3 Nephi 5:13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Motra Olsen Mission Farewell

The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness: Natalie's Farewell Talk

Përshëndetje vëllezër dhe motra! Or hello brothers and sisters!I don’t know if I said that right but I’ll find out in 18 months. My name is Natalie Olsen, soon to be Motra Olsen and I have been called to serve in the Adriatic South Mission. For those of you that have no idea of where this is, the Adriatic South Mission consists of the countries of Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia located north of Greece by the Adriatic Sea in Europe. I have been called to serve and teach the gospel in the Albanian language and I report on October 12th. If you can’t tell by the expression on my face, I am pretty excited. 
As I have been preparing to serve and learning more about my mission and the people in my mission, I have realized the importance of learning about our Savior, Jesus Christ. Not only learning about His love, the miracles He performed, and the blessings he bestowed through the teachings of His gospel, but understanding His true purpose on this earth: His infinite sacrifice, the Atonement. 
Mosiah 4:6-7 "I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life...I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind."
The Atonement is the heart of the gospel.  It is only through the Atonement that we can be saved; that we can be forgiven; that we can return to our Father in heaven; and that we can become like Him. I have been asked to speak on the “Healing Ointment of Forgiveness”. I wanted to emphasize three ways that we can be healed through forgiveness because of the Atonement. First, how we can be forgiven, how we forgive, and how we are healed through forgiveness.
In the Book of Mormon in Alma 36, Alma the younger testifies to his son, Helaman of the power of forgiveness. Alma expresses how he seeked to destroy the church of God with the sons of Mosiah. An angel appeared unto them to stop them. Alma experienced a period of reflection on his past iniquities and sins. He was pained and ashamed to even imagine coming into the presence of God. He then remembered his father prophesying of the coming of Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of the world! He cried unto the Lord to forgive his sins sincerely and then declared, 
20 "And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 "Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."
Because Alma felt such guilt and pain reflecting on his past decisions, imagine how much more joy he felt to have been able to be forgiven and to be healed from his sins! How can we be forgiven even in our worst sins, even when giving into temptation, even when we think we are too fallen to return to the light of Christ? How can we experience having our souls filled with joy as exceeding as our pain? I testify to you that you CAN be forgiven of ALL THINGS! We can taste of this joy! As Elder Holland has said, “No one is ever beyond the reach of our Savior’s atonement.” Our Savior, Jesus Christ suffered for every individual sin, pain, affliction, sorrow, loneliness, and iniquity so that we can be forgiven. So that he can succor us in our afflictions. D&C 18:11 “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.” No matter how serious, how tormenting, how painful the sin, we can be forgiven. I have been studying the Infinite Atonement by Elder Tad R. Callister. In this beautiful book detailing and testifying of the Atonement he states, “This was a personalized, not a mass atonement. Somehow, it may be that the sins of every soul were individually (as well as cumulatively) accounted for, suffered for, and redeemed for, all with a love unknown to man.” Our Savior and Redeemer suffered for us so that we can be forgiven. He loves us individually and infinitely so that we can each be forgiven and return to the embrace of our loving Father in Heaven. We can receive this forgiveness through true repentance.
True repentance is not only asking for forgiveness, experiencing restitution, and expressing confession, but experiencing a change of heart. As Alma the Younger experienced a change in his heart through his conversion and his repentance, he immediately served and preached the words of Christ. As he was preaching to the people of Zarahemla, he recounted the life of his father, Alma and his conversion. Alma taught that his father saw a mighty change in the hearts of the people that he taught. They humbled themselves, repented, were faithful, and were saved. Alma the younger then asked the people of Zarahemla, “Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” How can we experience this mighty change in our hearts? This mighty change that brings true repentance involves being faithful to God and no longer having a desire to return to our previous sins or to give into temptations. This change of heart helps us to forgive. This brings me to my next point on how to be healed through forgiveness, we need to forgive others.
In Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In Elder Kevin R. Duncan’s talk on “The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness”, he says, “God sees people not as they currently are, but also as they may become...we can gain greater understanding and peace when we see with a broader perspective.” As we gain a broader perspective and see others as children of God, we can forgive. If we allow our hearts to change and to love others as God loves them, we can forgive. As we forgive others, we can be forgiven.
I wanted to share a sweet story about my little sister Carley. When she was younger, she liked to get into my things. She borrowed my sunglasses one day and I came home to find a broken pair of sunglasses on my bedroom floor with 5 notes that say “sorry” all over them along with her entire life savings piled on the floor. Another time, I come to find next to my bed, an empty chocolate wrapper with a note next to it saying, “Sorry I ate your chocolate but I couldn’t help myself. Love, Carley” I was touched at how eager and willing a little girl could be to apologize and be willing to give up her entire life savings to be forgiven. As we pray to our Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness, we do not have to give up our life savings. We all make mistakes and because of that, our Savior atoned for our sins. We can repent and decide to change, to serve, and to no longer return to our previous sin. We can experience this change of heart. While we will make mistakes, we will always be forgiven. I know that there is peace as we forgive and as we reach out and ask for forgiveness when we have wronged others, regardless if we are forgiven in return.
Finally, I wanted to talk on how we can be healed through forgiveness. Elder Duncan also states, “Forgiveness is the very reason God sent His Son, so let us rejoice in His offering to heal us all. The Savior’s Atonement is not just for those who need to repent; it is also for those who need to forgive.” I believe that we need to have faith that we are forgiven. We need to forgive ourselves. Sometimes we have repented and changed our hearts and we are forgiven. While our Heavenly Father has forgiven us, have we forgiven ourselves? Do we question that our sins are too heavy to be forgiven? We need to trust in God that the Atonement of Jesus Christ truly cleanses us. We need to trust that we are forgiven. We can feel the purest joy when we are forgiven by our Heavenly Father, and by ourselves. In 3 Nephi 9:13 it says, “...will ye now return unto me, repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” It is only through Christ that we can be healed and that we can feel the peace of Christ. Christ’s Atonement heals.  
I want to share with you my experience with the peace of Christ. As I have been preparing to serve my mission, I have been faced with doubts and difficulties as Satan does not want me to go out and serve or to share the light of Christ with others. I have been battling and struggling to eliminate such doubts and such thoughts. As I have been experiencing these difficulties, I know that I am not facing them alone. The only time that I feel true peace is when I turn to Christ. I think of the scripture John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” I then realized that the Atonement heals. The healing ointment is Christ! It not only heals our sins through repentance, but our wounds that we face when we struggle and our weaknesses that strive to strengthen. Be of good cheer! Christ has overcome the world through suffering for our sins and suffering for every struggle we will EVER face.
 Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us individually. Christ suffered for each of us individually so that we can partake of this healing power of the Atonement. We can apply this ointment by turning to Christ and becoming like Him. We can be forgiven, forgive others, and forgive ourselves. I was touched by the song, “For Me Alone”  saying, 

 But if I alone had stumbled; if I alone had strayed

If I alone had wandered from the straight and narrow way

If I alone bore guilt for which my all could never atone

He would have come for me

For me alone

 I testify unto you that the Atonement heals. Christ atoned for all of our sins. Not just the minor sins, but every sin. Our wounds became his wounds. He suffered for each of us so that we can repent, be cleansed, be healed, and be worthy to return back to our Father in Heaven. If you alone had stumbled or strayed, I testify that Christ would come for you alone.
 Alma 29:9 “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”
I cannot wait to serve for 18 months and share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Savior and I want to share that infinite joy with the people in the Adriatic South. I know that it is through the Atonement we can have everlasting life. I know that it is through the Atonement that we can be cleansed and worthy to return to our home to our Father in Heaven. I know that we have a living prophet that loves us and guides us in these latter days. I know that the Book of Mormon is TRUE as it testifies of Christ and his infinite Atonement. I know that families are forever and I am so thankful for all of my family and friends who have loved me and supported me in all that I do. And I hope to be an instrument in the hands of God and this is my joy. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Called to Serve in the Adriatic South!

Dear Sister Olsen,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Adriatic South Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Albanian language.

Adriatic South Mission
 I cannot put into words my excitement to serve the people in the Adriatic South! As a missionary, I will be teaching others about Jesus Christ and inviting them to come unto Christ and following Christ's example through baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In addition to teaching, I will be serving and sharing my joy and the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He loves each and every one of us and I have the opportunity to share that with others for 18 months! I want to share with you how much knowing my Savior and growing up in His church has blessed my life. Because of the Savior, I am never alone! Because of my Savior, I have a smile on my face every day! Because of our Savior, we can experience pure joy! And because of our Savior, we can return home to our Father in Heaven and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. I want to share with you that the things I teach from the Book of Mormon, (or Libri I Mormonit in Albania), testify of Jesus Christ. The teachings from this book and from the Bible are teachings from Christ's church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or the Mormon Church) is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I cannot wait to be a missionary and to be called Motra Olsen for 18 months! I love you all with all of my heart and thank you for everything you have done for me in my life!

If you want to read about all of my experiences: the strange food I eat, the cultural things I experience, and my love for the Albanian people, just read this blog! If you want to email me, you can contact me through my email natalie.olsen@myldsmail.net.

The Salt Lake LDS Temple.