Monday, November 25, 2013

Khailaast Branch

I got transferred this week!  I'm still the zone leader but in a different zone, and I'm serving in a fairly different area consisting of one apartment building and then a whole lot of little houses on very windy roads on a lot of icy hills.  It's fun, until I fall down.  The ice never melts in winter, and so everything is always slippery.

My new companion is Elder Norlund.  He's new and from North America.  Only, he's not here yet.  His visa didn't come through and so he is serving in Maryland until he can get his visa.  So, I have a temporary companion named Elder Unubold.  He's not really a full-time missionary but a ward member who is called to be a temporary missionary when visas are delayed.  He's great, but I do hope Elder Norlund can get here soon so I can train him.

I'm technically not the Sign Language Elder anymore, but there are so many deaf investigators and members in my new area that I will continue to use sign language a lot.

I finally bought a nice new coat to go with the weather. It will help me stay warm.

I had a thought from the scriptures this week.  It is about Nephi and hope.  We recall Laman and Lemuel and their repeated wickedness; it seems every time that after they repent and humble themselves, they go back to rebellion again and usually fairly soon.  Nephi knew about them, and he also had seen in vision that his nation would be destroyed due to unbelief.  And yet, for example, in 1 Nephi 16:5, we read "And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness."  Laman and Lemuel were a source of hardship for Nephi.  When they repented, Nephi didn't say, 'oh, well, they will be back to normal in a month or two' but instead had great hopes that they would walk in the path of righteousness. He didn't assume that something bad would automatically happen, but had hopes that good would continue.  Hope is really key here.

Life doesn't give us a set amount of good and bad experiences.  Life isn't fair, but in the end we aren't judged by how many good or bad things happened to us but rather by how we chose to use our agency and follow God regardless of how much good or bad happened in our lives.  We should not try to guess whether great things or bad things will happen to us next; this turns our faith into superstition.  God blesses us because he loves us, and He gives us hard times because He loves us.  We cannot tell beforehand when or how they will come.  We have only to be grateful for the good times, be patient in the hard times, and follow God all the time.  As Paul said, "I know how to abound and I know how to lack.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."  And when we want to wish away our hard times, then as Gandalf said, "So say all who live to see such times.  But that is not the choice we are given to make.  The choice we have is what to do with the times we are given."

If we serve the Lord at all times, we are using our agency well, no matter what is happening to us.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Modest Goal

As it gets colder, I am buying new things to keep warm.  I haven't yet used the boots I brought from home, but the slippery ice will make wearing them a necessity soon.  This week, I bought a hat to keep my ears warm.  They are the first things to get cold as we walk up and down the Ger Horoolol (yurt district) to meet with investigators.  My goal is to get through the winter without frostbite.  I think I'll buy a warm coat this week.  We are generally below 0°C these days, and we'll soon be below zero Fahrenheit.

Our newest member is doing well.  She really desires to come to Church and learn.  We recently started teaching the husband of another deaf member; that is going well.  And our other investigator is progressing very well.  It is important for all investigators to read the Book of Mormon to gain a testimony of the Restored Gospel.  Most people here are Buddhist, and so it is a big change to learn about Christ.

An Area Seventy came to Mongolia this week to talk about Home Teaching.  It is very important for us to do our Home Teaching so we can help each other stay strong in the Gospel.  I hope we see improvement here now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Only One Way

We have another progressing investigator, the father of one of our members.  He has been learning well and all, but he has hesitated about baptism.  He said he doesn't want to lie at baptism by going on afterward and breaking the commandments.  A lot of Mongolian traditions involve tea and alcohol, and so it is hard for new members to keep the Word of Wisdom.

We made a lesson plan to help this brother, to teach him about the purpose of our lives and the plan of salvation's results.  We wanted to talk about the three kingdoms of glory and how only in the Celestial Kingdom can we be with our families forever.  We planned to talk about how the only way to that kingdom is to start with baptism.  We planned to ask his daughter to bear her testimony about families, hoping he would feel the Spirit and develop the desire to be baptized.

We began teaching the lesson and, while we laid out the plan of salvation briefly, he said on his own that the only place he wanted to go was the Celestial Kingdom.  He said he understood now that he had to receive baptism to be with his family forever.  He told us that he really had understood the Plan of Salvation, and it seems to have changed him.  Then he told us that he wanted to stop doubting and set a baptismal date, and so we did!  I was so happy that the Holy Ghost reached out to touch his heart more than we could.  I had fasted for him that day, and I know the Lord answered our prayers.  I look forward to helping him prepare for baptism.

I remembered from this experience and others a talk that was given while I was at the MTC.  The speaker said that, like the brother of Jared, who saw the Lord's Hand touch stones one by one--stones  brought to the Lord by the brother of Jared--when we bring people unto Christ and He touches them one by one, we will see His Hand revealed.  I found that interesting at the time, but just now I have been having many of our investigators speak of the Spirit's influence when we don't even bring it up.  I see the Spirit's influence and I see the Lord's Hand revealed, one person at a time.