Category: Stories of the Work


That One

Wow its amazing how much there is too learn. I remember way  back before I had left home thinking I was ready to go and serve my mission, be the best Elder ever, come home, go to school and ride off on that adventure called life.
I’m going to focus a bit more on that first part, the part where I was leaving off to go on my mission. Early on in my mission as I was serving in my first area I wondered, why am I not making a difference? Why are people not listening to us? Why, why, why? I felt like I was sinking like Peter when he was going to Christ.
Jesus and Peter
During this time of hardship and frustration my trainer and ultimately one of my best friends shared this story with me and it changed me and it still changes me, even though I’ve known this for months.
    A young man was walking down the beach at sunrise with his grandfather. It was low tide, and there were many creatures to be seen. They laughed, talked, and explored the tides, until they reached a spot where thousands upon thousands of starfish covered the sandy beach.
     “Grandpa? What is going to happen to all these starfish?”
Starfish
     “They are going to dry out and die on the beach, then high tide will come and wash them all up and it will happen again tomorrow.”
     “That’s awful! Isn’t there something we can do?”
     The young man then picked up the nearest starfish, and hurled it as far as he could into the ocean.
     “What are you doing? There’s no point. You can’t save all of them, it’s just the way it has to be.”
     The young man continued. He threw another starfish in the ocean, then another, then another.
He wasn’t going to give up that easily.
     “You can’t save them all, it doesn’t matter!”
     The young man threw one more starfish into the ocean, turned to his grandfather and said,
     “It mattered to that one.”
     He turned around and threw another starfish. Without a word, the grandfather bent down, picked up a starfish, and hurled it into the ocean.
   Sometimes being a missionary you feel like the grandfather, you see so much filth, so much sin and so much bad you just want to give up. You want to quit and go back to a blissful ignorance. However as disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to help those we see in need.
In honesty this has gotten me through the hardest times on my mission. There have been many times when I’ve felt like I’m not doing anything, nothings changing and since it never has it never will change.
But that one. One thing I can promise is that you will make a difference to that one, you will find that one.
For me, I’ve found that “one”, you can find that one who needs a hand, a shoulder to cry on, the one in need of comfort. When you serve them and help them you’ll know, you’ll know the difference.
The great thing about this work is that its not our work, we aren’t in charge, we have the Godhead at our side. As it says in D&C 68:6, we will be standing right alongside our Lord Jesus Christ.
We will make a difference, not because it is our work or we are that strong, but rather because when we side with Christ we know that good will prevail.
When you feel like your not making a difference or not doing enough just remember,
It matters to that one. 
Starfish 2
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So for me and for most other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there can be a lot of ways living our faith can be hard.

This would be me, a normal Mormon boy

This would be me, a normal Mormon boy

 

Being a born and raised member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormon many people have asked why am I a member.

 

Those who tend to have an unfavorable outlook on the Church and all members will say I am just a member because it is what I was raised with and I was brainwashed into it.

 

Others will say that there are many great benefits received from the Church by being a member and that would be why.

 

Others say that it might have a peaceful feeling and it’s what feels good to me.

 

Yet others will say how I am a member because I couldn’t handle reality without a crutch and that crutch being my beliefs in deity.

 

And still more will say I am merely following in my families footsteps because my family would be disappointed in me if I left the Church.

 

Whenever I encounter these sentiments I have many thoughts but one thing that always comes up is how none take into account that I might have been able to use my free will, my agency to choose to be in the Church and have that belief in Christ.

 

To be quite frank, if I hadn’t believed this Church was Christs church there is no way I would have kept going as a teenager. For a long time I didn’t know that this Church was true, I didn’t know that there were indeed prophets on the Earth, I didn’t even always know if Heavenly Father really was there.

 

But I wanted to know.

 

However throughout this time I believed it might be true. I had lived in the Church, seen my parents examples of living the Gospel and I had seen many of the blessings that the Gospel brings. Despite all of those examples, I still couldn’t say I knew my Heavenly Father knew me, that this was Christ’s Church and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Effort

 

It took studying and work for me to learn that all of this is as it claims it is. It took my own actions     to get me motivated to serve a mission and to stay a member of the Church.

 

 

 

That’s the thing so many people do not get about Christ and life in general.

 

The good things, the things that actually last take that hard work. Knowing that God is there, that Christ really died for us, that will take work.

Work can cure a lot of things

Work can cure a lot of things

One of my grandmothers was a firm advocate of this. One of her favorite quotes that permeated my families lives and mine was entirely about this principle.

 

 

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth doing will take time to do.”

 

So what is ultimately important is not so much about the stuff of Earth. But the knowledge we can gain about our Heavenly Father, Christ and the morals that can only be learned from right and wrong.

So what are you doing that is worth doing well?

 

Christ and children

Christ doing whats worth doing

Christ’s Experiance

This past month I hit a low.

 

I became frustrated at what I was doing and for a bit I just wanted to quit and give up. However some very wise Elders I know were there for me in my time of need and they helped me up. They gave me the strength I needed to keep going even though things weren’t the best. I was able to lean on them and start back up.

 

After a bit of reflection I started thinking about how Christ has felt everything. Absolutely everything and how much that really is. That meant that Christ knows what I felt when I was feeling down, he knows what I felt when my grandpa died and knows what its like to grow up in the 21st century. He knows it all. That’s why he’s able to comfort us and help us through the Spirit and through others. He knows exactly what will help us the most in our times of need.

 

A talk I heard once by Sister Okazaki in Church, spoke on this subject of what Christ has felt. Sister Okazaki you could tell from her talk had come to know what Christ had done. She said,

 

“We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family.

But we don’t experience pain in generalities.

We experience it individually.

 

That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you.

 

He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election.

 

He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid.

 

He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia.

 

He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam.

 

He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

 

He knows all that.

He’s been there.

 

He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections.

 

He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.”

 

Whenever you feel no one can help, no one knows what you are feeling turn to the Savior. Turn to Christ and he will come to you and heal you. All that is required that you let him in.

 

Will we be converted that he may heal us?

 

Will we let the Living Waters of Christ come and quench our spiritual thirsts.

 

I promise you that if we let Christ into our lives, we will be able to overcome every difficult day we have. It may not be easy but you will get through it. So keep with it.

 

Godspeed my brothers and sisters and just keep going.

 

So just remind yourself that you’ve been through hard times and you’ll go through them again. But with Christ you will be able to do it.

Getting through rough days

Getting through Rough Days

Finding Success

Success is so fickle. No matter what we do it seems someone else is mores successful than us. When you think you measure up in a certain category you’ll see yourself falling short in another. That’s the natural man trying to show us we can never measure up.

All of us humans we want to be successful. I doubt there has ever been anyone born who has no goals, accomplishments, or things they want to achieve. no matter how small or short sighted we all have that desire to achieve.

Problem is things don’t always work out. People go against us, fate doesn’t work with us, the odds just are not in your favor. And yet we press on with faith that we will eventually achieve.

For me this happens all the time. I have some goals, something I want to happen and I work towards it butt life just gets in the way and it doesn’t happen. I want that taste of success in making my goals but sometimes fate just goes the other way.

In  high school I wanted to make the high school boys soccer team. There seemed no better way to find success than to be on a “real” team.

So for four years I tried out in the hopes that I would find a spot on the roster.

I tried out all four years, I never even made it past the first cuts.

Now some might say it was because I didn’t put my heart into it, I didn’t practice, prepare right or get in good enough shape for the team.

Thing is every year I went to every conditioning session for the team. I played on multiple soccer teams each year diligently going to practices to get better,  always trying to improve my skills, become the best I could.

Now I’m not saying that I was better than the boys who made the team, I’m simply stating that I did do everything I could to make that team.

But it simply wasn’t meant to be.

Every year when I was cut I  promised myself I would make the cut next year. Next year I’d be on that soccer team.

Looking back I realize now how dangerous that thinking is.

I will be eternally grateful though for one of my good friends, John who in senior year invited me to come run track with him.

It took until senior year to realize I didn’t need the soccer team to find success. Thanks to Johns invitation I had ran track with John for nearly all of the year and as a result I was able to learn and grow so much by being on the track team.

I had found success.

Not the success I thought I’d find, certainly not the success of being on the Northridge soccer team. But rather I found the success of finding a love I never would have found otherwise, I found friends who I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Now it to a purely worldly outsider it doesn’t sound like I found success.

I mean come on, I never could make the lousy high school soccer team.

But, I learned how to run, which will probably help keep me in shape for the rest of my life if i use it. I learned self confidence that I can do hard things.

I went from taking 21 minutes to run 3 miles to just under 17 minutes. That’s a success for me.

I have learned that really it doesn’t matter what achievements we receive on the outside, its really all about what you learn.

So yeah, success it doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from within.

So all of you, I challenge you to find something, anything, that you’ve been trying to achieve and it has just never worked out and find why. It doesn’t matter if the world tells find from our Heavenly Father his plan and go for it.

I know you’ll all be amazing and find the success best for you.

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So as ever missionary will can tell you there are many misconceptions we face when we’re out serving. So here are Elder Longhurst’s 9 most encountered misconceptions. So while there may be missionaries that these descriptions do match they do not apply to all of us. These are my feelings on them.

1. We as missionaries know everything, we know the answer to every Gospel question.

Well hate to break it to anyone this is a surprise to but we don’t know everything. I left when I was 18. I knew that Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and I knew that I needed the Spirit with me but other than that I really didn’t know very much. I’ve learned so much since then but the biggest fact I know is that without the Spirit I would be wasting my time.

2. That we have no identity, that we are all clones of one another that the Church just keeps pumping us out.

When people see us all in the same uniform aka white shirt, dress slacks, ties, and tags that must mean we all think the same. Well guess what, we aren’t. Take Elder Dobson and myself for example, we both like sports, both raised in the Church and both have 2 sisters, 1 brother and parents still together. Sounds like we’re pretty similar eh, well beyond that we’re worlds of difference. However the biggest differences in missionaries is why we’re on our missions, our testimonies and how we found out this is true. Cause trust me, if this wasn’t none of us would be out here.

3. We have no emotion.

It is true that missionaries generally try not to show their disappointment or anger towards people and some of them are really good at this. This isn’t because we don’t have those emotions but because we’re supposed to be representatives of Christ so we try to always act as Christ would, which is in a kind and loving way.

4. That we’re going to force you do do it our way.

This one is run into a lot, yes its great when people do what we invite them to do but we never will force you to. Our purpose is to invite others, invite not force. As a missionary we want to follow our Heavenly Fathers plan as closely as we can and that is all dependent and agency. Free choice, liberty to choose is the way, so we will never force you, that’s the adversary’s plan.

5. Its all about the numbers.

Oh they just want an other baptism, they just want one more lesson. Statements like these are completely and totally false. We don’t want to see those we teach progress towards baptism but really that’s just coming closer to Christ and if I can help 1 or 2 people come closer to Christ on my mission then it was well spent.

6. We are missionaries because its what’s expected.

No I am not out here because the Prophet has said every boy should serve a mission. No I am not out here because my family made me. No I am not out here because there is some reward for me. I am out here because my Heavenly Father has asked me too and because I love him I am serving him. The mission is not about me, its not about my  companions, its about serving my spiritual brothers and sisters and helping them come to Christ. It can be summed up as, I love my Heavenly Father and I want to do what he’s asked.

7. Being a missionary allows us to rise up the corporate ladder of the Church.

First off the Church is not a corporate ladder. I’ve met men and women who served full time missions, have been active in the Church their whole lives and still they serve in Young Mens, Young Womens, Primary or Nursery. One of the best men I’ve ever known in my life never served as a missionary, never been a bishop or president of an quorum, never even been one of the counselors for such groups. We serve missions because it is what our Heavenly Father has asked us.

8. That we can always work at 100%.

Missionary work is exhausting. There is simply no other way to put it. That said I absolutely love it. But if your missionaries, if we sometimes seem tired, sometimes fall asleep in meetings please don’t hold that over our heads forever. Should we, absolutely not but it happens. We make mistakes, then we kick ourselves and try to do better. There will be times we look like complete fools, but we’re trying.

9. That we are perfect.

Being a missionary doesn’t make you perfect. Wearing the badge that shares Christ’s name doesn’t give you the Spirit. We do not become perfect people. Missionaries can get depressed, they can get mad, disheartened, and even want to give up at times. We still suffer from our same vices as we did back home, we are doing our best though to stay away from them. But we make mistakes.

So this past week Elder Dobson and I were asked why there aren’t crosses on the Mormon Chapels?

Well I will do my best to answer this question but none of this should be taken as LDS doctrine nor as anything binding, its just my views and beliefs.

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Well before we get into crosses and religion why not find out where did the cross come from, what did it originally represent, and what made it the symbol of Christianity.

Well the earliest relics we have of a cross is from ancient Egypt, called the Egyptian Cross or an Ankh the symbol of the life, regeneration and the sun. Its found in ancient hieroglyphics and often was associated with the Egyptian sun god as his symbol of power. The Ankh was much like the Roman cross except instead of it having the 4 bars the top bar ended in a loop.

Another possible birthplace of the cross is ancient Greece. We don’t really know what it represented to them but we know it was imprinted on coins as early as 1500 B.C. and it was 4 bars of equal length. The coins mainly were found around Athens and its nearby villages.

The last cross I’ll be going over is the Roman Cross or the type that Christ was crucified on. The Roman Cross has the standard 4 bars with the bottom one being twice as long as the top 3 that are all the same length. Interestingly enough the cross first became prominent in Christianity about the 3rd century AD thanks to Constantine’s victory at the Milvian Bridge. A brief summary of the story goes like this, Constantine and his army were marching down through modern Italy on his way to Rome to fight to become the emperor of all Rome. He was worried that he would not be able to conquer, after all he was the invader and his army was tired from its long conquest. He prayed for help, a way to conquer and come out victorious.  His prayer was answered by a cross appearing in the sky with the words burning on it “Conquer by this.” Still doubting he was visited by Christ in the night who told him the same thing and as a result he used that emblem as his and he conquered and become emperor and the cross became a symbol of Christianity.

So first and foremost I’ll state my beliefs on the whole crosses, the cross represents death, it was how Romans killed people in a spectacle to scare people away from opposing Roman beliefs. Being crucified wasn’t a fun, quick, easy death.

It was brutal, absolutely brutal and ruthless.

It took hours of agonizing torture for those crucified to die and they wouldn’t die from the nails, they died from exhaustion, from pain, from their bodies being completely destroyed. It was a horrible way to die.

Why would we choose to have the object that Christ, our Lord and Savior hang on our walls, our churches and be in our lives is beyond me. Yes Christ died for our sins and myself and all members of the LDS church are grateful for that but that doesn’t mean we remember his death, we remember his life, what he did and most importantly That He Lives. Nothing has greater meaning than this statement, the fact that Jesus Christ the Son of God lives means that we too will live again and that death and hell could not keep him down. He broke the chains of death that had held humanity in its grasp for so long.

So is the cross important to Mormons, Yes, however we choose not to remember the cross so much as to remember the Son of God, the perfect sacrifice, our Savior. He died on the cross for all of us and that’s what’s important, not the way he died but the fact he has Atoned for every sin, every mistake, every pain we’ve done, felt, or seen.

So no we don’t have crosses in our churches, in our churches because we remember Christ rather than the cross. I know that Christ performed the Atonement so that we can all be free from our sins one day and return to live with him again. I know this to be true and so can you. I know through the power of prayer and I testify that you can find out the same way I did. So try it out. Ask your Heavenly Father if he’s there, if he loves you and if Christ really performed the Atonement. Just try it.