Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ

*This is taken from a talk/lesson I gave in one of my areas. I wanted to use it to lead into the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I added onto it a little bit, so enjoy!*

Today, I would like to focus on the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. What does the word Atonement mean? If we split this word into three different parts, we see At, One, Ment. If we combine these, it is the beautiful meaning of becoming one with God. Because of the atonement, this is possible.
Pause for a moment, and think about a time you applied this saving power into your life. How did you feel? Why do you think you felt this way? What did it feel like? Think of the love that God has for you, and than think of your favorite picture of Jesus Christ. This is it. This is the evidence of God's love. The ever popular scripture in Christianity, John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. What a love we have an evidence of.
To outline the events of the Atonement, we have three main stages. 1) The Garden of Gethsemane 2)The Cross of Calvary and 3) The Resurrection.
I want to spend the most time looking into the cleansing power of the Garden of Gethsemane. We will turn to the Bible for the definition of this event.
In Matthews account, we read this. Matthew 26:39 As Jesus entered the garden, he "fell on his face and prayed saying O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Read those words slowly, He Fell on his face. In uttermost pain and anguish, plead with His father, "please, don't make me do this. Let there be another way. There has to be. But I will do thy will." The perfect, obedient Son, was not going to turn away. He was going to suffer that pain, for us. How great is the love of our Savior. As He prayed, He began to bleed from every pore in His body. This to me, is one of the most significant parts of the Atonement. I wonder as President James E. Faust did, "How many drops of blood were spilt for me?"
Now the Bible is not very clear as to why this suffering happened. As far as biblical scriptures are concerned, we just know He suffered. We don't know why, we don't know what it means to us. This is why I am so thankful for revelation and the Book of Mormon. We read in one of my favorite scriptures in Alma 7:11-12. "He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." He suffered every possible human emotion, pain, and mental anguish ever felt by a human. So He can stand by us in our trials, and so He can strengthen us and say "I know how you feel. I know what it feels like to have the very jaws of Hell come against you." Like I said, this is the most significant thing to me. I implore you to put a serious study into this subject and to understand it better than you do today. In the Garden, He had the very devil himself and his legion of angels come attack him and brutally tempt him and cause him pain. But because Jesus Christ knew the dire consequence for us if He had not succeeded in this phase, He pressed on. Think about it. Jesus knew what we would have to face if there was no ransom for our sins. He knew that we would be forever banished from the presence of God after one sin alone. He knew that we would be forever racked with the pains of a damned soul, with NO escape. Unless we were perfect, which none of us are, we could never have a chance to return. But now, there is endless hope that we can return, as long as we allow Jesus Christ to take that pain from us and turn our lives over to Him.
Now, if we move on to the final two events. After our Savior was betrayed by His own special witness, Judas, He was sent to trial. After condemned, He was sentenced to the worst death that could be passed upon him. He was sentenced to crucifixion and to be beaten, down trodden,

whipped, scourged, slapped, hit, abused, spit upon, and numerous more evil doings. He had nails driven through his hands and feet. In fulfillment of Isiah's prophecy "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16).
Following thereafter, He was lifted on a cross for everyone to see. For more ridicule and temptations to come His way. "If thou be the son of God, save thyself!" As the cries of the people echoed his ears, He turned to heaven and cried "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Until mercifully, He felt the Atonement had been accomplished, He willingly gave up the ghost and on to paradise, forcing a solider to cry out, "Certainly this was a righteous man."
One of my good friends asked an intriguing question once. "Think of how our Father in Heaven must have felt through all of this." I'm sure He would desired so much as His Son plead to Him to let that crushing blow release from Him. I'm sure He was ever so close as He saw the devil himself attack His son in the mortal flesh.
So we conclude, with the last and most defining moment of the Atonement. After three days, our Savior reclaimed His body from the chains of death, and was resurrected. He showed himself unto His disciples and exclaimed in triumph, "Handle me, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." Our Savior concluded His great and marvelous Atonement and made it possible for us to come back into His presence. He had conquered death, shame, guilt, sin, and many terrible things, and made himself life, happiness, peace, love, and many great things. He is the lifter of our heads, He is the great and marvelous Son. Because He redeemed His body, we can so to ours. Because He Lives, We will live again with our families in the presence of God, only if we are willing to be obedient to all things whatsoever the Lord our God commands.
To conclude, I share a favorite passage of the Atonement. In Luke, we read that before Jesus entered the garden, He turned to Peter and said (Luke 22:31-32) Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." I love these words, He has said this individually to us. He prayed for us because He knew of the evil and terrible anguish of Satanic captivity and his desire to destroy us. If we look at this carefully, we pin point the most important part. Jesus states that HE has prayed for us that we can be strong. HE suffered for us so that we can be faithful. But, it is up to us to let that conversion come into our life. It is OUR responsibility to allow Him to take control and to lead us. Than of course, our responsibility is to strengthen our brethren. I want to use a personal example here to demonstrate our Savior's saying. When I was growing up, I was never active. I would go to church every now and again, but I was never consistent. Unless you count a few weeks for consistency, than I wasn't. God played a little role in my eyes in my life. I never read scriptures, rarely said my prayers, but I always knew He was there. One day, after several events happened in my life, I realized I had nothing in life. I was going nowhere, I was living for nothing. I felt a gentle prompting to pray. I thought in my head, "are you kidding? I haven't prayed in years, God doesn't need to hear from me." The next day, I walked into seminary and saw just a small piece of paper on my desk. We were in the Book of Mormon that year, and the paper read simply, "Your assignment is to read from 3 Nephi 11-27. You don't have to read it all, but go as far as you can in the next 70 minutes, and we'll talk about it tomorrow." I was excited because I expected a nap and some day dreaming to occur here. But there was divine intervention. I opened up 3 Nephi 11 to fool my teacher that I was reading, and I read the first verse. I than read the second, than third, fourth, and ended up reading to 3 Nephi 18, and later finishing the assignment at home that night. Something changed within me that day, as I read the experience of the Savior appearing to the Nephites in America, I began to realize the love that Jesus Christ had for me. I had done horrible things in my life, and was so far from the path, that I thought it near impossible to come back. But I felt renewed hope to come back to Him who saves. I felt that gentle prompting that night to "get on your knees, and pray." This time I hearkened to the voice and began to silently pray. Time passed by, and I poured my heart out to the Lord. After I finished praying, I felt an overwhelming amount of the spirit of Christ. I silently exclaimed, as did the people on the road to Emmaus, "Did not my heart burn within me while I talked with Him by the way?"
But this was not the end. Unfortunately, I did not fully act on this intention as I should have. The most important thing about this, was the fact that I rooted my heart into Jesus, and knew where my heart belonged. It wasn't until early 2009 when the bishop of my ward came to my house with his councilor to see how I was doing. I can still picture the night. It was February and I was watching the Jazz vs. Lakers game. It just BARELY reached half-time (note, the Jazz were demolishing!) when I heard a knock at the door. When I answered I saw Bishop and Bro. Stevens. I joked and said, "Bishop, if you had come five minutes ago, I would have turned you away! My Jazz are on a roll!" After a little talk, Bishop invited me to church the following Sunday. I accepted and told him I would come. I pondered about it until Sunday morning. When I woke up, I didn't want to go, but I didn't want to fall out on a commitment I made. So I showed up to church! After sacrament meeting, I contemplated about staying for the rest of church (It was rare that I would stay longer than an hour). After talking with some people, I decided to attend the rest of church. What happened next, changed the course of my life forever. It was the first day of teaching for the ward's new mission leader in mission prep class. I had thought about a mission, but never seriously and to be honest, was probably not going to go. Ajay Salvesen taught one of the most powerful lessons I have ever witnessed in my life. This lesson was full of the spirit, and impacted my heart like a ton of bricks. I remember after the class ended, Ajay approached me (He knew I was inactive). I was just sitting in my chair, kinda shocked, and he asked me if I was ok. I said, "Yeah! I'm great!" and went off to Elders Quorum. What he didn't know than, was that very day, after the lesson I told God in my heart, "Alright, I know what I have to do. I will dedicate two years of my life to your service, if you help me prepare." For the course of February to August, I rarely missed a Sunday and with the immense help of Ajay, I was prepared to serve a mission. I received my mission call to Hawaii in August, and left the following December. The year of 2009 was life changing for me, all simply because of an invitation to church, and the Lord's powerful inspiration to Ajay on what to teach that Sunday.
Now to tie this story all into one, and go back to this scripture. I know what it's like to have Satan sift you. I know what it's like to feel his terrible grasp in life and to feel like you have no hope. I know what it's like to have to deal with the pain of an anguished soul, and cry out as Alma, "O Jesus, thou Son of God...have mercy on me." But because of the Atonement, and my Savior suffering for me, I was converted. Now currently, I am working on strengthening my brethren in Hawaii and helping them see God's love for us.
I love this Gospel so much. I have learned so much about the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and have learned how to apply it into many aspects of my life. I will never fully understand, or comprehend what happened in that course of a few days. But I will always understand the simple facts that He lives again, He loves us, and He still speaks His word to us today through Prophets and Apostles. I Know That My Redeemer Lives. What Comfort This Sweet Sentence Gives. He Lives, He Lives Who Once Was Dead. He Lives My Ever Living Head. He Lives To Bless Me With His Love. He Lives To Plead For Me Above. He Lives My Hungry Soul To Feed. He Lives To Bless In Time Of Need.
I leave all of this with you in the sacred name of our Savior, Lord, and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Year Mark Has Come "Ross Day"




Aloha my dear friends!!
December 9, 2009 I entered the MTC to begin my training as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now, one year later, I am home recovering from surgery, and expect to serve the last year of my mission.
Let me take a step back and look into the past!
I was in the MTC from December 9-December 29. My MTC Companion was Elder Bridges from Laie, Hawaii. Here in the MTC, I met some awesome people and some of my best friends!! The other half of our district went to the Raleigh, North Carolina mission, where all are now in leadership positions. The MTC was one of the best experiences of my life, and where I truly learned the love of the Savior.
I flew to Hawaii and began my service in Kalaheo, Kauai (The island west of O'ahu) with my trainer, Elder Major. I was there from December 30-March 23. Kalaheo was an amazing area that was truly blessed by the Lord. Elder Major and I saw so many miracles and saw so many baptisms. We both learned a lot in the brief three months we were together. In this area, I would say is where I learned how to become the best person I could be. To trust in the Lord, and watch miracles unfold before my eyes.
After Kalaheo, I was transfered to the Kailua 2nd/Kaneohe 5th Tongan branch on the east side of O'ahu. I was here from March 24-July 26. I served with Elder Standiford for three months, and Elder Pyle for six weeks. This area was a little slower than Kauai, but I learned how to work hard, how to never give up and always keep my eye single to the glory of God. Unfortunately, while with Elder Standiford, I began getting sick and was unable to work as hard as I would have liked to. I blessed with patience and learning to take it in the Lord's time. Here, I found out I would probably be getting my tonsils removed in the near future.
I loved the Tongan ward and the Military ward. The members here taught me a lot, and I saw so much sacrifice come from these members. The Tongans showed their love (especially through food!!) and the military ward surprised me continually as they sacrificed time to go with us, or would help us in any way possible!!
After Kailua, I moved to Kahala/Hawaii Kai. The south shore of O'ahu. I have been here since July 27, and will probably be there till January 11. I have served with Elder Garritson and Elder Davis. I was blessed to be around Elder Garritson for four months, and serve with him for three. We both trained and were made a District Leader after that as he white-washed Hawaii Kai and we lived in the same pad. Here in Kahala, I put into practice the things I learned in Kailua. Keep working hard and expect miracles to happen. Elder Garritson and I had the best day of our mission, which was August 21, 2010, when we saw Uncle and Auntie Jay be baptized. We witnessed as they gave it all to the Lord and have been diligent in their service since.
So, I am in complete aw as I think that it has been 365 days. 12 months. 1 year. I have hit the "Ross Day" (haha) and now have only half way to go. I am home now recovering from surgery, but will return as soon as I can! I have seen so many miracles happen since December 9, 2009. I can promise anyone who reads this, that if you are contemplating the idea of a mission, GO! It has been the best experience of my life, and it will be of yours. You will learn so much, and your testimony will become unshaken. No one can tell me that this church isn't true. I know that God has told me through the Holy Ghost that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. Joseph Smith restored God's church back on this earth. Jesus is the Christ, He is the reason we are able to repent, be with our family forever, and feel those blessings. We can only feel those blessings and great gifts as we LIVE the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love being a missionary, and I love serving the Lord. I will blink and the next 365 days will fly by me again. Until than, I will serve with all my heart and soul in search for the humble and the meek who are ready to enter into the fold of our Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome Back To Logan, UT

Well I'm sure all of ya now know that I am back in Logan, my hometown!! I came back because I've been sick throughout my mission, and had to satisfy insurance before they would remove the part of me that is causing it! Which is my tonsils! So I am here for a few weeks to get that taken care of!! It is FREEZING here, it was 80 degrees in Hawaii on Wednesday. But I just thought I'd post a few pictures of what I've been doing since than.
First off, I visited the Garritson family. Elder Garritson was my last companion and he gave me things to bring to them. So we swung by, I talked their son up to sound like he's amazing (which he is) and than headed for Cache Valley!
After we got in the valley we kinda "toured" it. We drove around and I took a bunch of pictures to document it all!! I love Logan and Utah State that's for sure!!
I saw my grandpa and grandma, and boy they sure had a surprised look on their face!!
My parents did a good job of keeping this ALL a secret that I'd be coming home to have surgery. So they had NO idea..so my mom called a "family conference" and I walked into surprise them!! haha.
I went to SLC to see the lights, and talked to quite a few sister missionaries, and a few other girls (unwillingly) that was a ...interesting night! haha.
Well anyways, I had my surgery Monday and I am now recovering. It's good to finally have them out so I can return to Hawaii at full force and work harder than I have. As for my area, Kahala, and Elder Davis..a new companion came in, Elder Taylor for Canada, and they will work together while I'm gone. When I return I will be in a tripanionship with both of them, and I'll probably transfer from Kahala shortly afterwards since this transfer ends January 9th. But thank you for all of your prayers, I am excited to return to work, and finish out the second half of my mission. Which in a way, this goodbye to the family will be a lot easier since I'll see them in a year!! I'll say goodbye for a year instead of two! A little easier if ya ask me! haha.
But to finish off, I know the church is true!! I love the Book of Mormon! I've been privileged to watch conference while I'm home (My ma got me the DVD's) and I love listening to the words of the prophets!! My goal is to watch a full conference every day! We'll see how it goes!! The video is the video I took when I surprised the kids. It was hilarious cuz they just sat there for a minute staring at me until Nicko asked, "What are you doing here?" Than it kinda clicked that it was me!! Kodak moment!!
video

Monday, December 6, 2010

Intermission

This may be old news to some but if you aren't on Facebook this will be new. Elder Travis is home for a couple of weeks to have surgery and recuperate (tonsillectomy). He had his surgery this morning without any complications. He's calling this an "intermission" in his mission. The first picture was taken at Temple Square on Friday and the last picture is of him after his surgery.


He's still a full-time missionary and is abiding by mission rules while he's home. He misses everyone in Hawaii and is anxious to get back "home" to the mission field. Thank you for your prayers for a speedy recovery and for your support.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Elder Garritson

Well, transfers was this week. The news came in Sunday night, and we found out the tragic news...Elder Garritson will be transferring from Hawaii Kai to Laie.
Elder G (Gar-Bear) was definately one of my favorite elders. My favorite companion definitely. We met at President Peterson's farewell, and I remember him giving his "greenie" testimony and I thought, "I want him as my companion!!" Well, three weeks later, we paired up in Kahala.
We had a lot of great memories. We baptized the best people August 21, 2010. We saw so many miracles and so many great things happen. We fought over USU and BYU all the time, and which was better.
Elder Garritson has a tremendous outlook on the work though. He is a remarkable Elder and I was so very honored to be his companion for three months, and be around him another six weeks in the same pad. He taught me a lot, and I hope I taught him a lot as well. He will definitely be a leader in the Hawaii Honolulu mission. He is a district leader now after only three transfers, and will be a zone leader, and then an assistant to the president soon.
I just wanted to do a blog on how much I love this kid even though he's a "little girl" and how much he taught me. We made a life long friendship and even though he's a cougar...I still love him!! If anyone wants to hear a pure strong testimony on the truthfulness of this gospel, he is the one to talk to. When I was first with him, I was 7 and a half months into my mission. I realized in the first few hours I was with him teaching, that I did not bear my testimony enough. He taught me to focus on how you know it's true, not just what you know. I wish him well in Laie, but will truly miss him in Kahala, and having even more memories in the beloved Honolulu zone.