Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 67...Vintar Philippines

I haven't had a week like this in about 10 months. I'll explain. 
First off, conference was amazing like it always is.  There was a part from Elder Rasband's talk on Sunday afternoon, called 'Lest Thou Forget" that really spoke to me.
Last night, I was impressed to go back and read my journals from around a year ago, when I was in the MTC and my first area. When I did, something unexpected happened. I was overcome with emotion, and sorrow, and confusion.

  I was reading about the person I used to be at the start of my mission, and I found that I like myself much better back then. I used to be so close to God and I had profound Spiritual experiences daily and if not weekly. My mind used to be so clear and focused on the Lord. I strove every day to be like the Savior. I had so many trials and hard things I was going through, like learning a new language, adjusting to a new culture, learning to cope with the challenges of missionary life, homesickness, a difficult companion, and many other things. Yet despite my challenges, I often felt so much peace, joy, happiness, and comfort.  No matter what I went through, I always looked to my Savior, day in and day out.  Yes I suffered and but I also felt overwhelming peace and God filled me with so much hope and faith.  Then there was a personal event that I had about 10 months ago in December, that was a very hard thing. I suffered emotionally and spiritually and the it was probably the most intense spiritual pain I have probably felt in my whole life. But despite this event, I quickly turned to God in sincere prayer and I poured my soul out to Him for about an hour a day for a whole week. Each time I prayed, my anguish turned to peace and my despair turned into hope. God filled me with love and faith and I felt tender feelings toward my Savior and I was so committed to His work. What I thought were stumbling blocks turned into stepping stones that brought me closer to my Savior.  Despite my vulnerability to feel pain and sorrow, I also was able to feel great joy and peace and comfort.

When I was reading in my journal about these experiences, I was very confused, and I couldn't believe that I was reading about me. It felt like I was reading someone else's journal. Some other person who was far wiser, more spiritual, and stronger, and much closer to God than me.  I found my self looked at the sealing and verbally asking God, "What happened to me?"  As I did so, I soon became overwhelmed with tears, and I began to call upon God with a sense of humility and loneliness of heart that I hadn't in a long long time.  I asked Father to teach me and tell me what happened.  I wept as I realized that soon after that experience I had in my first area, when I transferred to Lasam, Satan exploited me and blinded me and has been tormenting me periodically for the past 10 months. I feel I have had a thick pair of ear muffs on that have impaired my hearing and a blind folds that have marred my vision. Satan could never get me to abandon my God, and never did I openly or consciously rebel against God, but it seemed that I had allowed Satan to deceive me and lure me away. I've never had any intention to leave God, I have always desired to be one with Him and to abide in His love and walk by His Spirit. I feel like I've been wrapped up and blind folded and spun around 100 times and then left to wander in the dark.  I realized how far I felt from God. And I longed to come back. I wept and asked God to forgive me, but I also asked Him why He never saved me. Despite my situation for the past while, I have still been constantly asking God to help me and guide me, and pull my out of the darkness that has been surrounding me. But I've always felt so far away.  

The past 10 months, I have never felt any intense manifestations of love nor sorrow. I have never felt extreme happiness nor extreme sadness. I just feel like I have been costing along. Despite my success in my last area, and the people we helped bring to Christ, I still never felt immense joy and happiness. I am not sure why.  Maybe I have become to casual about all this. Maybe everything became to routine.  Maybe I haven't been doing everything The Lord has commanded through His servants, being the direction and counsel from the quorum of the 12 and the missionary program. Perhaps I need to be more committed and serious about obeying with exactness.  All I know is that I feel like I have been gone along time. Almost like I have been checked out. And  all I know is that last night was the first time I have felt really close to God in about 10 months.

Last night while I prayed and wept, Elder Puefua came out of the bedroom and saw me weeping and made me tell him what was going on haha. So that was kinda funny, but kinda not cause he interrupted my moment haha. DUDE YOU THREW OFF MY GROOVE haha. He thinks him helping me by being there for me in that moment but all I really wanted to do was finish my tender moment that I had with me and my Savior haha. Oh well I'll just let him think he was helping me so he feels good about himself haha.  Bless his soul.

But I learned that I need to be like my old self. My old greenie happy go lucky emotionally unstable missionary self that I used to be. I used to search for Christ with my whole soul, and pour myself over the Holy Scriptures and seek for every good thing. I was like Nephi, who sought the Lord diligently with humility and lowliness of heart. I was always abounding in good works and i never wasted a moment. Now If I have the luxury of free time, I just sleep..haha. I'm turning into and old man.  

I am glad that God is merciful and taught me by the Spirit this general conference. I am glad that God reminded me to "Forget not" and to go back and read my journal.  I am also glad that I was keeping a good journal back then, which is also something I need to do better right now.  I feel somewhat rejuvenated and recommitted now. Last night I felt the sorrow and pain that I haven't felt in a long time, but like in times past the Lord did replace it and overcome it by filling me with peace and hope and joy.

This week we taught some new investigators that are referrals from the 2nd counselor of the branch. Sister Norma Villanueva and her grandson, Stephen. They have been meeting with the pastor of another church, and the 2nd counselor was like, "hey if you guys are reaching out to other religions, why don't you try and meet with the Elders of my church?" So we got to teach them. And they are so ready. Sister Norma ate up everything we taught and she understood the message so clearly. By the time we taught about the Great Apostasy, she stopped us and said, "Wait, so are you saying that there is no person on the earth that can baptize us in our day?" And I was like just hold on cause we ain't done with the lesson yet. We taught about the Restoration and I recited the first vision and afterward, I asked her what her feelings were like, and she was quite for a moment and then she began to touch her heart and she quietly said, "Ito na kaya.." which is is like saying, "So this is the truth.."  She committed to read the Book of Mormon everyday so she can receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that she should be baptized into the true church of God.  Hopefully we will be able to continue helping her so that she can be baptized in November!

It was an odd week. You guys are probably just as confused at this email as I was when I read my journal last night. So sorry about that haha. But I invite you all to get on your knees and pray with all the energy of your souls and ask God to teach you something.  At some point, we all need to realize that we are not yet exalted perfect beings living in the celestial and that we are all still far from perfect.  I guarantee we all have something we need to work on or change in our individual lives, and I promise all of you in the name of Jesus Christ, that if you get on your knees and ask God to teach you and lighten up your mind so that you can see clearly again, so that you can see clearly the plans of the evil one, so that you may know so that you will not be deceived further, God will do so as He did for me last night. Things things I leave with you all, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Andersen

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