Dear family and friends,
Here it is, the week of weeks. As it always does for happy missionaries, the time seems to "pass away like as it were unto us a dream". (Jacob )
The people, the experiences, the miracles, the trials, the joy, the sorrow, and everything in between culminates a beautiful tapestry of life experience, practical knowledge and unshakable testimony. I cannot begin to express my love, joy and gratitude for my Father in heaven, His son Jesus Christ, the people and these once in a lifetime experiences.
Two years ago I thought about what I would do to become the man that God wanted me to be. I thought with anxiety about what kind of missionary I would become, how I would become and more pressing, when? I entered the MTC on a small testimony of prayer and Christ's Atonement with a desire to fully desire God's will. In the words of Lawrence E Corbridge and under the influence of the spirit I found answers that suppressed my fears and lead to my happiness and success as a missionary, unconditional
This past week was one of miracles and one to be remembered. I have learned much about leadership and how to lead with the balance of discretion and discernment, power and humility, love and boldness. It is going to be hard saying bye to so many people that I love and consider family. They do not want me to go. Leaving them is a bitter sweet reality that is slowly unfolding. As I sat in my last Sacrament meeting in Armenia serving in this capacity, I leaned over to my first counselor and whispered "this is my last time singing with you." He silently broke down and I may or may not have teared up a bit.
We were blessed to have over 115 people at church. It was a great to go out on. A blessing of this magnitude I attribute first to the Lord and then to the smooth communication of the branch council auxiliaries and the righteousness of the people. "Cleanse the inner vessel", Moroni's words ring true on every account, and as we have been blessed by revelation to change leadership in Armenia the Lord's predicted blessings have followed.
Elder Kacher (of the seventy) with President Carlson came to our branch for church. In Elder Kacher's words...
President Carlson :Let me share with you a portion of an email he sent to the other members of the area presidency about his experience in church today.
Elder Kacher: "I attended the Artashat Branch this morning. A missionary is the branch president. We walked in a few minutes before the meeting was to start. There was a feeling of reverence as the prelude music was playing. The entire branch presidency was sitting reverently on the stand. The first talk by a BP councilor (Armenian) was a wonderful talk on repentance. A YW next gave a short talk on the restoration. It was very impressive. The sacrament was passed orderly and reverently.To me it said that if we can find worthy leaders the work will move forward."
The concluding speaker was Elder Kacher (of the seventy). As I translated for him and matched my tone, pitch, and emotion with his, I noticed the same spiritual power and light beaming from him, flow through me. What an attribute to posses, a conduit and source for spiritual power and light. He gave a powerful address. A perfect duo of love and "reproving with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love." Definitely an experience that I will not forget. I could not think of a better last Sunday.
As I have thought briefly about living after the manner of happiness, eternal progression and how to continue to rise from one plane of conversion to the next now and after my full time service, I was surprised by the plainness of Mosiah 1:7 as King Benjamin speaks to his sons in regard to searching the scriptures.
7 I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers.
Four words stood out to me here in brief response to the question of continual conversion. Remember, keep, prosper, and promise. You could say the first two apply more to us in what most of us hopefully do each day and , "always remember him, and second keep His commandments preparatory to keeping covenants. "I the Lord am bound if ye do what I say." If we do so, then we not only prosper in all areas of life but we are accompanied by the many promises of the Lord that come subsequent to uncertainty, trials and adversity.
Matt. 24;14 "Many are called, few are chosen." In closing of my closing I want to express my love for these people and all my companions, my love for this service and the blessings that flow from it. And my love for my family. I could not have had a better mission. I could not ask for more. I gave it everything I had and more. If there is one principle that has changed my life more than anything, enabled and redeemed. It is the same answer that I received that day in the MTC. Accessing the power of Christ's Atonement by Unconditionally surrendering our will to His. Unconditionally
surrendering our will to His that we may be perfected, enabled and redeemed through his matchless power. You see, I was a missionary, I was called, but I was not chosen until I made a supplication before heaven and said " Father, I don't desire all that you desire right now, but I do desire to desire...I do desire to always desire your will. I give you all that I am, was and ever will be. Take it all, make of me a new self in thine image, whatever you want take it, after all it is not mine to give."