Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Pride Cycle

Tonight I returned to Alma to continue reading about Captain Moroni and Amalickiah. In Chapter 50 Moroni continued to fortify the land, even after they had defeated Amalickiah's army. They began to grow prosperous and they had peace in the land for several years, because they had stayed righteous. Verse 23 even says that "there never was a happier time among the people". Well, peace could only last so long... In Chapter 52+53 some of the people of Nephi were growing tired of the chief judge Pahoran. They (kingmen) wanted some laws changed and Pahoran refused, so they desired that they should go back to having kings (most of these people were of higher class, so if they were to return to kings it would likely be one of them). Of course the rest of the Nephites (freemen) still wanted free government, so there was a little bit of contention in the land because of the political divide (kinda sounds like today, huh? ;) ).
Remember our buddy Amalickiah? Well, he is still pretty mad about losing to the Nephites, so when he sees contention among the Nephties it is the perfect time to strike again. He sends his armies and they end up taking most of the lands around the seashore from the Nephites. Captain Moroni, wanting to take back the land, commands the kingmen to pull down their pride and to join the army so they can reclaim their land. The kingmen do end up letting go of their stubbornnness and after an amazing plan from Moroni they reclaim the land (if you want more details on how they reclaimed the land, you will have to read it, it is too epic for me to write in one blog post haha). In that process Amalickiah is slain.

This story is a perfect example of the pride cycle.

Let's start at the top of the picture. In Chapter 50 the Nephites were being blessed, they happier than they had ever been and life was good. Then pride and sin take over when the political dispute began and the people are divided. They are attacked and Moroni must chasten the kingmen and tell them to release their pride. The Nephites then humble themselves, repent, and then they reclaim the land.

In the Book of Mormon you see this cycle time and time again. There are many stories similar to the one I just shared. The pride cycle is not only present in 66 BC during the time of Moroni, but is also present in our day. Here is an example: When we obey the law we are blessed with freedom. When we begin to think that we are better than the law, or too cool for it, we lose that freedom and have to pay the consequences. Once we have learned our lesson we have freedom again.
Yes, we all face this cycle in our lives, on large and small scales, but that doesn't mean we have to be victims to it. The trick is that once we are humble and we are doing what is right and being blessed, STAY THERE! Don't fall back into pride and sin. It is WAY easier said than done, but if we are asking Heavenly Father for help and we are trying our best to live how He would have us live, then I promise that you will find staying on the top of the cycle will become easier and more natural. If you do fall into the cycle, don't fret, there is still hope! You can learn from your mistakes, repent and you well come back out on top! :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Be Gentle

I went to the temple today. I made it a goal to go every week and I especially needed it today because some things have been on my mind. While I was sitting in the celestial room I was praying and praying, asking for some peace and some direction. I always receive my answers through the scriptures so I picked up the bible and flipped it open randomly and it took me to the book of Job. It was recounting how all Job's friend's were scorning him because he still believed that God was good, even after all that he went through and Job's reaction. He weeps and testifies of all his afflictions, yet he still turns to God an testifies that He lives. For some reason my thoughts turned towards his friends and I was thinking about how Job may have had an easier time coping with everything if he had had better friends. Of course the point of Job's story was that he was to feel completely alone, that was his test, but still, it made me think and ponder if there was anyone in my life who was tearing me down, if there was any negativity that I should remove from my life, and I came up with someone.... Me. I am my own worst enemy. I am always constantly trying to achieve perfection in everything I do, so I am often disappointed. When I do the slightest thing wrong, I feel extremely guilty. I thought to myself "If the person in my head was a real person, would I want them to be my friend?" and the answer was no. Yes, I like that I have a little person in my head that is always pushing me to be better, but I don't like how when something goes wrong I often put the blame on myself or I beat myself up for it instead of just letting it go. I have a friend, the humblest person I know, who is this way as well and I hate it that he can't see what an amazing person he is because he feels bad for the one silly little thing that he did wrong, that really isn't a big deal. I just thought it was important to share that we need to be gentle with ourselves. We treat our friends gently, why can't we show ourselves the same kind of love? I think that everyone deserves to give themselves a little pep talk every day. It's ok to look in the mirror and say I AM AWESOME, you know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE! When you are feeling down, take a deep breathe. You aren't perfect. And that's ok. You move on and keep trying. Don't stress about the little things. If we do our best Christ will make up the difference. In fact, he already has. :) Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured. Stop worrying so much and LIVE! God wants us to be happy, he doesn't want us pushing ourselves down, so start pulling yourself up! Smile. Doubt the bad, believe the good. You are the child of a King! :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Creating Diamonds

Tonight I continued to read in Alma. In chapter 49, the Lamanites attempt to invade the Nephites, but they are well prepared so they are unable to do so. Even though the Nephites maintained their land and none of their men were killed something stood out to me. In verse 24 it reads "There were about fifty who were wounded, who had been exposed to the arrows of the Lamanites through the pass, but they were shielded by their shields, and their breastplates, and their head-plates, insomuch that their wounds were upon their legs, many of which were very severe". The Nephites were prepared, they were lead by God, they had every protection they had available to them, yet many were wounded and many were wounded severely. Some might see this and think, "Well, God must not have really loved them if He didn't completely protect them. They did everything they could and were still hurt! Why would he allow bad things to happen to them?" This story reminded me of this cartoon I once saw.



Many of us, including myself, fail to see all that God has blessed us with. With the story in Alma he saved many of their lands and spared all the people of the Nephites. Yes, some people were hurt, but so much worse could have happened. Luckily, the Nephites did count their blessings and they did "thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies". (Alma 49:28)
This was also a great reminder to me that just because we are on the Lord's side it doesn't mean that we won't still face some challenges, that we won't face any hurt. If God were to completely shield all the bad from us, could we ever appreciate the good? Would we ever turn to Him? He loves us so much that he allows us to feel the occasional pain so we can learn from it and become better.

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility [...] and if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away". (2 Nephi 2:11,13)

Yes, bad things WILL happen, even to good people. However, just like the Nephites we will ALWAYS be delivered IF we are trying our best and living how God would want us to live. God will not let us fail, He wants us to return home. It is His mission to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man and it is our mission to follow His commandments so we may return. (see Moses 1:39 and D+C 11:20) When times get rough, just remember that diamonds are only created after heat and pressure is applied. God wants you to be a diamond, He will help you make it through. He has done it before and He won't hesitate to do it again. :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DON'T LEAVE HIGH GROUND!

Tonight's scripture study was in Alma 47 and 48. In chapter 47 Amalickiah, a traitor to the Nephites who gained power among the Lamanites, is given command by the king of the Lamanites to convince the people to gather arms to attack the Nephites. In the previous chapter the Nephites had won a battle because of their righteousness, so part of the Lamanites who didn't want to fight fled and formed their own army on a mountain. The other part who was still loyal to the king had formed the army that Amalickiah was now in control of. Amalickiah, desiring to be king, uses this to his advantage. He takes his army to a valley near the mountain. In the night, he sends a messenger onto the mountain to deliver a message to Lehonti, the new leader, telling him that he would like him to come off the mountain to speak with him. Lehonti refuses. Again, Amalickiah sends word that he would like to speak with him at the foot of the mountain. Lehonti again refuses. Amalickiah sends word yet again, telling him he may bring guards with him to the foot of the mount so they may talk. Lehonti caves and comes down. Amalickiah tells Lehonti to surround his army in the night and promises that he will give up his people if he would let him become second leader. Lehonti agrees, the army is surrounded, and they are one army again. As is custom among the Lamanites, when the chief leader is killed the second leader becomes chief, so Amalickiah has one of his servants poison Lehonti and BOOM, he's leader and now has all the Lamanites back together. He takes the army back to the king, the king comes to great him and his guards, they all bow to the king and when the king motions them to arise BOOM Amalickiah's servant kills him. The kings servant's flee and Amalickiah makes up a story about how the king's servants killed the king. The armies grow angry and pursue the king's servants, Amalickiah tells the king's wife the story and gains favor with her, they wed, and BOOM he's king. Super evil guy, right?

A great lesson to learn from this story is to NEVER LEAVE HIGH GROUND! Lehonti was in good standing with his army on the high mountain, but because Amalickiah persuaded him to come down from his safe spot, he was killed. Let's apply this to our lives. We have our own mountains, our standards and values. The world we live in is constantly trying to get us to move down our mountains. We must stand firm for what we believe! If we leave our high ground we are putting ourselves in danger.

In the next chapter of Alma, we continue to hear how Amalickiah is preparing his strongest to fight the Nephites and finding their weak places. However, Moroni, captain of the Nephites, is also preparing his strongest and fortifying their weak places. We are facing the same battle they did! We must be preparing ourselves spiritually so when bad things come our way we are ready to face them. We must be working on our weaknesses to make them strengths and we must be building a firm foundation for our beliefs.

Final note from chapter 48.... MORONI IS AWESOME! This chapter gives a deeper description of the kind of man Moroni was:

11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
 12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
 13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
 14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
 15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
 16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
 17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

WOW! I hope we can all strive to be like this man! How cool would it be to not be able to be persuaded by Satan? Just like this chapter says, if we are faithful in obeying God's commands we will prosper and we will be blessed and protected. Keep the high ground like Moroni! Our very lives depend on it! Remember, Lehonti had the choice whether to stay on the mountain or come down.... Don't be persuaded by something that might seem neat temporally when you could have something far greater for eternity. Choose to be good, choose to be happy! :)


Wait... 18 months!?!

¡Hola!

My name is Marissa Ibarra! On Halloween of 2013 I received a special letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In that letter I received a call to missionary labors in the Mexico Puebla North Mission. On March 19th, I will be catching a flight to Salt Lake City and then I will be driving down to Provo to enter the Missionary Training Center (MTC) where I will stay for 6 weeks and then I will fly down to Mexico where I will be able to teach the people about Jesus Christ for 18 months (I know, I'm totally crazy, you wouldn't believe all the strange looks and remarks I have gotten, but I really love God haha)!

For those of you who are curious, the MTC is a place where missionaries go for a certain amount of time (depends on your call) to be taught how to be a missionary. You go to scripture classes, practice teaching, keep your body in good physical shape, and learn the language you will be speaking (if going foreign speaking).

I am so very excited to be able to keep you up to date with all my adventures during the next year and a half! As part of being a missionary, I will not be allowed to communicate with you like I normally would (no calls, texts, facebook, snapchat, etc). This is a great rule created for missionaries so we don't get distracted from the work we have been sent out to do. Good news though! While on the mission I will have one day a week, Preparation Day (P-Day), where I am allowed to email and write letters to you. I am very excited to share all that I will be up to, but I would really love to hear what is going on in your lives too! My mother will be taking care of my blog, where she will post my weekly email so you can see what the life of a Mormon missionary is like! If you would like to get in touch with me personally my email will be
marissa.ibarra@myldsmail.net

Also, if you are super cool, you can write me a letter and I will totally write you back!
If you would like to write to me while I am at the MTC (March 19th- April 26th) I will have that address out on here when they give me the specific mailing address a week before I depart.
If you would like to write to me while I am in Mexico you will write to this address:

Sister Marissa Kay Ibarra
Mexico Puebla North Mission
Calle 25 Sur N° 907
Col. La Paz
72160, Puebla
Mexico

I wasn't planning on starting this blog until I actually left for my service, but recently I have felt very strongly that I should be sharing what I am learning and studying in the 52 days I have left until I leave. I feel that by sharing my testimony and sharing what I am learning in my preparations that not only will I be practicing being a missionary now, but it will help me to be accountable to something so I don't slow my preparations down. I feel that since I have left Idaho my studies have dwindled a bit, so I believe this will help me press forward and not slack off so much haha.

I know that this church is true with all my heart and that Jesus is the Christ. I wouldn't be leaving my home and education if I didn't believe that 100%. To most, this mission may sound like a hard sacrifice, but to me it was the easiest, most natural decision I have ever made in my life. God has a plan for each of His children and I know, through personal revelation, that this is mine. I know that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. He will help me as long as I have faith and do what He has asked, and He has asked me feed his sheep.

I am excited to be able to teach you for these next 52 days and I can't wait to share the next 18 months of my life with you as well! :)