February 2, 2014
Of course it's been fun this week; I don't think it's possible for a week to be not-fun in a place like this. Several occasions this week, I got to help people pick coconuts(or "buko" in Tagalog) from nearby coconut trees. So fun! You get yourself an enormously long stick of bamboo(sometimes with a crude hook attached to the end), hoist it up in the air, and just start whacking away at the branches high above the ground, until a coconut falls down. Then, you cut it open, drink the buko-juice, and peel out the flesh. Fresh coconut. Ah. Super delicious. And it gives a great opportunity to share with people the message of the restoration.
Speaking of which, a lot of our initial lessons and teachings have a great deal to do with to putting to rest misconceptions and trying to explain clearly what our message actually entails.
For example, a lot of people forget entirely that there is an Eternal Father, and only acknowledge Jesus as God. Just that basic principle sometimes takes a lot of explaining before it is understood.
Then, there is the misconception about our name. Everyone knows us as "mormons". Every time we introduce ourselves, we make it clear to them that it is just a nickname, and that the actual name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Then, they think that we are just another religion. "Oh, we don't need your religion, we're Catholic." "Oh, we aren't interested, we're Born Again." "Oh, religion doesn't really matter. Only God can save." We then have to explain that our "religion" wasn't "founded". It isn't just another congregation of Bible scholars, regular attenders, and vain listeners. Our Church is the very same Church that Jesus Christ established Himself. And, of course, it was established through a prophet who was called to usher in this dispensation; just as Moses was called at his time, or Abraham, or Noah, or any other prophet, to preach the fullness of the gospel to the people through revelation from God. Joseph Smith is not the "founder of Mormonism", he was a Prophet of God, and without him, we would be just as lost as any other religion, who is earnestly seeking the word of God but is unable to find it in its entirety.
And yes, this Church, and this Church alone, has the fullness. In case you've forgotten, take a look at what we have. We are not some random stem of Protestantism that claims divine authority. Joseph Smith saw God the Father, and Jesus Christ, and They called him to be a Prophet. He then, through the power of that God who had called him, translated an ancient record of the Americas known as the Book of Mormon, which serves as additional scripture and guidance for our lives, that perhaps the Bible alone couldn't have provided us at this troubling time. During the translation of the said Book, the authority and keys of the priesthood were restored to the earth by the very men whom they had been entrusted to in the first place: John the Baptist, whose baptismal authority is of God, and not of man's origin or attempts; Peter, James and John, whose divine power was promised to be the foundation of Christ's Church, in its fullness. This is the kingdom of God on earth. Yes, it is small, and many have been called and few have been chosen, but we have the covenants and ordinances of Salvation! It is our work! There are no other faiths like ours, because we were not appointed by men, but by God Himself. Our duty is to heed that calling.
Who cares if you saw Whatshisface Werbermanjensen drinking coffee and passed the sacrament the next day. Who cares if Peter Priesthood said something mean to you at church, or if his Dad did something mean to your Dad. Who cares if your seminary teacher was a weirdo and said something untrue or just bizarre. Your job is not to judge, but to heed the calling that weall have, as this time: the Eleventh Hour, the latter days. The fact is that people are not perfect, and if you focus on that fact you will only become less and less perfect yourself. Remember that you have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ right now in your hands, and He wants to see what you can do with it.
Many a man in apostasy came with an earnest desire to find the truth of God, but the grasp of the adversary became so sly and quick, even as to turn the worship of our God into a superficial mythology. Precious truths were lost. Sacred commandments that had been established from the beginning, such as tithing, were perverted and used to get gain. There was little hope.
Now, there is hope.
We cannot imagine all that will be wrought, or even that has been wrought already, in our current state. But what we can do, is follow the commandments, and press forward. We do this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father. Amen.
Remind me to tell you about Brother Mike next week. Oh, and there will be a surprise awaiting many of you in the near future from me.