Even though I am a junior at Penn, and the first time I came here was in 2001, this is my first talk
in the Philly 3rd ward. I have had such a great experience in Philadelphia, but the hardest times that I have passed through may have been during my first few days here. I remember the first time I came off of the plane in Philadelphia, all alone in a dangerous and uncertain new world. I did make it to Penn safely, but in the week that followed, I sank into a state of hopeless depression. However, I remember distinctly the very first time that I walked within the walls of this chapel. The spirit touched me with the greatest feeling of peace and assurance. I felt instantly accepted into the ward and was given strength to get me through all of the stresses and vicissitudes of a first year away at college. A couple of weeks later, the tragic events of September 11th struck the hearts of America with new fears and insecurities. I remember the fear that I felt, but I also remember distinctly the services here the following Sunday, and once again the confirmation I received that we would pull through this and everything would be alright. The ward bonded together in this time of turmoil. The experiences I had that year and the closeness that I felt with the members of my new ward were really what inspired me to finally make the decision to serve a mission. But what is it that the members of the church had or have? We dress, for the most part at least, just like everyone else; we are not of one race or one socioeconomic background. But, every member of the church who keeps the commandments possesses a light inside of them which, without words, can inspire, edify, and uplift. James E. Faust talked about this light in the October 2005 general conference. He shares a story which I’m sure will be familiar to most of you. He says:
” The Lord is the true light. we know that you are not going to proselyte. President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Jeffrey R. agreed with the Israeli government on behalf of the Church and the university not to proselyte in Israel. “and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world. which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings. What was that light in their eyes which was so obvious to our friend? The Lord Himself gives the answer: [in the Doctrine & Covenants] “And the light which shineth. To our knowledge the Church and BYU have scrupulously and honorably kept that nonproselyting commitment. We were required to do so in order to get the building permit to build that magnificent building which stands in the historic city of Jerusalem.” This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes. President Brigham Young was once asked why we are sometimes left alone and often sad. but what are you going to do about the light that is in their eyes?” He was referring to our students who were studying in Israel. Before this lease could be signed. is through him who enlighteneth your eyes. one of our friends insightfully remarked.” Where did that light come from? Again the Lord gives the answer: “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. Holland.“I recently recalled a historic meeting in Jerusalem about 17 years ago. In a quote that rings true to my first days as a freshman at Penn. then president of Brigham Young University. His response was that man has to learn to “act as an independent being … to see what he will
. “Oh. which giveth you light. After the lease had been signed. that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. It was regarding the lease for the land on which the Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was later built. You might wonder why we agreed not to proselyte.
108. McKay.”1 And so it is. This comes from the December 2003 edition of my journal. Clare Middlemiss. It is not what he says alone. whom we’ll call Alejandro. McKay said: “Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence. It is the story of a taxi driver. Faust adds. which most people considered to be the most base and unholy of all the mission callings.do … and try his independency—to be righteous in the dark. . but we had no time to plan anything (we were paying bills and running errands all day). My companion told him that we had an important discussion about tithing that night and
David O. it is not alone what he does. but none of them are as powerful to me as the one which I am about to share. started up a conversation with the taxi driver. It turned out that Alejandro was a member of the church who came from a small town in Southern Chile. This is by no means a new concept. So speaking of spiritual. p.” As James E. that becomes easier to do when we see the “gospel glow radiating from illuminated individuals. . every person radiates what he or she really is. David O. and people throughout the ages have felt the influence of this light which comes from the Lord. there are many different scriptures and quotes that can tell us about this concept. and we had a really important meeting that night with some great investigators. Every man. It is what he is. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book. I felt that it was a very spiritual position. Man May Know For Himself.
. I was serving in the mission office at that time. whether for good or for evil. We hopped into a taxi and. It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us. comp. as we usually did. this particular day my companion and I were going to pay some urgent bills. If one looks. . 1967).
but those two missionaries saved my life. like you’re all rich?” I told him that I was just returning from church. He yelled back that he didn’t believe me. They will never know it. and had seven children who would not be here if those two missionaries hadn’t been behaving themselves.”
. He gave us some good suggestions for the lesson. He said “in my sector there are a couple of Mormons that go around in the streets every day. but they saved my life. The man’s countenance changed. He eventually asked me what church I was going to. They are true representatives of Christ. I later got married. and simply walked away. “one day when I was young recent convert I was leaving church to go home. and that my life was in his hands right now. but my life was and always has been in God’s hands. I replied that he could do what he wanted to me. and demanded that I hand over the money. gave me a customary hug. Even though I said it before. and I was only going to church. I nervously replied that I didn’t have any money on me. I told him that I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Who knows how many lives have been touched by them? So remember when you go out there. Alejandro continued “I have no idea who those two missionaries were. He said. He said. We went back and forth as he yelled for me to hand over money and I tried to convince him that I had none. He said. “You’re a Mormon?” and I nodded my head.” The man withdrew his knife. when a man came up behind me and placed a knife up to my throat. They are good people. and after that he told us a story that left an undeniable impression on my soul. He told me to give him all of my money. “then why are you dressed up nice. They do good things for us. They play soccer with the kids and are always trying to give service to others.wondered if he had any suggestions for us. you are saving lives in more ways than one.
Could their experience some day in the future be similar to mine as a Penn freshman. From that point on the mission changed for me. scriptures opened up a new world of meaning as they became interwoven into my own life and showed me things that I had never realized before. Also. and the occasional hunger seemed to disappear. the design of God concerning the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. was only there because his great-great-great-grandfather. was touched by
. Even time. no matter how disparaging. They weren’t magnificent leaders in the church. or even to Alejandro’s? No one knew. Many of the nuisances and things that I had worried about before in the mission just went on autopilot. they might not have even known the discussions at all or even known Spanish for that matter. and my companion and I looked at each other in disbelief. standing there in a crowded line waiting to pay an overdue bill. It became a journey rather than a destination. and the large number of rejections. they radiated what they were. We knew this was a moment that usually only surfaces in places like Ensign Magazines and Manuals of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church. The missionaries in that town were human beings. came to be on my side. which had once been my worst enemy. Companions no longer seemed irritable. The heat did not bother me. In Doctrine and Covenants 58 I read that I could not behold with my natural eyes.We got out of the taxi. and that made all the difference. my legs never seemed to be tired. I can’t speak for my companion. but my life definitely changed that day. could ever get on my nerves. We were just two missionaries. Alma. But they did have a light in their eyes. chosen to be an Apostle on the American continent by Christ himself. I read in the Book of Mormon that Nephi.
In our lives. the days come. not a famine of bread. but his influence reached even to a future Apostle who was ordained by the hand of Christ. Secularism is defined as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations. As Isaiah observed. We need to remember that these things. Often those who embrace secularism have a different look about them.” Secularism does not accept many things as absolutes. Maybe our friends will not take the discussions. that I will send a famine in the land. Its principal objectives are pleasure and self-interest. how many of us are discouraged because of the uncertainty that lies before us? Maybe we don’t get high grades. President Faust continues on in his talk to say that “Secularism is expanding in much of the world today. reading over this change that occurred in me during the mission caused me to re-evaluate my life and think about the way that I measure success today. or not agree to be baptized at the last minute. but of hearing the words of the Lord:” I feel that as we get older. the tendency to become concerned with secular things increases. nor a thirst for water. are only as raindrops on a large stone. As Amos prophesied: “Behold. We can see from
.” Yet with all the secularism in the world. saith the Lord God. In my life I know it has definitely been a challenge.the light in the eyes of a missionary named Abinadi. In preparing for this talk. many people hunger and yearn for the things of the Spirit and hearing the word of the Lord. despite all our efforts as member missionaries. although great. and that after much tribulation come the blessings. no matter how hard we try. “The show of their countenance doth witness against them. Abinadi never saw a single convert in his life.
" The girl said. “as it were. saw the Elders.this why Christ tells us in the scriptures to become “as a little child. or acceptance in social circles will determine or add to the
. Jesus is coming to our house. whom they represent. “Other blessings add further to the light in our eyes. happiness. once again. … joy to the heart. "Mom. and peace are the gifts of the Spirit that flow from the power of the Holy Ghost.” My mission president recently wrote to me about an interesting experience. the gift of the Holy Ghost is." The mom came out. I know it is. Pratt characterized it. It is Jesus. come quick." The mom took her daughter in the house and shut the door. It is just the Mormons. material prosperity. mom. It increases our knowledge and our understanding of “all things. and through the priesthood of God they receive the Holy Ghost. Too bad she didn't see what her daughter did.” As Elder Parley P. The Holy Ghost gives worthy Saints both spiritual guidance and protection. a prominent calling. Two Elders were knocking doors on a street and a little girl several houses down started calling to her mother. It is “the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him. Those who truly repent receive the Spirit of Christ and are baptized into this Church unto the remission of their sins. Faust goes on to describe how we can strengthen this light that is in our eyes and truly measure our progress here on earth.” The Holy Ghost is that Comforter promised by the Savior before He was crucified. and said. "No. [and] light to the eyes. Hands are laid upon their heads. "No. it is not Jesus. The experience touched the Elders and reminded them. They are the gifts of the Spirit that come from the Savior. Joy. “ Notice he does not say that record baptisms as a missionary. fulfillment.” This is of immense value at a time when spiritual blindness is increasing. It is Jesus.
for me at least. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. they do. Our lives will be illuminated. In preparing this talk I was able to look back and see the designs of God in my own life. Do these things come? Yes. If we remember this. even if that one soul is our own. Those investigators that we were teaching back in December of 2003 were baptized. and if we should labor all our days and bring but one soul unto the Lord. and know that we cannot see with our natural eyes the things God has in store for us. but only to whom and when the Lord sees fit.light in our eyes. we can remember our divine nature and enter each new day with the confidence and assurance that we are fulfilling God’s plan here on earth.
. I have been truly blessed by this experience. and continue to do well. we will be able to endure to the end and return to live with Him. our joy will still be great in the kingdom of our Father. and other lives will be touched. I hope and pray that as we leave here today and start this New Year. but. the most important thing we did that day was to learn how to find a lifetime of peace and satisfaction in our own work.