what else I have to say, just working hard and doing my part to leave the area better than when I found it. What else... just sweating my you know what’s off! HAHA…working hard and sweating plenty.
ENJOY A TALK THAT I READ AND LOVED, APPLY IT TO YOUR LIVES.
“No Substitute for Family Prayer” by H. Kent Rappleye
Modern prophets have consistently taught that family prayer is essential if we are to protect our families from the perils of today’s world.
The counsel of the prophet was plain and to the point: “Parents, safeguard your families. … Pray together. There is no substitute for family prayer when all kneel together before the Lord.” 1
Somehow when I had listened to President Gordon B. Hinckley speaking in general conference, I must have let those words be overshadowed by his announcement a few sentences later that the Nauvoo Temple would be rebuilt. Yet as I reread his talk in the Ensign, I realized that here was inspired counsel no one could afford to ignore: nothing can take the place of kneeling with our families and petitioning God for His help, guidance, and mercy. If we would help save and strengthen our families, nothing else we do can replace family prayer.
It is counsel that President Hinckley has consistently offered. A decade ago, in a First Presidency message in the Ensign, he similarly taught that “a return to the old pattern of prayer, family prayer in the homes of the people, is one of the basic medications that would check the dread disease that is eroding the character of our society.” 2
It is a call that other prophets have consistently sounded throughout the history of the Church. Following the sorrow and tragedy of World War I, for example, President Heber J. Grant shared his feelings about family prayer: “I am convinced that one of the greatest things that can come into any home to cause the boys and girls in that home to grow up in a love of God, and in a love of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is to have family prayer. … I believe that there are very few that go astray, that very few lose their faith, who have once had a knowledge of the gospel, and who never neglect their prayers in their families, and their secret supplications to God.” 3
I have often reflected upon my own experience growing up in a home with family prayer. I don’t remember ever being instructed by my parents on how to pray. It was just something we always did in our family. My earliest memories of prayer are kneeling as a family around the kitchen table, feeling the steady, unwavering faith of my father. Although he passed away more than a quarter of a century ago, I will be eternally grateful for his humble and sincere prayers. He had many sayings and proverbs he used to impart to us children, but no phrase of his is more often remembered than one I heard him pray every time he spoke to Heavenly Father. It wasn’t a vain repetition but a daily, heartfelt, and sincere petition: “Wilt Thou bless the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, and those who have cause to mourn.” Little did I realize at the time that my father was teaching me compassion for others less fortunate and mercy for those in need. No lecture or lesson has had as far-reaching an impact on my soul as did this simple, faithful, heartfelt plea of my earthly father to our Heavenly Father.
I have since learned that although one’s heart may be full and the desire great to share thoughts and feelings with Heavenly Father, there needs to be a special sensitivity to those who are participating. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that family prayers should be “appropriate to the need. A prayer of a single couple would be different from one for a family of grown children or for one of small children. Certainly, it should not be long when little children are involved, or they may lose interest and tire of prayer and come to dislike it.” 4
Wise parents will recognize the protective power of regular family prayer. President Kimball taught: “No mother would carelessly send her little children forth to school on a wintry morning without warm clothes to protect against the snow and rain and cold. But there are numerous fathers and mothers who send their children to school without the protective covering available to them through prayer—a protection against exposure to unknown hazards, evil people, and base temptations.” 5
The challenge for parents in this age of rapid transit, rapid communication, and hectic schedules is that families can easily fall into the habit of rapid prayer or no prayer at all. Gathering the family together can be quite a challenge when everyone seems to be headed in different directions at different times. Even a half century ago, Church leaders were concerned with this intrusion of busy schedules into family life. President George Albert Smith cautioned the Saints: “I fear that, in the midst of the world’s confusion, of hurry and bustle, many times homes are left without prayer and without the blessings of the Lord; these homes cannot continue to be happy.” 6
Later, President Kimball counseled: “When we kneel in family prayer, our children at our side on their knees are learning habits that will stay with them all through their lives. If we do not take time for prayers, what we are actually saying to our children is, ‘Well, it isn’t very important, anyway. We won’t worry about it. If we can do it conveniently, we will have our prayer, but if the school bell rings and the bus is coming and employment is calling—well, prayer isn’t very important and we will do it when it is convenient.’ Unless planned for, it never seems to be convenient.” 7
Be Flexible and Creative
Some parents may get discouraged trying to hold family prayer. They have a desire to follow the counsel of our leaders, but because of conflicting work hours and school schedules, it sometimes seems impossible for them to gather their families to the same place at the same time. Even so, with faithful devotion to the words of the prophets and a little inspired creativity, families can find a way to pray together. Elder Joe J. Christensen, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, gave an encouraging insight to parents when he counseled: “Remember family prayer every day. With schedules as they are, you may need to have more than one prayer.” 8
Because of the steady example of my mother and father, I can bear personal witness of the value of these words of counsel from our leaders. When my parents had a family of four small children, family prayer in the morning was not too difficult to do on a regular basis. However, as we children got older, the morning schedule of our family became unpredictable and hectic. There were times when my father would have to leave for his job as an electrician at four or five in the morning. My mother would arise with him and they would have “family prayer” together before he left. Soon my sisters and brother would be up for work or school, and my mother would have “family prayer” with them. Many times I would be the last to arise in the morning and would rush to get ready and run out the door. Without fail, my mother would call to me, “Let’s have family prayer.” I would often complain that my ride was waiting or that I didn’t have time. I am most grateful that my mother would ignore my pleas and excuses and simply say, “You always have time for prayer.” In fact, my most prevalent memory of family prayer in the morning is when my mother and I prayed together. How grateful I am that she did not let busy schedules and the hustle and bustle of everyone leaving for work and school get in the way of praying with her family, even though it sometimes was in stages. Now that our children are older, my wife and I often find ourselves kneeling in prayer with different ones at different times before they leave for the day. It is not uncommon to have “family prayer” three or four times in the morning.
Don’t Let It Slide
President Hinckley has encouraged parents to be hopeful and to persist in holding family prayer, even if the blessings of doing so are not immediately apparent: “I give you my testimony that if you sincerely apply family prayer, you will not go away unrewarded. The changes may not be readily apparent. They may be extremely subtle. But they will be real, for God ‘is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’ (Heb. 11:6).” 9
Faithful adherence to the counsel of the prophet will bring blessings. Most children probably don’t realize the impact their parents’ example will have on the rest of their lives, but parents must persevere.
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, once told of an interview President Kimball held with a bishop. President Kimball asked the bishop how often he held family prayer. The bishop responded that he tried to hold family prayer twice a day, but that his family probably averaged only once a day. The prophet answered: “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” 10
In teaching that we should have family prayers in the morning and the evening, Church leaders have called for more than simply expanding the blessings we pronounce upon our meals. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Just a few words added to the blessing on the food, as is becoming the custom in some parts, is not enough. We need to get onto our knees in prayer and gratitude.” 11
During difficult times family prayers in the morning and the evening will not always be enough. President Kimball said: “Never hesitate to gather your family around you for your prayers, especially in those times when more than morning and evening family prayer is needed. Extra needs require extra prayers.” 12
Teach Your Little Ones
Although children learn to pray as they listen to their parents pray, family prayer is meant to be a time for all the family to participate. Even very small children should have the opportunity to voice family prayer. “One cannot learn to pray by merely listening, but must be given experience.” 13 There is, of course, a proper order of things governing who should direct family prayers. “If the father is home, he takes charge, and calls on one of the family to pray. If father is not there, the mother is in charge. If both are gone, the oldest child is in charge, and every night and every morning, the family is on their knees in prayer to the Lord.” 14
As children participate in family prayer and hear their parents speak to God in humility, with faith in Jesus Christ, they can begin to learn things of the soul in a setting that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. During family prayer, children may begin to consider the answers to the great questions of the ages: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” Through family prayer—and their own personal prayers that are thus encouraged—children will begin to learn that they are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, that they are here as part of a great and wise plan of happiness, and that they can hope to return to their Father after this life. It is through family prayer that children become acquainted with many eternal family values.
What an impact parents can have on their children if they pray as a family that their sons will prepare for and be worthy to serve missions! How powerful will be the message when parents pray that their daughters and sons will stay morally clean and keep themselves worthy to enter the holy temple to be sealed for time and all eternity! As parents plead for the Holy Spirit to be in their home, children will come to know the importance of seeking the Spirit in their own lives. As children hear their parents plead for help in resolving difficult challenges and then witness the answers to those prayers, they will begin to develop a spirit of inquiry of their own. They will pray with a desire to knock, seek, and ask for help with problems and trials they face in their own lives (see Matt. 7:7–11). The spirit and behavior that parents leave as a model when they approach Heavenly Father in prayer will have an important, long-lasting effect on their children. As President Kimball once reminded parents, “Your little ones will learn how to talk to their Father in Heaven by listening to you as parents. They will soon see how heartfelt and honest your prayers are. If your prayers are a hurried and thoughtless ritual, they will see this too.” 15
Parents can also learn much about prayer from their little ones, as did a group of Nephite parents when the resurrected Savior appeared among them and loosed the tongues of even their small children (see 3 Ne. 26:14). Often the words given to little children in prayer are more profound than they understand, but the humble, listening heart can hear the Holy Spirit speak through them.
Don’t Wait to Begin
Families that have not been having family prayer should not wait for some change in conditions or some ideal time to start. There is no better time to begin than now. Family prayer is a habit that should be part of a family from its beginning—when a husband and wife become one through marriage. But families that have not had the habit can usually begin it with little preparation; the parents—or mother or father if the parent is single—can lead out and teach or encourage the children to follow.
Sometimes there are special circumstances—a spouse or child who declines to participate, for instance. But if the spouse will permit prayer or if the child will be present, even without participating, a heart often can be won in the end by humble, persistent, loving example. Over time, the benefits of family prayer usually become obvious even to those who decline to participate, and they may be learning from what they observe, even when they do not realize it. Many are the stories of those who have been touched by prayers, both in the family group and in the solitary, yearning heart that would not give up on loving.
The end result is worth whatever sacrifices we make to build the habit—and often these are no more than small sacrifices of time. President Hinckley has said: “I know of no single practice that will have a more salutary effect upon your lives than the practice of kneeling together as you begin and close each day. Somehow the little storms that seem to afflict every marriage are dissipated when, kneeling before the Lord, you thank him for one another, in the presence of one another, and then together invoke his blessings upon your lives, your home, your loved ones, and your dreams.” 16
Following the devastation and terrible destruction that occurred after His crucifixion in the Old World, the Savior appeared to the Nephite people and comforted them with the counsel to “pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Ne. 18:21). What simple yet powerful direction to a people who had lost and suffered so much. What peaceful direction to all who suffer and need guidance in their families today.
Recently a good father and husband passed away unexpectedly in his home. He was only in his 55th year. His youngest son found him while the mother was away in a nearby city. The boy’s older brother and sisters were contacted at work. Friends and neighbors came to assist. The children gathered at the hospital with extended family and priesthood leaders. Medical personnel tried in vain to resuscitate the father, but he was gone. There was much sorrow and grieving. Mother was finally contacted and sped to the hospital, not knowing that her eternal companion had already passed away a few hours earlier and that her children had been heartbroken and awash in grief and pain for some time.
Upon arrival, this mother was informed of the loss of her husband and taken to the small hospital chapel where her children had been waiting. What a trial and test lay before this woman! As she entered the chapel, her children rushed to the comfort of her arms. Immediately, before much else was said, this wise and steady mother said to her sorrowing children, “Let’s have family prayer.” And so a family whose life and future had looked so bright and promising that morning knelt together, arm in arm, to petition their Father in Heaven to help and comfort them as they began the process of rebuilding shattered lives. The members of this family testify that God heard their prayer. From that moment on, there was strength and comfort. Testimonies were reaffirmed, hope was steadied, and love and understanding filled the family circle. Father was gone, but they knew it would be only temporary. Uniting in family prayer, they had been reminded that through the grace and Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, they would be together again as a family.
For this family, for other families in the Church, and for all families throughout the world, the words of a living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, bring comfort, guidance, and promise of everlasting spiritual growth: “There is no substitute for family prayer.”
Monday, April 13, 2015
Well there familia and friends… I hope that this email finds you guys all doing great, alive and well! This week was very hot and humid to say the least. We spent a lot of time at home this week because my companion was sick. We don’t know what he had so I had to spend like 3 days at home with him. With that being said I did a lot of reading and just getting my stuff organized and ready to head home soon. I never have time for that kind of stuff so that felt good to get organized. It wasn’t that very exciting of a week to say the least, nothing too amazing, or nothing bad really happened. It was just anther week that passed by like nothing!!
So this week I spent some time reading some talks from leaders of our church. There are a few that I studied that I really liked that I want to share with you guys.
But first this week we helped a single lady move her entire house, actually we did it this morning. We got there at 6 am on the dot and finished around 12:00. It was great, I had the entire zone humping and we got it done fast, in total we had about 10 or 12 people there doing work. More hands make lighter work and we worked faster and we got done before the real heat of the afternoon hit.
We found also this week a few new people to teach and all, so that is always exciting. Other than that this week is going to be super busy because we are trying to find a lot of new people and I really want to leave this area with a lot of people so that the next person that steps in is in good hands. Other than that, just grinding away and enjoying the sun and all!
Thanks for the love and support. I really would love you guys to read what I am going to share with you guys. They are very good to learn from. So please read them and learn what you can from them.
The Music of the Gospel
The music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart.
Years ago I listened to a radio interview of a young doctor who worked in a hospital in the Navajo Nation. He told of an experience he had one night when an old Native American man with long braided hair came into the emergency room. The young doctor took his clipboard, approached the man, and said, “How can I help you?” The old man looked straight ahead and said nothing. The doctor, feeling somewhat impatient, tried again. “I cannot help you if you don’t speak to me,” he said. “Tell me why you have come to the hospital.”
The old man then looked at him and said, “Do you dance?” As the young doctor pondered the strange question, it occurred to him that perhaps his patient was a tribal medicine man who, according to ancient tribal customs, sought to heal the sick through song and dance rather than through prescribing medication.
“No,” said the doctor, “I don’t dance. Do you dance?” The old man nodded yes. Then the doctor asked, “Could you teach me to dance?”
The old man’s response has for many years caused me much reflection. “I can teach you to dance,” he said, “but you have to hear the music.”
Sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music. And as the old medicine man well knew, it is hard to dance without music. Dancing without music is awkward and unfulfilling—even embarrassing. Have you ever tried it?
In section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord taught Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (verse 2). We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music.
There are those who ridicule members of the Church for the things we do. That is understandable. Those who dance often appear strange or awkward or, to use a scriptural term, “peculiar” (1 Peter 2:9) to those who cannot hear the music. Have you ever stopped your car at a stoplight next to a car where the driver was dancing and singing at the top of his lungs—but you couldn’t hear a sound because your windows were rolled up? Didn’t he look a little peculiar? If our children learn the dance steps without learning to hear and to feel the beautiful music of the gospel, they will over time become uncomfortable with the dance and will either quit dancing or, almost as bad, keep dancing only because of the pressure they feel from others who are dancing around them.
The challenge for all of us who seek to teach the gospel is to expand the curriculum beyond just the dance steps. Our children’s happiness depends on their ability to hear and love the beautiful music of the gospel. How do we do it?
First, we must keep our own lives attuned to the correct spiritual frequency. Back in the olden days, before the digital age, we found our favorite radio station by carefully turning the radio dial until it lined up perfectly with the station’s frequency. As we approached the number, we could hear only static. But when we finally made the precise alignment, our favorite music could be heard clearly. In our lives, we have to align with the correct frequency in order to hear the music of the Spirit.
When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost afterbaptism, we are filled with the heavenly music that accompanies conversion. Our hearts are changed, and we “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). But the Spirit will not endure unkindness or pride or envy. If we lose that delicate influence in our lives, the rich harmonies of the gospel can quickly become dissonant and can ultimately be silenced. Alma asked the poignant question: “If ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
Parents, if our lives are out of tune with the music of the gospel, we need to tune them up. As President Thomas S. Monson taught us last October, we must ponder the path of our feet (see “Ponder the Path of Thy Feet,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 86–88). We know how to do it. We must walk the same path that we walked when we first heard the heavenly strains of gospel music. We exercise faith in Christ, repent, and take the sacrament; we feel more strongly the influence of the Holy Ghost; and the music of the gospel begins to play again in our lives.
Second, when we can hear the music ourselves, we must try our best to perform it in our homes. It is not something that can be forced or compelled. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood”—or by virtue of being the dad or the mom or the biggest or the loudest—“only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, … by love unfeigned; [and] by kindness” (D&C 121:41–42).
Why would these attributes lead to increasing power and influence in a home? Because they are the attributes that invite the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. They are the attributes that tune our hearts to the music of the gospel. When they are present, the dance steps will be performed more naturally and joyfully by all of the dancers in the family, without the need for threats or intimidation or compulsion.
When our children are little, we can sing them the lullaby of love unfeigned, and when they are obstinate and refuse to go to sleep at night, we might need to sing the lullaby of long-suffering. When they are teenagers, we can tune out the cacophony of arguments and threats and, instead, perform the beautiful music of persuasion—and perhaps sing the second verse of the lullaby of long-suffering. Parents can perform in perfect harmony the tandem attributes of gentleness and meekness. We can invite our children to sing along with us in unison as we practice kindness toward a neighbor who is in need.
It won’t come all at once. As every accomplished musician knows, it takes diligent practice to perform beautiful music. If early efforts at making music seem dissonant and discordant, remember that dissonance cannot be corrected by criticism. Dissonance in the home is like darkness in a room. It does little good to scold the darkness. We must displace the darkness by introducing light.
So if the basses in your family choir are too loud and overbearing, or if the string section in your family orchestra is a little too shrill or a little bit sharp, or if those impetuous piccolos are out of tune or out of control, be patient. If you’re not hearing the music of the gospel in your home, please remember these two words: keep practicing. With God’s help, the day will come when the music of the gospel will fill your home with unspeakable joy.
Even when performed well, the music will not solve all of our problems. There will still be crescendos and decrescendos in our lives, staccatos and legatos. Such is the nature of life on planet earth.
But when we add music to the dance steps, the sometimes complicated rhythms of marriage and family life tend to move toward a harmonious balance. Even our most difficult challenges will add rich plaintive tones and moving motifs. The doctrines of the priesthood will begin to distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion, and our scepter—a clear reference to power and influence—will be an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth. And our dominion will be an everlasting dominion. And without compulsory means it will flow unto us forever and ever (see D&C 121:45–46).
May it be so in each of our lives and in each of our homes is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
ANOTHER GREAT TALK THAT I READ THIS WEEK
Why, Marriage, Why Family!
Above the Great West Door of the renowned Westminster Abbey in
London, England, stand the statues of 10 Christian martyrs of the 2
0thcentury. Included among them is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a brilliant Germantheologian born in 1906. Bonhoeffer became a vocal critic of
the Nazi dictatorship and its treatment of Jews and others. He was imprisoned for his active opposition and finally executed in a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer was a prolific writer, and some of his
best-known pieces are letters that sympathetic guards helped him smuggle out of prison, later published as
One of those letters was to his niece before her wedding. It included these significant insights: “Marriage is more than your love for each other. … In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. … So love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.”
In what way does marriage between a man and a woman transcend their love for one another and their own happiness to become “a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind”? In what sense does it come “from above, from God”? To understand, we have to go back to the beginning.
Prophets have revealed that we first existed as intelligences and that we were given form, or spirit bodies, by God, thus becoming His spirit children—sons and daughters of heavenly parents. There came a time in this premortal existence of spirits when, in furtherance of His desire that we “could have a privilege to advance like himself,” our Heavenly Father prepared an enabling plan. In the scriptures it is given various names, including “the plan of salvation,” “the great plan of happiness,” and “the plan of redemption.” The two principal purposes of the plan were explained to Abraham in these words:
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these [spirits] may dwell;
“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”
Thanks to our Heavenly Father, we had already become spirit beings. Now He was offering us a path to complete or perfect that being. The addition of the physical element is essential to the fulness of being and glory that God Himself enjoys. If, while with God in the premortal spirit world, we would agree to participate in His plan—or in other words “keep [our] first estate”—we would “be added upon” with a physical body as we came to dwell on the earth that He created for us.
If, then in the course of our mortal experience, we chose to “do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God [should] command [us],” we would have kept our “second estate.” This means that by our choices we would demonstrate to God (and to ourselves) our commitment and capacity to live His celestial law while outside His presence and in a physical body with all its powers, appetites, and passions. Could we bridle the flesh so that it became the instrument rather than the master of the spirit? Could we be trusted both in time and eternity with godly powers, including power to create life? Would we individually overcome evil? Those who did would “have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever”—a very significant aspect of that glory being a resurrected, immortal, and glorified physical body. No wonder we “shouted for joy” at these magnificent possibilities and promises.
At least four things are needed for the success of this divine plan:
First was the Creation of the earth as our dwelling place. Whatever the details of the creation process, we know that it was not accidental but that it was directed by God the Father and implemented by Jesus Christ—“all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Second is the condition of mortality. Adam and Eve acted for all who had chosen to participate in the Father’s great plan of happiness. Their Fall created the conditions needed for our physical birth and for mortal experience and learning outside the presence of God. With the Fall came an awareness of good and evil and the God-given power to choose. Finally, the Fall brought about physical death needed to make our time in mortality temporary so that we would not live forever in our sins.
Third is redemption from the Fall. We see the role of death in our Heavenly Father’s plan, but that plan would become void without some way to overcome death in the end, both physical and spiritual. Thus, a Redeemer, the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, suffered and died to atone for Adam and Eve’s transgression, thereby providing resurrection and immortality for all. And since none of us will have been perfectly and consistently obedient to the gospel law, His Atonement also redeems us from our own sins on condition of repentance. With the Savior’s atoning grace providingforgiveness of sins and sanctification of the soul, we can spiritually be born again and reconciled to God. Our spiritual death—our separation from God—will end.
Fourth, and finally, is the setting for our physical birth and subsequent spiritual rebirth into the kingdom of God. For His work to succeed to “[exalt us] with himself,” God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him. He also ordained that parents should establish families and rear their children in light and truth, leading them to a hope in Christ. The Father commands us:
“Teach these things freely unto your children, saying:
“That … inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the [Holy] Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”
Knowing why we left the presence of our Heavenly Father and what it takes to return and be exalted with Him, it becomes very clear that nothing relative to our time on earth can be more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth, the two prerequisites of eternal life. This is, to use the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the “office” of marriage, the “post of responsibility towards … mankind,” that this divine institution “from above, from God” occupies. It is the “link in the chain of the generations” both here and hereafter—the order of heaven.
A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.
The social science case for marriage and for families headed by a married man and woman is compelling.And so “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” But our claims for the role of marriage and family rest not on social science but on the truth that they are God’s creation. It is He who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife to become “one flesh” and to multiply and replenish the earth. Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female. Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony. It is not a human invention. Such marriage is indeed “from above, from God” and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the Fall and the Atonement.
In the premortal world, Lucifer rebelled against God and His plan, and his opposition only grows in intensity. He fights to discourage marriage and the formation of families, and where marriages and families are formed, he does what he can to disrupt them. He attacks everything that is sacred about human sexuality, tearing it from the context of marriage with a seemingly infinite array of immoral thoughts and acts. He seeks to convince men and women that marriage and family priorities can be ignored or abandoned, or at least made subservient to careers, other achievements, and the quest for self-fulfillment and individual autonomy. Certainly the adversary is pleased when parents neglect to teach and train their children to have faith in Christ and be spiritually born again. Brothers and sisters, many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential.
To declare the fundamental truths relative to marriage and family is not to overlook or diminish the sacrifices and successes of those for whom the ideal is not a present reality. Some of you are denied the blessing of marriage for reasons including a lack of viable prospects, same-sex attraction, physical or mental impairments, or simply a fear of failure that, for the moment at least, overshadows faith. Or you may have married, but that marriage ended, and you are left to manage alone what two together can barely sustain. Some of you who are married cannot bear children despite overwhelming desires and pleading prayers.
Even so, everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best. And when you who bear the heaviest burdens of mortality stand up in defense of God’s plan to exalt His children, we are all ready to march. With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children.
One young mother recently confided to me her anxiety about being inadequate in this highest of callings. I felt that the issues that concerned her were small and she needn’t worry; she was doing fine. But I knew she only wanted to please God and to honor His trust. I offered words of reassurance, and in my heart I pleaded that God, her Heavenly Father, would buoy her up with His love and the witness of His approval as she is about His work.
That is my prayer for all of us today. May we each find approval in His sight. May marriages flourish and families prosper, and whether our lot is a fullness of these blessings in mortality or not, may the Lord’s grace bring happiness now and faith in sure promises to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Two photos attached: us doing service this week at the church this week cutting the lawn with a weedwacker hahaha and the other one was from this morning moving a sister and helping her out. All is good!
Thanks for the love and support and everything that you guys do for me! I can’t wait to talk and see you guys there in the Promise Land in one month!!!
LOVES! Elder Long