Dear Friends and Family, June 13, 2011
I had one of my very last signs of the times this past week. We had our last interviews with President Smith! Wow... barring something strange happening with the transfers, I will not see my Mission President as such again :( I dearly love and respect President, and frankly, I will have no idea what to call him when I see him outside of the mission environment. He did ask that I keep him informed on my marriage, children, and graduation (in that order) hahahaha )
His last interview was the best I've ever had. We talked about my progress on mission, about the future, about marriage (of course) and so many things. I loved his advice. "You tend to self-evaluate too much. Don't beat yourself up about what you are doing wrong, just fix it." This may become a mantra in life for me. As I've thought about, this is the whole point of the Atonement. Christ suffered and died so that we can stop worrying about old mistakes and spend all our energy on the future. Just repent, and move on! Everyone has things they wish they hadn't done. Nephi's soul-wrenched psalm is a great example... and he was Nephi! We must have hope if we are to truly have faith, and hope is the opposite of despair. That's what has kept me going these last few weeks. Things are very hard right now in our area. I do not know why, because my companion and I are working harder then ever. But, whereas I'd probably wring my hands raw earlier in my mission, I know that the Lord is mindful of our efforts. It is His plan and His goals I am trying to accomplish. We ask ourselves every companionship inventory "Did we do everything perfect this week?" Then answer is, of course, no. "Do we feel guilty and devoid of the Spirit as we ponder over it?" If the answer is “no,” then "Well, okay, good. It was acceptable this week. But we must do better!" As sad as I am that so many of our great investigators are struggling, I feel certain that Elder Ni. and I are not. We love the Lord. We want to do what is right. We work hard from day until night. We laugh, we smile, we improve, and it feels great.
For other things this week... we have one investigator named Gabriel. He is an interesting case for me, because he is the first Ghanaian agnostic I have ever met. "My relationship with God is good, but as for church and those things... I don't really care." When we explained to him about the Plan of Salvation "Well, if I end up in a grave forever, or living in Heaven somewhere, I should just be a good person." Hmmm... This man is a truly good man, but it was just a little difficult to figure out what was motivating him. We then asked him about his beliefs. You see, Brother Gabriel's legs do not function. He walks on crutches everywhere. "God could heal me right now, and I could still be a nobody. My goal is to be the person I'm supposed to be, regardless of how my challenges are. All these 'miracle' churches have everyone believing, unless you are 'whole' you can't be anything." Bingo! As we read Ether 12:27 with him, he suddenly became very interested in what we have to teach. One great song a companion of mine had in the mission field went something like this :
"I know it hurts, but child
it's just best if you pull through
Cause the pain will go away some day,
but the strength will stay with you"
Bro Gabriel will have his legs on the Resurrection Day. Of this I am sure. But more important, he will have the compassion developed over a life-time of seeings others struggle with problems he used to have. He will have the determination he developed from always fighting uphill. He will have the courage he gained facing life's problems head on. So, between me and Gabriel, who is really the blessed one?
I am not trunky, but I do look forward to being home. One of my investigators recently had a baby. The day before, we felt impressed to give his wife a blessing... or rather, HE felt impressed that we should give his wife a blessing. Pretty good for a man who has never been to church yet! That night, she gave birth. The baby was HUGE(!) something like 4.4 kilos, and she came out in less then 4 hours. Wow. It got me thinking about all my friends who have had children or are getting married. What a blessing to share in life's milestones with people you care about! How comforting to know that these sacred relationships can be preserved beyond the grave! I am grateful to Heavenly Father for such a wonderful plan. I know God lives. I know He loves His children. I am humbled to be an ambassador of that love to the people of Ghana. My time grows very short, and as much as I tease the two very very young missionaries in my district (How long have you been out? Wow! That's how many weeks I have left!), I do not yet feel like I have finished everything. I will not cut my mission short even one week. I am currently teaching 35 lessons a week for the past 4 weeks. I will continue that pace until the very moment He says "the Work is done".
I love you all very much.
Elder W. Farnbach