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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De Regreso

Hello Family + Friends! I hope everyone loved conference.

Things are good here in Oakland! Conference was awesome, and we’re all super excited for all of the changes that our Prophet announced. We are so blessed to be living in a time where the fullness of the gospel is present and it’s dispersion is accelerating.

This week I saw that people can really flourish and grow when we carefully minister to them, which was a major theme of conference.

Salvador, our awesome member who had a terrible accident (fell three floors) a few months ago, told us about an awesome member of our bishopric who called him out of the blue one day. He took time out of his work schedule to go pick Salvador up, take him out to get some food, then to see the temple, then up around a park, and then to get food again, and ice cream. He said he picked him up at about 10 am and didn’t drop him off until like 5 pm. That is ministering. A man who has been in his house and the hospital with a dilapidated leg for months, was able to spend a whole day with his old friend. It meant the world to him to have someone besides us reach out to him.

So go minister to the world!

I’ve been transferred! I’m going back to San Leandro! The area I left in November was dissolved into the Zone Leaders area in San Leandro, and that’s where I’ll be serving now. I can’t wait to be able to visit with all the people that I worked with and to help them progress toward eternal life! The work continues!

Love,

Elder Mortenson



Pura Vida Mae

Hey!

Things are going well here in Oakland! We are on bikes in the heart of Oakland, which is awesome because there are SO MANY people that speak Spanish here!

This week I got a new companion, Elder Mendez, fresh from the Missionary Training Center in Provo! He is from Costa Rica and he is awesome! So bold and loving with the people! We’re going to have an awesome time! His catch phrase is “pura vida mae” which roughly translates to “pure life, dude”. He’s awesome!

This Tuesday, we taught some people that we used to visit, but had stopped visiting because they hadn’t acted upon the things that we were helping them to learn. So, we read Alma 32 with them, and they finally began to understand the importance of ACTING on our faith. As James said, “Faith without works is dead, being alone”

Anyway, that principle really sunk in, because at the end of the lesson, our investigator J said, “I’m going to the church on Sunday! No matter what! I don’t care if it rains, or if there is a storm! I will take the bus if I need to!” We were absolutely floored by his desire to begin acting on the faith that was growing within him.

When I called him on Sunday morning, I asked him how he was doing, and he said, “Con ganas para ir a la iglesia hoy!” (with desires to go to church today). And he did. He brought his wife and their 2 little kids, and had an awesome experience there!

I invite you all to act on what you believe in, so that your faith is not dead! Every time we act in accordance to God’s will we get one step closer to Him, and we become a little bit more like Him. Don’t lose out on that opportunity every day!

With love,

Elder Mortenson

 

 

Working ‘Tirelessly’ in the Service of God

So it has been another interesting week in Oakland!


At 8:35 on Thursday night, my companion and I were about to start biking back home (it’s a 20 minute ride), but we felt like we should go by one of our former investigators really quickly before we went home. So, at 8:45, we locked up our bikes and chained our wheels, and went and knocked on J’s door.


Miraculously, he was home, and invited us in. He then told us about some things that he’s been struggling with, and we had a really great, short lesson. We left filled with the spirit at 9:10, to get home by 9:30.


We walked to the corner where our bikes were, and quickly realized that someone had stolen all 4 of our tires. They had cut the chain lock and our frames were left chained to the stop sign. We’d heard of that happening before, so we just started to laugh and called the Zone Leaders for a ride. 🙂


The next day, we were all tired out, so we got temporary bikes from the mission home, which worked ok, but I obviously wasn’t very familiar with mine, because I misjudged a railroad track and crashed. Luckily I didn’t hit anything but the ground, and escaped with only some skinned knees, bruised hand and torn pants.


At that point in the week I wasn’t feeling so great.


However, last night, we had a last-minute and incredibly spiritual lesson with our investigator M at the Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center! We all felt the spirit very strongly, and he decided that he will be baptized in 2 weeks! The blessings of the week have far outweighed the rest.


I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is always willing to pick us up after difficult moments. When we fall, when our wheels our stolen, when we think all is lost, He is there to pick us up. And, if we happen to go through a little suffering while in His service, we’ll be as those of whom Paul spoke in
Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.


Trust in the promises of God. You’ll find them in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. He will never vary in what he has promised, and as long as we persevere in diligence, we will receive a place in that city that He has prepared.


Love,


Elder Mortenson