The Lion Remembers, The Tiger Forgets

There is a nice man that we see every day standing on the median of an intersection we cross frequently. He knows us by now because we usually roll down the window to talk with him for a minute. He always writes jokes or bits of wisdom on cardboard, so you can thank him for the subject of this post.

This week, we had the awesome opportunity to listen to Elder Uchtdorf, one of the 12 living Apostles of the Jesus Christ in the world today. In his wonderful German accent, he talked to us about The Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is many things. Some of its characteristics are more important than others. Here are a few of them:

The Book of Mormon is:

  1. A 531 page book. If you read in English.
  2. Free, for anyone that asks on Mormon.org for 2 guys like me to come bring it to them
  3. An extensive history, spanning a thousand years and 2 continents, that follows several nations’ cultures, wars, and teachings.
  4. A collection of philosophical writings encouraging moderation, kindness, selflessness, and courage.
  5. A book written by God’s anointed servants that supports and complements the Bible.
  6. The strongest tool God has given us in these last days to help us know that He loves us and that we can be blessed in this life and the next through His son Jesus Christ.
  7. Another Testament of Jesus Christ

There is a reason that the subtitle of The Book of Mormon is not “A 531-Paged Book.”

Whatever you believe or don’t believe The Book of Mormon to be, I hope you understand that you will get out of it exactly what you put into it. If you read it with the intent of reading a 531 page book, it will likely have little impact on your life. If you read it, however, to know and understand God and His plan for your life, and to get to know Jesus Christ more fully, then I promise you you will not be disappointed in your reading.

The Book of Mormon has changed my life. I love using it to help other people change their lives as well.

“Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.”
—Mormon 9:21


He has made His promise, now let us take action to receive those blessings.

The work is going great here in Richmond! Missions are awesome!

Love,

Elder Mortenson

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A Mid-summer Missionary’s Dream

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry I haven’t written a post in a while! Things have been busy up here in Richmond.

Elder Corrigan and I have been praying for an opportunity to help someone take the step of being baptized ever since we became companions 6 weeks ago. Unfortunately, about a week ago, it looked like it wasn’t going to happen during this 6 week period. We are working with a lot of amazing people, but none of them were ready yet. Or so we thought.

One of the most important and frustrating aspects of missionary work is that no matter how much we do as missionaries, people have to make their own decisions, and use their own agency to obtain personal conviction of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to act on that knowledge.

Lehi explains this better than I can. He said:

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”

This week, a man who has been coming to church for a long time, decided to start choosing liberty and eternal life by being baptized. We got word on Friday that things were in order for him to be baptized, and we organized it in two days. Last night he was baptized by his nephew. We all cried. They have waited so long for that day. It was a wonderful service.

As I reflected on the experience, I was filled with gratitude for being able to participate in that event.

Elder Corrigan and I didn’t do anything that extraordinary. We did our jobs as missionaries, but his conversion can’t be explained by our actions. He felt the holy spirit whisper to his soul that he ought to enter into the fold of God, and that alone led him to be baptized. There was no dramatic surge of emotion or brilliant sales pitch that could have produced the feelings we felt last night as he was baptized. It was a missionary dream, but not because we deserved it. It was a gift.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that through Him we all have all the hope in the world of living forever in a state of happiness, if that is what we want. If you find yourself thinking that you have lost that privilege or that you are just not cut out for such a thing, I would kindly remind you that you are wrong. “The Son of Man hath descended below all things, art thou greater than He?” Who are we to limit the reach of His infinite sacrifice? I would also tell you that I have been there before. If I could send myself a message from that time, I would probably tell myself that help I didn’t deserve was on the way.

I testify that he loves us and wants us to come home, and deep down, that is what we all want too.

I’ll be in Richmond at least another 6 weeks with Elder Corrigan!

Love you all!

Elder Mortenson

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Saquen sus Cabezas

The Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center has this awesome exhibition about families that we often view with the people we are teaching. The Spanish voice-overs are funny to us missionaries, and so they become inside jokes in the Spanish program in the mission.

At one point, the dad in the film tells his kids, who are behind a rock formation in what looks like St George, “saquen sus cabezas” which translates to “take out your heads”.

This week we watched that film with our investigator and her son. She has been through a lot of difficulty after losing a close family member.

My earliest memory, at least I think it is my first memory, is from my Great Grandfather Francis Mortenson’s funeral. I remember sitting in a church somewhere and listening to the children’s song “Families can be Together Forever”.

I shared that this week at the end of the film, and as I did I was struck by the beauty of that memory.

There isn’t much that sticks around in this life. Our high school promises to Keep In Touch sublimate faster than the dry ice in our 7th grade science class, and often our values change at the same rate.

Suns rise. Suns set. Protons decay. Ankles break and heal.

The beauty of being a missionary and of the Gospel is that there is another type of object that does not break, decay, vary, or waver. The truths taught by Jesus Christ are eternal. One of those truths restored through Joseph Smith is that family relationships need not decay or dissolve, even after death.

Families can be together forever.

Alright, now saquen sus cabezas. I have riddle.

I die. I expire. You want me now, but you’ll hate me later. All of my supposed positive effects are quickly replaced by negative nonperishable woes. You won’t believe you could be rid of me until you are.

Now, whatever sin you’re thinking of, kill it and save your eternal family. There is nothing perishable worth losing the only eternal hopes you have.

I am well here in Richmond. The mission is awesome. I love helping other people find the truth! I’m sorry I’ve been bad at weekly emails/blog posts.

Love you all!

Elder Mortenson