During this week we had an exchange in Chambéry. In Chambéry Elders Beck and Warner went with Elder Walters and Elder Tomlinson and I were together for the day which was amazing. We had a very good conversation with a man who wasn't believing but was very interested in what we did and we also taught a lesson with a less active member about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how through Christ we can change our lives every day and week and ultimately our lives through repentance and weekly partaking of the sacrament. We saw some really interesting things in Chambéry like a bed on the side of a building or a old statue looking at her "iPad" and a lot of "secret tunnels" and also a graffiti "Doodle Bob".
I will keep this email short but this Sunday we had stake conference and we were told by our mission president to invite all of our Amis to attend this stake conference. Since we don't actually have any investigators so we invited a man who was a friend in the literal sense but not an actual person who was investigating the church. This man just really liked talking about our beliefs and sharing his beliefs and talking about differences. So we invited Graham to stake conference.
This Saturday and Sunday we had my first stake conference outside of United States. For those who don't know what stake conference is, our church holds two very special conferences. One is called general conference, where the Prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson and his apostles give us guidance and words of council as long as giving very spiritual messages concerning the scriptures the church and the world. I wrote about general conference when I was still at the MTC. The second special conference is called Stake Conference. During this conference, the wards and branches (congregations) in the Genéve Stake (Area) meet together and have various speakers of the local bishopric, members, auxiliary leaders and future missionaries who address the people in attendance with spiritual messages. The area 70, Elder Homer, who I recently meet with in Loussane, addressed us. I didn't understand any of the other talks because they were in French but I understood Elder Homers because he was speaking with the spirit of God and also in English. :) He talks covered the following.
Listening to good voices: "There are a lot of voices out there today, good, bad, innocent, some that seem innocent, and ones that have no real meaning" . "We need to listen to the good voices". "In 1833 Joseph Smith received a revelation called Word of Wisdom in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. Which gave us outlines on substances we should avoid, such as alcohol, tobacco and coffee and gives us guidance on how to live a good life by partaking of good foods. Which was probably a very strange thing at the time. Many people wondered "this is a very strange doctrine" "Everyone does it" "they are good things" Those things were common during the 1800s and were actually encouraged. " but we can see if we listen to the right voices, we can be blessed. As we see today and with the power of hindsight that these things are not good for the body and can lead to serious heath conditions.
We need to trust in the Lord and his servants but not blindly obey.
"In the book of John, Jesus promises a comforter, and that comforter is the Holy Ghost or the Spirit/ Testifier of Truth. When our church's beliefs or the beliefs of our own differs from others, we are able to pray to Heavenly Father and to feel the Holy Ghost testify of truth unto us instead of believing on things people tell us are true"
Another part which I thought was interesting from his talk was when we hear something that is difficult to understand or believe many people fall away from their believes they already hold dear. In John 6 Jesus feeds the 5000 with the seemingly impossible 5 bread loafs and 2 fishes and then later, many of those 5000, who saw this miracle heard Jesus testifying.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And many of these things Jesus said were blasphemous to many of his disciples the scripture tells us that they "went back, and walked no more with him." Or nor longer followed Christ because they didn't understand what he was talking about.
This is very applicable today. When we teach about Jesus Christ and his life, we ask people not just believe on what we say but to "experiment " on our words like in the Book of Mormon;
Alma 32: 26 Now, as I said concerning faith--that it was not a perfect knowledge--even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves--It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
It was a very spiritual uplifting message and it really made me think about the things I held to be true. After this conference I was prompted to reflect on the core beliefs I had and I prayed to our Heavenly Father to reveal to me if these things are true. I know that I wouldn't be visited by heavenly angels or see a vision because God doesn't "use a floodlamp when a flashlight will do" .
There is this video called The Hope of God's Light (6:46) and I felt like I needed to share this message to a close friend to mine recently whom I think is struggling in their beliefs and it is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen.
So this week was kinda slow but over all it was pretty nice, hopefully this email made a lick of sense I kinda didn't have enough time to email on p day because as a zone we had a bake off and watched the movie called Meet The Mormons (which if you haven't seen it it's pretty good, maybe on Netflix or YouTube IDK) anyway it was a good week.
(Also if you want a postcard from France for Christmas, send me an email with your address and I'll try and do that soon).
Love from the South of France!
Elder D. Dakota Stephens
France Lyon Mission
Sept 2015 - Sept 2017