Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mormon Messages, Quotes, and a Small Update

Hello everybody:))Today I don't have anything big to write about today but just to keep with consistency I thought I would just write a little update of what's going on here in Ecuador, maybe a typical day, post some quotes and share some great Mormon Messages. So, for my little update, things down here have been pretty good, spiritual wise, I have trials as usual but I'm getting better and better with dealing with them.. it's amazing how even though I haven't necessarily altogether loved being down here or miss home a lot I have grown the most here, more than I ever did at home and I have become a completely different person.. it's really fantastic.. :) I'm learning to be happy down here even though it's hard, I guess that's why it's here that I am flourishing the most "There's no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.". I was telling my mom the other day that I kind of feel like one of the olive branches from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon, taken from the natural tree and put in the nether most parts of the vineyard, and I guess it is in the nether most parts that I have produced the most fruit haha so to speak. Typically a normal day for me is setting my alarm clock for five then hitting the snooze button till 5:30 so it's easier to get up, then I eat breakfast and get in the car half asleep to go to school then suddenly awake, nothing like starting the day with the constant feeling of "I'm going to die", because literally the traffic here is crazy and it feels like a real life MarioKart except you only have one life and you can't send bombs up ahead, unlock new cars or use a rocket to cut to first.. sadly. Driving to school has never before been so.. interesting. Then I go to school for how ever many hours that is, we always have iguanas around and sometimes when I'm not looking I'll almost step on one of the babies and then it will speed away haha. If something hard happens I just pray in my head and heavenly father strengthens me and I can usually pull myself out of being mad or sad and just go on being happy. Then I go home, ending the school day with what it started with; feeling like I'm going to die, get home do homework for how ever long that takes, do seminary (Best part!), talk with my parents, occasionally I just go sit in my dad's office with him and then after a while he'll be like, "Do you want to hear a story?" and then he'll tell me some cool story about a philosopher or one of the missionaries and it inspires me so much I go and write about it somewhere. After that we have dinner altogether and we all talk about our day and joke around a bit and we talk about the rest of the week. Sometime after that we have family prayer and I get my herbal tea and go up stairs to say my prayers read my scriptures and sit. Yes, sit. I love just sitting in my room when I have time, to just recharge, to daydream, to think, to clear my head, sometimes I just talk out loud to heavenly father or just to myself and then I get ready for bed and go to sleep.. or try, most of the time I end up just sitting awake for hours because I can't fall asleep and then when I finally almost do I'll either get inspiration for a blog post and have to write it down or I'll fall asleep and wake up every couple of hours haha it sucks. That is a typical day, sometimes more eventful, sometimes less, always have a neat experience though, special things, they just pop up out of the blue. It's fantastic.

We've had some fun experiences down here, lot's of little earthquakes and obviously we don't really have those in Utah or haven't for a while and so they freaked us out pretty bad haha almost every time I even think I feel the house shaking I book it for cover haha one time my parents were down stairs (and by now i was a little used to them) and I was upstairs and I felt one coming on, and it kind of started rattling the windows so I just said, "Mom, we're having and earthquake." but seeing as though none of the ones we'd had had been big I didn't really do anything but my parents on the other hand were like "Oh my gosh.. oh my gosh!" haha and my dad ran to the door ready to run out to the street and then it stopped and I could hear him say "Wow, I didn't know I could move that fast!" haha he's funny. We still have tons of baby lizards that get into the house and come in to my room at night and run on the walls.. gah it's so annoying I cannot even tell you.. I will try to catch them to put them outside (usually I am succesful) but it's always at night and so I'm pretty tired and they're really fast but the past few times it's like I just try to like lead them to a box or something but it's like they think I want to eat or kill them (obviously)! And so they'll be on a shelf or on the wall and they'll be nearing the box and then all of the sudden they will just jump off the wall no matter how high up they are like they are parachuting without parachutes, it is insane like they would rather kill themselves then let me take them outside.. so many times I wish I could talk to them and have them understand me.. so frustrating. I'm pretty sure one time one got in my bed.. that scared the crap out of me... I try to get them out of my room when I can.. otherwise I just end up not sleeping and just to watch where they go haha ridiculous I know. We've still had a lot of cockroaches we've all gotten pretty used to them except when they come out of no where by surprise that's annoying.. haha. School has been alright, still not my favorite thing in the world, that's one thing that probably wont change now or anytime in the future haha not fun, I even have been counting down the days till it get's out (including weekends) and the days till I get to go home I'm so excited seven or six weeks now!! Spanish has improved a bit I can still understand better than I can speak.. I can extract like 75-85 percent of what someone says most of the time and if it's my parents, family or an american I can understand almost everything.. really if I just get conjugation down and learn some more vocabulary I think that's really it!

That's about it for my life though, I've had really neat experiences and there are so many incredible people I have met while I've been down here, they've been really big blessings to me:) It's been so neat to meet different people from all over and to see how other people live and live in a different culture. Even though it's hard, I think that is one of the perks of being a mission president's daughter, is the getting to know a different part of the world, getting to see things from a different perspective, sometimes those things can be hard, seeing people that have harder lives, being with people that are in many ways different than you, in some cases having a completely different language, all of it is hard, it's really hard but once you stop hating what you don't understand, once you start trying to look for the good and see things from heavenly father's perspective and look for what you can learn and take out of your situation, things really do get better, and all these things shape you, all these things, if you let them, become a part of you, they teach you, they start building you into the monumental person that heavenly father intended you to become! Sometimes we have to be planted in the nether most parts of the vineyard because that is where the gardener know's we will best grow. I was talking to my awesome art teacher the other day, she is such a cool lady, and I was having a hard time with something and she told me something like "Sarah, all these hard things in your life are your teachers, they each teach you a lesson and when they are done teaching you all they have to give and you have learned what you needed to you can just tell them "You are dismissed!"" So I guess life is just like in school, when you have to go to different rooms and buildings, or another side of campus to get to a teachers class so that they can teach you their lesson, maybe I had to go to another side of the world, another side of the campus, to take another class from a teacher teaching a different course than the ones I had learned in Utah. :) I hope you all have a fantastic week and I hope you enjoy the videos and quotes:)

Hebrews 3:4 KJV For every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God.

This is the Christian atheist. Believing in God but living as if He doesn't exist. Let your life reflect the Lord. Apply biblical standards to your every day living and be a beacon of light to others. Shine so that they see Him, not you. Be a vessel and let God lead.

Find the blessings

the lord knows

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Because of Him -- Easter

Hello Everybody! Happy Easter! I'm just going to get straight down to it. I hate to break it to you... but here it is... EASTER IS NOT ABOUT EASTER BUNNIES AND LITTLE CUTE DUCKIES AND FINDING EGGS AND GETTING CANDY AND ALL THAT! There it has been said. Now, lot's of you probably know that.. and some of you might be confused.. might be slightly annoyed that I even suggest the Easter Bunny is of no importance ,but, it is true. Thousands of years ago a child was born, this child was born to th virgin Mary who was told she would conceive a son who would be the Savior and that she was to call him Jesus. Not only in his life but before his life there was so much adversity! Can you imagine the horrible things people thought about his mother? His father? Can you imagine how she felt? There were undoubtedly rumors and lots of gossip and the constant ridicule that came with the misunderstanding and judgment. Besides the troubles they faced Mary and Joesph, Jesus's parents, suffered in Nazareth, they faced many on the long trail they had to take to Jerusalem, when all men and their families were to return to their birth towns to pay taxes. Some of you women out there just weez at the thought I am sure, being pregnant and having to ride an underfed donkey up and down mountains, through rivers and past soldiers for miles and even at times having to walk the rocky rode. Imagine the husband, the load he had to carry spiritually and physically, walking the whole way, strengthening the donkey, leading it through tough terrain, shoes most probably in bits, feet bleeding and blistery hands from the merciless heat. And then the struggle of having nowhere to stay with the Savior ready to come into the world, with no Epidural, no nurses or experienced doctors or any previous knowledge of what to do let alone a knowlege of how to care for a child, Jesus Christ was born in the most humble of places to the most humble of people and how much we must have rejoiced in heaven as well as lots of those on earth. The silent night that our Savior was born. But this silence did not last forever, Harod soon sent for soldiers to kill all young children and babies and the tribulations and adversity began again! Fleeing to Egypt in the night after a dream, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus got away safely. All throughout his life Jesus taught and served others and all throughout his life he and his family were mocked and ridiculed, thought crazy and a nuisance. And then came much later his death. Alone in a garden he cried, now a man, the fully grown son of God, taking upon him the weight of the world, feeling every pain, affliction, sickness, and consequence from sin we could ever feel and go through, he was subject to temptation and hurt, of body and mind but he endured it because he new all of the souls that would be lost if he didn't, he loved us too much to give up, even when the pain was immense, excruciating, unfathomable, horrifying more than we could even imagine. After he bled from every pour, weakened and weathered to the bone, he returned to find his disciples peacefully sleeping and then a clan of Romans led by the man who betrayed him, chose money over him and now mocked him, the man that would later hang himself from guilt and shame. Even in the moment he was being taken off to prison he preformed a miracle for one of his captors, whose ear had been sliced by one of his disciples. How humble a man. From then on he was abused and mistreated even more than before, beaten and spit on, underfed and dirty. He was ridiculed, yelled and screamed at, made fun of and thought to be speaking blaspheme though he told the truth. Though he was the son of God, sent down to save these people, they treated him as nothing more than dirt, only good to be trodden upon and meant to remain silent. Can you imagine? Can you imagine his courage and faith, standing for what he believed in, standing for his people, standing for all of us, standing for God and being mocked and punished though he was innocent of all crime and wrong doing. And last of all, with a weakend body, spirit and mind, a bloodied face and torn skin, he carried his cross, he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders, he carried it down stairs and up them through the city and up a mountain then nailed into a wooden cross to die. Can. You. Imagine? Please, right now imagine yourself being there watching this all play out, imagine not being born yet, still in heaven but on the other side, painfully watching as he carried your sins in his mind and up the mountain, carried them with him still. You wished so badly you could have helped, could have reclaimed all the sins you would ever commit, you sat knowing that on earth there was a possibility of not even remembering him or his sacrifice, not even remembering you could be saved and hoping, praying that wouldn't happen, not wanting to put his great sacrifice to waste. This pain he endured so that we could come back to him, be with our families, repent, have joy and not be forever condemned to death. Three days later, Easter Sunday he was resurrected, he broke the chains of death and came forth, proof of the effects of the atonement, proof that he had gained the victory over Satan and over pain. And THAT is why we celebrate Easter. Really, we should remember him every day, we should be eternally gratefull to him but as a holiday, we commemorate a day to him, and we call it Easter.

Has anyone ever wondered why gifts are given on Christmas and Easter? The reason is, On Christmas we celebrate Jesus Christ's birth. The gift that was given at that time was him, Jesus Christ was and is God's gift to the world. The miracles he preformed, the lessons he taught, the lives he blessed, they were all gifts, he was a gift and to so many. The second gift is the one we celebrate on Easter that was the gift of the atonement. The gift of his death and resurrection for our salvation, so that our sins could be washed away and so that death and the chains of sin didn't have to be permanent if we only used the great gift he gave us.

I want to explain the atonement or how I see it.. I get the notion that not everyone fully understands. See, in nature, everything has a consequence, just naturally that's how it is. You throw a huge rock at a window so it is going to break, you fall so you are going to get a bruise or scrape your skin, consequences. Well, it is the same thing with more spiritual and serious things. You commit murder, you go to jail, and because of that you might even be sentenced to death. What the atonement does is, it does not save us from the temporary consequences of life like for in this example jail and death, we are going to have to pay that price, but it does save us from the eternal consequence of say hell. (And by hell I do not mean that place of fire and brimstone, I believe Hell is more a state of mind and being subject to the devil in this way.) What the atonement does in this instance is if that person who commited murder has a change of heart and now feels completely guilty for what he's done without using the atonement and repentance he could feel that way for the rest of his life and into the rest of eternity. So he would be in the hell of guilt, shame, sadness, depression (anyone who has felt those feeling strongly knows it really does feel like hell, however this would not just be for a period of time this would be eternal unless this person has a change of heart and decides to use the atonement) but if he turned around and had a deep desire to change, it is possible, because of the atonement. How this happened is Jesus Christ, by taking all of our sins and feeling all the consequences of them, and by being subject to death for a time, he payed the price that justice would demand. So, all of the sins we ever commit are already paid for so unless we repent we are just wasting his sacrifice and paying it again even though we don'y have to!Let me try to say this as simple as I can..  God's law, and natures law is that there be justice in all things (you do something you pay for it just like in a store, money for food), so think of Jesus as the kind person behind us in line at the grocery store that offers to pay for our food and does and think of Justice as the cashier. How stupid would it be to pay the cashier AGAIN even though the kind man behind us already paid for it? That is what the atonement does, Christ has already paid the demands of Justice so that if we choose, and if we have a change of heart we can repent and be washed clean AND NOT HAVE TO PAY THE CASHIER AGAIN!

So you see, all that pain, all that suffering look how much it paid for, look at how many of us it could save if only we realized it! Think of how many people don't even know (remember) who they are, what Christ has done for them, WHO HE IS! Can. You. Imagine?

I would like to bear my testimony to you now that I KNOW God and Jesus Christ live, and that Jesus Christ paid the price for us to come back to him and be washed clean. I know that we are loved and that we are his, and that if we only remember, our lives can be so much better. I KNOW that this is real, that God is real, that Jesus is real, that he is our savior and that we are his brothers and sisters all going through this test of life. I KNOW that if we come to him we can be saved and that so much pain and heartache can be avoided and that he can help us trhrough the hard things we go through. He literally knows how we feel and what we are going through and he wants to help us get through this test. I know this church is true, I know that God lives, I know that Jesus Christ lives and that because of him, we can be saved, we can live with our families for eternity, we can be strengthened, there will always be second chances, we can always return, nothing is impossible and that we can someday return to live with him. I say these things humbly, as an unworthy, loving, thankful child of God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Why then the egg in Easter? New beginnings. Life. Why the hunt? Finding. Put them together: Finding New Beginnings. Life. Happy Easter.

"Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift,… [pointing] us to freedom, confidence, and peace. [This marvelous blessing is a] cause for true celebration." –D. Todd Christofferson
This one speaks for itself. Robert D Hales is one of the 12 General Authorities of the LDS (MORMON) Church.
"Repentance means striving to change. It would mock the Savior's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for us to expect that He should transform us into angelic beings with no real effort on our part. Rather, we seek His grace to complement and reward our most diligent efforts. Perhaps as much as praying for mercy, we should pray for time and opportunity to work and strive and overcome..." "The Divine Gift of Repentance," by D. Todd Christofferson, General Conference, Oct. 2011
French Press Mornings: Encouraging Easter Print ... Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, He Has Risen!  Luke 24:5-6
I'm grateful for my Testimony of the Restoration of Christ's is so wonderful that it is back on the earth, including the priesthood authority.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Staying Strong in Courage and in Faith

Today I wanted to talk about some of my all time biggest role models, no they are not Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardasian, Justin Beiber or Drake, today I want to talk about Esther from the Bible, the Anti Lehi Nehi's from the Book of Mormon and my dad.

So the first story I love is and my first role model is Esther. Esther was made queen after the other queen was done away with. Esther went in to the king as herself and ended up being the one he chose out of all the other maidens! Though this had happened, Esther had not told the king she was a Jew. Later on in Esther's story the Jews were going to be put to death, but they were her people, she was one of them. Later, Esther and Mordacai are speaking through Esthers servant, Mordacai says to Esther in Esther 4:14-15, "..Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape the king's house, more than all the jews. (15) ..And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" What he was telling her was, don't think of yourself and how you're going to escape, think of your people! And who knows, maybe you were sent to come to be queen at this time, for a special purpose. Later we see that Esther decides to go into the king (of course she has a few banquets first but after that) and to tell him that she is a Jew and ask him to spare her people, before and while this is happening out all around the kingdom her people are fasting and praying for her! Can you imagine how much courage and faith that would have taken? I mean seriously! Seriously think about it! Here she is, she is probably the only chance her people have of surviving of living but at the same time going in to the king without an invitation is punishable by death! By Death! Do you realize that at any given time that she just went in to him he could have her put to death? Imagine what she must have been feeling, I know I might have been thinking, "Gee, these could be some of the last thoughts I ever think, I could never see my family again." I mean can you imagine? I don't think any of us truly can but what we can see and learn from her were faith and courage. She would have had to have so much courage and trust in the lord to put her life in his hands and not only for her sake but for other's sake as well, this would impact generations and generations! In the end we see that Heavenly Father kept her safe and that the kings heart was softened towards her and the Jews and that they lived all because she had faith in God and trusted him. Think of what a difference she made.

My second role models are the Anti Nephi Lehi's from the Book of Mormon. The Anti Nephi Lehie were originally a part of the Lamanites, a bloodthirsty, prideful, people. After being taught by the missionaries and turning to the lord they changed their names and changed how they dressed so as not to be confused as the Lamanite people. They changed their name to Anti Nephi Lehi, probably declaring themselves neither on nor the other (Since the Lamanites had come to hate the Nephites, vise versa and so on and so forth). When I read this story it made me cry. The Anti Nephi Lehis had become so converted to the truth and had repented so fullheartedly, they had been born of god (had a mighty change of heart) and put off the natural man or what they naturally would when they were lamanites. They were so committed to the lord. If you have scriptures go to Alma 24: 8-12 if you don't go to this link: to see how converted and dedicated to the lord they were and how they felt as well as what they resolved to do. These people had been a bloodthirsty, war seeking people. They loved killing people and they didn't mind doing it, they had many weapons of war and they weren't afraid to use them but as we see, the gospel changed them, they had a mighty change in heart. After you read those scriptures read Alma 24:13-19 and see exactly what they did. Doesn't it astonish you the kind of change that took place within them when they let God in they went from wicked to righteous. In these verses we see that they resolved to bury ALL their weapons of war, that means all means of protection! Some of you might be thinking, "Were they crazy?" but no, they were so devoted to their God and had repented so fully that they would "suffer even unto death rather than commit sin." How much faith do you think they must have had? How much faith do you think you would have had to have to do that? To give up all means of protection even if it meant not defending yourself when being attacked. You see, to fully give up their sins they had to put them away, hide anything that would give them the temptation to do the same things again, avoid similar situations that would bring up the urge to and for them that meant hiding their weapons deep in the ground (this can also be compared or likened to sinning, repenting and staying away from temptaion). The next very faithful thing that happened (this is what made me cry the most) was when they were attacked. (Alma 24: 20-22) The Anti Nephi Lehis heard that the Lamanites were coming, that they were annoyed and angry with them and blood thirsty and what did they do? They prayed and praised God. Even to the end. When the Lamanites came and they could see them in the distance THEY CAME DOWN TO MEET THEM, KNELT BEFORE THEM AND BOWED THEIR HEADS AND BEGAN TO PRAY. I think this was one of the few times that such courage and faith has ever been shown. After doing this "Without meeting any resistance, they (The Lamanites) did slay a thousand and five of them, and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with  their God." Think of how scared you would be, think of the families they must have had but the trust and faith they must have had in God. Holy cow. Now, we KNOW that they are blessed and went to be with God because they were faithful and trusted him and his plan up unto the very end, to the very last moment of their lives they gave their lives to God and they put their trust in him. How many of us would be willing to do that? I can't say I would but I can't say I wouldn't.. the thought of how much courage and faith they must have had is unfathomable to me, but what examples they are. After this happened look at the result! Read Alma 24: 23-26. In these verses we see that after seeing this the lamanites hearts were softened and they stopped killing them, "And there were many whose hearts had been swollen." "And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them up again, for they were stung for the murders that they had committed, and they came down as brothers (the Anti Nephi Lehis with the Lamanites because of their example).." Look at what an impact it had, their faith not only brought them blessings but it softened the hearts of their adversaries, and the Lord didn't take them out of it because he knew that they would be safe after it was over, that they would return to him and that so would the Lamanites. "And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt they were saved." "And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people." (Alma 24: 24-27)

The last role model I would like to talk about is my dad. My dad is such an inspiring, funny but hardworking man. His life has not been easy. He grew up in the small city of Hermosillo, Mexico with his single mother and two brothers. Sometimes there was barely enough for them to eat, sometimes there wasn't much of a Christmas and work for him started at an early age, he wasn't baptized in the church until he was 17 years old and luxuries were few. Though my dad grew up in harder circumstances it shaped him into the wonderful man he is today. He has learned the importance of work and is a hard worker, he is honest, reliable, wise, trustworthy, inspiring and he perseveres. The reason we are here in Ecuador is because he was called to be a mission president in our church to direct the missionaries in this area. One night my dad told me a story about Julius Ceaser. He explained to me how Italy had been set up and how one side of the Rubicon river was the army and military area while on the other side was the government and higher class. It was known throughout Italy that to cross the Rubicon was to pose a threat to the government or just outright declare war or rebellion. So, if one were to cross the river it was either go hard or go home (die). After explaining this to me he then told me that Julius Ceaser decided one day that he was going to cross the Rubicon river with some men. These men vowed to protect him with their lives, even knowing what they were getting themselves into! Over the Rubicon they went and obviously he didn't go home, Julius Ceaser went down in history and his empire was one of the grandest ever built, his reign and his empire became some the most famous and remembered empires and dictatorships in all of history. Why this story was relevant was pretty plain to me, all of us cross the Rubicon at some point in our lives, sometimes more than once, but once we do we either go hard or fail not trying at all "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars." But what my dad told me made his struggle and the trying of his faith more real to me, he said "This is my Rubicon (This mission), and in my Preach my Gospel book I wrote "I am crossing the Rubicon"" I can already see what hard things my dad goes through, the disobedient missionaries, transfers, all the phone calls and worry and responsibility for so many souls but when he said this it kind of made things even clearer to me, this is something that tries his faith that requires courage and strength for him, not sometimes but everyday, counseling others and overseeing everything, dealing with problems and the constant worry that he is not good enough or that the job is not well done. I would like to take this moment to tell my dad, "Papi, you are more than good enough and everything you do makes a difference for good in this mission, you are truly directed and inspired by God and I love you:)" . Think of what faith and courage it had to require to leave his home and family, his grandchildren, children, all of his favorite things, food, places, his country, what he was comfortable and used to, his friends, his business all to be left behind for the unknown, for the service of his church and for others, for the service of the missionaries and for the service and love of his God. Can you imagine? But imagine also the generations that will be blessed because he is crossing this Rubicon, because he is putting away his weapons of war, because he is risking his life for his people (so to speak) think of how he will be blessed.

I hope that someday I will be able to become more like these faithful people and all the others that I didn't even mention, I hope I can become stronger and develop a faith that is unshakable and that one day I can feel that the faith within me is sufficient enough that I would be willing to give up my life for my beliefs, my people and for generations of my family. I love this church and this gospel and I know it is true and I know that God loves each and every one of us and that if we develop this faith we will be blessed in strengthened in our every day lives and that our generations and generations will be blessed.

What are you willing to do for your faith?

Quotes about faith / Words of Wisdom
Quotes About Faith In God | God, Faith, and Love - God Photo (31725465) - Fanpop fanclubs | 2013 Religious Quotes About Faith In God 2013 Religious Faith Quote
Inspirational Quote - Fear Quote - Sunflower Photograph - mounted print wall art - Let Your Faith Be Bigger than Your Fear | See more about inspirational quotes, inspiration quotes and faith.
Hope On. -Elder Holland, April 2013 General Conference

Friday, April 4, 2014

Acres of Diamonds

Hello everybody!! So today I would like to share a story that my dad shared with me a couple months ago and then talk about it. This story has a very important meaning, it has important things for everyone to realize and it might broaden your horizons.. if you let it:) It is now that I will share with you Acres of Diamonds from a speech by Russel H. Conwell from a book of compilations, The Best of Sterling W. Sill (Sterling W. Sill being the author/ collector of the stories) READ THIS YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID.

           "So far as is known, "Acres of Diamonds" has been the most popular single lecture ever given in the world. The five- thousandth lecture was delivered in Philadelphia, where the presentation had been made many times before, yet the proceeds from this single lecture was over nine thousand dollars and many people had to be turned away. Dr. Conwell presented the same lecture to American audiences on an average of two hundred times each year for over twenty- five years. The total income from admissions was in eccess of four million dollars. Dr. Conwell used the money largely to help deserving young people aquire an education.
          "A substantial amount of the interest in this lecture came from Dr. Cornwell himself, who was a man of great personal inspiration and accomplishment. But the lecture itself contains a great idea, and that idea is just as important now as it was in Dr. Cornwell's day. 
         " The theme of this four- million message centers around an ancient Persian farmer by the name of Ali Hafed. Ali Hafed owned a large farm made up of orchards, grain feilds, and gardens. He had money out at interest, and he was a wealthy and contented man. He was contented because he was wealthy, and he was wealthy because he was contented.
          " But one day Ali Hafed had a visit from a Buddhist priest who was one of the best-informed men of his time. That evening the priest sat before the fire with Ali Hafed and told him about the world and how it was made. He explained that the most valuable thing in the world was a diamond. The priest explained that a diamond was a drop of congealed sunlight, a deposit of carbon from the sun. The old priest told Ali Hafed that if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire community in which he lived. And if he could find a diamond mine, he could place his children upon thrones.
         " After Ali Hafed had learned about diamonds, he thought of nothing else, and that night he went to bed a poor man. He had lost none of his material wealth, but he was poor now because he was discontented, and he was discontented because he now thought of himself as being poor.  He now wanted diamonds more than anything else in the world. He lay awake all night thinking about these precious gems and how he could get them.
         " He inquired where diamonds might be found. The old priest did not know, but he told Ali Hafed  that somewhere in the world there were plenty of diamonds, and all that anyone had to do was find them. Ali Hafed made up his mind. He sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighboor, took his money, and started out to search the world for diamonds.
         " He began his explorations at the Mountains of the Moon. Afterward he traveled throughout Asia. He searched in Palestine. He went on into Europe. After years of searching, his money had all been spent, and he found himself in rags, wretchedness, and poverty. One day he stood on the shores of the bay of the Strait of Gibraltar in the south of Spain as a great tidal wave cam rolling in between the Pillars of Hercules. There the poor, afflicted, suffering Ali Hafed fell a victim to the awful temptation to cast himself into the incoming tide. He sank beneath its foaming crest, never to rise again.
        "Back home, the man who had purchased Ali Hafed's farm was one day letting his camel drink from the garden brook. As the camel splashed its nose into the shalow water of the clear stream, its owner noted a curious flash of light coming from the white sands of the stream. He pulled out a stone that had an eye of light reflecting all the hues of the rainbow. He took the stone into his house and laid it on the mantel. Some time later when the same old priest came to visit Ali Hafed's successor, he saw the light flashing from the mantel and told the owner that this stone was a diamond. Together they rushed out into the garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers, and lo, there came up other beautiful gems even more valuable than the first.
      " The above is said to be a historically true account of the discovery of the great Golconda diamond mine, the most magnificent diamond mine in history, even excelling the most magnificent Kimberly mine itself. The Kohinoor and the Orloff diamonds of the crown jewels of England and Russia came from this mine. At the very time that Ali Hafed was longing for diamonds, he was living on top of the greatest diamond mine in the world. If he had just dug in his own garden, instead of wretchedness, starvation, and suicidal death in a strange land, he would have literally had acres of diamonds. For every part of that old farm produced valuable gems which have since decorated the crowns of the greatest monarchs of the world. 
      " We feel very sorry for Ali Hafed. In our minds we can see him wandering homeless and friendless further and further away from the very thing he sought so ardently. He wanted diamonds more than anyhting else in the world, yet he left that very thing he wanted most and exchanged it for loneliness, starvation, and death in a faraway land.
     " Dr. Conwell stirs up out interest and imagination with many other examples of this same principle in operation. It is probable that the main interest in Dr. Conwell's lecture was not the pathetic sight of Ali Hafed taking his leave of the very things that he wanted most. The greatest interest probab;y arose from the fact that the actions of Ali Hafed so much resemble the course that we ourselves so frequently take. A large percentage of our own population is continually rushing from one place to another seeking for things we never find. We stop for only a brief period and then we are on the move again. This constant unrest is caused by a strange inclination among us to think of success and happiness as lying in some distant country, to be found only under unusual circumstances. The grass usually looks so much greener on the other side of the fence that it draws our attention and our interest away from those more important things that lie right under our noses. We look for some great deeds to do in some faraway foreign land and we neglect our own acre of diamonds with all the possibilities that are just begging to be uncovered in our own back yard. 
     " This four million dollar lecture suggests that most of our opportunities are not found in the distance, but usually in the vicinity of our birth. In fact, opportunity may be found wherever one really digs for it and usually in no other place. Henry Ford found ares of diamonds by digging in his own tool shed. Thomas A. Edison found his ares of diamonds in the experiments of his own laboratory. The people of two thousand years ago believed that no good could come out of Nazareth, yet Jesus wet from the carpenter shop to become the Savior of the world. Despite these and many other outstanding examples, however, how futile it sometimes is to urge a person to start digging in his own home town and make good right where he is! The chances always seem so much better if we could cultivate the distant acres that lie beyond our reach.
     " We sometimes feel that we would be great if only we could be elected to some important political office or by some other means have the power of exceptional accomplishment placed in our hands by someone else. The truth is that if we would dig a little deeper in our own back yards we would find some important, inspiring purpose for our own lives. It is a serious mistake to wait for some great deeds to do in the futurse when there are so many little deeds that need to be done in the present. 
      " In the early days of this country many people lost their lives in the gold rush across the Great American Desert on their way to California. The same thing happened in the Arctic wastes of the Yukon, while those who dies frequently had left great undeveloped treasures in their own home towns. Some of us never become aware of our greatest treasures. The most likely place to look for diamonds is under our own feet and within ourselves. In fact, God has implanted in every man the very things that he seeks. If you seek the kind of faith that moves mountains, look within yourself, for God has already implanted in your own heart the seeds of faith and power, and these are waiting only for you to make them grow. If you seek the courage that will make you one of the giants of your day, don't look in Barcelona or Paris or London, for it is already within yourself awaiting only your command.  Every man has within himself a vein of greatness. He has only to learn to command the shaft that draws out the gold."

      That is not the whole story from Sterling W. Sill but I just wanted to show you the important principle that this story teaches. So many times we set out in search of things, money, fame, recognition as well as other things but in the process we forget what we have and the acres of diamonds we each have inside and within our own homes. Our riches are our memories and the lessons we learn from life, our fame is the defeating of silent struggles and temptations that no one else is aware of besides heavenly father, the success and growth he sees in us, the generations we affect because of that growth, how grateful they will be. The recognition, the spirit and joy we receive from Heavenly Father when we remember what we have and work towards improving ourselves and what is most important, what will truly enrich our lives. We've got to dig a little deeper, dig and discover in ourselves what Heavenly Father knows is already there and has been all along. We don't have to travel far and wide or be the most successful to make great discoveries or inspire many people or even to change the world. We need only realize that to change the world we must "Be the change you (we) want to see in the world." To make great discoveries we must dig inside ourselves and to inspire others we need only do the above, live a life we would be proud to present to Heavenly Father one day. I know you will find acres of diamonds within yourselves that you never even knew about. I guess that's what Mama Ode was trying to teach Tiana and Navene in Princess and the Frog, what they really needed was eachother and once they had that everything else would come for them and it did. All we really need is Heavenly Father and to use what we have to bless and help others and make better ourselves.
          When my dad told me this story I was going through a really hard time and all I could think about was the future and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do and accomplish. With all this in mind the side effect of worry came along and i started to think was that I couldn't do it because I was me, because I wasn't this way or that way and I didn't have this or that but with time I realized that I had everything I needed, determination, courage, hope, it was all already inside me, I have a great life. I have a family who loves me, I have a home, an education, enough to eat, I have everything. I don't need to wait for the future to have a great life I can have a great life now, by helping and loving my family, helping others, working hard, choosing to be happy, and digging inside myself. Once I started digging inside myself I really was surprised to discover the things I didn't even know I had or was capable of, things that would have helped me so much and saved me pain and anxiety. What acres of diamonds do you have tucked away in your soul? What riches have you been denying yourself? What temptations could you easily combat and defeat with what you find? The possibilities are endless and they are just waiting for us to realize it. You are everything you want to be. If you are determined and hardworking you are successful. If you are kind and empathetic you are a helping hand to many. You are everything you want to be. These past two weeks I have been deciding to be happy despite hard things that come my way, I want to be happy so I decide to be happy and I am. No one is saying it is easy, I didn't say it is easy but it is worth it, it is worth it to take a look inside yourself and try. It is more than worth it, it is necessary for your happiness. Remeber the Lion King, the monkey is telling simba that his father is alive, simba finds out that his father is alive in him! If Heavenly Father is in us, if we have his spirit and  his life that means, "I (We) can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (us)." If God can do anything and we have power through him, we too can literally do anything, through faith and using that light that is in ourselves. Have we like Simba forgotten him? Forgotten that we are his children and that through him anything and everything is possible? We can have everything through him. By realizing he is with us and in our souls, we realize our true potential and what really is inside of us. I hope that all of us find the courage and desire to realize that and take the time to dig a little deeper and find the acres of diamonds within ourselves. We can always come back to God, we can always improve and become more than we ever imagined. I love you all as my brothers and sisters and wish the best for you in your expeditions. Happy conference weekend! Enjoy!