Dear Friends and Family, July 12, 2010
This past week wasn't particularly eventful. We had some pretty cool lessons, and all, but nothing jumps out at me. Other then Zone Leaders' Council. That is officially the coolest meeting ever. I saw a lot of missionaries that I'd known for a long time as hard-working, solid missionaries, and many of them instructed. I felt like part of some dream team. We talked a lot about getting our mission back on-course obedience-wise. To be honest, this mission isn't the most obedient. So, we as Zone Leaders are tasked with cleaning all this up, and Elder Ho. and I are mega-committed to steering our zone back on course. Mind you, the McCarthy Hills Zone was never really the problem, but better safe then sorry, right?
We also were told that the Church has shaken up how mission administration work is going to be done a little. Instead of every 6 weeks, zone interviews and conferences are going to be every 12. We also will no longer report goals on a 6 week cycle, but monthly. Given the tremendous inertia we've built up on the other system, this is going to be a bit of a pain. The other thing is that Zone Leaders council will be monthly, not every 6 weeks. The idea behind this is that mission leadership, not just the Mission President, is now more responsible for the teaching and training of missionaries,. They've changed the MTC curriculum too, effective May, 2011... but I have a copy of the curriculum right now. It's so much better then what we learned and I'm excited to put it into practice. It's not a complete overhaul, like when it went from discussions to the use of Preach My Gospel, but we are changing the focus of our teaching. This one is far more centered on revelation and helping our investigators seek and receive personal divine guidance. Elder Ho. and I have tested it the past 3 days and it's amazing. Clearly, we are still governed by inspiration, because this is exactly what we've needed. I'll talk more about this principle later. We'll also have to have a week long leadership training on the subject, which I am also excited for. I'll be sending Hans a copy of this curriculum, BTW.
Completely by happenstance, Elder Golden, of the 70, and President Smith, and two members of the Stake Presidency, all attended our ward. It was amazing seeing all those priesthood keys in one place! I was teaching Gospel Essentials that day. It was nerve racking to be teaching about the ATONEMENT with your super-critical, teaching-skills-centered mission president in the class with you.
Anyway, on to the principle I've come to appreciate most this week. One of the most frustrating things I've experienced on my mission comes from when I ask which Church is true. Most Ghanaians at first answer "Oh, church is church." After a little teaching, most will generally accept that there is only one true Church, but they will say, "Only God can know which." This frightens me a little bit. When we take tests, we like to know the results as soon as possible. Yet when the stakes are as high as ETERNAL SALVATION, most people live their life in a state of guessing. This is where the ever important principle of revelation comes in. I don't mean the book in the Bible but I mean the certainty that comes from Divine communication. Elder... Whitney? I think so. His talk in the Liahona ("Built Upon the Rock", Gospel Classics section) illustrates this point perfectly. Nothing in this church, he points out, is done because the Jews did it. Nothing is done or left undone because the Nephites did it. Rather, things are the way they are because Christ, standing at the head of this Church, has revealed through our current prophet, seer and revelator, that WE must do them. An all-powerful God can surely confirm the truth of any principle to YOU. He doesn't require you to GUESS your standing before Him.
See the example of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham was given a marvelous promise, and it was revealed to him that these promises would extend to his son Isaac. This old revelation to another did not satisfy Isaac, and he sought to know for certain for himself. The Lord revealed to him, just a few pages later, that these promises were for him as well. Years later, Jacob had the same concern, and pursued the same course. Again, the Lord revealed these same promises to him. If these Patriarchs, righteous as they were, were not comfortable leaving their salvation up to chance, why are we?
Peter talks of "the more sure word of prophecy", which we understand to be "a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of Promise". This is what the Book of Mormon means when it says it teaches what "man must do to gain peace in this life..." It is this certainty that gives peace! It is this certainty that allowed Paul, Stephen, and Peter to give their lives for something they hadn't seen. Yes, faith is important, but faith doesn't mean that you have to walk in the dark! The scriptures repeat over and over, "ask", "seek", "knock". The Lord even promises in Jeremiah 29 "I will be found of you". We really can know, for sure, if we are pleasing the Lord. We can know if we are on the right course. We can know if, at the end of the day, everything will be alright. (Enos and Joseph Smith are both great examples of this. The prayer that prompted Moroni's visit was driven by a desire to know "[Joseph's] standing before God")
The Lord has given us the TOOLS to seek Him, through the scriptures, through His Church, and through our personal prayers. As we strive diligently to know, we can. Let us not accept doubt where we can have certainty, my friends! I invite you, especially, to pray to ask God concerning your life. Are you on the right path? The rewards for such knowledge are worth the effort! For those who don't believe in God, this is a perfect way to see if He is there! Just like walking into a dark, seemingly abandoned house, we can shout "Hello?" and listen for a response.
I love you all! I'm so grateful that we have the gospel to bind us together for time and all eternity, as I should not hope for anything less. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and your support. Not long until 1 year!
Elder W. Farnbach