President's Pen 11-23-15 (Live in Thanksgiving)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love you!  We are thankful for each of you this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving.  We recognize your goodness as you have chosen to sacrifice your time and talents to do the Lords work; even at the expense of being away from family for a period of time.  We pray that you will feel of our love and of our gratitude towards you for the efforts you are making to serve the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, strength.

When we ponder the topic of thankfulness and gratitude, I would have you consider the parable of the ten lepers found in the gospel of Luke (17:11-18)

“And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:  And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that, “one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be the sin of ingratitude”.

Can we be found at times among the nine lepers that either forget or choose not to give thanks to our Creator in all things?  Unlike sins of commission, where we might deliberately rebel against God, ingratitude or lack of thankfulness is often a sin of omission where we aren’t as mindful as we should be.  The Prophet Joseph received a strong revelation from the Lord in this regard, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.”

The scriptures speak of the frequency and type of thanksgiving we should offer…

·      It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord: Ps. 92:1;
·      Come before his presence with thanksgiving: Ps. 95:1–2;
·      Be thankful unto him, and bless his name: Ps. 100:1–5;
·      Cease not to give thanks: Eph. 1:15–16;
·      Be ye thankful: Col. 3:15;
·      Blessing, and glory, and thanksgiving, and honor be unto our God: Rev. 7:12;
·      how you ought to thank your heavenly King: Mosiah 2:19–21;
·      Live in thanksgiving daily: Alma 34:38;
·      When thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God: Alma 37:37;
·      Ye should do all things with prayer and thanksgiving: D&C 46:7;
·      Ye must give thanks unto God: D&C 46:32;
·      Do these things with thanksgiving: D&C 59:15–21;
·      Receive this blessing from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart: D&C 62:7;
·      He who receives all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious: D&C 78:19;
·      In everything give thanks: D&C 98:1; ( 1 Thes. 5:18; )
·      Praise the Lord with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving: D&C 136:28;

I have observed that you can generally find those that live daily in thanksgiving by the way they see the world.  Despite difficulties, they choose to find the glass half-full vs. half-empty, they find the silver lining in a dark cloud, they choose faith over fear, they look for light when all seems dark around them.  You’ve met people like this, perhaps this is you.  Don’t you love being around these souls, they have the ability to positively impact us in so many ways.

Thanksgiving enables our ability to make the darkest night day and the most difficult situations manageable.  I often wonder if our thanksgiving is where the Savior’s grace, His divine help, enabling power and spiritual healing begin to lift us beyond what we can do on our own.  Could thanksgiving be one of the many characteristics that reveal His mercy and love for us?  Like the parable of the ten lepers, His love is ever present, but imagine how much more it was felt by the Samaritan that turned back, fell down on his face at his feet, and gave Him thanks.

When I consider our missionary labors we may often fall victim to what we don’t have versus all that we have been given.  If you catch yourself murmuring in your heart about your area, your companion, the ward/branch, the leadership, the lack of progressing investigators, or all that might come upon you; STOP, look heavenward and rejoice that He continues to give you daily breath.  It will be but a moment, let the clouds pass and see His hand in your life.

President Monson is a beacon of gratitude and he speaks of having an attitude of gratitude often.  He stated, “If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”  If this is the case, we should all add gratitude to the top of our list so we can achieve the remaining virtues we strive to attain.

In these weeks of thanksgiving and in the coming month as we celebrate our Saviors birth,  I pray that you will recognize that we have so much to be grateful for.  Continue to pray in thanksgiving often, don’t ask, plead, beg, just give thanks.  Develop a heart that is thankful, express it often, make sure others know you are grateful for what you have, who you serve, and what this great work is about; inviting and helping all to come unto Christ.

I am thankful for you, for my Father in Heaven, for His Son and my Savior Jesus Christ, for the Restoration and all its blessings, for my beloved family, and for the blessing to wear the Savior’s name each day.  Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.  We love you!
Mission Update

Twenty-one souls have entered the waters of baptism this month for a remission of their sins.  Thank you for your diligent efforts in seeking out those prepared to hear the restored gospel.  There are many more waiting, have the faith to find, teach the members, work with your ward councils, be proactive and recognize that this is the Lord’s work.   Thanks for all you do and keep up the great work!

Saludos y abrazos, have a great week!

President Hall