Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week 35.... The Man and the Rock!!!

 I don’t have much time this week, but I did want to share this with all of you…
                                                        The Man and the Rock

There was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room
filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had a
work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The
Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun
down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the
unmoving rock pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his
cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to
enter the picture placing thoughts into the man's mind such as; "You have been
pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't budged. Why kill
yourself over this? You are never going to move it? etc."
Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he
was a failure. 
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. "Why kill
myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the
minimum of effort and that will be good enough." And that he planned to do
until one day he decided to make it a matter of Prayer and take his troubled
thoughts to the Lord.
"Lord" he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my
strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have
not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
To this the Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when long ago I asked
you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push
against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did
I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And
now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But,
is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your
back brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have
become massive and hard. 
Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that
which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock.

this you have done. I, my friend, I will now move the rock.

Author Unknown

I just wanted to send this to you and bare my testimony. I know that the Lord has called us to push on the Rock. He has not called us to move it by ourselves. There are times in our life, (or in our missions) where we are going to feel discouraged, where we might get knocked down, or maybe spit upon, we might have doubts enter our mind... Why am I not succeeding, why is this so hard? But in that very moment, in that moment when we are on the edge of breaking... The Lord will lift us up. In the moment we are closer to Christ than we have ever been before. I know the Lord helps us through our trials and afflictions. I know because I have seen it in my life.  God knows we are strong enough to battle through. I am still a guy of analogies of football. I love to think of the football field again. I think back and remember there were times when we were late in games, where we couldn’t give anymore, let alone breathe. All of us gasping for air. But we were still called upon to give it our all... give all our heart might mind and strength to the team… to pull out the victory. I know as children of God we are here fighting against the adversary. We are in the 4th quarter. We can’t breathe, we can’t move, but God has asked us to give it our all. I know one day, after we have given it our all.... our every last ounce on energy... we will be successful. WE WILL HAVE WON THE WAR!!!! We will have won the game, with as many as our brothers (investigators, members, friends, family, etc) on our side. I am so grateful for this fight that we are in. I am so grateful for all the trials we have in our life... because it is just another opportunity to show our Character, another opportunity to strengthen our testimony. I testify that God will not let us fail; we will not be tempted more than we can handle. If Christ is our focus and our foundation we will not fall. We will receive power through the Atonement of Christ to overcome all of Satan’s temptations. I know these things to be true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Week 34..... Opposition before Baptism!!

Since we lost our home in Los Sauces, we have been staying with the Elders in Puren.  It has been really fun, but it really does suck having to travel every morning and every night. It was a really weird week for us, we weren’t able to get much done because we were so occupied with cleaning all our clothes, finding houses, and getting everything back to normal. But the end of the week was by far the best.... FRANCISCA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
It was so spiritual. I was so happy. Elder Miller and I were so happy to help Francisca in this decision to get baptized. We know she is going to be a great member and really help bring people into this church, because we have never seen so much opposition in someone’s life/ experience before baptism. There was seriously so many things that went wrong leading up to her baptism, it was hard for us to keep strong and continue to help her. I don’t know if I told you, but about a week or 2 ago her mom told her she couldn’t get baptized, but she finally convinced her mom to let her be baptized. Also she started to have a lot of problems in her life. Then our house burned down so we weren’t able to visit her as much. Then about 2 days before the baptism, our zone Leaders told us it would not be a good idea to baptize her, because she is still pretty young and doesn’t have really good support. Her only support is her sister who is 17 and she was recently baptized about 2 months ago. Through much fasting and prayer we were able to help her overcome all these challenges, and she became stronger through all these trials. The last and final trial came on the day of her baptism. We had spent all day with her, setting up the church and filling up the font for her baptism. When it was time to start her baptism, her Dad, who doesn’t live with her because her parents are separated, showed up. I said hi to him and try to be all nice. But he totally gave me the cold shoulder. He was furious. I knew he was here to try and convince Francisca not to be baptized, and that is exactly what he did. He marched into the church with fumes steaming from his head. He comes in the church and takes Francisca outside. I don’t know what he said, but they were out there for a while. She finally came in and was so happy. She had overcome the last and final trial. She stood up to her dad and said... "DAD, I AM GOING TO BE BAPTIZED!!" And that is what we did. The spirit was so strong in this baptism, a lot of less active members and investigators showed up and everyone came up to us after talking about how good they felt; especially the mom of Francisca. She now wants us to teach her because of what she felt at her Baptism. It was by far one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. I know Francisca is going to change the lives of so many because Satan would not have tried so hard to destroy her. 

There is a scripture I want to relate to this, it is in Joseph Smith History 1:20:
Joseph Smith says this after he had just been attacked by Satan himself and then saw God
the Father and His son Jesus Christ.
He says: It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?

I know that Satan knows all of our potential, and he wants to attack us just like he attacked Joseph Smith and Francisca in these experiences. He wants to stop us from progressing. That is why when we are about to do something good, we face hard times, or difficult paths. I testify that if we continue to press forward with firmness in Christ, if we pray to God with a real intent; We can overcome all temptation and one day we can look back at all our challenges and see all the progress we have made. It is my testimony that as we face and overcome challenges, we will gain extra strength and a testimony through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be able to overcome all of lives challenges, and live in a state of happiness. This I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 33....The mission's ON FIRE (Literally)!!!

Burning down the house...
WOW!!!!! What a week this has been!
Our house caught on fire this week. What a crazy experience indeed.  Saturday night was a pretty cold night, so we loaded the stove here with a few big pieces of wood, just like we have been doing for the last couple weeks. Usually the wood just sits there and simmers and makes the house warmer. Well this night was weird; the whole house was so hot. All of us were sweating all night, but still we didn’t think anything of it.  
For those of you who know me... I am a really deep sleeper, so I just slept through everything. At around 5 o‘clock in the morning, our smoke detector went off. I stayed asleep... I didn’t ever hear the alarm. I woke up to one of my housemates, Elder Sauñe screaming FIRE, FIRE GRINGOS, WAKE UP THERE IS A FIRE. I still didn’t want to wake up. I thought he was just pulling a joke on us. He then opened the door and the whole room filled up with black smoke immediately. That is when I jumped up. I knew then that it was not a joke. We ran out of the room to the front part of the house. We looked and there was a huge fire in the front part of our house. More smoke than fire though. The smoke was really toxic and we couldn’t see or breathe. Elder Sauñe and I stayed in the house and tried to throw water on it. That didn’t work… It was too big. We were in there until we couldn’t breathe anymore. We both ran out of the house. At this point my companion and my other house mate had been trying to wake up the neighbors. Elder Sauñe grabbed the hose and handed it to me. I started to spray the fire from outside the house through the window. This is when the fire exploded. The whole front room was ablaze with fire. Our 1 hose was not doing anything. I couldn’t really get close either because it was too hot. Finally after about a few minutes, our neighbors woke up and brought over hoses and helped us with the fire. We had 3 hoses going to try and put out the fire. We sat there and fought this fire for a good 10 minutes. Luckily, one of our neighbors had been trained to be a fire fighter. This kid was amazing. When we got the fire down to where we could enter the house, this kid took my hose and went in like a super hero with two hoses and kicks in the door and starts spraying the fire. This kid is my hero. It was such a crazy experience. After about 20 minutes the fire fighters got there, and they helped put out the fire in the roof. We finally got the fire out after about a good 20 to 25 minutes. It was such a crazy experience, but we are so grateful to be alive. We know God was watching over us in our time of need. 

The rest of this week we have spent tearing the whole house apart getting it gutted of all the burnt stuff and getting it to the point where they can come in and rebuild the house. It has been a real fun, but stressful week. I thank you all for all your love and support and all of your prayers. We are really feeling all of your prayers here in this sector. Thank you all so much!
Elder Miller on demolition
So thankful for the service of other missionaries....Elder Clarke to the rescue!
I was able to salvage my most prized possession...My scriptures!!
The pages are soot-stained, but whenever I read them I will never forget the miracle that we experienced!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 32....Growing the Tree of Faith!!!

This week was a really good week for us here in Los Sauces. We are still working hard. We have a lot of people preparing for baptism. We have Francisca who is 12, she has a baptism for the 16th of May. And we have this great family... THE FANTASTIC 4.... the family that Elder Miller and I have been fasting and praying for our whole time together. They have a date for the 30th of May, the last week my comp is in the mission. We are really excited to see these people progress and be baptized. 

This week was a really good week for Francisca. We showed her the baptismal font, we gave her her baptismal gown and we had her fill out her baptismal records. She told us there is no doubt in her mind that she is getting baptized. She also chose who was going to baptize her. She chose my comp, because it will probably be his last baptism here in the mission. I think it will be a really spiritual experience. We are super excited. But of course there is always a setback. Last night we went over to teach her and we had a great lesson. After the lesson we asked her mom if we could talk to her. So we went outside with the mom. We asked her if she would give us permission to baptize her daughter. She looked at us and my heart dropped. She told us that she doesn’t think Francisca is ready for this type of decision. She told us that she doesn’t feel comfortable letting her be baptized so soon. We testified to her that her daughter was progressing so much, that she was a completely a different person. We told her to talk to Francisca and we would be back this Thursday to see what her answer is. 

Last night I was so devastated. I went home and I wanted to cry. I just sat there and kept asking God... WHY??? WHY is this happening?? Then my comp and I began to talk. We then decided we should say a prayer together. So we knelt down and offered a really spiritual prayer for Francisca and her mom. We then started to read our scriptures. I was reading Alma 32:41-43... This gave me a lot of confidence. These scriptures are scriptures of Faith. It talks about growing the Tree of Faith. If we want a tree to grow we need to nurture it and be patient for it to grow. I started to think of this in our situation. If we want Francisca to be strong in the church forever we need to nourish her tree. We can’t rush it!! We need to nourish our tree with our Faith, great diligence and patience. If we do this, (it says in vs. 42), with time you will recognize your fruit and you will have fruit sweeter and whiter than any other fruit. This was such a comfort to me. I know that we will baptize Francisca, but in the Lords time. We just need to keep working with her so that she can be prepared and grow this Fruit. 

For my spiritual thought this week I want to share with you guys something I learned that has really helped me. I was really studying a lot this week about the Power of the Atonement. I found something interesting that I would love to share with you all. I was reading in 
1 Nephi 7:17, at this point in the scriptures is when Nephi and his brothers are to go back to Jerusalem and invite Ismael and his family to join them in the wilderness. Nephi´s brothers tie him up and he is stuck. It was interesting to me what Nephi prayed for. He says "Oh Lord, according to my Faith in thee, free me from the hands of my brothers, yea, GIVE ME STRENGTH TO BREAK THESE BANDS which hold me captive." Nephi prayed for the strength that HE might break the bands. I was reading the talk given by Elder Bednar and he said, If it was me, I would have prayed for the Lord to break the bands. Nephi understood the power of the Atonement. This power is called the enabling power. As children of God we have the power that comes from the Atonement to receive extra strength in times of need. As we rely more on Christ and his atonement, we will become closer to Him and be strengthened. There are many examples of this in the scriptures. I challenge all of you this week to search and read about the enabling powers of the atonement. The Atonement is about making bad men good, but more than that it is about making good men saints. I thought the atonement was only to receive remission of our sins, but it is a lot more than that. We are Children of God and can become Saints, as we use the Atonement of Christ in our lives.