Monday, March 14, 2011

The gift of Agency, what a difference it can make......week 33

My Dear Family,

Well another week passes and I find myself writing to you. It is really amazing how quickly things happen when you are running 24/7. The family sounds like they are doing good. I have to laugh as it seems that mom and dad are now transitioning from being the parents to the grandparents. It seems like everyone is doing well and it is good to hear.

Well, this week. This week was a week of transitions. As I am in the process of helping Elder Pineda learn about missionary work, I am amazed at how much I still need to learn. We are enjoying the process of learning together. This week we have started up some projects that we had pending that I believe are really going to change the work here. We are really excited. This week in particular, I was very impact by the topic of our agency. I was struck deeply this week as Elder Pineda and I visited many inactive members of the Church. We visited with each one of them and for some reason, I love talking to inactive families. The majority of our conversations started with a dialogue that went something like this:

"Family ___ the missionaries are here in your house this afternoon. Why do you think that they are here.¨

"(With a frown) They are in my house to invite my family and I to go to church.¨

¨Exactly, wow, at least we know that we´re on the same page.¨

Its something that I find funny as well a strength of my testimony. The people who no longer participate in the Church never can forget it. They know what it is that they lack. They can feel that they are missing out. We went to speak to these families and we explained why it is really that we go to church each Sunday. When we came into these houses, the Lord permitted that we would teach these people what they needed to hear. Elder Pineda and I felt very strongly in these lessons through the Spirit that these people really needed the blessings of being faithful to the commandments of God. We felt the Spirit and we knew that these people felt the Spirit as well. But we cannot force anybody to be happy. Despite the fact that we felt that we taught clearly what was within their grasp and how the Lord could bless them, many turned away. After a few of these lessons I told Elder Pineda that for me, these are moments most difficult. When the people feel the Spirit and they know what they should do, and they don´t do it. It is very sad. But necessary. I learned a great lesson these past few days about the gift of agency or our capacity to choose. These people are capable of amazing things. Each one of us, solo by nature of being children of God, can achieve miracles if we are willing to pay the price. It is true. We will obtain the amount that we were willing to receive.

After the experiences of these families, Elder Pineda and I had a lesson with a friend of one of the sisters in the ward. We asked this young woman what it was that she hoped to learn from our visit. She explained that she had felt that there was something different within this religion and feeling something lacking, decided to take a visit with us. We taught her and invited her to be baptized. She felt the Spirit very strongly and through her tears, said that she would like to be baptized. We asked her as we finished up the lesson how she was feeling. She mentioned that she had never felt a sensation so strong in her life. She felt that she had found what she was looking for. She mentioned how much desires and hopes she had.

What has struck me this week is the difference in these two situations. When we are willing to listen to the voice of the Spirit to act upon what God is telling us that we should do, we obtain what He wants that we obtain: happiness, joy, and peace. It is my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of Christ in the earth today with the principles, ordinances, and the authority of God to perform those ordinances which allow us to return to live with God. It is my testimony that they are true. They are everything to me.

I hope the best for you my dear family. May we continue day after day striving to become more like Jesus Christ. I promise you that as we do so, we will find that the holes that we once had in our minds and in our hearts no longer are there. We learn principle by principle, a little here and a little there yet I invite you to always strive to do the things that will draw you closer to Him. By so doing we find so much more than would would have on our own.
Elder Russell