Friday, August 19, 2016

The Weak and the Simple (10/5/15)

I never cease to be amazed at how much of a blessing it is to hear living prophets, seers, and revelators at General Conference. I hope as y'all listened, you were sensitive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost telling you what you need to know and what you need to work on. I sure was reminded of what I need to work on :)

While conference itself was fantastic as always, it was probably the most trying weekend of my mission. It seemed as if my strength was being chiseled at constantly by one thing after the next. You've got the dignity of the calling challenged by drunkards, you've got recent converts falling away, you've got people seeing only the worst in you, you've got people right and left refusing to progress, you've got your own inadequacies - you've got some major discouragement.

But the most trying experience I've faced, like most of the hardest challenges we face, has to do with someone I have come to love so so much. R, who had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and had a strong desire to be baptized just days ago, has come across anti-Mormon material. When we came by to check on her yesterday, she told us that she no longer wants to be baptized and she no longer wants to meet with us. She was hurt and confused by what she read. There were many tears shed there with her. She knows the spirit she's felt as she's read the Book of Mormon, as she's met with us, as she's gotten priesthood blessings, as she's attended church, and as she's watched General Conference. But she's hurt, and she's backed up to a wall of faith that we all get backed up against at one point or another. As we learned in conference, if we want enlightenment, we should always look up. And R knows that. She'll continue to read the scriptures and pray for answers, and so it is in God's hands to help her through this. Unexpectedly, her husband B is helping her most of all to deal with human imperfection, even in the church. He is encouraging her to continue seeking the truth, although he himself just barely started opening up to the Book of Mormon. After talking/crying with R for a while, B asked to read with us outside. So we did. And as I finished choking through the verses, the overcast skies broke to send a ray of light onto the paperback Book of Mormon resting on the table in front of me. The gentle breeze felt like a warm hug from the Savior. On this, one of my darkest moments, God was telling me, in a way that I could recognize, that the Book of Mormon was His word. That although I don't understand everything, I know that. Without a doubt. The hard part of the job is helping others to know that too.

"That the fullness of my gospel be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world" (D&C 1:23). I am the definition of weak and simple. President Uchtdorf taught us to focus on the simplicity of the Gospel. Elder Bednar taught us that when we can't do a lot, we do what matters most. And for me, that is declaring my testimony, my unshakable witness that the Book of Mormon is true. That the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's true and living church. That it is led by true prophets of God. That's all I've got. That's all I know.

Brothers and sisters, you can get through anything - any trial, any doubt - if you will have faith firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. That sturdy foundation does not come by accident - it comes be intentional seeking, serving, studying, and obedience. But it DOES come. I urge - exhort - all of you to come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel for yourselves. To heed the counsel of ancient and living prophets. If you do this - you WILL make it through ANYTHING. As Elder Holland taught, "God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: 'Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived' - and in the last days neither your heart not your faith will fail you."

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