San Pedro Sula East Mission
2013 - 2016

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cast not Away Therefore Your Confidence!

A Life of Missionary Service . . .

(Sharing recent photos from our multi-zone conferences and transfer day in June)

(STL's teaching an English lesson at Multi-zone Conference)

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There are so many analogies, signs and symbols to be found in the life of missionary service . . .

Each day is replete with lessons, challenges, experiences to be passed through, another day to rise after falling the day before . . .

A analogy that we speak of frequently with the missionaries relates to the challenges they pass through as they adapt to the life of a missionary and give up all their worldly pleasures and previous pass-times for a period to serve our Heavenly Father.  Which gives them great empathy and understanding for their investigators as they too are passing through many challenge moments as they come to know and love the gospel of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  A lifestyle that requires giving up many of their worldly pleasures and pass-times for something better that will come as they embrace and begin to live the teachings of the Savior.

(Photos of the Assistants teaching from the Missionary Manual, the importance of exact obedience!  The Zone leaders prepared lessons on planning from PME, and the missionaries had a chance to practice teaching lesson 5, the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel.  Then I threw a baptism photo in there just because I like it so much :)

Another is the the lifestyle of a missionary models "real life" in adulthood for the missionary once he or she returns to home and family at the end of their missionary service.  The challenges and difficulties that they face and overcome each day prepare them for real life in the years ahead as they become mother's and fathers in Zion, raising children, making decisions, setting and achieving goals.

It is not any surprise therefore . . .

That missionary life should model the current going's on of the world all around . . .

We see increasing conflict in the world all around us . . . the wisdom and knowledge of man begins to compete with increasing strength daily with the wisdom and knowledge given to us from our Father in Heaven.  And as people and cultures everywhere begin to adopt and conform more and more to the desires of the world and of man, it becomes harder and harder to discern where the knowledge that comes from the Light of Christ ends, and the knowledge and experience of man begins.

(Elder Cortez, one of our assistants is in his final transfer before he concludes his mission in just a few weeks!)

Many are finding themselves confused about gospel truths in an ever more tumultuous and changing world.

This can be both a blessing and a challenge for missionaries.

No one encounters this on a more frequent basis than the missionaries.  They are faced daily with questions from the men, women and children that they are teaching.  This is good, because as missionaries we have many of the answers!

We have answers to questions about the purpose of our life here on earth.

We have answers to the questions about who God is and how we came to be here on the earth.

We have answers to questions about what will happen to us when we die and leave our mortal bodies behind for a time.

We have answers to questions about Mormon temples and the importance of families.

And much much more . . .

Nevertheless . . .

(Enjoying a delicious lunch together before we reconvene for a practice
session from PME)

We do not have answers to all the questions . . .

For God has much that he has not yet revealed.

And so, we have opportunity as missionaries to teach gospel principles . . .

First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And a witness that it is the Savior, even Jesus Christ who directs the church today, through the mouthpiece of his prophets and apostles currently present on the earth.

Faith in the doctrine of Christ, which is -
 “The fundamental principles of ourreligion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning JesusChrist, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, andascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religionare only appendages to it.”-- Joseph Smith

(So many wonderful musical numbers and choirs!)

And Joseph Smith's testimony is that -

 He lives, “for [he] saw him, even on the right hand of God; and [he] heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” -- D&C 76:22,23 

Seeking a witness of the Truth - 

And we appeal to all to seek through prayer and study of the scriptures their own witness of the doctrine of Christ, the Atonement, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We appeal to all to accept this doctrine, follow the example of the Savior, repent and be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and then throughout your life follow the laws and covenants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And sure . . .

It will be tough.

(At the end of the day . . . it's time to say goodbye)

It will be tough.  

"It will be tough  - before you join the church, while you are trying to join the church,   and after you have joined . . . that is the way it has always been . . . but don't draw back . . . don't panic and retreat . . . don't lose your confidence!  Don't forget how you once felt . . . Don't distrust the experience that you had!" -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

It's pretty safe to say that every missionary and every investigator has experienced exactly these emotions.   Teaching appointments fail, investigators lack interest, precious gifts of the Book of Mormon are refused, baptismal dates fall . . . The adversary is forever present.  And seems to attack at the exact moment that the most good is about to be accomplished!  Cast not away your confidence!

There will be more and more opposition to be found in all that we try to accomplish as we move closer and closer to the return of the Savior to the earth again.   Be prepared . . . Cast not away your confidence!  Missionaries will experience opposition in their teaching.  Investigators will experience opposition in their seeking.  In real life . . . we might experience opposition in gaining an education, in raising home and family, in marriage, in church callings and careers.  Cast not away your confidence!

(Arriving for Transfer day!)

Standing firm in the Witness of Truth - 

Once you have received that witness stand firm!  "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you, and which shall dwell in your  heart" (D&C 8:2,3) 

When we go to the Lord seeking answers to questions, with "real intent", we can receive this witness through revelation, the combination of intellect and spirit, to our minds and to our hearts.  A witness that the adversary cannot duplicate.

Expect that your faith will be tested, expect that you may experience fear, the adversary will tempt you and will try you (and your investigators!)  . . . but cast not away your confidence!  The Lord shall fight for you!  With the spirit and witness of revelation, go forward without fear. When your Heavenly Father has blessed you with a witness of the spirit, he will provide a way that you can accomplish all that he desires for you.

(an scene from the blue waters of Telemar, Garifuna village)

(An Hermana departing from our mission district - President Klein
had the opportunity to set her apart before she left.)

 "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
 For ye have need of patiencethat, after ye have done the will of God, ye mightreceive the promise."  -- Hebrews 10:35,36

And remember . . . we have the promise . . .

 "And whoso receiveth you, there will be also, for will gobefore your face. will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." -- D&C 84:88

(Here a some of the most recent zone photos, taken right before transfers - I'm missing a few still
but will include the ones we have)

(Zone - Miramar)

(Zone - Tocoa)

(Zone - La Ceiba)

(Zone - Olanchito)

(Zone - Santa Rita)

(Zone - Progreso Norte)

(Zone - Progreso Sur)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Mission Experience . . .

Welcome to six new Missionaries!

The life here in the mission revolves around a totally different schedule than life outside of the mission!    Every six weeks a new transfer period begins.  New missionaries arrive, we have orientation, new missionaries meet their companions and head off to their new areas, then we say farewell to our departing missionaries.

The next schedule that influences life here in the mission is the quarterly schedule of interviews in the first month, followed by Zone conferences in the second month, and specialized training in the third month!

It's hard to believe how quickly the six week transfer periods go by!  It seems like we just barely finish interviewing all 230 missionaries and it's time to begin again.  Oooops!  Yep!  It is ALMOST time to begin again!

(Arriving missionaries from Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, and Bolivia and Utah)

Saying "Farewell" to leaders as they return home!

The Mission Experience . . .

For many young men and women of the church, they work, plan, save, prepare, study and do all possible to strengthen their testimonies as they prepare to serve the Lord teaching and testifying of the Savior for a period of 18 to 24 months.

 . . . Then that big day will come when they will be called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . .

In fact, their first missionary experiences begin long before they pack their bags and head for the MTC or CCM to begin their official missionary service.  Every young missionary can look back to instances in their lives when the Spirit touched their life and moments happened that strengthened them and inspired them as they prepared for their missionary service.  Our Heavenly Father, who knows each one of his children opened doors, opened windows, provided challenges along the path that they might be ready, blessed, prepared for what would become their full time service to the Lord.

(Progreso Elders gathering so say goodbye to an injured Elder going home to recover)

(Our zone leaders in La Ceiba, and some zone training)

And then the big day - 

Finally that big day comes when they receive the mission call . . .

And you read those words which say . . .

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Honduras San Pedro Sula East Mission (or any one of 405 different missions).  It is anticipated that you will serve for 24 months (18 months for sister missionaries) . . . You will prepare to teach the gospel in the Spanish language (or another of 189 differing languages). " 

(A little impromptu gathering at the ice cream shop! Trying to cool down a bit!)

And the missionary experience begins . . .

You can read previous posts that talk about -
Adjusting to the Missionary Life
What the first weeks are like in the mission
Hints and tips for a successful mission experience.

Before you know it they are experiencing the tender mercies and miracles of our Heavenly Father's greatest work . . . to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man!  --POGP, Moses 1:39

(Zone leaders of Progreso Sur)

Missionary Experiences . . .

We thought we would share some of the types of experiences missionaries have the privilege to see, especially as they are obedient with exactness, and do those things to have the Spirit with them in every moment as they find, teach and help others come to a knowledge of the Savior.

Through their faith, plus obedience with exactness and hard work they come to experience many miracles and tender mercies in their life each day!  It is through the combination of these three attributes that missionaries develop the character necessary to be truly blessed in the mission and for their future lives to come. It is through these Christlike attributes that the work of our Heavenly Father is brought to pass.

(photo left: Sister gathering to say goodbye to one of our Visa waiters . . . We'll miss you!)

Recently our missionaries shared some of their experiences with us . . .

We were so happy with our investigators who were baptized this week, they were a married couple (which can be uncommon here in Honduras!) and the sister was a pastor in their church before they came in contact with the missionaries.   Now they have such strong testimonies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have their own witness that modern day prophets truly are called of God to direct the church on the earth today.  I am so happy to be involved in missionary work, I know my Heavenly Father loves me and directs me where he wants me to be.  I know I am making a difference in our Heavenly Father's work.

A sister shared that with the help of the Elders and the Sister Training leaders they were able to baptize one of their investigators who had a great sense of humor.  As they filled out his baptism paper work he noted that he was born in 1934 . . . they had to break the news to him that he was actually 80 years old instead of the 73 years that he reported to them.  He replied that he simply "had stopped counting" after so many years :)  This new convert shared a sweet testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel at the end of his baptism service.

(We can't say enough good things about our Assistants to
the President and our office staff . . . we would be lost without them!)
(Hip hip hurray for all our office Elders . . . truly the mission could not function without then all!)

The sisters left a Book of Mormon with a new contact with a challenge to read a small assignment . . . when they returned they asked him if he had read the assigned scriptures . . . he replied that YES, he had read the assignment, he also read all of 3rd Nephi, also all of Alma, and the introduction to the Book of Mormon, the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, and he now had his own witness that Lehi came to the America's with his family.  When asked what he thought of the Book of Mormon, he said he knows that what he is reading is true, and the doctrine is more clear than in the bible, and that he is shaken through to his heart.  They then challenged him to accept a baptismal date and he accepted.  Truly our Heavenly Father is preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive the gospel message.

One of our new investigators made the commitment to give up drinking coffee and it has now been over a week since he has had any coffee.  We really feel like this has helped increase the spirituality of our lessons.  We had a situation that was a little funny, he had been to church with us three times and a pastor from the Evangelical church stopped by while we were visiting and let our investigator know he would be back to visit with him really soon.  We were a little worried about that, and I guess our investigator noticed because he commented to us, "we don't have anything to fear because the Church of Jesus Christ has the truth!"

This week was one of the best experiences of my mission!  After our Zone meeting it was pouring rain, and our suits were all wet.  We thought to go back to the house and change into dry clothes but felt prompted to continue on to the house of an investigator even though we were all wet and our shoes were muddy.  When we arrived at the house of our investigator she shared a special experience she had with us . . . she had received an answer to her prayers through a dream. In her dream she told the pastor of her church she wouldn't be coming back because she had found the true church.  The only church that was restored to the earth with all the doctrine, principles and authority of the church Christ established when he was on the earth.  Now she wants all of her family to have the opportunity to learn of the gospel as well.   My companion and I looked at each other and now we understood why we felt prompted to continue on that day in our wet clothes and our muddy shoes.  When we surrender our will to the Lord, we receive the blessings.

This week was a lot of work but we also experienced many miracles.  We found a man who asked us many questions about life, he wanted to know where we can from, where we went after we died, do prophets exist on the earth today? And many other questions . . . the amazing thing was that we had the answers to all his questions!  When we finished he got this big smile on his face and said, "I knew that!  But nobody would believe me!"  We made another appointment to return to teach him next week.

We had an experience this week with a family who had been inactive for many years.  They were a reference for us and when we visited the wife was excited to see us and came to church for the first time in years.  The second time we went to visit she shared an experience she had with us where she had a dream that as she was coming back from church there was a huge earthquake, while she found safety with her children, her husband was buried under the rubble along with her home.  She heard a voice say to her, "you still have time".  As she was speaking we felt the spirit so strong as she shared her experience that she wanted to help her family become an eternal family while she still has time.  They are making many sacrifices and changes in their life in order to come back to church and attend church on Sunday once again.

On Saturday we were on our way to an appointment when we passed an older woman hacking away with a machete in the front of her little home.  We stopped and offered to help and soon we were chopping away with her.  Soon the Elders passed by also and stopped and offered to help, then the kids down the street come over and brought their machetes and started helping also.  Soon her next door neighbor appeared and said, "What a group of angels you have here!" and started working also.  This sweet woman confided in us that she had been working since 7am and praying that someone would come along that could help her because she was so tired.  The Elders shared that they normally don't leave the house at that time but felt prompted to come in our direction.  We were able to share with this sweet lady that her Heavenly Father loves her and wants to answer her prayers.  We have an appointment to visit her again tomorrow.

(Love these brightly colored apartments, the sisters seem to match their environment :)

We had a great experience this week when one of our recent converts appeared at our house early all dressed in his white shirt and tie and ready to go do divisions with us and teach the gospel with our investigators.  He really has a great desire to help others!

Even the hard days are miraculous . . .

It was one of those days where all our appointments fell through . . . we decided to just start contacting and after several hours without success we decided to return to a previous area we had worked in . . . the first door we knocked we had a conversation with a woman who had seen the church's advertisements on TV and was interested . . . at the second house the same thing happened, and they also expressed an interest in the church.  At the third house . . . another contact who wanted to hear more of our message . . . three houses in a row we found families with interest who currently don't attend any church.  We know our Heavenly Father heard our prayers and led us to his prepared children.  We had a wonderful experience with one family in particular when we returned to teach them again.  A family of a husband, wife and small child commented that he has a great desire to go to church but didn't know which of all the churches was the correct church.  Finding this special family made all of the slammed doors and denied invitations so worth it. 

One of our investigators who was progressing and had a date to be baptized has decided he doesn't want us to visit any more . . . so that is very hard . . .  also it's so difficult that many of our investigators don't want to come to church.  I'm learning that those people we teach who read the Book of Mormon progress.  Those who don't rarely do.  The Book of Mormon really is the cornerstone.  I've also learned that the one thing we can give to the Lord is our will.  I can honestly say that there is no place int he world I would rather be right now than in Honduras sharing the gospel.  It is all worth it!

Truly the work is sweet.  Our missionaries are blessed.  

 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that yeserve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in storethat he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the gloryof God, qualify him for the work.

 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience,brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.
-- Doctrine and Covenants 4 

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