Of course, as always, this week was great!! I don't think on my mission yet I have had a day that, in the end, was deemed not good. Every journal entry; "So today was a good day" or "Today was great!!". Just tells you what is up.
So last week I preached and preached and preached. I apologized and promised not to do it again. But unfortunately for all of you, I have been encouraged to share more and I have some more thoughts to share. So this email may at some point, turn a little preachy. I cannot guarantee no preaching. If preaching is something you cannot endure, please, leave the sight in which you are viewing this email immediately, for your own good. If you choose to proceed, you cannot say I didn't warn you.
We had a good experience teaching about tithing this week. We have a 12 year old investigator. She lives with her grandma. Nanay (the grandma) was not super active a little while back, but as of late, she's been all kinds of active and she wants to get back in the temple. She is always their when we teach Kate (the granddaughter). So this week, we were teaching about tithing. Kate was getting it and loving it. But Nanay had some questions, which is the beauty of having less active folk join in on the lessons. It makes for a great review for them to be sure they understand all the doctrine. One of the questions was, "What if the power bill is due and I can't afford both? We've got a lot of little kids here. If we can't use electric fans, they will be suffering. I'm sure the Lord understands if I pay the bill first and pay tithing next time." Oh boy. Can I tell you how many times in my mission I have heard, "Oh I'm sure the Lord understands". People use it all the time as an excuse to not follow the commandments. So two things. We must discuss the tithing and we must discuss this excuse. Excuse first. Now, the Lord does understand us. He understands us better than we understand ourselves. And I'm sure he would love to give us blessings, even if we don't follow the commandments. But Heavenly Father is a perfect God. He is a merciful, but just God. He has to follow the rules. If we don't follow the commandments, we cannot receive the blessings. He cannot give them to us. "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise", D&C 82:10. The Lord knows it's not always easy to keep commandments. But it is always necessary. There is always a way to keep the commandments. 1 Nephi 3:7. Everyone knows that scripture. We use it for everything! I could rant on that for hours, but I won't. But how sad would it have been if Jesus Christ had decided, "Ah, you know, this is tough. I'm suffering. I'm sure Heavenly Father will understand if I don't follow through with this". We need to follow His example and be obedient to the commandments, no matter what the consequences are for us. "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" D&C 122:7. The Lord will provide a way and he will provide blessings for those who are obedient. Often times, we will be tested to see how great our faith is. Yesterday we had stake conference. It was a broadcast from Salt Lake City. Elder Robert D. Hales said, "No one is too rich or too poor to pay tithing. It is not that we don't have enough money to pay tithing, but we don't have enough faith to pay tithing". Anyway, I've gone on too long on this already. But basically, the Lord cannot make exceptions for us to not follow commandments. And we must pay our tithing. The blessing we receive for paying will be far greater than the 10% of money that we give up. We need the Lord's blessing, and therefore, we need to pay tithing.
We also had a cool experience where we went to have an FHE. They ended up canceling on us. But, we did end up helping out this family. We just started asking them how they were doing, but it ended up being them hitting us with concerns and questions and then we started giving answers. There were so many questions. For the sake of time, I'll just give you one that I found interesting. The LA daughter has been going to Catholic church with mom, because, "We all worship the same God, so it can't be bad, right?" Interesting thought for you there. I won't go deep into it. There are many scriptures. But for a person who believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet; why would Heavenly Father restore the church through Joseph Smith if, because a church teaches about God, it is enough? Catholics were around. Protestants, baptists. All of them. But God still restored His church. "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me". We also learn in the scriptures that their are only two churches. If a church that teaches about God is keeping you from THE church of God and all of the ordinances of His true church that are necessary for our salvation, whose church is it? Satan can't hit us with a church of worshiping the devil. No one would join. But if you have truth in it, say it teaches of Christ, then you can twist things, get followers, and keep people from salvation. He is the Father of all lies, and therefore, very crafty at it. He is the best. So is going to a church because it teaches about Christ ok? Is it enough? Answer that one for yourselves.
Now, I had a fun scripture study. 1 Nephi 14:14. This is Nephi having a vision about the members of the church in our day. It says that, "They were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." That was interesting to me. So, how do we as members, become armed with righteousness and the power of God? So of course, I pursued it in the scriptures. That is a wonderful place to dive into. The first place I was led was in Luke 24:49, "...but tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." The footnote says that endued = clothed. Hm. Interesting that, eh? Next footnote takes us to D&C 38:32, "...ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there shall ye be endowed with power from on high." Endowed with power from on high. Let me just hit you with a list of scrips that you can look into if you want. D&C 39:15, D&C 43:16, D&C 110:9-10, D&C 105:12. We could go forever on this! Ha, I did! And there is still sooo much to find here! But basically, we are armed with righteousness and the power of God in the temple, if we prepare ourselves and then are faithful to our covenants. Armed with that power, we are to go forth and share with other nations, and with that power, we are to overcome wickedness. Now, does that mean that only those who are endowed are entitled to power from the Lord? No! The youth can receive a portion of that power as they serve in the temple and give the Holy Ghost a chance strengthen them. And of course, as always, we need to study the scriptures and attend church to partake of the sacrament in order to remain clean, and sanctified, in order to be able to strengthen others. Sigh, I'm running out of time, so I can't keep going with this. But if you have time and are interested, check it out! I recommend it!
One other fun thought. Back to yesterday with our stake conference. We were also blessed to hear from Elder Holland. He is the man. He gave us a recommendation that I will share with you. Read D&C 121-123. These are revelations coming to Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty Jail. So study them. But he did say just a few, quick things that I'd like to share. He focused a lot on trials and how even at the hardest, most trying times of our lives, we can still be at the top of our game spiritually and be led and inspired. He said that all bad days come to an end. Sometimes we get caught up with how hard life is. It would be nice to remember that it will end. Don't you even worry. The sun rises again, and everything will be ok. D&C 121:7-8, one of my favorite scriptures. It just speaks peace to us all. "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." So don't even worry. Life is hard. We are struggling. But we do all that we can. And as it says in section 123, then we can wait and watch for the arm of the Lord to be revealed. Everyone has trials. All the prophets and apostles had hard times. Elder Holland said if we have a bad day, we are in very good company. As disciples of Christ, we should follow his example and therefore, expect a fair amount of trials. But don't you fret. Everything will be for our good and everything is going to be ok. Man, what a wonderful talk. Read those three sections. And remember that our Heavenly Father will always be there for us. You may feel that your prayers are not heard or answered. I know that they are heard, and Heavenly Father does answer prayers. Not always on our time or how we expect, but He always does.
Anywho. That's about all I have for you all. Sorry about the preachiness. Hopefully, something in this eternally long email will help someone out and remind you all to have a good day, even if you feel it hasn't been going good. Smile!
Pics are a little lacking. Just me being a goofball with some of the wonderful people from my ward. And the one pic with the goofy hand up to the eye thing; apparently that's Filipino peace. Who knew? That is the reason for the subject. What an insane elder. Sigh. Anyway!! Have a wonderful week!!!