Address for Joe through July 31st while at the MTC learning Spanish.
Elder Joseph Mark Weiss
July 31 AST-SYD
2009 N. 900 E. Unit 139
Provo, UT 84602
I will be posting his letters on his blog:
You can send him emails here: Joseph Weiss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here are some pics from when we dropped him off yesterday:
This is the last time in 16 years of dropping off missionaries to the MTC-Provo.
2 more years and we are at the end of an era! David was Elder Weiss I and Joseph is Elder Weiss VI...bookends. Was nice that he could be there.
I want to post my farewell talk because I wrote it sincerely
hoping and praying that it might make a difference in the life of maybe
one friend. I was truly guided and blessed as I wrote this talk. I hope
maybe something in it can be a blessing to a friend or stranger. I hope
someone gains something by reading this.
As I look out into the audience, I see many people that have
in some way helped make me who I am today. Each of your lives has taught me
something. You have helped make me a happier and better person. I hope that the
spirit can be with us and maybe through something I say it can help one of you
to be happier as well.
Life didn’t start at birth. And it doesn’t end at death.
Before we were born we lived withGod. More than anything else we wanted to become like him and be as
happy as he is. We came to earth to gain a body and learn to choose between
good and evil. Choosing good is called obedience and it brings us Joy and
peace. Choosing evil is called sin and it brings us unhappiness and guilt. If
we have chosen Good, when we die we can live with God and become like him
there is a problem. In Romans 3:23 it says, “For all have sinned, and come short
of the glory of God.” We are all stuck short of the Glory of God. There is a
gap between where we are and where we want to be.
God sent his Son Jesus Christ to bridge
that gap, by paying the price of our sins so that, if we choose to, we can be
clean once again.
the Old Testament it speaks of what Christ suffered for us. Pay attention to
some of the ways he suffered for me and for you.
“1 Who hath abelieved our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender aplant, and as a broot out of a cdry ground: he hath no
form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no dbeauty that we should desire him.
3 He is adespised and rejected of
men; a man of bsorrows, and acquainted
with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we cesteemed him not.
4 ¶Surely he hath aborne our bgriefs, and carried our
sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he wasawounded for our btransgressions, he was bruised for our
iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with
his cstripes we are dhealed.
6 All we like asheep have gone bastray; we have turned
every one to his cown way; and the Lord
hath laid on him the diniquity of us all.
7 He was aoppressed, and he was bafflicted, yet he copened not his mouth: he is brought as a dlamb to the eslaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall
declare his ageneration? for he was cut off
out of the land of the living: for the btransgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the awicked, and with the rich in his bdeath; cbecause he had done no dviolence, neither was anyedeceit in his mouth.
10 ¶Yet it pleased the Lord to abruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou
shalt make his soul an boffering for sin, he shall
see hiscseed, he shall prolong his days, and the dpleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his aknowledge shall my righteous bservantcjustify many; for he shall dbear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and
he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul
unto adeath: and he was
numbered with the btransgressors; and he bare the
sin of many, and made cintercession for the
In section 19 of the Doctrine and Covenants it says,
“15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I asmite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my
wrath, and by my anger, and your bsufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea,
how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have asuffered these things for all, that they bmight not suffer if they would crepent;
17 But if they would not repent they must asuffer even as I;
18 Which asuffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble
because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and
spirit—and would that I might bnot drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and afinished my preparations unto the children of men.”
Because Jesus walked such a lonely path so utterly alone, WE
DO NOT HAVE TO! He has bought our lives with his blood and you will never have
to question if the Lord is there for you. We are written on his heart. He has
felt all of our pain and suffering and knows us perfectly and He will not
abandon us. But sometimes we think that “We know best” and decide to try and
make it on our own.
Here is what I mean:
((DON’T RUSH THE STORY))
One day I decided to ride my skateboard to a friend’s
apartment down by the spectrum. In order to get there I had to ride down the
big hill in front of Romney Stadium. I thought about whether it was a good idea
for maybe a few seconds and then decided, “I’ll be alright”.
I went to grab my skateboard and head out the door I thought, “maybe I should
grab my helmet…” but once again I figured, “I’ll be ok.” Then as I picked up my
skateboard I noticed the hardware, keeping the trucks or “axles” attached to the
board, was loose. “Maybe I should tighten them…” I thought. But, once again so
confident in myself I thought, “I’ll be fine”. So away I rode. For the first
few blocks I rode smoothly only noticing a slight wobble every once in a while.
As I came to the hill I rehearsed my game plan in my head, This is what went
through my head. “Ok, I don’t want to go too fast, so as long as I take wide
swooping turns across the hill that shouldn’t happen. I’ll just wait until
there are no cars and use both lanes of the road.” I looked around and waited
for a few cars too pass. “Alright no cars, ok here we go”. I started out slow
and tentative. But was encouraged by how relatively slow my speed was after the
first few turns.
with each new turn I noticed a little more speed going into the turn than on
the previous one and my path was less and less across the hill and more and
more pointing down the hill. Probably a little less than half way down the hill
I realized things were getting a little out of hand. I figured in my head, “I
can jump now or I’ll have to ride the hill out” At the speed I was going,
neither seemed to be a safe option. However I quickly decided that I wanted to
see how good of a skateboarder I was. So I pressed on. Not two or three turns
later my board was pointed almost straight down hill and I was rapidly picking
up speed. Skateboard wheels aren’t really made for these kinds of speeds. They
are hard and small. Longboards, which are skateboards made for going down hill,
have bigger and softer wheels made to grip the pavement and absorb the
vibration of small bumps and rocks. So now I was flying down this hill and the
vibrations were so strong I felt more like I was riding on ice or floating a
few Centimeters off the ground. At this point what went through my head
was,“OOh no… HEAVENLY FATHER
PLEASE HELP ME.” I was walking on a tight rope betweenturning too sharp and losing traction
or going to fast and getting the speed wobbles or in other words my wheels
vibrating so quickly that I wouldn’t be able to control where the board would
go. I walked across this tight rope as best as I could, but it wasn’t good
board began to wobble violently until it stuck abruptly into my small urethane
wheels. I shot forward past my board gliding inches above the rocky pavement
below.Then time slowed down just
long enough for me to get that sick, nervous feeling that you get in your
stomach as you await your apparent doom. I said to myself, “Ok, here we go.”
And then I mentally braced myself for impact.
PAUSE, Let it sink in.
I was deciding to go to my friend’s apartment I didn’t think, “Well should I
stay home or go kill myself on my skateboard?” I never specifically made that
choice. But I made many smaller choices that led me to the point when my only
option was “killing myself on my skateboard.”
decided I wanted to play with fire…without protection…in less than ideal
circumstances…and when I had a chance to cut and run, I stayed. I think, “gee
Joe you aren’t the brightest kid in the world” but I do the exact same thing
every day. We make stupid, small decisions that seem insignificant now, that
can build upon one another until we end up crashing and burning. We call these
stupid decisions, “sins”.
sin takes us a little farther from the loving arms of our savior. They dull our
minds until we cannot discern between good and evil, light and dark, and
unhappiness and joy. We are all like photographers in this life. Trying to
capture beauty and joy throughout our existence. Each time we sin we get a
little dirt on our lens. If it isn’t cleaned off we wont be able to capture the
beauty and joy around us or even be able to discern danger until it is upon us.
In the Miracle of Forgiveness it
gives a very realistic list of sins that put a little bit of dirt on our lens.
This list of sins is only what is specifically listed in the scriptures. There
are now more perverted ways people try to satisfy the temporary desires of
their bodies than ever before. Just because it isn’t explicitly listed in the
scriptures doesn’t make it “ok”. Here’s the dirt:
Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in
masters, disobedience in servants, unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God,
disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery,
lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth,
striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality,
deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk,
profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling,
covenant-breaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy
communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of
understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost,
Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness,
implacability, bitterness, clamor, spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking,
provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate,
covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things, fleshliness,
heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability,
ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block;
and in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery,
homosexuality; and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all
unholy and impure practices.
of these things bring us feelings of guilt and discontent in the end. They put
dirt onto our lenses and lower the quality of our life now and in the future.
When we sin we have the choice to either: attempt to ignore the feelings of
guilt that will visit and revisit us or choose to try to mend what has been
broken and be forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ.
A good example of this is when I
was probably 8 or 9. My dad owned a business selling products to RV
manufacturers. Sometimes he would ask my brothers and I to come down to the
warehouse and help unload shipments or do odd jobs. At the time I didn’t really
grasp the idea of a time card so I never punched in and never got paid… But I
did have another motivation for working at my dad’s warehouse. Each time we
went to work we would bring our scooters and skateboards so that when we were
done working we could explore around the warehouse riding on perfectly smooth
concrete. It seemed like with one push you could almost go forever. I loved
each time we got to go explore through all the giant racks and pallets full of
One particular time, my older
brother and I were on our scooters playing, “chase the younger brother around
the warehouse”. I pushed as hard and as fast as I could to get away, but I
couldn’t shake my brother. I turned a corner and ahead of me on the right were
these clothes washers my dad’s company made. They were actually a washer and a
dryer in one to save up space in an RV. Just to the left was a small gap with a
wooden board lying on the ground. I sped forward planning to step off my
scooter and jump over the wooden board and continue on. But as I stepped off my
scooter the bottom swung around towards the front of a washer dryer. With a big
bang I left a dent in the plastic window that allowed you to see the clothes as
they were being washed.
My brother and I surveyed the
damage. I knew I was dead, but my brother said it would be ok and that it
wasn’t a big deal. On the drive home all I could think about was the big dent
in the plastic of that machine. I felt so guilty for what had happened but I
didn’t have the courage to tell my parents. On the drive home the oddest thing
happened. It began to snow. Being in Washington state and living where we were,
snow was a big deal. It was dumping! It was SO much snow you couldn’t even see
the blades of grass mixed in!
My siblings put on their snow
clothes and started making their way outside to play, but I knew I wouldn’t
have any fun in the snow with all of this guilt. So I went and told my mom what
had happened and then she told my dad to come over and I repeated the story to
him. My dad was mad, but because I was young and innocent my brother got in
more trouble than I did. Soon I was outside enjoying the snow with the rest of
my family without the guilt weighing on my conscience.
Now this wasn’t a serious sin but
before I told my parents what I had done, all I could feel was guilt. It
consumed me. In that state I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the snow outside! But
once I felt forgiven for what I had done, I was again able to be happy and make
memories with the rest of my brothers and sisters. My lens was once again
clean. I am so grateful for the peace that came with being forgiven. Without it
my life would be miserable.
Back to the skateboard story. When my wheel stuck into my
board my body began falling forward. First my right ankle hit the rugged
pavement, then it started to work its way up my body. Next was my knee then my
hip then my hand then my shoulder and last of all my head. Then I was flip
ontomy back with my feet leading
down the hill and slid for another ten feet or so. I quickly sat up and grabbed
my head to see how bad I was bleeding. There was blood all up the right side of
my body but nothing happened to my head. I stood up grabbed my skateboard and
threw it to the side of the road in disgust with what I had done. Hours later I
realized how lucky I was. If my head had fallen two to three inches lower it
could’ve changed my life. But I was spared. I was given a second chance.
Suddenly I could see clearer than ever before. I could truly
appreciate the beauty around me. I was grateful for every bit of my life.
This is what Jesus Christ can do for us. He makes up those
two to three inches we need more than anything. He gives us a second chance, a
clean lens. The opportunity to start over and be happy again even after the all
the bad choices we’ve made. This is when we are the happiest. When we are
rescued and truly forgiven.
Without repentance we cannot enjoy today and we will not
enjoy tomorrow to the degree of joy that was intended for us. 2 Nephi 2:25
says, “Men are that they might have joy”.
During the time of our Savior’s mortal ministry, many followed
after Him, including scribes and Pharisees “out of every town of Galilee, …
Judaea, and Jerusalem.”1 A bedridden,
paralyzed man desiring to be healed was brought to a large gathering, but
unable to get him close to the Savior, his friends took him to the roof of the
house where the Savior was and lowered him down. Seeing this demonstration of
faith, with a great purpose not yet known to His listeners, the Savior
declared, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”2
The Savior knew that many people followed Him because of His
mighty miracles. Already He had turned water to wine,3 cast out unclean spirits,4 and healed the nobleman’s son,5 a leper,6 Peter’s
mother-in-law,7 and many
But with this paralyzed man, the Lord chose to give evidence to
both disciple and detractor of His unique role as Savior of the world. Hearing
the Savior’s words, the scribes and Pharisees had begun to reason among
themselves, ignorantly speaking of blasphemy while concluding that only God can
forgive sin. Perceiving their thoughts, the Savior addressed them, saying:
“What reason ye in your hearts?
“Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to
say, Rise up and walk?”9
Not waiting for their response, the Savior continued, “But that
ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, [He then
turned to the paralyzed man] I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and
go into thine house.”10 And he did!
By this miraculous physical healing, the Savior confirmed to all
of us this infinitely more powerful spiritual truth: the Son of Man forgives
While this truth is readily accepted by all believers, not so
easily acknowledged is the essential companion truth: the Savior forgives sins
“upon earth” and not just at the Final Judgment. He does not excuse us in our
sins.11 He does not condone our return to past
sins.12 But when we repent and obey His
gospel, He forgives us.13
I know Christ wants us to be happy and is eager to forgive
us of our sins. As we turn to him and repent we can find the most Joy and Peace
Many people die with their music still inside them. Why is
this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before
they know it, time runs out.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes-
you all! If there is anything unsettled in your life, seek forgiveness. Always
seek forgiveness. Repent today! Repentance is the key to forgiveness. It opens
the door to peace and joy. Don’t wait. Change now. Be happy now.In the name of Jesus