Picture
Our Heavenly Father has gifted us with two wonderful blessings, being a husband or wife, and being a parent. Whether it is by the gift of a child to each other or through the loving action of adoption or circumstance it is a calling that will live with you for time and eternity. We are given the wondrous blessings of having the restored Gospel to help us enjoy and get the most pleasure of being a parent and having a loving family. 

Family and the Priesthood

What a blessing it is to have the Priesthood in our lives. It is the responsibility of a priesthood holder to help protect, enrich, and provide for his family the same blessing that was bestowed upon him when becoming a priest. This also is shared with other families that may not have a priesthood holder in the household. By living through Gospel principles, and everlasting covenants the family benefits both spiritually and emotionally. It is said, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 18:21). To this I understand the expression that “a family that prays together, stays together”.

Devotion to the Lord and Our Family

Our families should be cherished like pure spring water from the mountains and streams. They are our most cherished gifts from our Heavenly Father and we must ensure that there is stability of mind, body, and soul. Devoted parents are the key to salvation for your children and generations to come. Our first steps should always be steps taken on the path of righteousness. Through this our families can find joy and happiness even in the most troubled moments of our lives, love is the answer.

Be the Best at Your Callings

When we are given a calling it should become second nature to do our best in what is put before you. Whether it is a calling from our Church or a calling from our Heavenly Father we should always do our best to help others and ourselves. Our family responsibilities are the most important and blessed calling that is bestowed upon us. Showing love to one another will reflect upon our children the importance of showing and sharing love. Working together also instills a good foundation for our children to build their own families upon. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (New Testament, John 13:34). Sometimes we find it difficult to love unconditionally because of our past hurts and instances. If we remember and follow Our Savior's example of love, even in these modern times when it seems difficult, we can feel and share his love.

Forever Families

In one of my favorite children's hymns there is a line that says, “Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s plan”. If we look at Our Father’s Plan of Salvation by understanding the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and living the principles of the Gospel, we can have family relationships that will last for all time and eternity. What a wonderful feeling that can only warm your heart with joy and love. We have been blessed with an opportunity to come closer to or Heavenly Father and Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by reading and pondering the Holy Bible and the companion Book of Mormon to open the spiritual doors to everlasting life and happiness. I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I have sharing this with you. I was inspired by the writings of President Boyd K. Packer.





 
 
Picture
by friend and guest-writer, Frank Ouimette
(This article was inspired by a talk given by Apostle Boyd K. Packer at General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in October 1975)

When the Lord was here, He said:

JOHN 14: 6
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
He also said:
JOHN 11: 25-26
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…"


ACTS 4: 12
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Baptism is a rigid requirement required by the Lord Himself. You must believe in Him and be baptized.
He was perfect but still had to obey the law to fulfill all righteousness and to set the example for all mankind.
Being baptized means to be "buried," or immersed in the water, symbolizing His death and burial, and coming out of the water as a symbol of the resurrection.

In the act of baptism, you are taking upon you the name of Christ. He said:

MATTHEW 7: 14
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

There are many billions of people who lived on the earth at a time when the Restored Gospel was here. Many lived in places and times where they never knew of any gospel or even the word baptism.
The Lord wants to give every soul the chance to accept Him and the gospel, here or in the spirit world.
It came as a commandment from Him, because of its important, to tell His Apostles to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people back in His day.
By revelation, He gave the same commandment is to His Church in these days to spread the restored Gospel to the earth so that people will know that it is essential to be baptized.
We now have the fullness of the Restored Gospel on the earth, which is the combination of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The commandment to search after our dead and do proxy work for them is still in effect.
Because they are dead, we that are living, having bodies, which they don’t, can do the proxy baptisms for them along with other ordinances that are required.
They still have their free agency in the Spirit World, and can accept or reject any ordinances we do for them. It is their decision even now.
Proxy work is doing something for someone else that they cannot do for themselves.
This is what Jesus Christ did in suffering for our sins and performing the Atonement for us, and breaking the bonds of death and opening up the chance for each of us to be resurrected as He was.
Back when this talk was given there were 21,000 missionaries, today there are over 55,000 and that number is increasing fast.
Whatever records we cannot find today or by the Second Coming, will be done in the Millennium.
The connecting of the generations of the human family will be the main work during that time.
Records that were lost or people born and died without records will be revealed then.
This being completed, we will ALL stand before him at Final Judgment in resurrected bodies.


 
 
Picture
Since I was but a wee lad, I've always loved, loved, LOVED Christmas. Though perhaps my reasons for this love have evolved over the years, the season just fills me with an almost childlike giddiness. Much of Christiandom yearly celebrates this veneration of Christ, and my faith (Mormonism) is no exception. Though Mormons don't really do anything vastly different than other Christmas celebrators, it's hard not to bring up the development of my own personal fledgling faith in connection to the Christmas spirit. Like most American children, I was taught of the mystical Santa Claus, who lived at the north pole, was morbidly obese, and brought presents to all the good children of the world. It was a whimsical, if silly, legend that was lots of fun to take part in each year. But I'm forever grateful that my parents, while happy to entertain our young minds with Santa, always drove home the real reason we were giving gifts  to one another. Every Christmas morning, before rushing downstairs for the merriment, my mom and dad would always gather the family into one room, and we'd kneel on the floor and say a prayer to God, thanking Him for this joyous holiday which allowed us to commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. The non-Santa aspects of Christmas have always carried with them a weight of reverence, and they have inspired my faith from the very beginning.
I have nothing against those who do not celebrate Christmas. But it always bothers me a bit when otherwise deeply Christian people seem so jaded with the whole experience. It's gotten to the point of cliche for people to declare their hate for the holiday. Perhaps those people have legitimate reasons for their distaste for the season, but I wonder if their aversion would be better directed at particular aspects and traditions of Christmas, rather than discounting it altogether. So companies are exploiting Christmas for commercial reasons? You don't have to. So you have to spend it with an annoying distant relative? Buck up, and remember that experiences can only be positive when you bring the right frame of mind. Not to point to myself as a wonderful example, but if ever I feel myself displeased with some hassle of the season, or disappointed with some yuletide experience, I quickly remind myself of the Babe in Bethlehem, my Lord Jesus Christ. I try to emulate his example of giving, love, and gratitude. Surrounding myself with whatever family and friends that are available, I joy in the high spirits and laughter that Christmas can bring, if only we let it.

 
 
Picture
Technically, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) has been in my family for several generations. I grew up in a family of people who grew up in the Church. It has always been in my life.  I imagine this is true of many different people in many different religions; Their faith is in their blood, a hereditary trait almost.
While the above scenario describes myself and many others, it is not true of everyone in my religion. Many among our number were born into other churches or belief-systems, worshiping in other ways, and following different rules. For a myriad of reasons, these people took their own spiritual journeys, and found for themselves something the rest of us grew up with.
While I am ever grateful for my upbringing in the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have always had a certain respect for converts, those who sought for the truth, and found something wonderful that I was practically handed. They had to work for it, and they might have had to overcome obstacles and baggage along the way that I was never burdened with. I always joy in hearing their stories, who they used be, or what they had to face on the road to Christ. I look up to these people for their hard work, and their faith.
It got me thinking about my own story. Though I was very thankful for the generous blessings that have been bestowed on me, I couldn't help but feel a little bit jealous of converts. These are men and women who worked for something I sometimes take for granted. The Gospel of Christ really means something to them, because they know what it's like without it. When I think about it, my logic is all backward. It's like a man who's inherited great riches that envies a once-poor man who worked hard and became rich by the sweat of his own brow.
I had it all wrong though. I am still on a road to Christ, and so are those people I envied. I was mistakenly viewing conversion as a destination, a one-time event. I have come to realize, however, that conversion is not a stop along the road, but the road itself. I had thought of myself as a man who was born at the destination. I liked where I was, but felt a little robbed of the journey that others got to take. But that was not the case at all. It was more like I had been born at the trailhead, in the company of men and women who know the the road, and can give me directions when I need them. I have companions to share the adventure with, and protectors to keep me safe from the perils of the journey. Others may have had to search for the path, and as I've met them on the road, I've welcomed them into my convoy excited to learn about my new fellow traveler.
We are all travelers on the road of conversion. This road leads to Jesus Christ. It is a bumpy road, and not always the easiest road, and we might occasionally try alternate routes. But this long, bumpy road is the only one that leads to true happiness. Other roads may offer a more comfortable journey in the short-term, but they lead nowhere. Why sell an eternity at a wonderful destination at the end of a winding mountain road  for a fleeting detour down Easy Street, a wide, smooth freeway that offers nothing but a dead-end in a bad neighborhood?
In this sense, I am a convert to Mormonism, a convert to the gospel of Jesus Christ and His teachings. I may have had certain advantages on my journey, but I, along with everyone else, must take the journey all the same. I look forward to seeing you on the road.

 
 
Picture
Unless you live in a nation that outlaws proselytism, you probably have at one point in your life, had some sort of contact with one of the Mormon missionaries. Maybe you've seen them handing out copies of the Book of Mormon on the street. Perhaps you've seen them on their bikes, on the way to some appointment. Maybe they've even knocked on your door.
Though they may know of them, people might not always know a whole lot about these these missionaries who spread Mormonism throughout the world.



 
 
Picture
Jesus Christ takes on many roles. He is our teacher, our master, our elder brother, and our redeemer, just to name a few. One exceptionally large role he fills is as the Son of God. But what does it mean to be the Son of God? Aren't we all God's children?



 
 
Picture
After crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus Christ and His disciples went up into the mountains. The feast of Passover was soon.
Looking up from where He sat, Jesus saw a large crowd of people making their way up the mountain towards them. Having seen the miracles Jesus could perform, they had followed the Savior, wanting to learn from Him. They numbered about five thousand.
Knowing it was time for the feast of the Passover, Christ said to His apostle Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"  Philip informed the Savior that the money they had would not buy enough bread to feed so many people, even if they just had a morsel each.
Of course, Christ knew this. He only asked to test Philip. He knew exactly what needed to be done.
Just then, the apostle Andrew (Simon Peter's brother) came to the Lord and said, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are thy among so many?"
Jesus had the multitude sit down on the grassy hill. Giving thanks to His Father in prayer, He handed food to each of His disciples, who distributed generous helping of fish and bread o all who were gathered. As the multitude finished up the feast. Jesus asked that His disciples go back through the crowd and gather up the leftovers of the meal, so nothing would go to waste. The leftover food filled twelve baskets of bread.
All who were there who had seen this miracle proclaimed, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."
And thus by small and simple means, did the Son of God make great and wonderful things to pass.
In His holy name, Jesus Christ-- Amen.

 
 
Picture
When Jesus Christ had grown to twelve years of age, He lived in Nazareth with His mother Mary and step-father Joseph. He was filled with the Spirit of God and had wisdom far beyond His years.
Every year, Joseph and Mary had the tradition of going to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover
Young Jesus accompanied His parents to the Passover feast. When all was said and done, Joseph and Mary packed up and made the return journey to Jerusalem, unaware that Jesus was not with them. Too understand how they could have forgotten their only child, a child who would be Savior of the world one day for that matter, it must be understood that the family was traveling in a large caravan. Joseph and Mary's extended families were all making this trek together. It would make sense for them to think that Jesus was simply with some  of the other children in the caravan. After traveling for a whole day, Joseph and Mary, searching throughout the caravan, noticed that Jesus was not among them. 
Panicked, they returned to Jerusalem to search for their son. After what must have been a torturous three days of searching, Mary and Joseph finally happened upon the twelve-year-old Christ. They found him in the temple, conversing with some well-versed priests. The men were exceedingly amazed at this young boy and His extraordinary knowledge of the things of God.
Tremendously relieved to find her son, Mary came to Jesus and did what any concerned mother might do, and scolded Him for wandering off on His own. "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." Today, she might have said, "Son, how can you do this to us!? Your father and I have been worried sick!"
Being very wise for His age, Jesus simply answered, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"  The reunited family then happily returned home.
This account, from Luke chapter two is the first time we are told of Christ taking upon Himself the magnitude of His calling in life. It can be reasoned that this early act of wisdom was when He truly understood the meaning of His station. Being "about His Father's business," had him in the temple, studying, worshiping, and strengthening other children of the Lord. It is incredible to think that at such a young age, He knew is purpose. He knew the tremendous things that God had in store for Him. He had the conviction and discipline to work and speak by the Holy Spirit in all things. An excellent example for us all if their ever was one.
I conclude in His name, Jesus Christ-- Amen.


 
 
Picture
Those of us who can see generally take this ability for granted. We hear this a lot: that we, as people, expect some mundanely normal experience to be a given. But it's all too true. You don't know what you have until you no longer have it. The visually impaired know all too well that sight is a blessing of the greatest kind. This was no less true than in the time of Jesus Christ.
Sometime before Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, the Savior was traveling through the city of Jericho. As He came into the city, the people of Jericho were understandably stirred up by His presence. A stone's throw away, a blind man sat by himself, wondering what all the clamor was about.
This man, unable to see, was probably unable to work. Though being blind is still no picnic, obviously it wan't like today, when the blind are blessed with many advanced tools allowing them to function in the everyday world. Nor did the blind (or those with any handicaps for that matter) have laws in place to protect them from unemployment and poverty. In many circumstances, a handicap could be a social death-sentence. The blind, dumb, deaf, and lame could only sit on the periphery, dependent on the kindness of others.
When this particular man asked a passerby, He learned, to his delight, that the crowd was stirred up because Jesus of Nazareth was passing through. This was his chance. The man yelled out to his Savior, pleading, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" 
The people, shocked by how loud and audacious this man was being, scolded him. They told him to hold his peace. It was not dignified to be so bold. But he did not care. It didn't matter what these people thought. Jesus had come to bless him, to lift him out of his humble circumstances. He yelled again, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me!"
The Lord commanded that this man be brought to Him. With the man before Him, He asked, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?"
The man knew what he required. Trusting in his God, he said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."
Pleased with this humble man, Jesus said, "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee."
In an instant, his vision was restored. Before him stood his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, the sweetness of that first of many wondrous sights this man would see. He got up, and followed his Savior, and the multitude glorified God.
Even if our physical eyes are in perfect health, we all may lose our sight. Being blinded by our carnal desires and worldly temptations, we may at times find ourselves lost in the darkness, with seemingly no way of getting back. I testify though, that if we but have faith, and turn unto Him who can restore our vision, that we can know the way to true happiness. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that way, and through Him and Him alone can we be made whole. His eternal power will open our eyes if we but ask. We need not be ashamed that we come to Him, for why would the opinions of other's matter when our eternal happiness can be secured through Him we approach?
I leave you with this message in the His holy name, Jesus Christ-- Amen

 
 
Since I was a little boy, I have read, and reread the Book of Mormon. When I was little, I had no idea that not everyone held this book in the same esteem as the Bible. They had always gone together for me. So much so that I remember watching a show on TV as a five-year-old, when one character mentioned the Bible. I remember thinking to myself,"...And the Book of Mormon." Even though I was taught to include everyone, and regularly had play-dates with non-Mormon friends, it wasn't until I was a little older that I realized not everyone on earth was a Mormon, or even Christian (and a little older to realize that not all Christians were Mormons). I was taught from an early age by my parents, that everyone, no matter the circumstances, deserved love, that we were all brothers and sisters. Though, being human, I could not do this every time. I have, however, always tried to some degree.
As the years went on, and my innocence began to fade somewhat, I slowly came to grips with the  fact that the world was not as sunny and bright as I thought it was. I also realized that not everybody thought that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) was as wonderful as I did. I was shocked to learn that some even hated it. As I processed this information, I contented myself with the knowledge that everyone has their own viewpoint, and they had the right to choose that view. One of my best friends in grade school was not a member of the Church, and had had some bad experiences with it.  After a couple years of friendship, he told me about how the missionaries had visited his family and one of his sisters was considering baptism, but was turned off by the pushiness of the missionaries, who kept asking her to set a date. That experience, seemed to shape his opinion of the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church as a whole. We stayed friends for many years and I we didn't really broach the subject much. When we did talk religion, we both did our best to be respectful, but I could tell he was a bit cynical of the whole thing, which I didn't mind too much. I mostly labeled the subject as a "sore spot", something we ought not get into. We eventually drifted slowly apart, our lives taking different detours and both of us finding different groups of friends. We hung out on and off, but it eventually tapered off. We still occasionally say hello every now and again, and reminisce about the "good old days", but those encounters are far and few between.
Throughout middle school and high school, I kept the Book of Mormon on my nightstand, reading a verse or two before going to sleep. In those days, I knew on some level that it was a special book, but the words seemed so stale. My teenage brain just couldn't concentrate on the "thees" and "thous" for longer than about a minute before putting it down. The thing was, I was a great reader from an early age, but I didn't have the patience for long, archaically written books. I couldn't relate. At the time I was only reading to form a habit of study.
Sadly, it wasn't until recently that I truly started to study the Book of Mormon. A few months ago, as I became a Missionary, I realized, that if I wanted to truly understand this book, I would have to read it more actively, not just skim a couple token verses and drift off to sleep. My study has become more in depth, I pray before each reading session, and sit at a desk, taking notes. Since I've incorporated this beautiful book (in conjunction with the Bible) I have noticed a difference in my life. I feel a deep love for my fellow man. I have more of a desire to share this beautiful Gospel with others. I wish I had discovered the Book of Mormon's real power sooner. I have always had a fondness for it on some level, even if I found it boring, but for the first time, I really understand the sweetness of its words and have more of an inclination to act upon its teachings. I hope in the future I can be more willing to share it with those who want it, those who need it.
I hope that, if you haven't, you can also experience what this book has to offer. I offer you these humble words in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ--Amen