Saturday, September 28, 2013

Preparing for General Conference

Elder Jacoby Remington's Mother: Jacoby's letter refers to General Conference, which might not make sense to some of you.  Those of you who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and receiving this email, here's just a brief explanation of General Conference.  Since our church is a world wide church, twice a year the leaders of the church put on a meeting held in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is then broadcasted to members and others throughout the world.  This meeting is called General Conference, and it's an opportunity for them to teach important truths and gospel principles to all the members of the church throughout the world.  General Conference is October 5th and 6th, and can be found on the BYU channel in the morning and afternoon.  Hope this is helpful.

Family and Friends,

I am excited for General Conference this week and look forward to learning lots of new and important principles and ways to become better. The key to getting the most out of General Conference is the preparation before, concentration during, and application after. In my personal study, Mosiah 2:9 really stood out to me and I think we can apply it to General Conference. This is when all the people have gathered their tents around to hear the words of King Benjamin. He gives them this wise counsel before he begins his great sermon.

I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

Firstly we need to understand that we can't trifle with conference. We shouldn't just watch conference because its what everyone expects of us and then not really get into it and actively search ways to put in practice what they teach. Something small but important is that we shouldn't watch it in our pajamas while eating breakfast and reclined back on the couch... I know that's harsh and truth be told that's what I did before but then President Amaya taught us something that I'll never forget and I decided that I would change that habit. He explained that the way we dress for an occasion reflects the importance that said occasion has for us. That's why we don't go to church in pajamas, we don't go to the temple in pajamas, and we shouldn't watch the Prophets and Apostles of God in pajamas. We have to make an effort and wear Sunday clothes even if we stay in our house to really show that this is something important to us. He told me that and it hit me like a ton of bricks and I realized that he's right and I invite all of you to not just throw the idea away right off the back. Do it and you'll see that President Amaya is right and you'll get more out of conference. 

Also a huge part of the preparation has to do with President Uchtdorf's talk that I shared a few months ago: "General Conference - No Ordinary Blessing."

I recommend reviewing it again before conference and remember that the key is to go into conference with personal questions that you need answered and then have a prayer in your heart to hear and find the answer while you watch. I did it last April and it made conference so much more meaningful. 
Last key to a good preparation before conference is to simply be worthy of the Holy Ghost. Study the scriptures, say your prayers, go to church, and be obedient so that there is nothing interfering with you being in tune to the Holy Ghost because without Him you won't learn anything really. This includes getting a god 7-8 hours of sleep Friday and Saturday night so that you're not fighting to keep your eyes open! That is something that I can tell you from experience in high school will keep you from learning for obvious reasons. The preparation before conference allows us to have an edifying experience during conference. 

During General Conference, we need to be concentrating on what they are saying and most importantly how we are feeling. Take notes and write down the spiritual promptings you receive (especially things that you need to change in your life and ways to apply the message you hear). DO NOT write down every single little thing that they say and feel like you're doing a great job for writing a ton... they will print it all out in the church magazines so you don't need to worry about writing down a ton of quantity just focus on writing down quality material that is personal and relevant to you. Write down 3-5 personal questions and go over them in your head while listening and through the Spirit the answers will come :) King Benjamin wisely teaches that we need to have our ears, hearts, and minds open. We open our ears by being there seated, properly dressed, focused, and giving our full attention to what they teach. We open our heart by being completely willing to fully apply everything they teach. We shouldn't think that ¨oh well that's nice but I´ll do it later or its not that bad if I don't change¨ no, no we have to have a true desire to apply it. We open our minds by pondering on the messages we hear and thinking of various ways to live what we learn. 

Concentration during General Conference allows us to truly apply what we learn after General Conference. 

After General Conference, the application of what we learned truly will bless our lives. Do what they say and you'll be happy. Its that simple. 

I love you all very much and am loving every moment of the mission. We just had a great baptism and I'll be sure to send pictures next week because I'm out of time! 

Elder Remington

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nothing Better than Being an Answer to Someone's Prayer

Family and Friends,

As the title says, being the answer to another person's prayer is a spectacular experience that we should all have more often and will have more often as we consecrate ourselves more on always doing good things (D&C 58:27) and are more in tuned to the Spirit. Trust me when I say that there truly are few things that give you more joy, happiness, sense of purpose, and a satisfaction from knowing that you're doing what God wants you to do. 

I can't go into details about all the experiences I've had in this week but several times there have been people that were really struggling with some serious problems and we're feeling really confused and down on themselves and through listening and following spiritual promptings I was able to help them. One day we were way busy in the office doing a bunch of reports for President and then out of the blue I felt the need to call a missionary and chat (not understanding fully why or what I was going to say) and then he said I need help, started to cry, and told me of a lot of trials he was having... I had the chance to listen to him, to comfort him, and be there for him. Another time I felt the subtle impression that with a certain companionship I needed to be the one to do a 12 weeks verification (something in the mission that we do every week where you evaluate the progress of a companionship in how they're teaching and working, its normally with the zone leaders but we can do it in special occasions) and in the verification for that companionship it turned out that they were really discouraged, frustrated, and unsure why they weren't having lots of baptisms when they had been working so hard. Once again I had the sweet experience of listening to them, showing that they were important and were doing a good job, and teach them specific principles from Preach My Gospel that really helped them. Their was a special moment when one of the missionaries with tears in their eyes looked directly at me and smiling with great relief said, ¨Thank you Elder for helping us.¨ The Holy Ghost filled the room and I felt grateful that I had been worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and that when I felt that I had acted. 

I don't share this to boast but rather to share how great life is when we are in the service of God. I know this Church is true and that the Lord loves and looks out for every single one of His children. 

Be happy and serve others.


Elder Remington 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Things Happen for a Reason

Family and Friends,

Thank you everyone for the feedback and suggestions on the 8 Attributes :) I really appreciated it and learned from you all :) This week was an awesome week for Elder Magill and I here in Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission. Due to lots of new missionaries coming soon for many weeks we had been busy with office work; finding houses, renting houses, filling out paperwork, helping sick missionaries, and making graphs and charts analyzing data for President, etc.etc. By no means will I say that I don't enjoy doing those things, and I for sure understand how important it is that we do those things so the the Kingdom of God continues to be established.... however I will say that there is nothing like working hard and sweating out in  the mission field teaching and serving with other missionaries. You just can't replace that! This week we got to do 4 companionship exchanges from Tuesday to Friday in all sorts of different parts of the mission and it was AWESOME :) I learned a ton and I just love being out there serving side by side with these wonderful Elders :) It really is a blessing to have this assignment and be able to love and know and learn from so many different missionaries :) 

Last week two very interesting events happened that helped me remember and learn an important lesson. First, President Amaya told me very directly that I need to stop mumbling, that he can't understand me at all on the phone, and that I need to speak more clearly. He said that if I keep talking that way that I'll put people to sleep when I give talks or teach. Second, my companion and I carelessly left our cell phone at a store and it got stolen. Ok. Two events that at first glance without taking an eternal perspective of things appear to be very bad. However, when taken with humility, prayer, self-inspection, trusting in the Lord, a desire to always learn and improve, and an eternal perspective then these two events are seen for what they really are.... blessings and opportunities. 

The honest feedback and sound advice that President Amaya gave me was spot on. Ask my parents and they will testify to this that my entire life I have had a problem with mumbling on the phone. I don't fully know why I do it but I know its a problem and I recognize that I need to fix it and now thanks to President for telling me last week I have been really working on getting better at pronouncing clearly and speaking loudly on the phone :) and its worked. Many people would defend themselves and get offended or hurt that President said that but that would just be stunting their growth and missing a great opportunity to improve :) I simply smiled and eagerly said, ¨You're right President, I need to improve. Thanks for telling me and I'm going to do better.¨ Its hard to do many times and the natural man will want to fly out and start to explain how great of a public speaker you are and defend yourself stubbornly.... but we have to learn to submit to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost and be meek and humble and patient (Mosiah 3:19) that is a key to happiness and success. The sweet thing was that a few days later Elder Magill and I gave a presentation together at a leadership conference and President was super impressed and he congratulated us on how good of a job we did in public speaking and training the Elders :) and now I don't mumble on the phone (most the time) haha still got work to do sometimes haha. 

The second event of losing the cell phone was a wake up call to my companion and I. It was a consequence for us of being less focused and not obeying with Exactness. Now by no means am I saying that we were being way crazy and disobedient no, no, no of course not. Just that due to being in the office so much and having to stay up late some nights stressing over houses, sick missionaries, and tons of other urgent things... the two of us had forgotten a little bit of the reason we are here- to bring souls to Christ. Also we sometimes didn't follow the missionary schedule with exactness and were late at times. That's why we lost the phone. President Amaya wisely taught us once that if we are focused 100% on the work and obeying with EXACTNESS, then we will always have the Spirit strongly with us to warn us of any little thing like losing a cell phone. If we had been 100% focused and obedient we would've felt a prompting of the Spirit and gone back right away for the phone and wouldn't have lost it. Simple and true that being 100% obedient is easier than being 99% obedient :) and the painful and humiliating experience of losing our cell phone reminded us of that lesson very strongly! I'm not saying that we should run around losing cell phones to learn lessons but I do know that the price of a cell phone doesn't compare with the worth of being able to obey exactness and always count with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Therefore I see that experience as a blessing :) I am thankful for the opportunity to once again obey with exactness! D&C 90:24 Learn from every experience!


Elder Remington