This week I wanted to do something a little different. I want to testify to you about the most important message that we, as missionaries, share with the world. This message is called "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ". I especially hope that all my friends who aren't members of this church will be able to read this email and understand it's importance!

Because Our Heavenly Father (who truly is, our Father who resides in Heaven) loves us so incredibly much, He has filled our lives with blessings and opportunities. One of the most important and sacred blessings He has given us, is the opportunity to have families. Families are ordained of God and are meant to bring us happiness and joy. We know that the way that our families can have the most joy is through following the gospel of Jesus Christ. In order for us to know how to live in accordance to the gospel, Heavenly Father has called certain men, called Prophets, in order to lead and guide us. These Prophets, like Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Adam from the Bible, had been given a special authority to guide the people in God's way. This authority is called The Priesthood. The Priesthood power is literally the power of God, here on the Earth, that allows His chosen servants to act in His name in order to guide His children. 
In the Bible we see a pattern that happens over and over again, this is it:
1. God calls a Prophet to whom He gives the Priesthood authority.
2. For awhile, the people listen to, and follow the teachings of the Prophets. The people who choose to follow the Prophets (and therefore, God) receive blessings. 
3. After some time people begin to be prideful and they turn away from the Prophets and end up rejecting, and often, killing them. 
4. The true teachings of God are lost from the Earth for a time, along with the proper Priesthood. The people fell into a state called "apostasy", which means a time when the people turn away from the correct truths and teachings of the gospel.
5. Because God loves us so much, He calls another prophet. 
This sequence happens over and over in the Bible, until Heavenly Father sent His own Son, Jesus Christ. 

When Jesus Christ came to the Earth, He too had the authority of the Priesthood in order to act, preach, teach, and baptize, in the name of His Father. Jesus Christ 'went about doing good' and did the work that His Father (God) had sent Him to do. Jesus Christ knew that someday He would be reject of man and He would sacrifice His life for all the sins of the world. When Christ was on the earth He established a church, and called 12 apostles to help Him in the work. He gave His 12 apostles the Priesthood power as well and after He died, Christ continued to guide the Church through revelation to His apostles and through the power of the Priesthood. However, eventually, all of the apostles died as well, and with them went the Priesthood authority from the Earth. This time is called "The Great Apostasy", when, for a long time the truth was lost. Heavenly Father knew that there would be a time of great apostasy, and it is actually mentioned in the Bible. In Amos 8:11-12, it reads "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.". Many people in that time wanted to find the truth, but they didn't know where they could find it. When the Priesthood was taken from the earth, there was lots of confusion and people began to search all over for the truth, but the fullness of it wasn't there. People began to interrupt the Bible in many different ways, and people began to establish their own churches with their own beliefs and interpretations. This is the reason that we have so many different churches today! 

This state of apostasy and confusion lasted for hundreds, even thousands of years, after the death of Jesus Christ and His apostles. In 1820 a young boy named Joseph Smith was looking for the truth, just like lots of others. He had a great desire to follow God, but he was kept from the truth because he knew not where to find it. Jospeh searched long and hard in order to find the truth, but it seemed as though his searching was in vain. He was confused, frustrated, and felt hopeless, until one day as he read in the Bible. He read in the New Testament in the book of James, the first chapter and fifth verse, which says "If any of you lack wisdom , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph decided to follow James' counsel and to ask God for Himself. 

Joseph went early one morning into a grove of trees and knelt down in humble prayer to Heavenly Father. He received an answer, and in his own words, he said "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!". In that moment, Joseph Smith had God, The Father, and Jesus Christ, The Son, appear to Him. They told him, that because none of the churches at that time had the proper Priesthood authority of God, none of them were true. His answer was that he should not join any church, but instead that he needed to prepare to bring the true, full gospel to the earth once again. Joseph Smith was instructed to prepare to be a prophet!...

Well, time is up. Sorry to leave you hanging, but this is going to have to wait until next week! If you really want to know what happens, call the missionaries! They'll tell you ;) I love you all so much. Be prepared for the next part, it's super great :) Have a great week, and pray a lot for the missionaries! 

Con Amor, 
Hermana Rutherford