Josh’s testimony part 3

Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:10

10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

Oh if I could go back to the beginning of my mission I’d be better at one thing: obedience. Obedience brings blessings and I didn’t learn that for a long time. Obedience protects us as well, both physically and spiritually. Perfection isn’t required necessarily, but effort is and when a missionary (or a person) strives to be more obedient to Heavenly Father, that missionary (or that person) is blessed! Because I can’t go back to change my mission, I try to help other missionaries see what I see now. I tell them to be exactly obedient, and if they are, they’ll have no regrets.

When I got to Texas I wasn’t exactly the 100% obedient missionary. I was thrust into an unknown world of rules that were trying to rip “the world” out of me. And I fought that. I looked for ways to bend the rules or do things how I wanted them to be done. Mind you I wasn’t a disobedient missionary, just the little nit-picky kind of things are what got me. Either way, I wasn’t being as obedient as I should have been.

One day it clicked. It dawned on me that one of the reasons why I came on a mission was to be changed, but the mission couldn’t change me unless I did exactly what it required. I started being more obedient. The little rules I didn’t care for became important to me. My companion at the time thought I was going crazy because it was almost overnight that this change happened. I wasn’t perfect, I’m still not perfect, at being obedient but I was getting closer to perfection then I’d ever been on my mission. I loved it! I loved how I felt when I was obedient! I loved the blessings and success that I was receiving.

Then I had another “dawning” moment when I realized that I didn’t want to be obedient because of the blessings and the success, but rather I wanted to be obedient because I loved God. It was a process getting to that point, but I finally got there. I am obedient because I love God. Everyone should be obedient because they love God. John 14:15

Alma 5:7, 14, and 26

7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

When I was going through the changes in my mission to become more obedient, these verses of scripture were shared with me by my favorite zone leader. This zone leader was a great friend and had been watching me change the entire time and had been wondering what happened to me! He shared this with me because he thought this is what took place in my heart. At first I was like, “wow, thanks man. So you thought I was going to hell before?” and he laughed and tried to take it back cuz it wasn’t playing out how he thought it would. So then he explained to me about why he thought it described my experience.

Starting with the first verse to the last, we talked about a change of heart because that is what I was experiencing. God had changed my heart. I awoke unto God. I was being illuminated by the light of Christ and his everlasting word. I was being spiritually born of God. I was receiving his image in my countenance. I was experiencing that mighty change in my heart. And I could in that moment still feel that change happening. I still feel that change happening every day as I continually repent!

A change of heart is so important to achieve. Everyone should strive for a “change” to occur within them so that they can be transformed into who Christ wants them to be. I desired that change at the beginning of my mission, but then I resisted it. When I finally gave my will to God, he was able to change my heart and truly change me.

There was a point on my mission where I felt sad and a little depressed because I wasn’t seeing myself progress. Then God opened my eyes and as clearly as I see this letter I saw myself back at my desk in my apartment, months before, writing in my journal. I was able to perceive who I was when I was the missionary writing in his journal and then who I was at that later moment in time. I had changed a lot in a few months! I was focusing on changing on a day to day basis and that was like watching a redwood tree grow. When I thought about the change that had occurred over weeks and months, that is when it became more realistic. It was a cool experience I’ll never forget.

My mission has in a way been a refiners’ fire, but I needed it to be that way. My mission president told us that when he was a mission he’d say this phrase: “Fire burns wood, and fire tempers steel. I am made of steel” I am made of steel, and the experiences I’ve had have tempered me to make me stronger. I have loved my mission and the experiences it has provided me with.

John 1:12

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Doctrine 1:17

17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

Doctrine and Covenants 121:7

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

Sometime during the beginning of my mission I was told to compare the way Christ talks to Joseph Smith, and about Joseph Smith, at the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants with the way He talks with him, and about him, near the end of the Doctrine and Covenants. I did what was asked and found this interesting yet subtle change of words. Christ addresses Joseph as his servant and then later calls him his son. I don’t exactly know why that is the way it is, but I think about what it says in John 1:12 and how we are given power to become the sons of God. Of course we are all the literal spirit children of God, but to become the sons and daughters of God physically we must be born of God and be changes; we must submit our will to the Gather, give him our heart and all that we have, keep his commandments and be born again, or in other words, be baptized. So there is my little gospel sermon on that matter, but what I really wanted to talk about is being a child of God.

“I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with him some day.” How many problems in the world could be solved if everyone knew this hymn and understood its meaning?! Yet for so many people, members and nonmembers alike, it’s so hard to remember this one simple trust: I am a child of God.

This knowledge has helped me in multiple ways during my mission. One thing that I do not like is endings. I hate endings. Well, ending to good things which the majority of my mission has had. It is hard to leave an area you truly love. It’s hard to leave companions you get along with. It’s hard to leave investigators and members that you love. It’s hard when good things come to an end. This cannot be truer than when we have to experience the pain and suffering that comes when a loved one’s life draws to an end. Why is this? Why is it hard? Because we are eternal beings. Eternal beings cannot comprehend endings because they are not a part of us! We existed before this life and we will exist after this life. But this life is full of endings that we have to endure and experience.

That’s where our knowledge of being children of God can help us. The time I serve in a certain area and the time I serve my mission will come to an end. The time I serve with companions and with fellow friends and members will come to an end. The time I serve in certain church callings and responsibilities will come to an end. The time I and everyone have in this life to live will eventually come to an end. So we should all be depressed right because everything will eventually end? No! Experiences end, but as children of God we will never end. I will have the opportunity to stay in tough and visit with those I have met during my 2 year mission. I will be able to still talk to my companions and missionary friends. I will be able to serve the Lord in additional callings and responsibilities. I will live again after this life. Though ends look dark and bleak, there is always a new beginning that follows. As children of God we can learn from our experiences and the endings in our lives and use the knowledge we have learned to help us later in life and even in the life to come. We need not fear endings but rather embrace them and joyfully wait for the beginning that will follow.

Let me be the first to say that people should not try to find out who they are during high school. Are you kidding me?! That’s the worse time to find out who you are! Now, on the other hand, let me be the first to recommend that people should try to find out who they are during a full-time mission where all of their time is spent serving others. What a great time to discover who you area as a child of God when your life is so full of the Spirit of the Lord! That’s what I feel like I did. High school didn’t help me figure out I was a child of God, in fact it tried to do the opposite. I would encourage every young man and young woman to serve a full-time mission for the Lord. It can and will help them to remember their sacred and diving nature as children of God.

I love my Father in Heaven and all He has done for me. I know I am His son and that He cares about me and that He loves me. I am glad that my knowledge of this has been reinforced while I have been on my mission because I know it will be a treasure for me and an anchor for my soul.

Alma 7:11-13

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

Moroni 10:32

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

The number one thing I have learned to appreciate during my mission is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have seen it work in my own life as well as in the lives of those whom I have met. I know and acknowledge that I still don’t understand the Atonement completely, but I know enough to be able to use it in my life and help others use it in theirs. It truly is glorious what the Savior and his Atonement can do for us.

I love this scripture in Alma. It is definitely my “go-to” scripture when talking about the Atonement. Personally, the reason why I like it so much is due to the things it mentions and the order it mentions them in. Pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, death, infirmities, and then finally sins, are the things that Christ suffered for to save us; and that is the order in which they appear. Christ suffered for everything! Most people get caught up in how Christ saved us from sin, which is true and important, but look at everything else he suffered for. We can use the Atonement to help us endure any and every thing stated in that scripture. It is amazing and powerful to realize this because when we do we know that Christ has already felt what we’re going through and therefore can help us endure and persevere.

Moroni 10:32 is my favorite scripture and it has been since I was first asked, “What is your favorite scripture?” That is my “go-to” scripture for how to use the Atonement. In this scripture we are asked to do three things: come unto Christ, be perfected in him, and deny ourselves of all ungodliness. If we do these things, that is when his grace can take control and change us. I love Brad Wilcox’s talk on grace because he explains so perfectly what grace is and why it’s so important. We are all saved by grace, but what truly matters is if we are changed by grace. “Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.” Therefore, we must be changed by grace, by the Atonement, to be able to receive all the blessings and comfort offered by Christ through his sacrifice.

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what the Atonement means to me, but it means a lot. I love my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for all that they have done for me. I know that my Redeemer lives and that knowledge truly comforts me. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for how it has changed my life. I know I can never repay Christ for what he’s done for me, but I’m grateful that I could serve him for 2 years to show him my appreciation for him and what he has done. It’s been worth it, every minute has been worth it.

My testimony is that I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. I know the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in the year 1820 and that they called him to be the prophet to restore the true church to the earth today. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth today and that it has the authority and power of God to perform saving ordinances. I know the church is led today by a prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is scripture, just like the Bible is. I know that families can be together forever and I know that God loves each and every one of His children personally. I am so grateful for these two years I’ve had to serve my Savior and King in the Texas Fort Worth Mission. I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ,

Elder Joshua B. Andersen

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Joshs Testimony part 2

Enos 1:4

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice gigh that it reached the heavens.

Prayer changed my mission. Prayer changed me! Being able to know tha ti can literally talk to my Father in Heaven whenever I need to has been such a blessin. I have pleaseded  for my own soul. I have pleaded for others. I have prayed so much that two pairs of pants got holes in the knees and had to be thrown out. It has been a source of divine help in times of trial and it has also been a great tool for me to be abel to thank my God for all He has done for me. Growing up my mom used ot always say that we should pray always, even if we didn’t wan to, and if we didn’t want to we should pray until we want to. I agree with that with all of my heart. But I want to add to it, that you should pray until it changes you! Prayer has the power to do that.

Moroni 10:4-5

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost     5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

The Book of Mormon is the word of God and the only way to receive that knowledge is by putting the promise found in Moroni 10:4-5 to the test. Growing up my dad and I would watch the discovery channel and we enjoyed talking about science and history. A reoccuring topic that we talked about a lot was how no one can ever prove that something does not exist; he or she can only prove that something does exist. That’s why I love Moroni’s promise because he tells us to ask, “if these thing are not true.” To prove something does not exist is technically impossible because new discoveries could theoretically disprove the first conclusion made, and vice versa, but either way effort is required.  Work is required to find out if the Book of Mormon is not true. Ironically enough, thourough investigation of this sacred book will more often than not lead a person to believe it to be true as long as they search with sincerity, real intent, and they have faith in Christ. If a person does exactly what is asked of them, they will receive  a witness from God that he Book of Mormon is true. I have seen it time and time again on my mission. I have also applied it to myself and I know personally that the Book of Mormon is true. Knowing that the Book of Mormon is true leads to a person knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. It also leads that person to know that Christ has restored his church to the earth through him.

I know the Book of Mormon is true and my testimony is based on that knwledge. I have heard many things over the course of my mission about the “Mormon church” and “Joseph Smith” and many other things. There have been times when I have pondered if this is the true church, and there have been times when I questioned what I beleied. But , like President Uchtdorf has counseled, I have doubted my doubts before I have doubted my faith. And I have  stayed strong to my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I remember one night after being “anti-ed”, I sat on my bed and literally had to say to myself out loud, “Josh, you know the Book of Mormon is true. What does that mean? That means that Joseph Smith was a prophet , we have God’s authourity in our church which is the restored church. That’s all that matters.” I’m grateful for that testimony because without it, I don’t know where I would be.

Elder Josh Andersen Testimony Part 1

My mission has been such a blessing for me for the last 2 years. I’ve learned how to draw closer to Christ and how to really listen to the voice of the Spirit, and thats why I’m writing this letter. I have been impressed to write about topics or subjects that have been highlights for me on my mission. they are in no particular order, but just the order I feel impressed to share them.

John 13:34-35

34  A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.            35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

When I walked away from my family in the airport the day that I left, many thought were going through my head, but the predominant thought was that of love. I loved my family. I loved them so much and it was hard to leave even though I knew it was right. I’m sure that’s how we felt when we left our Heavenly Father for our “earthly mission”. I didn’t think that I was capable of loving someone so much, and it was amazing to me at that point in time how much I loved my family. And then I started my mission and I began to see how the Savior can love so much and love so many people.

It took some getting used to, and a lot of prayers for charity (and I still pray for it), but now I can say that I have a greater capacity to love others than I ever have before. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have times where I have a hard time loving people sometimes, but I’m  trying to improve day by day. I am amazed at how I can love someone that I just barely met on the street! Then I love how that love grows and I genuinely care them and want them to succeed and be better. To love as the Savior loves is such a great commandment. If we could only see people the way Christ sees them, life would be so much easier!

Mosiah 2:17

17  And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27

27   Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.

I came on a mission because I felt the Spirit prompt me to go and serve right then and right there. I basically rode that wave of a spiritual prompting without putting too much thought into it. But hey, it got me out here and I’m so glad that it did!

I have loved serving the good people of Texas, both the English-speaking people as well as the Spanish-speaking people. I love the spirit that comes from serving others and the happiness that it brings.

Over the course of my mission, I have served in many ways other than just sharing the gospel. I have raked leaves, mowed lawns, trimmed bushes and tress, and any other landscaping beautification you can think about. And I am eternally grateful for my dad teaching me so much about how to take care of a yard. The countless hours he spent teaching me did not go wasted, and it truly helped me and came in handy. I’ve painted and built fences, painted entire houses and I’ve even helped people clean their own houses. I’ve helped people move out of their house one day and then help a different family move into that same house the next. And that was all just in one area. In other areas I’ve done similar things, but I’ve also volunteered at a soup kitchen, helped a man redo the foundation of his house, help with a clothing drive and teach people both English and Spanish. I’ve volunteered at libraries and also at a theater to help shelf books and build sets. I’ve helped rebuild sides of houses and I’ve gone grocer shopping for a disabled man. My mission has been full of service and I know that the service I did softened some hearts  for them to be able to accept the better service that we offered; sharing the restored gospel with them.

Being able to share the gospel with others has been an amazing experience. Growing up my dad always told me that when he tutored someone in school, he learned more than the person he was teaching. I whole-heartedly believe in that! I feel that I’ve learned so much as I’ve been able to teach others about the gospel. I’ve been able to study questions or concers that people have and find answers int he scriptures. I’ve gained a stronger testimony of the Restoration, of the Atonement, and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My testimony of Joseph Smith has been put to the test as well as that of the Book of Mormon. I know that as I’ve helped others draw closer to Christ and God, that I have truly been blessed. And I loved seeing the light the gospel brings enter into those that I’ve taught. The “lightbulb moment” of “oh, I get it!” is priceless. The gospel is amazing.

Moroni 10:15-17

15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;                                                                                                                       16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.                                                       17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ, and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.

Another subject that I wish to write about is the opportunity that I’ve had to learn how to speak and understand the Spanish language. I was very excited to be able to learn Spanish when I received my call. Then When I was in the MTC I was still excited and grateful, but I started to see the difficulty of the task at hand. Learning a language isn’t easy, especially in 6 weeks! I remember thinking how cool it was that I was part of the first group of missionaries to learn Spanish in 6 weeks instead of 9 weeks, and then I got to the field and was like, “No! Wait! I need the 3 extra weeks!!!” I was overwhelmed and discouraged.

I feel like I learned to rely on the Lord for help during this time, abut I feel like I could’ve relied on Him more. Spanish didn’t come to me as fast as I wanted it to. So I looked for help. I heard from an elder in the first area that I served in that President Hinkley made a promise to missionaries that if they read the entire Book of Mormon out loud in their mission language, then by the end of their reading they’d be fluent. I had no idea if that was really something that President Hinkley said, but I clung to that hope I was then given with all the energy of my heart!

I dedicated as much time as possible to reading the Book of Mormon out loud. It wasn’t easy and it definitely took me awhile. I prayed everyday, multiple times a day, for the fit of tongues as well as for the “promise” to be fulfilled because I was doing my part. After many months I finally finished it and I thanked Heavenly Father for the experience. I’d realized that while reading aloud, I’d learned so much and in turn I was becoming more and more fluent. It was amazing!

People say its not about the destination but its all about the journey. I can say that this can applied to my experience of learning Spanish. I know that the gift of tongues is real. I distinctly remember times where I spoke and taught in Spanish with words I had neither heard nor said before in my life. The same goes foe the gift of interpretation of tongues. There were time where I understood things that my companions (Who’d been speaking Spanish for a lot longer than me) didn’t understand. I know that my ability to speak Spanish is a gift from God and I’m grateful for it.