Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 84...Laoag Philippines

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..."  


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!
-Elder Andersen

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