- Jami Pond
- I am studying Psychology and Sociology at Utah Valley University, and working at a treatment center for troubled teens. I love life, being with people from all cultures, speaking Spanish, and traveling all over the world. I will never stop laughing, dancing, singing, enjoying, appreciating, and just being.
Monday, August 23, 2010
given: Sunday August 22, 2010
Standing up here in front of you today, I am immediately filled with a sincere love for each one of you and thank you for your support. I have prayed intently that the message I deliver this day, through my words, will be sent directly to your hearts through the divine power of the spirit testifying of its truth. A profound quote I once read states; “Love is the most noble attribute of the human soul”. What is it about true love that touches every heart? John Grohberg said, “Every person that comes to this earth is a spirit child of God, since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved.”
In a well-known Broadway Play, there is a song that shows the transforming power of love from one person to another. In this story, a woman who has sad and difficult circumstances in her life is surprised and overcome when someone she admires shows her love and friendship.
Oh, if someone like you
Found someone like me,
Nothing would ever be the same!
My heart would take wing,
And I'd feel so alive -
If someone like you
So often, when we feel loved by someone in our life, it lifts our spirits and opens our heart, as we realize how very much God loves His children. Because of the love I have received from so many people throughout my life, I believe this has helped me to transform, and I am so thankful for these individuals. I feel so blessed to have such a clear understanding that I do have a Father in Heaven that loves me unconditionally, and with this knowledge, how could I not take this opportunity to share this with others and make them “feel so alive”. This is what we, as missionaries, are called to do in this great work: Exemplify God’s love for them through us.
My personal decision to go on a mission has come from quite an interesting journey and today I would like to present that to you.
Through the years, I have seen so many friends and family members come and go on missions. As I attended their farewells, I admired them for the selfless commitment to embark on a two-year mission learning foreign languages and experiencing new cultures so they could bring souls unto Christ. Two of my closest guy friends who are twins invited me over to be there to open their mission calls. I will never forget that spirit that filled the room as their closest friends and family were gathered for this occasion. As they opened their calls tears filled their eyes as they both read that they were serving in Ecuador, but in different cities. After congratulations and hugs with friends and family they explained to all of us that they had been praying and had a strong feeling they would both be sent to the same country. I will never forget that experience as I had a glimpse of what it would be like to open a call and have the chance to be a witness for Jesus Christ. I felt such a strong desire to go myself.
A few months later my family traveled to Uruguay, where my brother served his mission, to pick him up and see the places he served. As we got off the 12 hour flight to the city in which he was serving, I remember seeing my brother for the first time and embracing him, I felt his warm and spiritual presence as a missionary. For a week, we traveled all around the country visiting the people’s homes he had taught and converted, while enjoying the sights and culture. The whole week we were there, I observed the way my brother talked to these wonderful families of Uruguay and how much they appreciated and loved him for the things he had done for them. Although I did not speak the language (Spanish) that they did, I could feel a deep love for every person I encountered while in this country just by looking into their eyes and feeling a sincere and loving bond with them. One of the families that we met wanted to be with us all night and fed us all the food they had to offer. As we said our goodbyes, the mother of the family hugged my mom for the longest time and told her how much she truly is grateful for my brother Nick and will always think of him like a son because of the joy and light he brought to their family that will change them forever. I couldn’t believe all the neat and amazing things my brother had learned and accomplished in those two years serving a mission. He had become a whole new person and I desired to be like his example and wanted to someday finish the work he started. This trip was a glimpse of what a mission is like and it pushed me to one day follow my brother’s footsteps and do as he had done.
Another one of my close friends, Robert, got called to serve in Chile and he asked me to sing in Spanish at his farewell “I believe in Christ”. All of my family and friends were there and after the meeting my brother approached me, without any hesitation, told me that he believed I would serve a Spanish-speaking mission someday. This comment from my brother stuck with me overtime and really motivated me become close to my Savior, and to consider preparing to serve a mission in the future.
With a mission in mind, I thought it would be a good experience for me to go on a study abroad. That month that I was in Ghana, Africa my life completely changed as I knew it. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the service that I did while I was there. That was one of the happiest and hardest times I had ever gone through being on my own. I learned to love, to serve, and work hard. I developed a passion for the beautiful and diverse people of this country and provided them with all the love in my heart I had to offer. These people inspired and changed me in just one month. The last night I was there, three young African boys stood in front of me with tears in their eyes and sadness in their hearts. I found these three boys not just by chance and had treated them and loved them as my own sons. It was hard to get in the cab and look back at those three boys standing in a row, wishing I did not have to leave them. I promised them that night that I would pray for them by name daily and keep them in my heart always. Not knowing if I would ever see these beautiful faces again; I received peace in knowing that could be reunited in the heavens again, remembering our love for one other that we found on earth.
A few weeks after I got back from my trip, my friend Scott got home from his mission and I was able to attend his homecoming talk. I sat front row and listened tentatively to the words that he poured out of his heart about how much he loved and enjoyed his mission. Aleida Wakefield also spoke that day, and talked about her life, her journey, and how she served a mission herself. I was overwhelmed by the spirit that day and was so moved by the stories that had been shared. After the talks I went right up to the stage to tell my friend how happy I was about his experience. Before I got there, Sister Wakefield gave me a sincere and long hug. I had only met her a few times, but she told me she felt inspired to hug and speak with me. She said that she could not help but notice the look I had as I listened to the talks that day about missionary work and how she could tell how touched I was by the stories. She said that when she was about 20 she attended friend’s homecoming talk as well and felt the exact same passion and desire I had that same day during the meeting. She told me to not waste anytime and to put in my papers as soon as I could because she knew, just like she knew when she was my age, that I felt the same and wanted to encourage and act on this desire.
This summer as Camille and I traveled to Guatemala to work in an Orphanage, I had a strong desire to seek out and find someone specifically to connect with, and give extra love to. I prayed to my Father in Heaven and had strong faith to be guided by the Holy Spirit to find them.
When I first met this cute family in the park, I did not think much of it and just said hi to them a few times. Every time we would pass through central park where they worked, I would get this strong impression to be with and help this particular family. The mother Maria, her six year old son Danny, and her three year old daughter Vikki, just had the most clear and vibrant light about them that made me feel such a connection to them and longing to form a friendship and show them kindness and love.
I spent all of my down time visiting this family in the park and goofing around with the kids, bonding with Maria, taking them out to eat, bringing them to church, and most importantly just enjoying their company and showing them my love. Right before I left Guatemala, I got pictures developed of Maria's kids and I, and I wrote messages to them in Spanish that I would miss them and be praying for them. When I gave them to Maria, she was just so grateful and her eyes filled up with tears. It was one of the hardest things saying goodbye to this beautiful and wonderful family I had met, but I know they will be protected and filled with God's love as I have prayed and thought about them from that day on. I am not sure if Maria read the book of Mormon that I gave to her, and I am not sure if they will ever go to church again, but what I do know is that I was lead to this precious family by the Holy Spirit to introduce them to the gospel and to shower them with Christ's perfect love and light.
After looking back on all these different and life changing experiences I have had all around the world, I will never forget the people I met, the feelings I have felt, and the understanding of my divine purpose on this earth, which is to feel and share Christ-like love. Brothers and sisters I stand before today to testify that we are to feel of God’s love for us and willingly seek out and share it with others. In doing this, we will have peace, calmness, comfort, light, relief, and will be motivated to do more good.
In Luke 10:27 it talks about the intensity of love, and that we are to love God with all our heart, our soul, and our strength. God’s love fills the immensity of space, so there is no shortage of love in the universe. There is only shortage if we are not willing to do what is needed to feel it. In order to feel this sacred reward, we need to be prepared to seek it.
“When we understand who God is, who we are, how He loves us, and what His plan is for us, fear evaporates. When we get the tiniest glimpse of these truths, our concern over worldly things vanishes”.
In Moroni 7:48 we find this instruction:
“Wherefore, pray unto the father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with his love”.
The missionary manual that is used to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ is titled “Preach my Gospel”. The first principle in the opening lesson is that we are God’s children and that he loves us. Every gospel principle that is taught after that, supports this one truth. God loves His children, he gave us the gift of His son and the Atonement. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and every lesson points to this. The knowledge of God’s love and the gift of His son is what motivates members to get up early and go to seminary or church meetings, it motivates people to sacrifice time, money, material things, to serve members and serve in their ward, in the community and to serve their fellow men. It motivates thousands and thousands of young people to give 2 years of their life to share this love with God’s children all over the world. It is truly the underlying power and force of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since so many souls are searching for answers about life and about God, this is the perfect way to begin teaching. Especially if people are confused or experiencing hard times or sorrow, when they realize this pure, unconditional, cleansing, healing shining love of God and Christ is available to them, they are comforted and feel joy. Pain and sorrow can literally be melted away with this pure love. After a time of confusion and soul searching that I experienced myself, I can confidently state today that I have found this perfect love and will carry it to Argentina on my mission to the souls who are seeking for it.
I want to express my gratitude to the many people in this room that have inspired and guided me to where I am today. Every single one of your bright spirits has taught me what unconditional love is, and have driven me to follow that example. I want everyone to know that I am answering the call to action and will strive with everything I have in my soul to serve my Heavenly Father. I want to show the people of Argentina what the Atonement of Jesus Christ-the ultimate act of love, can do for them in their lives. Because of the influence you have all had on me, I know that I will carry a piece of each of you in my heart as I represent the church and the principles that are taught.
To anyone that is pondering a mission and have felt a desire to serve, I encourage you to press forward with your faith, seek out God’s counsel, and he will give you an answer. To the sister missionaries before me (Rique & Derian Carroll, & Ashley) and to all of you missionaries that have gone out into the world and done your part, I would like you to know that I have immense faith, I am completely committed, and I am more than ready to go out for a year and a half to continue the work that you have begun.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
He's Been There Before
The alarm rings at 6:30; I stumble to my feet
I grab my companion's bedding and pull off his sheet.
A groan fills the room. It's already time to arise?"
It seems like just a second ago I was able to shut my eyes.
The morning activities follow: study, prayer and such
When its time to leave the apartment, you feel haven't accomplished much
"We have a super day planned," my Companion says with a grin.
I lowly utter a faithless breath, Yea, if anyone lets us in.
With the word of God and my faithful schwinn, we ride off in the street.
Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat
It's 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through.
My companion and I are riding home, not accomplishing what we thought we'd do.
We ride up to the mail box hoping to receive a lot.
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate "AIRBOX"
We go up to our apartment; the day is now complete
the only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet
It's past 10:30 Pm, my companion is fast asleep.
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness I kneel down to pray;
I need to talk to Father, but I'm not sure what to say.
"Oh Father," I begin, "What happened to us today?
I thought we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hands, my aching hands worn, hurt and beat
If our area was any smaller,we'd have knocked on every street."
Why on missions are the days so much alike?
the only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike.
Will you send some cooler weather? the heat is killing me!
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes. Its very hard to see.
Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn't your protection enough?
People always laugh at me and call me stupid stuff.
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack;
I want to give them Book Of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back."
And what about my Family? They don't have much to say.
I'm sick of not hearing from home day after day.
Oh Father,why am I here, Am I just wasting my time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I'm sorry but that's on my mind.
My Companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?
The way he rides his bicycle I don't know if he can even see!
Now you have it, I can't go on. I DON'T KNOW what to do!
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I leave you."
My prayer now finished I stand up, then jump right into bed.
I need my feet for tomorrow; we have another long day ahead
Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away.
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day.
I'm standing alone on the hill, the view is very nice.
A man walks towards me and says, My name is Jesus Christ."
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet.
"Arise he states, follow me to the shade you and I need to speak."
My attention towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, "Your Mission is similar of what happened to me.
I understand how you feel, I know what your going through;
In fact, it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you.
"Even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt now quite sure what else that I could do.
I know you don't like to ride a bicycle for a car would be sweet.
Just remember the donkey I rode I was not equipped with 21 speed.
I understand you don't like sweating, in fact it's something to hate.
I remember when I sweat blood from every pore, " Oh, the agony was great.
I see you don't like your companion you would rather have someone else.
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth.
It's hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you.
I remember when they put thorns in my head and called me King of the Jews.
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack.
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back."
Your hands hurt from tracking and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ache in a similar way.
It's hard not to hear from home when your family was not there to see.
I lost communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why has though forsaken me?"
We have a lot in common, but there is a difference between us you see.
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me."
He embraced me with his arms, His light filled me with His love.
With tears in my eyes, I watched as he went back to the Father above.
I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head.
I listened and heard the alarm, when I realized I was in my bed.
My companion let's out a groan, "6:30 already, no way!"
I sat up and said. Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures today!"
No matter what we go through when we feel we can't take more,
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ, He's been there before
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Prepare for Blessings of the Temple
By Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Physical Preparation for the Temple
Now, with a temple recommend in hand, you are ready for additional preparation. You prepare physically by dressing properly to go to the temple. It is not a place for casual attire. President Hinckley has emphasized self-respect for our physical bodies. That respect should be observed especially by those who would enter a holy temple. 15
In the temple, all are dressed in spotless white. “The symbolic purity of white likewise reminds us that God is to have a pure people.” 16 Age, nationality, language—even position in the Church—are of secondary significance. I have attended many endowment sessions when the President of the Church participated. Every man in the room was accorded the same high regard that was extended to the President. All sit side by side and are considered equal in the eyes of the Lord. Through a democracy of dress, temple attendance reminds us that “God is no respecter of persons.” 17
Brides and grooms enter the temple to be married for time and all eternity. In the temple, brides wear dresses that are white, long sleeved, modest in design and fabric, and free of elaborate ornamentation. Men do not wear tuxedos or formal wear. President Boyd K. Packer, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “It is pleasing to the Lord when we bathe our bodies and put on clean clothing, however inexpensive the clothing may be. We should dress in such a way that we might comfortably attend a sacrament meeting or a gathering that is proper and dignified.” 18
Speaking of temple attire, mothers can exert a great influence for good among their children and grandchildren. As their skill and circumstances permit, they can provide tangible motivation for their family. A mother’s gift of a hand-embroidered handkerchief or other article of temple clothing can be a powerful incentive for a loving child or grandchild to cherish.
The wearing of the temple garment bears great symbolic significance and represents a continuing commitment. Just as the Savior gave us an example of His ability to endure to the end, wearing the garment is one way we demonstrate enduring faith in Him and in His eternal covenants with us.
Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926–99) of the Seventy wrote an article for the Church magazines titled “The Temple Garment.” 19 I recommend it for reading by interested members. From it I quote: “It is written that ‘the white garment symbolizes purity and helps assure modesty, respect for the attributes of God, and, to the degree it is honored, a token of what Paul regarded as taking upon one the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13; cf. D&C 27:15).’ ” 20
The First Presidency prepared a letter to the Church on this subject. They wrote: “Practices frequently observed among the members of the Church suggest that some members do not fully understand the covenant they make in the temple to wear the garment in accordance with the spirit of the holy endowment.
“Church members who have been clothed with the garment in the temple have made a covenant to wear it throughout their lives. This has been interpreted to mean that it is worn as underclothing both day and night. … The promise of protection and blessings is conditioned upon worthiness and faithfulness in keeping the covenant.
“The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Thus, members should not remove either all or part of the garment to work in the yard or to lounge around the home in swimwear or immodest clothing. Nor should they remove it to participate in recreational activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath regular clothing. When the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be restored as soon as possible.
“The principles of modesty and keeping the body appropriately covered are implicit in the covenant and should govern the nature of all clothing worn. Endowed members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the sacred covenants they have made with the Lord and also as a protection against temptation and evil. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.” 21
Mental and Spiritual Preparation for the Temple
In addition to physical preparation, we need to be prepared mentally and spiritually. Because the ordinances and covenants of the temple are sacred, we are under absolute obligation not to discuss outside the temple that which occurs in the temple. Sacred matters deserve sacred consideration.
In this house of learning, we are taught in the Lord’s way. His ways are not our ways. We should not be surprised if teaching techniques differ from those employed in educational pursuits more familiar to us. Temple ordinances and covenants have been an integral part of the gospel since the days of Adam and Eve. Anciently, symbols were used to teach profound truths, and this method of instruction is used in the temple today.
It is necessary, therefore, that we ponder the symbols presented in the temple and see the mighty realities for which each symbol stands. 22 “The temple ordinances are so imbued with symbolic meaning as to provide a lifetime of productive contemplation and learning.” 23 The teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds.
The Church has published information that is widely available and helpful. I recommend that members going to the temple for the first time read selected paragraphs under the following listings in the Bible Dictionary: 24
Anoint (page 609, paragraphs 1, 4)
Atonement (page 617, paragraphs 1–2)
Christ (page 633, paragraphs 1–3)
Covenant (page 651, paragraphs 1–2)
Fall of Adam (page 670, paragraphs 1–2)
Sacrifices (pages 765–66, paragraph 1)
Temple (pages 780–81, paragraphs 1–3)
One may wish to peruse the Old Testament, especially Exodus, chapters 26–29, and Leviticus, chapter 8. Second Chronicles, chapter 6, reports Solomon’s dedicatory prayer of the temple in his day. A review of the Old Testament and the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price may be especially enlightening after one is more familiar with the temple endowment. These books of ancient scripture underscore the antiquity of temple work and the enduring nature of its ordinances.
Two Concepts Worthy of Special Emphasis
There are two concepts we especially need to keep in mind as we prepare for the temple. The first is covenant. We need to remember that a covenant is a promise. A covenant made with God should be regarded not as restrictive but as protective. Covenants with Him protect us from danger.
This concept is not new. If our water supply is of questionable quality, for example, we filter the water. Similarly, divine covenants shield us from harm. When we choose to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, 25 we lose nothing of value and gain glory known only to those who obtain eternal life. Keeping a temple covenant is not constraining but enabling. It elevates us beyond limits of our own perspective and power. It is like the difference between plodding through a muddy field and soaring through the skies in a supersonic jet. Keeping a covenant with God is both protective and enabling.
The second concept to stress in our mental preparation is Atonement. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the central act of all human history. It is the core of the plan of salvation. Without the infinite Atonement, all mankind would be irretrievably lost. Temple ordinances and covenants teach of the redeeming power of the Atonement.
Blessings of Temple Service
Service in the temple brings blessings to us in this life as well as in eternity. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that “temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world.” 26
If we are true and faithful in this life, we may obtain eternal life. Immortality is to live forever. Eternal life means more than simply being immortal. Eternal life is to gain exaltation in the highest heaven and live in the family unit. God declared that His grand mission statement—“my work and my glory”—is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 27 His gift of immortality is unconditional—a free gift of salvation to all humankind. The possibility of eternal life—even exaltation—is available to us through our obedience to covenants made and ordinances received in holy temples of God.
President Hinckley provided this excellent summary: “There is a goal beyond the Resurrection. That is exaltation in our Father’s kingdom. It will be achieved by obedience to the commandments of God. It will begin with acceptance of him as our Eternal Father and of his son as our living Redeemer. It will involve participation in various ordinances, each one important and necessary. The first of these is baptism by immersion in water, without which, according to the Savior, a man cannot enter into the kingdom of God. There must follow the birth of the Spirit, the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then in succession through the years will come, for men, ordination to the priesthood, followed by the blessings of the temple for both men and women who are worthy to enter therein. These temple blessings include our washings and anointings that we may be clean before the Lord. They include the instruction service in which we are given an endowment of obligations and blessings that motivate us to behavior compatible with the principles of the gospel. They include the sealing ordinances by which that which is bound on earth is bound in heaven, providing for the continuity of the family.” 28
The blessings of the temple become most meaningful when our loved ones are taken in death from our family circles. To know that our period of separation is but temporary provides peace that passes ordinary understanding. 29 President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) wrote, “Through the power of this priesthood which Elijah bestowed, husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal, and death does not separate the members.” 30 Blessed with eternal sealings, we can face death as a necessary component of God’s great plan of happiness. 31
An eternal perspective helps us maintain complete fidelity to the covenants we make. President Packer emphasized that “ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into [God’s] presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality.” 32
Ordinances of the temple relate not only to our eternal glory but also to that of our departed ancestors. “For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, … they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” 33 Service in their behalf provides an opportunity for our continuing temple worship, selflessly rendered as a vicarious work patterned after that of the Lord as He wrought the Atonement to bless all who would ever live.
One day we will surely meet our Maker and stand before Him at the bar of judgment. Scripture teaches us that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” 34 The Lord Himself will determine whether we have been true to the covenants we made with Him in the temple and thus merit the glorious blessings He has promised those who keep their covenants.
This perspective gives us strength to endure the trials of life. President Packer stated, “The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father.” 35
Each temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a stepping-stone to eternal glory for us and our family. I pray that each member of the Church will prepare for the marvelous blessings of the temple.