Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Dear Family 7/29/13

My Dear Family,

I'm struggling, but I don't know why or with what. I think during the week about things I want to share and then when I get to the consol, my mind goes blank; I think of nothing and everything all at once. I have conflicted feelings and opinions about several things. I'm also gaining weight, a lot. I struggled to fit into my only pair of jeans that I brought with me that were a little big when I left. And I broke one of my belts trying to cinch it with these pants............ I guess the pants didn't like the belt...

Well, we were able to find a few people last week and we set baptismal dates with all of them. But all of them lost those dates because not one of them was able to go to church yesterday. One is a pastor of another church, the other two are the children of a less active member who has been such for more than 15 years. I'll fill you in with more details as the story progresses.

Apparently the ward loves me, or at least some of them do. I went on splits with another set of missionaries in my district the other day and before we got to church yesterday a member who saw that I had left the area complained to the Branch President that I hadn't come to say goodbye or even sent a message. Interesting development.

It seems like someone finally figured things out here as well and I hope that things change here. Yesterday the Branch President rearranged the schedule a little bit to be able to talk with all of the endowed priesthood holders and relief society sisters. He said he woke up that morning thinking about several things that he needed to change about himself and things that he felt he needed to share with the entire group of us. Much of it had to do with the temple reccomend interview questions. He read the questions as we thought about our own answers and raised the questions of "how many of us are actually committed to and live these standards?" and "how many of us really understand and fulfill the promises we made at baptism and in the temple?" It was interesting to here the silence that followed. It was obviously a rhetorical question, so the silence was warranted, but I looked around and saw that several of the members were pondering their responses. He mentioned that we covenant to give all that we have and are, even our lives if necessary, to the edifying of the Kingdom here on earth.

Among many of the other things that were talked about, the topics of pride and charity were mentioned as well. A member of the high council who happened to be present shared an experience he had as a young man. He and his brothers lived fighting, teasing, and competing one with another (sound familiar?). They also always complained about each other. One night, at a family home evening, his father placed a chair in the middle of the room. It was the recognition chair, or something like that. He recounted that one by one each person sat on the chair, and each person in the family had to share ten good qualities of that person. That member said that that one family home evening has had such an impact on his life that it has helped him to realize and find the good in each and every person he has come in contact with and withhold from criticising them.

The Branch President also said that he was going to be the first person in the room to repent and he invited each and every one of us to do the same, so that we could really say, with complete honesty, that we were worthy to hold a current temple recommend.

A few days beforehand, I was thinking about covenants and their importance in each one of our lives, the impact that they have not only upon us, but also upon our descendants. I listed out all of the covenants that I could think of off the top of my head and looked up a few others. I also included a brief discription of a few of them. I came up with a good list and that has helped me to realize and think of more frequently the gravity and severity of those covenants, and the joy and freedom that we enjoy through our fidelity to each one. I have also returned a little to Dad's book on the chapter of "A Covenant People." It is really something very interesting and humbling when we come to understand more deeply the effects that those sacred promises have on our lives. On my life. In my life.

I also started reading a little bit this morning about Obedience and Revelation in the August Liahona. Elder Oaks' address was particularly interesting, as it made me remember a certain family home evening we had a long time ago when we discussed how each one of us comes to recognize the Holy Ghost and his promptings. He mentioned that many people mistake the phrase "burning in the bosom" to be literal. He then proposed that rather than being a literal burning in the bosom, it is a feeling of peace and warmth.

I was also touched by the story of Vinca, an older woman who only seven years ago was baptized after having known about the Church for the majority of her life. It hadn't meant much to her before, but when she finaly began to pay attention, she said that it just all made sense to her and it was logical (translating from Spanish). After years of trial--being a victim and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII and long term widowhood--she finally heard and understood the message of the Restored Gospel and was sealed to her deceased husband through proxy, one year to the day after her baptism, through the holy ordinance of sealing performed in the temple.

I have heard several experiences from people in the last week and a half about the church and their feelings towards it. I am still amazed at many things, but one things still rings deeply in my heart.

"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me."

I love this song, and I have it completely memorized in Spanish, though not in English. I love my Savior. I know I am here doing His holy work and sharing His gospel; the gospel of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know we are here on this earth for a purpose and we are where we need to be, now.

I love you all.


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