Hello again! I swear, time has changed. Weeks are now only 3 days long. Or at least that what it feels like. I woke up this morning and said myself "holy cow! We're already to the 17th of November!!!! The month's already over!" Seriously. I haven't even seen the past three months go by.
This past week we received the Doctrine and Covenants seminary DVD from the branch. I'm not exactly sure why, but we did. So we had a bit of free time and decided to watch it. I remember most of the videos from when I was a kid, and there was one particularly that stuck out to me this past week: the video about Zion's Camp.
Zion's camp was organized in response to early members of the Church in Missouri who were receiving much persecution. The Lord instructed Joseph Smith to organize this camp to go to the aid of these saints in Missouri. The camp was organized and joyfully began their march from Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri.
Through the trials of heat, exhaustion, low food rations, and no drinkable water, many testimonies were tested. With some occasional complaints, they pressed forward, accompanied by many miracles. The Lord Himself stretched forth His hand to protect His camp. When confronted by enemies much stronger and more numerous than them, the Lord sent a strong storm their way to prevent the opposition from crossing the river. The camp rejoiced and worshipped their God that night. Through the trials of disease, such as Cholera, even death, the camp pressed forward with the firm conviction that "the God of Israel direct[ed] this camp."
Before reaching their destination, Joseph Smith received the revelation that they must return back to Ohio. Many complained that they had come to fight, not to flee, but the prophet testified with mighty power that God was leading them and watching over the distressed saints.
At the end of this brief video, the narrator explains that many thought that this camp was a simple failure. They had gone to fight and came back without firing a single shot against an enemy. 14 lives had been lost to disease. Much sacrifice had been offered for seemingly nothing. But there was something much more important than war. These men learned to sacrifice and be patient in the Lord's Will. They learned to work hard and not
complain, even if they do not seem the immediate benefits or even the outcome. Many lessons were learned, and boys truly became men in God.
At the end of the video, the narrator explained that 9 of the 12 apostles called at the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were members of Zion's Camp, and learned many important lessons of sacrifice and patience that would carry them through their years as apostles.
After watching this, I was pondering on this camp, and I was wishing within myself that I could have been there. I wish I could have see the display of mighty faith and miracles. I wish I could have gone through the transformation that all of these men underwent through the process of this camp.
As I sat pondering, the thought came to me that I am actually a part of this camp at the present time. This mission that I am accomplishing is a modern-day Zion's Camp. The trials and suffering that I am currently enduring are molding me into the person that the
Lord wants me to be. I have the same trials of my faith everyday.
At one point of the video, Joseph Smith looks up at the sun, as if asking why it was so hot. Would a cloud come to shade it a bit? Maybe a bit of wind to make it cooler? There was much that was summed up in that simple look at the sun, and I do that almost daily. I
understand a bit of what they suffered in that aspect.
This has been a great lesson for me as I have learned to endure cheerfully the trials that are placed along my path. We need these trials. They will mold us into the person that our God needs us to be for His work. Just as the men of Zion's Camp, we can undertake these trials with patience and trust in God. If we do, the God of Israel truly will be "on [our] right hand and on [our] left." He will accompany us and stretch forth His Almighty Hand to protect us and help us to stand.
I testify of God's love for us. He truly does love us perfectly. No matter what we've done or how far we've strayed, His Hand awaits, outstretched, to take our own weak hands and lift us up. He has never and will never forsake us. We are His children.
I invite all of us to undertake our challenges and trials patiently and cheerfully. May we all, when those trials come, look heavenward and say, "I know you're there Heavenly Father. I know what I need to do; I need to be patient." I promise that the Spirit of God will enter into our lives and guide us and help us to be even more patient and long suffering. We will truly become sons and daughters of God: one with Him.
I love you all so much. Have an awesome and patient week!