Hello my dear family and friends!
I cannot believe it, but this Wednesday will be one month from my entering the MTC.
All I can say is: "WHAT!?!"
It seemed crazy to me that it has been a month, and that my MTC stay is officially half-completed. It feels both like I just got here, and like I have been here forever.
I love all of the letters and Dear Elders and packages and emails and love what you send in them! I love to hear that I have a package, or a letter, or two or three or four! It makes my day, and reminds me that there really is a world outside of this one, and there are people who live out there, and love me, and wish me to know and feel of their love by sending me a little something :)
General Conference was a blessing in my life, as it always is. I had many of the answers to my questions and prayers be answered, and I have made some connections that needed making. Yet, there are connections that I still seek desperately to make. How thankful I am for modern-day revelation, that we can truly hear the word of God from the mouths and voices of His servants. It's strange to hear them speaking directly to the missionaries who are presently serving, and to realize that's me :)
I hope that you all are doing well, and are feeling the love of the Lord in your lives. What a blessing to be on the earth at this time! To learn and to grow, and to utilize that knowledge for the helping and uplifting of others. My testimony was strengthened in the need for a testimony! We need our own testimony, and then as we bear it to others, the Holy Ghost can testify both that the things we testify are true are true, and the Holy Ghost can also testify to others that we truly know those things to be true.
I've also learned more about the necessity of having the Holy Ghost to be with us always, and my desire to have that constant companionship has greatly increased. It is interesting to mention the scripture from which the name of the manual "Preach My Gospel" came from. Right on the front cover, it quotes the scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants from which it was taken. (I believe it's D&C 50:14) I have heard numerous people talk about this title, one in particular being Elder Jefferey R. Holland in a powerful devotional address given in 2005 (I think). In D&C 50:14, it says that the elders, or missionaries, are called to "preach my gospel by the Spirit". Elder Holland said (now, truly imagine Elder Holland saying this in his own way, with power and force, with the edge that is characteristic of when he is saying something that in his mind and heart and soul is extremely important): "The name of this manual could very well have been 'Preach My Gospel By the Spirit', but it was simply a bit to lengthy. But don't you ever think of it's title without the rest of the verse connected to it."
In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42:14 (I think), it says that we should seek for the Spirit in our teaching, and that "if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach." For a very long time, I thought that this was almost like a commandment, that if we don't receive the Spirit, we are commanded not to teach. I now do not believe that to be a correct interpretation of the scripture. Instead of a commandment, it is a declaration of fact, a statement of principle that we need to come to realize and have a testimony of. It should guide our actions and remind us of the vital importance and significance of all of our works and deeds in associating with other people around us.
It is not a commandment in the sense that "if ye receive not the Spirit, ye are commanded not to teach." Rather, it is simply and emphatically stating: "If ye receive not the Spirit, no teaching will take place." If we don't have the Spirit with us, and we don't teach by the Spirit, then how can spiritual things be learned? There are a few things that we must realize:
First, we do not teach. The Spirit does. This is good for us to know, because if we do have the Spirit with us, and we learn to teach by the Spirit and with the Spirit, it doesn't matter how incapable or inexperienced teachers we are. The Spirit will fill in the gap between our abilities and what others need to know, feel, and do.
Another important component of this is that we need to never be prideful of our teaching abilities, because the Spirit teaches, not us. (If your confused about this, read D&C 121:36-end of the chapter, specifically where it talks about pride causing the heavens to withdraw).
Second, we must be sure that nothing in our lives is hindering our ability to have the Spirit to be with us, and/or to teach and/or learn by the Spirit. This includes trying to teach others by logical, Bible-bashing-reminiscent means. (I can say that because I've been guilty of this, and have a knowledge through experience that it doesn't work.)
Anyway, I love you all, and have the Spirit to be with you! And like how Brother Bott would end every single class: "you want to teach with the Spirit, but in order to do that you must:"
"DON'T SIN ANY MORE!!" (we would all yell back)
I love you all, and will write soon:)
Love always and forever,
Elder Reid Empey