Good Morning, brothers and sisters! My name is Mackenzie Berry and I have been assigned to labor in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission. I am so happy and excited for this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. I had never dreamed that I would be going somewhere so far away from home, and I still hardly believe it even today.
I have been asked to speak on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and how it was restored to the earth in the Latter-days.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.
Many experiences have led me to this point in my life—the Holy Ghost being a major part of all of my decisions. I can think of so many different times when I have prayed to my Heavenly Father and received my answer by the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.
In Moroni chapter 10 verse 5 it reads: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
I have been comforted by the Holy Ghost; I have received answers to my questions, and I have felt the prompting of the Spirit to know which direction to go in my life.
One of those very times was when I was wondering whether or not to go on a mission. That had been a question on my mind ever since I gained my testimony of this Church. I thought it would be a good thing to do, and that I would LIKE to do it, but it wasn’t until I was older and actually considered it a possibility that I found my answer. I was definitely ‘wrestling’ with the Spirit. I would decide to go on a mission, but then I would think about how hard it would be and how much money it would be, so then maybe a mission wasn’t for me. And back and forth I went—going…not going. However, when I finally asked my Heavenly Father, in faith, and received my answer by the power of the Spirit, I knew there was no going back.
It was one of those days that the question of a mission weighed heavily on my mind. I wanted to know for sure. I wanted to KNOW if it was the right thing for me to do. To know if I should stay at school another year or two, or not go at all.
I was sitting in my Book of Mormon class, still thinking, in the back of my mind, about my worries and doubts. We were reading in 3 Nephi, when Christ appears to the people in the America’s. And in chapter 11, Christ tells the people of Nephi, “Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.” I cannot fully describe the feeling of happiness and love that I felt in that moment. I knew then that going on a mission was the right course for me to take, and that it was what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. He had answered my prayers. Whenever I feel scared or have doubts, I go back to that scripture, and I remember what the Holy Ghost testified to me that day.
In his talk “The Gift of the Holy Ghost—a Sure Compass,” James E. Faust tells us about the Holy Ghost: “I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of MAXIMIZING our happiness.”
I LOVE those words. Without the influence of the Holy Ghost we would not be able to be our BEST or our HAPPIEST selves.
Like all good fathers, our Heavenly Father gives us good gifts. Perhaps the most precious gift he gives us – is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. When we are baptized, we receive the right to the CONSTANT COMPANIONSHIP of the Holy Ghost. He CAN be with us ALL the time, IF we keep the commandments.
Elder Faust said “The GIFT of the Holy Ghost is different from the INFLUENCE of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth…The GIFT of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. It is received after baptism by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority… After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the CONSTANT companionship of the Spirit, if he or she keeps the commandments.”
Joseph B. Worthlin explained it this way: “The gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to receive the Holy Ghost as a CONSTANT companion, is obtained only upon condition of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands by authorized servants endowed with the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is a most precious gift available only to worthy members of the Lord’s Church.”
Countless stories have been told of people who have listened to the promptings of the Spirit, and have helped others and themselves in ways that they otherwise could not have.
My wonderful Grandma Wagher has one of those stories. She has written down many of the lessons she has learned in a blog that I read often. Her stories have taught me many things, and have touched my heart. I hope this simple story does the same for you.
She starts by saying: “Have you ever been blessed with a miracle? I was blessed with one not long after we were baptized. When it happened I knew that absolutely, somehow, from another place not of this sphere, someone cared enough about me to actually step in.”
She then tells of a time when she was newly married with 2 young children, and had just joined the church. Their lives were pretty hectic, if you can imagine, especially with my grandpa working full-time and my grandma going to school to get her teaching degree. They lived an hour from the University, and as she tried to work out her class schedule for the upcoming semester, she realized that she would have to be at the school most of the day instead of being at home with her children. But luckily she discovered a University program at the local elementary schools that would be perfect for her situation. She would be able to get her degree, and be able to spend more time with her family. However, when she went to the program director, she discovered the program was full, and had a long waiting list. She begged the director to let her in the program, but he would not let her in. So she worked out her class schedule, but it meant that she would be at school more than she would be at home.
And now I continue the story in my grandmother’s words—she tells it so much better than I ever could.
“As I stared at the calendar I knew. I knew that I couldn’t ask my husband and children to live that way. I’d been learning line upon line about eternal families and I knew that the hectic life on that calendar was wrong for mine. More than an education was at stake here. I slowly put my papers in my bag and got up from the bench thinking with heavy heart as I did, “Well, Heavenly Father, I worked so hard. I’ve done everything I could possibly do these past few years to graduate from college. Now it has to be over.”
Then the miracle happened.
As I walked across the courtyard I passed the outdoor elevator. Somewhere from behind me or maybe it was at the back of my head I heard or maybe felt a voice that said, “Get on the elevator.” It startled me. I stopped walking and looked around. I was alone. I started walking to the car once more and there it was again, “Get on the elevator.” The words were not exactly heard but distinctly understood. It was the strangest thing I’d ever experienced.
I turned very slowly and went to the elevator, pushed the button and got on. The education building was only 2 stories so I pushed “2.” As the doors closed I frantically asked myself….What’s going on?..... Why am I on this elevator?.... Where am I going? I thought about what was on the second floor. I knew that the office of the director I’d been pestering was just a few feet from the now opening doors. Then it dawned on me and I started to get really upset and began a heated argument with the “Voice or Feeling.”
“Are you kidding?? No way am I going to talk to that man again! He’ll think I’m stalking him and call campus security!! I’ll be making a complete fool of myself! Again…… “Get on the elevator.” “What are you talking about? I argued back. I’m ON the elevator already! The doors are open! And I’m NOT going in there no matter what you say!!” I almost shouted it out loud as I walked slowly to the director’s office.
The outer office door opened into a large foyer. There was a receptionist sitting at her desk against the far wall and 5 or 6 smaller offices along the sides. The director’s office was one of them and the door was open. He was at his desk. I stood in the middle of the foyer, about 20 feet away, turned to face him, but didn’t move forward an inch. I think I was poised for a quick getaway. He looked up from his work but didn’t say a word.
I stood stupidly for a few seconds and then blurted out, “Please let me in your program.”
He still didn’t say anything. He just stared at me. Then he picked up the phone and made a call. I couldn’t hear what was said. He hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “You’re in.” With those two words, life changed for our whole family.
When I look back after all these years my heart fills with gratitude. I think of some of the lessons that miracle taught this raggedy old convert. He IS our father. He knows us and our struggles. He loves us. After we’ve done all we can, help will come. If we try to understand what’s right and do the right thing, help will come. We are not alone.
I am so grateful for my grandma and her courage to listen to the prompting of the Holy Ghost, even if at the time she didn’t know what it was exactly.
I am reminded of the words of our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He said: “Again, my brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too SMALL or insignificant. The Lord is in the DETAILS of our lives.”
I am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and I pray that we all may live our lives so that He can always be our constant companion.
As many of you know, I have been taking Portuguese lessons from Brother Aston and have been studying the language these last few months. It has been a tremendous help and I am grateful for him and his family. It feels good to know that I'll be ahead when I'm in the MTC. So, I now want to share a portion of my testimony to you in Portuguese, even though Brother Aston has probably taught me everything wrong and it’s all just gibberish. But anyways…
Eu gostaria de prestar meu testimunho. Eu sei que esta Igreja é verdadeira. Eu sei que o livro de Mórmon é verdadeiro e a palavra de Deus. Eu sei que Thomas S. Monson é um profeta verdadeiro. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é nosso Redentor e nosso Salvador.
I love this church, and I KNOW that it is true. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that He loves all of you. I know that Jesus Christ lives! And that He died for all of us that we may return to live with Him again. I am so excited to be a missionary and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Brazil. I pray that we may all follow the promptings of the Spirit, and that we will always be willing to share the gospel.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.