Monday, January 17, 2011

#72 Cinnamon Toast Crunch / Answered Prayers

Dear Friends and Family,                  January 17, 2011

I just want to start off this letter by bearing testimony on the power
of prayer. This week was a little rough in so many ways, but right
around Sunday, I felt an overwhelming confirmation that Heavenly
Father knows me, He loves me, and He will always be there to help me.
It is easy to settle into routines when it comes to missionary
work. In our mission, we have some minimum standards. With these sort of
goals, it becomes easy to look at things like check-marks on a list.
You suffer through a crummy lesson and you say, "Only xx number more to go."
You half-heartedly go through a script - "We're missionaries from the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Have you seen us before?
That's right, on the bicycles." And when you finish, you make a dot in
your planner that says you only have to do that XX more times today.
At the end of the week, you count the dots, lessons, new
investigators, and you say "I'm an excellent missionary." This sort of
humdrum just sucks everything out of you, especially when you are then
forced to ask yourself "Then why don't I FEEL like an excellent
missionary?". The answer is because that routine has never yielded
excellence, least of all when it comes to the Lord's work. Though we
take the Sacrament every week, it should never be something you do
because you've always done it. The temple, even if you have been a
thousand times, should always cause reflection. Persistent effort,
searching, hungering and thirsting after righteousness are what yield
excellence in the eyes of God.
    As I realized the spiritually-dead state I had fallen into, it
took, of course, more work to get out. This can be summarized in an
example with my current companion. We turn our phone on silent when we
go into lessons. Now, this can take many, many different buttons, but
I have arranged it in such a way that it will only take 2. My
companion does not do it this way. Every time HE puts the phone on
silent, I explain it to him again. "Why do you do it THAT way? It's so
much easier THIS way. I arranged it THIS way to be easier for us,
specifically so we would not have to do it THAT way." I imagine this
is how the Lord feels about each of us, especially me. The way to
start this turn around, I've realized, is to say "I'm sorry. I was
wrong. My way was wrong, and I don't know how to fix it." I have
prayed specifically to overcome each and every problem for a while
now. This week was like the Lord said "Son, I have heard your
prayers, and I'm going to answer each and every one of them,
specifically, and you will know that I am God, and your Father."
Sunday is just when I realized that He'd done it.
    As I prayed to have better feelings, God sent President Smith and Elder Sitati, of the 70, to our
Sacrament yesterday, to bear testimony of just how active the Lord is
in the lives of His African Children. "Christ is on this continent,"
said President Smith. "He is concerned with the well being of His
brothers and sisters here. He has heard the prayers that stem from
your humble circumstances, and He is answering them." Elder Sitati,
probably one of the GREATEST converts of Africa, gave a powerful talk
on the need to give up our old lives and take up new lives as
disciples of Christ. As I ponder on this, I think this is the part of
Christianity that is missing in many lives. We love the ideas of Christ.
"Love everybody!" we cheer. "Do good!" we cry. "Forsake sin, and never
tolerate it!"  ... whoa. That sounds kind of hard... But if we do not,
if we are not that force for good in the community, if we do not
invite people to change their lives and follow the principles of
Christ, then what was the point of adding "the Salt of the Earth" to
this particular dish? Christians love everyone, and serve everyone, as
Christ did. The way we show this love is to invite everyone to live
higher, more righteous lives, not by merely patting them on the back. The
great example in my mind is when He cleansed the Temple. So anyway,
that got me fired up about teaching people, not lessons. I sincerely
want to help people.
    The other answer came as a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a 12
page letter from two of my dearest friends, reserved by God and an
overloaded postal service for an hour of need. Thank you, Dylan and
    Sunday, it was my companion's turn to write reports, so I had 3 hours
to just sit and revel as I pondered my own fallen nature, and all the
blessings that I received during the week, that I was only now
realizing. I think I understand what this means a little better. I do
not believe most people consciously rebel against God. I believe that
we are just slow to remember all the little blessings Heavenly Father
has given us, and quick to cry that we have been abandoned as we taste
the bitter fruits of our own choices - that God has forgotten us, when
He merely allows us to see the direction our own path is taking us.
    I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father. I am grateful to know
the Savior. I know He lives. I will do better as His representative to
the people of Ghana.
Elder W. Farnbach

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