The earliest recollection I have of feeling the Spirit was during my baptism. When I was coming out of the font I felt clean and it was really refreshing. That’s the first time I remember feeling the power of the Holy Ghost. What a blessing it is to come to church each week and have the opportunity to feel the cleansing power of the atonement through the spirit. Two weeks ago I felt a strong desire to enter the MTC feeling perfectly clean and feeling the way I did after my baptism, so I made a special effort during that sacrament to feel the cleansing power of the atonement. While I was thinking about my baptism, I felt the same way I did when I was eight and the spirit testified to me of Christ and his atonement. I know we can feel that way each week. There is nothing that makes Christ happier than having his children use his atonement. This is the good news. This is why I am leaving for 2 years to go somewhere I’ve never been to tell people that I’ve never met, that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and that it is only through him that we can return to his presence and live with our families forever.
I love the plan of salvation. Another time I felt the influence of the spirit was right before my freshman year in high school. I had a good friend pass away after battling cancer. Many of you probably remember him; his name is Jeff Hasara. If you knew Jeff, then you know that he was the nicest and most caring friend you could have. I remember talking with him a week before he died. At a point in life when he was suffering and facing death, he was asking how everyone was doing and seeing if they were still living the gospel. He had a strong testimony and wasn’t afraid to share it. This was my first experience with death and going to a funeral. I really didn’t know what to do or what to expect, it was all so foreign to me. During this experience the spirit testified to me that there is a plan and I know for myself that there is a purpose for this life. One of the hymns we sang at the funeral was, Did You Think to Pray. While I was singing that hymn I again felt the spirit testifying to me of Christ’s love. Two weeks ago on the Sunday I tried to feel the same way I did at baptism, this same hymn Did You Think to Pray was sung in Sunday school. As I sat there I couldn’t hold back the tears as I felt the Savior’s love for me. I am so grateful for the strong testimony I gained during that experience of the plan of salvation and for the reminder to pray always. Because of this experience I can now testify to the people in Oaxaca, and tell them that, I know the plan of salvation is true.
My senior year I was deciding which college to go to. My dad wanted me to stay locally but I decided to ask the Lord what to do. I prayed one night and I asked the Lord which college I should attend. The college that came to my mind was the University of Utah. Now you need to understand how important this inspiration was to me because I needed the extra strength to tell my dad, my grandpa, Rachael, and my brother Keith that I was going to go to their rival school. My dad still has a big problem with an under-amour U of U shirt my mom bought for me. I’m sure there will be a ceremonial burning right after I enter the MT. This past semester at the U I learned first how great it is to live at home with lots of food, but most importantly I learned a lot about myself and grew spiritually. The institute program at the U was awesome and really helped me prepare for my mission. In High School I loved going to seminary, I felt the spirit there and had many opportunity’s to bear and strengthen my testimony. Through seminary I met a group of friends and we tried to go to the temple regularly. Seminary made a big difference in my life and that continued as I attended institute at the U. I am grateful for the prompting of the Holy Ghost that I received that night when I was deciding where to go.
When President Monson lowered the mission age to 18 for young men last conference, I was living in Salt Lake attending the U. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on a mission right away. My original plan was to stay for Winter semester because I don’t turn 19 until February 21. If I decided to go earlier, I would have to sell my contract and leave two of my good friends I was rooming with. My papers were actually all filled out before I started fall semester at the U; all that remained was to have my final two interviews. As I was trying to figure out what to do, I remembered a scripture from scripture mastery that I learned in seminary, found in 2 Nephi 32:3 (read scripture). I decided to put it to the test. I made the commitment to read the Book of Mormon in one week and see if the words of Christ would tell me what I should do. As I did this, I felt the Spirit prompt me to submit my mission papers right away. I was blessed to be able to sell my contract and I am grateful for the Holy Ghost helping me with my decision; it was easy to decide once I had the prompting.
The experiences that I just shared have helped me know how the Spirit speaks to me. In my life the Holy Ghost has testified to me of God, helped me make decisions, warned me before making stupid decisions, given me joy when I’ve made right decisions, has comforted me, has taught me, has corrected me, and in 2 Nephi 31:17 I have felt “a remission of my sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.” I realize the essential role the Holy Ghost can have in each of our lives if we invite him in. President Packer said, “The most important lessons come from ordinary events in life. Some wait for compelling spiritual experiences to confirm their testimony. It doesn’t work that way. It is the quiet promptings and impressions of ordinary things that give us the assurance of our identity as children of God. We live far below our privileges when we seek after signs and look beyond the mark for marvelous events.” Why are these “quiet promptings and impressions” that President Packer talks about so powerful? President Joseph F. Smith said, “The Lord has taught that there is a stronger witness than seeing a personage, even of seeing the Son of God in a vision. Impressions on the soul that come from the Holy Ghost are far more significant than a vision. When Spirit speaks to spirit, the imprint upon the soul is far more difficult to erase. Every member of the church should have impressions that Jesus is the Son of God indelibly pictured on his soul through the witness of the Holy Ghost.”
Word of Wisdom
In my life I have learned through experience that if I want the Holy Ghost to be with me I need to pay close attention to the Word of Wisdom. I need to make sure I go to bed on time, get up on time, and eat good food. When I don’t do these things, I have a hard time functioning. I don’t handle relationships well, and I don’t have a positive outlook. My dad likes to take advantage of this time; he tries to lighten my mood by wrestling me. My dad tries to get a win during this time when he knows I am super tired and haven’t eaten well; but he has yet to win. Realizing the importance of sleeping and eating well to have the spirit with you is taught by President Packer who said “Young people, stay in condition to respond to inspiration. I have come to know also that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation. From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else (for me getting enough rest and eating healthy) that disturbs your health. And you know that we get very worried when we find one of you tampering with those things. If someone “under the influence” can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically.”
The Holy Ghost is present when we testify of truth. One time I learned this was when I was on a campout in Wyoming with the priest’s quorum. One of the nights we ended the day sitting around a campfire with a thought and a testimony meeting. I wasn’t going to share my testimony but I felt like I needed to. That was one of the first times I bore my testimony in front of my friends. I felt the Spirit testify to me that what I was saying was true. This is one of the important roles the Holy Ghost plays. In John 15:26 it reads “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” one of the roles the Holy Ghost is to Testify of Jesus Christ. I challenge each of you to find ways to share your testimony; bearing your testimony will strengthen your spiritual witness, as well as bless others. If you have a testimony—bear it. If you don’t, a testimony is found in bearing it.
To have the Holy Ghost with us we need to be worthy. Satan is doing everything he can to dull our spiritual senses. President James E. Faust said “The gift of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy… The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.” We need to do whatever it takes to stay or become worthy to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost because it is impossible to receive eternal life without his guidance.
The Holy Ghost is a big reason why I am here today. While I am on my mission I will need the Holy Ghost in everything I do. I will definitely need it as I learn a new language. That’s why as a missionary I will need to surround myself with things that invite the Holy Ghost into my life so I can be an instrument in the Lords hands. If I don’t have the spirit with me I am nothing. I can only convert people if I have the spirit with me. You also need the spirit with you when you convert the most important member in the Church, and that member is you. The Spirit changes people; I know it has changed me. And it will continue to change me as I do the work of the Lord.
I’ve got a great opportunity to go serve the Lord for 2 years and I recognize many of you have prepared and helped me for this. Thank you everyone for coming. I love you all. And I’d like to close by saying.
Jesus Christ and the Atonement are real. His love is infinite. If any of you are struggling or thinking of giving up please don’t, turn to Christ I know he will help you. The gift of repentance is available to all of us. It is wonderful, I love my savior Jesus Christ and I am his servant. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.