Elder Curtis Sudbury

Elder Curtis Sudbury

Monday, August 30, 2010

Letter from Curtis on August 30, 2010

A little more time this week :).
It's been a great week full of happiness. :)
First I have to tell you all about a fantastic miracle that happened this week.  We were in our weekly planning session, Élder Bryant and I, and it was drawing to a close.  We spend a lot of time praying about specific people during that session, especially the people we feel could be ready to take the step of baptism.  We had prayed about all those people and didn't feel that any of them were ready for this week.  We set a lot of goals for new investigators, people with baptismal date, baptisms and confirmations and I like to pray about our decisions for those goals to see if it's what God wants.  We, after praying about the people we had, had put a goal of 0 baptisms this week.  We prayed about that goal and felt impressed that God wanted us to baptise one person.  We had no idea who that person was.  We started praying about everyone we had, trying to figure out who God wanted us to baptize this upcoming week.  I felt it was a person named Veronica, but we were praying individually and Élder Bryant hadn't finished yet, so I kept praying about how we were going to help her get to that point.  We didn't even think Veronica believed in God, let alone wanted to get baptized, so I was on total reliance of the Lord.  As I continued praying I felt in my heart the confirmation of my answer that it was she who was to get baptized this week and that she would tell us herself what she needed the next day. Élder Bryant got done praying and felt the same impression.  We were both shocked but decided to go with God's will. :)  That was Friday.  Saturday came around and Veronica and her family were supposed to be cleaning the chapel (her mom and sister are members).  Miracle 1 happened, the people with the keys didn't show up.  They came back and we met up with them to eat lunch.  They wouldn't have even been there if the person had shown up with the keys.  We had lunch (fried tacos with spaghetti, I made the spaghetti :) ), and she still hadn't said anything.  I felt we should stick around a little bit longer and we got on the subject of the church.  She then told us something extremely surprising to us.  She said "I want to get baptized."  We were hugely surprised.  She had been avoiding talking about baptism with us for over a month.  She is a headstrong, twenty-year-old, half-rebel who does nothing she doesn't want to do.  I think she's awesome ;).  I had been hoping she would get to that point.  She then fulfilled the "prophecy" we had had the night before.  She told us exactly what her difficulties with the church are.  We will be having a family home evening with her family tomorrow.  Pray for us to have the Spirit. :)  This was a wonderful experience for me.  God told me very directly what was going to happen and it happened :).  It was my "fleece," my evidence from God that I could trust in myself (the reference, I think, is the story of Gideon in the Bible).  I'm very grateful.
That's my big story for the week.  The work is moving forwared in Cuatro Vientos.  All is well. :)  We see our share of miracles every day.  God is blessing us in a marvelous and amazing manner.  I know He is with us.
A little more information about my companion.  Elder Jameson Reese Bryant is twenty-one years old, lived in Utah for the first half of his life and comes from North Carolina.  He is a fantastic, fun companion that loves comics and is teaching me how to draw :).
Well, that's about it from the front lines.  I hope all is well wherever you are when you read this. :)
As for personal thoughts, the lyrics from "my holy house" come to mind.
Windows and doors open and close
Keeping out and letting in,
The dark and the light, Wrong and the right.
I decide what enters in.
Things that I choose Determine if I lose
All the light That's within my Holy house.
Shadowy voice speaks at my door
With many dark things to say.
What should I do? The spirit inside
Tells me I should turn away.
A temple of light With windows clean and bright,
Lights the soul that's within my Holy house.
My Holy House
Mine is a house of holiness,
Up to me to keep it clean.
My own temple full of love and light,
Where the Spirit stays with me.
I begin to see Souls in need,
Knocking so gently; Hearts to feed.
Should I let them into my life?
Is there room inside for love, for love?
Seeking to help, seeking to care,
Making a welcome place;
With each kind step, love fills the room,
Granting the Savior's grace.
A temple of light
With windows clean and bright,
Lights the soul that's within my Holy house.
Mine is a house of holiness,
Up to me to keep it clean.
My own temple full of love and light,
Where the Spirit stays with me.
I'm learning to control, as King Benjamin encouraged, myself, and my thoughts, and my words, and my deeds.  It's not especially easy, but God is helping a lot. :)
As always, I end with my testimony.  I know this is God's church. I know that revelation exists, that prophecy is real, that God knows what is going to come to pass.  I know that God lives and answers our prayers.  I know that He has saved me and guides me.  I'm so very grateful for all that I've received.  I know that we are led by revelation from a living prophet.  I know that power and miracles are on the earth again.  I cannot deny it, for I've felt it and seen it.  I know it.
All my Love,
Élder Sudbury

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Curtis was transferred in time to enjoy the fruits of combined labors at a baptism

Curtis' Companion has a great sense of humor

Curtis' Mission Picture with Mission President and family

Letter for August 22, 2010

Dear World,

A fantastic week. We baptized all but the son of the Ramirez Family this Sunday. :) They were very ready to take that step upon them. I'm glad that I had a chance to be part of that. They were all so very happy. :) We are working hard and are seeing the Lord bless us a LOT. We are blessed to have an area that has been well taken care of by the missionaries before us as well as the members. There are quite a few more people who are getting ready to get baptized, many of which made the commitment to get baptized a while ago but fell through for one reason or another. There is a significant retention problem in this area though...I still am not entirely sure if there's a single cause, but I really hope the people who have gotten baptized will continue strong :).

Élder Bryant and I are getting along very well. He appeals more to my nerdy side, but all is well :). Past that I don't have a ton of news. The work is going well, we are getting along well, and God is on our side. :)

As for personal thoughts, I've learned a lot about the atonement this last week. I realized that, when we seriously mess up and would have ruined our own lives, Christ gave his life so we could have another chance. I learned that nothing that we've done is too great to undo by Christ. I've learned more fully what it means to have a Savior. He saves us. I know what it means to have a Redeemer. He makes us new. I'm so grateful for Who I have.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Curtis, and his new companion, Elder Bryant

Letter from Curtis August 16, 2010

Cuatro Vientos.  It's an interesting place and I'm still getting used to it.  Élder Bryant reminds me a LOT of Jacob Cloward.  He likes to draw, star wars, comics, and is just a good guy. :)  We have quite a few investigators here that are ready for baptism.  We have done a lot of contacting because we think most of the 13 current investigators are going to get baptized this month.  I hope we can fulfill whatever the purpose of the two of us being in this area is.  We are both just trying to figure it out as Élder Bryant only had 2 weeks here before his companion got transferred.  All is going well.
Past that I don't have a ton of news.  We are doing the best we can and trusting that the Lord will help us in the meantime.  We should be baptizing three wonderful people this week.  I still don't know their full story, but suffice it to say that they are a miracle.  The Dad never really believed in God, they have lots of questions, but altogether they are a fantastic family that are very ready for the blessings of the gospel.
I'm gaining a bit of weight, which doesn't make me especially happy.  I'm exercising every morning and eating a light breakfast, but there is an unfortunate culture that if you don't ask for seconds, it means you didn't like the food.  As a result, we usually eat about 4 times more than a normal meal would be because they give us more to start with as well.  It's delicious, but my body is suffering a bit for it. :P
On an odd note, the one thing that has been a big surprise to me in this transfer is how to manage money.  I need to make sure not to buy things before the transfer next month because I had to leave my food and water in my last apartment for space problems and had to pull out extra money to replace them.  It is distressing to me, but I'm going to get better.
Thank you all for your support!  The letters I've received, whether through e-mail or snail mail, have really picked me up.  I'm always grateful for the things you all write.  Perhaps I'm weird, but sometimes it makes me cry just to know you're all doing alright. :) 
Another fantastic song that I love is as follows:
In His Embrace
Toes in the water,
Sunshine on my face,
How did I end up in such a heavenly place?
My smile is immortal,
It feels good on my lips.
Free of doubt and free of any fear is what this is.
How long has it been since I was here?

In His embrace,
Safe from the cold.
I was here all along but my eyes were closed.
And I see the light,
It lies in me,
And I will do whatever it takes
To stay in His embrace.

Feet in the quicksand,
Moonlight dark and dim,
A sad and lonely picture of the place that I was in.
But Ive learned a little lesson
From the fury of my past:
The times you feel alone are the ones when you forget to ask
For His saving grace
To be

In His embrace,
Safe from the cold.
I was here all along but my eyes were closed.
And I see the light
It lies in me
And I will do whatever it takes
To stay in His embrace

These arms I cannot see
But they encircle me

In His embrace
Safe from the cold
I was here all along but my eyes were closed.
And I see the light
It lies in me
And I will do whatever it takes
To stay in His embrace.
I have felt the warm, loving embrace of the Lord and I know He's with me.  I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.  God has a plan for me here, though I don't always see it.  I'm growing and learning a lot.  I know the Lord is blessing you for supporting me.  I know that God lives, that Christ lives, and that they love us.  I know without any doubt that peace and joy can be found by following the path the Lord has set out.  I know that, when I follow Him, I have joy.  I know that we have miracles, power, and authority in this church from God because I have seen it and felt it.  For those who want to feel closer to God, all you have to do is ask Him to be in His embrace.  :)
All my Love to you,
Élder Sudbury

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Curtis' second baptism was by candlelight due to circumstances out of his control

Perla, Curtis' 2nd Baptism was ready and baptised within a few days of meeting her

The little flock in Mexico

All the missionaries in their T-shirts. Curtis is #33, his companion is #2

Letter - August 9, 2010

Well, life just keeps being interesting ;).

Saturday we baptized the investigator that came to us and told us she wanted to get baptized.  Her story is interesting.  Perla (that's her name ;) ) married an LDS member earlier this year.  She said she wanted to get baptized, but still didn't know anything about Joseph Smith or the restoration of the gospel. We taught her about the restoration and invited her to pray.  That was Tuesday.  Wednesday we came back to her house and she told us that a bunch of things kept interrupting her when she tried to pray the night before.  We invited her to pray, right then and there, and we would wait outside.  I prayed my heart out.  I knew that it would be a HUGE mistake to baptize her if she didn't feel the Holy Ghost and had a testimony in her heart.  She wanted to know, and I prayed for her.  After about 15 minutes she came out.  She described to us her experience along these lines: I started to do what you asked me to.  I started to ask Heavenly Father if this was His church and if Joseph Smith really was a prophet.  What happened next is hard to describe.  I felt in my heart a LOT of peace and a feeling that I don't know that I can describe.  I don't know if this was my answer, but I liked it.  I almost started crying I was so happy.  We helped her understand that it was from God, that the Holy Ghost was speaking to her, and that she was ready for baptism.  She passed her baptismal interview on Thursday without any problem.  Saturday we went to the mission doctor to check Élder Perez's back.  That's 3 hours away and we hit traffic.  We got back about 4:30 and had the baptism planned for 6:00.  Satan began to work as hard as he could to stop us.  First, we couldn't find anyone with the keys to the boiler room.  Next, the boiler wouldn't turn on.  Then the water ran out.  Then the water that was working was pouring so slowly that it would take 4 or 5 hours to finish filling the font.  Then the lights went out only in the bathrooms and the baptismal font room.  Nevertheless, God helped us.  We found out we didn't need a key to get in the boiler room.  After nearly blowing ourselves up a couple times, we got the boiler working.  We got a brother to help us and we filled up the baptismal font the best we could with buckets.  Finally, we went and bought candles and did the baptism by candlelight.  Satan did not want her to get baptised, but I've never payed attention to him anyway ;).  I'm so glad they can now work towards getting to the temple!

We had a family home evening last night with both wards.  It went really well.  We watched On the Way Home.  The members really liked it.  I hope they keep having those combined family home evenings every week. :)

That being said, I'll miss little San Juan Tehuixtitlan.  I have been transferred, starting tomorrow.  I'll be going to a place by the name of Cuatro Vientos, Chalco.  Élder Perez is headed home to Colorado and I'm going away.  I hope the new Élderes in my area take care of my investigators and baptize them.  There are a lot of people that are ready, right now.  I hope they take care of those people that I care about so very much.

That's about all.  We spent the entire week preparing for this baptism.  I'm so happy :).

I don't think I've shared the lyrics to this song, though it's one of my favorites.  The song is called Prove Me by Hilary Weeks.  It's what I want God to do to me.  I want him to prove me.

Unwavering faith
The kind of courage
And conviction that it takes
To leave your home behind
Part the Red Sea
I wonder
Did God plant that kind of strength in me?

Just a seed now
But may be it will grow

'Till prison walls
Crumble down around me
And I've escaped unscathed from the lion's den
When I have
Walked so far the handcarts start pushin' me
Until then
Prove me

Center on the wheel
Like clay in your hands
Ready to be shaped and molded by your hand
If you'll take this heart
willful as it seems
And through your mercy refine me until I'm complete

Though I'm weak now
You can make me strong

'Till on a wall
Arrows cannot harm me
Until my faith leads me into a grove of trees
When every
Nails in place before the rains
And floods come down
Until then
Prove me

I will step into the fire
So your love can purify me
And I'll stay until you say I am through
Wash away all the falls and
Every earthly imperfection
Until my will turns to you

Until I trust
Without hesitation
When humility is chased away the pride
Until the day and through your grace I'm welcomed home
Until then
Prove me

I've thought a lot about this.  I think another definition of proving something, besides testing it, is also to refine something.  I want Him to test me, to refine me, until I become everything He wants me to be.

I know that through the atonement of Christ, all of us can be saved, proven, refined, and become the people God would have us be.  I know that that gift is free to all who will accept the invitation from Christ to "come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world" (3 Nephi 11:14).  We can still feel his sacrifice, the prints of the nails in his hands and feet, though he is not physically in front of us.  We can feel if he really suffered for our sins.  I know, because I have felt those prints as I've repented.  I know that He takes care of me.  I know that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).  God loves me, He always will.  He gave His Son for me.  His Son gave His life freely.  The Holy Ghost bears testimony of it.  I know in my heart it is true.  I doubt not, I fear not (D&C 6:36).  Past all the scriptures that are written in my heart, is this knowledge.  He lives.  He has given everything for me.  He has restored His church upon the earth.  He seeks to guide us.  He will forgive us if we repent.  It is all true.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church and kingdom of God on the earth.  It is the only one and the only way to truly be happy.  Happiness comes from following God exactly.  Everything else, in the end, brings heartache.  I know it is true.  I have felt it in my heart.  I cannot deny it.

With All My Love,
Élder Sudbury

PS  Mom: I didn't get any weird illness from nor is it against the rules to skin a rabbit.  Dear Elder letters get here every Monday, so I get them the Sunday thereafter.  I have gotten handwritten letters from you as well.  Family: I love you all!  Please do take care of yourselves and one another while I'm away. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Curtis preparing dinner

From Curtis - August 2, 1020

Dear World,

The month of July has drawn to a close and, out of a goal of 24, we baptized 1.  I've never been much of one to care about goals, so I'm not too devastated, but what is sad is that it could have come to pass.  Perhaps the miracle of 24 people didn't come to pass, but the miracles I've seen have equalled that magnitude.  Eleazar was a miracle.  We have somebody that came to us yesterday, an investigator of about a month, and told us she would like to get baptized.  Another miracle.  We contacted a few families by knocking on doors that we felt impressed to knock.  Those families are accepting the gospel very well.  That is certainly a miracle.  We have seen miracles of protection.  One in particular that comes to mind was when we were going to try to find one of our investigators.  She lives at the end of a group of houses that belong to a family that is very against the church.  When we got to her house, a group of a couple rather large dogs and a couple small dogs all came and started barking and approaching like they were going to attack us.  Groups of dogs are not at all uncommon in Latin America, and they usually bark at you and make a big show, but they act differently when their intention is actually to attack.  This group's intention was clear.  They were getting closer and there was absolutely nowhere to go.  Suddenly a HUGE white dog came from behind us and attacked that group of dogs.  He chased them all into hiding.  I want to be clear, I have never seen that dog before, nor since.  Nevertheless, he protected us. Dogs here don't do that. :P  We have taught lessons where the Lord blessed us so much with His spirit that our investigators felt it, recognized it, and progressed immediately.  We have healed people who were sick, and, in a town where baptisms supposedly can't happen, we baptized.  As for the reason why that goal didn't come to pass, although I felt very strongly about it, I have a couple reasons that I feel strongly that explain that.  First, for a time, both my companion and I lost faith in the possibility of that happening.  Miracles come AFTER the trial of our faith.  Second, I have found that, many times, the Lord helps us put a crazy, ridiculous, miracle level goal that seems almost impossible to attain because, in the working for that goal, we grow so much.  President Chavez said something to me in an interview that stuck with me, "I like having a missionary put a high goal, work to accomplish it, and fail.  If a missionary sets a goal of 24 and works for it, he's going to baptize more than 0." :)  Perhaps a more succinct and clear way to say it comes in a quote that I've loved for some time, "Always shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  I can honestly say I have learned many times more what I knew in terms of revelation, spiritual guidance, spiritual support, and how God works by working and believing in that goal of 24.  I truly believe that it was possible, but, for a time, we lost faith in the promise.  As a result, I have learned to have faith in myself.  God has used me to bring about miracles, why not in my own life?  I felt strongly about it, but I lost faith in the promise because I was afraid that I had deceived myself.  Though it is wise to be careful that you are not deceived, one thing the Lord has taught me, partially through a few of the letters my family and friends have been sending me, is that I have practised, listened, and know what the Spirit sounds like and to have faith in my own actions.  If I am sincerely trying to serve God and not build up my own glory, God will use me as an instrument in His hands.  "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7, my emphasis).  God sometimes has us work for a goal that we are not going to complete so that we will grow in the process, so that we will become the people we need to be.  A good friend shared an experience with me.  She was proposed to by a recently returned missionary.  She prayed about it and felt good about it, so she accepted.  She began preparing for the wedding spiritually and temporally.  One night, it became clear that he was not the right person for her, a feeling which was confirmed by the Spirit after careful prayer.  I talked with her about it, wanting to know what she thought and she shared something along these lines with me: I learned so much about myself, what I want from a husband, and what I need to do to be ready to get married and be married; God wanted me to work for that goal, even though I wasn't going to complete it, so that I could grow.  My testimony of this particular kind of revelation has grown a lot this last month.  Sometimes God calls us to push against a really big rock and try to move it.  At the end of the day, the week, the month, the year, the decade, etc. of pushing that rock, it may not have ever moved, but our muscles have grown, our minds have been strengthened by the determination of our cause, and we can do so much more, just because we were faithful in pushing against an immovable rock.

I don't know if any of that made sense, but maybe it did :P.  At the very least, try to find method to my madness ;).

We got to go to the visitor's center the other day and see the temple with some of our investigators.  It was fantastic to see the gospel of Christ put out in such clarity as it is in the visitor's center.  There was one panel that had a list of testimonies of the different people in the early days of the church.  One of those testimonies was Emma Smith.  I was particularly interested to listen to what she had to say.  Her testimony went something along these lines:  Joseph could hardly dictate a letter, let alone a book.  Nevertheless, he did dictate that book and, serving myself as scribe, I witnessed how many times he would go to eat and rest and come back hours later and begin the dictation again without ever looking at the notes I had taken or asking me questions.  Such a manner and firmness that he had in dictation would be difficult for a learned, studied man; but for a man so unlearned, and unstudied as Joseph was at the time, it was nothing but impossible.  Only by the power of God could it have been possible.  I truly enjoyed going and my testimony was strengthened.  I loved seeing the temple and am excited to one day be able to take my family there.  :)

There was a poem that I read before I left on a mission, that has come to my mind as I've dealt with my own temptations and thought about my investigators.  As a missionary, this is essentially what I'm trying to do for myself and my investigators.  I hope someone finds strength in this, it gives me strength every time I read it.

At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the Earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

I love this poem because it describes a bit of the struggle that we have in seperating ourselves and our investigators from the powers of darkness.  We truly must call on all heaven and the universe to stand between us and Satan's powers, but such an action is very possible by faith in Christ.

We had to "leave" Carlos and Blanca.  They didn't want to progress and told us basically that even if they did know that it was true, they wouldn't get baptized.  That does make me sad, but the work goes on.  Perla told us she wants to get baptized.  We have an appointment with her tomorrow.  We found two families, the which are the families of Ignacio and Carlos.  When teaching them both, the Spirit has been quite strong and I have great hopes for them.  Miracles continue in tiny, tiny, dirty, San Juan Tehuixtitlan.  Thank you all for your prayers and help, I have felt especially blessed. :D

On a business note, I cannot keep in touch with many of you, my dear friends, simply because I do not have your addresses, be you on missions or at home.  Should you want me so to write to you, please write me a quick note at the least so that I have your address.  I forgot to bring any of the addresses I had, so if you want a letter, write to me! ;)

Sister Dixon sent me an article that brought tears to my eyes.  It is a missionary experience that helps bring things in perspective for me, and I would like to share it with you all.

Do We Really Know What We Have?
by Scott Anderson

We had an unexpected moment in the mission field. We knocked on a door and a lady said something to us we had never heard, “Come in.” Now remember, I was a German missionary. This never happened to us; not even the members would say that to us. At this point suddenly this dear lady invited us in.

My companion said, “Do you know who we are?”
“You want to talk about religion, don't you?” she said.
“Yes, we do!” explained my companion.
“Oh, come in. I've been watching you walk around the neighborhood. I'm so excited to have you here. Please come into my study.”

We went in and seated ourselves and she sat down behind the desk. She looked at us with a smile, then pointed to three Ph.D.'s hanging over her head. One in theology, the study of religion, one in philosophy, the study of ideas, and one in European history specializing in Christianity.

She then kind of rubbed her hands together and said, “Do you see this row of books here?” We looked at a well arranged row of books. She then said, “I wrote them all. I'm the theology professor at the University of Munich. I've been doing this for 41 years. I love to talk about religion. What would you like to discuss?”

My inspired companion said we'd like to talk about the Book of Mormon. She said, “I don't know anything about the Book of Mormon.”

He said, “I know.”

Twenty minutes later we walked out of the room. We had handed her a Book of Mormon and this trade off that we had been on was over.

I didn't see this lady again for another eight and a half weeks. When I saw her again it was in a small room filled with people as she was standing in the front dressed in white. This theology professor at the University of Munich was well known throughout Southern Germany. She stood up in front of this small congregation of people and said, “Before I'm baptized I'd like to tell you my feelings. In Amos chapter 8:11 it says there will be a famine of the word of God. I've been in that famine for 76 years. Why do you think I have three Ph.D.'s? I've been hungering for truth and have been unable to find it. Then eight and one-half weeks ago, two boys walked into my home. I want you to know these boys are very nice and wonderful young men, but they didn't convert me. They couldn't; they don't know enough.”

And then she smiled and said, “But since the day they walked in my door I have read The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, all of Talmage's great writings, Evidence and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe and 22 other volumes of Church doctrine.” She then said something which I think is a challenge for every one of us here. She said, “I don't think you members know what you have.”
In her quiet, powerful way, she said, “After those years of studying philosophy, I picked up The Doctrine & Covenants and read a few little verses that answered some of the greatest questions of Aristotle and Socrates! When I read those verses, I wept for four hours.”

Then she said again, “I don't think you members know what you have. Don't you understand the world is in a famine? Don't you know we are starving for what you have? I am like a starving person being led to a feast. And over these eight and one-half weeks I have been able to feast in a way I have never known possible.”

Her powerful message and her challenging question was then ended with her favorite scripture, “For don't you see, the truth can make you free?” She said, “These missionaries don't just carry membership in the church in their hands, they carry within their hand the power to make the atonement of Jesus Christ of full force in my life. Today I'm going into the water and I'm going to make a covenant with Christ for the first time with proper authority. I've wanted to do this all my life.”

None of us will forget the day that she was baptized. When she was baptized, she got back out and before she received the Holy Ghost, she stood and said, “Now I would like to talk about the Holy Ghost for awhile.” She then gave us a wonderful talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Later two young missionaries, both relatively new, (one had been out about five months, the other three weeks) accidentally knocked on the door of the seminary in Reagansburg. One hundred twenty-five wonderful men were studying to become priests inside. They didn't realize this was the door they had knocked on because it looked like any other door. They were invited in.

In somewhat of a panic, the man said, “I am sorry we just don't have time right now.” The two missionaries were relieved, but then he said, “Would you come back next Tuesday and spend two hours addressing all 125 of us and answer questions about your church?” They agreed that they would, and ran down the road screaming. They made a phone call to the mission president and cried for help. The mission president called us and said, “Do you think that dear lady that you have just brought in to the church would like to come help these two missionaries with this assignment?”

I called her to explain what was to happen, and she said, “More than I would like to eat, more than I would like to sleep, more than...”

I said, “Fine, you don't have to explain.”

We drove her to the seminary and as we went in, she grabbed the two missionaries that had originally been invited, put her arms around them and said, “You are wonderful, young men. Would each of you spend about two minutes bearing your testimony and then sit down and be quiet please?”

They were grateful for their assignment. They bore their testimony and then seated themselves. Then she got up and said, “For the next 30 minutes I would like to talk to you about historical apostasy.”

She knew every date and fact. She had a Ph.D. in this. She talked about everything that had been taken away from the great teachings the Savior had given, mostly organizational, in the first part of her talk. Then the next 45 minutes was doctrinal. She gave every point of doctrinal changes, when it happened and what had changed. By the time she was done, she looked at them and said, “In 1820 a boy walked into a grove of trees. He had been in a famine just like I have been. He knelt to pray, because he was hungry just like I have been. He saw God the Father and His Son. I know that is hard for you to believe that they could be two separate beings, but I know they are.”

She shared scriptures that showed that they are and then said, “I would like to talk about historical restoration of truth.” She then, point by point, date by date, from The Doctrine and Covenants put back the organizational structure of Christ's church.

The last 20 minutes of her talk were absolutely brilliant. She doctrinally put the truth back in place, point by point, principle by principle. When she finished this profound talk, she said, “I have been in a famine as talked about in Amos. You know that because last year I was here teaching you.”

For the first time, we realized that she was their theology professor. She continued, “Last year when I was teaching you, I told you that I was still in a famine. I have been led to a feast. I invite you to come.”

She finished with her testimony and sat down. What happened next was hard for me to understand. These 125 sincere, wonderful men stood and for the next 7 minutes gave a standing ovation. By the time four minutes had gone by I was crying. I remember standing and looking into their eyes and seeing the tears in their eyes, too. I wondered why they were applauding after the message she had given. I asked many of them later. They said, “To hear someone so unashamed of the truth, to hear someone teaching with such power, to hear someone who finally has conviction.”

The truth is what can set us free. Do we really know what we have?

I sent home a few weeks ago a quote called the Fellowship of the Unashamed.  I want to add my testimony and my conviction that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.  I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made.  I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I know He lives.  I know God lives.  I know that all mankind must be born of Christ and, by faith in Him, we can be saved.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints is the Church and Kingdom of God on the Earth.  I know that it is true, of God, directed by Him, and I cannot deny it.  I know that this is the only way for peace to come to every human heart and every nation on the Earth.  I know it is true, correct, and, if there are mistakes, they are the mistakes of men and will, in time, be corrected by God for this is His Doctrine and His Gospel.  I hope in Heaven and Earth they seal this testimony.  I know, and I can not and will not deny it.

All my Love,
Élder Sudbury

P.S. I decided to just send this to all of you who's email I had, it might save a little time.  Mom, I got the package, thank you, I won't need any more razors for several years ;).  If you want me to confirm charges, please send me a list, and I will tell you if they are from me or not.  I pulled out a little under 100 dollars last week to help pay for the temple trip, all of which will be reimbursed, so I shouldn't have to pull out money for quite some time...at least that's the plan.  Thanks, fam, for writing me!  I'm going to try to send off the letters I promised tomorrow! :)