Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Doubt destroys hope and is a great tool of the devil

Summer is in full swing here in Utah, and in Poland.  According to what I've heard and read, Szczecin has milder temps, but the humidity there is much higher.  And they don't have air conditioning!  He says they all just sweat all over the place all day.  He says it's all good, though, and everyone just deals with it.

He starts out his recording with quoting a scripture from the book of Jarom in the Book of Mormon.  He shares verse 11, "Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.  And after this manner did they teach them."
Lance says that he finds that to be very cool.  That it shows the pattern of this church and is a good example of how we teach each other.  We have "callings" that are volunteer leadership, service, and teaching positions through which we exhort people to live more fully the Gospel.  He says as missionaries, they extend commitments to people to come to church, read, whatever it may be.  This is comparable to the scripture reference.
He also makes an interesting point from this scriptural reference.  He says that these people were a great example of affirming things (affirmations)..."persuading them to look forward to the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was."...there is NO doubt in their hearts that the Messiah was coming.  Perfect hope = affirmations.  I love that correlation!

He goes on to say that doubt is the antithesis of hope.  Doubt destroys hope and is a great tool of the devil.  Doubt is another type of fear...fear that things won't happen the way you'd hoped.  It leaves a person in a sad and anxious pattern of living.  Instead, affirm!  Put it out there as though it has already happened.  Then with steadfastness and diligence, you will have manifested your desire.  Which desire must always be in harmony with God's desire...or that desire will waste away and perish with the things of the "world".  Our desires need to be 100% in harmony with God so we can manifest endless blessings.  This is a Christ-like attribute.

Another scripture story he focuses on is the one about "the Stripling Warriors" found in Alma, chapter 56.  He believes this is another great example of what can be done when one does not doubt.  They KNEW that God will always deliver them.  See http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/56?lang=eng to read the story yourself.  It's a great one!

This week has been excellent, he says.  He speaks a lot about his current investigators.  One is a man who is currently dealing with cancer.  He has chosen to be baptized and they have a date set for next month.  Another one is a young man that Lance says has been great to help them with the language.  His baptism is scheduled for this week.  The married couple, he says, are awesome and progressing so well.  He says they are funny and cheerful.  The wife gives them food, which is always appreciated by the missionaries.  They are very excited for their baptism this week!  Finally, Lance tells us a bit of a young woman who has been researching the Gospel for a while.  She is currently praying for an answer and Lance feels like he has been able to give her some clarity through a couple of great lessons on faith.

He closes by saying that he is grateful for this mission and keeps us all in his prayers.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recordings = Details

Happy day!  Lance figured out how to attach the audio files from his voice recorder so we got to hear a lot of this week's update!

I ask him to give us details, but I get a lot of the same, "...he's the bomb!", "...it's amazing!", etc.  Which is nice, of course, but when I read other missionaries' emails/blogs, they always seem more detailed.  And as I suspected, I don't get those details because Lance doesn't like to type.

Things are going quite well for his newest investigators.  In fact, Lance says that they have four baptisms scheduled for this month.  He had a lot of wonderful things to say about all four of these people!  He shared the stories of how he and his companion met them all and how all the meetings were divinely inspired.
Two of the people are a married couple who were involved in another religion, but were feeling quite negative about the fear-based doctrine taught within that religion.  Lance invited them to attend church and they decided right there and then to attend.  That night, this sweet woman received a confirmation through a dream that this is the right path.  They are now extremely excited about their upcoming baptisms.  Lance is also excited that this will be the first couple in their branch in Szczecin.

Lance tells the story of how they met with another person from these new investigators and that it was absolutely divine timing for this man.  He had just gotten some bad news about his health and was feeling quite down when Lance and his companion saw him sitting on a bench in the park, looking sad.  Lance and his companion spoke with him about God's plan of happiness.  They also shared with him chapter 32 in the book of Alma (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/32?lang=eng), which is a powerful chapter on faith.  They closed with a prayer for his health and his faith.  Lance says he has been coming to church and is progressing very well.

They met the other young man in the same park.  They noticed him sitting on a bench reading.  Lance asked him if he liked to read, and the man responded to the affirmative, after which Lance handed him a Book of Mormon.  He came to church the following Sunday and announced he'd read the Book of Mormon...which was approximately one week.  Lance says, "It's crazy!  He read it in like a WEEK!"  Now this young man is taking the discussions and is learning to integrate his spirituality with his intellectuality.

Lance says they depend on the current members of their branch to help them with the discussions and teaching in church.  He says it adds a completely different level of understanding when someone who is Polish is there to share their own stories of faith and conversion.  I think that's true anywhere you go!

He says that everything is going wonderfully.  His companion is "the bomb" and they have a lot in common.  They spend a lot of time out on the streets talking with people unless they have a lesson to teach.  He says they often teach the lessons in the chapel where the Spirit can be the strongest.  He says the one thing he has learned is that if he is obedient and faithful, everything is possible.  He affirms that obedience brings protection, even boldness.  He says this is one of the most powerful lessons he has learned on this mission.

He closes by asking me to tell everyone hi and that he loves us all.  He also says he loves Szczecin and hopes he can serve the rest of his mission there.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"There are so many miracles happening here!"

This week has been eventful for Lance. He and his new companion are getting along famously and are furthering the work of the Lord!

Lance states that he recognizes the blessings and miracles happening all around him. He and his companion recently met someone in the park that Lance describes as a "sad man". This man had just found out he has a serious health condition. So, Lance and his companion prayed with him and taught him a portion of the Plan of Salvation. This man shared that he was moved upon by the Spirit. He showed up to church on Sunday to learn more. He decided that day to be baptized! So, there are three baptisms scheduled for this month. Lance also hopes that another young man that came to church that day for the first time will also feel moved upon to be baptized. Perhaps there will be four baptisms! Lance feels that this is an example of miracles. He feels like the Spirit is strong with them as missionaries. I would have to agree!

His good friend from China leaves for home this week. Lance will miss her but he is happy she gets to go home to family...and share her new faith. He knows she will make a difference in her home country. He says, "God has such a huge plan for her and when I look at her I see it, she doesn't know it yet but she will truly change the world." I would have to agree with him on that, too!

Lance is enjoying being a trainer. He says it's been a good test for him to always be obedient and be the best example he can be. He knows it's a lot of responsibility but realizes that he's not doing it alone...he has divine help from the Lord! 

He shares that something in 2 Nephi 4 made an impression on him. Nephi counsels to always put our trust in the arm of the Lord, not man. Lance would agree that we should look to do the will of God in all things. We cannot fail if we are doing God's will. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"The work is getting even bigger and the Gospel is spreading even faster!"

Lance finally received his package, which contained his voice recorder. Unfortunately, his former companion, who knows how to attach audio files, has been transferred. Maybe he'll figure it out for next week!

Lance is pretty happy about being a trainer and is impressed with his new companion. The young man is from California and used to be a wrestler. Lance was also a wrestler for years, so they already have that in common. He adds that this new elder is funny and "can take a joke!". I am supposed to tell his mom that he is amazing and "the bomb!", but I don't know his mom yet...

He told us about a couple they'd met two weeks ago who began the discussions and even came to church. Without adding too much detail, they are impressed with the truthfulness of the doctrine taught and are ready to take that first step - baptism. The big day will happen in just a few weeks...long enough to attend meetings and learn the rest of the Plan of Salvation. As Lance's Chinese friend put it in a recent Facebook post, "Kotter said God tells us the way , is the simplest way.. you see.. to be happy. to choose the right way. Haha...so right!! Simple. I like simple."

She's right.  The Plan is absolutely simple!

He finally had the chance to hear the recent missionary broadcast and had this to say, "It's incredible that we are using the internet so exclusively now for serving. I know that's going to change the world, as it already has."

We have had that belief for years now...that the internet is going to be used to take the Gospel to the whole world.

Lance is still loving Szczecin.  In fact, he would love to stay there his entire mission. He's had some wonderful experiences and has made some great friends. He assures us that he is fully living each day to its potential. As he puts it, "When we come in at night and plan, I feel so good because I gave it my all that day. And then I pass out and die until the alarm goes off!"

As always, he has something wonderful to say about his Chinese friend. He shared that she gave an excellent talk on faith in church this last Sunday. He is so very impressed with her diligence and talent!

Last week, Lance shared some scriptures that he has found to be very inspiring. One of which is a story in the Book of Mormon of a valiant military captain who led his people to victory against the opposition. Captain Moroni reminded his people that they will be victorious because they are fighting to defend their families, their freedom, their God, and their religion. If you'd like to read the story for yourself, visit http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/43?lang=eng

I find this story, like most all stories in the scriptures really, to be very timely.

Fourth of July is this week and Lance says that Poland celebrates their independence, he thinks, in April. His one year mark is fast approaching and he says that he wishes time would just slow down...he doesn't want this mission to end! Their mission just recently had a change in presidency, and though he truly loved his last president and "mission mom", he knows he'll love the new couple.

He closes his email by reminding us that he prays for us all and is grateful for our prayers on his and the mission's behalves. He says, "Everything here is amazing! I love this work with all of my soul!"