Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Email veinticinco: a mighty change

February 6, 2017 
My beloved family and 5 faithful friends who read these things: thank you for what you do but mostly for who you are. You're awesome.

Last week I was not able to send off a weekly because I ran out of time. We got back late from hiking, and I had many little distractions. I also got very very sick Monday, immediately after getting back to the apartment, so we stayed in for the rest of the night. I still hadn't finished my email so I figured what the heck I'll finish writing it and send it a little bit after 6 no big deal. So it was 6:10, I was still writing and Elder Toomer asks me "Elder, what are you doing?" "Writing my family" (as I continue to type). He responded by asking if I knew the time, and I said yes but that my family had to hear from me. He then said ok and that he couldn't make me do the right thing. My initial reaction was to get angry, and I was tempted to say something unkind in response. But then I stopped, paused, and thought about the situation. Was I frustrated because I was the one wanting to do the right thing, or because I wasn't being obedient? I knew that I wasn't being obedient. So I chose to make the super hard decision of saving what I had to drafts. The letter was basically done but I knew if I hit the send button I couldn't feel good about myself and my commitment to the Lord. At 7:30 Mom sent me an email asking where her letter was, and not being able to respond broke my heart. I texted Sister Thompson to tell her I was sick and if she could contact my mom and let her know what happened. Sister Thompson is a champ.

Branch barbecue we had Saturday 

So now the explanation is out of the way, I'd like to take more time to talk about the visit from Elder Anderson two Saturdays ago. I will say this. I received direct revelation and answers to my questions and prayers. An invitation from Elder Beheshti, a member of the Seventy who also spoke during the conference, is to change the way we email our families. I know I have been way too casual in my emails, so I apologize to everyone. Serving a mission is an incredible opportunity to reach out to those you love and share your testimony and spiritual experiences. Elder Klebingat, a member of the Seventy, was also present and spoke. He spoke on total consecration. He was very intense, very serious and very bold. He spoke on secret combinations, we as missionaries cannot have secret agreements one to another to hide wickedness and disobedience from leaders. He also said that coming unto Christ is not a negotiation, it is TOTAL SURRENDER. You give everything up, lay everything on the altar of sacrifice, you hold nothing back. I have been studying becoming a Consecrated Missionary and so this really was directly applicable to my studies.

Elder Anderson spoke of how as missionaries, we need to have the Doctrine of Christ and the Scriptures "burn through our hearts like fire." I love that! Do our testimonies burn in our hearts like ??? This Gospel is not a side dish or an appetizer, IT SHOULD BE AT THE FRONT AND CENTER OF EVERYTHING WE DO. That's tough to do when we have so many distractions. While I'm here on the mission, I'm converting myself so that when I get home the Gospel remains my main focus. I want my dedication and love for Jesus Christ to be my everything.

Tuesday we had to stay in the apartment all day, we only left once to make it to interviews with President Wakolo. Interviews went very well. We had interviews as a companionship and Elder Toomer told President the main thing he has learned from me is how to love the people. I was surprised, because sometimes I get very frustrated with some of the people we work with haha, and I feel I definitely need to increase my love for the people.

Wednesday was rough. We were driving to go pick up the English Elders to take them to Zone Meeting in Conway. They called us and the Bluetooth is set up in the car. I looked down at the monitor just long enough to get distracted and merged into the right lane without head checking and hit another car. As we were running late. It wasn't too bad, the front of our car is pretty dinged up but it still drives. We are waiting for the insurance to repair the damages and for my fine to come through. Fun stuff. I have been studying agency lately and I chose to exercise my agency and choose to not say a few choice words, and to not scream and yell and vent verbally like my old self would. Isn't agency great?!

S & T's baptismal date fell through this Saturday, because they are still not married. T still needs to propose but he has been working like a dog lately and never has time. It really seems like the world is against them finding true happiness. S's family has started saying not nice things and really persecuting her for meeting with us. They have tried to give her and T anti church material. Salvation isn't easy, but I know S & T WILL find it. I just don't know if I'll be around to see it.

Monday while we were hiking we stopped by the river to eat lunch. I was feeling pretty sad about S & T and all the opposition they have faced and all the opposition I have faced here on the mission. Elder Larrain came over and sat by me, and started talking to me. At first I was thinking the way I usually do when I'm sulking: leave me alone and let me be depressed by myself. Then Elder Larrain quoted Elder Bednar and said something that changed my life: "Quit worrying." Two words. So simple. We worry all the time, just about anything and everything. We choose to lose our minds worrying about everything. It doesn't have to be like that. We can stop. We can trust. Quit worrying. Let it all go, do the best you can, and trust that God knows what he's doing.

I think about my time here in Russellville, almost 4 months, not a whole lot. Have these four months been for absolutely nothing? Have I simply wasted time here? I know at least one life has changed during my time here. I am a better person for being here. I love Jesus Christ more because I have been here. My life will be forever blessed because of my time here, and the lives of my future wife and children. I think about S & T, are their lives better because I met them? That's a yes. So four months have yielded at least 3 changed lives. To me that's worth it.

I know there is a God, and that he is our Heavenly Father. I know that on a very personal level. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior, that through Him we are saved, and if we follow him we will find eternal joy. I know perfectly that Joseph Smith was called of God to bring forth the Gospel in it's fullness in these Latter Days. I know The Book of Mormon is more than a book, it is the word of God, the most correct book on this earth, and abiding by its precepts has brought me closer to God and to Christ, and brought me more joy and understanding than any other book. I know the Bible is also the word of God, and that the Book of Mormon increases my appreciation for the Holy Bible and what it teaches. I will never doubt that, I will never question it.

The Church is true, the Book is blue, and I feel like I just started my mission anew.

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