Hello brothers and sisters. I am so thankful to be here today, not thankful to be giving a talk, but thankful to be getting it over with.
I have grown up in the church and have watched many missionaries go into the field. I never thought my day would come. But as I grew older, those valiant grownups started to become my friends, older brothers, and then my quorum mates, to my best friends and oldest friends. It came so quickly it almost did not seem real. Receiving my mission call was one of the scariest and most exciting days of my life. I found out that i would be preaching the word of God to the people of Quito, Ecuador for two years. To be honest, I was terrified that I had to learn a new language, but I knew if I had faith, and was obedient, that our Heavenly Father would make the difference.
I was asked to speak on obedience through our faith. As we all know it seems like our Heavenly Father loves to give us trials so that we may become strong so that we can return to live with him again. And one of the best examples of trials I can think of is Job. He loses a child, he is stricken with boils, loses all of his wealth, his friends belittle him and blame him, his wife leaves him and his children hate him for it. After all of the things that happen to him he never denies Christ or Heavenly Father. This is his testimony after he has gone through all of this in Job 19:
Oh that my word were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the Earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;
Job never lost his faith, he always looked to God first, exactly like the Pioneers. This summer I was lucky enough to go on a church history tour, and it became apparent very quickly to us that very few to none of us had faith, strength, or bravery that those people had. All they really wanted was to be left alone, to practice their religion in peace, and they thought they had found that in Nauvoo. They build a temple to worship, and nice homes to live in, finally life was good. But soon the mob came, and kicked them out of their homes and they burnt down the temple, the house of the Lord, down to the ground. I am sure that God had chose some of his most valiant angels to live in that hard time.
-----I cannot imagine seeing everything I had worked for be burned and destroyed.-----
The pioneers pressed on and stayed faithful to what they believed in and what they knew to be true, until they found their peace in the Salt Lake Valley.
While writing this talk I came across a story about Sister Hinckley's grandmother when she was 13 and crossed the plains with the Martin Handcart Company:
"We traveled from fifteen to twenty-five miles a day...till we got to the Platte River...We caught up with the handcart companies that day. We watched them cross the river. There were great lumps of ice floating down the river. It was bitter cold. The next morning there were fourteen dead..We went back to camp and had our prayers and sang 'Come, Come, Ye Saints, No Toil Nor Labor Fear.' I wondered what made my mother cry that night...The next morning my little sister was born. It was the twenty-third of September. We named her Edith. She lived six weeks and died...she was buried at the last crossing of the Sweetwater
When we arrived at Devil's Gate it was bitter cold. We left many of our things there...My brother James...was as well as he ever was when we went to bed that night. In the morning he was dead...
My feet were frozen; also my brother's and my sister's. It was nothing but snow. We could not drive the pegs in our tents...We did not know what would become of us. Then one night a man came to our camp and told us...Brigham Young had sent men and teams to help us. We sand songs, some danced, and some cried.
My mother never got well...She died between the Little and Big Mountains. She was forty-three years of age.
We arrived in Salt Lake City, nine o' clock at night, the eleventh of December, 1856. Three out of the four that were living were frozen. My mother was dead in the wagon.
Early next morning Brigham Young came. When he saw our condition, our feet frozen and our mother dead, tears rolled down his cheeks...
The doctor amputated my toes...while the sisters were dressing my mother for her grave. That afternoon she was buried.
I have often thought of my mothers words before we left England. 'Polly, I want to go to Zion while my children are small so that they can be raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ' " (Mary Goble Pay, ms. in possession of author.)
That tour and those saints sacrifice taught me a lot about the church and a lot about myself. It strengthened my testimony a crazy amount. I learned how easy it is to choose the right when you are reading your scriptures and saying your prayers. And I also remembered how easy it was for me to slip into bad habits when I wasn't doing those small things.
But that trip ended and I started to come down from my spiritual high. I kept reading my scriptures for a while but I got so caught up in different things going on in my life I would forget to read here and there, until I stopped reading entirely, and then the spirit was not nearly as strong in my life when I had felt the spirit stronger than I ever had a month before. I had to make an extra effort to get back into the habit of reading my scriptures.
And I did feel that comfort again, our testimonies come from those extra efforts to get back into habits that we easily drop. It is hard to keep studying and building your testimony when things are going so well, and easy to study hard when we are going through a really hard time but to continue to build your testimony you have to study through the good and bad times. To feel God's love we ourselves have to work to love God, you can feel the spirit from someone else, but to truly feel God's love we have to study the scriptures and find our faith ourselves.
Elder Bruce A. Carlson, April 2010 General Conference
"The story is told of two outdoor enthusiasts who hired a bush plane to fly them to a remote lake for their annual fishing trip. Following a successful outing, the pilot returned to retrieve them. However, he quickly informed the fishermen that his small plane would not support them, their equipment, and the added weight of the fish they had caught. A second flight would be required.
Now, the sportsmen were not interested in paying for a second round trip. So after a promise to pack tightly and a small bonus payment, the pilot reluctantly agreed to attempt the flight.
The fishermen grinned knowingly as the pilot forced the aircraft into the air. However, seconds later the plane stalled and crashed into a large, flat swampy area and the end of the lake.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries, and after regaining their senses, one of the fishermen asked the other, "What happened?" The second replied, "We crashed on takeoff--about a hundred yards (91 m) from where we ended up last year!""
We as latter day saints sometimes believe that there is an easier way or a shortcut so that we can do what we want. Like the fishermen we have to usually figure out the hard way that we have messed up, Gods la is LAW, and though we may not understand it, we shouldn't do what we think is right or what suits us best at that time, but follow the lord in all things.
In my own life I've caught myself making the same mistakes over and over again because I had failed to learn from the first time. And I had to learn from them. I had to finally listen to the holy ghost to guide me.
God knows us and loves us more than we could ever imagine. But that doesn't give us an excuse to commit a in because we've gone through a trial or because those kids were very convincing in their argument. You always have a choice, you can't sin unless you choose to do it. Satan can't force us to be unfaithful and God can't force us to be faithful. It all lies on us.
Its our choice to decide if we are reading our scriptures, and praying so that we have a choice between right and wrong. We can have help making the right decision. President Monson didn't become the prophet because he ws just going through the motions and living life however he wanted. Monson became the prophet because he worked to become righteous and listen to the still small voice, gained a strong enough testimony, enough to be chosen by God to lead his church..