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Always

Always

Elder Robert W. Hymas visited Memphis Tennessee a few years ago and participated in a stake conference there. In a blogpost titled “Hypocrite”, one stake member there recounts a list of things Elder Hymas indicated “that we always need to remember to do”. This blogger comments, “My thoughts were that it was going to be the standard things like pray, read scriptures…but his responses really touched me.”

Here are the five (touching) things from Elder Hymas’ “always list” (quoted directly as the blogger wrote them except emphasis is mine):

1. Always pay your tithing.
2. Always make your sacrament meetings and partake of the sacrament. It is an ordinance that we can take part in every week and be renewed.
3. Always ask for direction for your packages from heaven. Each of our children are different, learn differently, and have different needs. Pray to know how to reach each of them,
4. Always accept callings. We do not ask for callings nor should we ask to released from callings.
5. Always treat your spouse as they deserve to be treated. And tell your spouse you love them everyday.
When our mind is set to do things, we only have to make the choice once and then there is no question.

Firstly, I don’t know that the order is by importance, but I find it interesting that tithing is the first item listed.

Secondly, #4. This talk was given a few years ago, but since then there have been a number of “faithful” and “believing” blogs that have written about how and when to turn down a calling. I wonder if “always accept callings” is still on his “always list”.

However, you may just want to accept that calling anyway–Donny Osmond doesn’t think you’re a good team (church) member if you don’t accept callings extended to you:

One eternal blessing is that of free agency, however, when we enter into the covenant of baptism and especially covenants in the temple, we in essence commit to become a part of the Lord’s team. If one is on a team and the coach asks him or her to go into the game and they refused, what would you think of that team member? I personally am inclined to accept any calling that would come to me if at all possible and I believe this would be appropriate for any member of our Church. Of course, if I was asked to do something that would greatly conflict with my livelihood, then I am sure it would be appropriate to discuss this conflict with the leaders who are making the calling.

“If I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard!”

"I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard!"

There has been a phrase that has become surprisingly common on missionary blogs. It is usually some variation of “I want to punch [Satan] in the face so hard”. The source seems to be a talk by President Uchtdorf given in the MTC.  Multiple missionaries quote President Uchtdorf saying, “If you want to punch Satan in the face, then preach the Gospel.”

Here are some examples of missionaries talking about punching Satan in the face (all emphases mine):

  • “Our investigator Chanette Scott, solid as can be and ready to come to church, sent us one of the most heart breaking texts I have ever received in my life. No words can describe the feeling best except for heartbreaking, torn apart, let down, and devastating. I just want to make this clear to anyone who is reading this. If you want to know what “Mormons” believe, go to lds.org, Mormon.org, or visit with the Missionaries. Don’t youtube it or go and ask your pastor. The world and especially the internet is so full of lies and deceiving truths, that ANYONE can be mislead. I honestly have never been so down before on my mission. She was doing so great. She believed the Book of Mormon was true, she wanted to be baptized, we were an answer to her prayers. I seriously hate Satan. I hate how he works. I want to punch him in the face so hard. Like I know we aren’t supposed to hate anybody, but we can hate Satan, because all he wants to do is drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless wo. He has no place in his heart for us except to pull us and our thoughts away from our Heavenly father, WHO ACTUALLY DOES LOVE US.” (Link)
  • “I couldn’t really believe Mauro’s answer… I don’t get how BLIND people can be at times to the things of God…. Ugh…… my patience is really tried when people don’t open their eyes. It’s so hard to see people being lead by the hand of Satan… It breaks my heart and makes Elder Purser want to punch Satan in the face when the sons and daughters of God are so easily mislead….” (Link)
  • “We have been focusing on finding lately, since our teaching pool is really small.  We also have been working on working with the branch better by doing FHEs, service, getting referrals, taking members to lessons with us, etc…it has been going pretty well. I’m a bit discouraged this week, but I’m not giving up.  We will try even harder this coming week and we will punch Satan right in the teeth by converting millions of people in Jamaica!” (Link)
  • “I love being a missionary so much – no matter how hard it gets. Since it is the holidays we don’t have to drag members along as much. They are getting more into the missionary spirit. We got in another car crash this week – while going with a member to get stuff from our crashed car. We were rear ended by a semi-truck. Luckily it was going pretty slow, in traffic, so we were only hit going around 3 miles an hour. The adversary may be trying to stop our work, but we kept fighting back. I punched Satan in the face after the crash, by giving the people in the accident Books Of Mormon – and they were really excited.” (Link)
  • “Something that has been keeping me going this week is a quote that Pres Uchtdorf said to us at an easter devotional while I was at the MTC, His whole talk was about the Savior, and about the resurrection. He gave some really good advice to us all. He said, “If you want to punch Satan in the face, then preach the Gospel.”  haha really funny advice, but so true too. I know that each day as we go out the preach the Gospel, we are punching Satan in the face. I really have come to know, this cycle more than any prior, that every effort we give as missionaries is accepted by our Savior, and that as we do the things we have been taught to do, we are 1)making the Lord proud, and 2)punching Satan in the face. Jokes on him though because he doesn’t even have a face. sucks to be Satan, am I right?” (Link)
  • “He went from vibrant and happy, to frustrated and confused. We were so sad. We went a few days feeling numb and not knowing what to do to get out of it. All we wanted to do was cry, but were too shocked and confused to be able to. We had literally watched him feel the spirit, change and experience true happiness. But it was as if he had developed a few doubts and questions in his mind, and the adversary was able to use those to destroy all faith he had ever developed. He is to the point now where he doesn’t even know if God exists. It’s tragic. If I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard! I really hope that his journey in life brings him back to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ one day. I sure have grown to love him. All I want is for him to be happy.” (Link)
  • “Wow. This was an experience I will never forget. Before he spoke we had the privilege of taking the sacrament with President Uchtdorf and the entire MTC. You can imagine the spirit that was there. Wow. Then he talked about the resurrection of the Savior and the story of Peter and how fearless he was after he saw the Savior living again. His whole message was about being fearless. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, “I fear no man”. He also talked about being bold. If we are loving, we can NEVER be too bold! I love that! One of my favorite things he said was “If you want to punch Satan in the face… preach the gospel.” Haha, President Uchtdorf is so awesome!” (Link)
  • On missionary even titled a blogpost as “Punch Satan in the FACE!!”

My favorite may be the first quote above “Like I know we aren’t supposed to hate anybody, but we can hate Satan…”

Punching Satan certainly reminds me of Elder Packer endorsing (“not recommending…, but…not omitting”)  the act of hitting (“flooring”) a gay mission companion in his talk General Conference Priesthood Session talk “To Young Men Only” (October 2, 1976) (also here):

Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.

Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.

It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.

There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.

“But I floored him,” he said.

After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way”

I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

Elder Clarke’s Marriage Test and Other Post-Mission Tips

Elder Clarke's Marriage Test and Other Post-Mission Tips

We recently published a blogpost reporting from missionary accounts that Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently told missionaries in Mexico “that men that don’t get married are only half a man”. Or, as another missionary put it, “If you don’t go home and don’t take marriage seriously then you’re not half a man.”

Well, we also found some marriage/post-mission tips from Elder Don R. Clarke (all emphases are mine):

  • Get married within a year of getting back from your mission: “The area president Elder Clarke told us if we don’t get married with in a year of being home we didn’t learn any thing on the mission.” (Source)
  • Don’t let college get in your way of getting married: “He even talked a lot about marriage. That surprised me because I didn’t expect after mission life to be a part of the training. He encouraged all of us to get married quickly after our missions and not let University get in the way of it.” (Source)
  • Sisters, remember you are ordained to marry a priesthood holder: “Alma 13: 10-11 tells all of us sisters that we are ordained to marry someone who has the Melchizedek Priesthood” (Source)
  • Elders, once you find someone you think you might want to marry, test her ability to resist complaining by taking her on a hike: “Elder Clarke gave us a lot of tips for the mission. but he also gave us a lot of tips for life. One of the things he said to the elders is that when we are looking for a wife we have to take her on a hike on a really tall mountain and if she even complains once leave her.” (Source)
  • Once you’re married you will have to support your wife and kids.  Remember you can triple your income by following chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel (see previous posts about this here, here, and here)

Elder Clarke’s advice is sound advice, even though Georg Von Trapp only tested Maria by taking her “on a hike on a really tall mountain” after they got married (not before).

Faith Challenges on a Mission: “Trying Times Will Come”

Faith Challenges on a Mission: Trying Times Will Come

I wonder how often missionaries go through a faith crisis (or at least a severe faith challenge) due to new information or historical knowledge while on their missions.  Especially as more and more potential investigators become more aware and knowledge on subjects like polygamy.

One missionary in the Michigan Detroit Mission runs a blog titled Elders in the Hood and published a blogpost on Monday titled Trying Times Will Come. He tracted down “one of the hardest streets” of Detroit and found a man with “faith shaking questions”. The missionary says the man had “questions that I had never thought of, nor did I know the answers to” and “I allowed my faith to be shaken”. He then says how the “experience made [him] sick” and that the questions [were] like a knife to the heart”.

I imagine this has been a very difficult time for him–as it has been for many.  He may be right: “Trying Times Will Come”.

He is some of his post so you can read it in context (archived version):

On to the week though. This week I tracted (a word for knocked doors) down on of the hardest streets I have ever done in my time here in Detroit. From gangbangers to faith shaking questions from the bitter. But I say “faith shaking”, because that is truly how I felt when we stopped by a specific door. What caused this shake of my faith well one, this rather unpleasant man asked questions that I had never thought of, nor did I know the answers to, but also the fault and cause is my own. I allowed my faith to be shaken. This experience made me sick. Though this man placed these questions like a knife to the heart, how could I just pack all my bags and leave the gospel? I know in some situations some may choose to do so, that even though this gospel is the only true and full gospel in this earth, because it seemed for a moment, imperfect, incomplete, and unanswered they would pack their bags and leave. They would quit. Because for a moment we had a stumbling block, a stupor of thought. Well, I ask you brothers and sisters, if you have had, or are currently experiencing this kind of event in your life whether the situations are similar to mine or not, how could you just leave something that has brought so much love and light in your life? How could you just quit on yourself and your God? Do you not know that if you lack wisdom to ask of God? That by faith, patience and diligence all may be revealed? I encourage you that if you are backed up to the wall of faith, DO NOT JUST QUIT. Trying times will come, prepare yourselves, take arms, and put on the full armor of God. These times are meant to be endured and given to us that we may have more strength in He who is the source of all strength. Don’t give up the eternities because of few short moments. Test the promises of the gospel, find the answers that will be given us. And prepare yourself more than I, that when that time comes you may fully be able to testify of the truthfulness of this gospel.

“Did not think we would get that from that visit at all!!!”

Did not think we would get that from that visit at all!!!

Here is just a short paragraph written by a missionary from the Utah Ogden Mission last month. I really think the young woman below is representative of the rising generation. Some of the exclusionary practices of the Church just don’t seem fair to them.

Thursday: We taught the youth in a ward about Preach My Gospel. One of the Young Women got stuck on a question about homosexuality, and how it is not fair that they can’t go to the temple. Did not think we would get that from that visit at all!!!

Is This Against Church Policy? Mormon Singer’s “Studio” Is At The Temple

Mormon Singer's Studio Is At The Temple?

I recently received a message from a reader asking me if it is proper for a person to run a business out of a local LDS meetinghouse? I honestly don’t know, but my gut says that no commercial or political activities are to be done in local meetinghouses.

The question arose as the reader came across the website of Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller whose website says she is a “TONY Award Winner and GRAMMY Nominee”. It also says she offers voice lessons (which I assume one has to pay for) at four different locations, two on the West Coast (though neither are actually anywhere near the Pacific Ocean) and two on the East Coast: Las Vegas, Nevada; St. George, UT; Washington, D.C.; and New York, NY. The only one with a specific address is the New York, NY location which she calls the “Lincoln Center Studio”, notably “across the street from The Juilliard School”:

New York City, NY
Lincoln Center Studio

125 Columbus Ave., 3rd Fl.
New York, New York 10023
(across the street from The Juilliard School)

Well, if you Google the address what is actually at 125 Columbus Ave? The Manhattan New York Temple. Does the temple double as a “Lincoln Center Studio” for Tony Award Winning singers? No, not really.

At the same location as the Manhattan Temple is a local meetinghouse with a chapel, basketball court, offices for LDS Public Affairs, etc. But still, Lisa seems to have mislabeled misuse the LDS meetinghouse for her own business as it certainly is not a “Lincoln Center Studio”–it is a chapel. She is correct, however, that it does sit prominently “across the street from The Juilliard School”.

So, readers, does the LDS Church have a policy against advertising and running a business, such as paid voice lessons, out of a Studio meetinghouse?

Sin Resistance, The Plague of Pornography, and Marriage

Sin Resistance, The Plague of Pornography, and Marriage

Recall that about a week and a half ago we published a blogpost titled Inoculating Against Porn and Bednar on Agency. In it one missionary said “part of getting iPads and being trained on how to use them was inoculating ourselves against pornography”.

Well, two days ago another sister missionary talked about the new iPad training she received in the Arizona Tempe Mission which included a visit by Elder Per G. Malm of the Seventy and Elder Randall from the Missionary Department.

[W]e all have to receive that training and “restart”. So I will be home before that training is finished. So that was a bummer because I was learning how to use it so effectively and was always busy! haha. Oh well. It was a great meeting and they honestly didn’t talk much about how we can better use facebook or our ipads. It was mostly on the Plan of Salvation and also about how this is going to prepare this generation and teach them how to be “sin-resistant” and know how to use technology effectively and so that the plague of pornography can be ended. It was all about preparing to have transparency and honesty in your marriage and such. It was really good.

Yes, transparency and honesty in marriage is very good and laudable thing to talk about!

How do you help someone who feels like they can’t change because they have sldrhosdifh feelings?

how do you help someone who feels like they can't change because they have sldrhosdifh feelings?

Elder Bednar recently visited the California Sacramento Mission. He gave the missionaries some of his talks to read ahead of time and while there he had a Q&A with the missionaries. This seems to be his standard model while visiting missions.

Well, while visiting the missionaries in Sacramento one missionary had the guts to ask him about “homosexual feelings”. We know he was at a conference recently when someone asked about differentiating between the Holy Ghost and feelings and they answer they got was “Don’t worry about it.” Unfortunately the only blog source for this happening doesn’t tell us how Elder Bednar responded.  I hope they let us know!

Basically he just asked us what we learned when we were preparing for the meeting, and then he would ask comments based on that, and then he did a Q&A session. bahahaha so during the Q&A there was this elder who had a question, and oh ya sometimes the portable microphone was kind of cutting out, so he has his question:
Elder: so what do you say, or how do you help someone who feels like they can’t change because they have sldrhosdifh feelings?
Bednar: sorry what was that? What kind of feelings?
Elder: oioisudfosidu feelings.
Bednar: One more time?
Elder: HOMOSEXUAL FEELINGS.
bahahaahah and then the mic didn’t cut out, and he just shouted homosexual feelings infront of Elder Bednar hahaha. it was soooooo funny.

 

Only Half A Man?

Only Half A Man?

The twice married Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently visited the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission. From one missionary’s account of his visit it seems he talked a lot about marriage and even said “men that don’t get married are only half a man”. I didn’t know an unmarried man is only “half a man”.  Here it is in context:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks came and talked to us all. His talk was super great! He talked about the work (obviously) and he talked about having the end in mind always. We should focus on the end as we teach the people. But not only in teaching. He said that we as missionaries don’t finish our mission until we find someone to marry and get sealed in the temple. It was interesting that he talked about marriage so much, but it was a cool talk and I liked what he said. He said that men that don’t get married are only half a man… and I’m pretty sure that is really not what any guy wants to be. It was also great to listen to our mission president and to Elder Walker (from the 70) who also came and spoke to us. It was all super great! I also saw everyone from my MTC district and my past companions that are still in the mission

 

EDIT: I found another missionary blog mentioning Elder Oaks’ comments about the unmarried man only being half a man:

He had no talk prepared but just talked about what the spirit said was right. He’s pretty funny and has a super deep voice. He talked about the Gospel culture, and the family. He had a super funny quote. He said “You elders from North America specifically, … If you don’t go home and don’t take marriage seriously then you’re not half a man. And all the English speakers were like “oooooooo,” because he has a translator. But all the Hermanas were like burn. But yeah he emphasized marriage. He also talked about what to teach people who are investigators and less actives, and that is the next ordinance or the sacrament, and why it is so important to us.

I think that getting to listen to Elder Oaks was a great birthday present.

Map of Area Authority Seventy Hometowns

Ever wondered if an Area Authority Seventy lives near you? (For the educational background of General, not Area, Authorities look at this blogpost).

Below is a map of the hometowns of all Area Authority Seventies with the following pin color coding:

  • Third Quorum: Purple (Africa Southeast, Africa West, Europe, and Europe East areas)
  • Fourth Quorum: Green (Central America, Mexico, South America Northwest, and Caribbean areas)
  • Fifth Quorum: Orange (Idaho, North America Northwest, North America West, Utah North, Utah Salt Lake City, and Utah South areas)
  • Sixth Quorum: Blue (North America Central, North America Northeast, North America Southeast, North America Southwest areas)
  • Seventh Quorum: Teal (Brazil and South America South areas)
  • Eighth Quorum: Red (Asia, Asia North, Pacific, and Philippines areas)

View a larger version of Map of Area Authority Seventy Hometowns created with eSpatial mapping software.

Note: All hometown information was obtained from this Wikipedia article and all data in this blogpost was current at the time this blogpost was published.

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