Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009 -- Tithing

Wow, every week goes by faster than the previous, especially when you are really busy. . . .

Last Sunday we had a great sacrament meeting in our ward. One thing that made it special was knowing that we were all fasting for the same purpose, as are all the Saints in Mexico. You may have heard that the Area Presidency here sent us an epistle a few months ago inviting us to rededicate our lives to the Lord. One of the several specific invitations that they made is that we all fast together the first Sundays of November, December, and January so that the members of the Church may have the desire to be obedient to the Lord’s commandments and that the leaders of this country can make good decisions.

It is great to be a part of this period of rededication. Every day we should evaluate ourselves and rededicate ourselves to God.

Another thing that made sacrament meeting special were the testimonies that were born. One sister, the Primary President, had had a miscarriage that week, but bore her testimony about the plan of happiness. (Can you imagine how it must feel to pass through such a situation without a knowledge of God’s plan?)

Carlos Angiano, the recently re-activated father of Melisa and Alejandra, the young women who were baptized a few weeks ago, also bore his testimony. He spoke about tithing. He said that when the missionaries had taught him and his daughters about tithing, he was skeptical. He said that one of the missionaries (me) had shared a story about a miracle that his parents had experienced for paying their tithing (the story Mom told me about when you paid tithing first and received a check in the mail for the money you needed for the rent.)

Carlos said that he thought that the missionary was lying, making up a story. He said that he thought that the Church just wanted to get rich off its members. But, he said, the missionaries read him a scripture in which the Lord invites us to put Him to the test (Malachi 3:8-10), and he decided to take that challenge.

Carlos currently is without a job, as are many people these days. So paying his tithing means making a sacrifice. He told us that he had received 7,000 pesos that were to last him three months. Tithing would mean 700 pesos. The first thing he did when he received his money was pay his tithing, although he didn’t know how he could last.
As he bore his testimony, he told us that he had never gotten so much out of so little. He told us that he still had a large amount of that money that he had received weeks ago. He told us that he no longer doubted the principle of tithing, and told us all that the Lord would bless us for paying our tithing as well.

I, like Carlos Angiano, have a testimony of tithing. I have seen blessings in the lives of my parents and of many people here in the mission. Last week I mentioned a letter I received from one of my converts, Tere. She is also going through hard economic times, but pays her full tithing and has been richly blessed. Paying a full tithe is the first and most important principle in being economically sound.

These past two weeks the mission offices have been converted into a card and disk factory. Two weeks ago we were working hard on the Christmas card, which is now completely finished and looks great. This past week we have been producing several hundred CDs, an album we made of Christmas hymns and scriptures to give to people. Being part of an office team is a great feeling, all working together for a good cause.

The truth is that before I lived here, I never appreciated all that the office Elders do for the mission. For example, this past Wednesday we took a third of the mission to the temple. This time all the missionaries who haven’t gone [to the Monterrey Temple] are assigned to areas in the border, so they had to come stay in the offices Tuesday night (the session started Wednesday morning at 7:00 AM). We had to get ready to have 50 missionaries staying here.

Really the offices are equipped for only about 20, and President Mendoza told us that he wanted the missionaries to be able to sleep comfortably. All day Tuesday was spent buying food, cleaning rooms, moving mattresses, buying blankets, and other such things, so that all would be ready when the missionaries arrived.

It made me ponder on the times when I came to stay in the offices before being an Assistant. Everything went so smoothly that I didn’t even think about it. And when things didn’t go smoothly, many missionaries were quick to complain. Now that I am on the other side, I am grateful for the sacrifices that those other office missionaries made for me.

All the sacrifices that may be required are worth it to go to the temple. I gladly sacrifice so that others can have the opportunity. As always, I had a wonderful experience in the temple. After asking President Tenorio (the temple President, brother of Elder Tenorio of the Seventy and the Mexico Area Presidency) if it was appropriate, I brought my patriarachal blessing and read it in the Celestial Room. I felt such comfort and direction as I did so. Thinking about what I had just learned and how I was feeling gave me new light and understanding about what the Lord wants from me in my life. I want to sharpen my axe to be the best tool I can be in His expert hands.

You will remember Ranulfo, the man who looks more like a Stake President than an investigator. He is still coming to church in his suit and bringing his Bible, Book of Mormon, and Gospel Principles manual. Last Sunday he accompanied us to the First Presidency Christmas devotional, very excited to hear from the living prophet. President Menodoza was there and greeted him and, as always, gave him a baptismal challenge. Ranulfo still hasn’t accepted a specific date, but has told us that before the year ends, he will be baptized.

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