Monday, March 23, 2015

Hace Calor!‏

Good HEAVENS it's hot here. The rain managed to stop but the humidity lingered and it is disgusting during the day.

What's worse we haven't had water in the house for about three days now. I don't remember if I mentioned that - it comes and goes. It was pretty steady last week...but all of a sudden over the weekend it dropped off. When we DO have water we fill up the billion water jugs we have in the house, so we're fine, it's just obnoxious because it makes showering and washing the dishes and whatnot a pain.

At least we're better off than one of the other companionships in the Zone. Our District Leader and his companion abandoned their house because the owner hadn't payed the bills in weeks and they finally cut off both their water and light. They've been trying to get a new house for a while now, but for some reason the secretaries of the mission are taking their time. They tried living like that for about a week, but finally gave up and got permission to move in with the Zone Leaders. Which means they're in VERY dire straits. Because normally it's not a good idea having 4 missionaries in one house. Worse when two of them are going home in about 14 days. The other day I went on divisions with my District Leader (a day when I work with him in his area) - it was a good day. As he's ending his mission, he has of course lots of skills and whatnot developed.

This leads me to one of the worst experiences ever.

We get to the home of the Zone Leaders that night.

Me: "I've got to use the bathroom. Is there toilet paper?"

My Zone Leader begins to laugh.


That day we went to visit this guy named Nelson, a guy I'd heard of once or twice as he was getting ready for baptism. Mostly I'd heard funny stories. Apparently he was quite the character.

So we climbed this big hill up in the outskirts of Esmeraldas - we had to duck under some laundry, wade through some waist-high grass, and reached a shabbily-constructed wooden shack up in the corner. From up there I could see a good section of Emseraldas, including the ocean.

I got to know Nelson! Yeah, the guy was pretty crazy, but a loveable crazy. He showed us around his shack, showed us the trees he was planting, the coconuts he carved for a living. He kept testing me to see if I knew what the different plants were - saying the names slowly, so I could understand them (even though I understood fine the first time). We finally sat down in two chairs slipping in the mud outside his house to teach a quick lesson.

We read Helaman 5, focusing on verse 12. As we taught, I took a step back and thought about what in the world I was doing. I looked out across the ocean, at the jungle behind me. I thought about how I had just walked up a giant hill to talk to a guy I'd never met who lives in a shack and carves coconuts for a living to talk to him about Jesus and read from a strange book written ages ago.

I realized what love I felt for him, and what love he felt for us.

I'm not sure if I can describe really that experience, but...I just realized, yes, I'm doing it. This is what it's all about! This is that missionary experience everyone talks about. There's nothing greater than bringing that knowledge of Christ to the world. Because it's what he needed - maybe a new house, yes, and more than a few pairs of clothes, but the ONLY message, the only knowledge that would truly bring him peace and save him was the message that we shared. I know it's true!

How to Win

I've been realizing a little bit more how the world really works here and what is really taught and what really exists. I've noticed some interesting things.

I've noticed that when we ask people here what they think they need to do to be saved they say things like "Do good works." or "Help my neighbor." and things like that. But what happened to the commandments? Why don't these other churches seem to explain that there ARE commandments in the Bible like "Don't commit adultery?" Why do they skirt that issue and tell people they just need to be nice and believe in Christ?

I've noticed that some people, when we ask them to pray to God to see if the Book of Mormon is true, they might say yes, but they don't do it. Or they won't ask at all. What's so hard about asking? Don't they realize that that's the only way God will tell them what they need to do?

I've noticed in myself that I have a hard time doing the work sometimes. There are days when I just don't want to talk to people, when I don't want to leave the apartment. What's so hard about that? Why can't I do it?

We're all searching for happiness in this life, but how is it found?

"For the natural man is an enemy to God," explains King Benjamin.

It seems to me that the entirety of the Gospel - accepting callings in the church, going on missions, tithing, fast offerings, all the time and effort we are expected to put into our families, the commandments we are expected to keep, is to help us to overcome that natural man. We are expected to serve, and I think that's to teach us that in the end, the only way to find happiness is to forget about ourselves, and to care about others. And more than anything to be humble.

Humility, as True to the Faith explains, "Is an indication that you know where your true strength lies." It lies in God! God is the most powerful being in the universe, and the only way that we can access that power is by being humble, because only then can we realize like Ammon that "I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." As he says, "there is no natural man that knoweth of these things."

The most powerful being to walk the earth explained, in John 30: "I can of mine own self do nothing...because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."

Pride, as President Benson explains, makes us slaves to the world. People can't accept anything that wasn't their idea in the first place. People don't want to live the commandments because they restrict them and make them do things they don't want to do. People won't pray because they don't want to have someone greater than them telling them what to do. It's hard to get up and work because I'd much rather care about myself.

But the point is there's only one way to happiness, one way to peace in this life: submitting ourselves to something greater. That's how we overcome the natural man. That's how we are comfortable with who we are. That's how we have power. They always say there are two things you should be careful praying for: Humility and Patience - because you'll get it. ...But, I guess I want that surety. That true understanding of who I am. So we'll see how it goes. :)

Mark 8:35-36 struck me immensely this week:

 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

There's my thought for this week. Just what I was thinking about the world and myself these days.

I had some awesome pics to show you buuut I forgot the camera in the house. Just imagine the payoff when you finally see them next week.

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