Dear Family and Friends, April 11, 2011
This week was another really good one. We've got plenty of families to work with, the Branch leaders are up and excited to work, I'm not sick, and we worked on a farm today.
I'm really trying to think of this week, though... One thing that really stuck out to me was, most of our lessons were out of the Book of Mormon. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the Book of Mormon. I will be personally asking everyone to read it when I come home, especially if they have not. It does contain God's word. It answers all the great questions we have. It satisfies our soul, and opens a line of communication between us and God, as we ponder that maybe, just maybe, He loves ALL of us, and not just one nation, one time. What really brought this up was, I had my FIRST lesson with a militant atheist this week. It's the kind of thing missionaries dread, but I've been preparing for it my whole life.
"Religious people are delusional." (This man has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, he claimed, and he enough of vocab to back that up.)
"Really? What do you believe in?"
"I'm a Darwinist."
"Oh. Modern Cell Theory states that all living cells come from other living cells. How does Darwinism answer that?
"Well, there are gaps in the Theory."
"And there hasn't been a single Macro-Evolutionary fossil record discovered. You still accept this theory?"
"I'm not challenging you. My point is, there is a certain element of 'you just believe it', even if your understanding is imperfect. That is Faith. The evidence we have of our message is not the same kind as you would look for in a lab, but it is there. Let me give you a Book of Mormon, and you go find out for yourself."
"Why not? I'd love to enrich my library."
"Well, it's more than that. I hope we've established that we are neither delusional nor ignorant. Nothing in the whole world stands as evidence that there is no God."
"I wish I had your optimism."
I really, truly felt like we helped him. The best part was, after he had spent some time putting down the man sitting next to him, our investigator, for believing in God, he left. Our investigator then immediately said "I feel so sorry for that man."
The other lesson we really like what with a man named Isaac. He is 25, and he's been confused about religion his whole life. He knows a lot of the things he is doing are not right, but he doesn't know what he SHOULD be doing. As we explain the Priesthood and Gospel dispensations, he had a really hard time accepting the notion of "One True Church." And you know what? All the metaphors, examples, arguments I had didn't do anything. We then just simply had to ask him to pray to ask God himself. And that is true of all of us. Enos shows us that, even with the Prophet living in his house, more was required - divine communication. We are invited to ask for ourselves, and we must, because nothing else will stand the trials of this life.
I had another cool lesson today, too. While on the farm, I was "weeding" - attacking everything with a machete. Unfortunately, some of the crops were with the weeds, and they looked similar. Sound familiar? But I realized this. If you are wheat, you better look and act like wheat. And you had better not be surrounded by a bunch of tares, because those harvesting angels might not notice you. This is, of course, way too simple, but it just occurred to me how important that what we are on the inside matches what we do on the outside. I've never accepted this notion of saved merely by Grace. The things Jesus asks us to do are WAY too much work to have Him say, "But really, all you have to do is say you believe in me." "Take up your cross." "Deny yourself" "A broken heart and contrite spirit". This is work, and it is the greatest work we can ever do.
We continued our hot streak. We've had a baptism (at least one) every week for the past 5 weeks. This week looks good. Next week looks good. We just have to find someone for the 30th...
Thursday, we will go to the temple. Supposedly, that will be the trial day, but I'm not hopeful. It's been 3 times since "the last time". But, if it happens and the missionaries are released, maybe we'll be the first to see Elder Ke and Elder Om..
Love you all. I know God wants me in Africa right now. I will do all I can to serve faithfully, because I know this Church is true. There is a God. He loves us, and does everything for us. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior. He marked the path to happiness. Please, just follow it.
Elder W. Farnbach