This past week was awesome! We’ve been getting lots of stuff done. We started the week off with a baptism on Sunday! Kauã (pronounced kah-wan) who we’ve been teaching for awhile was finally baptized. He’s been ready for several weeks but there was always something that got in the way of things. We finally just set a date and did everything to make sure that it would work out. I had the privilege of performing the baptism! Right after the baptism he started asking about being able to pass the sacrament and go to the temple with the youth. It’s amazing how quickly the Gospel can change lives!
In our mission we have this thing called Padrão de Ouro, or “gold standard”. It’s essentially a list of goals that we should be trying to reach each week in order to be successful. It focuses on progressing investigators, investigators at church, new investigators, and baptism. By Sunday afternoon we were set to achieve the gold standard for the week. All we had to do was find some new investigators. We had 4 of the required 12. After lunch on Sunday we set out in an effort to find some new people to teach. We visited a couple of references we had been given in recent weeks by the members and a couple of others that had previously been taught by other missionaries. We found a couple of people that appeared interested, but it seemed like everywhere we went nobody was home or was unable to talk with us right then, but we continued working towards our goal.
On Sunday nights we usually head back to the mission office around 5 to start working on the newsletter that goes out to all the missionaries on Monday morning. 5 o’clock was fast approaching and we still needed to find 4 new people to teach. We decided to work until we were able to find all those people so that we could meet our goal. Then suddenly, everything seemed to go right. We stopped by a less-active’s house to ask for an address that they had previously given us that we had lost. We immediately went to visit the lady, Simone, that she said might be interested in talking with the missionaries. When we arrived there and knocked on the door Simone and her 18-year-old son walked out to greet us. After talking to the two of them briefly I instantly felt the desire to help them. They live in a difficult situation, and have some family problems that need solving. By the end of our conversation Simone insisted that we return during the week to talk to them when her husband was at home. As we prayed and left I felt a confirmation within my heart that we had done the right thing in seeking them out.
At that point we only needed one more new investigator to meet our goal. Earlier in the week, two sisters from our zone had contacted a lady that lives in our apartment complex that said she would be interested in hearing our message. We went there to see if she was home even though they had set up an appointment for us the following week. As soon as we knocked on the door, we were greeted by Marcia and her friend who’s name I can’t remember. She allowed us in to talk with them a bit.
I was able to strike up a conversation because of a dolphin painting that she had on one wall. She explained that she had some relative of hers paint if for her because she adores dolphins. I was able to talk a little bit about my diving experiences and times that I had seen dolphins which helped take some of the awkwardness out of the air. We spoke with the two of them about our purpose, answered some questions, confirmed our appointment for the following week, prayed and left. In doing so we found our 12th and final new investigator for the week! It felt SO good to have achieved what we set out to do. These experiences from last weekend helped us in our work this week. It has given us the drive to want to meet our goals again. We’ve been pretty fruitful and happy throughout the week.
Before I continue on about the events of that day, I need to give you some background. As a missionary, your entire lifestyle is set up to make you focus heavily on all your faults and shortcomings. We constantly study the scriptures and listen to the words of our ecclesiastical leaders which all seem to focus on becoming better and leaving behind those things which hold you back in your eternal progression. That often leads us to feel inadequate, and focus too much on our negative qualities rather than our positive ones. Well, at least it has for me. That had really been bothering me as of late. It seems like I’ve almost constantly felt like I’m falling short of what I’ve promised and covenanted to do in my life.
On Sunday when we returned to the office, I immediately sat down at my desk and opened an email from President Broadbent containing weekly message that’s included in the mission newsletter. As I began to read, I almost instantly felt hot tears rise to my eyes and stream down my cheeks as I felt a strong spiritual confirmation of his words. His message was essentially about everything that had been troubling me over the past few weeks and months. He spoke of low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy. He explained how that is often felt as a result of Satan trying to carry out his purpose “so that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27). He then outlined some ways in which we could overcome these feelings. The following are a few (actually almost all) of the points that I particularly liked:
We should recognize that our past and present trials, though very painful and potentially debilitating, are actually good for us–the purpose of this life is to be tested.
We need vision–the ability to see beyond our present condition and situations–we need to see ourselves as eternal children of God.
We need to see our true future potential–that we can become like God, that as his child, we have His DNA, we can overcome all things and become like He is.
We need to understand the true effects of the atonement–that Jesus Christ, through his infinite love and mercy will come to our aid, He will succor us in all of our afflictions, infirmities, weaknesses, sicknesses, temptations, and every possible human problem.
We should recognize that we are on the right path, that we can and will inherit all that God has if we just stay on the path, and that no matter how many times we stumble and fall, all we need to do is get back up and keep moving forward with faith.
You do not have to be good at everything to be good!
In the last 15 months I’ve learned that, without a shadow of a doubt, Satan is real, he is powerful, and he is cunning and crafty. In the pre-earth life he was there just as we were. When Jesus Christ volunteered to be our Savior and glorify the father instead of himself Satan was also there trying to set his own plans in place. When that backfired he led a war against the righteous the sided with God and Jesus Christ. As a result he was driven from heaven to be eternally damned along with the rest of those who chose to follow him.
When we were born our spirits passed through a veil of forgetfulness. We no longer remember what was before. Satan, however, does. He didn’t pass through that veil, and he has been getting to know each of us individually since the very beginning. Consequentially, he’s REALLY good at what he does. He can, will, and does do everything within his substantial power to thwart our efforts to progress and become better. We each need to recognize his existence and do everything we can to not let him get to us.
We must all realize that we ARE, indeed, inadequate. Without our Savior Jesus Christ we have no hope of eventually returning back to the presence of the father. Accept your trials and weaknesses and do your very best in fighting against them. Put forth your best effort, and Christ will take care of the rest. “His Grace is sufficient.” I invite you all to examine your lives and remove all influences that are not virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy just as I myself try to do consistently in my own life. As the prophet Alma once taught, “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise” (Alma 37:6). The Lord has blessings in store for all of us if we but do that which he has requested and do our absolute best to keep the commandments.
I bear my testimony of the love that our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have for each and every one of us. I testify of the truthfulness of what I have said and of what President Broadbent has said. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one and only true church on the face of the earth today. I can see the effects of it’s teachings spreading throughout my own life and the lives of those whom I serve. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that through it we can find the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet on the earth today. I’d invite anyone who is doubtful of these words to ask the Lord Himself whether or not they are true. I promise, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that your prayers will be answered, and that your life can be changed as a result of following the counsel of the priesthood holders that the Lord has selected to lead and guide us in these the Latter-Days. I leave these things with you humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
-Elder Chapman R. Tew