Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I did not move this week. I am still in Sandy West. What did change is that I got a new companion. Saying goodbye to Sister Lewis was a hard thing to do. She became my best friend in the three months we were companions. But now I am companions with Sister Revolorio who is from Guatemala, and she is super awesome. We get along really well and have fun being missionaries together.  
We had another baptism this past Saturday. His name is Dysen and he's nine. He is a super sweet kid. The first time we met with him we asked him to be baptized and he told us that he wanted to. When we asked him why he said "Because I want to be a son of God." I was so happy to see him get baptized. It was kind of a stressful day though because both our district leader and our zone leaders came and brought investigators, and we were late to the baptism. We felt terrible but there was nothing we could do. Our ride never actually made it over to our house. The baptism started at ten so we asked her to pick us up at nine fifteen, but at nine fifty, we ended up just walking over to her house. I was more than a little bit stressed. But it went beautifully and the spirit was strong.
Diana and Sister Revolorio and Dysen and Man

Monday, December 23, 2013

Week Twelve in the Field!

This week was awesome. I had some pretty hilarious and some pretty spiritual experiences.
I'll start off with the hilarious. So I tend to get some very interesting compliments that always make me smile. This week I was told that I looked like the kind of person who should work at Disneyland, that I just have a happy face. I was also told that I would make a beautiful mermaid. Both of these made me laugh, but who would turn down either compliment? I also received a terrible insult from a child who was trying to compliment me. We were sitting at dinner and everyone was just chatting and this young girl sitting next to me turns to me and just says, "You're so common." Everything at the dinnertable went completely silent, and I just stared at the little girl for a minute. Come to find out she was trying to say that I was calm and just didn't know the word for that. Calm is definitely better than common.
This week we got a sweet surprise from some members of the ward. They secretly dropped off a mini Christmas tree and ornaments so that our room can be more festive. Sister Lewis and I put it up the very night we got it and it adds just the festivity to our room that we needed.
On Thursday I got to perform at a Christmas devotional with my companion and a couple of the elders from the mission. This was the first time I have performed on the mission other than at dinner appointments. It was nervewracking after not singing for so long, but it went really well. We sang "What Child is This" and we were told it was amazingly beautiful so we'll just have to take my mission president's wife's word for it.
Lastly, and most importantly:  
This week VIVIAN GOT BAPTIZED!!!! It was so awesome! Let me tell you a little bit about our experience with Vivian. In October, her daughter (who is a member of the Church) asked us to meet her mom. That evening we went to a ward Halloween party and lo and behold there was Betty with her mom Vivian. We met her and even had dinner with them talking and having a good time. Afterwards, Sister Lewis and I were like, "Awesome, we met Vivian. She was pretty nice but I'm not sure why Betty made such a point for us to meet her. So about a month went by and Betty came up to us after church and said "I didn't want you to just meet my mom. I wanted you to meet with her." So, Vivian wasn't a member of the Church but everyone thought she was because she's been coming to church every week for a couple years. So we went over and we started teaching her the lessons. I've never seen someone so willing to just make the changed that she knew were right, once she found out about them. Vivian is so special and I'm so glad that I got to work with her and help her on her journey to come to know God more and to make essential covenants with Him. After she came up out of the water at her baptism her five year old grandson yelled "That. Was. AWESOME!" It was the sweetest thing.
I hope all of you are doing well. I'd love to hear from you! I love you all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week Eleven in the Field!

This week has been crazy cold. Here's a picture to help you get the idea. It was only over twenty once and that was so much warmer than the rest of the week that when I walked outside barefoot and without a jacket, I was like "Yeah, this is nice. I don't need a coat today." Layers and layers of socks have been necessary every day.
We have three baptisms scheduled for the next couple weeks that I am really excited about. The only one that I know for sure I will be at is this Saturday and that's Vivian's on Saturday. She is eighty-one and just super cool. I love her so much and I'm so excited that she's getting baptized. She's super excited about it as well. She has been so willing to make the changes that she's needed to without questioning it.
That's all the time that I have this week. Keep being amazing. Good luck with everything that is happening this week.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week Ten in the Field!

Time has just flown! It's crazy that it's already December!
It's going to be a great month. We have been teaching three people who are all planning on being baptized this month. The work of the Lord is truly amazing. One of the people who we are teaching is named Vivian. She is eighty-one and has been a member of a few different religions. When we met with her for the first time, she told us she'd already found someone to baptize her when the time came. Everything we've taught her she has accepted and known to be the truth. She is excited to be baptized and make a commitment to God. It's truly incredible and humbling to see the hand of God in these people's lives.
I am so grateful to be here doing what I am doing. I know this is exactly where I need to be. Following God isn't always easy, but it is always right and it is always worth it.
I love all of you and hope all is going well.
Here are some pictures that were drawn of me this week. One by my companion and one by a little boy who's father we're helping get back to church. The little boy's name is Jerie, he's still working on the whole writing thing.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November in Sandy, Utah

We have had some rain this week too, and a bit of snow. Not much, it's just been quite cold. It started snowing the other day while we were tracting. It was actually kind of hilarious because some of our elders were double working our area so we did the same street but different sides. We got invited into three houses and they weren't invited into any, so they were upset about that, but they went and got us hot chocolate anyway. Other than that bit of snow, it's pretty much just been cold. The elders were kind enough to inform us that it was 20 degrees outside the other morning when we walked to workout.

Sister Lewis and Diana

Playing in the Primary Room

Diana and Sister Lewis

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 6 in the Field!

This week has been crazy! Five noteworthy things happened this week:
1. We had our first snow yesterday morning! It didn't ever stick to the ground or anything, but it stuck to us, until we walked in a building, it melted and we were soaking wet. Apparently you need an umbrella in snow. Who knew? More snow is something to look forward too. I think the weather's changing for real now and is going to start being winter. It's been in the forties of fifties for the past couple days, and this time I think it's going to stay that way. YAY WINTER!
2. Saturday morning we locked ourselves outside our house... We were going to take the trash out a little after eight because we had inspectors coming to look at the house and make sure it was up to code. It was only going to be a short trip to the trash can so naturally we did not take our keys or our phone, or put on tights or boots or anything. Then the door was locked that is NEVER EVER locked, and we were stuck outside in only our regular proselyting clothes, so skirts and shirts with a light jacket. We just kept praying and knocking on the door until our host heard us and let us in. We thought we'd only been out for around twenty or thirty minutes but when we got inside we found out we'd been outside for over an hour. We laughed so hard. Knock and it shall be opend unto you, even if it takes a little while. The Lord is teaching us patience, and we are doing all we can to learn.
3. The other day we were getting a ride from this woman to a meeting we had to go to, and she was an insane driver. it was suppsed to be a five minute car ride and we were in the car for about a half hour, and believe you me, it was not because she was driving slow. We almost died like every ten seconds. At one point she turned down a one way road going the wrong direction, and there were cars coming at us. I guess she didn't hear me say "Uh, you can't turn left here..." because she definitely did. But hey, we got there and back alive.
4. This week we caused a car accident which was awkward... We weren't even in a car or on the street at the time... Sister Lewis and I were waiting on the side of the road to cross. This kind man stopped to let us cross and the guy behind him was on the phone so he didn't see that the car in front of him was at a complete stop. Yeah... that didn't end well. Pay attention when you're driving! Be safe!
5. The most exciting thing that happened this week was that we got a new investigator! We've been trying to meet this girl for the past six weeks and this week we finally got to meet with her and teach her about Jesus Christ and all the opportunities He has given us, and everything that our loving Father in Heaven has blessed us with. It was awesome!
The mission is amazing! I love this work and I love this people. I love you all so much, but more importantly Heavenly Father loves you.
Have a magnifcent week.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week Five In the Field!

This week happened.
We had a couple lessons fall through which was disappointing, but we had some awesome lessons this week! All the people that we're meeting with said prayers in our lessons! It was pretty much the coolest thing ever. They were all pretty worried about praying and saying the wrong things, but they were able to overcome those fears and pray with us! There's really nothing to worry about with prayer. You're just talking to your Father in Heaven and whatever it is that you have to say to Him, He welcomes. You should never feel stupid or like what you have to say doesn't matter. God loves you, and he doesn't think you're stupid. He wants to hear from you and he can help you so much more than we can even understand.
The weather here is changing, and it's gorgeous. This morning I just stared out our window and watched the sunrise. It was so beautiful to see the blue sky with streaks of pink through the orange and yellow leaves on the branches of trees. I'd try to get you a picture, but I have yet to figure out how to upload pictures on this computer. I don't think I can because it's at the library and they block those sorts of things. So, for now. I just try to imagine how beautiful it is, because it's really something to look at.
Everything here is amazing, and I am doing very well. I'd love to hear how you're all doing.
I love you all. Have a marvelous week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week Three in the Field!

Man, I can't believe I've already been gone for more than a month. That is some crazy stuff. So, I guess seventeen more to go. That sounds terrible. I don't want the next seventeen months to go by fast. I'm loving every day. Every day I get to study the word of God and try to share it with people. What could be better than that? Pretty much nothing. You may think there's something better, but there's really not.

This week we had exchanges which means that for twenty-four hours I had a different companion and I went to a different city and I had to live in a different place. It was interesting, but I was definitely happy when I got home and was with Sister Lewis again. Riverton is a great place, but it wasn't West Sandy so basically the whole time I was just like "What is this? I don't know where anything is here. I want to go home to Sandy." Yeah, probably not the best attitude, but whatevs. During the exchange we were in a car, because the other companionship has one. That was weird. I didn't like that too much. I definitely prefer walking, except you know, when it's raining... Actually, I think I prefer walking even when it's raining. I just didn't much care for being in the car all day. So with any luck I won't be in a car too often on my mission. It's possible that when it starts snowing regularly, I'll feel differently but we'll just have to see. I pretty much love the cold so far.  The only downfall to cold and rain is that there are snails on the sidewalk and we have to have constant vigilance so as not to step on and crush them. 

This week we got put in a different district. We cover four wards, and then some elders cover the other three wards in our stake. But before Saturday we were in different districts so we couldn't have any contact with them. This was somewhat inconvenient because they were covering our area before us so they knew who they had been teaching in the area, but we didn't have any clue when we took over part of their area. So, our stake president called the mission president and asked him to change the districts so that we'd be part of the same one to make communication easier. This should make things more convenient, but it also means we have to get used to new elders. It'll be great though. They all seem like pretty cool people so I'm sure we'll all get along fine.

Overall, this week was pretty awesome. I had to be a brave warrior against spiders which is never too fun, but hey overcoming fears is great. Especially when you have to catch said fear in a cup and release it back into the wild, hoping the entire time that it wouldn't escape and try to attack me.

I love you all. Have a spectacular week.

I'd love love love to hear from any and all of you. I will try my absolute hardest to write you back in a timely manner. (:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week Two in the Field!

This week has been pretty great. The work is picking up and we're finding more people who are wanting to learn about their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I love talking to people about the Gospel. It truly is what makes us so happy and is going to lead to success in life. 

We're teaching a family of a dad and two girls. They're super awesome. The girls are crazy shy and don't really talk much, but they pay attention to everything we say and have a sincere desire to be good people which is awesome to see in an eight and nine year old. I'm so grateful that I have the chance to meet these people and talk to them about what is most important in my life.

We're getting to know the people in the wards better, and they're mostly all really fantastic. A lot of them really want to help their neighbors find happiness, and that is so great. When we find something awesome that we love, why would we not want to share it?

Yesterday I got to hold a newborn puppy which is always fun. We're going to start teaching this girl who lives in this house where the people breed poodles, so they have newborn puppies fairly frequently. Puppies are basically the cutest things ever, so it's always fun when you get to hold them.

The area where we're serving is doing their semi-annual street clean-up soon, so there are just random appliances, and old furniture in front of a ton of people's homes, which is really weird to see. Apparently the people think it's weird too, so everyone keeps explaining to us what is going on. I think they just don't want us to think that they live in a terrible neighborhood or something. I honestly hadn't thought anything of it until people started explaining to us what was going on. There's also a middle school right by our house that is being torn down. Building demolition is kind of fascinating to watch. They've gotten it mostly torn down now, and they're just working on cleaning it up. Depending on how long I'm in this area, it will be interesting to see the progress as they start building the new school.

Also, the spiders here are not the kind of spiders that are in Mesa. The spiders in the homes here are SO much bigger. As it turns out, I am not a fan of spiders... or grasshoppers, which are everywhere...

But, I am a fan of my mission! It has been seriously awesome so far, and I know it's only going to get better. I'm so glad I'm here. It's the best! 

I hope you all have a stellar week! I love you all!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week One in the Field!

Diana with President and Sister Chambers
Well I have now been in the field for an entire week! That is insane. The area where I am serving is very beautiful, but windy! I have quickly learned that wearing a skirt on a windy day is not ideal, especially when on a bike. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to deal with that, so it's not an issue. But, hey you do what you gotta do sometimes. It's been really nice weather, mainly in the sixties or seventies. It rained the first couple days, but it's been pretty clear the past few days. It's gonna start cooling down soon though, or so everyone keeps warning us- usually followed by some assurance that we will be colder than we ever have been before and that we'll probably freeze and/or die. Yeah, the people here can be a tad dramatic. But I seriously love them. The people here are awesome. We've gotten some glares from children in the area, but mostly everyone's been incredibly nice. Everyone's always trying to give us food and rides. The rides are nice when we have to go to the other side of our area, since we don't have a car. But it's also a little freaky when random strangers just pull over to the side of the road and offer a ride. We usually don't accept those. The people are great though. 
My companion and I live with the Relief Society president in one of the wards we cover. (all the missionaries in our mission live with members). She is seriously the best. She's always making sure we have food and asking us if our mothers would approve of the meals we ate. It's pretty hilarious, and when she thinks we haven't been eating well she'll go buy food and just put it on our designated shelves. "Mysterious" food keeps appearing there, so we know she doesn't think we're eating enough. She runs a photography studio downstairs (which is where our bathroom is) so we see a lot of random pregnant women and babies (that's the kind of photography she specializes in). I seriously love the work. I love having the opportunity every day to tell people how much God loves them. It's awesome to see His miracles, and to see people that understand, maybe for the first time, how much God wants to bless their lives. I know Heavenly Father sent me here to help the people, and I'm so grateful I have the opportunity to be helped. I am so excited to keep teaching people here how they can be happy and be with their families forever. We attended our first baptism on Sunday morning, and it was awesome. I love seeing people make commitments to follow Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. They truly are the only way we can be happy. I know Heavenly Father is watching over us and over all of you. I know that He has a plan for each of us, and He's going to always help us when we ask for His help. The gospel is amazing. I'm so glad that I am here!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 2

Dear family and friends,
My week has been pretty insane, but also awesome. I still love the MTC. My teachers are phenomenal and my district is super awesome. I leave tomorrow morning to go to my mission home in Sandy and I am both sad and super excited. I am sad because I love all the people here at the MTC so much and I don't want to leave them behind and never see them again, but I am super excited because I know that serving the Lord in Utah is going to be even more amazing. Guess who I saw last night? Sister Jesse Ellsworth! I'd been looking for her this whole time, but she's at main campus and I'm at West so we have no opportunity to even be in the same part of the MTC ever. But, last night my zone walked over to Main campus to watch a devotional and among the hundreds of missionaries, we found each other, so we were both pretty psyched about that.

This week has been a lot like last week. Spending time with my district learning about Heavenly Father and how much He loves us. It seriously never fails to amaze me how lucky we all are. We have been given so much and He asks for so little in return. I can't wait to leave tomorrow morning to share with all who I can, the love of their Father in Heaven and His plan to get us all back and for us to be happy. I am so excited to be where I am right now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 1

The MTC has been super awesome I have been praying so much and feeling so much love from our Heavenly Father. This morning I was able to go to the temple with my branch and it was amazing, as always. Afterwards my roommates and I saw this girl and she was just sitting outside the temple crying so I went over and started talking to her. I was so glad that I decided we should because she really needed the talk, and so did we. She's supposed to get her call this week and she has just been freaking out and being totally stressed. So, we decided to pray with her and talked to her about the mission so far. It was seriously such a powerful experience. I know this is where I need to be. I am so glad I made the choice to come.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This is It!

Ah! I leave tomorrow! That's completely insane. I feel like I just turned in my papers. I at once feel completely unprepared and totally ready to get out there and do this. I am so excited for this opportunity to go teach people about something that means so much to me. I think a lot of the way I feel is summed up by Henry B. Eyring, an apostle of the Church:

"I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tinted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am lifted up in prayer, and labor with power.
My face is set, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed, will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table with the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the case of Christ.
I must go until He comes, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He stops me and when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.”

I'm ready for this next step. It's going to be amazing!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Mission Farewell

This morning I gave my farewell in the Mountain Vista ward. This is more of less what I said. I'm so glad that I was able to give this talk in my ward, it explains why I'm going on my mission and how I feel about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Good morning brothers and sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Diana Judd, I’ve been a member of this ward for the past nine years, but for the last year I’ve been attending the single’s ward, which is why we may not have met. I’m now preparing to leave and serve a mission in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have to get up today and address you on a topic that means a great deal to me. I hope that what I say today can in some way touch you, or help you.

In the Church’s guidebook for missionaries, Preach My Gospel, are the lessons missionaries are to teach their investigators. Each lesson is made up of a list of key doctrines the First Presidency of the Church has determined to be necessary for all to learn. The first bullet point of the first lesson is “God is our loving Heavenly Father.”  It is this simple bullet point that has changed my life more than anything else. It is this knowledge that is the reason I am a member of this church and it is this basic doctrine, that so many overlook or take for granted or forget, that is the reason I am standing here today preparing to leave my family and everything that I have previously known, to go and serve the people of Utah, to let them know how much our Heavenly Father loves them. This is what I’m going to talk to you about today.

This topic is really important to me now, because my junior year of high school, I didn’t believe it. I forgot to look for God’s hand in my life, so I stopped seeing it. I began to believe that I was alone, and unloved and forgotten. It was the hardest and darkest period of my life that I have ever gone through. I was blessed enough to have loving parents who talked to me, and shared their testimonies with me and never gave up on me, even when I had. Over time and through a number of experiences, I came to realize how foolish and blind I was and have since, never for a second doubted Heavenly Father’s love for me as His child. But I know how hard it is when we forget this, or if we just never learn this. I never want a single person to ever have to feel as alone and hopeless as I felt, and that is why I am here today, and that is why I am serving a mission.

“God is our loving Heavenly Father.” This means a number of things. First, He is our Father. He is literally the father, the creator of our spirits. To begin this talk I addressed you as “brothers and sisters” because that is what you are, you are my brothers and my sisters. We are part of an eternal spirit family led by our Father and Mother in Heaven. They want us back. They love us, we are their children.

We are connected together in a way that so many overlook, or just don’t understand. We are not random people somehow thrown together, trying to make our way through life. We are a family. And families are meant to be together.

 I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family here on this earth that has helped me to understand better my place in the spirit family of our Father. My family loves each other very much.
Not once have I thought, “I hope Rachel fails” or “I hope Samuel is miserable” or “I hope I never have to see Nathan again.” If I, as a wholly imperfect sister, could never wish for these things for my family members, how could we ever think for even a second, that our Perfect, all-knowing, ever-loving Father in Heaven would want these things for us, His children?  He wants to see us succeed, and He wants to see us happy. Though we may not always see it, everything is evidence of this.

A scripture used all the time in the Church is Moses 1:39-
“For this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”, the Church’s official website says that immortality is “to live forever as a resurrected being” and that eternal life is “to live in God’s presence and to continue as families.” So, to simplify this scripture in Moses, God’s purpose is to have His children return to Him as families, and live forever. If this is His work and His glory, then surely everything He has done, and everything He does now is to accomplish this goal. Out of His love for each of us, Heavenly Father has designed a plan for us to return to Him and to be happy.  This plan goes by many names in the Church, The Plan of Salvation, the Great Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Mercy. This plan is centered around the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father loves each of us so much that He sent His son, our brother, here to take upon himself the sins and the pains of the world. Christ loves each of us so much that He lived a perfect life, He experienced every pain every heartache every sorrow, that you will ever experience. Out of His love for us, Jesus Christ died, and for us, Christ has risen and lives again. Heavenly Father let this happen because He knew it was the only way that we could all live again and return to Him.

We can only be in our Father’s presence if we are clean and pure, and through the atonement of Jesus Christ we have the opportunity to repent and become clean and pure again. I am so grateful every day that my Father in Heaven loves me enough to let me repent, to let me change and become better.

None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes every day, whether willfully or due to a lack of understanding. It is amazing and wonderful to me that we don’t have to stay in that broken and confused and sad state that we’re in when we sin. We can ALWAYS decide to turn to God and live for Him. We can always acknowledge that He loves us and show that we love Him, because that is what we are doing when we repent. We are showing that we love our Heavenly Father, and we love Jesus Christ enough to take and use their gift of opportunity. 

I am so grateful for that opportunity, not only for me but also for the people I love who I see stumble and doubt, as I have. I testify that people can change. I have seen people changed, I have been changed. I am not the same person I was two years ago, and I’m not the same person I was two days ago. I am so glad that every day I have an opportunity to become a better disciple of Christ. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation which allows me to do so.

While the Plan of Salvation is for every person who has ever lived, and who will ever live, I am grateful that this is not all. Heavenly Father has a personal plan for each of His children. He knows exactly what we need at all times. He knows exactly what we need, who we need, where we need to be, and when we need it, and He will always provide. This has become so apparent in my life over the past year and a half. Sometimes learning this has been hard and painful, but I wouldn’t exchange my experiences for anything. They have been what has taught me of God’s love for me, of His presence in my life every day. My life has been so different than what I had planned, and I am so grateful for that. I am grateful Heavenly Father knows what I need better than I do, and that He makes sure I am in the places that I need to be.

A year and a half ago, I had plans to attend a different college than I now attend, with a different major, and no thought of going on a mission. And most of all, I had planned on being healthy. Now, because my parents like to overshare, many of you have probably heard some part, if not all, of my medical issues. In the past two years, I have gone to countless doctors and specialists, done labs and tests I had never even heard of, had surgeries and so forth so that I have been in some sort of medical office at least once a month for the past two years, sometimes three or four times a week. This has been incredibly stressful and incredibly inconvenient, and at times I have felt that it would never end. But, not once have I ever felt alone. It has been during these times of stress and pain that I have felt overwhelmingly loved, to the point that sometimes I just have to stop and cry because I can literally not handle how much love I feel from my Father in Heaven. It is in these moments when I feel my body is weak to the point of collapsing that I know most surely that my Father in Heaven is watching me, and mindful of me and giving me the strength to go on. I know that He will always give me that strength. I know that He will never fail me.

I know that He has specifically given me these trials because He knows that, with His help, I am strong enough to get through them. And I know that these trials will make me the disciple and the daughter, and the missionary that Heavenly Father and His children need me to be. I know that I am loved, no one will ever convince me otherwise. And I know that being loved does not mean that life is easy. We are meant to be like Jesus Christ, and His life was definitely not easy. So when we have trials and heartache, we can know that we are not forgotten, we are not unloved, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the most perfect person who has ever lived. If we are hurt, or feel weak or downtrodden, do not feel discouraged. You are not alone, you are not forgotten. Heavenly Father has a plan for you, He can see better than you can and He knows better what needs to happen. This isn’t always easy, but it is always true.

Alma 26: 35-37 says…

That to me, is amazing. We have a loving Father in Heaven who wants all of us to be happy, who has a plan to get all of us back to Him. I testify that God is real and that His plan for your life is real. None of you are here on accident. God knows what He is doing in every moment of every day of every one of your lives. He will continue to do so. Because he is your Father in Heaven and He loves you.

I know that His love is both all encompassing and personal. I know He loves His people as a group, but I know that He loves every one of His children individually as well. I know that He sent His son to pay for the sins of the world. I know He spoke to Joseph Smith face to face, and commanded Joseph to restore His church for the world. I know that He has called President Thomas S. Monson to lead the world in righteousness today. But I also know that even if I was the only person on Earth who would choose to return to Heavenly Father, He still would have done it all, He would have made that possible. I know that Heavenly Father feels joy for every small, seemingly insignificant good choice every one of His children will ever make. If you are doing the right thing, God is with you, you are teammates working toward the same end. Not one of His children is ever too small, too insignificant, or too far gone for Heavenly Father to want them back. He wants you back. He loves you, there is a way to change, there is a way to find joy. That way is through Jesus Christ. I know He performed the atonement for you. I know He performed it for me.

I am so grateful that I have this knowledge. I am grateful that I grew up in an environment where I could learn the things of God. I am grateful for my siblings, who have gone on missions and gotten married in the temple and been good examples to me all my life. I am grateful for my dad who showed me the way back when I lost all faith in God, who has never failed to show me he loves me. I am grateful for my mom who has taught me that you don’t have to feel strong to be strong, and to change someone’s life. I’m grateful for my family who has shown me what unconditional love means.

 I know this church is true, Heavenly Father designed it to bring His children back home to Him. I can’t wait to share this message with my brothers and sisters in Utah. I am so grateful and humbled that Heavenly Father has given me the chance to leave in two weeks and to be an instrument in His hands to bring to pass His work and His glory. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.