Good morning everyone, and happy post conference Monday!
It's been a good one here in Durham and I'm excited to tell y'all about this week's adventures.
First off, some highlights from the week:
1. We were able to help at the Centro Hispano, an outreach for Hispanics in the area. We helped this lady organize their bookshelves because we (mission rules) can't use computers to help people fill out job applications and we can't work with children to tutor them and stuff. So yeah, that's what we did.
2. Hermano Vargas, one of the members who really loves the missionaries, bought two retro trucks. One is a 1970 Ford Ranger (blue) and the other is a 1968 Chevy S10 (green). He's been working on these while he's out of work with an injury. He plans to fix them up and see if he can sell them for a profit. We're gonna help him out sometime this week, so I'll take pictures.
3. Some of you probably saw on Facebook that we were able to help our friend Ken with his yard finally. He had us move some piles and then we went to work on the rose bush. That thing was absolutely crazy. More thorns than I thought there would be. My arms kind of look like I got attacked by mosquitoes, but no, they're just from the thorns. Let me tell y'all a little about Ken. He's just a hippie, tree hugger, botany major. He is so good at his job that he was actually recruited to be the director of Calloway Gardens, but refused to shave his beard, so they denied him the position. Now he teaches classes in the botanical gardens at UNC and helps hug trees around the community. But he's great. We worked hard and then he bought us gourmet Italian pizza and real ginger ale. Have y'all ever had real ginger ale? Like with real ginger? It's super strong and super good! Try some!
4. GENERAL CONFERENCE! If you missed conference this weekend, you really missed out. It was one for the ages for sure. It's evident that we are living in the last days and we need to be prepared for the second coming.
A lot stood out to me this run around. Let me go through my notebook real quick...
Saturday morning session was all about the family. Remember that this Gospel is all about the family. God's purpose for us in this life is "happiness in the home and being sealed in the temple." It is only through the restored Gospel that we can reach our potential as families and eventually be celestial parents in the eternities. And let's all please heed the counsel of Elder Oaks. "No phones during Sacrament meeting. Put it away. We go to church to be converted, not to lazily sit through a meeting. Also watch out for materialism. Materialism causes spiritual dormancy.
Saturday afternoon session was all about hope and healing through the power of the Atonement. It is through the Atonement that we can become saints. As we seek to follow Jesus Christ, live His Gospel and keep His commandments, and make the necessary changes in our lives to live in more harmony with God, the Atonement will not only wipe away our past, but it will give us strength to become "new creatures in Christ." But this is not easy. It's much easier said than done. Dale G. Runland's talk helps us with that difficulty. It's hard to change, but with the help of Christ, we can. For "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying." Satan tells us to give up. He tells us we can't change, but the Spirit of the Lord tells us to keep on trying. Even when we slip and fall, "the moment that we decide to try again, the Atonement begins to work in our lives."
Priesthood session was all about living up to the responsibility that we have. I'm a missionary so I live the Gospel pretty fully, but it's important that I continue to live it fully when I get home. Those of us who hold the priesthood have a duty, and God expects us to honor the covenant we've made. M. Russel Ballard drilled us pretty hard with that. His PPI questions were perfect. President Eyring emphasized the importance of honoring the call. As a young missionary, he was asked to give a blessing to a dying child. Can you imagine if he weren't worthy? Would he have been able to speak in behalf of the Lord? That's why it's so important that we live worthy of the Spirit so that we can be prepared for situations like that.
Sunday morning session had a mixture of topics, but the overarching theme of it all was Christ's Atonement for us. He conquered death for us. He lifts us up with His arms and just hold us. He keeps us from falling into physical and spiritual death. And let's not forget about the words of President Uchtdorf. I love what he said. Yes, in 2nd Nephi it says "for it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do." Does that mean that Christ won't help us until we've done everything we possibly can? No! He helps us as soon as we take the first step. So let's show our love and appreciation for His grace by being obedient to His commandments!
Sunday afternoon was all about enduring to the end. The talks given during this session give us a lot of tools and points of counsel to follow so that we can continue on the path of spiritual growth throughout our lives. It really just comes down to doing what we know we're supposed to do, and doing it with a willing heart. Scripture reading, praying, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, home teaching, fasting. These are all things that will keep us on the path throughout our lives.
And those are some of my thoughts about conference. I hope y'all enjoyed it as much as I did!
Stay faithful and have a great week!
-Elder Landon Carroll