Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017

Dear Family/Friends, 

First off, thanks mom for sending all those pictures.  It makes me a little sad to see Grandpa at Grandma's grave, it's still not 100% real that she has passed.  I miss them both very much, and I'm excited to see Grandpa.  This week was really good, as I already told you over skype we got 2 new investigators, both really cool, and both willing to meet weekly.  One found the church through the internet and reached out to us, the other my companion, Elder DeVol had just talked to on the escalator. One of the things I've been really passionate about, is that for some reason or another, some people think that the worst call possible is to serve in Russia, especially since the change of the law.  I've heard people say, "It's hard, the people don't like you, it's cold all the time (that last one has proven to be true, our last snowfall was 5 days ago, and it was about an inch too), there's no one who wants to listen to us."  Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies.  I think if there's one thing that I've really learned on my mission, it's to trust the Lord in all that we do.  I love D&C 122:10 which says something to the effect of, "Be thou humble and the Lord thy God will lead thee by the hand and give thee answers to your prayers."  The need to trust the Lord is just so vital in all that we do.  I love the attitude of Joseph Smith, when he was in Liberty Jail, beaten and malnourished, maltreated, he was wondering where God had gone, and then he received comfort.  At the end of that experience he writes to members of the church who were being persecuted during that time and driven from their homes: 
123: 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
I love that we're supposed to first do all things that lie in our power, our actions show the Lord that he can trust us not to mess things up if he does pour out blessings.  I know that as we try to do all that we can, blessings come, not always in the way we expected or originally imagined, but they do.  The work in Russia is moving forward, it's hard, but every mission is hard, because as Elder Holland said when he was here, "salvation is not a cheap experience".  We had 2 baptisms this last week, and if everything goes to plan there will be 2 more this coming Saturday.  Sorry, I've just been really passionate as of late this last week, we've gotten to go on a couple of companion exchanges that have been a little eye opening.  This weekend we're going up to Petrozavodsk, it will be my last time up there on my mission, it's a beautiful city and I'm really excited.  Anyway, transfers are next week, and I'll let you know where I'm off to!  I'm pretty excited!  

I love you all so much, it was so fun talking to you.  I hope you have a great week!

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was good, like really good.  I don't think you understand, it was like really really good. Why was it so good?  It was one of the busiest weeks of my mission with missionary work.  Zone Conferences are done for the transfer, we did not have to travel with President this weekend, and we had 7 full days to do what the Lord needs us to do in our area.  This was one of the longest weeks of my mission just because it felt so packed with good activities.  We started meeting with a former investigator of 15 years whose wife is an active member of the church, and he seems ready to move past previous concerns and get baptized in the near future.  

We had several meetings come through, several meetings get cancelled at the last second, but we had backup plans and tried to just go out and talk to people if all else failed.  Every time we had a cancelled lesson, we just said "Well we're grateful that at least we have someone to care about and be disappointed that things didn't work out."  We have 4 lessons lined up already for this week for people that will be new investigators when we have our lessons with them.  To answer your question, we have one investigator who was a member referral, one meeting this week who was with a media referral, one from the sheet of former investigators, and about 15 people that we are trying to meet with and who have showed interest, that we've just meet by going out and talking to people. Not going up to people on the street, but just talking to people in transport and at stores, and a lot of people have shown personal interest and we have exchanged numbers with them.  It's helped me to strengthen my testimony of trusting the Lord so much.  He knows what he wants to get done, he really just needs us to give it our best and try to bring our will in line with his.  If we really do not know what to do we just go out and talk to people on transport and enjoy the opportunity to met people, and already several times they've shown interest in what we are doing here and have started to talk to us about religious topics.  It's also been really cool to see that talking to young people has led to a lot more success, just because a lot of them are looking into what direction they want to take in life.  The restrictions are still changing to this day, just as the law keeps getting interpreted, and yes we are still working with the members.  That last question I will need to think about some, but my approach to the work has changed working closely with President Childs.

Tomorrow is День Победы and today we get to go with President and Sister Childs to lay flowers at the statue of Mother Russia.  We will actually get to wear our tags today out in public (All the religious organizations in St. Petersburg are invited to go lay flowers).  I love the work, it's hard, and challenging, but so very rewarding.  I love the fact that living true to the Gospel of Christ helps us to want to serve more, be better, and do better, in all aspects of life.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a representative of Jesus Christ and serve others.  


Elder Belnap

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017

Dear Family and Friends!

Христос воскрес!  That's the greeting for Russians here on Easter, and it means "Christ is Risen".  What a wonderful, busy busy busy week.  I really enjoy conducting trainings, and we had several of those this week seeing that we got 7 new volunteers.  Tuesday was madness because we were at the airport for a while, we had volunteers coming both from the Spain MTC and the Provo MTC.  The 2 from Provo missed their flight, and the 5 from Spain came on time.  I got to take one of the new Elders around, and he was born in 1998!  It's weird that this next wave will be from 1999!  It's strange and I'd be lying if I said I like being one of the older ones in the mission.  Anyway, so while I got to take him around and talk to people, the Childs and Elder DeVol sat at the airport to wait for the next wave, we were supposed to have dinner at 6, but because of complications that started at 9, and короче it was one big mess.  The new volunteers are all so capable and ready, it's been inspiring to see.  On Thursday while they were without their passports for reasons very specific to missions in Russia, we got to do a training about language study and goal setting.  I love the opportunities to do trainings, because while I'm preparing for it I am able to see things that I would like to improve on and start doing better at them. It's always a great time for self evaluation to make sure that you're ready and doing all that you would like to teach people to do.  

We did have another meeting, it was rather short, and I was on a split at the time, so it was actually my companion who had the meeting, but the man we met on the streets will come to a special fireside tomorrow.  Speaking of which...ELDER HOLLAND will be in our mission tomorrow.  Yes, on of the Apostles will be here tomorrow, and I'm so excited to hear all that he will share with us.  I'm just so excited, and then there is a fireside at night and we have people who have agreed to come to it.  Anyway, I've kept that hidden, because we have known for 3 months and it's far more fun to share it right before it happens.  

We had several little miracles this week, my favorite of which was a conversation with an investigator, who has been kind of aloof.  She finally opened up on the phone and asked "Why do I need to get baptized?"  I explained what reasons there are, and that it is something that has been a tremendous blessing in my life.  She agreed to come to the fireside with Elder Holland and think about it.  

In the scriptures recently I read in Alma 1:25 which reads: Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.

This verse really testifies about life not always being easy, especially for those that "stand fast in the faith" but that if we are steadfast and immovable in keeping God's commandments, we can bear with patience anything that the world has to throw at us.  I know that it is thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ that we can be forgiven, and strengthened in our trials.  I know that He died for the world, and I am so grateful for this special time of year when we can remember him.  His resurrection happened, and because of Him we can continue to progress and grow until the perfect day.  

I love you all so much!  I'm sorry that I have no pictures to share, that will be some other time!  

Have a great week!

Elder Belnap

Pleasantly surprised this morning to receive from a friend in Russia a photo of our son, ElderChristopher Belnap, meeting Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, with the following message: "He asked, 'Are you the son of Brent Belnap who was the stake president in New York?'" 

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017

What a week!  Plenty of things to share, but I don't really know where to begin.  First off, I'm fine after the terrorist attack, fortunately no one I know was injured, and there were several miracles that kept the volunteers out of the metro that day, and if it hadn't been bad weather that day, several were planning on gathering right by that metro for playing some outdoor basketball (funny how all the days before and all the days since have had uncharacteristically nice weather for Saint Petersburg).  Here's the short version that my mom asked me to write her: Well, this all happened on our Preparation Day, and we were at the рынок (marketplace), about a half mile from the metro station where the blast occurred, shopping for a new suit for my companion, and we got a call from one set of Elders that they saw a bunch of ambulances and police cars in that area, and that we should leave.  And as my companion and I were leaving we got another call from another set of Elders saying that they heard from an investigator that there was a terrorist attack.  We got in contact with President Childs, he confirmed that there was, and that we can't use transportation, and that we need to get an accounting for everyone in the mission.  So we started walking the 2 or 3 miles to the mission office. There was supposed to be a second blast in a different metro that we walked past on the way home, it was a bomb disguised as a fire extinguisher, but for some reason or another it didn't go off, and it was about 5 times the size, very grateful that it did not.  We got an accounting for everyone in the mission and everyone and we had to stay inside the night while we found out more information and got a better feel for what is going on. 

Anyway, that's all that happened with that this week.  We had to stay out of the metro for a while this week, the US embassy suggested that we stay off on the weekend as well because there were rallies, so it made it interesting doing our work without the metro.  We had a lot to get ready for transfers this upcoming week so that was really fun.  We also had a skype lesson with an investigator in a mission where a friend is serving that wants to know more, but speaks limited English, so that was really fun.  

The best thing this week was unequivocally General Conference.  So many answers received and just a joy to listen to a Prophet of God speak.  I was blown away when he got up and I felt in my heart that President Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God on the Earth today.  One of the overall themes for me from conference, was the blessing that it is to choose.  It didn't seem to me as if there was a talk on free agency, but I felt time and time again to write down thoughts pertaining to the wonderful blessing we have to choose, and particularly to choose what is right.  I love it when people here sometimes call us crazy for "losing" 2 years of our lives and that we've been brainwashed.  I love answering "no, I'm perfectly aware that our decision seems to be crazy to you, but it is my decision to do this, and no one else's. I want to be here and serve on a mission."  As we take responsibility for our choices, both good and bad, a sense of great peace comes over us.  

After the Sunday Afternoon Session of Conference, we felt the need just to get outside for a bit (to that point we had been inside all day), but we also had to weekly plan.  So we decided to take a "weekly planning walk" and discuss our plans for this week and what needs to get done.  We started talking about investigators, and I had just finished saying, "What needs to be done to grow our teaching pool?" When a man stopped us and in English said, "Are you the LDS?"  Well, we had a fantastic 30 minute conversation with him, exchanged numbers.  Turns out that in 1997 he worked in Moscow with members of the church and has always been impressed by the light in their eyes, and he told us that's how he told it was us, and that the suits confirmed it, the "LDS uniform" as he calls it.  After that I said, "well, I guess THAT is how we grow our teaching pool." to which Elder DeVol nodded and said, "Enough said."  Miracles are happening, and often we just need to do what feels right in order to see what the Lord has in store.

I love you all so much, you are in my prayers, and I hope you have a great week!  


Elder Belnap

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017

Thank you mom for that beautiful letter, needless to say I'm just very grateful for all that you do, and for the inspiring letter you just left me with.  Dad also left me with a couple of great snippets, said that he ran into Chris Jeppson on the way to Ghana.  Wow, that is so exciting about President Buckner!  I love and miss NYC lots, it's strange to think of all that has changed in the last 10 years.  Sounds like it was just a fantastic week all the way around.  

This week on our end was honestly long.  I realized that I have been a little bit of a нытик (crybaby/whiner) this last week, we just had a lot of things to do in the office to prepare for transfers and a General Authority (leader in our church) visit we are going to be having in the near future, and I really do not like being in an office when we have the work of saving souls.  But, I had a great split with Elder Jensen my previous companion, up in Petrozavodsk, and he reminded me that Elder DeVol and I get to do that, so that everyone else can focus 100% on what they need to do.  I hadn't really verbalized any of my complaints, but I realized that I was not doing things with a willing mind.  (See D&C 64:34).  So I did what we all should be trying to do all the time, and tried to quickly repent that I was not content with the situation.  And what a difference that change of attitude makes!  If there are things that have to be done, then do it!  If there are things that do not need to be done, then do not waste your time with them!  Be willing to do what is required of you, but always be diligent about trying to make sure you are not doing anything that would waste time.  

This week I have been thinking about a verse in Acts 10:43.  It reads "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins".  At this time of the year is General Conference, and this General Conference is also very close to the time of year that we celebrate Easter.  I hope that as you listened to Conference, you were able to listen to what these spiritual giants shared, and that you tuned in especially to their witness of Christ.  They teach nothing, except for that which will help us to come closer to him and receive a remission of our sins.  I know that Christ lived and that He died, that He suffered on the cross, and that He is a resurrected being who knows us all by name.  I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to prophets (and apostles, and other church leaders) that witness of Christ.  My life is just so much better as I try to focus on what Christ would do, and I feel more purpose in my life, the more that I try to live in the way that he would have me live.  I'm grateful that it's no one's choice but my own to live that way, but that I can see the blessings of living according to Christ's Gospel every day, and that motivates me to keep changing, improve, serve and help others who are on, and not on that way right now.  

I love you all so much!


Elder Belnap

Later that day there was a terrorist bombing in the metro of St. Petersburg.  The mission office sent out the following email:

Dear Parents,
We know that each of you have been concerned about news reports of terrorist activity in St. Petersburg,-- we can assure you that all of our Volunteers are accounted for and safe. We have been in contact with each of your sons and daughters and they are more concerned about their parents than themselves.
We are disheartened that these events happen and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Please keep them in your prayers.
We have excellent support from experts on situations like this and have appreciated their advice. We will continue to do all in our power to keep our Volunteers safe.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

President and Sister Childs

And then Christopher wrote a short time later:

You've probably already gotten an email about the terrorist attack from the mission secretary. Everyone in the mission is safe, we were close by the attack, but everything is ok and we were not in the metro at the time.  

Love you and hear from you next week!

"and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear." (Moroni 8:16)

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, 

What a week!  It was so good and flew by just so fast.  I really can not grasp entirely how it just flew by, and hear we are and it is almost April.  I'll start by wishing you с прошедшим днем рождения (a belated birthday)! I would have wished you a happy early birthday, but that's unlucky here :).  I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it and had a good time out and about with Aunt Carolee.  I'm also glad to hear about all the good things that are going on, and that you are enjoying your favorite thing--taxes.  Also, I never knew that you had a Native American "sister" who lived with you for a time.  Or maybe you did tell me, but I just didn't register that you actually had someone live with you for a time.  Can you fill me more in?  I'm interested.  Also, yes Dad I am interested in family history, I just don't know entirely how to do it, and you'll have to show me a bit when I get home.  If you want to come pick me up, you'll have to take care of that quickly, and I have a request to show you Kaliningrad if we do go :). 

Speaking of Kaliingrad, it was so much fun.  It feels like my home ward there.  Not many people knew that we were coming, and so it was a big surprise for many.  They really are my family down there.  I went on a split with Elder Ward, and we went to go running with the previous branch president (leader of the congregation in Kaliningrad), Президент Крот, and he had no idea I was coming.  He came up and gave me a big bear hug. We just talked about life, how he is doing, he is doing a lot better, we talked about some gospel topics, how the ward is doing and how we can help. It was just one of those experiences you live for, where you feel the Spirit, and see such wonderful people that you have come to love.  Our visit also coincided with the baptism of a younger man that came to the church about a week or 2 after I left on his own and completely of his own volition, he was just interested what was there.  I went to the Secretary's office and talked with Брат Кудряшов, he's the one who poked his head in during my skype call.  He finished up finances and we just talked a bit, how things are in his family.  He's the only active member of his whole family and just the biggest most lovable man I know, and he needs support.  At the end he said that he's always glad to see me and talk to me, and President Krot said that he's sure I'll be back at some point, I'm just not the type of person to fall away.  I really hope I can introduce you to all of them someday :).  

We also had a really good meeting with our investigator Tamara.  She came over to the bishops house and it was just a really good meeting.  I love being around the Childs, they are just so good, and I really do love both of them so much.  They inspire me to be better, do better, and really love people.  They are so concerned and in touch with individual people.  I know that they find the strength to remember names, really care, and truly love the people that they meet, because they pray to have charity and share that love with others.   It makes me think of this wonderful talk called the Character of Christ.  Christ never turned inward, but rather was always focused on others, and he was never selfish, but rather selfless.  What wonderful things we can learn about sincerity and love from the Savior of mankind.  As I try to study his example, my love for people grows, and as I pray the same thing happens.  

I love the opportunity to serve this people and the blessing it truly is to try and teach them about Christ, the example for us all, and if we learn from his example we can learn that, yes, we do make mistakes and that there is consequences for sin, but that we can repent quickly. I love this quote from Elder Holland: 

"If there is one lament I cannot abide, it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” If you want to talk about discouraging attitudes, that is one that discourages me. Please spare me your speeches about “That’s just the way I am.” I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin to cover a vast range of habits which bring discouragement and doubt and despair.

You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. It is another Satanic falsehood to believe that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say “I’ll change”—and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed, you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as it did for Alma and the Sons of Mosiah."

As we focus on him, we can learn how to repent quickly, learn how to love, and learn how to be forgiven.  We can learn how to keep working on our personal growth while not getting upset when the said personal growth isn't as quick as we would like.  We can learn the blessings of obedience to God, and the true joy that it brings.  We can better understand the great responsibility we have to use our free agency to make correct decisions.  

I love you all, I love Russia, I'm so grateful for the people here, the language, all of it.  It's a beautiful, miraculous place.  I'll hear from you next week!


Elder Belnap

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

Thanks for the update!  Before I start, this day was a little strange, and hence I am writing a little later, but for the most part I'll still be writing really early on.

I love that Nathan got to sing, and look his best, I love when he got his new suit and we all thought that he was the cutest little kid.  Thanks as well for sharing what Uncle Dave spoke about at the conference, I wish I could have listened to that, but I'm sure I will get to hear about everyone's experiences with Grandma and Grandpa at some later date.

This week had its highs and lows.  We had Zone Conferences, which went really well.  It was enjoyable to see how they were all planned with the same broad topic in mind, but how each one varied based off different ideas from different people, and different comments throughout that spurred conversation on one topic or another.  

We also received a media referral today and got a new investigator last week!  One step at a time!

Other than that, we were only able to have a couple of meetings this week, and I don't really know why, but my companion and I just had a little bit of tension between us, and when that happens, things just seem to stop.  I don't really know when it cropped up and how, I think it was just after a lesson with an investigator that left an unsavory taste in our mouths.  Anyway, we finally had the companionship inventory on Sunday that we really should have had on Friday (that's been one thing I've had a hard time with, I'm usually the one who talks a lot, and for the most part I have a pretty jovial attitude, so if there's a potential issue, I want them to bring it up so that I don't mistakenly ask if something is wrong if everything is ok).  Anyway, we realized that we had a hard time, because we had been traveling and the week before it was stake conference, and so it was hard to meet any one person in the ward. So, basically my companion hadn't even gotten to meet the ward that we were serving in yet, and we though that after he gets to meet them, then things would probably get a lot better.  It was incredible how night and day it felt, as soon as he could really see the people that we were serving, any and all tension disappeared and we refocused on what we are here to do.  

I got some thoughts today on remembrance from a friend serving in California (shout out to Sister Sorenson), and they were so beautifully put, and just reminded me a lot of the tension that left as quick as it came between my companion and I this week.  I love the Gospel and I am so grateful for the reminder to remember.  Remember the first time we received a testimony of Christ, remember the time that we felt a feeling that could only be described as the peace and comfort that comes from the Holy Ghost, remember all the pile of blessings that we have received in this life.  I know that as we look back in our lives and at our lives now, if we prayerfully think about how God has blessed us, we will be able to see and understand a little better all that he has done for us.  For me, the hardest thing that I have had to remember is that even though the success for us can be hard to see sometimes in our mission, that my success as a missionary or as a volunteer has nothing to do with outward results, but inward desire to do everything I can, and pray to God to bless my meager efforts, so that other people can be blessed.  

This next weekend we will be in Kaliningrad and a man will be baptized who walked into the building about a week or 2 after I left.  It will be an exciting week.  Here are my friends thoughts on remembrance:

The Book of Mormon uses the word "remember" 157 times, and the word "forget" just 20. One of our most important instructions to "remember" come in the sacramental prayer-- that we "always remember Him." I've compiled a list of 7 ideas via scripture that chronologically relate to what I want to remember and how I want to "always remember Him": 

Remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth  (Alma 37)
Remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer (Alma 29)
Remember that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water (3 Nephi 7)
I could remember my pains no more (Alma 36)
Remember that every good gift cometh of Christ (Moroni 10)
Remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true (Mosiah 1)
3 Nephi 27-- Remember the things that I have told you.

1. Remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth

I don't think my parents would have ever looked at me as a youth and thought, "she is... learning wisdom." Quite the opposite, in fact. But I mean I wasn't totally hopeless. I was still learning. Heavenly Father can teach us at whatever stage of our lives.

2. Remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer 

When I went off to college, I became more aware (obviously) of being an individual human independent of mom, dad, same home family ward as the former 18 years of my life. I talked to my YSA bishop, totally dumbfounded at how people my age had the capacity to claim they had a firm belief in God when they had only just stopped shopping in the "juniors" section at Target. I wanted to know two things-- 1) why wasn't that me? And 2) was there actually God? My bishop advised in a way I had heard but also not heard before because it felt more personal than previously: pray, ask God if He is there and if He loves you. Not a complicated thing, but as I prayed  there was this thing that started to grow inside of me: a little seed of faith. 

It grew as I prepared to serve a mission, and life started working out more than before. It's not even that my grades or musical performances of athletic endeavors worked out better-- I just felt more joy, and more at peace with not being everything I wanted to be  all at once. 

I felt that Heavenly Father heard my prayers, and got me and my family out of the rut that was all of high school. 

And then things fell somewhat apart at once at a very inconvenient time-- 3 months before my mission. Family went from smooth sailing to a little stormy, friends went from contactable to unreachable (partly cuz they became missionaries), working and school became more challenging and started earlier in the day. I kept preparing for a mission. 

Which is good. I loved the MTC, I was excited to serve a mission. Then I got here and my brother left the church. And then a few months later my family member passed away-- the one thing I asked Heavenly Father to not do, to take someone I loved from me before I got home. 

So I had to remember what the Lord had done for me, and how He had heard some of my first sincere prayers as a freshman in college. 

3. Remember that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water 

Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. Even through what my heart and mind were batting, Heavenly Father gave my companions and me people to love, teach, and help to be baptized. But none of them would have been baptized without repenting, and none would have repented without having faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Remembering my purpose was my lifeline, and even though I still felt like I was drowning I knew I could at least do what Elder M. Russell Ballard directed-- "stay in the boat and hold on." As I tried to stay afloat, I began to feel what Peter felt when seeing the Savior walk on water--

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Remembering the Savior gave me faith to teach, and reminded me to help others remember Him, too, through helping others through the path to Him. 

4. I could remember my pains no more... and oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain 

I still remember how I struggled and fought, but through the healing power of the Atonement I don't feel the darkness like I did. Through reaching for the Savior during my trials I was able to bear what was happening, and through helping others understand and apply the gospel and atonement of Jesus Christ I found conviction and strength. 

I remember the circumstances, I remember the challenges, but I also remember the equivalent joy and light that came with it.  

5. Remember that every good gift cometh of Christ 

Back to last night's "Miracle Drive". Looking back on my mission I'm not even going to try to count the gifts, blessings, and miracles. Whether it's serving at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site-- which, in itself, has been an incredible blessing-- having companions from all over the world, learning more about who I am and what I'm capable of accomplishing, or meeting soul after soul after soul and testifying of the Savior, His gospel, and the blessing it is to know and apply it. Every good thing has come because of Him and having His name so close to my heart. Every good gift cometh of Christ. 

6. Remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. 

Whether I was sitting on the floor of my freshman dorm room, the back of the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, or the ancient desks in our ancient apartments doing everything I could to make up for lost time and really "treasure up the word" of the books of scripture, I want to remember that what I've been teaching others for 18 months is true. And that the records we have are true. 

7. And, finally, the Savior's words: "Remember the things that I have told you."

I will have a lifetime of learning, and the gospel in its simultaneous complexity and simplicity will be foundational in my decision making. The Savior taught anciently to the people in the Eastern Hemisphere, He taught anciently to the people in the Western Hemisphere, and as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father-- as disciples of Jesus Christ-- I can remember the things He has told me. 

 I can remember the parables, the stories. Most importantly, however, I can always remember Him. I can always remember His example, His love, His goodness. I can always remember His joy, and His pain. I can always remember His Atonement-- His suffering, His death, and His resurrection. He is more than a man, but He has descended below anything any other man so He can lift every other man and woman if they remember Him. 

My hope for myself is that I will always remember Him. My hope for you is that you will always remember Him-- that you'll remember your brothers and sisters and invite them to come to Christ. Whether by your example or your invitation, I hope you'll remember the things He has told us to love Him, love our neighbor, and love ourselves. 


 I love those thoughts so very much, and I pray that we all can remember all that God has done for us in our lives, and remember all the wonderful things that we have been given.  I know that as we do so, we will receive greater peace, knowing that as we pass through trials right now, we will be able to recognize and remember how God has supported us and that he still is.  I love you all so very much, and I hope you have a great week!


Elder Belnap