Dear Family and Friends, February 15, 2010
Well, after the great week we had last week, this week was a bit of a disappointment. Nothing particularly awesome in our lessons this week, other then I've really been focusing on teaching the Pre-Mortal Existence. I know there is no "most important" gospel doctrine (correction, besides the Atonement), but Elder Packer taught something really important in PMG [ Preach My Gospel ]. When we teach the Gospel, we aren't really teaching, but reminding the Spirit of the person involved. I think our best shot at reminding someone is to bring up the details of what was going on right before the veil as best as possible. Plus, the amount of work and care that has been put into "the Plan" is awe-inspiring. It's been incredibly difficult and inspiring as my companion and I have discussed the nature of our Spirits.
We had one lesson with a man name Abraham, who is very bright, and his son, who is not. To be honest, nothing was clicking that lesson. I had just studied it that morning, but I'd not organized it into a lesson yet. They were able to explain it when I asked them, but there was a kinda "... whaaat?" look on Abraham's face the whole time. We taught the same lesson to a man named Alexander, and it all came together then. It was awesome. Scriptures and explanations just came so natural! He asked "What is Salvation?" and my companion turned to me like "... oh shoot!" and then out of nowhere I reached into my pocket. "Well, what is the opposite of Salvation?" "Damnation" "What does that mean?" "Well... I'm not sure" Out comes one cedi from my pocket. There is a picture of a dam on the cedi. It was awesome. "Damnation means a stop of our progress. Progress and Salvation are the same thing." It was SWEET!
Then, on Sunday, in Priesthood, we talked about Christ. "Why did we need a Savior? Why couldn't we suffer for our own sins?" Someone guessed and then it came to me. "Let's think of sin like a REALLY deep hole. If you are in a really deep hole, and I am in another really deep hole. Can I get you out?" "No." "Well, so we need someone who isn't in that deep hole. Someone who didn't sin." That became the metaphor everyone referenced the REST of the lesson. It's been funny, but I really feel like I've improved drastically as a teacher these past 6 months. I was able to go on splits with Elder Or. The kid knows his stuff, but not how to teach it, yet. It was just so funny for me to think (this is going to sound rude, but I don't mean it to be) "Was I really like that 6 months ago?" We all have grown and have learned so much.
The Pre-mortal life has been the topic, as I said, that has been dominating discussion in our district. I think we do ourself a great disservice as Latter-Day Saints telling ourselves that sinning is "easy" or "natural". As "Following Christ" put it, our bodies, our carnal selves have no sense of right and wrong. They don't detect light and truth, any more then a thermometer detects nuclear radiation, or a Geiger counter measures temperature. They work on the sense of "pleasure or pain", which is where Satan gets his power. Rarely, if ever, can he make sin look morally right under any amount of scrutiny, but he can make it seem pleasurable very easily. Sin is only "easy" if your body is in control. But we are just as much Spirit as we are Body. Our Celestial Spirits NATURALLY gravitate towards Truth and Light, but in a world with so little Spiritual interaction, the Body tends to dominate the Spirit easily. This is why daily prayer, service, righteous living, and scripture study are so important. This is how we exercise our Spirit, and subject the Flesh to the Spirit. By doing that, Sin actually becomes DIFFICULT, because our governing Spirit naturally recoils. "What are you DOING?!"
The real disappointment this week was a FREAK rainstorm Saturday night that flooded the streets. We baptized 12 on Saturday (as a district, but still!), but only two were confirmed on Sunday. That is DISMAL. Even now, I fully expect President to call me to get an assessment on the situation. Or maybe during interviews on Friday (side note, we will be at the Accra Temple! :D). Most of our investigators came late, if at all. We had to explain to Syl and Lucy that the Devil will be working overtime on them this week, as half-baptized, they are clearly the people he will lose next, so he's going to try and drag them back in. This added pressure is not mitigated by the Spirit at ALL!
The only other big thing is I've started a financial journal for the District and for myself. I want to practice my basic book-keeping, and I figure it'll be a great exercise in accountability and stewardship, and will be a great talent to have for later in life.
Oh, and Sunday, we had an AMAZING talk by our 1st Counselor. It was all about providing in the Lord's way. He spoke against people who come to Bishop, but refuse his counsel. "I came for money, not advice!" He also pointed out, in the story of Gideon, that sometimes God doesn't allow the easy route so He can show us His power in life. "The Church is not the solution, it is a method. GOD is the Solution." He also savagely attacked Liberians, who say "I'm in a strange land. I can't work. I'm a refugee. Life is unfair." Elder Be. looked at me and said "There went half our investigators." To be honest though, sometimes we take the truth to be hard. Work is the FIRST blessing we received when Adam and Eve left the Garden, and from the Doctrine & Covenants, we learn idlers are pretty much out of luck.
We are still praying to complete our goal, but as a District, we could easily exceed by 5, which would be wonderful. Elder Be. is convinced he'll be leaving at the end, so we figured this would be a sweet send-off. My MTC mates are really coming into our own right now, and I think the mission is going to see some great results. God really pulled out all the stops for Ghana in sending these, my Brothers :)
I love you all. I've been thinking about each of you (and I mean each of you!) this week. Aunt Crystal and Oma should be receiving letters this week, and I have until Friday to write more... and then, until the 24th, and then until Conference, 2 weeks later. Don't worry. Mail will be sent, (except I'm running out of stamps!) With how frequent the mail days are recently, I might have my first mail day with NO mail on mission (hint: don't let that happen!)
Elder W. Farnbach