Why hello there one and all! How are you all doing this fine week? Honestly this has been another great week. I feel like God is blessing me so much here in my last little while in Tijuana. Well this week was full of great adventures and lots of lessons learned. A few of disappointments and a few miracles, but as always, the will of God played out. I feel so blessed to be here in this area to finish off my mission. I really am learning so much and I feel like I have actually been able to make a difference here in the ward and stake. Seeing the numbers from when I got to this area and now that I will be leaving have been incredible changes. Like I say, God is blessing us so much right now with the desires of our heart.
One of the great things of this week was yesterday in our first Christmas concert. Honestly I don’t know how, but it turned out great. I was so nervous because I felt as if we were super behind and hadn’t been able to practice enough together, but once again, God sees the desires of our hearts and helped us out so much. The concert turned out really good. It was here in Tijuana in the Otay Stake. I was able to see quite a few people that I knew and that was really cool. In the concert, I am singing a solo of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem It is a pretty arrangement and I feel like it turned out really good. But my favorite song of the whole concert is the last one and we do it as a group. It is the ever so classic family Christmas song, Starbright. I love that song so much. The words are very moving and I am excited to share the recording with you guys when I get home. This week we will be doing one more concert here in my stake this Sunday. I am super excited for it and I think it is going to turn out great once again!
Well seeing as this will most likely be my last letter home and really my last opportunity to share through a letter the things that I have learned I would like to share with you all some of the most important things that I have learned in these past 2 years serving here in Tijuana.
1. “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God” –Doctrine and Covenants 18. God truly does care about each and every one of us. Every person who has ever lived here upon this earth is literally a son or daughter of God. He cares for us as an earthly father does for his children. Even though we are billions who have lived here upon the earth, he knows each of us. He is worried for us when we are worried, cries with us when we are sad, and rejoices when we obey his commandments and are happy.
2. You can’t be saved with just the Church or juts the Gospel, you need them both. There are many people that believe they will be saved by their being a good person and trying to follow God, but deny the importance of going to the one true Church. Others attend the true Church every Sunday without missing, but lack applying the things that they learn into their lives. Neither of these two groups will be saved in the Celestial Kingdom. Only those who are active in the Gospel and participate in the special ordinances that can only be performed in the Church by holders of Gods power called the Priesthood will be able to receive this gift.
3. “When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.” One of the most important Christ-like attributes is that of service. One thing that many members of the Church don’t realize or remember is that when we were baptized, we each made a covenant to give service (Mosiah 18:8-10). We should always be looking for the hand that needs a lift, and constantly be searching for that person that needs us. Every person has a moment in their life when they need that help; it is our responsibility as Children of God to be there to help those people out in the time that they need it.
4. There is no such thing as a good excuse for not completing with the commandments of God. Day after day over the last two years of my life I have passed the time visiting and teaching members and non-members alike the importance of the Commandments of God. As it teaches us in John 14, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” God gives us commandments so that we may become blessed. He gives us these rules so that we can stay on the right path, but sadly there are many people that put other priorities above that of following God. The only thing that I can promise is that that Nephi gave, “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” There are no excuses for not completing; the excuses just show the true desires of our hearts.
5. “Repentance is the key to happiness”. As I was interviewing a man not too long ago for his baptism, I asked him, “What does repentance mean for you?” and he responded, “It is the key to happiness”. That has stuck with me ever since. In my life I have found that to be true. In this life we commit errors that at times bring feelings of guilt and remorse. It is normal to commit these mistakes, it is “human”, but that is not an excuse to stick with those errors. Day after day, our loving Father in Heaven gives us the opportunity to repent, to leave behind the bad and make ourselves better. As we make it a habit day after day to repent of all of our mistakes we will find that little by little we become better people, we become more like our Savior Jesus Christ, and we in turn become happier.
6. The Gospel is for EVERYONE. Jesus Christ our Savior came here to this earth to pay for the sins of the children of God. The only way that we can be made free of our sins is through following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First, we must have faith in our Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. Second, we must repent daily. Third, we must follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone with the authority of God. Fourth, we must receive the precious gift from our Heavenly Father of the Holy Ghost. Fifth, we must endure to the end. It we do not do these things we will not be able to enter into the Kingdom of God. In the last year as we have made a bigger emphasis of working with the members of the Church to help bring their friends and family to the Gospel, many have told us that they don’t know anybody else that needs the Gospel. They say, “Well that person is Catholic” or “That person isn’t very religious” or “Well my neighbors smoke and I don’t think they want to stop.” My response to them always is, “So you don’t want them to receive salvation?” The Gospel really is for EVRYONE. If we don’t live it, we won’t receive the blessings.
7. “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” As I have been here on my mission I have learned the importance of receiving knowledge through God, and not other sources. Every lesson that I teach, I invite people to ask God if the things we teach are true. It is the only way that one will be able to receive a confirmation of the truth. Many times as humans we depend too much on the wisdom of our fellow beings; what it says on the internet, newspaper, or Facebook, but one thing that many lack to do, is ask God. I am completely convinced that if we ask God, he will enlighten our minds and we will know the truth.
8. If you don’t set goals, you will never reach them. In this life, if we don’t set goals we will never reach anything. As Elder Bednar says, “I am strongly convinced that if we do not set goals in our lives, we will get to a ripe old age and realize that we have not become anything of what we could have been.” Right now is the time to decide where we want to go with our lives. We must set the goals and make the plans to be able to complete them so that we do not end our lives with remorse for things that we didn’t do.
9. The Gospel blesses families. One of the most incredible things that I have seen out here is the difference that the Gospel makes in the family when it is applied. I have seen hundreds of families in distress, but I have also seen hundreds of families blessed by the power of the Gospel. When we live the gospel as a family, we receive the blessings of God. It creats stronger bonds between Husband and wife, father and son. As a family reads the Book of Mormon and prays together and participates weekly in the Family Home Evening, God keeps our families strong.
10. I have a testimony. Honestly, what I believe to be the most important thing that I have come to realize and understand here in the mission is that fact that I really do have a testimony. I know that these things are true. I know that God is our Father and that He sent His son Jesus Christ to pay for each of our sins. I know that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can be able to return to be with our Father in Heaven again. I know that God always has and continues to guide His children through chosen men named prophets. I know that God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet. I know that he restored the Church of Jesus Christ and was given the Priesthood; the power that God gives to man to work in His name. I know that the families can be forever. If we make sacred covenants through baptism and in the temple, we will be able to have eternal life as a family. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet in our days. I know that he receives direction from God. I know that this is the only true Church upon the earth. I know that God desires our best and that He will help us complete it. I know these things are true.
It has been my pleasure for these last two years to be able to write you all and share my thoughts with you. I hope that we may all be able to take something from the things that I have shared. As always, I wish you the best. Remember who you are, and act accordingly. I will see you all in a week!
Elder Tommy Anderson
|The bill from dinner last week with zone leaders.|