Monday, August 17, 2015

State of the Sector Address‏

I suppose I do miss a bit being connected to the political world, but I can't say I miss Hillary either.

Anyhow my new companion is Elder Arango! He's from Peru (that's my third Peruvian companion), from Huancayo. He's got almost the same time as I do in the mission - it's fun because we're both going to hit our year mark this transfer - he hits his this week actually. He likes futbol (what else is new) and eating. Probably the first time one of my companions spends more time being hungry than me. We get along pretty well - he's generally pretty animated and the best thing is that he actually likes contacting. It's been a good while since I've had a companion that doesn't mind contacting.

Which has really come in handy because, well, the sector's in pretty bad shape right now. Because we couldn't spend a lot of time in the sector with my last companion (we had to babysit another missionary while his companion, the zone leader, was in Quito for meetings) we have very few people we're teaching right now. So we've been doing a lot of contacting (I shouldn't whine at all, imagining people in the States who have to tract for hours...), with varied results. Every three or four or so someone will talk to us in the door or even let us come in the house to teach but it's just as hard to find people who actually progress. People love to listen to the word but not do much about it.

And the absolute worst was when absolutely noone came to church this week. Of all the new people we found and the investigators we already had noone came. So we have nobody with a baptismal date and there's no way we're going to hit the goals we set for this month.

It was really darn frustrating for me. I really got the case of the Sunday Blues. Sometimes Sundays are my least favorite days because I just do not like seeing everyone not coming to church. Especially people we'd relied on...any how, it really taught me once again about patience, faith, hope, and gratitude.

This morning I started the Book of Mormon (as in the book that comes after 4th Nephi). I don't really like getting to the end of the Book of Mormon because it depresses me a bit learning about the wickedness of everyone at the end...but I was thinking about what Moroni wrote in Ether 12:

 4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

I was thinking about the conditions under which Moroni wrote that scripture. He was seeing the fall of his people, their complete degeneration into filthiness, and here he is talking about hope and faith. It's true, really. The point is that Christ was perfect. We can have faith that His plan is perfect, too, and that everything will turn out fine in the end.

I was also listening to one of my very favorite talks ever, by President Monson. Listen to it from the beginning, don't just read it. He talks a lot about having the gift of gratitude and I realized it's a way of living I really want to and need to cultivate. He points out that it's actually a wonderful time to live on earth, that there is a lot of good and happiness in this world! It's just incredibly hard for us to have that perspective.

That's how I felt this week, and more than anything in church.

I just realized the many things I can be grateful for. We have an incredibly strong family of recent converts that always come to church. We found a ton of people. We've had spiritual experiences. And we have a branch here off in the middle of nowhere that after only three years has an attendance of 80 members weekly.

I'll close with Pres. Monson's thoughts:

Sixth and finally—even supremely—let us reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die? His called missionaries bring to those who live in darkness thelight of divine truth:

Go, ye messengers of glory;
Run, ye legates of the skies.
Go and tell the pleasing story
That a glorious angel flies,
Great and mighty, great and mighty,
With a message from the skies.

He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.

Only He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)

Earlier, perhaps perceiving the culmination of His earthly mission, He spoke the lament, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58.) “No room in the inn” was not a singular expression of rejection—just the first. Yet He invites you and me to host Him. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if anyman hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20.)

Who was this Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief?Who is this King of glory, this Lord of hosts? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the author of our salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” (Matt.4:19.) He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke10:37.) He pleads, “Keep my commandments.” (John14:15.)

Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.

My sincere prayer is that we may, in our individual lives, reflect that marvelous virtue: an attitude of gratitude. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week but my camera didn't have batteries. Next week! :)

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