Out in the rice again.
Remember how a few weeks ago we had super good food all the time? Well this last week was the exact opposite of that. Let's just say, without going into disturbing detail, I can feel somewhat of the pain that Morgan Spurlock felt on SuperSize Me, and that it will be a very long time before I'll be going to MacDo again. *Shivers* It's too much! TOO MUCH!
However, on a very positive note, I feel my paradigm had a great, needful shift this week, and it brought me in closer harmony with our Savior. I'll start with yesterday and then work my way back.
Yesterday we had an incredible fast and testimony meeting. One after another they came up to the pulpit, pouring out their hearts and, without a glance of doubt in their eyes, testifying of this the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration, and the innumerable blessings that have poured out upon them. There were reoccurring moments when everything in the chapel would get quiet and the piercing, undeniable power of the Spirit would strike all of us, leaving us in awe of the power of the true and living God and quietly assuring us that all that was said was indeed true. The words of Owl City's Adam Young in his recently released song come to mind: "No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand, til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand." On a separate note, Adam is teaming up with Lindsay Sterling(The member violinist girl) for a single, and seeing that he is still without a specific denomination, I hope that leads to some late-night discussions about Christ with each other that can plant some gospel seeds.
One of the particular things that struck me in their testimonies was the unity they all felt with each other as a ward; long time members and recent converts alike. They are all truly knit together as a family. Zion, I suppose, in perfect operation. Last week, when two of the members of the ward had been admitted to the hospital, a group of about 15 or so of us, consisting of members and auxiliary leaders, came to visit them individually. Everyone in the hospital seemed to look at us strangely. Who are these people? Why are they dresses in Sunday's best? Why are they all visiting this person? We visited, laughed together, gave priesthood blessings, and hoped for a quick return of health. There was nothing sad or victimizing in anyone's attitude; there was such an abundance of positive energy and hope. After we had left, one of the nurses asked who we all were, thinking possibly they were family members, in consideration of how close they were one with another. Brother Epistola, one of the hospitalized members, replied they were members of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The nurse then responded "... How can I join?"
And that's exactly what people should be asking when they see us! Why are they so happy? What's different about their church? How can I be happy like them? I hope we can all live the kind of way that draws people together in unity, under Christ our Master. That's the whole purpose of the Church anyway; so that we can be unified under one Lord, His divine authority and priesthood, and one faith in Him. This whole church is one big happy family. Here I am, some lanky white kid from Utah, leaving comforts of home to a strange country out in the Pacific, and yet when I enter a church building, it's as if all the cultural, religious, and racial differences of the world disappear, and I never left home. All of us, listening to the same voice -- the voice of the living God -- attained from Him Himself, and not from man's aspirations or desires. It gives it all a deeper meaning, and it gives us, of all different backgrounds, a deeper love for God's children.
We've begun teaching Rose DelaCruz, Sister Elvera's daughter-in-law. She has noticed the immense difference her mother-in-law's conversion to this church has made in her life, and consequently has grown in interest to unite herself with us. After teaching the restoration, she seemed to understand well, and was excited to ask God if what we had shared was true. Well, we know her faith is strong, cuz after she prayed, she said she got an answer in the affirmative, about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Church. She's continuing to progress and I hope she can make the necessary changes in her life to bring her closer to her Savior, and His Church.
This coming Saturday, KariMae Alialy (10 years old) and her uncle Dwemy (16 years old) will be baptized! We first contacted them a few months ago. The Alialy Family has come out of inactivity and it has been amazing to see their testimony rekindle with such power and conviction! Dwemy was close to not being baptized until September, due to him being busy at work under a very strict boss. However, we challenged him to seek the Kingdom of God before riches, and despite the risk of complications with his boss, he came to church with the determination to be baptized this weekend. He's awesome, and it is apparent from his actions that his faith is strong. This is a great work to be apart of, and it only gets better with time!
I felt a very strong spiritual confirmation this week concerning Joseph Smith as a true Prophet of God. It came from earlier that week, spending time singing restoration hymns, reading experiences from the prophets life, and really seeing the immense hardship he was constantly under. No good man, under circumstances such as he was under, could possibly be a schemer or false prophet. There was nothing to gain but edification, pure knowledge from the living God, revelation, priesthood, and a firmer testimony in our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is all true, and I stand as an additional witness to him, and his mission, and the reality of his calling from God. I also heard a really cool song about him: Angels and Friends by Strength of Soul. Super good. Listen up. http://www.youtube.com/
A great success I've had this week is getting along well with Elder Espanto. We've been getting along better than we ever had been, and consequently, our teaching has been more unified and we edify each other, including our investigators. I've learned to love more unconditionally, which I feel was my big "change of heart" this week. My heart learned not just to love what pleased me, or who I got along with. I opened up new chambers to love those with seemingly insurmountable differences, and to gain, even just a glance, of what charity really is. I seem to have a lighter, lovelier feeling about others, and a better understanding of my own weaknesses.
As explained in Ether 12, God shows us our weaknesses if we come to Him. Why does He show us our weaknesses first? Well, sometimes we aren't entirely sure what our weaknesses truly are in the first place, so He needs to show us what we've missed. I'm sure we could all easily make a list of our weaknesses, most likely finding we share a lot of the same handicaps to our progression. But God doesn't just fix the general weaknesses we've come up with. He takes our list, smiles, and then gives us the list He's been keeping, which is a lot longer and a lot more detailed. He then tests us, in every point, making us stronger in places we hadn't even realized there was a need. At that point, the part rolls around where we become very humble. We realized we didn't know ourselves as well as we'd hoped, and that God really is the one to determine the right way. When we become humble, however, weak things are made strong. We can learn from aerodynamics that when people were trying to create a flying machine, they could not change how the air behaved. Nor could they create something that would alter how the air behaved. All they could do was create something that would work with the laws of physics to create a lift. So should we:
Just as the flaps on the wing of a plane need to go down to create lift, we need to submit to the will of the Father in order for Him to lift us. His law cannot change. His ways cannot change. We need to submit to Him, and He will take us higher.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
This is the calender Rusell keeps in his house. Can somebody say "future missionary"? No no no, how 'bout "future Area Presidency"?
Out in the rice again.