This week was great! So, we had a ton of fun. We were out in a
place called Simione (and it is about as sticks as you can get here in
Luanda), when a big old African rain came in. It DUMPED! It was a lot
of fun, although we did miss a lesson or two (Angolans hate rain and
cancel immediately at the sight of rain), we got to go and play soccar
in the mud with some people on the street. Then we waded through waist
high to knee high water on the roads until we got home. It was WAY
I already told you about how Hhad gotten that document from
the provinance... now they have to renew all their other documents!
It's annoying, but they say that the other one was the hardest one,
and that all these others can be done in the city. Plus, we have a
member from the branch who has experience with the government, and she
got called as a marriage coordinator for the branch. So things should
go by fast from here. Hopefully they'll be able to get baptized by
Elder Money and I have a lot of fun here. We're always joking
around and talking. It's been nice having a companion to keep me
happy! Things are good with us here.
I took out some money today (about 60$) and went to Benfica again.
We got some pretty good deals because I showed the vendors some magic
tricks that I learned, and so they cut me a deal if I could ''smell
out'' their card that they had chosen. Pretty fun stuff! We got some
cool sculpture stuff, and I got some gifts for y'all. Plus, get this:
I asked some of the paint vendors to do a painting of Lehi's dream. I
gave them a section of the book of mormon to read, explained it, and
they agreed... but they want 50$ for it. What do you think? Would that
be a good deal? The painting itself is a big one, so I think it would
be worth it.
So I was reading an old Ensign here in the house, and I found this
''Opening the Heavens'' article. Read it, and live it! It is the best!
It comes from the August 2009 Ensign, by Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi. Here
''Do you want to feel the love of God more powerfully in your life? Do
you want to feel more in tune with His Spirit? Do you want to have the
heavens opened to you daily?
There is a way you can feel a daily renewal of Gods everlasting love
and drink from the fountain of living waters (1 Nephi 11:25). It
follows a pattern set by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he went to a
grove of trees early one morning in 1820 seeking answers to his
questions. I speak of a morning devotional time spent in prayer,
meditation, and scripture study. If you have a devotional every
morning, even if only for a few minutes, you will be deeply blessed. I
know this to be true.
Escaping the Noise and the Tumult
The Prophet Joseph Smith once made this interesting observation about
opening the heavens: The manifestations of the gift of the Holy
Ghost, the ministering of angels, or the development of the power,
majesty or glory of God were very seldom manifested publicly,
most generally when angels have come, or God has revealed Himself, it
has been to individuals in private, in their chamber; in the
wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult. 1
Unfortunately, modern life is filled with noise and tumult. Our
society provides so many distractions that unless we make the time and
effort to extract ourselves from them, the voice of the Spirit may not
get through to us. That is why on a spring day in 1820, Joseph Smith
left his home early to enter a grove of trees so he could pray in
quiet seclusion about a question of religion. The answer came with
astonishing clarity when both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
appeared to him, ushering in the dispensation of the fulness of times
(see Joseph SmithHistory 1:1419).
In similar ways, the key to gaining the spiritual strength we need
lies in what President Thomas S. Monson once described as entering a
sacred grove of our own. He was teaching bishops, but the counsel
applies to all members of the Church: Every bishop needs a sacred
grove to which he can retire to meditate and to pray for guidance.
Mine was our old ward chapel. I could not begin to count the occasions
when on a dark night at a late hour I would make my way to the stand
of this building where I was blessed, confirmed, ordained, taught, and
eventually called to preside. The chapel was dimly lighted by the
streetlight in front; not a sound would be heard, no intruder to
disturb. With my hand on the pulpit I would kneel and share with Him
above my thoughts, my concerns, my problems. 2
Of course, these sacred grove moments do not duplicate what happened
to the Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. We dont enter into these
devotional times expecting to see the Father and the Son any more than
Joseph Smith did. But we can trust that Heavenly Father will answer
our prayers; how He answers them, however, is up to Him.
There is great power in setting aside quiet, prayerful, meditative
time. In the stillness that accompanies our pondering, we can come to
know the Father and His Son (see Psalm 46:10; D&C 101:16).
The Power of Morning Prayer and Scripture Study
When I served as a mission president in Hawaii, I had many
opportunities to speak with young elders and sisters struggling to
become better missionaries. I remember one missionary who became
deeply discouraged. His missionary work had become unbearable to him,
and he started doubting his testimony. He came to me with the request
to send him home.
Instead, I asked him to follow the example of Nephi in pondering and
praying about his concerns and desires (see 1 Nephi 10:17; 11:1). This
is a practice I have followed for many years and a practice many other
General Authorities of the Church follow. I asked the missionary to go
to his apartment and do the following:
Rise from his bed earlyin his case, a few minutes before 6:30 a.m.
Exercise for a few minutes.
Wash his body and shavemake himself clean.
Dress for the day.
Go to a quiet place inside his apartment.
Kneel, subdue his spirit before Heavenly Father, and call upon
Him. Talk with Him in reverent prayer.
Wait for His holy inspiration, pondering the scriptures or a
recent general conference talk and think about the specific problems
I promised this young elder that if he did this and immersed himself
in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, for a few minutes
every day, he would experience feelings of joy and would receive
strength to go on. 3
A few days later he came to see me. His eyes filled with tears as he
told me of his experiences during his early-morning devotional time.
He served wonderfully as a servant of the Lord and completed an
honorable mission. His wife recently told me that he continues to rise
early to have private time with his Heavenly Father.
I taught this same principle to each of the missionaries over whom I
had the privilege to preside. I was concerned that we were not doing
all we could to bring the light of the gospel to the Hawaiian people.
Within a relatively short time after the missionaries started this
practice, the number of referrals we received from members increased,
teaching opportunities went up, and the number of baptisms in our
mission doubled and then tripled. All of this happened because the
missionaries efforts were magnified by power of the Holy Spirit.
I know from personal experience the spiritual power that can flow into
your life if you follow this practice. You will feel the love of God
and a cleansing, purifying regeneration of your spirit (see 1 Nephi
11:2225; D&C 50:2829). You will experience moments of revelation,
when the Spirit whispers to your spirit what you need to do to be a
better father, a better mother, a better son or daughter, a better
disciple of Jesus Christ.
Finding Solutions to Everyday Problems
I know a good member of the Church who has a successful marriage and
six beautiful children. She is trying to be the best companion she can
be to her husband and the best mother she can be to her children. She
is an effective Young Women leader in her ward. But sometimes she
feels she isnt good enough. She becomes discouraged and feels an
emptiness of soul.
She came to me one day with her husband and described the
powerlessness she feels at such times. She had discussed her concern
with her priesthood leaders and especially her husband but had yet to
find relief. I suggested that after her husband left for work and
their children were in school, she find a place in her home and there
reverently and humbly visit with Heavenly Father. I suggested that she
express her gratitude to God for her blessings and then wait for His
holy inspiration. She committed to do this daily.
Sometime later I received a letter from her. She said that as she went
to her knees in those quiet moments each day and dropped her burden at
Heavenly Fathers feet, He took her concerns away. She felt of her
great worth to Him and learned more of the healers art 4 as He
healed her soul.
Greater Understanding of the Atonement
As we use daily devotional time to gain greater spiritual strength, we
will be blessed to better understand Heavenly Father and the Savior
and His Atonement. We will taste of the goodness of Jesus (Mormon
1:15). We will feel with exceedingly great joy (1 Nephi 8:12) the
power of His eternal love. We will come to love the Savior even more
for what He did for us during His mortal ministryparticularly in
Gethsemane, on the cross, and in the Resurrectionand for what He
continues to do for us today (see John 6:51; Alma 7:1112).
A number of years ago, Elder Melvin J. Ballard (18731939) of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had an experience while visiting the
Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana, USA. At the time, he needed
inspiration and strength to help the people in that community.
One night he had a dream in which he was ushered into a room, where he
saw the most glorious being I have ever conceived of, and was taken
forward to be introduced to Him.
He smiled, called my name, and
stretched out His hands toward me. If I live to be a million years old
I shall never forget that smile. He put His arms around me and kissed
me, as He took me into His bosom, and He blessed me until my whole
being was thrilled. As He finished I fell at His feet, and there saw
the marks of the nails; and as I kissed them, with deep joy swelling
through my whole being, I felt that I was in heaven indeed. The
then was: Oh! If I could
go into His presence and receive
the feeling that I then had
, I would give everything that I am and
ever hope to be!
I knowas I know that I livethat He lives. 5
I dont know if you will have that same kind of experience in this
life. But I do know that if you continue to meet daily with Heavenly
Father in the private chambers of your home, you will come to know Him
and our Savior in ways you couldnt otherwise (see 3 Nephi 19:1623,
2529). May you do so and have the heavens open to you in whatever
glorious ways your Heavenly Father has prepared for you.
Do you want to have the heavens opened to you daily? There is a way.
It follows a pattern set by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
These sacred grove moments do not duplicate what happened to the
Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. But we can trust that Heavenly
Father will answer our prayers.
As we use daily devotional time to gain greater spiritual strength, we
will better understand Heavenly Father and the Savior and His
Atonement. We will taste of the goodness of Jesus and feel with
exceedingly great joy the power of His eternal love.''
I'm doing good. The area is slowly growing, we've got some neat
people committing for baptism, and my house is full of cool Elders. I
miss you guys like crazy though. LOVE YOU ALL!
Elder Alex Hobbs
PS Mom, we have lunches at members houses all week except tuesday!
PSS I loved the pictures!