Not Just for Me

I have always been eager to have my spiritual cup filled and my personal testimony refreshed. That’s why I have always looked forward to doing baptisms for the dead. Sitting inside the house of the Lord brings peace into my life.

One evening as I sat in the baptistry in the temple, my scriptures in my lap, I felt an impression to turn to D&C 128, a letter from Joseph Smith to the Saints concerning baptism for the dead. Verse 15 struck me particularly. It talks about those beyond the veil: “They without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”

As I pondered these words, I suddenly realized that going to the temple wasn’t just for me. Going to the temple is an opportunity to serve those who are no longer living. I came to understand that in attending the temple, I am serving my fellowmen, and in doing so, I am serving the Lord (see Mosiah 2:17).

As I listened to the names being read for baptisms, I thought of the people receiving the gospel beyond the veil, of their smiling faces, and of their happy families. It filled me with incredible joy and gratitude.

Now going to the temple is no longer about what I can get from it; it’s about service. It is about joining families together in the gospel for all eternity. It is doing something for someone that they can’t do for themselves. I am so grateful for the temple, and I strive to always be worthy to serve there.

[illustration] Illustration by Dilleen Marsh

The Best Place to Be

When I was 17, I was doubting that I would go on a mission. I really had no intention of going because I was focused on other things, like dating, movies, and parties.

As I saw friends who remained true to the gospel and had their minds focused on serving a mission, I had a distinct feeling to get on my knees and ask the Lord for guidance. I asked in sincerity if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church. I received a confirmation by the gift of the Holy Ghost.

From that day on, I began preparing myself to go on a mission. It was very hard work, but it was worth it. I was able to follow my friends into the mission field, knowing that I was doing what was right.

Now I am on my mission, finding people so they can have the same blessings I have. I know that I couldn’t be in a better place than I am now.

[photo] Photograph by Emily Leishman

My Gratitude Journal

Grateful people are happy people. I’ve learned this lesson through a little experiment I started a few years ago. I like writing in a journal, but it’s intimidating to try to write every day because I’m afraid I’ll get behind and then it will take me forever to catch up.

Instead, I bought a small notebook. Every night after I read my scriptures, I take just a few minutes to write about one thing I feel grateful for that day. Because the pages are small, there’s no pressure to write a lot, but I have to be creative to think of something new to be grateful for every day.

Sometimes I feel grateful for an answer to prayer that day, or for an example in the scriptures. Other times it’s more simple, like being grateful for the smell of lilacs, or my little sister who always gets my jokes, or a favorite food.

By focusing on things I’m grateful for, it makes me realize how blessed I am. It also makes my problems seem like not such a big deal. Plus, my gratitude journals are something my children and grandchildren can read someday, and they will learn a lot about me from those short, simple entries. I’m grateful for that, and being grateful makes me happy.

Raspberries for Sister Hair

My family has a big raspberry bush in our backyard that always produces more berries than we can eat, so every year my dad and I would take a bowl of raspberries to a widow in our ward, Sister Hair.

I would always complain when my dad made me go with him because I was afraid Sister Hair would kiss me on the cheek, as she usually did. In fact, one time I took my nephew along so she would kiss him instead.

This went on every year until Sister Hair went to live in a rest home. Some time later, the young women in my ward went to visit her for an activity. We introduced ourselves when we walked in, but she didn’t remember any of the young women except me. She repeated my last name and said, “That’s right, she used to bring me raspberries every year.” She told us how much she had enjoyed the company and the raspberries.

As part of our visit, we sang some hymns for her. One hymn struck me in particular. As we sang, “Because I have been given much, I too must give,” (Hymns, no. 219), I felt ashamed that I hadn’t been more willing to share my friendship along with the raspberries. Sister Hair passed away shortly after our visit, but I will never forget the lesson I learned from her: that we should show gratitude for what we have by sharing it with others.

[illustration] Illustration by Dilleen Marsh