DATED:   February 2, 2015

This was a pretty good week. I’ll tell you about some of the neat things. Last week we were tracting and we found a guy that told us to come back the next week. He and his family were sick. So we went back yesterday and started talking to him. We asked him about his family and his career. He owns a towing company and he has 8 kids. That is not a typo. 8 kids! He has very good morals. He studies the bible and lives it as best as he can. He doesn't claim any denomination. He kept saying that he knows that there is truth missing and he is searching for it. We were pretty excited. So we taught him the Restoration and taught him about the Book of Mormon. It was a great lesson, but I am concerned that he is focusing on the wrong things in his study of the bible, and that may cause him to have doubts and not act. But we are hoping for the best. After we had our lesson, he fed us dinner and everything. He is a really neat guy and has a really great family. They are totally dry Mormons.

We have been using family history to find this week. It has been neat because people are so much more receptive to us. Usually when we tract, and try to talk about the Gospel, people are pretty quick to shut us down and close the door, but when we have been using family history, they usually talk to us longer. And by the end of the conversation, they are saying how much they admire us for what we are doing and how much they respect us and telling us to be safe and stay warm and stuff like that. They are so much more kind. One lady we talked to said "do you guys get any pay for this?" and we told her we did not. Then we jumped into talking about how important families are and how family history can strengthen her family in this crazy world. She started to choke up and said "thank you so much for coming by my home." I have been using my "My Family Booklet" to show people and tell them a little about stories and things I have found from my family history. Thank you to everyone back home who has contributed to doing the work. It has blessed me and it is blessing the people I am showing it to.

Uncle Bruce and Aunt Dennie came down and we had lunch. It was a lot of fun to see them. I am so grateful to have such great family and friends. My gratitude for all of you continues to grow. I don't know where I would be without such a firm and great support. Thank you.

This week I studied 1 Nephi 3-4. I will share some of the things I have learned. So Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. Here is an excerpt from The Book of Mormon Student Manuel "The distance from Jerusalem to the Red Sea is approximately 180 miles through hot, barren country infested anciently by many marauders. Lehi and his family “traveled three days” beyond this point (see 1 Nephi 2:5–6). This meant at least a 12- to 14-day trip one way from Jerusalem to their temporary home in the valley of Lemuel." They traveled at least 12 days away from Jerusalem. Lehi then received a commandment that all the brothers, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, were to go back to Jerusalem and get the Brass Plates from Laban. Laman and Lemuel murmured, but Nephi did not. How is that an example of faith. They made the trip and Laman was chosen to go in and try to get the plates. Laban ended up chasing him out and tried to kill him. Nephi wrote "And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness." They were all sorrowful from the experience. I imagine it can be a little rattling to be chased by a bunch of people trying to kill you. I imagine it would kill all desire to go back and try again. Laman and Lemuel were ready to give up, but not Nephi. He said this powerful statement. "As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord..." Nephi was able to persuade his brothers to try again. This time they tried to buy the plates. Again they were chased away, fleeing from death. Laman and Lemuel beat Nephi and Sam with a rod and an angel appeared to them and told them that Laban would be delivered into their hands. Laman and Lemuel still didn't believe. Nephi did. He and his brothers went back to the city. "I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban. And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth..." Nephi didn't really have a plan. He was just going the way he thought he should go. He was putting his full and complete faith and trust in the Lord. He was putting his life on the line. The Lord did deliver Laban into Nephi's hands. Then Nephi had a another trial of faith, perhaps even harder than the first ones. He was told to smite Laban. Nephi still put his trust in the Lord and did as he was commanded. His faith was manifest in his works and his obedience. I believe that when Nephi returned to his Father, he was a different person. He probably learned much about God and himself.

Nephi didn't give up. He used his faith as motivation. He had the belief that God would provide the way to get the plates. Even though he failed twice, perhaps almost losing his life, he kept trying. In our life, we may feel like we fail when we are trying to keep the commandments. We shouldn't be sorrowful too long or get way down on ourselves because that will distract us from faith. We should strive to be like Nephi and put our trust in the Lord and just keep doing our best. The Lord will provide the way when we trust him. Faith means never giving up. It means putting our doubts and fears behind us and "leading with our faith" as Elder Holland puts it. It means have a hope that God is real and that he will keep his promises. It means that we "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." (2 Nephi 31:20) Faith is a motivation to act in accordance with Gods commandments. Miracles happen as a result of our faith. Success is not determined by lack of failure, but by the determination to keep trying and doing your best.

Faith is huge. It is the first principle of the gospel for a reason. I invite each of you to ponder Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and study it. Strengthen your faith and lead with your faith.

Thanks for reading this lengthy email. Sorry for any typos. I do my best. I love you all.


Elder Joshua R. Spencer

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