(December 21, 2015)
Well there are only 4 more days till Christmas! Can you believe it? The feeling of Christmas is all around us and i am loving it. It truly is a great time to be a missionary and a truly great time to remember and recommit to following Jesus Christ.
This week on wednesday we had our Mission Christmas meeting! While in the past this amounted to more of a Christmas Party – a whole day event where the whole mission gets together, this year we did things a little bit smaller scale and more on the spiritual side. They did the meeting twice, on one day with half the mission, and on the other day with the other half of the mission. We went down on Wednesday and spent the day together with the Busan and South Busan zones along with us (the Daegu zone). The meeting consisted of talks by President and Sister Barrow, one of his councilors President 길영권, the AP’s, and the testimonies of all the resturning missionaries this transfer. It was also filled with special musical numbers, including one that I put together with my district where we sang an arranged version of the song He Sent His Son from the children’s hymn book. The meeting was great. We learned all about the true meaning of christmas and how we can spread that to others in this season. Following the meeting we all ate together, received a gift from the Barrow’s (a really cool Busan mission tie), and then watched 17 miracles together. Elder Stradling and I had to leave before the movie because we had a member lesson and english class that night, but it amounted to a super great day.
The rest of our week turned out pretty normal and productive. We met with each of our investigators that we have found through english class and had good lessons with all of them. I will be honest, none of them have a huge desire to learn the gospel and their progress is very slow, but we have seen some really cool changes as we have met with them. This week two of them started reading the Book of Mormon and it is really cool to see their fascination and interest grow the more and more they exercise their faith. With one of our investigators, brother 최영광, we invited him to read Alma 32, where Alma compares our faith to a seed, and discussed it together when we met. It was amazing to see how well he understood and how much the words spoke to him. We focused especially on verse 27 emphasizing that even if it is a small desire, or a particle of faith, if we exercise and nurture our beliefs God will help them to grow. Studying this together and meeting with these investigators really caused me to think about my own faith and that of those I know. I think that all of us have our own Tree of Faith, to some people it might be a seed, it might be a sapling, it might be a bush, or it might be a tree. We all may be at different places but the important thing is that we work to grow it. Our tree is either growing larger or withering away. I cant wait until the day where the faith of those I teach is a full, large, and strong tree yielding great fruit. I think that it is our job as missionaries to help and invite others to do things to grow their own trees. Maybe we are like gardeners, or like people who work in a plant store or something. I really enjoy the depth and beauty of that metaphor in Alma 32.
We also witnessed a small miracle this Sunday I would like to share. On Saturday night we were going over our investigators to see if there was anyone else we could invite to church on Sunday. We had already invited several of the people we are meeting with through English class and they all shared with us that they were either busy and not able to come. On a whim we decided to send a text to an investigator that we havent taught for weeks. In many ways we had stopped thinking about this investigator, but we sent him a text, he said he would come, and the next day he showed up! He stayed all through gospel principles and attending young men’s as well. After the meeting we taught him along with one of the other young men his age. Someone who we had almost stopped thinking about and was almost off our radar, suddenly went to the top of our list of investigators. I guess that is the power of invitation!
I would like to share one scripture to end things today. This was a principle that one of the sisters in our ward shared in sacrament meeting (I think she first heard it from an Elder Bednar talk). The scripture is in 1 Nephi 7, which includes the story about how Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel returned to Jerusalem to get Ishmael’s family. On their way back to the wilderness Laman and Lemuel rebel against nephi and say that they want to go back to Jerusalem. Nephi trys to teach them and then they bind him with chords and in verse 17 Nephi prays for help, saying the following:
“O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thoudeliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even giveme strength that I may burst these bands with which I ambound.”
I like what this scripture teaches. Firstly, Nephi says that he wants his request to be granted according to his Faith. Also, when he prays, he does not just ask God to solve everything for him and break the bands, but rather he asks for the strength to do so himself. This is how we need to pray as well. As missionaries I might say: “Heavenly Father, please give us prepared investigators.” Or “Please give us a prepared person to baptize.” But the better prayer might be “Please give us the faith and the courage to find the people you have prepared.” As we are specific and ask for help, God amplifies our abilities.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a great week! May your holidays be happy, bright, and full of the spirit.