My Journey of Life in the Restored Gospel

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Elder Subandriyo

Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

April 8, 2008
Elder Joshua Subandriyo
Asia Area Seventy

Aloha my brothers and sisters,

I feel honored and yet humbled to stand before you this day. I pray that the Holy Ghost will help me share my testimony and thoughts concerning the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Before I do that, I want to express on behalf of our family appreciation for your love and condolences during the difficult times we had on the passing of our daughter, Jaredita. Your emails, phone calls and tribute to Jaredita have given us added strength in our time of loss. It was a miracle and a great blessing for our family to be able to bring Jaredita home to be buried in our homeland, the land she loves. It was her dream to return to Indonesia after finishing her college degree. The dream was fulfilled, even though it happened too soon for us.

We received a DVD tribute to Jaredita from the concession group at PCC. Thank you for the efforts you made to capture Jaredita life's story at the PCC. We saw in the film when Jaredita dressed in traditional Hawaiian costume in the Canoe Pageant. We learned later that that was her dream too and she made it come true a few days before she moved to the mainland. Thank you again to all of you who made it possible for her to fulfill her dreams.

On August 18, 2007 I was in Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia when the shocking news reached me. I was alone in my hotel room repeating the same question…Why me..? Why me? As I offered my prayer to Heavenly Father, the words of Nephi that I read a few days before came back to me. Nephi said "And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Nephi 11:17) The Holy Ghost testified to me that God indeed loves me and my family, even though I did not understand, at that time, Jaredita's early departure. One time when I longed for her, I heard the spirit whisper to me, "Why are you looking for the one who is not with you and who is happy and busy doing the Lord's work. You have 3 living children to care for."

Brothers and sisters, these experiences affirmed to me that God truly loves his children. Without his love, mercy and grace life would be meaningless. The prophet Nephi taught us, "O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit." (2 Nephi 9: 8,10).

The promise of resurrection and eternal life that come from the great plan of happiness give us a comforting feeling. The scripture recorded the Savior's assurance, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11:25) For our loved ones who have gone before us who have done their very best to live a worthy life had a promise from Heavenly Father as taught by the prophet Alma, " And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow." (Alma 40:12)

I would like to share with you His love and a few of the tender mercies I have personally received. Hopefully some of the principles I share will today bring us closer to our Savior. I was born to goodly parents and was raised as a Christian. As I worked on my family history, I learned that all of my ancestors were not Christian. With that lineage, logically I should not be a Christian. I do not know for what reason my uncle, who raised me, changed his belief to become a Christian in the early sixties and brought us to the Protestant Church in our village. I started to believe in Jesus Christ and in doing good to others. I learned later that as much as my uncle did his best to live as a Christian, we didn't have family prayer nor go to Church together. Studying the scriptures was only on Sunday during my Sunday School.

At age 19, I moved to Jakarta and joined my mother. We had been separated for many years because mother had to find a job to survive when my father died. I was very lonely in this big city of 8 million people. I turned to the New Testament to study about the Savior. I had forgotten the scriptures for many years during my teenage years. One day, in early 1977, as I stood in the main train station seeing my friend off to his home town, a young lady came over and asked me about the starting date of the school year. She had mistaken me as her class mate. This introduction led me to the invitation to join her family at Church. What a miracle that was, a mistaken miracle I called it. I went with them to a small Church. I received a warm welcome. It was my first time attending a meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The missionaries taught me and I accepted baptism and was confirmed a member of the Church on the 30th of April 1977.

I didn't know much at that time about the church, but I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Yes I knew it! I felt my Heavenly Father's love. Somehow, I felt that life had a purpose and meaning. I could see a light for the future. Charles H. Gabriel composed a beautiful song in our hymns that explains what is in my heart:
"I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine. To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine, That he should extend his great love unto such as I, Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me, Enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I experienced a change of heart. Later as I studied the Book of Mormon, the following verses describe what I felt after my baptism:

Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God (Mosiah 27:25–26).

As we renew our baptismal covenant every Sunday, we promise to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. For me it means that I have a family name added to mine and you to yours. We all have the same family name: Jesus Christ. Carrying the name of Jesus Christ will bring blessing and consequences. The scriptures teach us, "And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out." (2 Nephi 25: 29)

Nephi, at the end of his teaching to his people talked about baptism and how to endure to the end. His counsel to them applies to all of us, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel." (2 Nephi 31:13)

As soon as I became a member, I learned more about service. My first calling was as a primary teacher. There were no manuals in Indonesian. I went back and forth to my dictionary to figure out the meaning of the lessons in my native language.

Missionaries had always been my heroes. Since my baptism, I wanted to be like them. I promised Heavenly Father that when I got a job I would save money and serve a mission. As I moved up in my job, I began to rationalize about the need to serve a full-time mission. I said to myself that since I supported my mother and my grandmother every month from my salary, I could continue working and not fulfilling my promise and God would understand. One evening, I read in Matthew chapter 19:29, where the Savior said, "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." This scripture sank deep into my heart. I knew the Lord would never lie to his people, and I put my faith in Him and decided to serve a fulltime mission. I got my mission call signed by President Spencer W. Kimball.

President Kimball taught us about missionary work: "Your mission is preparation. It is your school for eternity. You won't forget that, will you? This mission is not just a two-year stretch. This is the time when you cultivate the seed of godhood so that you can help other people on their way toward exaltation. How small are we who think of our mission as just being a stretch of time, some physical thing to do, some praying. This is the most purposeful thing, perhaps, you have ever done in your life and possibly the most purposeful thing that some of you will ever do. It's up to you to let this be the prelude of your life, to let it be the beginning of a great and glorious life."2 How grateful I am for the scriptures and a living prophet.

Heavenly Father speaks to us through scriptures and the words of the prophets. The prophet Helaman taught that the converted Lamanites were "led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them." (Helaman 15:7) Therefore my brothers and sisters, in the busyness of our day-to-day program, we should find time to study the scriptures and the words of the prophets. For me, studying the scriptures means to ask myself, "What does this mean to me?" When I ask that question over and over again, I develop a personal scriptural encyclopedia that fills my heart. When I find the word service in the scriptures, my personal encyclopedia says, "never expecting reward, based on love, no respecter of persons, friendly, honest in heart, polite, attentive, not slothful, not judgmental, happy countenance, positive thinking, willing to share our substance"

My mission was truly a preparation for my future. Right after I was released I got a job. This was a miracle and a blessing from Heavenly Father. I was very, very happy. Elder David O. McKay, when he was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught us: "Let us … realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love to work is success" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1909, 94)

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught us, "Work is therapy for the soul. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of work. I believe that much idleness we experience comes from misunderstanding the Atonement of the Lord. We cannot simply sit around and do nothing and expect to be successful in spiritual or temporal things. We need to do all that is in our power to accomplish our goals, and the Lord will make up the difference. Remember the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley: "The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, which have learned to work in an extraordinary manner"3

President Gordon B. Hinckley echoed that sentiment: "There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor. It is the process by which dreams become realities. It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements. It is work that spells the difference in life--it is stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands that lift us from mediocrity." (in "Pres. Hinckley Shares 10 Beliefs with Chamber," Church News, 31 Jan. 1998, 3).

A year after I started to work I enrolled in junior college for evening classes. It was hard work. President James E. Faust taught us, "Everything has a price. There is a price to pay for success, fulfillment, accomplishment, and joy. There are no freebies. If you don't pay the price that is needed for success, you will pay the price of failure. Preparation, work, study, and service are required to achieve and find happiness. Disobedience and lack of preparation carry a terrible price tag."4 I urge you my brothers and sisters who are students of this great Church University to ask yourself some questions, "What kind of student am I?" "Where do I stand against the teaching of the servant of the Lord?"

President Boyd K. Packer advised the students enrolled in Church schools and colleges the following: "For those privileged to attend a Church school, there is a tuition other than money which we must require of you—a tuition of conduct and performance. Students who enroll in Church schools do so after an interview with their bishop and, beginning this year, with their stake president. They must commit to a standard of conduct consistent with faithful Church membership."5

President Gordon B. Hinckley in a conference address said, "He wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship. Be smart. Don't be foolish. You cannot bluff or cheat others without bluffing or cheating yourselves."6

Nowadays, there are so many temptations around you that could hinder you from becoming accomplished students. I have seen young students glued to the computer doing things that have nothing to do with schooling or personal improvement. Internet technology is a blessing or a curse for mankind and it depends on how we use it. Some are addicted to internet games. When I see our children sitting in front of the computer more than they should, I ask, "Will the thing you are doing come up in your test? Will that make you a better student? I get more 'No' answers than 'Yes'. The answers our children give will determine what they do next. The prophet Nephi taught us long before all of the internet games or anything like them existed, "Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. (2 Nephi 28:7-9) Be careful my young friends. Satan uses a soft approach to hit hard targets like all of us.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin shared the following story in a talk given at a Church Educational System fireside at BYU on 7 November 1999. "Let me tell you about a remarkable individual who took responsibility for his life and made something of himself, despite humble beginnings. His name is Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson was born and raised in the poor slums of Detroit. He grew up in a home that had no father. His mother took the responsibility on her shoulders of raising a family, and she passed this sense of responsibility on to her son.

Dr. Carson said his mother would often say to her children, 'Do you have a brain?' If they answered yes, she would follow up with, 'Then you could have thought your way out of that situation. It doesn't matter what Johnny or Mary or anybody else did. You have a brain, so think your way out of problems.'

Dr. Carson related:

'I began to understand that I was in control, that I could go anywhere I wanted to go, and that I could do anything I wanted to do. The only person who really determined or limited my success was me. Once I understood that, the whole victim mentality went right out the window. I realized I didn't have to sit around and wait for anybody to do anything for me' ("Seeing the Big Picture: An Interview with Ben Carson, M.D.," Saturday Evening Post, July/Aug. 1999, 50–51).

Dr. Carson didn't sit around and wait for somebody else to do something for him. He took control of his life. He studied hard in school and did well—well enough to go on and become a doctor. He eventually rose to become the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, a world-famous hospital. In 1987 Dr. Carson performed the first successful operation to separate Siamese twins who were attached at the back of the head. What a remarkable example that was."

By the end of my university studies, my spiritual eyes were opened to a beautiful young lady that had been my fellow worker and my friend for several years. We worked at the same company even in the same department. She was energetic and helpful. Helping others was always her priority. Her name was just mentioned in my introduction. We courted for a short time and decided to get married. We were sealed in the Manila Temple in 1985. All of these blessings came to me as a grace from Heavenly Father.

When we first married, since I am the only child and my mother was alone, we stayed with my mother. Seven months later, we move out to a small rented room. We wanted to follow the counsel from President Spencer W. Kimball given to a couple who came to see him at his office. He said, "...there may be temptation to economize by living with the parents on either side. Do not make this serious error. You two will constitute a new family tomorrow. Well-meaning relatives have broken up many homes. Numerous divorces are attributable to the interference of parents who thought they were only protecting their loved children. Live in your own home even though it be but a modest cottage or a tent. Live your own life."7

Very soon our first child, a boy was born, 18 months later the second child, a girl was born, then another boy, then another girl. King Benjamin taught us in the Book of Mormon the role of a parent, "And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another." (Mosiah 4:14-15) This charge is noble but it isn't easy to achieve. We felt we needed more time to learn as parents and mother voluntarily resigned from work to dedicate herself to home.

President Joseph F. Smith taught us, "There is no substitute for home. Its foundation is as ancient as the world, and its mission has been ordained of God from the earliest times."8 The Family: A Proclamation to the World declares, "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

We are all learning to be the best we can be, and eventually to be perfect like Him. As we learn, we make a few mistakes. How grateful we are for the gift of the atonement that allows us to correct our mistakes or even sins, to be clean through the blessing of the Savior's atonement. Alma taught us, "And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…" (Alma 22:14)

As a young man in the Church, I heard many good stories of Fathers and sons doing home teaching and the benefits that come from serving together. I am sure my wife has the same desire to do visiting teaching with our daughter some day. With my family I continued to serve in the Church, so did my sweet wife. At one time she was the District Primary President when our children were still very young. The farthest unit is about a 3 to 4 hour drive. There were many Sundays when we started to leave our home at 4 AM and we carried our children into the van while they were still sleeping. We wanted to arrive in the chapel early enough that few members were at the chapel. We then washed and dressed them for Sunday meeting. It was not easy, but we were happy to serve. The great King Benjamin counseled us, "I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants." (Mosiah 2: 21)

As our sons grew up, I was able to fulfill my dream to do home teaching with each of them. What an experience that was. One day, when Mahonri was about 17 years old, he came to me and asked my opinion about the Branch President's interview with him and the call that he would receive as Young Men's President. I told him that that was not a common practice in the Church to call a young man to be a Young Men's President. However, the Branch President is entitled to revelation for his members. He finally was called as Young Men's President. We continued to be home teaching companions.

We visited an inactive family for many years. There were two inactive young men in the family. When we made our visit, Mahonri came with two roles, a home teacher and a Young Men's President. As Young Men's President he told his inactive friend that he would come to his house and pick him up on his motor bike for Church. I saw one Sunday he and his friend on his motor bike coming to Church for the first time. It didn't take long until his friend decided to come by himself because actually our house and his are quite distant. Now this young man has completed his mission, almost at the same time Mahonri completed his.

When Mahonri left for Hawaii, Ezra took his turn being my companion. The best memory of service with him was when we had to take care of a sister who died due to old age. She was French and had been living in Indonesia for over 30 years. She lived by herself accompanied by many cats. She had no relatives. We knew her for a long time and became good friends to her. When she died, I was informed that the French embassy in Jakarta would take care of her. That night at about 9:30 PM, when I was ready to sleep, our phone rang. I received a call from the hospital informing me that no one had made any arrangements to take her out for funeral preparation. I asked Ezra to come with me. He wasn't really excited about it, but he went with me. With two other members in our branch we took care of Sister Gizelle De Meige, our beloved Sister. It meant a lot to me when we gave service outside of our convenience. It shows Heavenly Father our willingness to bear one another's burdens.

Brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be a member of this Church. My membership has been the greatest gift I ever received in my life. I am grateful for our living prophet, for the inspired messages he gives us. Now, my young friends, all this leaves a question in your heart: "Am I a student as the Lord expects?" There are too many temptations around you. Be focused. Do your very best. You will do good for many nations. You will be returning to your homeland and build the kingdom, build your family. I am grateful for our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and provides us means to accomplish His purposes. This is my testimony to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

1. "I Stand All Amazed" Hymn Number 193

2. "Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S. Monson" pg. 51

3. "Our Fading Civility" BYU Commencement Address, 25 April 1996

4. Faust, James E. "The Devil's Throat". Liahona, May 2003, pg 51-53

5. Packer, Boyd K. "To Be Learned Is Good…". Ensign, November 1992, pg 71

6. Hinckley, Gordon B. "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth". Ensign, January 2001, page 2

7. Kimball, Spencer W. Faith Precedes the Miracle, pg 130

8. "Favorite Questions From the Collection of Thomas S. Monson", pg 13