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!