Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hello family!!

Hello family!!

Sounds like you all had a good week at the Lake Powell! Which I'm
slightly jealous of but the Lord made up for it by allowing us to
teach 19 lessons this week! We had lots of appointments this week, but
still only 2 investigators with baptismal dates but more soon to come
I have no doubt about that!

Oh and first of all I have some exciting news...SISTER JOLLEY AND I
ARE TRAINING!!!...it was super unexpected let me tell you. She's
actually not even here yet but President called us today and said that
she is coming on Wednesday. AND she is coming from the
Philippines!!!:D I am SO excited I can't even begin to tell you!!! It
was so unexpected because we are in the middle of the transfer. And so
her training is going to be kinda thrown off a bit but we are so
excited to have her with us! We were originally suppose to train at
the beginning of this transfer but the new Sister has been waiting for
her visa in the Philippines. Oh and fun fact, I'm pretty sure this
Sister knows Catherine Hansen because Catherine emailed me a few weeks
ago and told me that there was a Sister with her in the Philippines
MTC who was coming to this mission and she told me to look out for
her...and well guess what! I get the opportunity to train her now!
Pictures will come next week for sure. I'm nervous about training a
new missionary but I'm excited about it all at the same time.

Well first of all last week we started having a Book of Mormon class.
We have it in a members home and it is great because we get to invite
our investigators to come! And we all just read and talk about how it
applies to us in our day, it's really a great way to help others to
gain a testimony about The Book of Mormon and its truthfulness. But so
we started it this last week and we had our two most progressing
investigators there. Stephen is 18 and he is great! He pointed out a
lot of scriptures that he liked and we were so glad that he
participated! And we are having it again tonight so we are super
excited about that. And more people will be coming!

We are finding new investigators and always looking for more. We are
just trying to find new ways to find people too. We are also starting
a kickboxing class this coming Saturday because Sister Jolley actually
does kickboxing...while I just look like a goober in the background
haha but that's okay it should be fun!

Well this week was pretty busy and one of my favorite lessons this
week was with a woman named Theresa. We contacted Theresa because some
of her family members requested a bible and so we went to go contact
the referral and met her instead! She invited us back and we were
going to teach her The Restoration but she just had so many questions
that it took up the whole time! But it was awesome! She is great! In
the middle of her lesson one of her friends randomly showed up and
when she saw him she stood up and said "oh no! Don't you dare! Don't
smoke, don't drink, don't drink tea or coffee or anything around these
girls they're Mormon!" Haha I just thought it was so funny but at the
same time I really appreciated that she simply knew what we stood for
and she wanted to be as respectful as possible. And I was grateful for

Then this week we also started teaching a man we met a few weeks ago
from Egypt. He is a very sweet older man who is very lonely because he
doesn't know anyone here. She speaks pretty good English. However we
had to stop teaching him because some differences in cultures and we
felt that his intentions were not in learning more about the gospel so
much as it was the company. But I know he will hear the fullness of
the gospel one day when he is ready. He also invited Sister Jolley and
I to come and visit him at his villa in Giza that has a perfect view
of the pyramids! Hahaha. He is a Christian so maybe one day
missionaries will be called to Egypt and be able to teach him then,
while overlooking the pyramids!

Another lesson that I was looking forward to teaching but actually
fell through was with a man we met named Don. We met Don one day while
we were walking around in Mt. Holly, he was just walking along, happy
as could be when I stopped him and said "Hi!" Very abruptly haha. I
think I scared him a little haha. But he started talking to us and
asked who we were and I plainly told him that we were missionaries.
And he professed to be an atheist and that he didn't believe in God.
But he said he was a happy atheist. He was very kind and respectful
and I asked him if he did believe there was a God and if God had a
plan for him. He said "I don't know, what difference does it make?!" I
told him that it made all the difference and I testified of Gods love
for him. He was very kind and very funny but said that the Jehovah's
Witnesses tried to convert him and give him pamphlets and things but
he would take them and that I probably wasn't going to convert him
either. I gave him a card and he walked away but I felt like I
should've given him a The Plan of Salvation pamphlet. So, I waited for
about 10 minutes until he walked passed us again and I yelled his
name, and he stopped and then I testified again of gods love for him
and Gods plan for him. I asked him if he would be willing to learn
more and he finally cracked and said, "sure why the heck not! Youve
got a pretty *bad word* face anyway!" I didn't know what to say other
than just to laugh and I handed him The Plan of Salvation pamphlet. I
probably would've been creeped out and thought he wanted to learn for
the wrong reasons but then he immediately told me, "You know all my
life whenever someone has tried to talk to me about God, I've just
brushed it aside. So many people have tried to give me pamphlets and
stuff and I never took em'. But you caught my attention, there's
something about you. Besides your little face there's something else
about you. Something that actually touched my heart a little. So yes I
will take your pamphlet and yes you can come share more about this
with me." I was so excited! And honored at the fact that he thought
there was something different and special about me. We were to teach
him yesterday but it fell through but we set it up for next week and
he is looking forward to it! And so are we!

As for the rest of the week it was awesome! Church yesterday was great
and we had quite a few people there at church. Our goal is to fill up
an entire pew of new people! The topic at church this month has been
about The Family. For good reason too. And there were some great talks
given. There was a specific family that spoke yesterday and their
names are the Chapman family. They are awesome! One of their daughter
gave a talk on the Primary song "The Family is of God." One of my
favorite lines from the song is,

"God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be."

And I love that so much I can't even tell you. In relation to my email
last week I know that the  Gospel of Jesus Christ helps us to become
what we are meant to become. And i have such a strong testimony of the
doctrine of the family. And I testify that it is in our families that
we become what the Lord intends for us to truly be. And I also love
how it is called the Doctrine of the Family. It's an actual Doctrine
of the gospel. And what is doctrine? Doctrine is revealed truth given
of God. We are all part of a God's family, and He has allowed us the
opportunity to create our own families here upon the earth. I honestly
cannot imagine any greater gift than having a family. And that is
something that I am constantly looking forward to, to have my own
eternal family one day. Another thing that Sister Chapman mentioned
was about Adam and Eve. And about how they were sealed together. How
they were married by the Lord and by none else other than the
priesthood power, which binds on earth what is bound in heaven. By
which our families can be together forever. She also taught a simple
truth that I loved, she said

"Every time Heavenly Father gives us a commandment, He always gives us
an example to follow. And here He did that with Adam and Eve. He gave
us an example of what Marriage is and of what order families are
patterned after."

We talked a lot yesterday about the family and I have learned so many
things out here on my mission that I know I want to use with my family
when I come home. Things I want to do to help me be a better wife and
mother someday and things I want to teach my children. I am grateful
and I testify of a loving Father in Heaven and our Elder Brother Jesus
Christ who love us enough to give us families. And to provide the way
whereby our families can be made eternal. I love this gospel and I
know that my purpose as a missionary is to find and teach families, so
that they can be together for eternity.

I love you all so much and will talk to you next week!

~Sister Amy Callaway~

Hello everyone!

Hello everyone!!

HAPPY DAY OF BIRTH TO MY BABY SISTER TODAY!! Oh. My. Goodness. I can't believe you are 18, that seriously weirds me out and I don't know why because I'm only 18 months older. But anyway I hope you have an awesome day baby sister! And Happy Birthday to Grandma and Zack this week!! I love you all and hope you have fantastic birthdays! 

First of all, we had interviews with President this week! And I've said it before and say it again we have one of the best Mission Presidents that there ever was. He is awesome. He is so in tune with the spirit but has such a funny sense of humor at the same time. Anyway this week at interviews I was the first missionary to be interviewed of the transfer. And he helped me out with SO many things. And they always tell you how your mission president and his wife are your mom and dad while on the mission and they truly are. And this week I really saw felt like I saw the "dad side" of president come out. And it was awesome, just know that he cares and loves each missionary so much. That's just a testimony to me of what pure Christ like love can do. 

So we had a pretty good week this week as far as teaching goes. On Wednesday we had the most lessons I have ever had in a day. We were running from appointment to appointment and by the end of the day I was literally SO exhausted. I didn't really know why but then Sister Jolley pointed out to me that we had 5 spiritual lessons that day and that spiritual experiences take a lot out of you. And they do. But they are SO worth it. By the time we got back to the apartment and finished planning I just passed out on my bed at like 9:30 haha. It was a great feeling though. I want to feel like that at the end of everyday, so that's my goal! 

So this week we got a few new investigators. One whose name is Stephen and he is awesome! He is a friend of one of the young women in our Ward and he is great! He says he loves reading The Book of Mormon and he keeps texting us scriptures that he thinks are powerful and it is so awesome! He is great! He has so much potential and we are excited to keep working with him and helping him come into Christ. We also had a lesson this week with a new investigator, Gretta. Gretta is the best!! She is so funny and she has the most bubbly personality I just love it! This week we taught her The Restoration and as we did so once we finished the first vision she looked up at us and said "oh he was called of God! He was definitely called of God." And we testified to her that yes Joseph Smith truly was called as a Holy Prophet of God. As we invited her to read The Book of Mormon and to pray about we asked her if she wanted to know if these things were true and she said. "Oh I already believe that they are! I can't argue with anything you are saying. It just makes sense. I know it's the truth." The spirit filled the room. We were about to invite her to be baptized when she looked at the clock and said "oh no I've got to go take someone to their doctors appointment!" So we said a quick prayer and then she rushed to take her friend to the doctors, but we will be seeing her this week and we just love her to death. And most importantly we know she felt the spirit. We had quite a few other lessons this week but before I run out of time I wanted to share with you some more of what I have learned about the amazing gift of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Every transfer we have a new scripture that we recite. Sometimes from the bible and sometimes from The Book of Mormon. And so this transfer the scripture is Ether 12:27 which is a pretty commonly known verse in The Book of Mormon. It reads, 

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

And when I heard that that was our scripture I thought to myself, "oh how appropriate." Ever since I came out on my mission I have only noticed ALL of my many weaknesses more and more. And sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed by all of them. But, as perfectly stated in Ether, there is a reason for them. They are there to teach us to rely on the Lord. And to be humble so that we can become all that He has created us to be. 

At one point this week I was becoming a little stressed and overwhelmed by all of my many weaknesses. I was so focused on everything that I need to be doing, everything that I should be already as a missionary and looking at how far i still had to go in order to become what the Lord needs me to be. Well Sister Jolley noticed and quoted a talk by saying "The more Christ-Like we become; the more we realize our weaknesses." She then recommended a talk for me to read called "The Challenge To Become" by Elder Oaks given in the October 2000 General Conference. And this is one of my new all time favorite talks.  In it he says this to his point, 

"In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something...The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become." 

He mentions the event of the Final Judgement and then the story of the Prodigal Son and talks about them both in a new light that I had never understood before and that helped me to understand how we are to become what we are meant to be, 

"...the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts--what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts--what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.

A parable illustrates this understanding. A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:

“All that I have I desire to give you--not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”

This parable parallels the pattern of heaven. The gospel of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life, the fulness of the Father, and reveals the laws and principles by which it can be obtained." 

I love that. That the gospel helps us to become something greater than we now are. But also that we can't do it on our own. We needed an example to follow, and a someone who understands us and can help to make up for the mistakes we ourselves would make along the way. Someone to helps us become.

And Elder Oaks reminds us though in his talk how important families are in becoming what the Lord wants us to become by saying, 

"As we do so, we should remember that our family relationships...are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur. The conversion we must achieve requires us to be a good husband and father or a good wife and mother... Exaltation is an eternal family experience, and it is our mortal family experiences that are best suited to prepare us for it." 

I have a firm testimony of families. And that it is within our families that we will become what the Lord wants us to become. Something else of what I have learned about becoming more like the Savior is that enduring to the end is an essential part. In a talk given by Elder Maxwell called "Endure It Well" he says that 

"By taking Jesus’ yoke upon us and enduring, we learn most deeply of Him and especially how to be like Him. (Matt 11:29)" 

When speaking of trials and endurance he said, 

"if certain mortal experiences were cut short, it would be like pulling up a flower to see how the roots are doing. Put another way, too many anxious openings of the oven door, and the cake falls instead of rising. Moreover, enforced change usually does not last, while productive enduring can ingrain permanent change."

When I read that I thought about whatever trials I have gone through, though I feel that many of mine are small compared to that of the trials of others. But when inking about this I thought about a blog post that someone had mentioned to me once. About a story of a mother reading the scriptures with her little girl. They were reading about Daniel and the lions den. And when they read the part about the angel that came to close the lions mouth, the little girl looked up at her mom and asked "Mom, why didn't the Angel just take the lion out of there??" The mother gave a beautiful response but I thought of it also in these terms; the Lord isn't going to just take our trials away from us. Heavenly Father isn't going to just "take the lion out of the den." But rather he will give us the strength to endure, and he will send others to help and provide a way. 
But Elder Maxwell also said concerning the trials of others something that I loved. 

"When, for the moment, we ourselves are not being stretched on a particular cross, we ought to be at the foot of someone else’s--full of empathy and proffering spiritual refreshment. On the straight, narrow path, which leads to our little Calvarys, one does not hear a serious traveler exclaiming, “Look, no hands!”

Part of becoming like the savior is enduring but also helping others to endure the crosses that they have been called to bear. What greater example of Christ-like love can you have? I'm grateful for our Savior who provided the way for us to be able to become what he desires us to be. I'm grateful for a loving Savior and Heavenly Father who have given us families, and provided the way for us to be together for eternity. I know that they live and love us. And I am grateful for that knowledge. And I hope and pray we will all be able to strive to become what e lord wants us to be through living the gospel faithfully in all things. 

I am so sorry if this email is so scattered and I am aware that I keep using talks in my emails but I just want so badly to share with all of you what I am learning and I'm not very good with words so it seems that the only way to adequately express what I've learned is through the words of the prophets and apostles. I hope you'll forgive me but I love you all!! Until next week!

~Sister Amy Callaway~

Why did I even come on a mission?

Why Did I Even Come On A Mission??

Hello my beloved friends and family! 

So yes this week was still a had its ups and downs but it was still pretty great at the same time. It was good in terms of lessons and teaching we actually got a few new investigators this week and taught a few others that we are helping to prepare for baptism! But I think the most substantial part of the week was all of the spiritual lessons that I learned. Of which I would like to share most of with you all today. 

Last week I'm not going to lie was a pretty rough week. I almost felt like was completely blindsided by everything that came my way. There was just a lot that went on, and I began to become very discouraged with doubts and uncertainties that for some time bothered me at the beginning of my mission but as time went on they faded away. However this time I felt like they came out of nowhere and that they just hit me all at once. But every concern and worry that I had this week Heavenly Fathered helped me to find helped me to find some answers I was searching for. 

For girls it is harder to decide to come on a mission because it isn't our mandate to serve as full time missionaries but we are neither discouraged to do so. Only if we feel so prompted by the Holy Ghost. I was 17 years old when I came to the conclusion that I would like to serve a mission. I prayed fervently about it and felt like I never got a yes and I never got a no. So I made a "deal" with Heavenly Father and I told him that unless I felt He was directing my path otherwise I would serve a mission for Him. And so yes 6 months into my mission i found myself asking if I even did make the right decision to serve a mission. And I've found myself contemplating this question: "Why Did I Even Come On a Mission??" 

Earlier in the week I asked my Sister Training Leaders for advice, and Sister Johnstone asked me if I had ever written a "My Purpose Statement." I asked her what she meant by that because as missionaries we have one of those already. And she explained to me that last year President had asked all the missionaries to ponder upon what they felt like their personal purpose was for being on a mission. She challenged me to do that and so I did. I pondered upon it for a few days and Prayed to know what my purpose was for being here, why I even came on a mission. And it was in a few different places where I found my answer. The first one was one of my favorite Mormon Messages called The Will of God. I it is derived from the talk by Elder Christofferson called "As Many As I Love I Rebuke And Chasten" from April 2011 Conference. In it he addresses his topic by saying this, 

"I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we are to meet our Heavenly Father’s high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction." 

He continues on my telling a story that the entire Mormon Message is centered on. He says, 

"God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.

President Hugh B. Brown...told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:

      “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”

      President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”

      Years later...President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon... Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:

        “I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up...How could you do this to me?’...

      “And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …

      “… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”

Continuing in his talk Elder Christofferson says, 

"God knew what Hugh B. Brown was to become and what was needed for that to happen, and He redirected his course to prepare him for the holy apostleship. 

If we sincerely desire and strive to measure up to the high expectations of our Heavenly Father, He will ensure that we receive all the help we need, whether it be comforting, strengthening, or chastening. If we are open to it, needed correction will come in many forms and from many sources. It may come in the course of our prayers as God speaks to our mind and heart through the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). It may come in the form of prayers that are answered no or differently than we had expected. Chastening may come as we study the scriptures and are reminded of deficiencies, disobedience, or simply matters neglected." 

Had President Brown been accepted to that promotion he may never had fully become what the Lord knew exactly he was to be, a powerful witness of the Savior and instrument in the hands of the Lord. 

And so I took that and applied it to myself. I have watched this video a thousand times. Because it is one of my favorites, but not until the other day did it hit me the way that it did this time. And so just like President Brown, I found myself this week experience some chastisement  from the Lord. And in a sense, like the answer came for him, i had similar experiences where I know the Lord was speaking to me. Immediately after watching the video i was left with these words ringing in my ear, 

" I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be."

And then almost immediately these words came to my mind, 

"Why don't you trust me?"

Like President Brown I fell to my knees to ask to be forgiven for not trusting the Lord like I should. The Lord knows what I am to become whether I see it now or not. And so he redirected my path from what I wanted it to be to what it needed to be. I have found that one purpose for my being on a mission is to come closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior. And to know them more personally of myself. To become converted to the gospel, and to stay converted. And so that I can help others do the same. Going back to the my purpose statement, as I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting yesterday I prayed again for confirmation and I randomly opened up to Alma 29: 9-10 which reads

"9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me." 

And so I believe that my purpose for being on a mission is to become truly converted to The Gospel of Jesus Christ myself so that I can become everything that the Lord needs me to be and to help others to do the same through making and keeping sacred covenants. 

One more thing I've copied and pasted a talk that was given to me this week from Sister Johnstone called "Believing Christ." In it this man talks about how too often we profess our faith in Christ by saying the we believe IN Him, but we don't always truly BELIEVE Him. Too often we try to do things on our own and forget that the Savior has the power to make us what we ought to be. In short we believe in Him but we don't always trust Him. 

Sorry this email is so all over the place but I hope it makes sense and I hope it helps someone. I've learned a lot this week and I'm trying to trust the Savior more. I hope we can all trust Him more believing that He has the power to make us what we are meant to become. I know my Savior and Heavenly Father live and that they love us. And I know that this gospel is true and I love my Savior with all of my heart otherwise I would not be doing this. I'm definitely not a perfect missionary by any means at all but I am trying my best. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!
Until next week, 
~Sister Amy Elizabeth Callaway~
Believing Christ

By Stephen E. Robinson

A Practical Approach to the Atonement

The greatest dilemma in the entire universe consists of two facts. We can read about the first in Doctrine and Covenants 1:31: “I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” [D&C 1:31] That means he can’t stand it; he can’t blink, or look the other way, or sweep it under the rug. He can’t tolerate sin in the least degree.

The other side of the dilemma is very simply put: I sin, and so do you.

If those were the only two parts of the equation, we would have to conclude that we, as sinful beings, cannot be tolerated in the presence of God.

But that is not all there is to the equation. The Atonement of Christ is the glorious plan by which this dilemma can be resolved. I would like to share some experiences from my own family that illustrate how the Atonement works to solve this great dilemma.

First is a story about my son, Michael, who did something wrong when he was six or seven years old. He’s my only son. I want him to be better than his dad was even as a boy, and so I expect a great deal of him. So I sent him to his bedroom with the instructions, “Don’t come out until I come and get you.”

And then I forgot. Some hours later, as I was watching television, I heard his door open and tentative footsteps come down the hall. I said, “Oh, no,” and ran to the hall to see him standing there with swollen eyes and tears on his cheeks. He looked up at me--he wasn’t quite sure he should have come out--and said, “Dad, can’t we ever be friends again?” Of course, I hugged him and expressed my love for him. He’s my boy, and I love him, despite anything he may have done.

Like Michael, we all do things that disappoint our Father, that separate us from his presence and Spirit. There are times when we get “sent to our rooms” spiritually. There are sins that wound our spirits. Sometimes we do things that make us feel as if we could never get clean. When that happens, sometimes we ask the Lord, as we lift up our eyes, “O Father, can’t we ever be friends again?”

The answer that can be found in all the scriptures is a resounding “Yes, through the Atonement of Christ.” I particularly like the way it is put in Isaiah 1:18 [Isa. 1:18]:

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The Lord is saying that whatever you have done, he can make you pure and worthy and innocent and celestial.

Now, to have faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe that he is who he says he is, or to believe in Christ. Sometimes, to have faith in Christ is also to believe Christ.

Both as a bishop and as a teacher in the Church, I have learned that there are many who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, but who do not believe that he can save them. They believe in his identity, but not in his power to cleanse and purify and save. To have faith in his identity is only half the principle. To have faith in his power to cleanse and save is the other half. We must not only believe in Christ, but we must also believe Christ when he says that he can cleanse us and make us celestial.

When I was a bishop, some members told me, “Bishop, I’ve sinned too horribly. I can’t have the full blessings of the gospel because I did this or I did that. I’ll come to church, and I’m hoping for a pretty good reward--but I couldn’t receive the full blessings of exaltation in the celestial kingdom after what I’ve done.”

Other members said, “Bishop, I’m just an average Saint. I’m weak and imperfect, and I don’t have all the talents that Brother (or Sister) So-and-So has. I’ll never be in the bishopric, or I’ll never be the Relief Society president. I’m just average. I hope for a place a little further down.”

These statements are variations of the same theme: “I do not believe Christ can do what he claims. I have no faith in his ability to exalt me.”

One fellow said to me, “Bishop, I’m just not celestial material.” Well, I’d had enough, so I said back to him, “Why don’t you admit your real problem? You’re not celestial material? Welcome to the club. None of us is! By ourselves, none of us is perfect as we must be to live in the presence of God. Why don’t you just admit that you don’t have faith in the ability of Christ to do what he says he can do?”

He got angry. “I have a testimony of Jesus,” he said. “I believe in Christ.”

I responded, “Yes, you believe in Christ. But you do not believe Christ when he says that even though you are not celestial material, he can make you celestial material, if you’ll cooperate.”

Why He Is Called the Savior

Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection makes us despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice truth of the gospel that the Lord can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about ten years ago.

My wife, Janet, and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well. I had been promoted, and it was a good year for us as a family. But it was a trying year for Janet personally. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the exam to become a certified public accountant, and was called to be the ward Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, and we held family home evening. I was serving in the bishopric.

Then one night, something happened to my wife that I can describe only as “dying spiritually.” She wouldn’t talk about it or tell me what was wrong. For me, that was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things, and she asked to be released from her callings.

Finally, after about two weeks, it came out. She said, “All right. You want to know what’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society work and get my genealogy done and go to the parent-teacher meetings at school and write to the missionaries.” And she named off one burden after another that had been laid on her.

Then she listed her flaws and imperfections. She said, “I don’t have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can’t do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control and yell at them anyway. I’ve just finally admitted that I’m not perfect and that I’m not ever going to be perfect. I’m not going to make it to the celestial kingdom, and I can’t pretend that I am. So I’ve given up. Why break my back trying to do what I can’t?”

Well, we started to talk, and it was a long night. I asked her, “Janet, do you have a testimony?”

She said, “Of course I do! That’s what’s so terrible. I know it’s true. I just can’t do it.”

“Have you kept the covenants you made when you were baptized?”

She said, “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I cannot keep all the commandments all the time.”

Then I rejoiced because I knew that her problem wasn’t any of those horrible things I had thought it might be. It is possible to be an active member of the Church, to have a testimony of its truthfulness, to hold leadership positions--and still to lose track of the “good news” at the gospel’s core. This is what had happened to Janet. She was trying to save herself. She knew why Jesus is an adviser and a teacher. She knew why he is an example, the head of the Church, our Elder Brother, and even God. She knew all of that, but she did not understand why he is called the Savior.

Janet was tying to save herself, with Jesus as an adviser. But we can’t do that. No one is perfect. In Ether 3:2 we read about one of the greatest prophets who ever lived, the brother of Jared. His faith was so great that he was about to pierce the veil and see the spirit body of Christ. Yet, as he began to pray, he said:

“Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee [notice that he starts his prayer with an apology as an imperfect being for approaching a perfect God]; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.”

Of course we fail at the celestial level. That’s why we need a savior and why we are commanded to approach God and to call upon him so we may receive according to our desires. The Savior said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). We misinterpret this scripture frequently. We think it says, “Blessed are the righteous,” but it does not. When are you hungry? When are you thirsty? When you don’t have the object of your desire. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after the righteousness that God has, after the righteousness of the celestial kingdom. As that becomes the desire of their hearts, it will be given to them--they will be filled. We receive “according to our desires.”

Becoming One

In mortality, perfection comes to us only through the Atonement of Christ. We cannot achieve it ourselves. We must become one with the Lord, who is a perfect being. This is what the business world would call a merger. When a small, bankrupt firm that’s about ready to collapse merges with a strong corporation, what happens? Assets and liabilities of the two companies flow together, and the new entity that is created is solvent.

When Janet and I got married, I was financially pressed, and Janet had money in the bank. When we entered into the covenant relationship of marriage, we formed a joint account at the bank. No longer was there an “I,” and no longer a “she”--now, financially speaking, it was “we.” My liabilities and her assets flowed into each other in this joint account, and for the first time in months I was solvent.

Spiritually, this is what happens when we enter into the covenant relationship with our Savior. We have liabilities; he has assets. He proposes to us a covenant relationship. I use the word propose on purpose because it is a marriage of a spiritual sort that is being proposed. That is why he is called the Bridegroom. This covenant relationship is so intimate that it is described in scriptures as a marriage. I become one with Christ, and as partners we work together for my salvation. My liabilities and his assets flow into each other. I do all that I can do, and he does what I cannot yet do. The two of us together are perfect.

This is why the Savior says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). What heavier load is there than the demand for perfection, the idea that you must make yourself perfect in this life before you can have any hope in the next? What heavier burden is there than the yoke of the law?

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” said the Savior; “for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30).

“Trust Me”

The prophet Nephi was one of the great prophets, yet he had a sense of his need for and his reliance upon the Savior. He says, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

“I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins” (2 Ne. 4:17–19).

Did Nephi have an appreciation for his mortal condition, for his need of the Savior to save him from his sins? Yes, and the key is what comes next: “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Ne. 4:19).

Nephi realized that he was imperfect. His sins bothered him. He was not celestial yet. But he knew in whom he trusted. Nephi trusted in the power of Jesus Christ to cleanse him of his sins and to bring him into the kingdom of God.

I had a friend who used to say quite frequently, “I figure my life is half over, and I’m halfway to the celestial kingdom, so I’m right on schedule.”

One day I asked her, “Judy, what happens if you die tomorrow?” It was the first time that thought had ever occurred to her.

“Let’s see,” she said, “halfway to the celestial kingdom is … mid-terrestrial. That’s not good enough.”

We need to know that in this covenant relationship we have with the Savior, if we should die tomorrow we have hope of the celestial kingdom. That hope is one of the promised blessings of the covenant relationship. Yet many of us do not understand it or take advantage of it.

When our twin daughters were small, we decided to take them to the public pool and teach them how to swim. I remember starting with Rebekah. As I went down into the water with her, I was thinking, “I’m going to teach Becky how to swim.” But in her mind was the thought, “My dad is going to drown me. I’m going to die!” The water was only three-and-a-half feet deep, but Becky was only three feet tall. She was so frightened that she began to scream and cry and kick and scratch. She was unteachable.

Finally, I threw my arms around her and held her and said, “Becky, I’ve got you. I’m your dad. I love you. I’m not going to let anything bad happen to you. Now relax.” Bless her heart, she trusted me. She relaxed, and then I put my arms under her and said, “Okay, now kick your legs.” And she began to learn how to swim.

Spiritually there are some of us who are similarly frightened by these questions. “Am I celestial? Am I going to make it? Was I good enough today?” We’re so terrified of whether we’re going to live or die, or whether we’ve made it to the kingdom or not, that we cannot make any progress. At those times, the Savior, in a sense, throws his arms around us and says, “I’ve got you. I love you. I’m not going to let you die. Now relax and trust me.” If we can relax and trust him and believe him, as well as believe in him, then together we can begin to learn to live the gospel. Then he says, “Okay, now begin to pay tithing. Very good. Now pay a full tithing.” And so we begin to make progress.

In Alma 34:14–16, we read:

“Behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

“And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

“And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety.”

The arms of safety--that is my favorite phrase in the Book of Mormon.

Do Latter-day Saints believe in “being saved”? If I ask my religion students that question with the right tone of voice--“Do we believe in being saved?”--I can generally get about a third of them to shake their heads and say, “Oh, no, no. Those other religions believe in that.” What a tragedy! We most certainly do believe in being saved. That’s why Jesus is called the Savior. What good is it to have a Savior if no one is saved? It’s like having a lifeguard who won’t get out of the chair. “Oops, there goes another swimmer down. Hey, try the backstroke! Oh, too bad he didn’t make it.” We have a Savior who can save us from ourselves, from what we lack, from our imperfections, from the carnal individual within us.

In Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom, he describes those who are there in these terms:

“These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.

“These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (D&C 76:68–69).

Just men and women, good men and women, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, are made perfect through Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new covenant.

Give Him All That We Have

As my wife and I talked about her feeling of inadequacy and her feeling that she couldn’t make it, I recalled something that had happened in our family just a couple of months earlier. We call it the parable of the bicycle.

After I had come home one day, I was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper. My daughter Sarah, who was seven years old, came in and said, “Dad, can I have a bike? I’m the only kid on the block who doesn’t have a bike.”

Well, I didn’t think I could afford to buy her a bike, so I tried to stall her by saying, “Sure, Sarah.”

She asked, “How? When?”

I said, “You save all your pennies, and pretty soon you’ll have enough for a bike.” And she went away.

A couple of weeks later as I was sitting in the same chair, I was aware that Sarah was doing something for her mother and getting paid. She went into the other room, and I heard “Clink, clink.” I asked, “Sarah, what are you doing?”

She came out and showed me a little jar all cleaned up with a slit cut in the lid and a bunch of pennies in the bottom. She looked at me and said, “You promised me that if I saved all my pennies, pretty soon I’d have enough for a bike. And, Daddy, I’ve saved every single one of them.”

My heart was filled with love for her. She was doing everything in her power to follow my instructions. I hadn’t actually lied to her. If she saved all of her pennies, she eventually would have enough for a bike, but by then she would want a car! Her needs weren’t being met. So I said, “Let’s go downtown and look at bikes.”

We went to every store in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Finally we found it--the perfect bicycle. She got up on that bike, and she was thrilled. But when she saw how much the bicycle cost, her face fell, and she started to cry. She said, “Oh, Dad, I’ll never have enough for a bicycle.”

So I said, “Sarah, how much do you have?”

She answered, “Sixty-one cents.”

“I’ll tell you what,” I said. “You give me everything you’ve got and a hug and a kiss, and the bike is yours.” She gave me a hug, a kiss--and the sixty-one cents. I paid for the bicycle. Then I had to drive home very slowly because she wouldn’t get off the bike; she rode home on the sidewalk. And as I drove along slowly beside her, it occurred to me that this was a parable for the Atonement of Christ.

We all want something desperately--something far more than a bicycle. We want the celestial kingdom. We want to be with our Father in Heaven. And no matter how hard we try, we come up short. At some point we realize, “I can’t do this!” That was the point my wife, Janet, had reached. At that point, we taste the sweetness of the gospel covenant as the Savior proposes, “All right, you’re not perfect. Give me all you have, and I’ll pay the rest. Give me a hug and a kiss--that is, enter into a personal relationship with me--and I will do what remains undone.”

There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that he still requires our best effort. We must try, we must work--we must do all that we can. But the good news is that, having done all we can, it is enough--for now. Together we’ll make progress in the eternities, and eventually we will become perfect. But in the meantime, we are perfect only in a partnership, in a covenant relationship with him. Only by tapping his perfection can we hope to qualify.

As Janet and I discussed how it worked, she finally understood. I remember her saying through her tears, “I’ve always believed he is the Son of God. I have always believed that he suffered and died for me. But now I realize that he can save me from myself, from my sins, from my weakness, inadequacy, and lack of talent.”

How many of us forget the words of Nephi: “There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Ne. 2:8).

There is no other way. Many of us are trying to save ourselves, holding the Atonement of Jesus Christ at arm’s distance and saying, “When I’ve done it, when I’ve perfected myself, when I’ve made myself worthy--then I’ll be worthy of the Atonement. Then I will allow him in.” We cannot do it. That’s like saying, “When I am well, I’ll take the medicine. I’ll be worthy of it then.” That’s not how it was designed to work.

One of my favorite hymns says, “Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved! And we must love him too, And trust in his redeeming blood, And try his works to do” (“There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, 1985, no. 194). I think one of the reasons I love that hymn so much is that it expresses both sides of that covenant relationship. We must “try his works to do” with all that is in us. We must do all that we can, and having done all, then we must “trust in his redeeming blood” and in his ability to do for us what we cannot yet do.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie used to call this being in the gospel harness. When we are in the gospel harness, we are pulling for the kingdom with our eyes on that goal. Although we are not yet there, we can have confidence that just as that is our goal in life, so it will be our goal in eternity. Through the Atonement of Christ we can have hope of achieving and an expectation of receiving that goal.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He is our individual Savior, if only we will enter into that glorious covenant relationship with him and give him all we have. Whether it be sixty-one cents, or a dollar and a half, or two cents, we must hold nothing back; we must give it all. And then we must have faith and trust in his ability to do for us what we cannot yet accomplish, to make up what we yet lack of perfection. This is the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light.