March 30, 2016


Aberdeen, Maryland


Elder Bartholomew and Elder Parkinson

The Present

Another week gone by! More people to teach! More things I've learned!......My companions and I have been doing really well this last week! We had a lot of lessons with investigators that we already picked up and met a few new people this week! We have two new investigators this week too! Things are really rolling here in Susquehanna! Earlier in the week both of my companions got sick but I didn't....Yesss! Super immune system to the rescue! And thanks to all my vitamins my mom sends me, thanks MOM! Anyways back to our investigators...We were invited to to go to a members home on Tuesday (the Blackley's) and we were introduced to a young lady (she's in her late 60's) by the name of Jean. Jean is a widow, she was actually widowed twice, it was very sad when she was telling us about her life after dinner. We sat in the family room of the Blackley's home and once we started to get to know her and talk to her about her relationship with Heavenly Father, she broke down into tears. She told us about how her first husband had passed away and when she remarried her second husband, he passed away within the year. We could all feel her heartache. We asked Jean her thoughts on where her family would go after this life. She made it clear that she did not know, and expressed how sad she was that she would never see them again.
I’ve never felt such a strong spirit after she said that. I bore my testimony of the plan of happiness that our heavenly father has for us, and promised her that she would see her family again. Elder Parkinson & Bartholomew followed and also bore wonderful testimony about the reality of this plan, the spirit was prevalent. I had reflected on that moment several times over the past few days and what I came to realize was that although I was able to feel that spirit, Jean was able to feel of the spirit too . What a privilege. In that moment my testimony and the reality of the plan came into focus, and knew that I too would see my family members again that have passed on. He didn't have to give me that witness but He did and I'm grateful.

This experience of mine helps me lead right into the message I wanted to share with you all this week. It is about a box...Yes a box, but not just any box! Now an example: Lets say Heavenly Father gave you a box, all wrapped up like a present! This box was wrapped with gold wrapping paper, really just the most amazing thing you have ever seen and on top is a huge bow. Just sitting there waiting to be opened! He tells you, you can open it and you do! You are so excited about unwrapping this box as quickly as possible, throwing thin sheets of gold behind you just are so excited to see what's in the box! You open the lid and there nothing inside. Why? And so you were expecting this present, that was suppose to solve your problems or make you happy and all you got was an empty box. So you get mad at heavenly Father and you throw the box away, because you say how can this help me...

Let me give you another example. In a Book of Mormon the story about the brother of Jared (found in chapter 2 and 3 of Ether) we see that the brother of Jared is faced with a problem. He has built these huge barges to sail across the sea to the promised land but there is no light in the barges. They don't want to be in total darkness for what ever period of time they are on the boats so the Brother of Jared goes to counsel with the Lord. He pray's and asks what he is to do about the problem.

22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

Then the Lord says...

23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
What does the Lord say to the Brother of Jared? He says basically what do you think we should do? Is that not the box that the Lord gives us? The point that I wanted to make was that not every time will Heavenly Father give us a full box, a present inside, an answer. But He gives us an empty box so that we can go fill that box with our answer, so many times to we toss our box to the side because it is not what we want to hear. But in reality Heavenly Father is teaching us a great lesson!
1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass...
6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.

Have faith the Lord knows what Hes doing. The empty box is there for our growth, He loves us enough to let us go, figure out what we need to do and take action, remeber faith is an action word. Of course we must pray again to see if our answer is right or not. But do not get discouraged if your answer is not in the form you want it to be. He will never lead us astray. I know that with all my heart!
I love you all hope you have a great week!
~Elder Shouse


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