Scripture Stories from Italy
I never really was able to comprehend the true value associated with being able to study the scriptures on a daily basis until I went on a mission and had the opportunity to do so every day for two years. Every day as missionaries we had the privilege to wake up early and open up the scriptures and study gospel principles that would bring happiness and peace into a person’s life.
In my first area I had the chance to learn how to use my time effectively and really dive into the scriptures and feast upon the inspired words of the prophets. I was always somewhat disappointed when the time would come for my morning study time to conclude and I would have to finish getting ready for my missionary day. I loved my time with the scriptures and each day I wished that my scripture study sessions could always be longer than they were.
I distinctly remember that in my second area my personal scripture study time seemed to be for whatever reason much more productive and full of inspiration. I don’t know what it was! And it was something that I was never really able to ever replicate in any other city of my mission. Each morning I would arise and read from the Book of Mormon. I would write down thoughts and impressions that I got while reading in a study journal. I was nearly able to write a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the Book of Mormon from my point of view. I would read from and learn so much from Talmage’s commentary on the Savior’s life, Jesus the Christ (a feat that I am fairly certain can only be accomplished under the mantle given to missionaries and other general authorities of the church). I would even have time to study from Preach My Gospel or other church manuals. Each day I would seem to have an unlimited amount of time to perform my personal study. I really can’t explain why I was so productive and efficient in my studies. Maybe it was the clear mountain air, maybe it was the beautiful scenery that I could see from my chair in our study room, or maybe it was me just “catching my missionary study groove”. While I never was able to put my finger on the reason for my efficiency and productivity I soon discovered that the Lord knew that I needed the scriptural preparation. While in my second area I trained a missionary. He had a difficult time adjusting to missionary life and at times even questioned his reasons for being on a mission. I had to be a source of great strength, wisdom, and guidance during these months not only for our investigators but for my companion as well. It was a very difficult period of my mission. At times I felt depressed and alone. I had to shoulder the burden of our missionary work almost single handedly. I soon realized that the Lord knew that I would face such trials and had prepared me by providing me with the doctrinal and spiritual foundation that would sustain me in my moment of need. The scriptures became my refuge, my confidant, my source of peace and comfort. I learned to love the scriptures so much during this difficult time of my mission. I saw their true value, and I thank the Lord that He was wise enough and that I was teachable enough to learn from the inspired words of the prophets.
Like I said before, I was never able to be quite as efficient and guided in my scripture study as I was in my second area. I know that it was because the Lord knew that I would need this added guidance and support. Support that we can only find in the scriptures and guidance that we can only hope to learn from the Holy Ghost. I love the scriptures. What more can I say?
Scripture Story in Switzerland
Finding just one story that teaches of the power of the scriptures was a hard task. There were many experiences I had on the mission that demonstrated the importance and the power that the scriptures (especially The Book of Mormon) can bring into one’s life. Whenever people had objections, concerns, questions, or if we just needed someone to feel the spirit, we would always bring out the scriptures and most of the time it was the Book of Mormon. I remember one family that was going through some rough times so we invited them to read daily from the Book of Mormon. After a few weeks of that they bore testimony to us of how the scriptures gave them the extra strength that they needed to go on. There was also one investigator we had who believed some majorly wrong interpretations of the fall of Adam and Eve, and with the Book of Mormon we were able to show her that through modern revelations we know the truth of what the fall was really all about.
One story however, that proved to me that there is something special about the scriptures and what they teach about Jesus Christ. We had one investigator who was an immigrant from Iraq, but he was already a Christian, which was good because we weren’t allowed to teach Muslim’s without special permission and about 99.9% of Iraq is Muslim. So, this is one guy we could teach! But since his native language wasn’t German, there was the obvious language barrier, so we gave him a Book of Mormon in Arabic. When we gave it to him, he had let us in and we were talking about the book, and we began to read 3 Nephi 11, the story of Christ visiting America. We had him just read it in Arabic aloud, and we would follow along in German the best we could. My comp and I had read that chapter quite a bit so we knew what was going on in the Chapter. When our investigator came to the part where it describes Jesus Christ descending from the sky, he stops and just says, “WOW!” and he also had a shocked or a surprised look on his face. We asked him about it, and he explained to us that the way that it describes Christ when he descends is very powerful, and that when he reads that description he felt something overwhelming that he had never felt before. It was a cool experience to see how in shock and awe he was at the description of Christ. The spirit was definitely strong at that appointment. Unfortunately however, he didn’t show up for his next appointment, and we couldn’t get a hold of him after that. It was a great experience to have nonetheless that taught me about the power of the Book of Mormon and the scriptures in general.
Scripture stories in Guatemala
Scriptures are the word of God and the only way to learn what it is our Heavenly Father expects of us. His words have always been given by the prophets that he specifically elects whether it be in a mountain or in an adytum it is the same. Some people may not believe what would typically seem like cultural paradigm, but in my experience in Guatemala I can see why it is true. So many times I was able to share something spoken by a prophet centuries earlier in such a personalized way to someone in need of it that it changed the way they lived. I’ll give an example…when I was an in area called Carcha’ I had the privilege of teaching a man named Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos was an extraordinary man that…to be honest reminded me a lot of me and my attitude in life. As a prospective biomedical engineer I tend to rely a lot of facts, theories, and evidences that infer what little empirical truths we can acquire. Juan Carlos had to learn that the scriptures are a powerful tool when seen the right way. With so many different versions of the bible it is almost impossible to decipher who is right and who is wrong. With the Book of Mormon though, we can define specifically how we can interpret God’s words. He spent hours looking at the bible and trying to figure out what was true and what wasn’t. His knowledge far surpassed my own, but there was one thing he had to learn about the scriptures. It is that it has to be interpreted by the spirit of God and not by men. After an apparent internal struggle, he trusted in what he felt was right and decided to be baptized. I love how the scriptures were that tool necessary for him to see the path that God had prepared for him. I trust in God and in the prophets he has sent for us to hear. I know that they can be a huge tool for us to progress if we utilize it in the right way. I know it cause Juan Carlos taught it to me.