Last week I mentioned that I slipped on some ice. This week, I slipped on some plastic stairs, again with some onlookers. I was walking down towards the exit of an apartment building, and there were some wet, plastic stairs. I flew up and landed parallel to the stairway. I was shaken up, but the only damage done was a bruised elbow and the laughter of my companion that will haunt my dreams.
The work has been going on this week, but I don't have much to write about. There is just one experience I would like to share.Last weekend, I had the opportunity to perform a baptism! My companion and I had the opportunity to teach a lady here in Casper about the gospel of Jesus Christ before we were switched to Spanish, then two other missionaries on the outsides continued teaching her until her baptism. I would just like to talk a little bit about this sacred ordinance. It is made very clear by the Savior himself throughout the Bible that baptism is essential (John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Matthew 28:19). It is also made very clear by the trek of Jesus Christ to John the Baptist that proper authority is necessary to perform baptisms. Worthy males over the age of 16 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the opportunity to receive that authority. This brings up the question, "Where does it come from?" This traces back to the origins of the LDS church. I'll keep it as brief as I can. A 14 year old named Joseph Smith, living in New York in 1820, was confused by all of the different churches claiming to be correct. They were mostly great people trying to do what God wanted them too, but he knew that God could not be the author of all of the confusion. He came upon James 1:5 and decided to act on the promise given. He went into the woods and asked God which church really taught truth. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and told him that none were completely true. They lacked the authority from God. He was chosen as the prophet to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. John the Baptist came to him and one other man a few years later, followed by Peter, James, and John. They conferred upon Joseph Smith the authority that they had received from Jesus Christ, and that has been passed down through the Church and remains even today.
Yes, this is hard to believe. It sounds ridiculous. So do the miracles performed by Moses, such as parting the Red Sea. That is why God brought forth another scriptural witness of Jesus Christ as evidence of this restoration of the Priesthood authority, called the Book of Mormon, which was translated from ancient records of people here on the American Continent. No one is expected to believe the account of Joseph Smith without receiving spiritual guidance from God. Reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it is true will lead to the answer that the Church of Jesus Christ was again brought to the earth through Joseph Smith, because only one with authority from God could perform such acts. Heavenly Father has always appointed prophets since the beginning of the human race to teach His children the truth. Why would He leave our age without prophets? Some answer that question by saying that the Bible is sufficient for our day, and perhaps it would be, but the Bible truly prophesies of a restoration. It also might be enough if everyone could agree on what is taught in the Bible, but there is so much disagreement concerning the Word of God. Isaiah 29 and Ezekiel 37 both prophesy of the Book of Mormon, and throughout the Bible, there is made mention of a "restitution of all things" or the "dispensation of the fullness of times". This has happened.
I really do know that everything I've talked about is hard to believe, and that it's easier for me because I grew up with it. However, I would not be serving a mission unless I knew for myself. I have fasted and prayed to God to know for certain if this is His Church. The Spirit has strongly testified to me that it is, especially as I read The Book of Mormon. I can't deny that it is the word of God because of how powerful it is. If you think I'm crazy for being Mormon and believing all of this, I don't care. I love being thought of as a normal person, but I love God more. It is not in my comfort zone to proclaim all that I have here, but it is worth it, because I know God wants all of His children to have the opportunity to receive the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I know that there are eternal blessings that come from turning our lives over to Him. Please contact me if I seem to contradict myself in any way, or if you just have some specific problem with the doctrine I have written about. I am open to discussion, so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you next Monday, which is our day for email.