Monday, September 26, 2016

Update with Pictures!

Hello, my fine first-world friends! I hope your life is properly filled with happiness and joy and pre-Christmas excitement. Ours certainly is (maybe because we found Mr. Krueger's Christmas on the floor one night). This week was a little hectic, and included a Leadership Council in Huancayo. We had to travel a great deal, but I was fine with that because I realized my life-long dream (ever since I saw The Fellowship of the Ring ten years ago) to be invited to a secret council. This week was awesome, with a ton of work and lots of new investigators; families to be converted unto exaltation; troubled youth to be set right; and people to hear the good word of God. Ah, what a life.

I've been thinking about a powerful scripture in Paul's writings, in Philippians 3:10. Paul is talking about everything he gave up for the church, and explains why with, 'That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made comformable unto his death.'  The phrase that sticks out for me is, "fellowship of his sufferings". Christ has taken upon him all pain, and to qualify for His company we must know a portion of what that means. When we suffer for the sake of righteousness, then, we're fighting in the most worthy cause the world has seen. Do we laud pleasure-seekers and arrogance in our heroes? We would rather give our highest regard to the most socially, physically, and emotionally weak so long as they are suffering for what's morally right. By the very association or support we give them, we hold our heads up higher and feel better about ourselves- even by viewing something heroic, we are reminded that any righteous agony brings a more solid joy than any purposeless pleasure. James and John once wanted places at the side of the throne of God, and Christ replied that they would indeed soon know of His bitter cup. What is the connection between their question and His answer? Elder Holland once explained quite powerfully, "The cup and the throne were inextricably linked, and they could not be given separately." I know that. I know Christ's fellowship will make our pains and our victories reasons to hold our heads high, fighting, in our small way, for the same cause as the greatest souls who ever lived. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I'm sorry I haven't written for a while on the has been a little hectic recently. Luckily, I have pictures to compensate!

The Super Secret Council

My trainer, Papa Chujo, and I (reunion after about ten months)

Me, pondering and studying deeply

Me, with my favorite Liahona issue from the 1990s.

Me and my companion getting ready to save the world.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Another Transfer

[Andrew wrote us all family letters this week but did not have time for his blog, unfortunately.  He says I can write some of the news he has shared.  First big news is that he's been made Zone Leader and that requires him to move out of San Ramon and back near Huanaco, which was his first area.  He spent time walking around his old town, trying to visit some of his old friends and contacts.]

He writes, "I also had the wonderful opportunity to walk once more through my first area. I knocked the doors of the people I miss the most. Though the direct people I wanted to talk to weren't there, I got to talk to the little girl of my first Pension, and someone from the family of Vladimir. I was close to all the family, so it was cool. I didn't have time to drop by Arlene (I formed a blog around her life story once) but it was still nice to walk around what felt a little like home. A little haunting, haha.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happiness Within

Last week I showed some pictures of waterfalls that we visited, and our baptismal service of two young men, Benji and Jerson. It was nice to see them finally become members, as they are good kids who converted fully.

This week we talked with a decent number of people who were open and ready to listen. As we talked them through many of their problems, concerns, and questions, I began to notice a difference here. Despite the paradisiacal climate, liberality, and friendliness here, we have more people who are depressed and struggling with darker problems than I've seen in any other area. Dusk is always accompanied with community volleyball games scattered about the town; there are always activities such as fairs and parades in the main plaza; a shaved ice or ice cream stand is always nearby. However, it all not only seems to make no one markedly happier but perhaps inhibits anyone from finding real joy. 

I think our minds sustain a certain level of happiness.  Situations don't matter a ton...have you ever noticed how even when you have relatively few problems in life, you merely place much more importance in the small stresses and worries? In which case, trying to change our situation is hacking at the wrong tree. We sustain a higher level of joy by drawing nearer to God and keeping His commandments. I can see in several people we're visiting the healing in their minds and souls as they start to experience the Gospel. In Christ's teachings in Matthew 6:20-21, He said, 'But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' I know there is no other way to find lasting peace than to follow Christ and His Gospel.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.