Thank you so much for your letters. Thank you for your experiences and particularly the tender mercies of the Lord. I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to bless you in all that you do.
Another week has flown by. I am amazed at what is taught, learned, and molded in a single week. I would like to talk briefly about that which Grant mentioned. The Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is a topic that has impacted me significantly this week as everything is centered around it. I was reading the account of King Noah the other day and the priests of his court. His priests questioned Abinadi that through their obedience to the law of Moses they are saved. Abinadi then gives his witness that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are saved. Because of His Resurrection, we will be judged of Him purely by our obedience to the law. By this alone, no one could receive eternal life as no one is perfect. Thus, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, particularly His suffering for our sins, we can be cleansed from our sins through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel. Thus, we are not saved by the law. We are saved by our actions of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
I have thought much about this topic and I am impressed by the responses of different people relative to their definition of Christ. We ask people all the time, ¨who is Jesus Christ¨ and we get a wide variety of responses. Often, that He is the Savior. However, there are so few people who really understand why He is the Savior of the world and how do we apply His Atonement in our lives. Thus, the topics of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His Gospel have impacted me very much.
So we are continuing to work with Elaine and Oliver. They are progressing so well and we are really excited for them as they have committed to be married in the next couple of days. They are so desirous to learn about the Gospel. We have to cut our lessons each time because they just ask so many questions. I told Elder Arreola that though I have so much more that I am going to do during the course of my mission, if I could know for a fact that they would be married in the temple and sealed to their two children a year from now, everything that I have done to prepare for my mission would have been worth it. However, it is just the beginning. And with this family, they have been the fire for me personally. They have helped me to give everything I have so that perhaps I may find one more person, that I might invite one more soul to come unto Christ. They have taught me a very personal lesson. Oliver asked us a question during our last visit about prophets and he said, ¨they are like tools right, like you Elders¨. We responded, ¨exactly Oliver¨. It was simple and sincere but it left a deep impression. We are nothing more than the tools in the hands of the Master in His work. Like it is stated in Isaiah, does the tool lift itself up without the hand of the Master. No, it doesn’t. Each day is one more day in vineyard of the Lord. I wear His name. I declare His Gospel. I bear witness of His reality. Lives are touched not because of us, but because we carry His name. They are not acting upon our message. They are applying the eternal principles of the Great and Everlasting God. Our Savior Jesus Christ provided through His Resurrection and His Atonement, the way of happiness and exaltation through obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel. Study His words, ponder them in your hearts, and pray unto our Father in Heaven and He will answer you. It is true. I have done it and I see the happiness of those who do it every day. Lean upon Him and He will guide your path.
My dear family, I give you my deepest love. I pray that the Lord will continue to enlarge your vision and expand your joy. Your examples have already touched the lives of many people here. Happy Birthday Dad. I pray that the Lord will bless you with a deeper sense of the love of your family for you. I pray likewise at this time for you Grandma. As Aunt Teri counseled me before I left, ¨Elder Russell, don´t you ever forget where you come from.¨ I have not Mom, Dad, Grandma. And unto my Savior Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, I have not.
I send my best wishes across the miles my dear family. May God keep you in His hands always.
With all my love,