Monday, April 26, 2010

Fast But Slow Week #34

Dear Friends and Family, April 26, 2010

     This last week has been pretty challenging. Nothing sticks out that would MAKE it to be hard, to be honest.

Mail day was wonderful. Elder Q. saw the separate table that was set aside for my mail amd started calling it the "Elder Farnbach Birthday Extrrrrravaganza!" It is taking every bit of my willpower, Grammy & Papa, Mommy & Daddy, and Oma & Grandpa Bill not to just open those birthday packages now!

We taught some good lessons, and a fair number at that, and found some good people. But this whole week has felt a lot like plodding, and then it finished out with some weak Sabbath-Day attendance. To top it all off, President came out to do some interviews for us and decided to inspect our apartment... which was in SHAMBLES due to the amount of meetings this week. "I'll just come back." It was almost ridiculous how upset it made me. I mean, I've got 4 clean apartment awards, and now mine is probably the worst he's seen! I guess that is really where the frustration is. This past week, I've been feeling like I've not been living up to expectations, my own, my President's, or my God's. I'm not sure where it is coming from, but I've been feeling a gale of negativity this past week. It's funny, because we've just added two big skills that I think have given us a big edge. Our companionship prayers have taken on a new dimension, and President has been a real planning guru these past few weeks. I guess this is one of those times the Spirit has withdrawn to see if I'm big enough to handle this on my own. It just seems a really daunting task to overcome all my weaknesses, and in such a short time. I'm getting this second round where I'm realizing just how much work I need, and it's probably what is getting me down. So far... well, the jury is still out.

     Satan has been getting really sneaky, though. I've had thoughts like "I need to write a huge detailed set of notes and spend a huge amount of time sending my brothers things to prepare them for THEIR missions! Maybe I could just go and train them up!" and then I think "You sly dog! You have me trunking out again!"

     Not too much happened this week, otherwise. There were no baptisms. We are doing that the third week. Transfers are coming up. I'd say if I stayed, it would not be a surprise, and if I went, no one would be surprised either.

     Anyway, I love you all. Thank you for 20 wonderful years :) The one thing that pulls me out of these little slumps is piles and piles of memories that the Spirit can sift through, and recall when occasion requires.

     Elder W. Farnbach

PS Oh, also... Next week is Conference!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reading in Buduburam

Dear Friends and Family, April 19, 2010

So this week was a stressful one, but it ended up paying off.

We were teaching one woman this week who was very close to being baptized, but couldn't because she can't read. [mission rules, the people have to be able to read in order to be baptized so that they can continue to learn about the Gospel ] We spent a lot of time on a woman named Agnes B. Agnes is a single mom to 4 children, all under 10. She is amazing. She showed up to church one day, because God told her to. Wonderful, right? Then we found her reading problem, so we set a baptismal date about 3 weeks out. We found out she lived right next to a man named Hilton K., a convert of just under a year, who is preparing to go to the temple. (He is also the ONLY man in Buduburam who is doing his home teaching.) He agreed to help her read a little at a time. This was two weeks ago, okay? Well, on Thursday, we went by, and we were reading from the Book of Mormon and we noticed... Agnes is reading along. We asked her to read. She could do it nearly flawlessly (Really made me appreciate how hard English can be. Ancient? Who said 'cie' should be a 'ch' sound?). This woman learned to read in about a week. And not just touch-up work. She couldn't pronounce most 3 or 4 letters words 2 weeks ago. Now, she is pretty much literate. We also had been working with her 9 year old son. He seemed really excited. He told us how much he loves church. One baptism became two, and the ZLs were called. Interviews on Friday, and then a hustle to arrange a baptism. We ended up joining a baptism at Kaneshie... about an hour away by Tro-Tro. We woke up at 7 that day, picked up Agnes and Michael, (her son) and took them there. Agnes is awesome.

Wow... that was really the big story from this past week. We attended the first Ward Council meeting after the Stake President's instructions last week, and things are really picking up. I also had a bit of a moment when Mary F. referred to herself as a Laurel [ name of the class for 16-18 young women ]. Yep, as of 3 weeks ago, now she is for real! I got this weird sense of how she always belonged, and FINALLY she was here! Helena, her mom, also asked about getting a Patriarchal Blessing and her temple recommend for baptisms. I love that family!

We also had a great lesson with Lina this week. We try to keep it informal, because she has a pretty dim view of organized and "rigid" religion. Elder Q. points out how Europeans maybe are getting a little cynical from 2000 years of pseudo-doctrine and bad behavior on the part of some of the churches. Anyway, it really just focused on prayer, and the fact that God talks back. It's not just filling God in, but rather a chance for Him to have your attention, and give you guidance. As we were teaching another girl, Beatrice, this came up again. I talked about calling home, and how excited I am to call home for Mother's Day, and how excited God must feel, then, we someone who hasn't been praying begins praying again. Not just that, but really, every time we pray. We cannot imagine how far away we really are, spiritually. Every sin widens the gap! So to have that moment of communication... I'm sure Father really appreciates it. On that note, pray more.

Transfers are next week. It's not likely that I'll leave, but it's also not like, if I do, it'd be a big shock. I've been here three transfers now, and President may think Elder Q. needs a native companion. I hope not, as we are building a baptismal font for Buduburam, and the Ward is really stoked about getting to attend baptisms. We will also watch General Conference on the 2nd... unless I am transferred next week......

Love you all. I hope all the choicest blessings in Heaven for you. Often enough, though, God waits for us to ask. So ask!

Elder W. Farnbach

Monday, April 12, 2010

Elder Qu

Ward Conference

Dear Friends and Family, April 12th, 2010

I have taken some pretty good pictures. We'll see if I am able to upload them. This cafe isn't the most conducive for that. [ It didn't work. ]

This past week was full of awesome spiritual experiences, and great lessons. They all related, which is further proof to me of how the Gospel works. It begins with President, getting mad for the condition of my planner. We began to implement exactly the system as outline by the Brethren. It alone increased our effectiveness on the order of 15% (total lessons). At this same time, I thought to myself "What are other things I haven't been doing?" I read a talk by Elder Scott from the last conference... I mean before this one :P What struck me most was his process... if he had not been following the early principles and promptings he'd received, he'd have forfeited the later ones. As I have been striving to improve in everything, I decided that it would not do to overlook PMG [ Preach My Gospel ], as the Lord had probably answered a great deal of my questions, and given me a great deal of spiritual guidance in said manual. I committed to studying this more intensely, with a new, committed study journal. As I researched the principles of repentance and faith, these oft over-looked concepts unfolded to my mind in a fantastic new way. I gained a personal testimony of them as I was changing. As I repented on these simple things, like my planner and area book, other things became easier to change. I had the energy to exercise in the morning. This helped me approach my studies invigorated, and I think I sweat less the days I exercise in the morning. :) Repentance became easier as I repented. As I exerted the faith to implement these principles, it built my faith in them and allowed me to implement more. It convinced me that what Christ asks us to do is both possible and advantageous. I gained greater faith in Him as the Savior, and the Son of God as I recognized how His guidance was beneficial to me. These two principles, Faith and Repentance, are positive cycles that build on each other until, like 2 Nephi 9:23 points out, we have that perfect faith that allows us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But that perfection can only come as a process, one of learning, living, then knowing (John 7:17).

I also felt the Godly sorrow we always describe in relation to my studies. As I read over Elder Scott's talk, I realized that by being less then consistent with my studies, I'd forfeited a lot of guidance already. These promptings are personalized, tailored to the person receiving them. If we fill half a page of paper per study, a missionary should go home with just over 600 pages of personal revelation from Heavenly Father. I'm already a third into my mission, and have therefore given up 200 pages of such guidance. Even as I write this, I realize this is devastating! Oh, that I had been more faithful! What would I know now? Who could I have helped? Which of God's c remain in darkness because I didn't have answers God intended me to have? I have changed this, because I have to. I can't afford to let that happen again.

We also had a baptism this past week. I baptized Helena and her daughter, Mary, Nathan, Ezekiel and Grace. Nathan now wants us to teach his son. So we went over to him with Anthony F. and Nelson T., the investigators' class teacher and WML [ Ward Mission Leader ], respectively. (They put together the baptism, and did a great job.) Flower, Nathan's son, didn't show, so we had Nelson and Anthony teach Nathan about the Priesthood. I have never loved or appreciated that responsibility like I did in that lesson. We welcomed Nathan to the Priesthood, and impressed on him the sacred nature of that responsibility, the honor it is to be part of a quorum, and what would be expected of him, which he answered with serious enthusiasm. We all ended up bearing our testimonies to one another, and I came out of there with the brightest hope for the ward (and Kingdom) I've ever had.

We then had Ward Conference. The Stake president, President Ahogby is THE MAN! The theme was Exodus 18:19-20. Greatest. Scriptures. Ever. He impressed on the ward the sacred nature of the Ordinances of the Gospel, and the ward's responsibility to teach them to their children. He pointed out that for every blessing, there is a principle. If you don't have a specific blessing from God, it's because you do not understand or live by the requisite principles. He gave an example. "I've heard most of you are not working. Some of you are trying. Are you living the principles the Lord has set forth concerning getting work? I can think of one. Tithing. The Lord has promised those who tithe will receive more then the can possibly imagine. Are we living this principle?" Then he pointed out that this ward had 400 members, with 191 in attendance that day. 52 members are Melchizedek Priesthood holders. He said "Based on your numbers, this should be two Wards and a branch! Based on your Priesthood, as much as four Wards! What are we doing to make this happen? Are we living the principles God has instructed us to live as parents, and families in Zion?"

I also love those scriptures because they demonstrate revelation and responsibility in the family. It would have been easy for Moses to say "I'm the one leading this Church!" and ignore his Father-in-Law, a "mere" high priest. Rather, with humility, recognizing the direction of Heaven, and his Father-in-Law's wisdom, experience, and duties in the Order of Heaven, he implemented a system that we still use today!

Whew! I didn't even know how much I learned this week. I hope General Conference was as amazing as our Ward Conference was.

In temporal affairs, Elder Q. and I have been pushing for another companionship to be sent to Buduburam. Another 4 people came to Church without previous missionary contact... way to go ward members! Our EQP [ Elders' Quorum President ] was released, and gave a ton of counsel to his successor concerning working with us. I'm incredibly hopeful. This ward will be the sweetest place in the mission in no time!! Elder Q. also took a nasty tumble yesterday on his bike and gashed up his knee. He's fine, don't worry. I didn't grab the bread knife and threaten to amputate... I AM going to be a doctor, after all.

I love you all very much. Strive to learn the principles and ordinances of salvation. Seek the guidance of our loving Heavenly Father every day of your life, and in every aspect of it. Honestly, if you believe in God, and do not constantly seek His guidance, you are either too proud, too ignorant, or too lazy, and none of these are attributes of a child of the Most High, and a Disciple of Christ. Repent. Life is so much easier when you do!

Elder Farnbach

Monday, April 5, 2010

Conference and Easter in Buduburam NOT

Dear Friends and Family, April 5, 2010

Where to start... well, things in Kasoa are winding down. I called the Ward Mission Leader to inform him that they had some baptisms coming up, and I got a pretty vicious reply. He went so far as to say when President Smith came by, he wanted to have a word with him about "how things are being done." It took every Christ-like thought in my mind not to show my frustration... Anyway, they are starting to do their own missionary work, which is great. I'll just come in and arrange interviews at the end.

We've been steadily increasing our lessons-per-week to try and compensate for the increased work-load. We also received counsel (read, chastisement) from President over our planning. I think my planner was still one of the better ones, but President fired me pretty harshly. Specifically, he said "I never would have expected this from you." [ He hadn't filled in one day. ] He then asked me to give him my planner in 3 weeks at Zone interviews. We've already mobilized on this. We arranged all our planning to be done in one room. To take the counsel Professor Bott gave in Mission Prep, I tried to disguise the move by making it funny. Now, our apartment is called the Hall of Justice, and the whiteboard, area book, and planning all happen in The War Room. So far, so good. I've also started an in-depth study of Preach My Gospel. It occurred to me that it was inconsistent to pray for answers to questions that God probably already answered in PMG. Hans, take note of this. Even Xander. There is a LOT of life skills to be learned in that inspired manual. Mom and Dad, you could probably also use it in your callings. We also fixed the bikes...

Syl has been introducing us to a lot of his friends, and so we sat down with him to get more referrals. We learned a LOT about him... enough so that I'm worried about getting on an FBI watch-list... Syl is basically Rambo. That's all I'll say.

Helena and Mary agreed to a baptismal date!!! This Saturday, we'll baptize them. Each have become pillars in the ward. Mary is the Laurel President... (not set apart or anything... but she is) and Helena has a tight group of friends in the RS. It's been amazing to see our ward missionary work explode. Our investigator class was overflowing last week. The new Sunday School Presidency met with us to assign us two or three teachers so we don't have to teach in there any more. Nelson, the WML, is organizing his first by-himself baptism, so we can take that off our minds, too. Now, he just needs Ward Missionaries. People are becoming available for Member-Present lessons, and referrals just keep coming. It's been amazing. I was hoping to get out of Kasoa a little bit ago, now I never want to leave... well, if they want to move us to live in Buduburam, that'd be sweet, but...

I spent this Easter, trying to think over the Atonement as best I can. It occured to me that a.) The only thing that could have strengthened Christ through His suffering in the Garden and on the Cross was His sense of identity (Son of God) and devotion to you and me. The Spirit could not be present at all. It was pure force of will, and love, and 100% Him that did it. b.) It was this suffering that will allow me to repent about my planner. That may seem trivial, but Elder Q and I were talking over it. Humankind is naturally self-destructive. That's what Mosiah 3:19 is all about. The only reason we've been able to overcome ANY of our foibles is because of the Atonement.

A lot of missionaries have gone home early. This is a pretty high-attrition rate mission. [ At least one has gone home with illness, one with manic depression, one with anger management issues and 6 others that he doesn't know the reason. ] Don't worry about me, I don't even get sick.

Thank you all for the letters this past week. I was especially happy to get the funnies from Grammy, and Christmas Around the World pictures from Kat. That was awesome!
I've been missing Elder Be. like crazy this week. Man, I wish he could see how the ward is doing. They love and miss him. I hope to have that kind of influence when I leave.

Count yourselves blessed for getting to see General Conference. I severely miss it! I contented myself reading old Ensigns [ church magazines ] I have. I especially loved that talk Mom sent with the quote from Brigham Young. It's an extension of what Paul said about Charity, and exemplifies the kind of boldness I hope to have.
"I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains. And attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties. Otherwise, your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain to you, and you will sink to Hell, unless you attend to the things we tell you."

Remember that. If you are not being helpful, and exalting others, it doesn't matter how much you understand the gospel, how much you fast, how well-worded your testimony is, how many visions you've had, or anything else, if you are not Charitable. The END.
Elder Farnbach