Elder Tobler’s Homecoming Address
Sunday, April 20, 2014
We are engaged in the work of the Lord. Miracles are our heritage.
It is a sacred privilege to speak on Easter afternoon. Today’s messages have brought feelings to my heart which are very dear to me. I hope to be able to articulate those. Specifically, I wanted to take a moment today and speak of grace.
Grace is an enabling, cleansing, sanctifying, transforming power which is available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That power can change our lives, and it can change the lives of those that we love. We can succeed in the work of salvation only as we rely upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ means everything to me! If it weren’t for Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t even be here today. I know it is a real power because I have experienced it. And I have had the sacred privilege of helping others experience it. For that reason, I cherish my mission more than I can express!
Grace is an enabling, cleansing, sanctifying, transforming power which is available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Probably no one understands grace more thoroughly, nor talks about it more than Paul does. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul relates an experience he had conversing with the Savior. He writes, “And he [meaning Christ] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (emphasis added).
Paul goes on to say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul understood that the Atonement has the power to make us perfect. But he understood something further: that until we are perfect, we have a lot of work to do. And a lot of it is going to be more than we are able to do on our own.
As an example, in my last area in Japan, in a place called Amagasaki, there was an investigator who had been studying with the missionaries on and off for about twenty years. He had heard everything, and he believed everything. The primary reason he hadn’t been baptized was because he couldn’t quit smoking. He had tried, and he had tried, but was unsuccessful every time.
Following the Spirit, and relying upon that power of grace, we worked together with him. One day, he did the impossible. He handed over his box of cigarettes, and he was done. And he was baptized. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the impossible was made possible.
The Atonement can change our lives, and the lives of those that we love
I think Moroni and Paul must have been best friends in the pre-existence. Moroni also talks a lot about this. In Moroni ten, verse thirty-two, he gives this exhortation:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
As an example of someone who didn’t wait until this life was over to claim the privileges available through the Atonement, I want to tell you the story of a little girl I had the privilege of knowing on my mission.
My second area was this tiny little town west of Kobe called Ako. There was nothing going on there! It was one of the hardest places to work on my mission, but we worked hard, and we relied upon the Savior.
There was an investigator we were teaching there – I use the term “investigator” loosely. He had heard a couple of lessons so I guess he qualified. But we arrived at his door and the first time I taught him, he handed back his Book of Mormon and said, “I’m done, I don’t believe in your book, I don’t like what you have to say, and I don’t want to hear any more.” With sadness in our hearts, we left.
We didn’t hear from him again for a while, until one day out of the blue he showed up to the church with a young woman on his arm. Knowing the kind of life this guy lived, we both look at each other and go, “Oh no! Who did he bring to the church?”
He introduced her to us and said, “This is my friend. She’s had a hard life. I want you to teach her about God.”
Now, I transferred out of the area, and so I never knew what happened to her. But I learned the rest of the story from a missionary who later became my companion, and who was deeply involved in her conversion process. Because she did become converted. She developed a testimony. But her grandfather was extremely opposed to everything that had to do with the Church – more just because the Church brought her joy than because he had any particular issue.
I heard that some nights, she would read the Book of Mormon under her covers with a flashlight so as not to be caught. And she would cry herself to sleep because she thought that she would never be able to be baptized!
But this missionary that I mentioned, who was involved in this process, luckily for everyone involved he’s nuts! And he did what no sane person would possibly do, and he walked right into that house and picked a fight with that old man (which at first, didn’t accomplish very much). He left Ako thinking that he had failed.
But the Lord worked a miracle! This little girl’s mother signed the baptismal record. She, along with some of her friends were able to be baptized. Now she’s preparing to serve a mission!
Her life changed! She was dealt a lousy hand in life. I think in one way or another, all of us are kind of dealt a lousy hand in life. But through the Atonement we can change! We can have the power to change our circumstances!
We can succeed in the work of salvation only as we rely on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
In Jacob chapter four, verses six and seven Jacob gives his homecoming talk. He says, “Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.”
Brothers and sisters, the important thing to realize here is that we cannot do this work alone. We are all engaged in the work of salvation and that work is not ours. It is the work of the Lord. And it can only be done as we rely upon Him and His grace.
On my mission, some of my investigators heard the voice of the Lord command them to be baptized. Some of them saw visions of their ancestors beckoning them to the temple. I’ve seen insurmountable challenges faced with the courage that could come from nowhere but heaven. I’ve seen the elements commanded, I’ve seen the sick healed, the lame raised, the torrent stilled. And lest you think that any of that had anything to do with me, I’ve seen greater miracles than that performed by young men and young women who had no command of the Japanese language, no special mastery of the scriptures, no special stamina or talents, seemingly nothing except for that unwavering faith that Jacob speaks about.
We are engaged in the work of the Lord. Miracles are our heritage.
I love this work! I love my Savior! I know that He lives! I know that He died for us, and He died for our friends who don’t have this hope yet! And it is our privilege to assist in bringing them to the hope and joy that we’ve experienced. Because what He did in the garden, on the cross, and in the tomb, anything is possible! I will forever be grateful for the miracle that the Atonement has wrought in my life! And I pray that its power will touch each of you as it has touched me!
Grace is an enabling, cleansing, sanctifying, transforming power which is available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That power can change our lives, and the lives of those we love. We can succeed in the work of salvation only as we rely upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is my testimony, and I leave it with all my love. And I do love you, and I know these things are true. I know the Lord has come again in our day to restore His Church, and to bring the blessings of the Atonement to the whole human family. I say these things in His sacred name, even the name of Jesus the Christ, amen.
Dear Friends and Family:
This will be my last correspondence from the land of the rising sun. My time has come. Two years is precious little time. Words cannot express how fast they pass. To be honest, when I first arrived here that thought was a comfort to me. Then as I learned to become lost in the service of my God, it became a nagging dread that has stalked me tenaciously right up until the end.
My feelings now are a potent mix of joy in the salvation and miracles of God I have witnessed, sadness that the journey has reached its conclusion, excitement in seeing loved ones long distant, resignation to my civilian future, unspeakable joy in the blessings I am seeing presently, and that same incessant fatigue that attends all who choose to wear themselves out in the service of their Lord.
The Lord has blessed me so richly at the end of my mission. Human language is insufficient to describe the joy that one experiences from the outpouring of love from our Heavenly Father, and the realization that that love has always been there, even in the deepest pits of sorrow when it was difficult to detect. Like our Savior before us, at times we are called upon to pass through trials wherein the comforting, guiding presence of the Spirit of God feels distant. But like our Savior before us, we must find the courage to trust that God is faithful, and will be with us.
I cannot hope to record even a brief summary of all that I have learned on my mission, but among the most significant are these:
He just wants us to be faithful. His grace is sufficient. There is nothing more significant to The Lord than the work of salvation. The time is now. Christ is the reason. The Spirit is the key. Obedience is the price. Faith is the power. Hope is the anchor. Love is the motive. Joy is the reward. We are at war. Fight back. And above all: True Disciples Never Die.
True Disciples – One and All
This is a quick entry to let you know that I will be coming home and returning to life as a civilian on Tuesday, April 1. I will speak in in the Heatheridge 5th Ward Sacrament meeting on Easter Sunday, April 20th. The meeting begins at 1:00pm and the building is located at 450 E. 2000 N.
Dear Friends and Family:
I am reporting from Amagasaki, land of the thugs and home of the drugs. I was transferred here for my last six weeks to try and improve ward relations and get some of my beloved Japanese brothers and sisters wet before we go.
This mission has a goal to baptize in every area before March 23. The interesting thing about March 23 is that it will also be my last day in this mission. So this goal has special meaning for me personally, for President Zinke, and for the Lord.
Right now in Amagasaki, none of our investigators have a baptismal date. We have several progressing investigators that all need a lot of help.
It is entirely realistic to accomplish this goal, but it will require faith in the truest sense, and a lot of it. I am asking everyone who reads this blog to add this goal and these investigators to their prayer list. Please lend us your faith and let:s together work a miracle. Remember as you do this that this is not just a statistic – this goal represents one of the elect of God beginning his or her journey back home to the Celestial Kingdom. That is why this goal is significant.
I love you all and I:m grateful for your support of my efforts these two years. I ask this last and most significant favor from you, because I know that this is the work of the Lord, and I know there is nothing more significant than the salvation of souls. I know he will bless these efforts if we rely on Him.
Below is a list of investigators who need your faith and your prayers:
Thank you for your faithfulness and remember The Lord always. I know that if we trust Him, He will support us in our trials and troubles and afflictions of every kind, and we may one day stand tall in His presence. Oh I would that he will say to you, and to me, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the rest of the Lord.”
Dear Friends and Family:
Transfer calls are in! My long tenure as a Zone Leader is finally over. I”m going out to Fukuyama, the farthest area west in our mission boundaries. In fact it is in Hiroshima prefecture. I’m whitewashing it. My new companion will be yet another brand new missionary. This will be my third one. The last two were solid. Let’s hope it stays that way.
The work in this area really took a tole on me. I’m afraid that, at the end of three more transfers, it will be an ambulance rather than an airplane that brings me home. That’s the way it goes. That:s the way it should be. Through those efforts I feel like I left a good mark on the area and, more importantly, I got two young pups started out right to carry on the legacy.
The finish line is in sight. But in this race, the question is not how fast I can reach my destination, but how many people I can bring with me.
All my love and prayers go out to you. Keep ’em comin my way too, eh?