Sunday, November 22, 2015


Elder Jacob Nile Shields ~ North Carolina, Raleigh Mission

Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters it is a pleasure to stand before you this day, really nerve wracking, but still a pleasure. For those who don’t know, I have been called to serve in the North Carolina Raleigh mission and I leave on December second.  I’m a crier, so I hope I can get through this OK.
            I have been asked to speak on Elder Hugo Montoya’s conference talk titled “Tested and Tempted but Helped.”  One of the statements from Elder Montoya’s talk that I liked is when he says that our trials can “give us strength and growth as we successfully overcome them.” I feel I have experienced that in my life. He also taught that us that our trials and “burdens are not to be carried alone.” Alma taught, "as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” I have learned the truth of this principle as well and feel it is so important that we seek to bear one another’s burdens."
In Elder Montoya’s talk he gives us four points that can help us help each other lighten our burdens. First, he teaches us to go the second mile. When he say says this what I think he means is that it is important to make an extra effort to help others and to better ourself so that we may be more receptive to promptings we may receive to help others.  Next, he teaches us that we should smile. What this means is that something as small and simple as a smile can really help brighten someones day. And it doesn’t have to be a smile. Any small act of kindness can make a considerable difference in someones day Third, he teaches us that we should express and show compassion. He teaches that it is important that “we express words of consolation and comfort to those who are suffering or experiencing affliction.” Finally, he teaches us to invite others to come to Christ. The absolute best way for us to have our burdens lifted is through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is very important for us to help others who do not know about this gift to learn about it so that they may utilize it in there lives as well.
            I am grateful that Brother Mecham gave me this talk as my topic. I feel it has significant application to my life and what I have experienced the past several years. I know that the principles Elder Montoya teaches in his talk are true.
In my life I have been tried and tested. A few years ago I really struggled with anxiety and depression going through high school. I was doing a lot of asking at the time and not a lot of work to go along with it, I didn’t feel like I was getting answers to my prayers and I stopped feeling the spirit. I felt like God had abandoned me. For about two years I struggled to feel the Spirit and I couldn’t help but feel like there was no God or that he was punishing me. Then a little more than a year ago I made the decisions to go on pioneer trek. I had a great time with my ma and pa and my trek family. It wasn’t a huge turn around but it was a step in the right direction and during that time my heart softened a little bit and I started to question my previous thinking; I started working towards finding myself; slowly but surely I began to find my way back. When I started attending college I decided to take an institute class, or in other words my mom helped convince me to take an institute class, and I was able to open my eyes more and look back on the previous years and see just how wrong I had been.
My Heavenly Father and Savior had never abandoned me. They were always there. Watching over me. They let me be tested and tried, but they had never left me.
Because of the trials I went through I was strengthened in ways I couldn’t have been in any other way.  These trials that I faced were the most challenging I have ever experienced in my life, and at times I wondered how, if ever, I would make it through, and why I had to go through it.  At the time it didn’t occur to me that what I was going through could actually be for my benefit.  As it says in D&C section 122, verse 7-

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” 
Heavenly Father gives us trials so we can grow and learn from them. They’re not punishment, they are there to help us grow. And I can testify to you as well that He will not give you a trial and leave you to it on your own. He will always be the first one to help you if you ask for Him. The scriptures teach “Ask and ye shall receive,” and I believe this is true.
One of my favorite hymns is “How Firm a Foundation” and the verse that sticks out to me the most is when it says “fear not I am with thee oh be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid, I’ll strengthen thee help thee and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”
I absolutely love how this hymn is worded; there are few things better than being upheld by our all-powerful, infinitely loving Father in Heaven.
One thing that is important to understand though is that we shouldn’t expect a heavenly army to come down and aid every time we experience trials, even though that would be awesome. Through my experience I have learned that Heavenly Father works mostly through other people. The most touching experiences I had were when I reached out to others for help. But those people can’t help us unless we make ourselves known. We don’t have to suffer in silence, and I can promise you nobody else wants that for you either. As we do our own work, seek help from others and ask Heavenly Father for guidance, direction and support in faith, great things can happen.
I would like to testify to you now that I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the one true church, and we have very loving heavenly parents above and a loving Savior who died for us and through his atonement can we be made clean again. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a true living prophet of God on the earth today, and that Joseph Smith was the true prophet of the restoration.
I would like to thank you all for the support that you have given me, and helping me get to this point, I love you all and I will report back to you in two years. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.