Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008 -- [Hard Times and Hope]

To be quite honest, this week was probably the hardest one I've had on the mission. You know me, I'm a stresser, and I still feel overwhelmed with my new responsibilities. I really don't know what I'm doing, and this isn't just any work, this is the work of the Lord. Luckily, being involved in the Lord's work entails receiving the Lord's help. I've needed that help a lot this week, and I've learned to appreciate it even more.

Preach My Gospel teaches that as missionaries we should do everything we can to help people keep their commitments. Commitments such as reading, praying, going to church, keeping the commandments, and getting baptized, are extremely important in the progress of every person and of their testimony. Without commitments, we don't grow. (That's why covenants are so important, they are our commitments with the Lord.) After all that we can do, however, people still have their sacred agency and they sometimes use it to not keep commitments. When that happens, I get sad. It hurts me to know that people are rejecting the best thing ever invented (because it wasn't invented, or at least not by man.) It is a lot like what Dad described in a letter to me when he talked about Pilate error or . . . (I forgot his other name for it[*]), when people are too busy with the everyday to care about the all-important. It hurts even more when the decicions of [some] impede [another's] progress. This week [has] seen a lot of that with husbands who don't let their wives go to church, or things like that.

I'm sorry if my letter has been a little depressing until now. Don't worry. I'm happy and healthy. Although this week was hard, it was also great. For example, six different people agreed to take the ever-so-important step of baptism later this month. We have also found lots of great new people to teach. Right now the Church here is having a media campaign, giving away Joy to the World DVDs. (Things here aren't like things in Salt Lake, where missionaries have DVDs all year round to give to people.) The campaign consists mainly of commercials on the TV and pass-a-long cards. My companion and I were given 20 and were told that we weren't going to get any more. We decided that the best way to use them was to give them to members to give to their friends, which we did, but first we made over 500 copies. This week we will have to make more copies, because we are almost out.

Even though things have been hard, even though life as a missionary can sometimes be stressful or sad, there is hope! -- hope, as [President] Uchtdorf[**] said, that "transcends the trivial and centers in the Hope of Israel." (I hope I quoted him right.) I know that the cause in which I fight is the cause of the Lord, and that everyone will eventually have a chance to hear this glorious message. I am building Zion, as are each of you. I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He is our Savior and our Friend. Nothing we face in this life can beat us if we just remember that simple fact.

I try not to get distracted from my work, but in this Christmas season I can't help but think about my family all the time. I think about all of our traditions of service and family togetherness, of caroling, bread-making, "remember when-ing," and giving. * * *

My time is up. In a little over a week I'll be be able to say in person [by phone], as they spell it in Mexico, "wiwichu a meri crismas an a japi nu yir."

[*"Pilate Error" refers to the incident when Pilate answered Christ, saying "What is truth?" This was not a sincere inquiry but a sarcastic put-off that ended their conversation. (See John 18:37-38). "Pilate error" thus consists in the denial or devaluation of truth. The "other name for it," to which Elder Rowley refers, is the "Athenian Attitude." In this version of it, the error consists of being preoccupied with novelty or fashion rather than truth. It is called the "Athenian Attitude" because, in Acts 17:21, we read that "the Athenians . . . spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." -- Eds.]

[** Dieter F. Uchtdorf is the Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church. The First Presidency is the highest governing council of the Church. It consists of a president and two assistants or "counselors." --Eds.]

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