Today...the first snow...of the season...hit Williston. I have been here since April 30th and this is my first snow in Williston. And it already got down to around 10 degrees last night. The rest of the week won't be warmer either. But aside from the weather, I'd like to share with you something I have learned lately.
The last week of October, we had a conference with about 50-60 missionaries. We had a visitor at this conference. Elder Marcus B. Nash, of the seventy, came to address us and train us, and it was a fantastic experience. I want to mention something that his wife taught us, though. Sister Nash talked about the importance of a vision, meaning something to work towards. She gave us the following image: You are out rowing a boat in the middle of the ocean, and you do not see land. How long are you going to stay motivated? You'll probably want to drown yourself. What happens if you can see land in the distance. A little more motivation. How about an island a few hundred feet from you. Then you will be very motivated. I thought about this a lot, and I also saw a parallel to covenants. Our ultimate vision is eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father. He has given us other things along the way, however, to set our vision on. The first is probably baptism. I have noticed that the knowledge of baptism truly gives people greater motivation to progress in living the gospel. For those who have already been baptized, the temple gives them a vision. For those who have gone to the temple, a temple marriage gives us something to look forward to. After that, we work to keep our families strong and to prepare together to enter the Kingdom of God. We can also be motivated as we see our children and grandchildren working towards baptism, temple covenants, and temple marriage. AND, every week, we all have the sacrament as a time to renew our commitment and refresh our covenants. We can even look forward every day to account to our Father in prayer how we lived our lives that day. Without a vision and checkpoints along the way, we would be lost, and it would be pointless to try to stay motivated to live the gospel. Eternal life, made possible through Jesus Christ, is our vision, and it gives us the hope we need to move forward. Do everything you can to gain faith in Christ's true gospel so that you can have a vision of your purpose in life. The whole message of the scriptures, the entirety of what God wants and needs us to know, is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us and our families to become more like the Father through making and keeping covenants. These sacred covenants must be bound through ordinances performed by the Holy Priesthood of God, found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel, and nothing else, will lead us to everlasting life and exaltation. God's whole work is to bring this message to all of humankind and redeem them from their lost and fallen state. This is why I am choosing to take two years to serve the Lord. I know that He lives and has mercifully reached out to us through scriptures, the gift of prayer, and His Church organization led by a prophet. I testify to all that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as part of His perfect plan, to save the world. I promise you that anything unfair in your life does not go unnoticed by your Father. He desperately wants to bless you and make things right. So live the gospel, and let His grace enter your soul.