Elder Taylor Dearden
South Carolina Columbia Mission
110 Oak Park Drive, Suite B
Irmo, SC 29063


Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Wow, Christmas is already gone. I'm having weird awakening moments
when I realize that 2016 is around the corner. 2014 was always the big
year in my head, that being when I graduated. But now.... 2016? That
is just way to weird. I'm going to turn 20 this coming year....that's
not good.... I'm still the same height I was when I was 14....I
sometimes mentally want to tell people that I'm 16... I'm having a
hard time coming to grips with how fast time is moving! And they tell
me it is only going to go faster! Dang it!

We still had a few lessons last week, but the Holidays took up lots of
people's time so it was a bit slow otherwise.

Christmas was great talking to family. However, I was sick from
Christmas Eve, until the day after Christmas....Had a nasty cold. But
I'm doing great now.

Talking over Skype was really fun, I enjoyed it. It always feels
strange to do it, because we get so blinded from the outside world
here in the mission field. It's refreshing to remember that other
people do exist haha.


I don't have much else to say. Life is good!

Elder Dearden

Skyping on Christmas!

Taylor sent me (Stacie) this Piano, he painted!

District Pic

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Light of Christ

Hello everyone!

I'm doing fantastic. Last week was sort of slow. Nothing much happened. Lots of people have either been really busy or out of town. We had a few lessons with some people, but nothing groundbreaking. 

This week will be great, I am super excited to skype home on Christmas! I always love doing that! I feel a little nervous, I've realized my personality has changed a bit the past 7 months and It might be awkward for a few minutes adjusting to conversation with family. 

THANKS EVERYONE who sent me letters and stuff for Christmas! I so appreciate it!

Hey I was super excited to get pics of Nicole and Coert! What an amazing day!! It doesn't ever get better than the temple! I am so grateful to have such amazing extended family! 

I had some interesting thoughts come to me about the Light of Christ last week. I figured I would share them with ya'll. 

The Light of Christ

Over the past week I have felt some very interesting impressions.
One of which instructed me in the doctrine of the Light of Christ. My mind's eye was opened to see in more clarity the meaning, purpose, and functions of the Light of Christ and it's relation to the Atonement of our Lord.

We are taught by Moroni that the Light of Christ is given to every man who is born on this earth. Moroni instructs us that we must "... search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ." (Moroni 7:19)
Moroni defines the Light of Christ as something that "... inviteth andenticeth to do good continually". (Moroni 7:13)

During the Atonement, Christ was able through divine power to descend below everything, to comprehended everything, and ultimately to literally have influence in all things. One of the effects of His atonement is this influence called The Light of Christ. Which according to the guide to the scriptures is, "Divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things." 

D&C 88: 6-7
"He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ."

The above verse says that when Jesus Christ performed the Atonement (he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things) in order (that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth). 

The doctrine is straight forward, the Light of Christ would not have been "given to every man, that he may know good from evil" (Moroni 7:16) had the Atonement not been accomplished.

The Lord Jesus Christ was born on this earth, he remained completely faithful to the Truth and Light of his Father. He never fell. He and the Father were one in Light and Truth. He was the only one who lived that was able to maintain this perfection. Jesus loves us, so he chose to accept the Fathers invitation to descend below all of us, so he could comprehend and know how to succor his people. He performed the Atonement in which He descended below all things (experienced all pain, suffering, any form of negativity). Because of this he literally felt everything that could be felt, thought everything that could be thought, experienced everything that could be experienced, in totality He went in and through all things. In going through all things he confronted all darkness and chaos, conquered it with the Truth and Light of His Father's Love, through his suffering which caused him to bleed at every pore, he invited all things to return to Heavenly Father.
His influence, invitation, and enticement to all things is the profound effect of the Atonement in which all things that exist may know that they are loved. 

"Everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God" (Moroni 7:13). 

Our souls are given options of action from only two sources. One is our Heavenly Father, the Other is our fallen brother. If we will pay close attention as we experience every moment of every day, we will recognize that there is a distinct judgement that occurs in our soul between Good and Evil. The only reason this occurs is because we are constantly presented two options.

Take a second to realize that whenever you have done anything good, you were first invited to do so by the Light of Christ. The origin of any good thought is from the Light of Christ, which is in turn from the Atonement of Christ. Father Lehi gave a sermon to his Children reminding them that "man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other." (2 Nephi 2:16

With these scriptures in perspective we can draw an absolute conclusion that no man would have the power to do anything good without the influence of the Light of Christ. We are fallen from the presence of Heavenly Father whose Glory "is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth".  Through Christ we regain access to that glory.

The Light that proceeds from Christ is the power that first illuminates what is good so that we can discern between the good and bad. Without this Light effect of the Atonement, we would be left to ourselves, knowing only bad, never tasting the truth.

There is a false notion among mankind that they alone have power to do good. It being true that the Light of Christ is the source of ALL that is good, and it being given because of the Atonement, the idea that man has power unto himself to do good crumbles. Agency never meant that we could chose what was right and what was wrong, we were given the power to chose between options. Agency would collapse if we removed the atonement from the picture. It is the very act of the Atonement that even gives us the possibility to even discern what is right! How else could we do what is good if we first didn't even know what 'good' was? The blessing of the Atonement extends to us the power to judge between good and evil.

What a humbling realization it is to recognize that we personally cannot act for ourselves in goodness without the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Let all the world hear it! For those who think that they can "change" and become a good person without the Light of the Savior, let their reasoning be consumed in the Glory of God, that they may see that they wouldn't even have the desire to do good had Jesus Christ not performed the Atonement! 

Without the Light of Christ, we would be left with only with the Lies from the fallen one, being led into unreliable distortions and false reality. No matter the belief, the opinions, the religions, or confusions of man, the Lord of all, Jesus Christ through His light, is the source of all that is good. You can be a muslim and still your desires for good originate from the Holy One of Israel. You can be a buddhist, but still your desires wether or not you know it, come from the Prince of Peace! The Day will come, when every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. All shall bear witness that they could have accomplished no good save it be for the atonement of our Elder Brother.

The Light of Christ is the beginning of experiencing the Power of His Infinite atonement. It is the recognition of the need for repentance. It is the mysterious influence that shows us in clarity what is right and wrong. 

What a beautiful gift! The Son of God descended below us all, walked our paths, felt our pains, our griefs, our infirmities, our sicknesses, our sorrows! While literally experiencing our life with us, bleeding and crying, His spirit reaching in love and his Heart breaking, he simply Invites us to do better! He pleads to us every moment our of existence. What does he say? He tells us what is right and what is wrong, then he asks us to chose the better part. This is the Light of Christ.

D&C 50:24
"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."

D&C 88:11-13
"And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;  Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space--The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things."

2 Nephi 2:26
"And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil."

Ya'll have a great week!

Elder Dearden

Monday, December 14, 2015

18 Months!

So, last week lots of stuff happened. The First was going to
Orangeburg to interview a man for Baptism. It is always a special
experience to feel the spirit witness during a baptismal interview. Oh
ya! Before I went to Orangeburg I was asked last minute to play the
Organ at a funeral in another stake. So we traveled with a Bishop to
an area that is called Winsor Lake.

While I was at the funeral my mind remembered Grandpa Dearden's
funeral and how many people came to it. I've been to a lot of funerals
here in the South, but none of them have matched the amount that
attended my Grandpas. I feel a great sense of gratitude for my Grandpa
Dearden and the heritage he left behind.

Second, on Wednesday we had Zone Conference. President Turner
introduced a program that our Area Seventy, Elder McArthur has invited
the state to participate in. It will be called, "The South Carolina
Initiative". This plan includes helping missionaries and ward councils
work closely to identify less active and part member families that
have potential to receive more ordinances. It was really exciting and
I'm excited to see it roll out at the beginning of 2016.
on Friday, I had my 18 month mark....that was weird. I can't believe I
have only 6 months remaining. I'm trying my best to make it count.

Also on Friday we had a ward Christmas dinner party! It was super fun,
lots of great southern food. Our investigators Brian and Sonya really
enjoyed it. They have made lots of Friends with the members at Church.
It's going really well. They both came to Church on Sunday.
I'm still playing the Organ during Sacrament, it's fun!

I don't have much else to say, But Ya'll have a great week!

Elder Dearden

Monday, December 7, 2015

Funerals, Birds, and Hallelujahs!

Hello people!

I'm doing fantastic! Things are just going great. Our investigators are still doing great. I'm so happy to see their progress.

This past week I was able to play the piano and organ a bunch. The First time was for a funeral, I was called last minute to play a special music number and do the organ for the meeting. It was fun, the Sister in the ward I did the musical number with, Sister Bergivin, had an amazing voice. We did, "How Great thou art". 

2 weeks ago I forgot to write about this experience I had....So I got a phone call from another bishop in the stake, he heard that I played the organ and piano, he said he had a member that was having a funeral for her son, who was not a member. I told him I would play for the service. Well, this funeral was an African American Funeral....The bishop and us were the only white people there. The mother of the man who died was the only member in the family, so none of those who attended were members. She had invited her sons pastor to also speak at the funeral. So our bishop presided and conducted the meeting, but we had a baptist pastor speak...haha. It was very interesting. Lets just say there were hands in the air, shouts of priase, AMEN! AMEN! Hallelujah! President Turner has a policy that we don't attend other churches, so this was a weird experience, because it was an LDS funeral service, but included baptist elements! Haha, I will never forget it. I just sat there and smiled at the congregation, I didn't know how to react! But it makes for a great story.

Yesterday I played for Sacrament again, but I also was asked to play for the primary, it was super funny. I hope I get another chance to do that again.

I'm doing really well. This week will be Zone Conference and President Turner will be teaching us. I'm super excited!

Today I went to the Zoo before emailing and I had birds all over me, I have a short video of it, I think my mom can add it to the blog page.

Anyways, Ya'll have a great week!

Elder Dearden!