I love and miss you all very much. I am so glad to share my experiences with you. They have helped me grow and learn in such a short time. One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far is that the gospel is one of simplicity. Everything we do should point us to the Savior and His atonement. I've met a couple converts to the church that have fallen away because they perceived that we glorified Joseph Smith too much, instead of focusing on the Savior. It is necessary to understand that Joseph Smith is the man that restored the truth to the earth, but we must be careful not to put him on the same pedestal as Jesus Christ. We must talk of the Savior and his atonement much more than the prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph only pointed us to the Savior, receiving all the priesthood keys necessary for our Salvation, which, through exercise of them comes the fullest blessings of the atonement.
While pondering the atonement last night, I had a vision in which I saw a rotary chamber-like machine, with the brightest white quartz I had every seen inside. It was spinning around inside the chamber. It projected bright rays of light throughout a dark room and the rays of light transformed into millions of bright stars all around me until the walls of the room disappeared and the stars were propelled into the night sky. It was a really neat experience. It impressed upon my mind the centrality of the atonement. When we exercise faith in Christ's atonement, it "spins and projects" light until it fills the dark with an innumerable amount of stars.
I think the vision was an answer to my prayer. On pondering how the atonement applies to each aspect of the gospel, I asked God how the most simple and basic doctrines relate to the more profound. It reminded me of the scripture in D&C 88 which says the light and truth of Christ grows brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
Our central purpose as missionaries is to help God's children receive all the principles and ordinances which they need in order to have Eternal Life. As I teach, I am sometimes worried that they will not understand even the most basic doctrines. Then I remember that we are all still learning basic doctrines, and none of us can receive more knowledge until we treasure up the knowledge we have already received.
We had the primary program last Sunday. It reminded me of our investigators' experiences with learning the gospel. Even though the primary kids don't know a word like "dispensation," they have a testimony of Jesus Christ. I could feel it as they sang words to a song they barely knew, and read from a script they could hardly read.
I'm so grateful for the members of our ward. Many of them need our love and support. I continue to pray for them. The member that sent you my picture is "M C". She is a young single adult in our ward, and she has a lot of struggles. I had the opportunity to give her a priesthood blessing last week. She told me it was one of the sweetest blessings she has received. I'm glad that she recognized when she needed help, and I hope that others can follow her example.
I love you all very much,