Good morning, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Anneliese Jenkinson and I have been called to serve a mission in the Costa Rica, San Jose mission Spanish speaking. I was so thrilled when I heard the announcement that girls would be able to serve at the age of 19. Before the announcement was made I had been thinking a lot about going on a mission. I knew that I had the desire to go on one, so the day after the announcement was made I got started on my papers. I am so very grateful that the lord has given me the opportunity to be able to serve the people in Costa Rica.
Since I am going on a mission one of the most vital things I can have with me is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I can sit there and talk at people all I want, but the one thing that will change people’s lives is feeling the Holy Ghost and applying the atonement. Last general conference Elder Quinten L Cook gave an address titled “Can you feel so now?” In his address Elder Cook states, “As we all live the principles the Savior taught and prepare to meet God, we win a much more important race. We will have the Holy Ghost as our guide for spiritual direction. For any whose lives are not in order, remember, it is never too late to make the Savior’s Atonement the foundation of our faith and lives.”
As we know the Holy Ghost is the 3rd member of the godhead. And through the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things. I hope that as i teach the people of Costa Rica that they will be able to feel the Holy Ghost and know of the truthfulness of our message. As I have read and studied the book of Mormon I have felt the truthfulness of it. I have never had a huge spiritual experience where all at once I knew it was true, but every time that I study it I feel peacefulness and I know of its truth. In Helamen 5:30 when Nephi and Lehi taught the Lamenites they described the spirit like this, “And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.” I think that as latter day saints a lot of times when we want to know of the truthfulness of something we expect a large spiritual experience, similar to joseph smiths or alma the younger, or other stories we hear. But I know that each time we read the scripture, the spirit will quietly whisper to our hearts the truthfulness of it. We have to be willing to listen in order to truly hear it. After my call came I was so excited to go to Costa Rica, but I had a small doubt in the back of mind if I was making the right decision. As the weeks continued my doubt continued to fester. I did a lot of praying and going to the temple but I just didn’t feel like I was getting an answer. Finally after months of praying and fasting, talking with my parents and doubting myself I got the answer that I should go. When I got my answer I could feel God’s love for me that I had never experienced before. All my doubts about going were pushed away. As I have prepared for this mission. I have really come to realize how much I am going to have to depend on God and the spirit. I am going to be going to a new country with a different culture and language. I have an imperfect knowledge of the culture, the language, and the gospel. It is the spirit that will be doing the converting I will just be an instrument in God’s hands. I also know that going to a new country is going to be really scary and at first I won’t understand what people are saying to me, I will have nothing familiar to fall back on except the lord. I know that as long as I am doing his will he will comfort me. There will be hard days, but I will be able to make it through.
I know that there are some in the church that feel like they can’t feel the spirit and elder cook brings this up in his talk, he says, “In one of the most profound verses in all of scripture, Alma proclaims, “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? This question, “Can ye feel so now?” rings across the centuries. With all that we have received in this dispensation—including the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of spiritual gifts, and the indisputable blessings of heaven—Alma’s challenge has never been more important.” If you can’t feel the spirit, examine your life and see what is keeping you back. Is it unresolved sins or mistakes, or is it just apathy or a lack of commitment. Whatever might be holding you back I would challenge you to work on changing what you need to in order to feel the spirit again. One of the greatest blessing that the church offers us is the knowledge that we can repent and be forgiven of our sins. As a child, just before I got baptized, I was determined that once I got baptized I wouldn’t sin or make a mistake ever again and have to repent. Obviously being the human that I am that didn’t last too long. As a child I didn’t really understand what repentance was or how big of a blessing it is. I guess I saw repentance as a bad thing, proof that I was not good enough. I saw it as a painful thing. What I didn’t understand was that repentance isn’t the painful part. It is the sin that is painful and the guilt and the consequences that come from making that sin. The atonement is one of the biggest blessings ever. It is through the atonement that we can lift the burden and chains that sin places on us. It is through repentance that we can start that healing process and be made whole again. I think that one of the greatest examples of repentance is Alma the Younger. When Alma was young he went around destroying the church of God and probably would have continued in that way if an angle of the lord hadn't stopped him. In Alma's own words this is his experience, “ And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs. And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more. But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments. Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” I know that just as Alma was completely forgiven of his sins so can we if we repent and forsake our sin to the point where we no longer have the desire to commit it any more. We rely completely on Jesus Christ and there is no way for us to return back to the father on our own. And God knowing this he sent his perfect and only begotten son to die for us and pay the debt. Christ’s atonement is the biggest proof of how much our father in heaven loves us. With it being Easter next week I would encourage you all too really think and remember just how much Christ has done for you. If you feel like you can’t feel the spirit, examine your life and get it to the point to where you can. If it is because you have sinned I would encourage you to take in affect the atonement and learn just how much god loves you.I would just like to close with my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that the book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet called from god. I know that god loves us and will do anything to help us. He will answer our payers and give us more blessings then we can even imagine. I know that the gifts of the spirit are real. I am so grateful that we can be with our families forever and I am so grateful for Christ’s atonement and that I will be able to live with my father in heaven again. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen