Thursday, November 14, 2013

Being a Small and Simple Means

I want to talk about the title of my blog. I touched on this last week. I mentioned that I am a small and simple means by which the Lord can bring about great things.

Satan will try to tell me that I am foolish for trying. He tries to tell us that our efforts will not make a difference and that sin is easier and more powerful than righteousness. The Adversary would have us give up before we even begin to try.

It is true that there is much for us to overcome- our own sins at the top of the list.  But we have eternity to progress if we are moving in the right direction-and we have already know which side will win.

So yes- we are weak and we are simple, but we have the Lord's promise because of the Atonement.

"My grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27).

And of course we know that Christ brings about great things by small and simple means.

I think of Abinadi. He was sent by the Lord to preach repentance to a city ruled by the wicked King Noah and his wicked priests. King Noah had an army, weapons, and wealth. His power was obvious and ostentatious. Abinadi was rejected and delivered to the king. He was bound and tried on empty accusations. It seemed that Noah had all the power and Abinadi was doomed. But Abinadi was a prophet of God. He had authority from God to deliver His message and they had no power over him until that message was given. They did kill him, but he was prepared to face death.

Abinadi probably died without learning that his words were not lost on all of them. Alma repented and went on to become a prophet, and many of his descendants were prophets. Many people were taught and baptized by Alma and his descendants and the people that they taught. Abinadi's example is influential even today through the scriptures- while King Noah's power was quashed soon after Abinadi's death.

Abinadi was simply obedient. He was bold and brave and willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord. He was not great by any worldly estimation. He was only human- and therefore weak. But because he was faithful in the most trying of circumstances many people were converted to the service of the Lord.

Few of us have the courage and faith of Abinadi- but all of us can learn by his example that the Lord can make of us far more than we can make of ourselves and far more than anyone can see in us. Christ can bring about great good from our weak attempts to serve Him.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I want to preface this post with the acknowledgement that, as a woman, I do not have a priesthood duty to serve a mission. That is okay. Women have many contributions to make to society and to the building up of the Kingdom of God. I expect my greatest missionary work to be done in my own home with my own family. I recognize that being a worthy wife and mother is far more important and outweighs any teaching I do during my 18 month mission. My "Why?" question for all of the why-askers out there is a simple one:

I find that many of my friends and family members do not understand my desire to serve a full time mission.

People wonder because of the things that I've chosen to give up. 

Time at school

Money (Though my family is helping a lot)

18 months of extremely limited contact with my friends and family

Opportunities for work and relationships

Comfort and convenience while adjusting to the mission lifestyle (up at 6:30 AM every day- in bed by 10:30, going everywhere with a companion, restrictions on music, etc).

Then There is always the question "Why are you bugging uninterested people about religion- what right you to impose your religious beliefs on them unsolicited?"

What you have to see if you want to understand my motives is that I don't see it that way at all. 

I don't care much about the sacrifices. I am not positive what I am going to do without my music for 18 months, but I'm sure I'll survive.

But I love the questions. When people ask them sincerely and respectfully they give me an opportunity to say exactly why I am giving this time to the Lord.

There are multiple answers that I've been known to give in response to this question.

1. Because the Caroline in this picture already knew that she wanted to serve a mission. And not much has changed.

I'm also still this adorable.

2. Because I love teaching and I want to help people come unto Christ. (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-16). I honestly believe that the people I am teaching will be more happy if they choose to apply the principles that the Spirit teaches through my words.

But the most important reason is this: 

3. Because Christ gave His life for me, and for all of us, and it is the least I can do to help His sacrifice reach as many people as I can find.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19 has to do with this. Christ suffered for all of our sins, whether we repent or not. Why? Because He wanted to give us the opportunity to be saved. He loves us that much. When we love Him, and we are grateful for His sacrifice we want to help Him accomplish the mission that prompted Him to make that sacrifice. He seeks His children through us. And He never imposes on our free will. He can only save us if we choose to let Him. We show Him that we want His help by repenting of our sins and making sacred covenants with Him. 

That is my purpose as a missionary. It is "to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift f the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." (Preach My Gospel Handbook. Emphasis added)

 Everyday Mormon Women made a recent Blog Post that concerns Christ as the author of our faith. I wanted to share it here, because it is important to remember as missionaries that Christ is the founder of our faith. I can bring the message, but without His spirit, the message is worthless, and without His atonement the application of the message is impossible. Christ is the beginning and the end. He is the motive. All I can do is try to serve Him. 

I can do but little in the great work that must roll forth. I am but a small part in this. But remember that by small and simple means great things are brought to pass (Alma 37:6).

So in answer to the questions- Christ. He is always the answer.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Called To Serve

"Dear Sister Faulkner

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Washington Kennewick 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, December 4, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English Language...

You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel. You will be an official representative of the Church... As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end..."

This is part of my mission call. Most of it, actually. It came on Saturday, October 5, 2013. It was signed by the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. It was assigned to me by one of the Apostles. A huge responsibility in a big, white envelope.

Am I nervous? Not intensely. As Shakespeare might say "No more than reason" (Much Ado About Nothing.) I know that it will be difficult, but I also know that the Lord does not give commandments to His children without preparing a way for them to accomplish them (1 Nephi 3:7).

I am nervous about leaving my family and friends behind. Not that my presence here in Arizona or in Provo where I live most of the time really ensured anyone's safety or good behavior before; it never did. I just feel a little bit helpless so detached from struggling friends and family members.

I've been planning on serving a mission since I learned what missions were. It was always part of my plan. Luckily, I've got a really supportive family that told me I could do anything and taught me to go to the scriptures for answers (My mother played a large role in that). I've also never been shy, as my family can attest. Talking to strangers has always been one of my favorite pastimes (I get that from my Dad), to the chagrin of my mother who tried hard to teach me that it wasn't always safe to do so.

So here I am, finally old enough to serve-

"But wait, Caroline, The mission age changed a year ago. Sisters are going at 19 now. You're 21!"

Very astute observation, my friend. I was at school when the age change happened. I had to wait to get out of a contract with the apartment complex in which I was living. Moving on.

So here I am, finally old enough to serve with only one month to go before I can leave. My sister says "Caroline, I'll run a blog for you and post your letters while you're gone." I'm thinking...

Most brilliant idea I've ever heard. Remember what I said about having a supportive family? Also- this is my first meme.

Preparing to serve a mission is exhilarating. I'm learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ, studying more than I did before, and making new covenants in the temple, which I've been eager to do for a while. All of the learning is an incredible opportunity. I've been teaching my mom for practice, and she might be my most difficult investigator. She gives me a run for my money.

This is my temple, the Mesa temple. The Gilbert, Arizona Temple will open while I am gone.

And then every once in a while, I remember that I am supposed to be working on the 18 minute talk that I am giving in church on Sunday the 24th, or the ten minute talk I am giving to another ward on the 17th.  The Stake President, President Thomas really wants me to learn to talk to people before I leave- which is no big deal. It's writing the talks and working 40 hours a week on top of the extra studying that worries me.

Doctrine and Covenants section 4 offers some great advice:

"1 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;"

I'll let you know how that goes.