I hope you are all doing well! I'm doing great this week! Just trying to work hard in the service of the Lord. I've been trying hard to harvest out here while the field is white. We currently have 4 progressing investigators getting ready for baptism this month. They are all from part member families.
We had Zone training this week and I got to translate for the native Elders that don't know English. It was exhausting! Training brought about some changes to our missionary work. Missionaries are to be more strict to the doctrine in Preach My Gospel. The first lesson with an investigator will be all new to them. They are not expected to understand everything, they are expected to feel the spirit and invite us back. That is the important thing. I have realized that I am not the teacher out here. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher. I can explain it super clearly and convince them by the knowledge of man, but they will have little to no benefit to them if they do not feel the witness of the Holy Ghost. I am to be a tool in the Lord's hand, a tool through which he may use his spirit to convert his children that they may be healed. "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood." (Isaiah). I am simply a tool in the hand of the master.
Remember Sombat from last week? He's doing amazing! By the end of the week he'll have stopped smoking completely. His testimony is amazing! He has shared with us his true heartfelt testimony of the Lord's care and help for him to overcome Satan's wicked chains of addiction. He said he's hoping to be an example to the rest of his village because they are all watching him right now to see if this church really is all we protest it to be. Does it really help people to become new people? I testify that it does. Sombat would shun the Elders and all things of Christ. Now he wants his whole village to see his example of the true possibility of repentance through Jesus Christ. He wants them all to join also.The Gospel is not weight. Its wings.
Here is some Council from my mission president:
An important part of our purpose is to help people repent and be baptized so that they may receive forgiveness-- a remission of sins. John the Baptist demonstrated this when “he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;” (Luke 3:3).
Sometimes we mistakenly teach or imply that receiving the ordinance of baptism and receiving a remission of sins are the same thing. They are not. Baptism is required for us to receive forgiveness, but it does not automatically wash away our sins and make us clean. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve recently taught this principle when he said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ includes the making and keeping of sacred covenants, the first of which is the covenant of baptism. The act of baptism itself does not wash sin away. Thanks to the Atonement, the effects of sin depart when one faithfully keeps the baptism covenant to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, June 2014) As we faithfully keep the covenant and obey the commandments in our life the Atonement cleanses us from sin and the Lord forgives our sins.
Sometimes I have even heard members who are watching a baptism service say, after someone is baptized, “Forgiven!” as if the act of being immersed in the water is what automatically brings about a forgiveness of sins. This is not right. Baptism is a symbolic ordinance—as are all ordinances in the gospel—and it is the keeping of those covenants associated with the ordinance that allows the power and blessings of the ordinance to result in our life. The ratifying seal of the Spirit is necessary for an ordinance to be valid and effective in our life. Someone who has not fully complied with the requirements of repentance and prepared themselves appropriately for baptism cannot expect to be forgiven simply because the participated in the ordinance—Moroni cautions, “See that ye are not baptized unworthily…” (Mormon ) For one who has fully complied with the law of repentance and receives baptism worthily, sins are washed away in the waters of baptism. But the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, manifested by the companionship of the Spirit in our life, is also necessary for us to be cleansed and purified from sin. It is important for us to understand this doctrine clearly in our own minds, and to teach it clearly to our investigators and recent converts. It is the continual striving and faithful keeping of our covenants that brings the Holy Spirit into our life and sanctifies and cleanses us, and prepares us to live again in God’s presence.
I love you all. I hope you will find that living in the moment brings extensive joy. Much more joy than you have in looking forward to it being over. This life is to prepare to meet god, to LIVE the gospel, not to die for it. We gain so much from our trials and experiences. President Spencer W. Kimball in a General Conference address asked the Lord to give him "mountains to climb" for he knew without a doubt that every trial that we endure well gives us strength that cannot be gained in any other way.
Elder L. Rogers Brewer