Translation, please?

Last Sunday, I found myself translating for Sacrament meeting. Perhaps the roughest part of the translation (or interpretation, thank you Tan Jiemei!) process is feelings. Getting the right “feel” from one language to another… and doing it quickly. Needless to say, my brain hurt after an hour of that. And I realized there are some gaping holes in my Chinese that I long to fill in. Motivation for more diligent language study? Done. 😀

On the other hand, though, last week we ended up at an investigator’s house with the Elders. Her son was deathly ill and we invited the Elders over to give him a Priesthood Blessing. Our investigator is Vietnamese, so we pulled out the Vietnamese Gospel Principles manual to explain to her what the Priesthood was in terms of giving blessings, etc. Kind of chatting and getting to know each other. But when the Elders placed their hands on her son’s head and the whole atmosphere changed. The blessing was given in Chinese and after the Amens were said, no one wanted to speak. I looked at her son and he was just looking at his hands. I asked him what he felt. “Happy.” He looked at me and you could see he needed no translation. I told him simply that feeling was the Holy Ghost and he needs to always remember it. He nodded earnestly and went to bed.

This Sunday the Sacrament meeting topic was Communication — specifically within your family, making time for family, etc. But as I sat (translating again!), it occurred to me that… yeah. Communication is vital. Sometimes, just knowing you’re being communicated with and how that message is being received makes all the difference. We have a few long-term investigators right now who, through some strange turn of events, have not yet been taught about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. One of them has been praying sincerely for the last several months and still not getting answers. We taught her the characteristics of the Holy Ghost, who He is, how he communicates with us, and what having the Gift of the Holy Ghost means. Spent an entire hour on it, which still felt like it wasn’t enough. But she took the information home with her and studied herself… then prayed about it. Showed up to church the next day and looked completely different. I asked her what changed. She said, “Turns out, I’ve been getting answers all along… just didn’t know it!”

And now I’m at a loss for what else to tell you… as I thought about this email today, I had so many feelings I wanted to convey. But it’s boiled down to three meager paragraphs and no real point. Well, maybe not completely devoid of a point. This week, I’ve come to appreciate that the Holy Ghost doesn’t need a translator. Sometimes we has human beings need to be able to recognize the feelings we have as divine communication, but once we’re on board with that — the sky’s the limit! 😀


In other news… it’s Banjia Tian! Dai Jiemei is moving down here to XinZhu to hang out with me. Uh. I mean, be my companion. 😀 In keeping with His pattern, God’s let me know my companions before they become my companion. Dai Jiemei’s firs three days On Island, she was in my apartment. Together, we had the most incredible “babysitting” experience and I’m stoked to have my little miracle worker come out to the West Coast with me. This week has been quite a bit of changing gears and everybody can feel it. Ramping up for something big and exciting — doing actual missionary work! 😀 This does mean your little missionary is all grown up and being Senior Companion. I’ll be the oldest sister in our Zone, and while I’m not Coordinating Sister (thank heaven! That means I still get to treat exchanges like vacation!) it’s weird to think about being the oldest all of a sudden. I feel like I’m still sorting out how to be missionary…. and yet, people are turning to me for advice!?

At the same time, though … “It feels normal now to head out the door and go straight for my bike and then proceed to try to talk to every single person that crosses my path. It feels normal to invite people I’ve just met to come sit down with us for half an hour so we can talk about how this gospel can bless their lives. It feels normal to be bearing testimony in just about every conversation. It feels normal to feel excited to tell people that they are literally children of God. It feels normal to start getting nervous about time the closer it gets to 9pm. It feels normal to be so grateful to fall on my knees at 10 30 pm and offer a prayer. It feels normal to be completely dependent on my planner that now, I don’t trust myself to just “remember” to do something. I blame it on the fact that I’m in my 50s…… :D”

That’s the latest. Until next week!


Hua Sheng Jiemei


The Mission Lifespan… and Banjia Tian!!

People — I’m still emailing from a sketchy internet cafe somewhere in Northern Taiwan… BUT this one happens to be in Tao Yuan. Yup. I’ve already moved. And I have a Native companion (Tan Jiemei… now that you’re actually reading the Blog, you will be pleased to note that I am companions with your dearly beloved Yang Jiemei!!!!! AAAAH!!).

This change comes not unexpectedly. There is an incredibly strong and shi he analogy between the span of a mission and the span of a person’s life. Each transfer represents ten years. As I move into my third transfer, I feel like I’ve moved into my 30s. I know what I’m doing (more or less), I’ve gotten all the partying of the teens and twenties out of my system… I’m still young and hip, but more clearly focused on working and knowing what it takes to accomplish The Work. I’m sure that doesn’t really make sense… but shi shi kan. 🙂

Last week was a bit crazy. Started out with Pday in Xin Dian. If anyone asks what’s down there… the answer is nothing. Long, crazy story… but Gao Jiemei and I ended up wandering around Xin Dian for our last Pday together. Tuesday to Wednesday was Exchanges with our new Coordinating Sister, Jin Jiemei. It was a good, soul-searching type exchange. She has quite a unique perspective on me because she was with me for my first three days on Island, saw me through Tan Jiemei, and Gao Jiemei. Basically, she’s been able to watch from afar and geng hao she’s incredibly observant and insightful. Our discussions provided lots of answers to questions I’ve had about life as a missionary, how to handle changing yourself, etc. After that set of exchanges, I felt a change in the wind. And that change required a new start. I love love love love Shi Lin and Tian Mu… but I could tell it was time for me to have a fresh start, to really push myself, and to get a little dirty.

That night we got called to go “babysit” which basically means coming into the Bu and showing a new missionary around for a couple hours. We decided to make this the best babysitting anyone’s ever seen… so we took our “baby” back to Shilin. We planned several different types of contacting and she was a pro at all of them. Her Chinese is aweful… but it did NOT stop her. That’s my girl, Dai Jiemei! 😉 She even knocked on some car windows because “they smiled at me!” Haha! Pretty sure that’s illegal. 😉 We found out the next morning that Gao Jiemei would be training Dai Jiemei this transfer. Which meant, of course, that I would be moving. Made the weekend incredibly difficult emotionallly. Eventhough I felt it coming, a big part of my heart is in Shilin and I will never forget it.

Saturday was spent packing and seeing people near and dear to my heart. Family Home Evening at Huang Jiemie’s, of course, Liao XianSheng qinged me some fruit from his Father’s farm out in the country, Dinner at Liu Family’s, etc. Lots of tears, lots of cute notes in Chinese that I can’t read yet. Church was hai keyi until they sang “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again”… I didn’t even get one syllable out before I just broke down (luckily, on the backrow). I promised them I yi ding hui visit them before I left Taiwan for good.

Now that I’m landed in Tao Yuan, I know I’ll never forget ShiLin and Tian Mu. The friends, the family I had there. But so far Tao Yuan is excellent! Colder in terms of the temperature… but still Taiwan and I’m still a missionary! Perhaps, a better missionary than when I landed in Shilin. I did get one blessed morning with Jiang Jiemei (my friend from the MTC) while our Da Tong Bans were getting their Training instructions… and we both felt that calm, determined feeling wash over us. We’re both headed with “clear mind and full heart” into our third transfer. Both fully aware we have difficult times ahead of us, but also more confident than ever in the power of the Lord. With God, all things are possible.

And now… I’m headed to go bowling with the Elders. HAHA! Aiyo. Waiguoren. 😉

Much love,

The Newest Sister in Tao Yuan… Sister Oler

hai xi guan ma?

Sorry for being so late. This is for three weeks ago. Lisette

That seems to be the question everyone is asking me this week…. hai xi guan ma? Are you used to it yet? I just look back at them, confused…. I ting de dong, but I don’t understand what’s so hard to get used to here. Hot. Humid. Rainy. Asian. Greasy. Sweaty. Stinky (mostly the doufu). And absolutely wonderful! So, yeah. I just laugh at them and remind them that I’m actually Chinese. They laugh with me and we get back to discussing weightier matters: what’s for dinner? 😉

This week has felt like an eternity, simply because the Taipei Temple is open again and when the missionaries have a Temple day the cosmos get reordered and preparation day happens on Wednesday. Problem? Not at all. Just more miracles to report. Last Tuesday, Tan Jiemei and I took our turn at the Temple, acutally, doing Temple Tours. This is a bit of a misnomer, because we can’t actually give tours of the Temple… but in 2008, they remodeled parts of the Jin Hua Jie chapel to include hallways with specific paintings, outlining the Life of Christ, the Pioneer Heritage, and the importance of Temples in Latter-day worship. It’s quite interesting, actually. It was a slow day, which allowed me to get acquainted with the paintings and make some plans for possible tours. In the course, of that, however, we ran into two very cool guys, one from India and one from Bangkok. They were both in town for some CES/Institute Training. We ran into them several times in the Chapel and on the street (lunch break!). At one point, we all realized that it was useless to not have a conversation… so we did. Mid-street. Only one taxi driver and three scooters got mad at me… record! More importantly, though, we discussed challenges facing Latter-day Saints in different parts of Asia. It was an incredibly intimate look at cultural differences around the world but also how the Gospel of Jesus Christ overcomes such boundaries and chasms. Their testimonies of the difference a Temple makes to an area were moving and I wish we could have them recorded. The man from India said when he walked into the Institute room at Jin Hua Jie, he saw the wedding announcements on the board and broke down in tears. Dating is so taboo still in India, and the custom of arranged marriages makes Temple marriage incredibly difficult. The man from Bangkok outlined a similar situation, but was pleased to report that there are four countries citizens can go to without visas… all of which have Temples. So, the situation is not as dire, but still. They pray for a Temple to be built in their home countries soon. I was reminded of them this morning, as I and 40 other missionaries entered the doors of the Taipei temple.

As far as the Work is concerned: chengong! Success! Everywhere we look, prepared people are popping out of the wood work. Sisters are spread a little thin (ladies, put those papers in!), so Tan Jieme and I cover two wards, which is actually four different cities. We realized last week that each of those towns has a completely different attitude and personality, so we spent some time just exploring them and discussing finding strategies. As much as it’s crucial to “Teach People, Not Lessons” you need to get a feel for the microchosms of your area… the different parts of town, divided by invisible but ever-so present socio-economic boundaries. This often do not align with mission boundaries, which is something missionaries forget. However, as Tan Jiemei and I have given more love and attention to the outer areas, God has blessed us.

Shezi is still my favorite, but this week was all about Tian Mu. Tian Mu is (almost) a stereotypical ExPat community. Too many foreigners for my taste, and we definitely live around the corner from an Aston Martin Dealership. However! The area we live in (across the street from the dealership) doesn’t feel like Tian Mu’s public face. In fact… it feels like original Tian Mu, pre-Westernization. We’ve taken a liking to walking the streets, letting the shop keepers get to know our faces and by doing so building the foundation on which trust is built. Missionaries are incredibly transient by nature, but we’re trying to change that. With that change will come the ability to reach and teach prepared people… no?

Tian Mu has allowed us to develop a bad habit, though…. singing American Rock and Roll at the top of our lungs while biking home down the crowded main drag. One night we were flying down this hill (in the rain, of course!), and I started signing “I believe I can fly!” Tan Jiemei picked up with the next line and it was glorious. About two lights later, a foreigner on the side walk chimed in with the first line of the second verse. Music to our ears!! We all had a good laugh, as we stopped for a light and he carried on. We changed the song to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ and when we caught up to him again, he belted out the chorus with us. This is our new finding technique when it comes to foreigners. Needless to say, the English Ward loves us. 😀

That’s all for now…. love ya! Work hard. Say your prayers. And don’t look back.

Sister Oler

With Hope for a Better World

This was last week’s email. I’m going to try and get better at posting the day I receive her emails. –Lisette

Last night during a “practice teaching” excercise, I found myself constantly referring to Ether 12. And I’m sure your inner Seminary student went straight to verse six. Well, look up to verse four — it adds a layer of profundity to verse six. As I shared that scripture with an Elder in my district, he brought out the line “with hope for a better world.”

This week was rough. We have no older generation and no younger generation (don’t worry, they come in tomorrow). In some aspects of life, it’s been good for us as a generation to really bond and sort out our identity — what’s important to us and what is dross. In other aspects of life, it’s been no so hot. Every minute is now under intense scrutiny and unfortunately there’ve been only two things to find joy in:

1) the Doctrine of Christ. If you haven’t glanced at 2 Nephi 31 recently, do it. And then slide on over to the Pearl of Great Price. Han JieMei (a sister in my Zone, but not my district) spent a good 45 minutes in the Celestial room this morning expounding on the doctrine with each other. It was wonderfully spiritual and instructional — reminding me all at once of where I came from, where I’m going, and how I’m going to get there. There is nothing more important than your personal testimony of the reality of the Doctrine of Christ. It’s true. It’s real. And you can make it happen for yourself.

2) the personalities of the Elders in my district. They each possess unlimited potential and vast ammounts of divinity. Never does the fact that they are 19 year old boys enter their mind — they are missionaries, representatives of Jesus Christ, and they strive to emulate Him each moment of each day. Sometimes, it’s a struggle to be an imperfect person in a perfect system… but those struggles (if they motivate us to improve) come from God and can be for our eternal benefit. I know this now and so does our district. 😀

I do have to say (and heaven help him if he’s reading this) Mao Laoshi is everything an MTC teacher should be. He instructs, uplifts, chastens, motivates, elucidates… and I’m sure the list could go on if I hadn’t forgotten how to speak English. Last night, he asked us to share a spiritual experience we’d had that day. We were all silent. He asked, “Are you not at the MTC?” Without raising his voice, without muttering a word of correction, he set the environment for us to have that much needed spiritual experience. He invited the Holy Ghost into the room and set about teaching us how to listen to His promptings. It was beautiful to say the least. Here are some things I learned:

Strive to be an example of the believers by:
living according to God’s commandments
keeping the covenants made in the temple
knowing the Scriptures
being courteous
being on time
being dependable
following the missionary standards of dress, grooming, and conduct
loving the people you serve and work with
honoring Christ’s name through your actions
D&C 100: 12-17 (somewhat rearranged and paraphrased):

“Zion shall be redeemed although she is chastened for a little season. All things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly. For I will raise up a pure people that will serve me in righteousness.”

The question Mao Laoshi asked that made such revelatory learning possible was simple this: “What makes these things more than just words on a page?”

Ask yourself that the next time you read your scriptures, your Patriarchal Blessing, or even your Relief Society/Priesthood Manual. I’d love to hear your answers. 😀

Thank you for your prayers and support. I love you all and couldn’t make it through a single day with out your help.


Sister Oler

Makin’ History

Another update from Vanessa! –Lisette

Well, people, I’ve just made history. Nearly the first piece of advice received upon entering the MTC was “Don’t be the reason for another stupid rule at the MTC.” I thought this sage advice and conducted myself accordingly. Shocking, I know. However, exactly 10 days (to the hour!) later, I accomplished it. Another rule was created because of something I did. Victory? I think so. 😀

Here’s the story — my companions and I shared a room with three Spanish Sisters (Hermanas). The two other Mandarin Sisters who came in the day we did shared a room with four Hermanas. We’ve all taken some Spanish and while we adore the Hermanas, this made SYL in Mandarin excruciatingly difficult… though we’re all pretty fluent in Spanish now. 😉 So, when we found out our Heramanas were leaving in a few days, we set about trying to move the two Mandarin Sisters into our room. Pleas to the Branch Presidency only yielded vague and seemingly unknowledgable responses. Naturally, this led to curiousity. On the way back from our X-Ray Adventure into the Oustide World, we stopped by General Services and began asking some questions. Five minutes and a smile later, I had two Key Exchange slips (second only to a Celestial Kingdom Pass here at the MTC 😉 ) and the blessing of The Scheduling Maven to perform the switch once our Hermanas left.

Word travels fast, here, even without ANY technology to speak of. That is one of the great mysteries of God, I’m sure of it. And by the next District Meeting, our District Leader informed us in a round-about way that NO room changes would be allowed unless expressly authorized by the Branch Presidency. Beurocracy is alive and well…. and completely capable of being thwarted. Do not lose hope! On the upside — the Grandfather Law is also alive and well. So, today after we finish emailing home, we’re moving the two Mandarin Sisters into our room. 😀

Speaking of our District — I LOVE them. Word cannot express it, actually. The personalities are so distinct and so complimentary at the same time. I’ll be sending photos of them home soon, no worries. It is quite a challenge to get to know people here, though. You don’t realize how much of what a person thinks of himself is wrapped up in clothing until it’s all taken away from you. A bit shines through in tie choices, skirt and blouse combinations… but not enough. The only thing to rely on then is conversation… and so much of that is limited or already scheduled. This week, though, we’ve taken some liberties with “Language Study” time. It’s definitely showed in our teaching prep (bu hao!) but we’ve learned more about how we work as individuals and it’s allowed us to work so much better as a District.

I’ve gained a testimony of Companionship Inventory this week, more than anything. We’re required to hold it at least once a week and our Branch gave us a suggested bullet list of 9 events that need to happen each time. We surived the first one just fine and the second one was even better — but the difficulty lies in not having time to get to know each other. Any assumptions you could have made based on dress and casual behavior are simply not available. And the ability to discern thought patterns is limited as you are always in the same situations and under the same pressures — class, study, prayer, etc. There’s never a catalyst for a different scenario. Well…. until yesterday. We were preparing to teach our investigator when I corrected Bu Jie Mei’s tones. She snapped back at me. We struggled to find the Spirit in our teaching (just practice scenarios, even!) and for the rest of class. Class ended and I announced the Sisters were going outside for a few minutes. She was resistant the entire way… but we sat down, I said a little prayer, and created an environment where she could finally, comfortably get her grievances aired. We discussed the language ability differences and feelings of isolation openly and honestly, with just a few tears. I was so grateful for Zhiang Jie Mei — her diplomacy and eloquance helped the entire thing from going south quickly. 😀 We came away with action items and Bu Jie Mei was walking on cloud nine the rest of the day. Hen bang!

Oh, ps, today (Tuesday) is P-day. And it is glorious. We have a ridiculously early call time at the Temple, but it’s worth it because we do our hour of personal study and 30 min of email immediately after, then we get to be in P-day clothes until dinner at 5. Scheduling loves Mandarin missionaries! Don’t worry, we’ve already compared schedules with other missions and decided ours is the best. No early gym times, all kinds of mini-P-days throughout the week, and Friday Night, Sunset Volleyball. It’s wonderful!

Anyway… today during personal study I happened upon something in Preach My Gospel that everyone should take a few minutes to do this week. It’s on page 126, at the end of the “Christlike Attributes Section.” It’s basically an inventory of how you feel you’re doing on all the Christlike Attributes, broken down by Attribute, quality, and scripture. It’s excellent! I took it this morning and now have a wonderful schedule over the next few months on what to study during Personal Study and actual strategies on how to improve myself in those areas. Take a look at it and work on strengthening your Christlike Attributes this month!

Lastly — You ban fa! It’s a Mandarin Missionary motto, basically having the sense of “Have a can do attitude!” It couples nicely with a Fireside talk given by the MTC Administrative Director last week about having a “perhaps” mentality. I’ll organize my notes on that and send it via snail mail to my Sister to post on the blog. It was incredibly powerful and reminded us all that there are two ways to measure success as a missionary. Stay tuned! 😀

I love you all and appreciate your prayers and support! I’m in MTC Mailbox #130 and while I’m here, is free and wonderful and will deliver messages from you usually on the same day. Would love to hear from you (especially your addresses so I can write you back!!)

Have faith in Christ and continue steadfastly!

Love, Sister Oler

You’ve been prepared — now don’t screw it up.

If there’s one thing you need to remember from today, it’s this: you are NOT alone. And, as I’m sure I’ll be reminded by at least one overly zealous companion, you CANNOT be alone.

While you are responsible for your own salvation, it’s simply not in The Plan do go it alone. On my mission packing list (amongst other things), is a four generation pedigree chart. I thought: “this should be easy. Aren’t there like a million genealogy websites now? I should be able to plug in my name and hit print, right?” Wrong. I made the mistake of getting my parents involved. Instead of four generations, we ended up in the 14th century.

Some common themes were immediately evident: willingness to travel across the known world for religious freedom, dedication to a cause, a dash of stubbornness, and a love affair with Asia. I was in awe. It’s as if the plan from the very beginning was to get me to China. We won’t go all the way back to the Vikings, but here’s the highlights:

1746 — Philip Jacob Ohler was born in Meckenheim, Germany. At 30 he landed in Pennsylvania. His wife Catarina gave birth to their son shortly thereafter, in 1776 and the height of American fervor.

1833 — Aggatha Ann Woolsey on July 23 wedded John D. Lee. They encountered Mormon missionaries and moved to Far West, Missouri . They were baptized on June 17, 1838 and experienced hardships created by Governor Boggs’ extermination order. Early in 1839, they fled Missouri along with twelve thousand other brethren and sisters.

In section 52 of the Doctrine & Covenants, Zebedee Coltrin was called to preach in Winchester, Indiana. He attended the School of the Prophets upon his return and would eventually travel to St. George where he died in 1887 as Church Patriarch, set apart by John Taylor.

June 25, 1844 John Solomon Fullmer was one of the last people to see Joseph Smith alive. Joseph sent him for help, but to no avail. The Prophet was martyred two days later. John, having served as Joseph’s private secretary for a period of time, was one of the Brethren left to handle church property after the Exodus from Nauvoo. Once settled in what is now Davis County Utah, John became active in politics and assisted drafting the constitution for the State of Deseret.

Fast forward to 1952. Larry Oler called to serve mission in Samoa. To put it succinctly, he fell in love with the Pacific Islands. After his mission, Larry promptly married his sweetheart and returned to that area as a CES educator and administrator. He’s known throughout the region for his generous nature, his love of the people, and his dedication to building Zion. He died a few years ago, having served as the first President of the Kona, Hawaii Temple.

Though not a relative… In 1980, Russell M. Nelson and his wife headed for China after urging from President Kimball to “be of service to the Chinese, learn their language, pray for them and help them.” Through his medical connections, Elder Nelson developed in Chinese what is known as guanxi. These connections allowed him unprecedented access to decision makers on various levels of Chinese government.

1985 – Craig and Liz boarded a plane at SEATAC that would land in Hong Kong 16 hours later. Transportation arrangements, as they usually do, fell through. So, with not even enough Chinese to buy a watermelon from a street vendor, my parents began their trek to Xi’an. 886 miles, five modes of public transit, and one foot-traffic-only border crossing later… they were in. With only three days before the start of the Fall semester.

One short year later, Elder Nelson was back in China… and looking for my Dad. He’d come with the intention of setting apart at least one, if not two Branch Presidents – one for the ExPats in Beijing and the other for…. well, the rest of China. His travelling companions were Elder Bradford, president of the Asia Area and Brother Rodgers, Polynesia Cultural Center supervisor. Interestingly enough, Brother Bradford grew up with Grandma Marcusen (maiden name, Fullmer… from John Solomon) while Brother Rogers worked closely with Larry Oler (my paternal grandma’s cousin). Thanks to the good ol’ Relief Society grapevine, both knew Craig and Liz were somewhere in China and thriving.

Yes. The world, in that moment, was excruciatingly small.

Family references in hand, Elder Nelson began an in depth interview with my parents — covering everything from flour for Sacrament bread to culture shock. Satisfied, on May 16th the Xi’an China Branch was organized with Craig Oler as Branch President. And now, here I stand. Called to serve in Taiwan —  a tiny island off the coast of China, a virtual gateway for pioneers into the Middle Kingdom.

In the Pearl of Great Price, God gives Abraham a similar pedigree. Abraham learns he was “chosen before he was born” just before God shows him the Creation of the Earth, as if to say “this Earth is for YOU.” It’s a staggering thought, but one we should all take a moment to ponder on. It’s easy to think big picture – to say, “oh yes, the Earth was created for us, for all mankind to use and enjoy and gain experience from.” But how often do we, like Abraham, have it laid out so personally? How often do we realize the hundreds and thousands of pioneers gone ahead of us, breaking train just for you?

This divine objective – unity in purpose throughout time and eternity – is an encouraging one. To think you have whole armies of family members rooting for you, making decisions with you and your happiness in mind.

In a fireside address at BYU in 1995, Elder Nelson pointed out: “In stark contrast to that divine objective, the real world in which we live is divided by diverse languages, culture, and politics. Even the privileges of a democracy carry the burden of bickering in election campaigns. Contention is all about us. Ours is a pessimistic and cynical world–one that, to a great extent, has no hope in Christ nor in God’s plan for human happiness. Why such global contention and gloom? The reason is plain. If there is no hope in Christ, there is no recognition of a divine plan for the redemption of mankind. Without that knowledge, people mistakenly believe that existence today is followed by extinction tomorrow–that happiness and family associations are only ephemeral.”

Families – those associations we cherish on Earth – are the nitty-gritty of God’s plan. Without that unencumbered love that can only exist between Father and Son, Mother and Daughter, mankind could not think to the future, could not make decisions for a greater good, could not be steady pioneers. This is truly what it means to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and hearts of the children to the fathers. The times this phrase is noted in Scripture, two things are always underlined: the why and the consequences if we don’t. The consequences hearken back to Abraham – if we don’t do this the Earth will be utterly wasted. The why reads something like a last will and testament – that whatever promises were made to the fathers can be passed on seamlessly to the children. To seal up these families for eternity, then, becomes vital.

Joseph Smith said about sealing: “It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah.”

This power – given to Elijah and restored in this time  — is the culmination of what we believe  and manifests itself today in our Temples. There we offer ourselves – the beneficiaries of our ancestors’ trail blazing and steadfastness – as a thanks for their work and a covenant to continue it. I challenge each of you, especially the youth who have just returned from Nauvoo, to keep the Spirit of Elijah with you always. Rejoice in it! Call upon it in times of need! You are, like Abraham, one of the “noble and great ones.” The Earth was created for you and each human being on it has prepared it to help you accomplish God’s. Find the details in your Patriarchal Blessing, in your family history, and in the Temple.

Paraphrasing President Hunter: This is a time of great hope and excitement and one of the greatest eras of all dispensations. I promise you tonight in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always prepare places of peace, defense, and safety for his people. When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world – for us personally, for our families, and for all mankind. It is incumbent upon us to rejoice a little more and despair a little less, to give thanks for what we have and for the magnitude of God’s blessings to us.

I add to this my testimony that Christ is our Savior. In His name, Amen.

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10 Days – 10 Challenges

Officially, there are 10 days left in Texas… and 13 until I’m in the MTC.


  1. put an end to shopping
  2. pack everything without exceeding 40 lbs per bag
  3. get a haircut
  4. keep up weekly Temple attendance
  5. deep clean my room
  6. daily prayers
  7. at least 10 hours of Chinese study
  8. write a non-farewell sermon
  9. give my sister a crash course in WordPress
  10. be set apart
Oh yeah… and finish about six blog posts that are in DRAFT stage. Ugh.