Dear Friends and Family, March 3, 2010
Sorry for the delay. This letter has some semblance of organization, but it won't be chronological. These past few days (Sunday-Tuesday) I was sitting in the hospital with Elder Be., who had Malaria. That's why I wasn't online on Monday. It was a wonderful opportunity, though, for quiet reflection, away from real responsibility and concerns. I had a lot of chance to read, ponder, and just experience the Spirit. I don't want to sound preachy, but I feel particularly inspired to share one thing I learned. I've been reading the Teachings of the Presidents: David O. McKay. He has a wonderful chapter on unity, which has become a mental theme over these past few months. He said something to the effect of "There are plenty of good, noble, conscientiousness people in the world, who desire to improve the world. They have, however, no organizational impulse, no governing end-result to coordinate their efforts. We have. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is our job to preach it until all the Noble and Great enlist themselves in the greatest cause to roll forth in the history of the World." I have never seen that more manifest than these past few days. While in the hospital, we received numerous calls from our recent converts, wishing Elder Be. well, and telling us that they were praying for him. Of most particular impact was Syl, who called and told us that every day, his family was kneeling together to pray for Elder Be. He then passed the phone to Jebbeh, his wife, and Satta, his 12 year old daughter, who in turn expressed their sympathies and well-wishes. This family, teetering on divorce 3-4 weeks ago, all just entered into the waters of baptism. Syl baptized Satta and Jebbeh last Saturday. The leadership and recent converts of Buduburam, the good and noble, were finally unified in prayer for their dear elder, lying in his hospital bed, convinced he was going to die. Never before has the unifying power of the Gospel been so obvious to me. Elder Holland, when he addressed us, said that we [ missionaries ] "are the most prayed for people in the world." As I sat and marveled in that hospital room, my thoughts went back to the letters I'd received from Aunt Crystal and Uncle Matt, telling me that they pray for me every day. Mail was brought and a package from Uncle Michael and Aunt Laura came with Girl Scout cookies and their love. I reflected on my own family, whose prayers I was just now beginning to feel, and then the prayers of those, my dearest friends. Then, my mind was opened to the families all over the world, who plead with the Father on behalf of us small boys. The Gospel, through honest and sincere prayer, unifies the world.
Elder Holland taught some other wonderful principles in his talk. To be honest, it was odd. He seemed so... different than when he speaks in General Conference. There were some gems mixed in with the jokes. "The real danger of this mission is that it is just too easy, isn't it? Even a bad missionary will baptize. You don't KNOW what it's like to have to look for investigators! You'll start to think you can break the little rules. You'll get sloppy. And by all indications, you're still doing all right." The other great one was "This is your shot! You've been called to the apostleship! That's with a small 'a', of course, but that's why I can't feel too much sympathy for you. I'm the wrong guy to talk to about it being too hard! I can be sorry for you, if you want. Not much, but I can be! You get ONE shot at this! Don't waste it!" He then told a great story about each of his grandchildren, who think that missionaries walk on water. He said "Let them think that. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for Grandpa Holland. I don't want to have to explain to them, after they see you, that missionaries aren't normally like *that*."
The other big experience from this past week was the baptism. We baptized 5, Jebbeh and Satta W., Abraham and George S., and Hilton K.. Abraham is a good friend of Syl's, who we coincidentally began teaching at about the same time. Syl was able to baptize ALL of them! It was wonderful. I wish every Priesthood bearer in the Church felt that enthusiastic to exercise his Priesthood and do his duty.
I know the Lord remembers His children. I know that Christ stands at the head of this Church and this work, and that for those who are willing to put in just a little effort, they will find themselves laden with many sheaves.
I was especially happy to get handwritten letters from my dear little sister and Jessica Biancardi, as well as Uncle Michael's family, and Grammy, (thanks for the stamps and pictures!)
Take care, my dear friends. Mom gave me a list of people who said they have received letters from me lately. I notice that 3 or 4 of the letters I thought I sent haven't arrived at their destinations. I apologize. This Wednesday, I'll have finished replacements for those. I don't want anyone to think I have forgotten them, because I promise, those times I am not working, you all fill my thoughts. I love you, and I pray for you,