A Note From Mom:It is hard to believe this time has come! Please know how thankful we are for all of your support, prayers, and love. Please feel free to join us!
Saturday, August 13th
455 South Kays Drive, Kaysville, Utah
Sunday, August 14th
LDS Burton Lane Stake Center (270 West Burton Lane, Kaysville)
Hey everyone! It has been a crazy past week, and everyone (including investigators somehow) seems to know that I'm going home in about a week, and they feel it is their duty and responsibility to remind me of that fact every time I come into contact with them. It makes me laugh, but sometimes the reality does set in that I'm not going to be here forever. My family also seems to love reminding me of that fact. Of course I'm excited to see them, but I'm not excited to leave behind this wonderful, incredible, sometimes dirty, magical island, as well as leave behind the most amazing people I have met in my life. I'll miss them. I'll miss this place. But anyway, on to answer my mom's wishes.
She didn't send me any questions this week (thanks mom :P), but asked me to "write from [my] heart." So that's what I will do.
Christ says in the scriptures that "whosoever shall save his life will lose it, but whosever shall lose his life for [Christ's] sake, will find it." I have experienced that first hand out here in Madagascar, and I have truly realized the importance of losing our life--or giving our life--unto God. We must let our will, our heart, and our lives be "swallowed up in the will of the Father." I have seen peoples' lives change out here because of that. For example, we have some less actives that we visit once a week, who have literally made a complete 180 degree turn-around in their life. When we first visited them, the husband and wife were at each others' throats; the wife accusing the husband of drinking, smoking, and cheating on her, and the husband accusing the wife of apostatizing to another church, as well as being the reason for his cheating on her. I almost physically felt the darkness in their home at that point. But, since then, we have helped them start reading the Book of Mormon together, as well as praying together daily. If they had not put aside their personal wills and accepted the will of God, and thus "los[ing] [their] live[s] for [His] sake". And I can be a first-hand witness of the fact that having done so, their lives have changed for the better. The wife, in our first appointment with them, literally was sobbing as the husband blamed her as being the reason for him cheating. But now, she weeps with joy at the love and happiness that has come into their lives.
Sometimes, we don't know everything and don't know what is going to be the result of our actions. Well, actually, that's pretty much always. Almost always, we have no idea what the future holds, or what turning our will over to God will do for us. And that's scary. However, God asks us to trust Him, and trust what He causes us to feel through the Spirit. He asks us to give up our will, and accept His. Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke of this as a "cosmic fact: only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion (see Alma 12:10–11). The Lord will work with us even if, at first, we “can no more than desire” but are willing to “give place for a portion of [His] words” (Alma 32:27). A small foothold is all He needs! But we must desire and provide it. So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity!" I will gladly and readily bear witness of the truthfulness of this principle. I have seem that, out of the thousands of people I have taught here on my mission, only a few have made the decision and the leap of faith through turning over their will to the Lord. But, the results are astounding. I have seen that those people who turn their will over to God experience incredible changes in their life. For example, one of our recent converts here: before, he was out of work. His kids were disobedient and going down wrong paths. His wife was cheating on him behind his back. He had little to nothing going for him. But now, he decided to get baptized, and to do as Carry Underwood says and let "Jesus take the wheel" in his life. And I can't tell you how much better his life is now.
Now I'm not saying that if you get baptized, or do whatever God wants for you, then your life will instantly turn around and get better and you'll find a lot of money and live happily ever after. No, that doesn't happen. BUT, God blesses those who give their will to Him. If someone is unwilling to give up their only possession--their will--to God, why would God ever be willing to give up even part of His kingdom, let alone all of it? For, as Elder Maxwell said as well, "the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!" And those who give is are also heirs to His kingdom, His glory, and everything that He has. Those who let their will, heart, and entire being be "swallowed up in the will of the Father" are given the promise of eternal life. For Christ has also said that "whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." And honestly, as Elder Maxwell said, all that we have is our heart--our will. There is nothing else that we can honestly give to Him.
So that would be my last and final invitation or challenge for all of you, to turn your will over to God and do as He wills, and forsake your own will. I promise you that you will see the doors of heaven open and have blessings without number poured out upon you if you do so. Everyone has different things they must do. Some of you might need to be obedient to a commandment you struggle with. Some might need to decide to follow God, despite the doubts and fears that exist. Some others might need to fulfill the calling they have been given. I don't know all the things that you all do or need to do. But you know. You know, through the Spirit, what God would have you do. And I would like to hope that my email, if you read it all, has brought the Spirit into your heart. So please, follow that prompting, or whispering of the Spirit. Let go of your will, and do as God wills for you. For if you give Him your heart, then, and only then, can He change that, and allow you to reach your full potential and unveil your full identity and destiny. And that includes eternal life, happiness, and joy.
Thank you all for supporting me for the past two years. I really appreciate your love, support, and encouragement, through the thick and thin of it. Just know that God loves you, knows you, and wants what's best for you. I've felt that for you all, and I hope you all can feel God's personal love that he has for each and every one of you. Don't ever forget that, and don't ever forget that every single thing that God does is for your good, and to accomplish His "work and [His] glory" which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
See you soon.
P.S. The talk of Elder Maxwell that I quoted is "Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father" in the 1995 November Ensign, for those of you interested in reading an incredible talk.
|Orlando, one of our recent converts who left for Mahajanga last Friday and therefore will not see me before I go. :P|
|Us with AP Elder Wiscombe on splits last Wednesday.|
|A chicken on the stairs.|
|An amazing talk!|