March 24, 2014
Well, I guess I'll start with the less-than-good news, and then move on to the good stuff. Last Tuesday after our district meeting, I started getting a really bad headache. This progressed the whole way home, and turned into a fever. Elder Dulaca started feeling it too. We decided to rest, seeing that we weren't very fit for work in our state. Lo and behold, we were bedridden until Friday. I feel like I've lost weight too. But never fear, all is well now. These sort of things just happen in the Philippines. I have a strong immune system, and it functions properly, so I'll let it do its thing, along with some help from oils. What's that one scripture, about how the herbs of the land helped them? Well, it's true.
Here's the good stuff. This morning, we visited the Grand Governor's Rapids down in Maddela(about an hour southeast from us). It was a truly awesome place! Hopefully next time I'll have enough internet speed to give you some photos. It was way fun, though. Boat rides, climbing through caves, finding hidden waterfalls, hiking through water in shoes and jeans... Plus, this morning was really foggy, enhancing the exotic Asian mystique of it all. Needless to say, I'm glad to be here.
This week, I've taken upon myself to solve something that seems to be difficult for me at times, when I feel a bit friendless in difficult circumstances.
This mission has a very unique combination of cultures. Although it is hard and unnecessary to expound upon all the details, the basic deal is that many of the missionaries in this mission are disobedient. I was fortunate enough to have a very obedient trainer, Elder Manabo, as well as an obedient Zone leader, still present, Elder Odom. They really helped me see how obedience blessed the work here, and allowed everyone to have more freedom. Obedience just hasn't really been a problem for me here on the mission. Yes, I miss rock n roll. Yes, I miss movies. But never the thought entered my mind that I should compromise my promised blessings for a few seconds of reminiscence. Just wasn't an option.
For many Elders here, though, it is a different story. I feel like they follow a different set of rules. Filipino culture is very care-free, and it is hard for many of these native Elders to alter that mind-set here on the mission. I found myself many times having critical thoughts about them, and the behavior they had chosen. But as soon as those critical thoughts entered my mind, and I dwelt upon them, that prayer for charity I had had that morning became void. Let me tell you something: without charity, we are nothing.
Sometimes I feel like a real stiff in comparison to these Elders. Sometimes I feel like I've lost my personality. Consequentially, it becomes difficult for me to befriend them, and I feel alone at times. I've had some pretty severe internal battles lately, trying to find out how to be obedient and still be charismatic and friendly with these Elders. What I have found is that we ought to have charity, and that charity counts most when it's hard to muster up. Although at this time I feel I have few friends, I know that I am observing a change in my heart and learning immensely from experience. I maintain that our Heavenly Father does not want us to become lifeless observers of the law. The Jews at the time of Christ were just such, and they had very little love in their hearts. They first refereed to Christ as a wine-bibber when he dined with the sinners. They thought he worked by the power of the Devil when he healed the sick, caused the blind to see and the lame to walk, and even raised souls from the dead. They finally sealed their hatred with their condemning him to the cross. Here we see an example of obedient law-followers, void of faith, hope, and charity.
Faith, hope, and charity will invoke a pure desire to obey within the heart. That's where the change needs to occur. We need to obey because it is what Christ would do in his pure love.
What I would like to say is that I don't think I have any sort of higher standing over my fellow Elders because of my obedience. Just because I have learned to obey does not mean my heart is fully converted yet. I know that we all have a love of God, whether we acknowledge every single detail in the missionary handbook or not. A love of God is our true commonality. I know they know who they serve, even if they show it differently sometimes. Satan would like us to believe we all have different standings, and that we're in some sort of backbiting race for righteousness. Not so. We are the Saints of Zion, which means we ought to be of one mind, and one heart. Judge not, that ye be not judged. If you've had an issue with someone relating to such, I urge you to solve it as soon as possible. It will lift a weight off your shoulders you might not even be aware of.
Sometimes I'm not very good at expressing myself in writing in an organized fashion. But I know that the Spirit can utter things that can't quite be articulated, that are nonetheless true. I hope and pray that you are feasting on the words of Christ, and finding things to do to become more like Him everyday. That's what I've been trying to do every day here on the mission, and I have witnessed some remarkable things, not only in myself, but in those I've been lead to teach. What a great discipleship we are called to! Let's all do our part! I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.