Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Which Way Do You Face?

Playing basketball with Elder Pogroeszewski, my friend, Collin Larson's cousin
The work in the Woodlands is business as usual. However, the work of the salvation of souls is not exactly "business as usual." So it's a privilege and an opportunity I cherish to bear the name of Jesus Christ and preach His Gospel and give service in the way that He would. 

One of the things that hit me hard in personal study this morning was in relation to changing our nature. I read a talk from a mission president from awhile back that talks about the 4 different types of missionaries. The 1st is a disobedient missionary who either gets sent home, or chooses to go home. The 2nd is a disobedient missionary who stays the full 2 years, but doesn't really learn anything, and doesn't impact anyone's life, and doesn't change. The 3rd is an obedient missionary who does everything he's supposed to, but against his inner thoughts and desires. He has feelings of resentment and bitterness towards working hard and serving. He still does these things and helps change the lives of people, but he only changes his behavior, but not his nature. The 4th missionary is obedient, but gives all of his heart, might, mind, and strength to the Lord. Not just his strength and his might. But rather he puts his goals, dreams, and desires in a hypothetical box along with his other material possessions back home, and he only focuses on the work. This missionary is happy. He is allowing the Atonement to work in his life, because he is choosing to allow the Lord to change him. Agency is the one thing that God has given all of His children, but He will not change us or help us be better if we don't choose ourselves to consecrate ourselves to him. The talk made so much sense to me, because unfortunately there have been times where I have given service begrudgingly to others, and I'm not happy. I have been faithful pretty much all my life in regards to service, but I haven't always chosen to be happy and willing to let God change me. So I'm striving to be like the 4th missionary, and let God change me.
Cute kids in the ward
So we are the only Spanish missionaries in the Woodlands and most of Spring, but there's several sets of English missionaries in the area, we just don't see them much, unless they come teach English class with us. The Woodlands is an area in the mission that can be discouraging for Spanish missionaries if you don't have the right attitude about it. The adversary has worked hard on me by telling me things such as "There's no point in knocking doors, there aren't any Hispanics in this area, and even if there are, they won't be interested, what are the odds?" I've come to learn that if you let those thoughts linger, you will start to believe them, and you will see the results you expect. Even if 98% of the doors we knock aren't interested in our message, it is always, always worth it to find the 2% who will. A few days ago we were out knocking in a middle-class neighborhood that seemed to be full of exclusively white people, but we found a guy from Cuba who was really excited in what we had to say, so miracles do come from finding.

As far as our other investigators go, most of the lessons we planned with them fell through, so we spent quite a bit of time finding this week, and found some decent potentials. We did have a lesson with that family from Cuba again, except this time it was just the parents, Ronnie and Amnevys. We got to know them a little bit more, and they talked about their lives back in Cuba. The sad thing, is that they came from Communist Cuba, where religion is allowed, but not in the public square at all. You have to practice in private if you want to avoid retaliation from the government. It has helped me understand just how critically important it is that we fight for religious freedom here in this country. We cannot allow those who are blinded by the adversary in the spirit of "equality and fairness for all" cause those with religious beliefs to lose their tax exemptions and freedom of speech and expression. If we eliminate religious freedom in this country, we will allow for our other rights freedoms to get trampled and dissolved, and we will be subject to oppression and unbalanced control by the government.

And now for some thoughts about The Holy Ghost and receiving personal revelation. Boyd K. Packer once said: "Inspiration comes more quickly when we need it to help others than when we are concerned about ourselves." Also, a little later in this talk he touches on accepting the will of the Lord rather than our own will: "Sometimes we are confused simply because we won’t take no for an answer. On several occasions when a member has insisted that something be done his way, I have remembered that great lesson from Church history. I have said to myself in my mind: All right, Joseph, give the manuscript to Martin Harris. Do it your own way, and see where you get. Then when you’re confounded and confused, come back and we’ll get you set on the course that you might have taken earlier if you had been submissive and responsive."

How many times do we think that we know better than God, or those who are called to speak for Him? We need to receive our own personal witness that the words and teachings in General Conference certainly are the words of God. If we study the scriptures, pray, and study these things out in our minds and we still aren't receiving spiritual confirmation, we must look inward. If there's anything amiss, we must repent and fix those things which block the powers of heaven that prevent us from receiving those answers. Gaining access to the powers of heaven and gaining spiritual knowledge and wisdom are inseparably connected. We must be keeping the commandments of God if we are to receive revelation. Sin blinds us, so always strive to be clean and worthy so that you can receive personal revelation.

It's so true. President talks quite a lot about "restoring sight" as missionaries. Truth and light is inside of everyone. We just have to ask the kinds of questions that will bring it out of them. Service is a huge part of it. If you can truly make a difference in someone's life, you've done good in the world.

Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Barrus

One of the families in the ward has a pet pig!

One of the young women that was baptized in the ward.

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