Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas! A Celebration Beyond Description!

Dear friends and family

Hey ya'll,Christmas was fantastic. I was able to call my family, and have a Brazilian Christmas. What is a Brazilian Christmas like. Its like this, For Americans, the big day of Christmas is the 25th, Christmas day. Wake up, presents, and everything's a frantic excitement on the 25th. but here, its the 24th, and just the evening. they party all night, have Tons of Churrasco (Meat barbecue thing that's really good) and we eat a ton. it was at a members house, and the food and desserts were fantastic.  Then the next day was really weird. Everything was silent. Not a sound was heard anywhere. Its like everyone was sleeping from partying all night. But we went to a members house, and had lunch there, which was pretty chill, and we ate a big lunch there again (left over Churrasco ´sh-u-ha-scu[) then the special day for missionaries, skyping our families. it was awesome. I freaking love my family, and calling them was especially fun, because I was also able to see Michaela through the laptop while they were skyping her. The rest of the week was pretty normal.

Elder Shurts

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Few Rocks Should Do the Trick

Dear everyone.
Well, this week was awesome!!!
We had a miricle happen the other day. We were walking in this little town, with only on a dirty muddy road, It was raining that day too. So, we clapped at this house, and then the next, and the next without success, and this went on for while. So we decided to stop. Ferreira picked up rocks, and asked which one he chose. I picked this one, and that, but I didnt choose the one he chose. Then he said, îts easier if you ask me^then said that we need to make a prayer to find him that god has chosen here, and who is ready. So, we did, I said the prayer. After the prayer, he asked which was we should go, left, to the other town next door, or right to return to Serrano where our investogators, and teach one of them. So, I had the feeling that we should go right, and return to our investigators. But on our way, we passed this one house, and Elder Ferreira stopped and was like ^Go make contact with that family^since he saw these people sitting on the porch of this house, and he felt impressed to have me go make contact with them. So, we decided to go, and I clapped hands, and it was an amazing experience. There were nine of them, this big family, and they were so very exited to see us, they talked, I talked a lot, and it was pretty awesome. It was like they were waiting for us to stop by because they were like, ^sure, come in, teach us a quick short message^!! A miricle definately happened here. and the grandpa of the family stopped us and was like, how am I going to know you church is true when there are so many others out there saying different things. and we were like, Îm so glad you asked that, and expressed that, can we come back another day and talk to you guys more (since it was getting late, almost 9Ç00, and we needed to return), and of course they said we good, we set a date to come back, then left to go home. But that was awesome.

What I learned from this is that you will only know whose ready to accept the gospel of you ask God, because only he knows where they truly are. I~ve learned that we are virtually incapable of doing anything without God. He~s given us our bodies, our spirits, our families, our time on earth, and most importantly, a way for us to return back to him through Christ~s amazing sacrifice. Remember Christ this christmas. Its not about santa, or Recieving toys and candy. Its about Christ, who was born to live a perfect life, suffer and die for us so that we may recieve the chance to live with our families forever and with the one who created us and loves us more than we will ever comprehend in this life, God, who is our Spiritual father.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Elder Shurts

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to Bernardo

Hey y'all, its been pretty much the same deal this week as last week. Only this week, we taught a very choice and cute family.

So, the day before we taught this family, we had the idea to make a cake, and buy a present for Bernardo. A kid who is turning 8 today. and so we did that, and asked a member to make the cake for us, because we didn't have time.
Anyway, we brought the cake and the present in with our little letters in it. and we sang, and he opened his present, and read the letter. and when he was reading the letter we wrote, a tear went down his face, and was so grateful, and I just felt so so good. The family is poor, and they cant afford cake or toys for their kids for special occasions. So they were so touched, and I was so grateful to God that I was able to be a part of that. and we ate the cake, and talked a little. Then we had our lesson. The lesson was so special. So so special. we gave a lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and talked about temples. But the coolest and most tender part of the lesson to me was this.. and I need a little back story. Elder Ferreira and Almeda (Elder Alva~s companion) taught them when we attacked that area^, and committed Bernardo to baptism, and asked the mom and him to pray to God to ask if the church is true, and if their message is true. and so today, Ferreira asked if they did that. And they did, and she testified to us that it was true, and told us that she's going to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and be baptized. and She got really emotional about it too, and the same thing with Bernardo. They both received an answer to their prayers. and after the lesson, we asked the mom to give the prayer, and while she was praying, she started to cry, saying how she was grateful that we remembered her son's birthday, and for her response, and I felt the spirit so strong then. that was the miracle of the day. God loves his children. I know that this is an elect family.

So, this is big miricle that happned this week!!

Elder Shurts

The birthday boy family

Dallin Loved his Christmas tree from home!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 2 in the Field

Hello everyone. 
my second week was pretty busy as well. and whats a good week without a lot to do. But, all this begginning of the week, weve had so many meetings nad stuff. Like, for almost every morning, somethings been happenning. Busy busy busy. Either a zone meeting, or a district meeting, or other things. We teach all day, and have meetings all day, and walk around all day. Its pretty dang sweet!!

So Im sure your all wondering whats its like on my mission, In Caxias! and Serrano! well. where I prosylite, there are only cobble stone roads, and theyre really really bumpy. We walk everywhere , and there are tons of hills. THis place is a lot like Oregon per say. Its super green, trees are everywhere, and it rains a lot (not like Oregon though, this is preiodic rain) and like no evergreens Ç(. Which is really sad. 

So the people are the nicest people ever. They give us so much food, and love to talk, and are humble and kind. They are all awesome people. There are many families I have become friends with. The only problem is that their names are too difficult to remember, and i dont know their last names, and that im not fluent in portuguese. but other than that, its the 

And the language! the language is coming a long, and imroving much much faster than it did in the CTM. Im learning a lot of words and learning how to speak better. I think in a few more weeks, ill be able to do a lot more things, simply because i can speak better. But, one of my favorite things here is Chemarrao. Its a drink of grass pretty much that you drink out of a rounded wooked cup through this fancy metal straw. and pretty much everyone here has them. Rare is the day that I go without Chemarrao

and last but not least, we had our first babtism this past week. A sweet old lady. and after that, we had a little program, then it turned into the ward christmas party, with really good food!! It was fantastic!!!
Love you all, and make sure you thank God every day for the things you have!

Elder Shurts

Monday, November 30, 2015

My first Week...Crazy and crazy!

Ok, lets start from Day on, it was super busy for me, and pretty stresful as well. I woke up really early form the ctm, and we flew down to porto algegre, the mission president was outside, and we went to the temple, then ate a nice deliscious dinner. The isona president is such a loving man, you can just feel it around him. after a day at the mission presidents house, we went to our areas my comapnion is Elder Ferreira. hes a brazilian, and speaks broken up english. we get along just fine. 

Im serving in an area called Serrano, and its beautifull, its so green, and rains a lot, and it nice and  cool sometimes.

The people here poor, but probably some of the happiest people Ive ever met. They love everyone, and seem to be alwasy smiling. Ive drank a lot chemarrao, and they have amazing food here. better than the mtc. its awesome!!!!. Ive had lamb, and abunch of other food Im not sure what it was, and ots of fruit here. and the be]uffets here are incredibly good.

More importantly, the people. We teach these people that I just love so much. I know this church is true, and it made me happy. The doctrine makes sense, its sound to me, and because I know the church changed me for the bnetter, I know it can change others. 

Theres a lot of Criu and french people in my area. My companion speaks both, which is cool. Im still waiting to serve in a german area. I hope it happens, because Ive seen the little towns while driing out to my area.

The missions great, and theres a lot to learn. Im learn how to become more self sufficient now, because I am so dependent on my senior companion.

Love you all

Elder Shurts

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Farewell from this CTM

his Tuesday. Ive spent six weeks in the mtc, two in Provo, and four in the CTM here in Brazil. It's been quite the adventure. In Provo, I made such close friends with those in my district. We grew close together in the Lord, and will definately hang out after the mission. The food in the Provo mtc was horrible. the CTM had amazing food, and I also made great friends here as well. I learned a lot of portuguese, and studied a flippin ton, as well as had many good laughs. I recieved amazing ties, and bought some pretty legit ties as well. And most importantly, I've grown in my knowledge and testimony in the gospel and have I've come closer to the Lord. This last week has been like all the rest, except for the fact that I know I'm leaving at the end of it. its a weird feeling. Anticipating the inevitable mystery I've always wondered about when i was younger. What is it really like to be a missionary, and to preach the the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those willing to receive it? What's it like to see miracles in the lives of others, and in my own life. Antiicipating the life of a real missionary, doing things on my own, being obedient, and feeling the Holy Spirit lead me to those whom the lord has prepared. And mostly anticipating how difficult it will be for the first few months learning the language, and adjusting the the culture and everything that the words of those who have been through cant prep me for. In all, I'm nervous, yet excited.

OH! and the Scariest thing happened yesterday, A teacher asked me to bear my testimony the other day in German, and talk in German, but I just couldn't, I could t form the words. Its like my mind was veiled!!! I would start, then switch right over to portuguese!! It was super weird, it was like the lord was keeping me from practicing a language which I had no use for, at least now, and that he really wanted me to learn Portuguese at the moment!!! Gift of Tongues is so weird, it will even keep you from speaking a language which you don't need in order to have you speak the language you need.

Elder Shurts

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Week

Dear Friends and Family

hey y'alll!! Hope you are all having a good time in Murica!!!! Life is pretty good in Brazil!! Its hot, humid, and always randomly rains, which is pretty cool!! And the weirdest thing ever is the amount of birds there are in the city. Like, The CTM is in the ghetto part of Rio, and yet, there are birds chirping outside all the time. Its pretty fantastic. Ive bought some pretty sweet ties here during my p-day. Pretty much, Ive just been studying language and scriptures, and eating delicious food!! like, it is freaking fantastic!!! The food here is HEAVENLY!!!! I'm speaking more Portuguese and stuff, which is pretty awesome. Also, our physical activity is pretty much just volleyball! Which was pretty sweet, that's all they really have here, so everyone plays it! and its just a blast. but the Brazilians here are so awesome!! They are so friendly, and love to be there. Some of them have the coolest conversion stories, which is pretty sweet!!! Some have only been members for a year, and haven't even gone through the temple!! Coolest people ever.

Remember always who you are and who you stand for. When you start having thoughts like: it's my choice, it only effects me...then you're wrong. That thought does not originate from you, it comes from the adversary. Absolutely not!! Every choice you make ripples around you and effects all those closest to you. Never does a choice you make only effect you.

Elder Shurts

Dear Mom
CTM is Great!!! it's been the same pretty much this past week. Study, Language study, trying to speak Portuguese all the time, and ending up speaking English, Scripture study, lessons in Portuguese, and stuff. Its crazy!! busy busy busy, not having a lot of sleep and somehow having plenty of energy to get through the day. It's like the lord is giving me energy to get through the day with concentration and stuff! And our Trio is pretty cool! He knows a lot more than I do, which has been a huge help, his Portuguese is better, and he has a lot of scriptures memorized and stuff. Our teacher Irmao Santos is Awesome. Our district is pretty cool here, I still really miss my district in Provo, but this one's really good!! This is my daily report to you
And to answer your questions:
  •  I cant send photos :(,
  • I leave the CTM on the 24th, I'm pretty excited!!
  • The native missionaries here are so awesome!! I met so many cool people. Some of the native elders have only been members for a year!!! But they have such strong faith!! 
  • Yes, sometimes I get discouraged, but I tend to pick myself back up pretty easily.

Love you mom
Elder Shurts

Friday, November 6, 2015

Learning Lots

Hey Hey everyone, Things have been pretty busy for me lately. Mostly due to me getting my Visa, and going to Brazil!! So these past two weeks have gone something like this. Last Monday, I have class, and in the morning, I got a message to go to the travel office immediately. So me and my companion go, and we both find out that we got our visas. So that was exciting. But then I asked them when were leaving, they told me tomorrow morning. I kinda freaked out a little bit! Because it was just kinda a shock to leave on such a short notice. Nonetheless, I was super excited. So I packed for the rest of the day until that night. Said goodbye to all the people in my district, then left early Tuesday morning. We flew to the New York Airport, missed our flight to Brazil, so we had to wait an additional two hours. We finally got to Brazil, and that was crazy. So now I'm here in Brazil!!! and it is very green in Brazil. And the mission field doesn't give you a break even if your tired. The day we got there, all of us were still tired from jet lag, but whatever, because we spent the rest of the day going through orientation, then studying more Portuguese.Now what is the Brazil MTC
like: (or as they say, the CTM ) Its one big 7 story building. That's the whole mtc. People here are very nice, and most people here don't speak English. All our teachers don't speak English, making it sorta challenging here and there. but the food is fantastic. Half the time I don't even know what I'm eating.  Which Is kinda scary I guess, but the food is still super good. Mostly because its all homemade!! Unlike Provo food was all pretty much processed and came out of a can. Sao Paulo is HUGE!! 20 million people in the city.So this is something pretty unique to Brazil MTC compared to the Provo, but for our P day, we are able to walk around the city around the mtc. that was totally cool. A drunk man followed us, and eventually said hi, then walked away smiling, haha. and people are way nice there. The drivers are crazy, and it is SO GREEN in Brazil!! Also, everything is so cheap in Brazil. Ive learned so much Portuguese though, well, more than I would have had I stayed in Provo. I still have so much work to do, I feel inadequate in every way to speak the language, because I just have so much to learn, but the miracle of it all is that I know more than i ever would have learned without the help of the lord. The Gospel is something where if you don't try it out, and act on you faith then you will never truly know. God will NEVER give you unearned belief!
Everyone has to work to come to a knowledge of this gospel. If that were not the case, then We would have no choice than to just believe in God. And that in itself would be a violation of Gods character.
There is so much I'd love to share, because it makes so much sense to me, and brings me joy.I'm grateful to have made it to Brazil. Its great
here, and I know its were I need to be.

Elder Shurts   

This past week has been pretty crazy though, We were able to out and proselyte with our district, and that was super fun! We gave away six books of Mormon and stuff, and got to taste free ice cream that was there. Don't worry, I'm not sick or anything. I have so much less time here in this MTC than I ever did in Provo. Its crazy, Such a busy schedule we have here. So we've been teaching a lot of lessons to mock investigators, and we've done a lot of TRC too. Ive learned so much Portuguese. Ive made such good friends with a lot of the natives here too!! Its so fun. A lot of them call me "little Boy" or Bikani which means little...a silly joke that Ive heard my entire life, but nonetheless funny when it comes to them saying it. And then I told them that I also speak German, and they all freaked out and were like ^teach me some German phrases^ and so I taught Brazilians German phrases translating them into Portuguese so that they could understand what it meant. It was really funny!! but, they've also taught me a lot of Portuguese, and help me out a lot, and Ive gotten much better at understanding them and responding. Pretty funny! Gym time is good. We play volleyball, and I spike it like crazy!! haha, its so fun. We also went to the Police station this week and are now allowed to stay in this country!!

Yay!! I'm now Legal!! haha. Anyway, that~s my update, Chao! Elder Shurts

Friday, October 30, 2015

My First Week in Brazil

Hey mom, I can~t figure out how to make a giant email for everyone without taking up too much time!! Unfortunately, I don~t have much time, and they really regulate the amount of time I get to spend on the email here in the Brazil mtc. Also, I can~t send any pictures from here for some reason. I can receive them all I want, but I can~t send anything. and it the email seems weird, that~s because I~m typing from a Portuguese keyboard. which is kinda trippy!!!  Oh, and I~ve been super super busy!! Like so busy, that I have no time to write in my journal!! I've only been able to get to the first day here, because at night, I get to my room at 945, then I have to do all my chores and stuff! So its a little stressful. So I still have to catch up on two days here in Brazil. I fell asleep on the plane, and had to worry about immigration forms and stuff at the end, which was a little stressful. but I got through all right without anything too scary. I do have to go to the police station though later today to register myself here for the next two years. After that, then I'm officially in the green. Everyone here speaks Portuguese, and very little English!! So its really hard to understand anything. But its good for me. Next Pday, I promise to have been caught up on my journal. There's a lot to write about here in Brazil! The mtc is jsut one big building, and our room is on the sixth floor. Way high up. and the windows don't have screens either!! which I though seemed a little dangerous!! haha, because I look out the window and there's a sheer drop for 6 stories down to the bottom! The mtc here is really nice though. And I learned that there are 20 million people in this city, and there are only 2 million in Porto Alegre. So I~ll be going to a much less populated part of town.
Oh! and I can receive mail here apparently. It just takes two weeks to get here. So you can still send me some mail for a little while longer.
And I~m going to type out responses to everyone elses emails later this week at night after I have gone through all the emails! It~s been great though! Ive been fed like a king here, half the time I don't even know what I'm eating. haha, but I eat it anyway, because its really good! It also so hard to remember everything I want to say. We are also able to go outside of the mtc and explore a little during our pdays! which I excited for. Sometimes it feels like a prison here, because we never ever leave the the building. but over all, the mtc is super great! I love it here, and am excited to tell you more next week.
Oh, and I sent you my journal!! haha

Love Elder Shurts

The Brazil Sao Paulo Missionary Training Center

Sao Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world with 20 million people

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It's been Crazy! :)Dallin

Dear Friends and family

Hey ya'll, Love you much! the mtc is awesome!! It's crazy, I freaking love it here. Like, the experiences I'm having here are one in a lifetime. So my P-day is on Tuesday here at the mtc, I would've sent a letter to you guys telling you guys that, but I was super busy. I thought that the mtc would be super hard and super busy, and that I would have a hard time adjusting to the schedule. but It wasn't nearly as bad as people led me to believe! haha. Mostly because I found out that I freaking love Portugesue. It's the best language ever! I'm learning so fast. I swear, The gift of tongues is real, I've so seen it work. SO our second day at the mtc, we gave our first lesson in Portuguese, and it was horrible, but I still said more things in Portuguese, and understood more than I was able to at that period of my learning. and the next discussion was ten times better. I was able to answer the questions she asked in portugesue. it was so crazy, like my mind turns into portugesue. Meu gosto o epirito santo!!. So crazy.
My district is so awesome! We all get along SO FREAKING WELL!!!! We're always laughing and telling good jokes, and we all have pretty similar back stories, which is awesome.. we are all so cool! Ha ha. We're definitely going to be life long friends, which is insane. I'll tell ya'll more about my district later.
So, I met Elder Waters here at the mtc!! haha, Actually, I run into him all the time. which is halarious! becasuse I wasn't expecting to see him in over two years. so that's been pretty cool! I also ran into a bunch of people which I knew from efy, and some old old childhood friends! it's crazy, it's a very small word we live in.
I've felt the spirit so much, God lives, and though you might not see it in your lives, he's there wanting to help you. and don't get confused. He's helping us by helping us grow, not taking away our trials. So if there's any trial that comes our way, take heart, and smile, because it's making you a better person.

Love Elder Shurts

Dallin is dropped off at the MTC in Provo by his cousins.

There goes our boy!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Farewell Talk on Agency

Here is Dallin's talk that he gave in church the Sunday before leaving on his mission. He did a great job and put lots of thought and preparation into his remarks. What a great kid!

Agency: a gift involving more than just choosing right and wrong
The topic I have been asked to speak on today is Agency, and how it’s more than just choosing right and wrong.

So, what is the gift of Agency??
Etymology: The word Agency entered the English vocabulary in the mid 17th century from the Medieval Latin word agentia, which is the plural form of “agens” which means to drive, lead, conduct, manage and do.
Church definition The Strength of youth pamphlet says that agency is the “ability to choose right from wrong, and to act for yourself.”
Or, as Nephi puts it, the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and “to act for ourselves and not be acted upon.” (2 Nephi 2:26-27)

But how does it work? Mechanisms that operate Agency
1.       One important mechanism allowing us to operate our agency is knowledge between good and evil, allowing us choice.
a.      Scriptural example is in Helaman 14:30-31 – “…for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.”
b.       He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil…”
c.       This knowledge between good and evil work as opposites, which present us choices. Without this knowledge between good and evil, then we would have no other choice then to choose righteously all our days, and never choose wickedly. So this opposition is essential.
d.       In 2 Nephi 2:11, it reads – “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”
e.      So what is the opposition/good and evil, that persuades us to act between good and bad?
                                                               i.      2 Nephi 2:16 reads “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” What does this mean though?
1.       John V Vandenburg said in a 1973 conference address that “These persuasions of the heart are related to two opposing forces constantly at work within every human being. They are the forces of good and evil, which the Master referred to as God and mammon. Coupled with these forces is the individual’s power to reason, which only man, of all God’s creations, possesses. This enables him to make choices. It is man’s control valve of what he wants to be. The forces governed by his own reasoning determine the nature and quality of the choice made. Thus, that which we call character is formed. We refer to this privilege of choice as the agency of man.”
2.       A second mechanism essential for the gift of agency to work in our lives is the veil.
a.       Before we were born, we passed through the veil, and entered this mortal life. By passing through the veil, we have forgotten all that we learned in our pre-mortal existence. This is essential, because if we had remembered all that had happened in the pre-mortal existence, then making the choice between right and wrong would have been easy. Faith would have been removed, and the gift of agency would not have functioned properly. Had we remembered God, then following God would have been easy, because we would have remembered him and his glory, and that would have been the obvious choice to take here in mortality. But not remembering him allows us to truly make a choice. Since we don’t know, are we going to choose to follow his plan in faith, or follow the natural man within us and go our own way.

Now I just mentioned the pre-existence. What was it like in the pre-existence? and what specifically happened then, that would have destroyed our agency on earth had we remembered everything about the pre-existence?
Through the scriptures, we learn that the pre-existence was where we all dwelt with god. However, we were all only spirits in the presence of our father in heaven, without a physical body. Then God gave us the gift of agency, and later explained what that gift was for, explaining how it was an essential element in the plan of happiness. (Now remember that, God gave us agency before he presented his plan.)
Robert D Hales states that God’s plan involved being sent down to this earth “to receive a body, to choose to act between good and evil, and progress to become like our heavenly father… Our agency… was an essential element of this plan. Without agency we would be unable to make right choices and progress. Yet with agency we could make wrong choices, commit sin, and lose the opportunity to be with heavenly father again. For this reason a savior would be provided to suffer for our sins and redeem us if we would repent. By his infinite atonement, He brought about “the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice.” But someone had to volunteer so be our savior. So in this great council we were all gathered before the lord…
 “And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one [Jesus] answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me.” (Abr. 3:22–27.) And that one said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2.)
“… And another answered [Lucifer] and said: Here am I, send me.” (Abr. 3:27.)
I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1.)
 “… And the Lord said: I will send the first.”
So the Lord asks us whom he will send to be our savior, and Christ says “Here am I, Send me” Then Lucifer spoke up and said the exact same thing “Here am I, send me”, However, right after he says that, he presents a different plan, a plan where he would redeem all mankind, and where not one soul shall be lost, and then he asks god to give him his honor. The problem with this second plan was that it would have robbed us of our agency, our agency which allows us to “act for ourselves, and not be acted upon”. Forcing redemption on all is defined as being acted upon. Our heavenly father decided to send down the first, which is our savior Jesus Christ, and not Lucifer.
Because Heavenly father did this, Satan became…
angry, and kept not his first estate…” (Abr. 3:27–28.) “And he became Satan… the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Moses 4:4.)
“Satan rebelled against God and “sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him…” (Moses 4:3.)
Robert D Hales states that “because of Lucifer’s rebellion, a great spiritual conflict ensued. Each of Heavenly father’s children had the opportunity to exercise the agency Heavenly Father had given him or her.” In case you weren’t paying attention, I said earlier that each of us were given the Gift of Agency before this council. So what choice were we given? The choice we were essentially given was to follow our heavenly fathers plan, or Lucifer’s plan. Those who followed God’s plan “chose to have faith in the Savior Jesus Christ—to come unto him, follow Him, and accept the plan Heavenly Father presented to us. Those who followed Lucifer’s plan essentially “did not have faith to follow the savior and chose to follow Lucifer or Satan instead.” They did not have faith that Christ could do it, or they did not have faith in themselves that they would be able choose righteously in mortality, and thus, never being able to return back to Heavenly father’s presence.
                those who decided to follow Satan were “cast down, and they lost the opportunity to receive a mortal body, live on earth, and progress. Because of the way they used their agency, they lost their agency.”
Now, From what we’ve learned about the pre-existence, Four very important lessons are shown here about the gift of Agency.
1.       Is that it was a gift and a blessing from god. And that the Gift of Agency is absolutely essential for the plan of Salvation.
2.       When Satan presented his alternate plan, it gave us an opportunity to exercise our agency. Those who chose to follow the Lords plan “kept their First estate”, and received a body, and came down to earth, while those who chose to follow Satan where cast down, and are now here on earth to tempt us in this mortality.
3.       The Gift of Agency allows us the opportunity to progress and become like our heavenly father.
4.       Each of us here on Earth chose to follow the savior’s plan and come to earth to experience this mortality.
In addition, I might add that our agency is so important, that God, in this mortality, made ways in which we could never recover the truth by simply proving it to be true or false with scientific methods.
David V. Dearden, A science professor at Brigham Young University, stated in a devotional given on March 31, 2009…
 “It will never be possible to arrive at a full spiritual knowledge by purely scientific methods. I know this because if such a course were possible, it would destroy our agency, and the lord does not work that way. Agency is sacred. If we could prove the gospel true and always know how to act purely through reason or logic or science only choices in accord with the gospel would be reasonable or acceptable. Correct choices would become obvious with minimal effort on our part
Now that we know what Agency is, how is it more than just choosing between right and wrong?
Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “pick up end of the stick, you pick up the other” So? Each choice we make has a consequence.
Agency is more than just choosing right and wrong, it’s how each of those choices we make shape our lives!!
 And it is how we shape our lives that determines our future
In order to understand this more fully, one must understand the gift of the great atoning sacrifice.
We learned earlier that in the pre-mortal existence, Jesus Christ was the one who volunteered to be our Savior. “He humbly declared that he would do the will of the father in fulfilling the plan”. (true to the faith)
But why do we need a savior. What did he do that was so important for us! How does his atonement save us? And how does it work in our lives?
In the scriptures, we learn that at the end of Christ’s mortal ministry, Christ suffered all of our sins, and all of our infirmities. By doing this, He satisfied the demands of justice, allowing mercy to appease the demands of justice.
What is the law of Justice? And what is the law of mercy?
True to the faith states that “Justice is the unchanging law that brings consequences for actions… it also requires that no unclean thing can dwell with God”, because of this law, if we sin at all to any degree, we are unclean, and will not be able to dwell with God in the final judgement. No matter what we did, if we sinned once, that would be it!, and we would never be able to return to God’s presence ever again.
So this is why an atonement was needed, to satisfy the demands of justice. Christ had to pay the consequences of our sins, so that we could return back to the presence of our heavenly father.
Without this payment, we would forever feel the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve.
So, this atonement was the act of mercy which appeased the demands of justice.
But why was Christ the only one who qualified for this sacrifice? Because he was perfect
True to the Faith states that, “Having lived a perfect, sinless life, he was free from the demands of justice. Because he had the power of redemption and because he had no debt to justice, he could pay the debt for those who repent
So now we know why the atonement is essential in the plan of salvation.
But there’s more…
Alma 42:13 states…  “according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, [except] on conditions of repentance”
D Todd Christofferson said in a general conference address that “Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of Grace, God enables us to retain Responsibility for ourselves. Repentance respects and sustains our moral agency.”
So, God demands something of us still, which makes sense, because “A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist”.
In consistency with the gift of agency, we are now free to choose whether or not we want to accept the atonement. Because God will never rob us of our agency! the choice still remains to be ours! We made a choice to follow God in the pre-existence, and we still have that same choice here in mortality.
I’m going to explain this using a little analogy, which I stole from a talk called “Learning heaven, not earning heaven” given by Brad Wilcox. If any of you have listened to any of Brad Wilcox’s stuff, then you will recognize this immediately.
 “Christ’s arrangement for us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child.
Because Mom pays the Piano teacher, and because mom pays that debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something…
 What is it?...
 Practice! practice! practice!
Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher, does the child’s practice pay mom back for paying the piano teacher.
So what does the child’s practice do? The Childs practice is how the child shows appreciation for mom’s incredible gift. It is how the child takes advantage of this amazing opportunity to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found, not in seeing her gift repaid, mom’s joy is found in seeing her gift used, seeing her child get better. And so she calls for practice, practice, practice
Now if the child can’t see that, if he sees the requirement of practice as being just way too overbearing, way too much to ask, if he just can’t quite see it, it’s because he doesn’t quite see through mom’s eyes. And he doesn’t see how much happier he can be, how much better his life will be if he will choose to live on a higher plane.
Well, in the same way, because Jesus paid Justice, He can now turn to us, and He can say, follow me, keep my commandments.
If we see his requirements as being way too much to ask, maybe it’s because we don’t yet see through Jesus’ eyes.
A God who asks nothing of us, is making nothing of us!” and I might addA God who asks nothing of us, is the functional equivalent of no god at all
One of our modern day apostles Elder Dallin H. Oaks said
“The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.”
The miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ is not just that we can live after we die, but that we can live more abundantly.
The miracle of the atonement is not just that we can be cleansed, and not just that we can be consoled.
The miracle of the atonement is that through all of that, we can be transformed, we can be changed.
Scriptures make it clear, that no unclean thing can dwell with God, but no unchanged thing will want to.
Did you hear that?
No unchanged thing will even want to dwell with God!
So the atonement is not a means of allowing all to go to heaven freely. Rather, it’s a gift, just like the mother in this example, a gift available to every single person who ever lived on this earth. And because it’s a gift, we are Free to choose to accept this gift or not, and apply it in our lives or not. We are free to change or not.
Everyone still has that amazing gift of agency, allowing us to be agents unto ourselves.
Many of you have heard the atonement Christ referred to as “the great atoning sacrifice”
“The English word for sacrifice comes from two Latin words, sacer, meaning sacred, and facere, meaning to make. So Jesus’s sacrifice is to make us sacred.” (Brad Wilcox)
“The scriptures make it clear that our works are a significant factor in where we end up. However, this is not because of what our works earn us, but how they shape us” (Brad Wilcox)
It’s not about making us perfect, it’s about making us better. The child in the analogy I shared was asked to “practice, practice, practice”. Not to earn the child something, but to make the child better.
OOHH! It’s such a perfect plan!! And it makes so much sense! We are here on this earth to grow, to become better, to reach a fuller potential. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?, Progress in some way or another.

Now, how do we apply the atonement? What do we need to “Practice”?
We need to practice being like our savior, and follow his example. We do this by obeying his commandments, reading the word of God, Praying to Heavenly father, becoming baptized, and “exerting ourselves, repenting, and choosing God for him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency”.
Basically, try our best to become more like our savior.
Another one of our modern day prophets Elder Neil L. Anderson stated that “Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it… By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of you faith in not by chance, but by Choice”.
James 2:27 says that “Faith without works is dead”. Thus you cannot have faith, without acting on faith. And in Ether 12:6 it states that “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because we see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”.
So practicing to become like our father in heaven is having faith in him and his word, (which is things which are hoped for and not seen), and acting on that faith, because we know that faith without works is dead. So if we don’t act on what we hope for to be true, then it is all in vain.
There’s been a recurring theme here, have you noticed? First we act, and then God answers. We first have to pick up one end of the stick in order to pick up the other. Understanding the gift of agency has brought me to the knowledge of how we attain truth. Hoping for a grand glorious experience to convert us is most likely not going to happen without our effort. We must act, and put forth some effort, to search the scriptures, and then ask god if it’s true. Then you will receive your answer. You must first pray, and talk to God if you want to know if he’s there. You must DO something before you can KNOW whether or not it works. And you must do it with real intent, seeking sincerely to know if it’s true or not.
So what about those who do not accept this Gospel? Is everyone who does not hear about the gospel or does not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ screwed? Are we the lucky ones?
Interesting question Dallin… and the answer is NO!
We will all have the chance to hear about this gospel, whether it be in this life, or in the next. We will all have a chance. After all, That is one of the eternal blessings our temples offer us.
The missionaries will not teach an investigator who does not want to hear the gospel. They will only teach those who are ready and willing to learn. How come though? Well, because that’s just part of our agency. We must respect each other’s agency just like how God respects our agency.
Because God respects our agency, Mankind are free to do what they want. this results in calamity, starvation, wars, pestilence, feelings hurt, and all sorts of sad tragedies all over the world. Is it because God has deserted his children? No… wars and rumors of wars have been going on for as long as we can remember. Even in the Bible there were wars and rumors of wars. Like I said, it happens simply because God deeply respects our agency, and will not violate that sacred Gift. But that doesn’t mean our actions will be consequence free.
And when we find ourselves asking why? Why does this have to happen to me? Think of Frodo Baggins, and when he asked the same question to Gandalf when he had just learned about the evil which was in the One Ring. Gandalf replied saying. “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
So what are we going to do with the time that is given us?
Close with Testimony

I’m going to leave on a mission and teach the word of God to those who will listen, and I can’t wait to do that. Because it’s brought me So much joy, and peace, and it makes perfect sense to me. The more and more I learn, the more I understand. I am going to serve a mission is because I am choosing to be like my Savior, Jesus Christ. I want to serve as he served, I want to teach as he taught, I want to love as he loved. I want to follow his perfect example, and use his atonement in my life, so that I can become better. And I want to share the gospel with others so that they can have the same blessing.