I told Mom I'd write about the devotionals on Sunday, February 16. I've been meaning to but haven't gotten around to it so I'll write it today. You can share this or put it on the blog or whatever you want. This is just an extra email; I'll send another about my week.
So that Sunday, two General Authorities came. First in Relief Society, Sister Oscarson, the General Young Women President, came and talked to us. She talked about missionary work, huge surprise, and shared some stories from her family which was cool. The main point I got from it was to work hard and I'll never be happier. I need to remember why I'm here and put my shoulder to the wheel. Also, we're the most blessed when we go the extra mile. As I'm obedient, I'll receive help from the other side. My mission is my time to make God my partner so I need to turn my will over to His. I took more than a page of notes, it was so good!
Next was the Sunday night devotional. This time is was President Matthew S. Holland, President of UVU. And his dad, Elder Holland came. It was so cool. I decided to join the choir that day because I knew he might be coming and because we were singing my favorite hymn, "Praise to the Man." As soon as he came in, we all stood up and didn't sit down until he did. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Sister Holland, Elder Holland's wife. Elder Holland got up to speak just to introduce his son but it was so cool to hear and see him. I know I saw him once before when I was in "A Brand New Year," but I wasn't aware of how cool it was at the time. Anyway, his son gave a rocking talk. I loved it. He talked about Joseph Smith which is my favorite subject.
Joseph Smith had a hard life. His dad started his own little business of some sorts. I don't remember what he did, but he sold lots of things and for payment his customers promised to pay him when the harvest came. However, the crops failed that year and so he lost a ton of money. Also lots of men were dishonest from the start and cheated him of his money. Throughout the years, he tried many times to make it work by farming but year after year the crops failed from early snow or whatever. They moved from place to place but never had any luck.
The Smiths lived in Vermont when the whole family got typhoid fever which nearly killed Joseph. After they recovered, Joseph developed a pain in his leg. I think it started somewhere else and eventually travelled there but it got to the point where Hyrum would have to sit and squeeze the leg between his hands to relieve some of the pain. They found one of the best surgeons in town to help out. He wanted to amputate Joseph's leg but his mother wouldn't allow it. He then decided to do a procedure that he'd never done before. He would cut open the leg and saw off the infected part of the bone. And then we all know the story of how they offered Joseph alcohol to make it a bit easier but he refused and asked that his father hold him and that his mother leave the room. His mother heard Joseph's anguished screams during the surgery and ran inside and recorded later that there was blood everywhere and that Joseph's face was pale white. It took Joseph 3 years to recover.
When the Smith's crops failed once again, the family was forced to move away from their family and friends in Vermont and go to New York to buy a cheap piece of farm land in hopes of a better future. The father, Joseph Smith Sr., went ahead of everyone to secure the land. Then his mother, Lucy, took their 11 children. They had to move during a really harsh winter and Joseph was still on his crutch from his recent surgery (he was 7 or 8). They hired a man to help them make the trip and he ended up doing more harm than good. He abused Joseph and his siblings and mother. At one point he tossed Joseph off of the wagon and wouldn't allow him to ride. Joseph had to walk on his crutch and hurt, bloodied leg 40 miles a day in the snow to keep up. It took them a couple months to travel and when they were only a few miles from New York, Joseph collapsed in the snow and couldn't go on. A kind stranger found Joseph and carried him the rest of the way to New York. When Lucy and her children finally arrived at the farm, she fell into her husband's arms and sobbed.
Now it makes sense why in Joseph Smith History 1:20 he wrote, "It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?" Someone at the MTC had said that that seems a little over dramatic and I replied that he had the leg surgery but this just adds so much more. He had a really hard childhood and life. Many of his children died, he was mocked, tormented, persecuted, imprisoned, and he had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Look at the words of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" and try to imagine why Joseph would want that sung to him right before he knew he was going to die.
A couple weeks before God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the 14 year old Joseph Smith, Lucy Smith recorded in her journal that one day Joseph walked out through the front door and a bullet whizzed right in front of Joseph's face, missing him by inches, and buried itself in the neck of a cow. Lucy wrote in her journal that they found the place the assassin had been, behind a wagon, but that they didn't know who or why someone wanted to kill him. Also, Joseph's grandfather had often said or prophesied before Joseph was born that there would be a great prophet in his family and someone who would change the history of the world. When Joseph restored and organized the church in 1830, his grandfather later said that he was satisfied that Joseph was the one he had talked about.
So that was President Matthew S. Holland's talk which was great. After that was Sunday film night where we had a choice of films or previous devotionals we can watch. My second week I watched The Testaments and my first week I watched The Character of Christ by Elder Bednar which was incredible. That Sunday I watched The Great Apostasy by Tad R. Callister. I'll tell you what I wrote down from it. It was super cool.
If the Church of Jesus Christ had continued, the Bible would have continued instead of ending randomly in 100 AD. The apostles went around teaching the gospel but then people eventually started teaching the doctrine wrong just like if you're playing telephone and the last person comes out with someone weird or off. Every time this happened, they sent out another epistle that contained the true doctrine to get them back on track. This is where the last books of the New Testament come from. However, after a time the gospel got so distorted and the people got so wicked that the Priesthood was taken off the Earth along with the true gospel and there was no point of sending out more epistles since no one had the full truth anymore so the Bible ended. Think about it. The Bible started with the very beginning, Adam and Eve, and went on for centuries and millenniums. So why would it all of a sudden stop? Because the prophets of God and the true church were gone.
I wrote down "Thomas Jefferson 'Cousins, In God We Trust, 156.'" In there, Jefferson talked about how he knows that the true church isn't on the earth and that he's waiting for it to be brought back. Look it up.
Christopher Columbus said that he felt like God led him to the Americas. Which God did. He said it wasn't his own thinking or mind but that he knew it was from God. Read 1 Nephi 13, especially verses 10 on. 10-12 is talking specifically about Columbus coming to the Americas. And yes there's an actual quote somewhere from Columbus saying this. Look that up too. (:
Next is baptism. The baptism of infants is never mentioned in the Bible. Jesus only blessed the children. What kind of God would come down and bless the children, knowing that they're going to hell anyway because they haven't been sprinkled with water? The sprinkling of water started because soon after the Great Apostasy began, an old man who was crippled wanted to be baptized but couldn't be dunked in water so they decided it would be ok to just sprinkle him with water and then the practice continued. Baptism represents Christ dying, being buried, and rising again. We're being reborn. You don't sprinkle people when they die, you bury them. And then they'll rise again like Christ and be resurrected with perfect bodies because of the Atonement.
If you're in a battle and are trying to weaken the enemy, what's one of the first things you'd do? Try to break their communication. And that's exactly what Satan did. He caused men to alter prayer so that communication with God was corrupt. Of course God still knows everyone and what they say and think, but he no longer answered prayers because the prayers were distorted and not after the true order of prayer. It's like trying to talk to someone with a broken phone or bad connection. They can hear you but you can't hear them.
If the church of Jesus Christ had continued, the Bible would've been made available to everyone instead of only one person having it in Latin that few people could see. It took so many good men and martyrs to make the Bible available to everyone and in English or whichever language they knew.
No church was named after Christ since the Apostasy until the 19th century. Even Martin Luther was upset that they called his church the Lutheran church. He believed it should be called after Jesus Christ. Christ didn't set up the Catholic, Baptist, or Methodist church, he set up the Church of Jesus Christ.
God restored the church as soon as he safely could. If you were flying an airplane and the engine went out and you had to do an emergency landing, would you do it in a forest of trees or wait until you reach a lake or clearing? You'd land as soon as you safely could. It's the same with Christ's church. He couldn't restore it until the United States was formed and religious freedom was granted in the constitution. If He did it sooner then it would've been destroyed. Even in the 19th century, so many evil men tried to overthrow it and they ended up killing Joseph Smith just like they killed Jesus (though not in the same manner).
God didn't choose to take the gospel away from the earth; it was because men chose not to believe and to change or take away His doctrines like our pre-mortal life, eternal marriage, and the nature of God.
Anyway, there was a bit more but that's what I remember. I hope you enjoyed that. This church is true! I know it's Christ's true church and that through the power of a God Joseph Smith restored it.
11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.
1 Timothy 4:1-3
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Love, Sister Black