I would like everyone that reads my notes from this special visit of the Apostle how much the Spirit of God was present in each of the individual talks. I want to bear my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God as is the Bible. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and that God has called 12 apostles and a prophet to help guide all of God's children in the world back into his Kingdom after this life. The Priesthood was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Priesthood was conferred upon Jesus Christ's 12 apostles when He was alive and Jesus Christ saw to it that it was restored in these final days of the world's history before He comes again.
I have a few very important scriptures found in the Book of Mormon:
"And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healings, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues; Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them" (Mormon 9:7-8).
Scriptures from the Bible:
Keep in mind: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7
The Church is built upon apostles & prophets: "And are built upon the foundation of the "apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20)
I make a note of the above scriptures to emphasis the understanding that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (as stated in the scriptures). Therefore, He has provided for us today a prophet and 12 apostles to help lead His Church and we need to have faith in God that He will not forsake us and leave us alone to try to understand His words which caused men in the past history and today to misinterpret God's words leading to many different churches.
I love God and His Son Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ loves all of us, so much so, that He died on the cross for each of our sins. Therefore, to show our love to Jesus Christ we need to seek after the atonement (forgiveness of our sins) so that He didn't die in vain.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Our choir with Speakers: (from left to right)
Sister Podvodova, President Podvodov, President Schwitzer (1st counselor in the East Europe Area Presidency), Apostle L. Tom Perry, Sister Perry, Sister Senkans, East Europe Area Member of the Seventy Gvido Senkans.
Here are my notes for Saturday's meeting with just the missionaries followed by Sunday's talks.
Saturday's missionary meeting began with the song "Called to Serve" and a prayer. The meeting begun with a testimony shared by Sister Senkans and her gratitude to the missionaries that shared the Gospel with her. The joy and happiness the gospel has been to her and to know of her purpose her on earth. The Gospel has changed her life and that of her family.
Following her testimony was her husband Brother Senkans who shared comments that he hadn't realized he could be so happy. He stated the gospel is vital to all of God's children here on earth. Missionaries are not only to teach the Gospel, but let the Gospel teach. Heavenly Father knows what is going on in individual's lives and he sends his messengers to fulfill their needs. That's why it's important for missionaries to share how others can receive the greatest joy the Gospel gives. He also touched on a good point that missionaries are to be continually happy. Others will see our joy and want to know more. Fear and doubt are not allowed in the Celestial Kingdom, so if we have those attributes we need to work them out of our lives by having confidence in the Lord. The greatest motivation of how to do this would be teaching others so they can receive blessings. Those that teach the gospel are not only blessing others but themselves as well.
Brother Senkans concluded that when we see others sinning, it's up to us to open their souls and teach. They are looking for happiness despite their outward actions. He asked the question, "Why do we need to teach even if it doesn't seem like those we come in contact with are interested." He reminded the missionaries of the scriptures in 3 Nephi 1: 16-18 regarding the birth of Jesus Christ when there was darkness for 3 days and nights. How the people remembered the teachings of the Prophet Nephi and how they "began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear..." The earth is preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ. We have the Word of God and we need to teach it.
Following Brother Senkans talk we heard further instruction from President Schwitzer. He begun by asking the missionaries, "How do you study and how do you teach from what you study?" He continued that in his career he needed to know a lot of information to be a good physician. Throughout his schooling and his career he would use one simple tool - a 3 x 5 index card he kept in his shirt pocket with one word on it: Why? Every time he would see a patient he would pull out the card and read it. If he could answer the question then he knew how to treat them. If he didn't know the answer then he knew he needed to gather more information. This tool helped him to ask questions about life as well.
Great teachers form the right question in their mind, which helps them search for the right answers. He related this example by the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He continued that all the great insights of life's deepest questions were given when as a young boy of 14 Joseph Smith sought after the right questions as written in Joseph Smith History verse 10. "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" Joseph Smith sought after the answers. By forming the right questions he knew what to ask the Lord.
President Schwitzer continued with other examples and explanations of asking the right questions using the Bible. "Thomas saith unto him Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (John 14:5). Jesus answers in verse 6, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." He made a statement that to truly convert another is to never remove Jesus Christ from the center of your teaching. He continued by adding how we get to know Jesus Christ and the Father by quoting verse 7, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." Jesus also stated in verse 15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
When we live the commandments we are blessed with joy and happiness and this will show in our countenance and others will see it. He stated, "We preach by our example, we teach to save souls."
President Schwitzer also explained that missionaries are not to give information only, but to teach the how, what, and why of the gospel. Before concluding with his testimony he stated that when we form a question in our minds of a Gospel principle, when we receive an answer then we need to act upon it!
Sister Perry was the next speaker and she shared a story regarding the opening song "Called to Serve." In April 1985 all the mission presidents, general authorities, and their wives throughout the world were called to the assembly hall in Salt Lake City. Elder Packard was to speak regarding how important it is to be a missionary and they wanted to emphasize the meaning and importance of why. Before continuing with his talk there were about 50 missionaries that came out from the back of the hall singing loudly the song "Called to Serve." With tears in her eyes she said the spirit was so strong and it had made a lasting impression in her life.
Elder Perry was the concluding speaker. He began by speaking of the importance of the Russian & Ukranian missionaries when they return from their missions they will build the Church and be shining examples to others. He emphasized that they are very important to the growth of the Church in Europe.
He expressed his love of the Book of Mormon and stated it in itself is a great missionary. Depending on where one is in their lives such as a missionary, student, husband or wife, the Book of Mormon takes on a different meaning when you read it. He emphasized that it is vital to have companionship study when studying the Book of Mormon.
Elder Perry stated there were three individuals that had significant contributions to the Book of Mormon. He stated that the Prophet Joseph Smith gave his life as one of the special witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris had taken the characters from the plates that were put down on paper by the prophet. "Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows: "I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. he gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, 'Let me see that certificate.' I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, 'I cannot read a sealed book,' I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation." (Quoted from Joseph Smith History verses 63-65).
Elder Perry went to on say that Martin Harris then realized that scholars were interested in what the prophet was doing, that the prophecy in Isaiah 29:11-12 was fulfilled (And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.), that the characters had to of come from God because others couldn't translate them, and a final impression came to him that Joseph Smith was a man of God. Martin returned to continue the work with the Prophet in the translation of the plates. After he and the Prophet had translated 116 pages of the Book of Mormon he asked the Prophet if he could show these pages to his wife. The Lord told the Prophet he could not. Martin Harris continued to pressure the prophet about showing the pages to his wife. The prophet asked the Lord a second time with the same result, however, the third time he asked the Lord gave his approval. The pages were lost, the mantle was removed from the prophet's shoulders for a short time, and Martin Harris could no longer scribe. He later sacrificed much of his wealth to have the Book of Mormon published. He, however, did not travel west with the saints. He remained behind. Later in life after a divorce and other struggles in his life he eventually ended up in Salt Lake City with the Saints. He continued to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
The third special witness to the Book of Mormon was Oliver Cowdery, a school teacher. He helped scribe the Book of Mormon after the Lord restored the mantle to Joseph Smith, the translation begun on April 7, 1829. By May 3, translation had been complete up to 3 Nephi. Elder Perry asked for us to think about how much had been written by an "unlearned." (Note: Joseph Smith only had a elementary-grade education.) Copyright of the Book of Mormon was completed on June 10 and at the end of June the book was complete. The Book of Mormon had been translated in only 85 days!
Elder Perry expressed that when teaching others about the Book of Mormon we need to teach of the stories of the people and the teachings of Jesus Christ first. He bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and that Jesus Christ is the head of His Church.