President's Pen 1-29-18 (Tongue of Angels)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world! 

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  This is God’s work, it is true, and I love the blessing we have of teaching repentance and baptizing converts!

As Nephi concludes his remarks to his people, he teaches the doctrine of Christ and shares an insight I love.  He states, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Ne 31:13)

For each new convert baptized in our mission, I send a letter of congratulations and request that they share their testimony or conversion story with me.  I receive both hand written letters and emails, and as I read them, I can see and feel what Nephi expresses…  New converts do speak with the tongue of angels, and in their own way, shout praises to the Holy One of Israel.  As I read their accounts, my faith is increased and my own testimony is strengthened.  I love to learn more about them, their circumstances, their decision to be baptized, and their willingness to follow the Savior with full purpose of heart.  Below, I share with you the accounts of two recent converts who followed the Savior into the waters of baptism; can you hear the tongue of angels?

Account 1 “I remember the first time I really felt a strong revelation.  I was on my way to meet the missionaries to tour what would be my ward meeting house and I was thinking about my previous lesson and reading.  I had read 2 Nephi 31, in which Nephi spoke of why Jesus was baptized.  I was thinking about how Jesus was baptized as an example of obedience and sacrifice and it hit me like ton of bricks while sitting at a stoplight.  I had spent pretty much my entire adult life thinking that it was good enough to follow the teachings of Christ and try to be a good person.  I was not sacrificing anything in my relationship with Jesus and was expecting nothing less than eternal salvation in return.  I had to step up.  It was at that moment that I really started to take my investigation to a new level.  I shared my thoughts with the missionaries during my tour and was surprised to hear my own voice crack a little bit as I was saying it aloud.  I recognized the Spirit working to show me I was on the right path.  Having experienced that first revelation, I started investigating what it would mean to be a Mormon.” 

Account 2 “The missionaries kept meeting with me and asking me to read the Book of Mormon and to pray, which I was doing. After a while, they asked if I would consider Baptism and I said “yes.” But one night while I was reading the Book of Mormon, I found myself so confused and I wasn’t understanding a single thing of what I was reading. I stopped reading, I closed the book, and I started thinking of the many religions there are, and how would I come to know of this was true? How would I know if I was doing the right thing by going to the LDS church?! That made me feel like I wasn’t ready for baptism and I started hesitating. But I remembered that the missionaries asked me to pray if I had any doubts, I also remembered that Joseph Smith prayed when he felt the same way I was feeling. So I got on my knees, I prayed. In my prayers I asked for my faith to grow, to know if I was doing the right thing by going to this church, and to know if the Book of Mormon was true.  After that, I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up with such an amazing joy, happiness, and peace!” 

As I read their accounts, the assurance that Heavenly Father answers the sincere prayers of His sons and daughters fills my heart with joy!  The power of the Holy Ghost was working the miracle of conversion, He had entered into their hearts as they read the Book of Mormon, and Moroni’s promise was being fulfilled as they pondered, and prayed.  Amazing! They continue…

Account 1 “In the remaining time leading up to my baptism I studied the covenants that I would make, prayed for guidance and strength, and made my commitments.  As soon as I decided to make each covenant, it was as if I felt the strength I would need to keep it enter me.  Having accepted that the Restored Gospel was the true Gospel, it started to make sense to me that Heavenly Father would choose a young America as the setting to restore a plan that depended so heavily on individual agency.  Everything was falling into place and it all made sense.  Every time I prayed, I was filled with assurances from the Holy Ghost, even if it was just as simple as something just...making sense.”

Account 2  “I started reading the Book of Mormon and I was understanding everything, I strongly felt like it was so true. It was then, that I knew God was telling me that I was doing the right thing, that the Book of Mormon is just as true as the Bible.  It was then that I knew I had to get baptized, that Heavenly Father was being so clear with me that I was doing the right thing!” 

The words of Alma ring in my ears as I read their words, “If this is the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord…” (Mosiah 18:10)  As the Spirit continued to work upon theirs hearts and minds through their faithful actions, their desires to follow the Savior, and take upon us His name was the “right thing” and “just made sense”.   The miracle of conversion is real!  They continue…

Account 1 “When my baptism day arrived, I felt very calm and at peace.  I was a little nervous, as I always am when I am the center of attention, but I knew this was what was right for me and I looked forward to it.  The baptism itself was almost a blur - I remember having trouble getting back up out of the water and being proud that we got it right on the first try.  I enjoyed the talks of my new ward family as they welcomed me.  I welcomed the Holy Ghost into my life wholeheartedly the next day in church when I was confirmed.  I am excited about going to the Sacrament meeting every week and really look forward to it all week.  When I imagined finding a religion, I never could have imagined that I would find one that fit me so well.  I never imagined that I would spend time during the rest of the week studying scripture, listening to talks from church leaders, and praying.  I always thought that a church was just something you did on Sundays.  Thanks to my encounter with a couple of Spanish-speaking missionaries, I now know that not only is Jesus Christ my Savior and that he loves me, I know that I have a Heavenly Father that wants me to return to him in the Celestial Kingdom.  I know that Jesus Christ revealed to Joseph Smith His Plan and the ordinances necessary to bring His church back to the Earth.  My testimony is growing every day and I feel like I am where I am supposed to be.”

Account 2 “As I got baptized, I felt joy, after that, I felt such a beautiful type of peace that I can’t even explain. I had never felt a beautiful feeling, until that day.  Then the day I received the Gift of the Holy Ghost came! It was beautiful and I was calm, forgot about everything that worries me again. On that day, I also took the sacrament for the very first time after my baptism, I promise I felt such warmth in my heart. I felt warmth and peace! I felt so forgiven! I felt loved. And ever since then, I haven’t been feeling depressed at all, I feel like I can make better decisions, I have this strong thing that helps me stay away from the things that are wrong. I just feel like I’m a new me. I am in love with the myself. I love God, his Son Jesus Christ.  Thanks to the atonement, I can be forgiven and I can’t express my heart to how grateful I am for it. I know the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I know it because I can feel it.”

 Elders & Sisters, I love these two new converts and my heart swells with joy as I read their words! These are our people, our Houstonians, our brothers and sisters who the Lord prepared to receive His servants.  One convert was found through street contacting, the other came from a member who opened his mouth and shared his beliefs.  Missionaries were in the right place at the right time, opened their mouths, taught simple truths, testified boldly, involved members, promised blessings, followed up and extended invitations to act.  The result is two new converts, who chose to act in faith, and have come to feel and know for themselves that God is in the heavens and that Jesus Christ is their Savior and Redeemer.   This is WHY we are here! As Elder Corbridge teaches, “It is the end objective. It is the reason they (missionaries) walk the streets, whatever the weather.  It is why they leave home, family, and friends behind.”

My dear friends, what you do every day makes a difference!  We may need to knock a thousand doors, visit hundreds of members, talk to everyone on the street, and work and work and work some more, but the sweetness of one soul who can speak with the tongue of an angel makes it all worthwhile.  Tonight I received a note from one of these new converts who received their temple recommend earlier today.  She is so excited to go to the House of the Lord and she feels incredible support and love among her new ward family; she says she is truly happy.  I invite you to remember the sacred nature of your calling, to not lose sight of the eternal perspective, and to remember that these are people, God’s children, and you have been called to find and teach them repentance and convert them to the Lord.  Have faith in the Savior to prepare hearts, trust in His work and His timing, and love every minute that you as one who has been called to help all speak with the tongue of angels!  Love ya!

President Hall