Monday, October 20, 2014

If you want to change

Dear Family,
  This week has been excellent. We have been continuing to do English class contacting as time permits and have seen many successes. Included in those successes are three new investigators. Two friends going to college named Jan and Jan Lan who are very receptive. The other is a man that walked into the church and asked if he could learn English and about God. We eagerly said yes to both and taught him after English class that night. Besides them we have had some excellent contacts that are potential investigators. Many of them are often in someone else's area because the borders being so tight in the city, but we still love them and give them as referrals to the adjacent Elders. One of those contacts was at a Tela Mart while taking cover from the rain. A young couple were going for a ride on their moto and stopped for shelter also. I asked them where they were going and they said they were going on a date. They then asked me where I was going and I told them that I was going to teach about Jesus. Then to my surprise he asked me if I would teach him. I quickly answered yes! He asked if it was free and I told him it was. He then asked if I had a book for him to read and I responded that I did. And so I invited him to go to church and he said he would. And I felt amazing. 
  One night, on arriving home, Elder Vore and I were met by a beggar. She was an older woman and by the swaying of her stance and the stench of her breath we could easily tell she was drunk. She begged us for money but we, having none, could give her nothing. I had on my person a single Clif Bar which I gave her. Yet she was appalled at the snack! She actually said "what am I supposed to do with this?! I want money! I want Cambodian food!" I was shocked! This beggar had the nerve to be a chooser! I told her to take it because it was all I had and then went home. The memory of this experience bothered me as I tried to plan for the next day and after my nightly prayer I thought of another gift. One that we were all given. The atonement of Jesus Christ. What does it profit a man if he is given a gift and he receiveth it not? Its as if the giver of the gift had retained his gift. Christ gave his life freely, a sacrifice for sin. But if we just let that gift sit on the shelves and not use it then what good is it to us? We must use it every day. We must repent. We must change. We must apply the atonement in our life every day. It is for us. It is to protect us from such suffering as the savior felt. In the words of the savior:
  "Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men." (D&C 19:15-19).
The atonement is for you. Use it. Cast it not away. Let it not collect dust on the shelf. It is a daily dose that is required.
  We went to an investigator/part-member family house to teach the other day and they had been modifying their house to be taller due to the excess of people staying in it. On top of that they had moved all their stuff into this tiny 10 by 15 feet room they call a house. And the same day they took off their roof to build upwards, it rained. Poured. Dumped buckets. Yet when went over there they were happy as a bunch of larks. I felt as if I were happier in that tiny, flooded, messy house with those people than I did in my comfy, air conditioned room at home. Why were they so happy? As I thought on it I discovered that they have an inner peace that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. They do not allow outside forces to disturb that peace because it is eternal. They have a handle on how they react to things they can't control because they know that even though their are storms, and the ship is tossed to and fro, they do not fear, nor have they need to, because Jesus is at the Helm. 
  The title of this email is a revelation I have received recently. It has actually been a revelation that I have seen culminating over the entire period of my mission and I recognize that it draws roots from even before that. But as I sat down to type to you today I thought to write those 5 words. And as I reflect on them I realize that it is the very essence of our existence. Why? Well try to see it through my eyes: Our Heavenly Father provided for us, in the eternal realms above, a plan. A plan that, if we follow, will guide us to become like Him. We at that point had a choice. An opportunity to accept that plan and become like Him. This was conditional, however, on If we want to change
  Adam and Eve were created the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden they were in a state of bliss, carefree to all worldly concerns as we know them. But God's plan was not to have them live in this state for eternity. He wanted them to become like Him. So they were given commandments to multiply and replenish the earth and to abstain from partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They had the opportunity to become like God, knowing good from evil, by partaking of the fruit. But it was given unto them as an exercise of agency, If they wanted to change. 
  Now we, as mortal sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and eternal spirit sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven, have choices every day given us by our maker. Will I choose to be loving? Will I choose to be humble? Will I choose to be kind? Will I choose to be generous? Will I choose to be patient? Will I choose to be virtuous? Will I choose to exercise faith? Will I choose to increase in knowledge? Will I choose to be diligent? Yes, these are every day choices brothers and sisters. No, these characteristics do not become second nature in one day. They require every day use of agency. They are built upon the seemingly most insignificant choices that we make throughout every day in our life. Will I help that person in need?  Will I accept criticism without rebuke? Will I say a kind word? Will I share my substance with the needy? Will I wait to understand before being understood? Will I pray? Will I study the word of God? Will I go to church? Will I be baptized? Will I fulfill my calling? As president Thomas S. Monson taught us, "decisions determine destiny." God created a perfect plan for all his children to become like him. But he will not force you to do these things. He respects your God-given gift of Agency and simply asks you If you want to change.  
   Many people struggle with change. They argue that they have been this way their whole life and that is just the way it is. They feel that in their one circumstance they are too this or too that to change. Many argue that they have no time. This kind of thinking is not consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ. This kind of thinking puts at naught the plan of our Father in heaven and the Atonement of Jesus Christ which is the center of that plan. Christ did not receive your suffering and sins and die on the cross so that you may continue to feel like you cannot ever change. He died for you and set forth the conditions of repentance and provided the only way to return to our Father in Heaven and become like him. This eternal and infinite gift to all mankind that ever was and is and ever will be, is available to you. If you want to change. 
  Please understand that this is up to you. This is a personal choice. I cannot make it for you. In fact no one can. Satan would have you think that you have no control over your life. That you are not capable of such change. That you are too far gone to do anything about it. Satan wants you to put all responsibility on outside forces and absolve yourself of the ability to respond to things that happen to you. Please do give away your agency. In that pre-mortal realm I mentioned earlier, there was another plan proposed. This plan was from Satan, that man may be forced into mortality and be caused to live on earth after the whims of the devil. That plan was cast out with Satan because it would not provide for what was required to become like God: Change. Opposition drives change. With Satan's plan there would be no opposition, there would be no growth. But our God loves us and He knows all things and knows that we can only grow to become like him through our own decisions, If we want to change.
 Lehi said it best when teaching his son Jacob:
  "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might bemiserable like unto himself. And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom." (2 Nephi 2:27-29).
  I testify that you and I are spirit sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father who wants nothing more than "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." This is His work and His glory. (Moses 1:39). He knows you can change. He wants you to be like Him and stands ready to assist you on this road. This is eternal life. Do not put it on the back-burner. Make it your number one priority. But only If you want to change. 
 With love, Elder Lyle R. Brewer

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