Daniel spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday with many family and friends present. For readability his address has been modified slightly. Here is the audio in Ogg Vorbis (13.3MB) and MP3 (14.8MB) formats.
Thank you for that musical number, that was wonderful. Well, I’m excited to be here. It’s great to see everyone that came out. One of the great things about my mission is when someone asks me where I went it is a trick question, because I went to Mongolia and Washington and Mongolia isn’t an actual city in Washington, it is a country. Before I was leaving I was talking to my Dad and I was saying, “Hey Dad, in Mongolia we’re going to be teaching English as English teachers. Can you help me with the language? And he said, “I don’t speak any Mongolian.” “No I meant with English, Dad.”
So it is wonderful to serve a mission, like Troy said. I remember talking with him in the MTC and it seemed to me he was fluent in Spanish before I even got there. The Church in Mongolia is progressing well. It’s fairly new there, the first missionaries went in 1992 and since then I was able to witness the first stake organized there. Also the Doctrine and Covenants was translated. It’s amazing to see the people’s lives and how excited they are to learn new things and to fully live the Gospel and receive all its blessings in their lives. So, the Bishop asked me to talk about obedience so I guess I’ll follow that.
There are a lot of different levels of obedience or reasons why we choose to obey and some of those are:
- First we are obedient because we want a blessing.
- Second maybe we fear we will lose the blessing.
- Third is simply out of duty.
- And the fourth reason to be obedient is for the love of the person that asked us to do it.
I think the easiest one for me to understand is when we are obedient we receive a blessing. In the Book of Mormon, Lehi was teaching his sons and he said:
…And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever. (2 Nephi 1:9)
So when we are obedient to the laws of God and keep His commandments, God has a blessing promised to us in return for each act of obedience. And it may be that we say our prayers daily, or partake of the sacrament, attend church, obey the word of wisdom. These commandments help us to keep the Spirit of the Lord with us and those of the things that come from it.In one of my areas, I won’t tell you where it is you’ll have to guess, where I was between the two missions that I was serving in. One of the first things one of my companions taught me was if we work hard and continue to go forward the Lord will bless us. And this happened to be in a different area than I mentioned before: it was in Atlanta, Georgia.
With visa problems it kept us from going to Mongolia when we were supposed to so I served in Atlanta for three weeks and this was when my companion he taught me how to tract. And the area there was somewhat slow so we went out tracting. It was about two weeks we were just knocking everywhere and nothing was happening. It was a little discouraging I thought, “Well man I have to do this for two years?” But I soon learned that truly does the Lord bless and reward those acts of diligence.
I remember this one street, it was in a town named LaFayette [Alabama] and the first door we went to there was five people outside and they all wanted to listen. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they were so excited to learn, one of them had actually read half of the Book of Mormon and wanted to come to church that Sunday.
We continued on tracting, we had a few hours left, it was actually a few houses down we got into another house. We were so surprised we didn’t know exactly what was going on we taught the first lesson there and that was a wonderful experience. Also the next door, they let us in as well and at this point we were pretty grateful for the success the Lord had already given us and it wasn’t much later we knocked on a door. There was a Hispanic family, one of them could translate for the other three in there and we taught four people there. Across the street six Hispanic people were asking for copies of the Book of Mormon and the last house we knocked on we shared a message, they had a recent death in the family and they were willing to look for answers and for comfort. So I know that the Lord truly did bless us in that act of obedience to continue to be diligent and to work hard.
The next thing I wanted to talk a little bit about is the fear of losing a blessing. In the positive sense if we don’t pay our tithing we don’t get the return. I’ve found in my life, and a lot of people say this, you can’t afford not to pay tithing because of the blessings that come from it.
One of the things that motivated me to talk to everyone is that in the scriptures the Lord tells us that we need to open our mouths and to speak and the words will come to us. On the plane ride to Mongolia we were going from Korea to Mongolia, I had the chance to sit next to a native Mongolian and I was pretty excited about that. We spent three months studying this language and we had no idea if anyone would actually understand us or if they were kidding in the MTC, “Hah you’re going to learn this.” I got to sit by her and she knew English fairly well and as I was there talking to her she asked me, “Well, doesn’t your church not drink coffee or tea.” I said, “Yeah, and I taught her a little about the church, and I taught her a little about the Book of Mormon and things I had learned how to say.
Later we started to exchange words a little bit, she had some strawberries on the seat next to her so I was like, “Well what’s the word for strawberries in Mongolian?” and she’d write it down and that went on I wrote book, ruler, scizzors. She’d write it in Mongolian, but she got confused on the scissors part and I learned how marvelous Mongolian people are they tell ya straight up. I learned that scissors isn’t spelled with two z’s. It actually has two s’s in it. It was humbling for me to learn from a Mongolian that lesson.
I like the the quote that someone has said, “It is better to obey commandments because we fear punishment than to not obey them at all. But we will be much happier if we obey God because we love Him and want to obey Him.” (“Obedience”, Gospel Principles, Chapter 35)
Another command that if you obey, great blessings come, is the commandment of the monthly fast. The fear on that one is that you can break it at anytime, you go down the hall and there’s the drinking fountain and you accidentally take a drink, you’re like, “Oh no!” But the principle of fasting I truly learned how powerful it really is.There was this woman, her name was Nyanaa. She and her son were going to church regularly. Her son was baptized and she wanted to be baptized as well. She found out that she hadn’t received her marriage certificate and so years passed and her husband wouldn’t agree to get one, he was kind of a drunk and he kicked us out occasionally when we stopped over there. She truly wanted to be baptized.
About three years passed and it was just about the time that I met her. She explained her situation and my companion and I decided to fast for her. We put a time aside, we started our fast and we were determined to do a full 24 hours. So that it could mean something and also so that the Lord would know that we were willing to sacrifice. And I think around this time the Mongolian food started to look a lot better and I got a lot hungrier. It was probably the most difficult fast I have ever done in my life and I soon learned why those temptations were there.
After that fast Nyanaa was able to get her marriage certificate about a week later and later was able to be baptized. The coolest thing about it was her son was now 17 and was able to baptize her. So I know that when we keep the commandments and also principles like fasting if we are truly serious about it the Lord in return blesses us. There is the scripture in Doctrine and covenants that reads, and this is the Lord telling us that if we don’t keep the commandments it’s not His fault, but it’s ours. He says:
Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. (D&C 58:30-33)
So on these levels of obedience there’s the first few that I think all of us fall into a few times and that’s not a bad thing. I think what we should strive for, or continually work towards, is that we do it out of an act of duty or out of the act of love. There is a quote by Joseph Smith that says, “When the Lord commands, Do it.” That is something that I’ve tried to live by: when you don’t feel like doing something that’s about the time that you should go out and do it.
That is where somewhat the struggle for me came on my mission. The language of Mongolian was really difficult for me to learn and I knew that I had been called as a missionary and it was my duty to teach the people and I really wanted to share how I felt, but it was hard to explain things and especially when they would talk back it was hard to understand them. I remember working so hard and praying really hard that the Lord would help me learn and communicate and share my testimony with these people. At the times when I thought I couldn’t go farther or was about to give up that’s when I felt a peace or a warm feeling and the Lord really blessed me to experience the gift of tongues and the language would come easier. At those times I would recognize it wasn’t me learning a foreign language, it was the Lord helping me and using me as a tool in His hands. So when we do all we can to fulfill our duty, to do what the Lord has asked of us, He promises in return that He will help us accomplish that. I truly know that the Lord does do that, He fulfills His promises and we can trust in His hand to guide us and to lead us.
Now there is the act of love. I think Jesus Christ was the perfect example. In the book of John He talks about how, he came to do the will of the father and he said,
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:38-39)
Jesus Christ had His free agency. He didn’t have to come down and he didn’t have to suffer for us, but I believe and I know that He did it because He loved us. He wanted what was best for us and with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ working together all of us have the chance to return back to Heavenly Father and to bask in their love.
Through obedience to the Gospel and through living its principles we can receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father has for us and wants to bestow upon us. I truly learned to love the people in Mongolia and also in Washington. It is amazing that when you serve someone that love develops more in you than I think they even realize.
The people I was able to work with have taught me so much and my companions as well and all the leaders in my mission were inspirations to me and I always strived to become more like them and to also be more like my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I know that through study of the scriptures we can learn knowledge that can help us to be more obedient to God’s commandments. I truly know that Christ lives and He loves us and that Heavenly Father has made a plan for all of us and we can learn it through the Book of Mormon, and through coming to church, and all the things, all the commandments God has asked us to do.
These things will help us become more like Him and have more peace and happiness in this life. I’m grateful too for my family and all the support they gave me throughout my mission and I’m grateful too for my friends. I’m grateful that my Dad was able to help me with English a little bit. It turned out that I needed it a lot more than I thought.
And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank you to Paul and Megan for helping to transcribe Daniel’s talk.
Susan Mathews Hardy says
I thoroughly enjoyed your talk Daniel. I am printing it and sending it to Elder Hardy to enjoy. Keep in touch!
Thanks. I was happy to be able to work with Elder Hardy. He was lots of fun.
My name is kirsten schiffler and i just recieved my call to Mongolia Ulaanbaatar. I was reading some of your letters and the stories you wrote about your mission, and it made me even more excited to serve. I just wondered if you could tell me a little more about the people, culture, and landscape? Im really excited to serve and to do my part in helping build the kingdom of our Lord. :) Im on Facebook if you could email me back.
Here is a little about the culture: http://www.rickety.us/2008/07/mongolia-specifics/
Gwendolyn Boucher says
I need your email again, please.
Sorry, Rickety, my conversion story is ready but I can not find the email you sent me, so if you could send another, I would appreciate it.