Monday, July 25, 2016

Time for Those We Are Passing By

In Junín, we are some of the fortunate few missionaries who make our own breakfast. Why is that such a blessing? Firstly, we don't have to walk to our Pension every morning. It's also nice to actually choose what to eat. Finally, the 8 soles we receive daily to pay for the meal are hardly ever used completely, which builds up quite a fund near the end of the month. My first Junín companion and I fondly called it "fondo brekky" and took to using the money for a fairly expensive restaurant outing to buy American popcorn chicken in Tarma. Unfortunately, with the President's new mandate that forever confines us to our own areas on P-Days, there's no way to use the money effectively. We have no other choice but to make up for all the stingy breakfasts we made and buy whatever looks good. 

One morning, as we made our way to a Plan C after a service project fell through, my companion asked me for five little chocolates I'd recently bought. I encouraged him to take half the bag; fondo brekky was ours to enjoy. He took five and shot back toward a family pushing a man in a wheelchair. He gave one to each and we walked them home. The old man with the bad legs loudly and emotionally declared his faith and we gave him a blessing.  Afterward, we hoisted him up on our arms and walked a little with him around the room. The family not only promised to come to church the next day, but actually came. In my four and a half months here, I believe I've seen one other investigator visit the church. To make the experience all the more surreal, the old man's name was Gubercindo. It was a very happy day, and made me thankful for my companion following through on a prompting. As the Lord said to early church missionaries in Doctrine and Covenants 61: 3, "It is not needful for the whole company of elders to be moving swiftly...whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief."  We can always have time for the few whom we are passing by. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, July 18, 2016

No More Strangers

When Paul taught the Ephesians, he knew they had grown up hearing the Jews' self-righteous claim that they were the chosen people of God. While they were to some extent justified in this, by the time of Christ it's clear that as a people they had fallen from the expectations the Lord had for them. It impressed me how Paul acknowledged that the Ephesians previously lived without the Gospel, yet were now invited to take part in it. He risks offending them, but instead makes an inspirational speech about the mercy of God. He begins by drawing them in, relating to them and painting a dismal picture of their past in Ephesians 2:

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

He discards their plight with the hope of his new message-But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.

This fraternal sense of fellowship was no doubt a contrast to the condescension of other Jews the Ephesians knew. There is no middle wall now! We are children of God, and Christ has slain any enmity that existed between us by His cross. And now, you can hear him smile and raise his voice, powerfully and emotionally, "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."  

And what are these blessings that Paul is saying they're so worthy of? The very church of God. He continues in the next verse, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner stone."  I like to imagine Paul preaching the same message across the ages to our own... "What? Like Christ cares what age you live in?" Yet does the fraternity of the Saints permit us to live in a church guided by prophets, apostles, and revelation. We can depend on the same miracles with the priesthood of God.

Last Monday, as we had just finished up eating our burgers as a zone, one of the workers at the restaurant asked us if we would give her a blessing. I asked her carefully what her knowledge of our church was. She confessed little to no knowledge, just that we as missionaries might be able to help her.  I methodically explained to her the claim we had of possessing the same priesthood found in the church of Christ in the Bible, being restored through a prophet in these days. Eight or so missionaries put their hands on her head in the back room, and the feeling of priesthood power was tangible. When I finished the blessing, we turned to her and the other workers witnessing and made appointments with all of them, each eager to meet with the missionaries who worked in their area. It was a powerful witness to me that we are no longer strangers or foreigners to the blessings of the kingdom of God...rather fellow citizens with the early Saints. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Mission President

Hello, all! This week started with the Fourth of July, for which I was very thankful. We love our country, and all of us gringos sang the National Anthem in an American Restaurant to celebrate. We also went to meet the new President Silva and his family in La Merced. I've brought pictures! He spoke little on goals or new rules this first time...he just wanted us to meet his family. Due to many changes of plans and traveling this week, we spent little time in our area. It's begun to rain a lot in Junìn, which we don't mind too much.

Once more, we returned to Tarma yesterday for a conference about the year area plan for Northwest South America. The goals focus on the youth, self-sufficiency, and ordinances. I believe these are good arching goals for an area. If you're a youth, go to seminary and focus on a mission! As a member, be self-sufficient and focus on paying a full tithe and keeping the Sabbath Day holy! If you yet lack one of the ordinances of salvation, work on becoming worthy to take the next step! If everything's golden, do family history. There will always be more to do. Let us waste and wear out our lives bringing to light the secret things of darkness. Bring heaven forward, and let it encompass the harsh realities of today's world. We are capable, and we will eventually win. That's the promise. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.