|Nick and his awesome wife, Amy|
(Speaking to Sister Danielle Jessee, who also spoke today and leaves on her mission early next month): Danielle, I am so jealous of your next adventure. I would go back in a heartbeat if it was possible. It was the most difficult two years of my life, but the most gratifying at the same time. I not only saw myself transform into a more responsible, obedient man, but I witnessed how my small sacrifice brought forth huge blessings to many others in the world.
You will experience the same thing with your sacrifice to the Lord. I was able to bring the gospel to many people in Brazil, baptizing a few and planting seeds in many more.
The place I was shocked the most was in my immediate family. I’m sorry to tell you, Danielle, and everyone else here, but I have the best family out there. Every one of them would put anything on hold to help another out. They are very kind, successful and benevolent people. Growing up, however, we never went to church on a regular basis. In fact, the only time my entire family set foot in a church at the same time was during a baby blessing or baptism. I’m not faulting them at all, I just wished they would have given themselves a chance to feel the spirit prick their hearts and gain that testimony that I know is inside of them.
During your mission (some of you may have experienced this already today, or will do so later) you're able to call home on Christmas and Mother’s Day. Special times! They were the days where you put missionary work aside and remembered how sweet it is to hear those loved ones voices who are rooting for you back home. I especially liked those days because each call home brought some great news regarding one of my family members. My brother Cory was everything I described earlier. He was an extremely hard worker, and very successful in his line of work. My first call home was Christmas 1997. After speaking with everyone at the house, my brother hopped on the line and started telling me how he has been going to church again and really likes it. What?!?!?! My older brother going to church. Fantastic! The next call home was Mother’s Day 1998. Same scenario played out. He got on the phone this time and said "I’m getting the Melchizedek priesthood and have an interview to get my patriarchal blessing next month." I couldn’t believe it. I figured five months ago was just a fluke, and he maybe started going to church every once in a while, but no way was he “gaining that testimony” I wished for all of my family to feel. Seven months later Christmas rolled around and this time he had even greater news. He told me that he had married his wife in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple earlier that month. You can imagine the feelings that were rushing through my now senior missionary body now. I don’t take credit for anything that happened to my brother while on my mission, but I can’t help but think that maybe my small sacrifice brought forth great blessings in his life--the types of blessings that seal families for all eternities.
Danielle, you may see only 1/10th of all the blessings that the Lord will bless you and others around you with during your mission. You will drop to your knees nightly and thank the Lord for allowing you to be an instrument in his hands at this time. You will see miracles. You will transform lives. And to think, you won’t even witness the magnitude of your service and sacrifice until we are all passed through the veil, and receive countless thanks from those you touched during your missions. I wish you all the luck, and say once again. I am sooooo envious.
I can’t help but think none of this would have ever happened had a young boy not gone into a grove and inquired of the Lord which gospel is true. John Taylor wrote, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it...” I need to make sure everyone understands... Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. He atoned for our sins. He conquered the grave, and made it all possible for us to live again with our Heavenly Father. He is the cornerstone of the Church and through him everything is possible. His sacrifice for us is difficult to comprehend, yet so simple to understand. Without Him, that young boy wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to restore this gospel during these latter days. Joseph Smith was foreordained to be called to bring forth the last dispensation before the second coming of Christ.
Joseph Smith’s life was an example of unselfish sacrifice for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though the Prophet Joseph suffered greatly, he remained optimistic and overcame many persecutions. Parley P. Pratt tells of a heartrending experience of being with the Prophet in the jail in Missouri in the winter of 1838-39. Those six months of suffering and confinement tutored this foreordained, preeminent Prophet.
In the jail the Prophet and his brethren had listened to the boasting and the despicable abuses the guards had committed among the “Mormons.” Finally the Prophet could abide their sordid cursing no longer. Suddenly, he stood and in “a voice of thunder” said: “SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still...”
"He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel... [The quaking guards shrank] into a corner, dropped their weapons, begged his pardon and remained quiet till a change of guards.”
Brother Pratt writes further: “I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes...; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session...; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns...; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri."
Some weeks after that evening, in another dark hour, Joseph implored the Lord for guidance. The Lord answered, “My son peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.” Then the Lord said these intriguing words to the Prophet: “The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name.”
Sacrifice is ultimately a matter of the heart. “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.” If we are caring, if we are charitable, if we are obedient to God and follow His prophets, our sacrifices will bring forth the blessings of heaven.
Mother’s Day Message
Caring... Charitable... Obedient... Sacrifice... When I think of those words, I think of our wives and mothers. As Quentin L. Cook stated in last years April General Conference, “Women Are Incredible!” God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.
In the October 2001 General Conference Sheri Dew gave her thoughts on why women truly are incredible. She said, “When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed pre-mortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.”
Some mothers experience pain because of the children they have borne; others feel pain because they do not bear children here. About this Elder John A. Widtsoe was explicit: “Women who through no fault of their own cannot exercise the gift of motherhood directly, may do so vicariously.”
Sister Dew continues...“For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led.
"As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation.
"Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. Every sister in Relief Society, which is the most significant community of women on this side of the veil, is responsible to help our young women make a joyful transition into Relief Society. This means our friendship with them must begin long before they turn 18. Every one of us can mother someone—beginning, of course, with the children in our own families but extending far beyond. Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality."
My mom, just like all your mom’s has sacrificed so much for my welfare in making sure I had what I needed growing up. She thought she was done sacrificing for young kids when my brothers reached the age of 9 & 10, until I came bouncing along 9 years later. Talk about a sacrifice! Having to start all this over again for lil’ ol’ me. To say I was an accident is an understatement. But my mom was willing to put her career on hold for a little while and raise me up to be the man I am today. Don’t let any of my family members fool you though, I am definitely the most loved, favored, spoiled, and humble sibling in my family. :) I am so grateful for her commitment to raising me to be a good person.
Throughout the week I asked a few of the youth (and one semi-youth, Steve D.) in our Ward to finish the sentence: “My mom is/my wife is... & Thanks mom/wife for...” This is what they came up with:
Josh C. said, “My mom is patient. Thanks mom for being such a hard worker.”
Timothy H. said, “My mom is one of the most wonderful people in the entire universe. Thanks for always being there for me.”
Steve D. said, “My wife (Diane) is the the most patient non-Star Wars fan in the world. Thanks for loving and accepting me just the way I am.
Kaitlyn S. said, “My mom is kind and loving. Thanks for always taking care of everyone.”
Parker Y. said, “My mom is the most selfless, loving person, and always puts everyone before herself. Thanks mom for accepting me for who I am, and knowing how I feel even when I don’t show it on the outside.”
Emma P. said, “My mom is wonderful. Thanks for always being there for me.”
My mom is that beam of light that wakes me up every morning. Thank you mom for being an example of how person should always act.”
A mother’s sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven for themselves, their family, and everyone they come in contact with.
In closing I would like to read a message that I saw while watching one of those Mormon Message videos on lds.org. It is titled, “To Every Mother.”
“To Every Mother”
Every time a child is born, So is a mother.
An eternal bond is formed.
As your grow, your mother is there:
There to tuck you in,
to cheer you up,
There to teach,
There to send you off,
and to listen... when you call,
There to encourage you as you explore,
and dance the night away,
There to encourage,
to build faith,
There by your side, when others have left you,
There in good times,
and hard times
There in the details of daily life,
Life doesn’t come with a manual
it comes with a mother
This Mothers day thank the women who have loved, mentored, and mothered you.
In the name of Jesus Christ... Amen.