Monday, May 29, 2017

Optimism is Realism

This week was super awesome. My new companion, Elder Bolaños and I, are having a ridiculously fun time. We're also both working hard and prepared to see a lot of miracles happen, both in the zone and in our area.

Firstly, an update on how the work goes. We still have our golden investigator who's going through all the lessons and faithfully coming to church each week. I'm impressed, once more, on how there really are people who are absolutely ready for the gospel and only need to be taught. In another family, two sisters are having a little more difficulty in progressing due to difficulties in attending. Nevertheless, they still have desires to be baptized, so we spoke -- particularly with their less-active mother -- on the essential principle of Sabbath-Day observance for the welfare of the family. Other memorable moments of the week included a contacting activity where we put up a table in front of popular places (the plaza, the high school, the market, etc.) and gave out pamphlets, cards, and magazines about the Church. It was enjoyable, more than anything because you really feel like you're completing your calling when you do such public preaching. You feel like you've become enjoined with the voices of missionaries from the past.

Another thrilling aspect of the week was the growth in the zone. Last transfer, we had a lot of things to iron out and things felt a little chaotic. After transfers, we got a lot of Elders with a high level of faith and energy, and my companion and I are focusing particularly on creative ideas to help the zone take off. We have high and fervent goals; we see Elders determined to change; we talk to others with a reverence in their eyes for what we hope to achieve in this transfer.

Optimism is realism. Brigham Young once said no one could have a real understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without being an optimist. We have too high of expectations, and we believe our benevolent actions have eternal consequences. Imagine what reality has in store when we note that it is the wellspring of all the happiest songs, triumphant stories, and majestic art. We sometimes suppose all of that is false aspect of the world; tremulous ideas we use to view the world in a better light. Yet everything has a tangible source. Incredibly, any song, picture, movie, or book was expressly created as an imitation of something the creator could discern from the world. 

That means that when we achieve some virtue of nobility, all depictions of said virtue are only attempts to portray who we have become. I know charity, love, optimism and happiness are not a perspective but rather the reality of our world. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Becoming Like Christ

Well, we witness the passing of another transfer. My good friend and companion Elder Phillips will be leaving to Huánuco, and hence begins my final transfer. I'm finally clambering up on the health ladder, overcoming a series of sicknesses. I'm on top, now!  The area is still looking extremely promising- we've seen a great many people miraculously start progressing on the steps of the Gospel of Christ. 

Lately, part of my studies have been inspired by a spiritual thought in a letter I received -- that the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 demonstrate the steps of the Gospel of Jesus Christ- faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are related to steps like being poor in heart, weeping, being meek, being a peace maker, and suffering for the sake of righteousness. That reminded me of similar steps in Moroni 8:25-26, in which the attributes of Christ are once more outlined throughout the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And again, in Mosiah 4, I was amazed to see the Gospel steps are once more taught through attributes of Christ. I would invite you to study the same. 

I came to realize that the reason Christ focuses on these steps - their purpose, if you will - is to transform us into people like Christ. We unwittingly make the two statements, "Our purpose in life is to follow the Gospel,"  and "Our purpose in life is to become like Christ" without realizing we are making the same statement. 

I know the gospel of Jesus Christ will transform us to be like Him when we return to His presence. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Are We Not All Beggars?

This week we baptized a young man and friend with a wonderful testimony. The Atonement of Jesus Christ had a powerful impact on him, and the day of his baptism made him so happy. I've included a picture. 

The gospel provides a method by which we become officially forgiven - that Jesus Christ can literally have the final say, and erase all guilt. I was impressed by King Benjamin's speech this week in the first chapters of Mosiah. He first secures that we are so little on our own, and we can expect nothing but pain and misery without Christ. When he establishes this point well, he then points out the sacred grace that makes it so, as President Uchtdorf says, "Compared to God, we are nothing; but to God, we are everything". As his people (and, hopefully, we) are rejoicing in unspeakable gratitude, King Benjamin then spins it into action. "Are we not all beggars?" he demands. Aren't we all dependent on the same Supreme Being? How could we ever deny our goods, and our service, and our strength to the poor and needy (be it spiritual or physical)?

I know we need to help our fellow brethren, by any means we can. 

For your viewing pleasure, here are some more pictures:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Charity is a Truth

This week had some great surprises. One of which is that my companion and I became godfathers to the son of one of our investigators. Another was a new family of investigators that live in a far out little town. Miraculously enough, they came to church. We have another family of a member mother and her daughters who are considering baptism. This week, two of them really started to light up and take initiative to get prepared for baptism, which made us happy. Another young man of 23 was going to get baptized but was forced to travel for work. He was devastated and bore a very sincere testimony, assuring us that this was of great importance to him and that the next week he won't let anything get in the way. We're meeting a great deal of good people here.

I felt impressed that charity is a truth. The end of 1 Corinthians 13 gives the classic scripture, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things." We don't often connect it to the idea that hate and dislike is childish. Love is not only admirable, it's merely the truth. If we were to know someone perfectly, we would inevitably love them. Our job is to ask for the eyes of Christ to help us see it. Sometimes I think we err in saying, 'God loves us so infinitely, even though we are so unworthy of it.'  I would argue that this gives the false impression we're pulling something over on God. The truth is, based on our potential, we are worthy of God's love. He is Truth, and if He loves us so infinitely, that means that is what we are worth. We just have to work at fulfilling His purpose for us.