Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing remarks from Elder Vomicil 8-12-12

My dearest Elders and Sisters,
What a blessing it is to be able to address each of you one final time. I wish I could take the time to sit down with each of you and tell you just how much you mean to me, how you have helped me, and how much I look up to you. Its been a wonderful gift from God to be able to serve alongside each of you, and to see the Savior shining through your faces and examples. I really do love each of you so much! I hope that what I share with you today will help you with any trials or struggles you might be facing, or will face on your mission. I have definitely come to see how frequently those trials come up in the service of God, and long ago I learned not to pray them away. In the words of Elder Simkins, "God has stretched my soul" and I am so thankful for that! Without my trials I would not have been able to learn that I am able to do hard things, that little old Rob Vomocil, when on the errand of God and armed with His power, can accomplish mighty miracles. In this letter I will attempt to help each of you gain a greater vision of what you can accomplish in the service of God, and how to take confidence in Christ.
To help illustrate my point, let me give you a peek into my life. I am a pretty competitive person. Outwardly I may not seem that way, but on the inside I feel like  I know that's wrong, and I'm working on it, but I wanted to share that with you because that was a weakness that God has helped me with. There have been times in my mission where I have demanded perfection from myself, and sometimes even those around me. Now, that comes from me feeling like I need to be the perfect missionary to get anything of real value accomplished. If you have been my companion, or served in my district or zone, you probably have seen what I'm talking about. I want to let each of you know how thankful I am for your patience with me and your ability to endure the hardships that that can cause. I mean, that can really beat you down! I remember times where I failed to see the positive because I was too focused on the perceived negative. Anyways, that is not the way to live your life, and not the way to serve your mission. Demanding excellence is good. Demanding perfection is not. A while ago an inspired leader of mine told me to "strive for grace, not perfection." I am so thankful to that man for his words, they have changed my life.
Mormon said this,
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."
What beautiful words! What incredible counsel! The power of God is a real thing that each of us can and should attain in our work as a missionary. Looking back its sad that it took me so long to realize that I don't have to be perfect for God to be able to work miracles through me. Mormon lines out very clearly what it is that each of us need to do to qualify for the power of God. He invites us first to come to Him and deny our selves of ungodliness. We must be obedient. That is first and foremost. We must sacrifice the natural men and women inside of each of us that are opposed to God. Put that little guy or gal on the altar and watch them burn! God requires it, and I promise you will be all the happier because of it. As we learned from our inspired President not long ago, obedience and sacrifice are the first two essential pieces in our eternal progression. Our consistent obedient living, with our willingness to submit to God and turn to Him all of those things about ourselves that aren't in harmony with His teachings will always lead to power in our ordination. I have seen that in my life and I can promise you that it is true.
Next the prophet tells us that we must serve God with all our might, mind and strength. To that list I would submit that we could add "heart" (DC 4). If we are willing to serve God with literally everything we have, our willpower (might), intellect and knowledge (mind), time and effort (strength) and all of our emotions and sentiments (heart) then the Lord will endow us with power. He will see that we are trying our best to fully consecrate everything we have and are to Him and his service. If we withhold even one of those things, while still serving with the other three we will miss out on the blessing that our Father is waiting to give us. Conversely no matter the actual amount of your talent, wisdom, knowledge or strength, if you give it all the Lord He will consecrate it and add His grace. When we lay it all out, leave it all on the altar, the Lord will perfect our efforts through His grace, and we will see the miracles we desire. We will no longer be able to doubt the power of God because we will have seen His power work through us, despite our knowing all too well just how weak and simple we really are.
Elders and Sisters, know that God is waiting and so willing to bless you. He desires nothing more then for us to be the means of bringing many many more souls to Him. He promises that if we do all we can then even our multitude and sometimes-ever-so-apparent weaknesses will become strengths (Ether 12:27). He will make you enough! I realize now that I never had to be perfect. What a relief that was. I am so thankful God was able to lift that from me, because I was driving myself and those around me into the ground. I know now that if I try my best and do all I can, I allow God to accomplish many amazing things despite me I would have never been able to accomplish by myself.
 I'd like to close with one more scripture. Its short and sweet and also found in the book of Moroni. Mormon said,"Perfect love casteth out all fear" (Moroni 8:16). Perfect love, the love of Jesus Christ, or charity, has the power to overcome anything. Never underestimate the power of that love. Once you obtain it you will have the faith, power and motivation to accomplish any great task your father in Heaven requires of you. The love of Jesus Christ is what enabled Him to do all that He did. That same love is what propelled our Savior forward to a place no man could go, and only God could return from. I testify to you that He did. He lives, and because He lives we have a sure knowledge of the power of Charity, through the grace and mercy of Christ the Lord. Be obedient. Sacrifice all that you have an are. Strive for grace, and give all of yourself. Love the way the Savior did, and I promise you that if you do you will be given power from on high. Your life, and the lives of every single brother or sister you meet with never ever be the same. This gospel is true. The church of Christ has been restored on the Earth. We are all enlisted in that royal army and are truly marching on to Glory. What a wonderful thing that is. I love you all. I cant wait to see you all again. It will be a wonderful reunion, Alma 17:2-3 style.
Till then, your brother in Christ,
Elder Vomocil

Monday, August 6, 2012

Letter from Elder Hanson 8-6-12

Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning Elders and Sisters, I am grateful for the opportunity to write to each of you, and express my love and to share some thoughts and impressions that have been on my mind a lot lately.  First off, I want to express the great love that I have for each of you.  You are my brothers and sisters and it is such an honor to be serving next to all of you.  I just think to myself, a few years ago I never knew nor did I ever think that I would be serving next to people like you, but now I am here and I am truly amazed at the royal army that is here in the California Santa Rosa Mission.  That royal army is made up of ordained ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, if they obey and work diligently will be able to fulfill many of the divine purposes of our Father in Heaven.  I testify that our calling and commission is to help others to come unto Christ, and to contribute to the completion of  the great and divine plan that God has for each of His children.  I love being a missionary and I recognize that the Lord has blessed me so abundantly throughout my mission. 

The Spirit is the most powerful, direct and constant guide that we have in life that is able to touch our hearts and minds, and to guide us in righteous ways throughout life.  Therefore Elders and Sisters, let us qualify ourselves to have that Spirit with us ALL the time, and be led in this work ALL the time by Him.  I know that through this divine principle is real success in missionary work found.   As it states in Preach My Gospel page 11:  “You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”  I know that each of us can tell when we have the Spirit and when we don’t, and what drives away the Spirit and what keeps Him with us.  It is my hope and prayer that each of us can be obedient and to do what is expected of us as missionaries and throughout the rest of our lives, as disciples of Jesus Christ.  I think back on experiences that I have had, in which the Spirit has directly guided me to the Elect of God.  I know that as we do what is expected of us such as being obedient, praying multiple times a day, working diligently to contact everyone we see,  and inviting others to follow the Savior’s perfect example, each of us will be led to the Elect of God.   That is the promise that God has given us and really that is why we are called and set apart to have a higher plane of thought, so that we, through that power and authority can find those whom God is preparing every day.

In order to find the Elect of God, we need to do just that FIND them.  We cannot find them through disobedience or doing things that are contrary to the dignity of our calling.  They are found as the principles of obedience and sacrifice are applied, and we actually try to find them.  I did a little calculation this morning which has helped me catch a better vision of the principle of talking with everyone.  This is not to say that everything is a calculation, but I pray that each of you will really take this to heart and open your minds to this.  If every companionship in the mission was to contact at least 7 people a day, that would add up to 567 people that would have the chance to hear the Gospel.  Now let’s say that only 3 of those 7 people are interested and set up a return visit.  That would add up to 243 of our brothers and sisters that would be able to hear the words of the Savior again.  Just think about how huge that would be if all of us were able to contact at least 7 people a day.  I testify that miracles will happen and we as a mission will see the power of God manifest before our eyes.  I love the people here in California, I’d have to say some are very unique, but each is a precious and chosen son or daughter of God.  I also know that each of you love these people, now let’s go and show them our love by talking with them about the Restored Gospel and helping them recognize the love the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for them. 

I have always loved the story of the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon.  They are great examples to me of how to be courageous, firm, and steadfast in my faith.  I think of those young men who so willingly gave up there hobbies, families, and other things they enjoyed doing, to fight for the cause of liberty and truth.  In the book of Alma we read this account:

 44 Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?

 45 And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.

 46 For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.

 56 But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.

They were ready to go to battle and fought with great strength and courageous efforts.  Like them we all need to serve God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.   I love each of you so much!   Just seeing you makes me so happy and I am so grateful for the great examples that you are to me.  I love my Savior Jesus Christ, He is my ruler and my king, forever and ever He will reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  I testify that what we do is essential to the salvation of our brothers and sisters.   Let’s act on the capacity that we have as ordained ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I love you Elders and Sisters, you are all so special to me, and I am eternally grateful for the profound influence that each of you have had on my life. 

Con amor su hermano,

Elder Hanson

Closing thoughts from Elder Mahrt 7-31-12

Dear Missionaries of the California Santa Rosa Miss

     The opportunity to write this letter is an answer to a prayer that I offered to Heavenly Father. I prayed that He would allow me to experience closure to my missionary service and that He would give me the assurance that the sacrifice that I offered to Him on my mission has been accepted. This letter has given me a chance to reflect on all that has transpired during the past two years, thus, giving the Holy Spirit opportunity to grant closure and to give assurance to me. So, for that reason I am grateful to get to share how much my mission has meant to me. I pray that in the process the Holy Spirit can give you the direction, motivation, and confidence needed to exercise greater faith during the remainder of your time spent as a missionary.

               I am so grateful for my mission. For those of you who don’t know me, I never thought once that I would ever serve as a missionary. It was never a desire that I had. However, there came a time when I sought forgiveness from the Lord and through sincere and lasting repentance I was able to receive a remission of my sins. From that time forward there grew within me an intense desire to serve my God. The love that I felt from the mercy that was extended toward me created a burning in my Spirit to give my life to Him. Over time I submitted my papers and eagerly accepted this call from Heaven to serve in the California Santa Rosa Mission full time for two years. Each of you has similarly been called away from the world to devote yourself full-time to the work of Salvation for two years or 18 months. Thank you for accepting that call. Thank you for leaving your old life behind to come here and help others taste the mercy made available through Jesus Christ. We are all yoked with Him in His work.

As I said earlier I have wanted to know from God if my sacrifice has been accepted. As I’ve pondered on this I’ve come to recognize that in reality, the time we spend in the field is very short. Compared to the average lifespan 18 to 24 months is a small fraction of our mortal probation. Therefore, our sacrifice in time is not the real sacrifice at all. As we learned from President Alba last Zone Conference the Lord wants ALL of us. Thus, I can know that my sacrifice was enough if I have given Him my all. I have done my best to do just that and I have felt the assurance that God has accepted my sacrifice. There is no sweeter feeling. With that being said, now that you’re on your mission, see that you serve full-time too. Don’t just punch your time card beginning with your ordination and ending with your release. Set yourself apart and perform the labors that God mercifully (and might I add confidently) called you out of the world to perform. During my mission I’ve strived tirelessly every day to do just the same. Since God promises me all that He has I have wanted only to give Him all that I have. This promise has been assured to me through the Holy Spirit as I have repented each day. All of us must be clean to gain the faith necessary to sacrifice all that we have and to endure that sacrifice. I know that I was only able to serve with all of my heart because Christ first gave me a new heart when I prayed to him to have mercy on me. I challenge all of you to do the same and gain a hope of eternal life. From personal experience I know that as we each do so we gain spiritual power and our desire to serve God increases.

Another thing that has motivated me throughout my mission to give my all has been this invitation and promise: “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” (D&C 4:2) Through this scripture I learned that God did not call me on a mission to just be in the mission field, He called me to lay down my life to Him. He trusted in me to serve with a focus and drive that consumed all of my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual being. The promise of being blameless has allowed me to continue to act and serve in this manner. As I now look back on my missionary service I am grateful for the opportunity to give myself to God and for the promise that I have to stand blameless in front of Him. I know that I have not been a perfect missionary every second of my mission, and I know that I won’t be a perfect person when I return home from my mission so that promise is comforting to me. The promise was definitely worth the sacrifice. Going home, it feels good to know that I gave Him my will while in the field. This will help me to now keep my will with Him for the rest of my life because I now know that I can trust in Him to fulfill His promises. I now know through personal experience that it’s worth the sacrifice.

There has been a part of me on my mission that has been consumed by the Lord because I didn’t just serve time. He has taken the weak parts of my nature and has perfected them. The carnal and devilish urges of my flesh have been overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ. My only desire is to please God and to raise a family to Him. To me, this is sanctification. It is the process of becoming like God. It is a process that requires us to lay the animal in us to be sacrificed. I can think of no greater vehicle to do this than the mission. For this reason, I have done my best to not waste time here. Instead I have wasted away my life in His service. As I have taken advantage of this time I’ve become happier and the more divine part of my nature has come out. The path to eternal life has become much clearer and I am more confident in pursuing it. These habits I’ve developed on my mission will shape my future role in Christ’s Church and my ability to endure to the end. What a great privilege and blessing this has been. I hope that each of you strives to make the most of your mission. Make the necessary sacrifice to stand blameless before God. Allow your regrets to be consumed by the miracle of forgiveness and lay your will at the altar. I bear my testimony that service like this brings great joy and builds strength of character. I know that it solidifies our course and will provide us with strength to endure in our faith in Christ until the end of our lives. Jesus Christ lives and will sustain us in our efforts to follow Him because His greatest desire is for us to return with Him to the Kingdom of our Father. The mission not only allows us to bring others to His kingdom but it helps us to develop a pattern of gospel living that will enable us to receive eternal life. It has done so for me.

 Good luck in your service Elders and Sisters.

Elder Mahrt

10 incredible missionaries depart and 11 amazing missionaries arrive

Update from Sister Alba,

With great sadness we saw ten incredible missionaries departed for home last Monday...but a few hours later 11 amazing new missionaries arrived to join us and become a part of the Santa Rosa Mission..."The Greatest Mission in the World". Their pictures are under the 'our missionaries' section but scroll to the end because I can't get the new pictures to appear at the top!  (still learning blogging)

Letter to the Missionaries week of July 29th

Letter to the Missionaries week of July 29, 2012

Dear Elders, Sisters and couples,

“ A Time for Change”

I am sitting here thinking of all of your right now and wanting you to know that we love you and that God knows you and loves you and He knows what is good for you. Sometimes opportunities come our way that are easy, just what we want and are wonderful.  Sometimes things come our way that are difficult, not what we want at all and turn out to be even more wonderful. We cannot see the whole picture of life while here.  Our perspective is limited by so many human characteristics: fear of the unknown, comfort in the now, love for where we are and not wanting to leave, doubt that God is really in the picture, not wanting to go into something that we think will not be good.  But God is in the picture.  He is part of every little thing that is in your life especially, during this time of your life.  So, ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind and strength’. …and ‘be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with you whithersoever thou goest.’ Joshua 1:9

I love both of those scriptures and there have been times in my life when they gave me the hope, courage and strength that I needed to go forward.  Change can be hard but there is always growth.

Dear Sisters and Elders at this time of change, in some way for almost everyone (transfers) you’ll have new companions, new areas, new leaders, new members and new investigators. President Alba and I would like to issue a challenge to each of you.  This is a new day with a new dawn and it is a new beginning. This really is the first day of the rest of your mission. Make it great.  It is up to you. You can do it. Chose to lift your eyes upward and go forward in faith. 

With great love, Sister Alba