Monday, May 2, 2011

#87 - 21st Birthday / General Conference

Dear Family and Friends,                                         May 2, 2011

Man, what a great week. I loved it. Wonderful lessons, followed
by 4 sessions of Conference. And then I opened my birthday package,
and found a Captain America t-shirt. Life is good.

I think I will depart from my usual Monday to Sunday list, and
just talk events. I have been wrestling with the Lord on a great
number of subjects, and I feel like this week was a great outpouring
of the Spirit. We had some wonderful lessons, especially with a new
family. William O., first of all, has great taste in names. He is,
according to our Branch Council, a big-wig in the Church of Christ,
which, by the way, prints an old version of the Book of Mormon and
calls it the Nephite record. Who knew? Anyway, even though his English
isn't PERFECT, it was amazing how quickly he grasped the concepts we
were teaching about. "So, the real thing is, who is having those keys
now, now?" at the conclusion of our first lesson. Yes, Bro O., that is the question! We went back and explained the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. "Bro O., do you have any questions?"
"I think all I need to know is about this book." Right again! The best part was his closing prayer, where he said, "Father, I want to know about this strange book my elders have brought." Really, though, that's the best. Give me a man who is skeptical, guarded, and honest, over someone who
doesn't really care enough to discern truth from error. Anyone who
honestly reads the Book of Mormon and takes the time to pray about
it, will know it is true.

In Institute, we talked a lot about the dedication of the
Kirtland Temple. Temples are a remarkable thing. As I read through the
dedicatory prayer, I realized the things that are so vital to the Lord
(as He revealed it.) The prayer included a great deal about missionary
work and of the gathering of scattered Israel, including the Jews,
having a chance to go back to their homeland. It also talked about the
nations of the world becoming peaceful and abiding by the principles
of Divinity. All leaders would do well to follow the example of the
King of Heaven and Earth. It made me think of our brothers and sisters
in Ivory Coast. They are so faithful attending the temple. It is their
faith that will bring stability to that nation. I pray they may have a
temple there. It is in the temple we leave the world completely
behind. You are in the Heavenly Embassy, as it were. We make sacred
covenants that bind together families, across generations. It is ONLY
this power that could take imperfect individuals, and organize them
into a truly eternally happy unit.

Conference. Was. Awesome. We have an investigator named Isaac who
is having some serious questions about if the Church is true. We
invited him to see President Monson and the living apostles speak. Oh,
the Spirit at Conference. You just feel part of a really big family.
You all saw it a long time ago, but I didn't. But I also felt like
every Saint in the world was watching it with me, so that was really
cool. They sang all my favorite hymns, INCLUDING the last verse of
Hymn 85, How Firm a Foundation! Well, Isaac came late, so he missed
President Monson speaking. I was happy when he asked ,"Wait, isn't the
Prophet going to speak?" Don't come late next time, Isaac. (He came for
the Saturday sessions). But really, I remember when I first gained a
true spiritual witness that we have a prophet on the earth today. It
was during the Solemn Assembly, when we sustained President Monson as
the new prophet. I told all our investigators that, if they really
listened and pondered whether to raise their hands or not, Heavenly
Father would tell them if President Monson is a prophet. We'll see how
that goes as we visit them. I also really liked Elder Christofferson's
talk. Things have not been going well lately, and I realized that it's
a really blessing. When we are being chastised, it is in fact, an
invitation to be made better. When trials come say, "Good! I am SO
ready to repent!"

Well, gosh, I could just go on an on. My studies have felt
remarkably insightful, and I feel the Spirit speaking through me as I
teach, because I learn so much from my own mouth. But that would make
for a really dull letter, I imagine.

I spent my birthday watching Conference. WONDERFUL! Also, today,
I went to a farm and saw a cobra. I wish I could explain just how
terrified people in Ghana are of snakes. But not like, run away
scared. They see a snake and they want to hunt that thing down. I've
seen taxis swerve WAY off the road just to run over a snake. I learned
from Elder Jones that, if someone angrily asks you what you are doing
on their land, just say you saw a snake, and they will immediately be
distracted. "Which way did it go?" "The opposite way I am walking."

I love you all. Thank you for the birthday wishes. It just
occurred to me that most of my friends have or will graduate shortly.
Wow. Couple that with Elder Scott's talk, and sometimes I feel like
I'm running late on life.

Elder W. Farnbach

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