Here is an excerpt from my weekly letter to President Beesley. These are just some of my thoughts.
I was very happy to hear the announcement about the age change for coming missionaries, but even more happy when President Monson said that it was because of the increased obedience of the incoming missionaries. I felt the spirit witness to me that I’ve been a part of that. It was encouraging to feel again that witness that I am doing what I need to be doing and the Lord recognizes and appreciates me, and that I’ve been an influence for good. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be an ever widening gap between the strong and faithful in the church and the less valiant in the church. It seems like more and more of those who serve the Lord are doing it because they love him. It seems the Lord is kicking everyone off the fence, separating the wheat from the tares so to speak in the church. Especially after this conference it was reconfirmed to me that now is the time to have our own testimonies. I feel the urge to help those on the fence to come back into the light of the restored gospel. I remember the charge the savior gave to Peter that after he was converted to “strengthen [his] brethren”. I also found it interesting that Peter was talked about and quoted so much and that Elder Holland gave the talk he said he would give when he was with us in Anchorage. I felt a deeper love for my family as I listened to the story of Ann Rowley in Elder Nash’s talk, the story of her, also in 17 Miracles, and the two hard sea biscuits. Ann Jewel Rowley was my 4th great grandmother. Without talking to her I know my mother was deeply touched.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about David, Saul, Solomon and ancient Israel. It pains my heart that such great men did not stay firm and reminds me that you’re never too righteous to be exempt from temptations. At the same time I marvel at how merciful and patient the Lord was with the people. I read like 3 times while skimming through the Book of Judges that the people in those days did “as seemeth them good in their own eyes.” They were in apostasy and were lost in spiritual darkness without a leader. The tribes were not unified. It amazes me that they even survived as a group. And under David’s brilliant leadership the 12 tribes were unified. God still loved the people and, as they humbled themselves, He placed prophets to guide them and preach the gospel. Amidst all the chaos I think of great men like Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Josiah, and Nehemiah. They were great men who, even through personal weaknesses, moved the work of the Lord forward with courage and brought about righteousness. The man who stands out the most to me is Josiah. It says of him that there was never anyone before or since like him that turned to the Lord with all his might, mind, and strength (2 Kings 23:25). It amazes me that the Lord still took care of and watched over a degrading society. There must have been some stalwart people who kept their covenants or else we wouldn’t have had men like Josiah. Where did they draw their strength from? How did they gain so much courage to stand up when no one else would? Again I find the answer with Josiah. They yielded their hearts to God. It never said Josiah was the best looking, the strongest, the most courageous, benevolent, patient, or kind. He was so strong because he turned to God and humbly followed him.
I know that God lives. I know that our savior, Jesus Christ, atoned for our sins. I know that He is ever mindful of us and knows our situations. I know He wants us to stay strong, and I know we can. I know that as challenges increase there is nothing I cannot handle as long as I turn to the Lord and seek his help. He has set the standard, Christ provided the way to follow, and I will never back down. I hope it will be said of me that “like unto him was there no [man] before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might… neither after him arose there any like him.” The Book of Mormon is true, and I know the spirit will witness to the hearts of all those who read it that it is indeed the word of God because it has for me.
Love, Elder Record