Well! A relatively normal week here. Our beloved Brazilian roommates left on Tuesday (second set), Elder Morra and Elder Silva. Elder Morra is a native Spanish speaker, he’s a convert from Bolivia, and Elder Silva lives (lived) in the Capital of Brazil, Brasilia. I’ve been trying to get the sweat stains out of my white-shirt collars with shampoo and coconut soap, but nothing seems to work the motherly magic that I’ve been meaning to muster. (Shout out to Carole Fleming and Kindra Jacoby?) I hear white vinegar does the trick, but I’m hesitant to throw classy cooking product on my over-garments. Music from the 70’s and 80’s occasionally pop into my head to fill the space where music used to go, which provides a brief, sometimes annoying sometimes amusing contrast to the beautiful and sacred hours of study I have here. I feel like I’m in college sometimes, with all this preparation and studying. Only – it’s so much more beautiful and meaningful studying the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than studying Frontier Molecular Orbital Theory (I see you, Ian Fleming… P.S. Are we related? What about Alexander Fleming?)
It appears that this last week was relatively uneventful on the day-to-day missionary story time matters, which means I get to spend the majority of my time talking about something much more exciting and significant . . .
GeNeRaL cOnFeReNcE!!! (Do people still do that? With capitalized, non-capitalized? I feel old.)
No but really.
General Conference is a meeting where all the general authorities (i.e. leader peoples) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints get together and talk about really important things that everyone should listen to. That’s right. Everybody. Because, although the prophets’ roles include leading the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they are called as prophets for the world. They have a message that the world should hear to maintain peace and joy for everyone. Hence, you may find great interest in Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk on regrets and how to avoid them, or Dallin H. Oaks’ talk about the importance of children in this world and how to raise them properly, even if you’re not a member.
Of course, the big question—is what exactly IS a prophet?
A prophet is a man who has been called by and speaks for God. He is a messenger of God, and, as such, receives commandments, prophecies, revelations, and authority from God. In a historical context, the role of prophets could be defined by pretty much 5 key points:
1) Prophets receive the priesthood. This is the power and authority to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. It gives prophets the means to organize the church, perform miracles, and administer certain ordinances (sacred rites or ceremonies). Baptism is perhaps the most commonly known ordinance, but there are several others.
2) Prophets learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation. God speaks to prophets through the Holy Ghost, which speaks to their minds and hearts clearly and distinctly, though through a different sense than we normally use (i.e. Smell, Touch, Taste, Hearing, etc.). The Holy Ghost speaks to us through our spiritual sense. This sense is just as legitimate and powerful (oftentimes more legitimate and more powerful) than our other sense, but, as with all things, it takes practice. Just as with our other senses (cue Radiolab on being able to see in four color scales. People can see in Yellow as well as Red, Green, and Blue! With practice, of course.) More on this later.
3) Prophets teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This includes, faith (believing in Jesus Christ and acting on that belief), repentance (changing our lives to be more in line with the wisdom and will of God), baptism (our first ordinance and perhaps one of the biggest first steps of faith), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (i.e. having the spiritual sense available to us), and enduring to the end (keeping our lives in accordance with God’s will by keeping His commandments and serving others with a charitable heart).
4) Prophets testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.
5) They write their testimonies and teachings in scriptures. Thus our scriptures are really just a collection of teachings on the gospel of Jesus Christ, because prophets testify of and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So. We have twelve apostles today. Just as Jesus Christ when he acted as a prophet on the earth and organized his church. Those apostles spoke about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a really powerful piercing sort of way.
More on this next time, but my top five?
Thomas S. Monson’s talk about the fact that “Men Can Change” and we need to view others through the potential that God sees in them rather than the current circumstances they may have fallen into.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk about how to avoid regrets. He runs through three regrets that the terminally ill had (according to a hospice care nurse) and how we can avoid those regrets through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk about the apostles predicament right after Christ died. WATCH THIS. Don’t just read it. Jeffrey R. Holland is an amazingly powerful speaker and you can see it in this talk and in more casual encounters, as in his talk at Harvard about the church.
I love you all. More to come next time.
-Elder Scott Lanyon Fleming-