Feast and Receive Strength

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Nobody said it would be easy coming home! In fact, most people said it’s harder to come home from a mission than it is to leave home on a mission. I would say that’s very true. However, light always conquers darkness. It’s a rough adjustment because I feel like the people and culture and language I love are so far away…but I try and remember that God truly has a plan for me, just like He does for everyone else, and I am at a different stage now. The mission gave me life experience, taught me to feel pure love, or charity, for everyone I meet, and helped me strengthen my relationship with God and my testimony of Jesus Christ even more.

Just as I did in the mission, when I catch myself feeling down, I remember Jesus Christ. I especially love John chapter 21 where He is with His disciples and addresses the fact that they are fishing instead of preaching His gospel. Verses 15-17 describe what happens next:

15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Can we imagine how we would feel? We might have stuttered. We might have second guessed our answer. We might have analyzed our lives and if we’re doing what we really should be doing. Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loved Him more than those fish. Fishing used to be his hobby and still was! He enjoyed it. It made him happy, although he didn’t have the best of luck sometimes.

Now let us put this into perspective and apply it to OUR lives. Do we love Jesus Christ more than parties? more than popularity? more than social media? more than sports? more than clothes and fashion? more than skipping church for any other event that may come up in our busy and daily lives? Do we TRULY love him more than any of those things that we love in life? If we sincerely love Jesus Christ more than we love any other thing in this world, we will SERVE him, we will LOVE others, we will JUDGE less, we will BE OBEDIENT to His commandments, we will PRAY to our Heavenly Father and THANK Him, we will HELP others, we will READ the scriptures, we will LISTEN to the prophet He has chosen for our days…If we love Him, He will be our priority in life; If we love HIM, then this GOSPEL (having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) will become a LIFESTYLE, no longer a hobby or hobby in our lives. Church will not be a social event, rather a spiritually enlightening and uplifting experience. The scriptures will no longer be homework or unclear, rather a JOY and something that fills our souls with happiness, and the sincere desire to change and serve God. Prayer will no longer be an every day ritual for us, rather an enlightening conversation with our FATHER in Heaven where we may receive revelation or answers. The Spirit will be stronger in our lives. Trials will be easier to overcome. We will be happier on a day-to-day basis. We will be more loyal and honest in all things. Our lives WILL CHANGE…if we put Jesus Christ first. And that is the empowering and inspiring change that can take place in every one of our lives if we take the time to strengthen our relationship with God and come unto Christ.

Now when we take the time to FEAST upon the words of Christ, we will receive the desire, motivation and strength to change or better anything in our lives. Alma 5:7 testifies of this change: 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;”

“Their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word”…that is what the power and light of Christ can do and THAT is how we are changed and purified. We cannot lose hope. We cannot ever say that God has forgotten us, because that is one of the biggest lies that satan uses as a trap to get us to distance ourselves from our loving Creator and Father.

He loves you. He has not forgotten you. You mean so much to Him and He does all He can so you can return to His presence again after this life. Now it is your responsibility to turn to Him, trust in Him, and do as He says–because He has provided us with the plan of salvation, which is also known as the plan of happiness. And it really is a joy-filled path if we are obedient to His commandments–they are there to protect us and to free us.

When we lose sight of what’s important and Jesus Christ is no longer our first priority, that is when we slowly distance ourselves from God which can lead us onto a very dangerous and imprisoning path. We must remember that whenever we do something against the commandments of God, we are only putting on the chains of guilt, remorse and bondage. And those chains can only be broken through faith on the Lord, Jesus Christ, second–repentance, third–baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, fourth–receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We must be strong, we must have hope, and we must act as true disciples, or followers, of Jesus Christ our Lord, Saviour, and Redeemer.

When we feast upon the words of Christ, truly seeking for guidance and tranquility in the scriptures, we will find it and we will want to become more like Christ. “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3)

Act on those impressions to read, pray, and go to church. That is inspired of God and you will never find a greater joy in this life. I have so much more I want to write but my mind is kind of allll over the place. I hope you all have a lovely afternoon and a great rest of your sabbath day! Till next time,

Madison

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2 Nephi 31:

17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.                                                      11034300_10205434362449843_4176833974396483813_n

Returned with Honor

Well, folks…I’ve been home a week now. Haha not the easiest thing, but it’s a good change.

I got home at 10pm tuesday and was greeted with most of my family and friends…it was a really touching experience and I feel really grateful for them and all of their support!!

Some of the hardest things so far for me to adjust to have been the culture, music, and not having a strict schedule…you could say I miss Ecuador kind of A LOT. And SHOOT not wearing my missionary badge…that’s a rough one. Sometimes I wear it at night though, so it’s okay. hahaha

Coming home from the mission is harder than going ON the mission and anything I experienced during the mission. It’s a biiig change. However, I have come to find out that there are still so many little miracles every day.

I don’t know if I was just oblivious before or if I just didn’t have The Spirit as strongly as I should have before the mission, but I believe that even before the mission, God put many miracles and opportunities in my life each day to be happy, share the gospel, and to feel His love. I feel a lot more aware of it now.

Now, like I said before, this transition is not easy in the slightest. So, I want to write a few tips for those return missionaries that are struggling with this transition too. The points that follow aren’t anything I have mastered, but I am in the process of putting them into practice and I am seeing positive results. 🙂

ONE: READ YOUR SCRIPTURES. Do not stop that habit because it is one of the most important habits you will have in life; that is how you receive a spiritual and temporal protection because you also invite the Holy Ghost more into your life, and that is one way of receiving revelation from God–a way to receive answers to your prayers, decision, doubts, and/or questions.

TWO: STAY BUSY, BUT NOT TOO BUSY. Don’t keep yourself busy to the point that you’re overwhelmed or don’t have any down time. Make sure you have a good, healthy schedule where you get up and go to bed at a decent hour, and you have a few things to do every day. Spend time with your family and make sure you hang out with your friends as well…catch up on life and share stories that really impacted you from the mission. Learn from your friends and family and strengthen them as well with your testimony, experiences, and love.

THREE: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Do exercise. Eat well…of course eat those foods you’ve craved, but don’t get crazy!

FOUR: TAKE TIME TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CONVERTS. Keep in contact with your converts from the mission. Uplift and strengthen them! Let them feel and see your love for them in your words, AND actions. Which leads me to the next one…

FIVE: GO TO THE TEMPLE AND STAY WORTHY. You must be an example for your family and friends AND converts. Understand that the covenants we make in the temple are for a lifetime. The decision we make to follow Jesus Christ IS FOR A LIFETIME. There are no “breaks” for the Lord. You keep His commandments because you love Him, not because of “obligation”, and in turn you receive blessings and opportunities to strengthen and increase your faith through trials and challenges. Take time in the temple to converse with God about the future plans you have and ask Him if it is HIS WILL. If you receive the answer that it’s not, be willing to follow the revelation and council you receive in the temple.

SIX: WATCH TANGLED. Just watch that movie. You’ll feel happy and giddy afterwards…

SEVEN: WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL. Take time to write out your thoughts and everything that has been going on. You will want to remember these moments…they are some of the most important experiences of your life.

EIGHT: FOLLOW THE SPIRIT. The other day, I smelled burning rubber in my dad’s work building. I thought that we should tell him, but for some reason we didn’t. Minutes later, four firetrucks showed up with a ladder and everything because I guess the elevator belt was burning slowly…FOLLOW THE SPIRIT WHEN HE TELLS YOU TO DO SOMETHING. MANY THINGS CAN BE PREVENTED.

NINE: BE ACTIVE. In allll senses. Go on hikes, runs, and bike rides. Go to church, activities, and institute. Take time to meditate and reflect on life and your future and write down the thoughts that come to mind as you ponder and ask God for advice because they are usually inspired thoughts.

TEN: PRAY AND FAST. In the real world we tend to get caught up in worldly things again and forget many important lessons we learned on the mission and other life-changing experiences. Praying and fasting is one way we become more humble, we become closer to God and we are more receptive to the Holy Ghost.

Anyway, for those of you who are NOT return missionaries, keep at it. Keep praying, reading your scriptures, and going to church. YOU. WILL. BE. BLESSED. I want you all to know that God loves you and that He is working small changes and miracles in your lives right now that will lead to really great changes and miracles in the future. Hold to the “iron rod” and don’t let go. Never. Strengthen yourselves and then strengthen everyone else you know and meet.

I will hopefully have better blog posts coming! But for now, this is all today. HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY FULL OF LAUGHTER AND DANCING!

Love, Madi

video of me getting home: http://youtu.be/kcfQwX7p1GU

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Cameron, Kelsey, Taylor, Delaney, me, Mandi, Shiloh, Caitlin, Shelby, Dylan, Brie

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Shiloh, me, Mandi, Laney 🙂

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SUMMER AND BRIE sisterrrrs

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Brie, DAD, me, Summer, MOM, Paige, Kenzie

Aaand here’s the link to a video my sister made of my homecoming. enjoy!