My heart is really so full right now. On January 8, I boarded a plane to a place I had never before been, yet feel I have been reunited with people I have always known. How can that be? How can our Heavenly Father have such infinite love for each of us, so much so that He will send us exactly where we need to be to find the greatest happiness? I have really come to know God as my Father as I have served here in Reno. Not only have I come to see Him as my Father, but as the Father of the Savior of the World; the Savior of you and me, of the families at church, of the man finally giving into tears as he lives in the shelters of downtown Reno, of the mothers trying to numb their feelings in life by giving in to harmful substances, of the children who just want a chance to be appreciated.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;" (Doctrine & Covenants 18:10)
From the Savior's words in these latter-days, we see not only how important we are to our Heavenly Father, how no cost was too far for Him to pay, however, this doesn't change the fact that the cost was great to our Heavenly Father. Think of how important that makes you, how important and special that makes each and every one of us to our Heavenly Father. It is said that a parent is only as happy as their saddest child. Our Heavenly Father was willing to endure watching His perfect Son endure such pain because through it we would all have the possibility of infinite and happy joy. Jesus Christ is God's Son, and He is our brother. Let Him leave a mark on your life, He's already let you leave marks on His.
|Good luck in Las Vegas Britney! We already miss you!|
I testify that it is through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that we can feel the incomprehensible joy of overcoming that which holds us back, of being healed from the diverse ways that the world may afflict us and becoming more like our Savior Jesus Christ. When we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can't help but have His marks in our life. We can't help but feel more profoundly the way He yearns for us to come home. We can't help but become more like Him, but we need His help.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ya may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48).
Brothers and Sisters, life may throw us its challenges, but think then of the opportunity these challenges then create for us. Picture for a minute the reunion our Heavenly Father had with His Son after watching Him endure such pains in the Garden of Gethsemane. After watching Him be betrayed, mocked, scourged, spit upon and crucified. I can only imagine the embrace that followed, and this is the kind of embrace we each should strive for when we see Him again.
|Seeing Morgan one last time :)|
This week as I have felt the embraces of good-byes I have felt the promise of a more joyous reunion in the future. I have learned that the greatest ways we can leave a mark on the lives of those around us is by bringing them closer to Him who forsook the tomb, but not the marks that testified of His infinite love for each of us. Yesterday, little Jasmine gave me every reason to hope that glorious reunions follow us when we follow Him through our circumstances, whatever they may be-in both the happy and the sad.
We said good-bye to our beautiful friend Aylin and wished her the best with her future. We hugged her and assured that our friendship with her was eternal. She cried and then started to cry even harder as she looked up to the apartment above her.
"It just breaks my heart," she said. "All day upstairs we just hear a Mom yelling at her kids, telling them she will never do anything for them, that they were mistakes and then just silence."
We said our good byes with a hope that the gospel would come into the home of this family in the apartment upstairs. As we walked outside and started toward the cars we heard, "clunk, clunk,clunk." Before I could turn around, I felt the embrace of a child around my legs. I turned around to see it was little Jasmine, a member of the family in the apartment upstairs. When we told her we would be leaving she held us each closer. She asked us when she could go to church because her Mom doesn't want to take her. We told her that she could go next Sunday. This innocent child understood that it was through church that she could feel the love of her family upstairs, of our heavenly home and family.
We knelt down to look right into her eyes. She put her right hand up on my shoulder.
"Jasmine, we are representatives of your big brother Jesus Christ," I said.
With a big smile on her face and a look of confidence she said, "I know!"
All of us started to cry. We each embraced her as we continued to hear yells coming from her upstairs apartment. Her trials were leaving marks on her, but she wanted the marks of her Savior. The world wanted her to think she was nothing, but in her eyes and in her hugs we could feel she knew more and would push through anything if it meant the possibility of feeling of her Savior's love everyday.
We told Jasmine just how beautiful she is, how loved she is and that God will protect her as she continues to think have the desires she now has. I know this little girl will never let go of that perspective. I know Jasmine doesn't see herself as a Disney princess with Aladdin, but as a daughter of a King, willing to sacrifice whatever worldly fame or royalties to rest with her Father and have such an embrace with Him above.
I testify that Jesus is the Christ and that he died for Jasmine, for you, for me, and has those marks still today. Let Him leave a mark on your life, He has marks for you. I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through a young boy, with a heart of gold like that of Jasmine's, and that we have a living prophet on the earth again today. Will you each find a way this week that you can invite someone to watch General Conference this weekend? I promise you in so doing, you will feel the love of your Savior and become more like Him. More importantly, you'll help our brothers and sisters along the same path our Savior leads us down today.
SHOUTOUTS: Sister Kroshus (happy birthday!!!), Sister Lin, Mom & Dad, Casey & Bryan Briggs, The Donakey family, Robert Donakey, Grandmother :)