Monday, June 30, 2014
Sister Franks in the Philippines - June 29, 2014
So jumping right into things today because I'm already 1/2 hour into email time (don't know how that happens every week...). This is going to be a great week. It's already a good start, since today is a good day because (drum roll....) I GOT A HAIRCUT. :D It's amazing how the littlest things can make Philippine heat quite bearable (you wouldn't know how much long hair increases the burden of heat, but it does. I don't know how these Filipinas all go around with long, black, rebonded hair that they wear down all the time. I would die). We won't dwell on that, though, because I have a lot of good stories to tell this week.
Firstly, I have to tell a story from last week after P-day. We went to teach the Balignasay family. They are pretty special investigators to us, because Brother is such an incredible potential leader. He is the president of Phase III of their subdivision (kind of a big deal apparently), and every time he speaks, he reminds me of Brother Susa, a counselor in the branch presidency in Morong who is like the superstar member/leader there. Anyway, on Monday, we were teaching about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and specifically about Heavenly Father's pattern of calling prophets and apostles and giving them authority, etc., how the truth was lost after the death of Christ and the apostles during the time of the Great Apostasy (or Dark Ages), and how Christ restored the true authority and His church by calling a new prophet in our time just like in Biblical times. I had opened my scriptures to Ephesians when we shared about the foundation of Christ's church that he established (Ephesians 2:20), and then they were just sitting in my lap as we continued the lesson. We got to sharing about Joseph Smith being called as a prophet, and the promise that they can know of the divinity of his call if they follow the same admonition he followed (in James 1:5) to ask God in faith to know the truth. I can't even explain what happened, but as we were testifying, I happened to look down at my scriptures, and noticed that the pages had flipped and the verses now staring back at me were from Galatians. Knowing better than to ignore promptings, I shared Galatians 5:22 and explained that these are the kinds of blessings that the Gospel has brought into our lives, and these are the blessings that we want for their family as well. The lesson continued and the spirit was so strong and Sister Rimano and I both came away overflowing with excitement and smiles! I didn't realize until the next morning during personal study that I had just experienced a fulfilling of prophecy given long ago to other missionaries, found in D&C 84:85-- "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." I've seen the Spirit working through us many times during my time here on the mission, I have been given words to say or thoughts that I otherwise never would have considered sharing, but never have I been so LITERALLY given the exact words, the exact scripture, to share. It is so cool how involved the Lord is in His work, and how if we are just doing our part, doing all we can to be prepared, He takes over and helps us accomplish His miracles. :)
Another testimony-builder of the Lord watching over this work came from our district meeting last week. This transfer, the President and Sister Revillo have been wanting to emphasize role playing a lot more in our training meetings. We talked about it at MLC (the Mission Leadership Council, with all the zone leaders, STLs, training assistants and assistants to the president) at the start of the transfer and were told that most, or at least half of our workshop time should be spend on role playing. No one, however, told our district leader, Elder Tinsley, who wasn't a part of MLC. As he was planning for the workshop last week, he said that he was thinking about a question that one of the zone leaders had asked him a couple days before "Have you asked the Lord what his vision is for your district?" Admitting that he hadn't, Elder Tinsley prayed and asked, and said he was surprised by the answer he got. He felt impressed that our district really needs to improve and apply role-playing in our companionships. And that became the topic of our workshop. It was an awesome workshop, and perfect for our district (8 of us missionaries), but the thing that amazed me even more than that is how stewardship is so real, and how Elder Tinsley, without any human influence, received the same revelation that our mission leaders have received. It was a testimony to me, as one who had been in on the leadership conversations, that the Lord truly is the one leading this work, and how the Spirit conveys messages so much more effectively than we ever could. This work is so true. It amazes me every single day.
Since yesterday was the 5th Sunday of the month of June, it was Missionary Sunday in our ward. Sister Rimano (my wonderful and masipag companion) gave a talk in sacrament, along with one of our ward missionaries, and our ward mission leader. Her talk was awesome, but one thing that really stood out to me was how she talked about how the Church is emphasizing "HASTENING the Work of Salvation". She then talked about how the opposite of "hastening" is "delaying" or "procrastinating" and referenced President Uchtdorf's talk in Conference about "Sleeping through the Restoration." One thing that I started thinking about during her talk, and the one after her (Daniel, our ward missionary, who shared from D&C 4), was the statement that "the field is white already to harvest". Usually, when we talk about that verse we read it is in, "the field is white. it is ALL READY to harvest." But that isn't actually what it says. It says it is "to harvest" ALREADY. As in, right now. I thought of what happens veggies in our garden that are ready to be picked, but don't get picked. Or the trees on the side of the road surrounded by rotten fruit that was once prime and delicious, but never harvested, and eventually over-ripened and fell down. THAT is what the Lord is telling us about missionary work. He is saying "I am already preparing my sons and daughters to hear the truths of the restored Gospel. They are ready! But you need to go find them and help them ASAP before Satan's substitutions get to them first and they are no longer willing to accept the message." That is why the Work of Salvation is being HASTENED. Because we have no time to lose. Thinking of that is a little overwhelming to me. Like, "oh man! What if I don't get to the other fruit in time because I am busy trying to harvest here?" But I find comfort in the next verse, verse 5, which tells us that "faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, QUALIFY him for the work." Meaning we CAN do this! But only if we have the faith and the desire and seek the Lord's help. I know that that is true. We CAN do this! Because if we couldn't, we wouldn't have been asked to (see 1 Nephi 3:7, and 1 Nephi 9:6). Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ are very hard-working. They have not left us alone to do this work of "bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39), but rather have invited us to work ALONGSIDE them, to be one with them in this divine purpose. WE ARE SO BLESSED. I can't even get over it!
I need to end this pretty quick, but I just want to testify again of the truthfulness of this Gospel and especially of this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In teaching a wonderful less-active member yesterday, I had a realization of the power of church attendance in my own life. I thought of the time when I struggled the most with being true to the Gospel. The time when I was the farthest from my Heavenly Father and my Savior. The time when I hardly ever read my scriptures or prayed. Though I had a really hard time, and struggled a lot spiritually, I never stopped going to church (mostly because of my pride I think? or just because it was such a part of me, like a habit I didn't even notice). I realized that that one little act of obedience was SO SIGNIFICANT. In fact, I think I can attribute everything about where I am today to that one subconscious decision. I think about what might have happened to me, paths that I've seen my friends go down that led to even more trials in their lives, if I had neglected my duty to participate in this one true church. It seemed like a little thing to me at the time, but the power of being fed spiritually at least once every week (by people who were much more in tune with the spirit than I was) had a profound influence in my life. Though I knew I was making mistakes, I never forgot who I was. I think that was the biggest thing that gave me the strength I needed to get my life back in order and repent and recover and return to the loving arms of my Savior. I realized that we might be able to "survive" not reading our scriptures or praying every day or having family home evening, but if we neglect or disregard our obligation to attend church and partake of the Sacrament of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are willfully shedding the very armor we rely on to get us through the endless temptations we face every day.
This work is so true. It is so incredible, and it is so amazing to be a part of helping others realize and partake of the countless blessings that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to our lives. It is so cool to see how, in testifying to others of these blessings, I realize more and more what a profound role this Gospel and this Church have played in my life, in shaping who I am, in giving me the strength that I need to endure joyfully.
In case you haven't noticed, I am still loving life here. :) I hope you are doing well, and that you have a great week!! You are in my prayers! I might be late emailing next week because we are going to MINDORO this weekend for zone interviews and exchanges (the island away from the mainland where everyone wants to go daw) and don't fly back until Monday.
HAPPY (advance) 4TH OF JULY!!!!
Sister Emma Franks