April 6, 2014
Trans. "Hello to you all!"
Let me clear up the matter of conference real quick. Here in the Philippines (or at least this part of the Philippines, I'm not sure how it is in more populated areas), we get conference the weekend after it runs. So I'll be watching it this coming Saturday and Sunday. I'm so excited! I'm become very dearly inclined to reading the Liahona as of late. I always find it full of helpful guidance, which would be expected from its namesake. Whether it comes to personal stories from members, conference talks from the Prophets and Apostles, or the testimonies of small children, I'm always edified by that magazine.
Speaking of which, I read one article by Henry B Eyring that I found especially enlightening. It's his article in this years' January Ensign or Liahona, about giving better gifts to our children, and how to prepare to do such now. I recommend it; it's a good read. I especially recommend it to young students; I feel it answered a lot of unresolved motivation I needed during school. It kind of made me mad I hadn't read it before. Haha.
We got some exciting news this morning... I'm getting transferred! Don't know where yet, don't know who with, so that info will have to wait til next week. Pretty much everyone else in the district is staying here, except for Sister Paetau (The Samoan sister in Diffun who is super cool). I leave to Cauayan on Wednesday then I'll travel from there to my new area. I've got today and tomorrowto do all my packing and say my goodbyes to my first area. It's sad to leave, and I'm really hoping Elder Dulaca will take hold of things well when I leave. He's experienced, I'm sure it will be fine. I'm really excited to go check out new parts of the mission, meet new people, and most likely learn a new language! It's crazy how many different dialects there are in this valley, and how different they all are from each other. It's basically guaranteed with each transfer that you'll be learning a new local dialect with that area. I'm in such an awesome place.
Yesterday, spur of the moment, I was asked to teach the YSA(Young Single Adult) class at church. Sometimes it is intimidating for me to teach them, considering most of them are return sister missionaries and they have extensive experience. Despite all of that, I let the Spirit take the lead of the lesson, and it was amazing the things we learned; what I learned as well. I find it so empowering to know that we have been taken into the House of Israel -- the very same House of Israel in the Old Testament that was led by the Lord in the wilderness -- and that we all have the opportunity to partake of those blessings promised to them in old times. It adds to my faith and confidence that we have established the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, in knowing that the very God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the same God who has taken His stand with us. We heard His voice this weekend. Did you listen? Listen again! Search, ponder, and pray!
Another thing I learned is that we need to rely on the Spirit for obtaining a witness of truth, rather than our own understanding. That came up this week as we were teaching sister Elvie Abuan. She's been our investigator since before I got here. Very early on, she made it abundantly clear to the missionaries that she had "grown up a Catholic and will stay a Catholic." I'm sure that phrase sounds very familiar to all you missionaries who have ever served in a country that is the product of Spanish Imperialism(Mexico, all of Central America, most of South America). During our lesson this last Sunday, she expressed again that her entire family was a member of the Catholic church, and that she didn't see how our church had anything different or more to offer. We taught her, again, about how the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith. She then asked the golden question, "Yes, but how do you know that's true?" We then told her that the ultimate way to know if something is true or not is to pray, and wait for the truth-testifying power of the Holy Ghost, which fruits are joy, and peace to the soul. Christ promised this to us before His ascension because He knew it would be extremely valuable to us at this confusing, difficult time. Ironically, all of the things we have said are "different" about our church come directly from the Bible, but are simply not implemented or perverted in the Catholic church. Sometimes we grow up in comfortable environments and seek that same feeling throughout our lives. Grace will be added upon grace, and truth upon truth, so that we might reach a higher plane, and a more perfect way.
Elder Sogari told me this week how much he wishes he could have grown up in the church. It's interesting that he expressed this to me the same day I had taught someone born in the "wrong church". I told him that many young adults in Utah sometimes begin having doubts about the truthfulness of the church. They leave off into bigger things, and sometimes begin thinking that it would be too improbable to have been born in the true church of Jesus Christ. They might think their testimonies were simply formed from the teachings of their parents, and that all those fuzzy feelings they felt were just innocence. I know the feeling. I've thought these things before. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known how to grow. When I told Elder Sogari this, his response was "Well then I'll just go over there and take all those people who have gone inactive because of that and just beat them up." I wouldn't press your luck; Fijians are descendants of Cannibalistic warriors.
I testify to you that this is indeed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that we can know the truth of all things (yes,all) by their fruits. Let's be meticulous in inspecting fruits, but weary not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We are all familiar with the phrase "death-bed repentance" because it is an all-too-familiar course in life; when someone thinks they've found happiness, and loses it all, discovering that there had never been a foundation beneath them. It happens every day. That's because wickedness, candy-coated or in the raw, never was happiness. Please, I plead of you, build upon the Rock of your Redeemer. He lives. He loves you. He has suffered for you, and wishes you to partake of the blessings of His gospel. Come to the True and Living God. Take everything away, get on your knees, and find him. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, it will be opened. May we do, rather than intend, I leave in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
P.S. I re-read this email and realized it's really cluttered with different ideas. If something sticks out to you that you wish I could have clarified better, shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to clarify for you.
P.P.S. Pictures: Me pulling an Otoka (Karibao cart), and me with Brother Alan from our ward.