After Moses' vision on Mount Sinai where God showed him all the inhabitants of the earth, he said of this experience, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never supposed." (Moses 1:10)
Could it be that after Moses saw all the inhabitants that have, are, and will live on this earth, he realized that man, in his natural, fallen, carnal state, is nothing compared to the Glory of God?
Mormon says, "O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7)
I chose this as the topic of my email this week because this week I was guided in my studies and I came to realize how man truly is nothing compared to God. One day this week I read in Mosiah chapter 4 verse 11, and there is a part in that verse that says, "Remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfast in the faith."
When I read this verse, I right away thought of service, charity, and selflessness. I thought about man, or in other words I thought about me, in my carnal and fallen state, and all my cares and my wants and my wishes, and even my natural weaknesses and tendencies of the flesh that sometimes keep my from having an eye single to the glory of God all the time. I realized how little and how pointless alot of our little struggles and problems are. Man, naturally, is vain and selfish, and always turns inward. Man is always just laboring to build up and support himself, rather than laboring for the good of others. I realized that man and his little selfish world really is nothing in God's eyes. There a billions of people on this earth, and billions more that have come and gone, and billions more that will yet come to dwell here on earth. Every single one of them are children of God, and God and His servants are laboring with all their might mind and strength, 24|7 and there is no time for them to think of themselves. That is all that matters to God, the salvation of ALL His children.
I realized that as long as we think about ourselves and put our own personal interests before those of our Father in Heaven's, we really are nothing. Our circle of influence only expands as big as our tiny little selves, and we have no worth. But if we will just give God the only thing that He would never take, our agency, and turn outward when the natural man would turn inward, our circle of influence get's bigger and expands beyond our little selves, and suddenly our lives gain substance and worth. When we follow Jesus Christ's example and apply His Atonement, and deny ourselves and take up our crosses, we begin to increase in glory, in knowledge, in power, and in influence, and in worth. God can take us in our fallen state of nothingness and make us into glorified godlike beings just like Himself, if we would just let Him. And like Elder Bednar told us last week, the trick is to get yourself out of the way. Don't get in the way while God is trying to work on you! It's that simple!
"Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works." (Jacob 4:10)
"He doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." (Alma 37:12)
God knows what He is doing! We don't know what we are doing! We of ourselves will only make a smudge; yet God can make us (if we let Him) a god! We just need to get out of the way! We just need to get over ourselves and trust that God is the Author of our salvation and He will not guide us amiss!
The trick is not to fight Him. "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!...Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?" (Isaiah 45:9)
If you guys want to learn more about the nothingness of men in comparison to the greatness of God, read about it in Mosiah chapter 2. My motto for this week has been to turn outward when the natural man would turn in. And another one is to be not weary in well doing, for every day is a chance to seek learning by faith and to wax stronger and stronger and firmer and firmer in the faith, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
I have been really trying to focus on these people that I talk to and love them and find ways to serve them, and lift them from where they are at. I have found that God has poured upon me a portion of His love for them, and that the more and more I lose myself, the more and more I don't wan't to go home in 4 and a half months. I wish I could be a missionary for ever. And to be honest, when I go home, I don't plan on stopping being a missionary. I pray the Lord will continue to pour upon me His love and that I will never forget these feelings and these lessons I have been learning. I pray that I will hit the ground running when I go home and that I will never slow down. I know that it is up to me to keep it going and to keep choosing to serve the Savior everyday.
But for now I gotta be done with this rant. haha. Because this week was wonderful! We had 4 baptisms!
John Henrick Lagazo, and Jessa, Michael, and Sheila Tungpalan! There are so happy and so clean and I can see the light of the gospel in their eyes! I have had alot of awesome experiences this week and I don't have time to share them all with you because of my rant earlier haha.
My challenge for all of you is to find ways to serve others. I promise you will feel better and happier than you ever could in the pursuit of serving yourselves. Retain a remembrance of your own nothingness and also the greatness of God and His great mercy towards you unworthy creatures. Remember that God is the Giver of all good gifts, and nothing we have isn't something that God hasn't given us, so what have we to boast? It only makes sense to serve Him who has given us all.
I love you all and I hope these emails help!
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017
Well...I'm not sure how to start this week's email...Maybe I'll just start by saying...I MET ELDER BEDNAR THIS WEEKEND! AND YES I SHOOK HIS HAND! And yes my life has been changed forever and I hope I will never forget the things that the Spirit of the Lord has taught me this weekend.
First off I am super duper lucky because this last Saturday we had a three our meeting as a mission with Elder and Sister Bednar, as well as Elder and Sister Smutz. Elder Smutz is the 2nd counselor here in the Philippines Area Presidency. And then I am even more lucky because I am assigned here in Laoag Stake and we had a 2 hour Special Sunday Conference exclusive for the Laoag Stake on yesterday on Sunday!
This has been such a big deal, not only for me personally but for the Saints of Laoag. This is the first time in the history of Laoag that an apostle has ever come to Laoag. We had 9 investigators at church on Sunday! Which was so amazing because so many of our investigators was able to hear and see an apostle of the Lord teach the restored Gospel!
One of the most profound lessons that Elder Bednar taught us was that yes apostles are jolly and good to have, but we don't need them to come and visit us in order for us to learn and understand the things of God. We have the promise that the Spirit will teach us all things, we just need to seek learning by faith and the Holy Ghost will unfold the mysteries of Heaven before us.
There is so many profound spiritual truths that I learned this week and there is no way I will be able to share them all with you in email! I have been spiritually fed for sure.
Ill just tell you guys a little about some of the things I observed from Elder Bednar.
Just seeing Elder Bednar walk and talk and interact was an unforgettable experience in itself. He is about 5'9. He is lean and a healthy looking guy. His eyes are a bright blue, like blue as the sky, with streaks of white. The man just radiates intelligence. Just the way he walked and talked and carried himself and interacts with others was in itself a testimony to me that God really does call and inspire men to do His work on the earth and that he really is a special witness of the name of Christ. Meeting him was a testimony to me that Christ is real. Man can't be what he is without the enabling and empowering aspect of Christ's Atonement.
Many weeks before the meeting he contacted President Andrada and had him print out 4 of his talks for all of us to read in preparation for the meeting. At MLC early this week, President Andrada told us the use the power of three readings, because up to then I had already read all 4 talks, but I could barely understand and remember what was in them. So I read them two more times in preparation for Elder Bednar and boy was I prepared and you will see why in a second. The main talk was for sure "Seek Learning by Faith" and that was the one that just kinda blew my mind after 2nd/3rd time reading it.
So anyways, as soon as Elder Bednar started addressing us as a mission, he gave a few basic guide lines for the meeting and then opened it up immediately to us to share with everyone the things we learned from his talks that we read. I was like the third person to be called on to share. It was crazy because I wasn't even scared at all and totally comfortable and I felt free to be genuine while interacting with him. Almost everyone else was just super star struck and really apprehensive and almost scared of him.
So he called me and I felt to share some of the notes I jotted down on my copy of his talk "Seek Learning by Faith." So this is what I said, "I learned that God wants me to act in faith and use my agency in order to conquer my weaknesses, sins and temptations. That's why He won't just take them away from me. That would be like Satan's plan."
Then He looked at me intently, and then he asked me if I would be willing to explain a little bit of how I came to understand that. So then I elaborated a little and told him that "I have some sins and weaknesses that I just don't like. For a long time I have wished that I just didn't have them, and I have even asked God in prayer, even begged, that He would just take them away from me." And the part when I started to say that I have asked God to take them away, he even chimed in and said while like sort of chuckling saying "and you even ask God to just take them all away in an instant.." and i was like "Yah exactly!" Then I continued saying that "I've begged God to take away my weaknesses and my sins so many times, but He never does! And so what happens is I usually just get all discouraged and sad and disappointed because I feel like God is abandoning me and refusing to help me, and I am just left feeling helpless with these bothersome sins and weaknesses that so often beset me and I feel there is nothing I can do to get rid of them. But what I have learned is that I need to, and God expects me to, use my agency and exercise my faith, to find a way to overcome and learn from my weaknesses sins and temptations. God cant just take them away because that would make me an object waiting to be acted upon and that is against God's rules. That would be like Satan's plan."
So then he commented again and said, "So basically what you are saying is that YOU need to GO and get it. Figure it out. Use your agency to act and be not acted upon." Then he looked at me intently again in silence for a few moments, and then softly he asked me, "Elder, how old are you?" I said I'm 20. Then, still looking at me really closely like he could see right through me, and said, "Elder, you understand something at 20 years old something that 99 percent of the members of this church doesn't understand." The he said," Elder, here is my question for you, how are you going to remember what you have learned 15 years from now, when you are 35 years old? Because many of us forget these kinds of things soon after we learn them..."
.. I had no idea how to answer that haha... I stood there thinking for what seemed like a while with nothing coming to mind, but then I started by saying, "Well I'm not sure, because 15 years is a long ways away.." Then he right away said, "It's closer than you think.." I laughed, then I said the only thing that was coming into my thoughts, yet it wasn't any where near a complete nor confident answer, " Well the only thing that seems to be coming to mind is just doing the little things, day by day."
Then almost immediately he quoted scripture, while seemingly looking into the depths of my soul, and said "Be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
When he said that it hit me like a ton of bricks. He kept going on to elaborate more, but I sort of interrupted him, and asked if he would tell me the verse that he just recited to me. Then with a smile he said,"No..." and then I immediately knew what he was thinking and said "oh yah I need to go and find it for myself..." Then he said, " If I tell you, you won't remember it, but if you go and find it for yourself, you'll remember it. I would tell you but I love you too much..."
HE SAID HE LOVES ME!!!! NOT JUST HE LOVES ME BUT TOO MUCH!!!
After that he went on to teach a principle to all of us now and I sat down. I was kind of dumb struck after that. I had no idea what he said right after that because I was trying to process and remember everything everything that we said to each other. The only things I could remember right away was something about unwearyingness and that he said he loves me haha..
There was so much that happened and so much that was said and learned, there is no way I could put it all in here for you guys to read!
Put one of my favorite moments was when Elder Bednar was teaching us about what an apostle is and why they are important. He had a super awesome "drop the mic" moment, when he was teaching us about the priesthood keys the apostles hold. He said, "All of the priesthood keys, from John the Baptist, Peter James and John, Moses, Elijah and Elias, all the keys restored to Joseph Smith.....are ten feet away from you...." And then he was silent for like 10 seconds and just so he could let us process what he just said and I felt like I was gonna wither up and die and turn into dust.... ELDER BEDNAR DROP THE MIC! So Insane haha.
Maybe I will tell you guys more about what happened next week because I'm out of time! I love you all and I hope you enjoy this email!
Monday, February 13, 2017
It takes patience to dunk'em
Hello everyone that reads these emails. I can't speak English well anymore. Whenever I see English speakers that aren't missionaries, I never know what to say or how to start a conversation. I literally have zero communication skills now. Probably because pretty much everyday of my life when ever I meet some one, I say (In Tagalog) hi and what my name is and then I ask them where they live and what they are doing and if they have a family and then pretty soon after that I am testifying of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. So I apologize if My emails are getting more and more boring to read because I have literally no more skills other than teaching the Gospel, and that's in Tagalog not English haha. Sorry po I don't marunong na at English. I mean I can talk to other missionaries put we don't even speak English. We speak Taglish.
This week, I am gonna try and tell you guys more stories, because last week asked my fam if my emails were getting boring, and they were like yah tell more stories, so that's what I guess I'll try to do this week.
Here's a story fa y'all. Earlier this week Elder Costales and I were looking for some referrals and also some former investigators that we found in the area book, in centro near our apartment. Finding people you are looking for in the Philippines is different. Almost nobody has a legit address, so you have to ask people in the general area of where you know the person lives, and it usually takes a pretty long time, but on the bright side we get to share the Gospel with everyone we ask for directions! So it's like killing two birds with one stone! But a lot of the time the people don't know the people we are looking for so it gets kinda frustrating. So at this particular time we were looking for a mother named Remy who was taught all the missionary lessons by other missionaries way back when, but she never was able to give up work to go to church, so she was dropped I guess. So anyways we were looking for her house and we had been looking for her for the past 45 minutes and no body knew her, and so we asked this one family if they knew her and they said they didn't, but while we were asking a little girl came up to us and said that Remy was her mom. So we she took us to her house, which happened to be the people's we just asked next door neighbor and I was like what the flip they don't even know their own neighbors? But anyways, we shared with Remy's whole family and it turns out that her husband and three children are all pretty active members, but they go to a different ward because way back when they moved out of their old ward's boundaries but refuse to switch wards so that is kind of frustrating too. But we shared a message about How the Gospel blesses families, and while we taught, Brother Rommel, Remy's husband, told us his conversion story, about how the old church he used to belong to excommunicated him because he married outside of their church membership. After that he was really sorrowful and he asked God why he got kicked out of the true church. After that experience he was angry with all the churches and he decided that he would never go to church again and just pray instead, and he became a drunkard and just went to real low point in his life. Then his family moved to Laoag and the missionaries found and taught and baptized them! SO their whole fam has been baptized except for Remy! But we found her at the perfect time because she told us that she was already making arrangements at work so that she will be able to start coming to church. She knows she will get baptized, but now it's only a matter of when. The lesson we shared was short and powerful and the Spirit was their and we could feel all their testimonies and Remy's desire to be baptized. There have been so many other times on my mission where God just some how guides us to the right people and the right time in their lives. A lot of the baptisms I have had on my mission are people that just didn't have the faith strong enough to give things up to be baptized before with other missionaries, but I transfer in and pick them up and God enlightens us with knowledge and discernment and we give them that little push they need, and not many weeks follow before they get dunked. Life is short and the mission is shorter so we gotta dunk 'em while we can!
We have a really good group of people right now that we are working with to get them into the waters of baptism, but a lot of little problems and challenges keep coming up in their lives and we are trying to help them solve their problems so they can receive the ordinances of salvation. We have two different investigators who need to get married to their spouses before they can get baptized. We have another investigator, John Henry who is done with the lessons and should have got baptized this Saturday, but he got married to a member last week, and they have been on a honey moon this whole last week, and we just heard that he wont be able to be baptized next week either, so hopefully March! The other two are sisters Anne and Jesha May, who are trying to get married to their husbands. They both already have kids and have lived with their husbands for many years, they just never have done the paperwork for marriage yet. The problem is both of their husbands are being noobs and keep backing out on the planned marriage date and we don't know why haha. Both of their husbands are less active members. So it's kinda frustrating because they are so ready to be baptized, and it's actually super easy for them to get married because they pretty much already are. They just need some signatures and to fill out some forms and boom they are married. SO Elder Costales and I are just being patient with them and trying to do everything we can to help them get married and be more prepared for baptism.
We also have Princess, Queenie and Krisha Ignacio who all want to be baptized and have been coming to church since January but we asked their dad if they could be baptized and he didn't say yes, yet... haha. But we are working with him and we have faith that the Lord will soften his heart and let them be baptized in the coming weeks! We are trying to teach him but he is hardly ever home. It takes patience to dunk 'em lemme tell ya haha.
This coming Saturday is a good one though! The baptisms of Jessa may, Michael, and Shiela Tungpalan are set and they are ready! And right after their baptisms we will be visited by Elder Bednar! I'm so stoked!!
Well I think that's good for this week. Like the title of the email, It takes patience to dunk 'em, but we are pushing them and doing everything in our power to make sure they are ready and also find more scattered Israel everyday in the process.
Baptism is the gate way to everything good in life so we are doing everything we can so God can pour His blessing on all His children that immerse themselves in the covenant of the Lord.
Keep Praying for us so we can dunk these people! They need the blessings that come with baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost! I love you all! Sorry I still have no pictures! Its hard to take pictures without a camera!
Monday, February 6, 2017
Another week has come and gone in the Philippines and a ton of new lessons learned and knowledge obtained. I learn so much every single week, but this week, and maybe last week too, I have learned A TON. The Holy Ghost teaches me so much.
We had a world wide broadcast from the missionary department that we got to watch. It was amazing and after I watched I had a renewed desire like a unquenchable fire in my chest to preach repentance to every creature that would be permitted to hear my voice. The broadcast was about focusing on teaching repentance and baptizing converts, and about how missionaries need to focus their teachings on the basic principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End. I have totally changed my approach when teaching both investigators and members. The focus needs to be more on preaching repentance, warning against the consequences of sin, and the need for baptism and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Sometimes missionaries get in the habit of ignoring or tip toeing around people's concerns, because of fear, and in the process they have trouble calling their investigators to repentance.
We need to be bold. We need to be persistent. We need to be full of love. We need to fear no man, and only God. We need to "look unto (Christ) in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36) We are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping others to become clean of their sins. This past week I have been doing everything I can to teach to bring out the people's concerns and discern their needs, so that we can attack the concerns and help people to learn what they must do to repent and be saved. I have learned that as we attack concerns and teach to resolve them, people get over their concerns and learn what they must do and they progress much faster.
The war against sin is real. And the world is add odds without the saving power of Christ's Atonement, and Christ's Atonement is powerless without obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, and they won't know it unless we tell them about it. "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe on him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?...So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:14-17)
We had 7 investigators at church this week. We have baptisms coming up in the coming weeks and we are super stoked for that! This week was transfers and m zone got a much needed make over haha. Just 2 more weeks before Elder Bednar comes so we can't wait for that!
Sorry my emails are lame. I have no camera. And I can't think of which stories I should and shouldn't tell haha. Let's pray for a better email next week! Deal?