Monday, August 17, 2015


An Epistle to Earth (Yeah, the Internet Makes that One Possible),

Hopefully I used the word epistle right. Well, I probably did. I guess there are probably different levels of, this is not going to be on the same level as Paul's to the Corinthians...that was a throw down of biblical proportions. And it probably isn't going to be as memorable as Moroni's epistle to Pahoran...that was a good one. I think it might go down in history as a very anti-climactic epistle. One that didn't really deserve any praise or recognition, or even the verbage or title of "epistle" in the first place. But perhaps time will tell. In reality, one might discover in the future, when this is found in the ruins of some then-ancient civilization of suburbia, that the author of this epistle really just named it an epistle because it sounded so close to the word "pistol" that he thought it was cool to say. Or perhaps not.

This epistle could have contained the temporal and hilarious affairs of my week. Such as the deathly experience we had with a spider literally the size of Shilob that almost ate my foot off, the hilarious exchanges that we had with some missionaries in our zone, the dubstep missionary raps that Elder Miller and I sing in the car on our way to the beautiful and dystopic city of Surrey, but I feel like I should share something better... Long story short: we need the faith to stand the wind!

This week, I was given an amazing opportunity to give a discourse (okay, okay, it was just a sacrament talk) in the Fraser Valley YSA Branch in which I serve. And it caused me deep reflection...mainly because I was given free reign on what my topic would be. And I was drawn again and again to the principle of having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and what that can really do for us in our lives.

Specifically, I remembered an experience I had when I was a young child. Just imagine the Elder Stock you know and put my same head on a small, really lanky child's body. that you have that image in your head, here it goes.

I was driving around with my mom with a stack, about the size of a phone book, of "thank you" notes to Relief Society sisters around the ward. On this particular trip, I was being used as an errand boy. I would take the notes to the door and then deliver them to these Relief Society sisters.

On this particular day, however, it was very, very windy. I'm talking trees thrashing around, dust and debris being flung across the neighborhood in all directions, and the general chaos that occurs with strong winds was occurring...much to my chagrin. The sand was getting in my eyes every time I walked out of the van, and the wind, I firmly believed, threatened to tear me down to destruction.

And so I did what any boy with any ounce of faith in Jesus Christ would do in this situation. I tried to be like Him. And I raised my hand to the wind, this invisible force of destruction. And I said simply to it, "Stop."

Nothing happened, of course.

But I learned a lot of lessons from this one day, this one moment in my life.

I was thinking about Jesus and His Apostles on their way to the Gadarenes in the middle of the sea. When the tempest raged around them. And out of fear, the Apostles asked Jesus, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" He sat there, sleeping, and suddenly, in response to their distress, He arose and rebuked the tempest. Instantly, He calmed the winds, the waves, everything. Just like that. And the Apostles, stunned, sat there speechless. And what Christ said to them is amazing. He simply asked them, "Why are ye so fearful?"

Why are we so fearful? We're like the Apostles of old. We're members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His true and living Church here on the earth. We have access to His Atonement. All of it. That's because we have the priesthood authority that makes living the gospel of Jesus Christ (you know the doctrine He taught that allows us to accept His Atonement) even possible. We have, so to speak, Jesus Christ right there next to us. In that boat with us. And so when the tempests rage, when the furious winds blow, when the monstrous and mountainous waves threaten us, why do we fear?

We have a promise in Helaman 5:12 that if we build our foundation on Christ, then the adversary will have no power to drag us down to the gulf of misery.

If we have faith, we will not be toppled by the wind. And I have learned in my life that the choice I made when I was a little kid to try and stop the wind was foolish. Only Christ can stop the winds that beset us, and He will do so in His time. All we need to do and all we can ask for is for the strength to stand the winds. Because they are there to help us grow.

This past week, we were able to see the baptism of Ariel Fritz. She is so awesome, and it was really cool to see her make this choice in her life to follow Christ. You could tell that she knew it was true. That this was her making a real promise with God. And that was amazing to see.

I love doing missionary work. Because it's so selfless. Naturally, I am a very selfish man. But I try every day to just be like Christ and turn out. Just focus on those around me and serve selflessly every day.

And this work helps us to be sanctified and to become truly and personally converted. Yeah, we can go to the temple and read our scriptures and pray more sincerely, and do everything that we can to better ourselves, but unless we turn out and share the gospel with others and truly help others, we are lost. It's called charity. I have learned that out here very literally. If we really want to follow Christ, then we'll go and we'll lift those around us. I saw so much joy this week as I was able to go out and just preach the gospel to every single soul I could see. And sometimes people aren't nice. But you know what? They're children of God. With a potential of receiving everything that their Father has in store for them. So you don't stop. You keep going. And you walk the path of Christ. And if that involves some suffering, then so be it. Because He suffered everything for us.

I love it! I have gotten to get to know the members here in the YSA a little better, now. And they are so cool. It is amazing to see these people accept the gospel and live it, and to see how they act on their testimonies. Our branch mission leader is amazing. He's so good at helping us as missionaries to coordinate with the branch members.

We're teaching some aweome people, and the cool thing about YSA work is that there are so many people in our area that are looking for this in their lives! I stand all amazed every day as I see these crazy miracles happen. I have seen Christ personally minister in my life and in the lives of those that I have had the privilege of teaching and ministering to, and it is the greatest blessing and miracle of all to see someone accept the Atonement and feel of its power in their life.

I know this Church is true. And it is a missionary Church. Just like Christ's was. And that's not so we can get more members to fill a stat book or to show that we're superior or anything. It's literally just evidence of God's love for the world. And that is more precious than anything. So keep being awesome. And keep sharing the gospel. Because we have no need to fear, only to have faith to stand the wind.

Elder Stock
He didn't send photos, so I chose a couple. Here's my cub scout passing off his outdoor cooking skills with Uncle Glen.
 Elder Stock and Elder McCown
They met at EFY and later were called to the same mission!
(photo by Greg McCown, Elder McCown's dad. He recently took an amazing photo of a lightning strike with a rainbow. 
Here's a link to the photo)

Almost 5 hours later and we have some photos!!!
Elder Mattingley and I
Epic exchange!!!
 Shilob....It's about to get real.
The Arachnapocalypse!!!!!
 Elder Nielsen and I
This guy looks like TJ Ethington!
Ariel's Baptism
From left: Josh Layton, Ariel Fritz, Elder Miller & Myself

1 comment:

  1. I love reading his letters each week. What an inspiration!! Good job Mom!! We do have amazing sons.