Thursday, December 29, 2011
Feliz Navidad! 12-25-11
HOLA!! It's Elder McDonald again
Lo Siento por (Sorry for) not telling you earlier that I wasn't allowed to call. Forgot. But there are over 2500 missionaries here and around 30 "for emergency usage only" phones. They do however allow us to email, so that's nice.
Just want you to know that I'm doing fine, and that I love the package I got for Christmas. We had a devotional last night where we sang christmas songs and they had a program, which was good. Then we got to watch A Christmas Carol, the really old version. It was pretty sweet, not going to lie.
This morning, after I opened my presents, we went to a huge combined Sacrament meeting in the Gym that had all the missionaries together. It was really interesting how they did the sacrament (6 tables around the room with the bread and water) it was pretty chevre. But the best part about Sacrament meeting, and today in general, was that a special someone came to speak to us. Guess who...
ELDER DAVID A BEDNAR!!!!!!!!!
I was utterly amazed when he walked into the room. You could really feel the Spirit that he emanated. He gave one of the most amazing talks that I've ever heard in my entire life!! I'll provide a fraction of it, and try to do it a little justice.
He said that he's talked to thousands of converts, and when he asked them what their first lesson was like, he said they'd always chuckle and say it was the most bizarre thing in their entire life. Here were 19-21 year ol boys coming into their home with funny accents, and pathetically trying to speak the language. They talked of God, angels, the restoration, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and it was crazy. But when he asked them why they invited the missionaries back, the always said "Not because of what is said, but what we felt." He told us that the work that we do is much more about "Who you are, and what you are, rather than what you say."
As he continued, he spoke of our need to convert ourselves. A testimony will never be enough. We must completely convert ourselves to the Lord, and to his Gospel. He said that 6% of us that were in that room would fall away from the church or become less active. But if we were converted, as the Lamanites were in Alma 23:5-6, "As many as gained testimonies AND were converted unto the Lord, NEVER FELL AWAY" (caps added for emphasis) But in order to be converted, we needed to put off the "natural man" Then he did something pretty hilariously ridiculous. He said that when he thought of "the natural man" he thought of the cookie monster. "ME WANT COOKIE NOW!" He said in his best cookie monster voice. IT WAS GREAT!!! It totes reminded me of when the prophet wiggled his ears. He went on to talk about how to convert ourselves. We must look to the Savior's example y try to emulate him. We must take upon ourselves the Character of Cristo (Christ) , who "Turns out in compassion and love to others when we would turn in to selfishness, and self-centered thoughts." He gave some examples.
In Matthew 4:2-11 it talks of when the Devil tempted Christ. I had always thought that he was tempted three times. You know, make this rock into bread, throw yourself off this temple, and worship me for the kingdoms of the world. But Elder Bednar said that it was really only one temptation. "If thou be the Son of God" - Satan tried to get Christ to deny his Godliness, and to turn inward and be like a natural man, satisfying himself. But the best part that he talked about was the last verse. When it says that after this ordeal, angels came down and ministered unto Jesus. He talked about that seemed like a reasonable thing, after these great temptations, he was probably a little spent, and the angels came to help him out. But then he said that it was translated wrong. if you look down at the JST for the verse it says that Christ learned that John was in prison, and that Christ sent angels to administer unto him. Even amidst his own affliction, Christ thought about John, turning out to him in love and compassion.
Elder Bednar said "You may feel discouraged at times because you don't think you're getting the success you deserve. Or you should be having more baptisms or lessons, or investigators. GET OVER YOURSELF! The mission is Not about you. Who cares about what you want? Only the natural man. ... The journey to turn out is where we cross over from testimony to true conversion." we've already taken the first steps. We're 19-21 year olds, the time where most of us are the Most like the Natural man, caring only for ourselves, and satisfying our desires. but What are we doing??? We're here in the MTC on CHRISTMAS! Away from presents, away from family, getting ready to Serve Others." As you lose yourself in others, you find yourself, but only if you don't look for it. Focus on fulfilling the needs and desires of others.
He said in closing a piece of advice. He said to get a brand new copy of the Book of Mormon, read it from cover to cover and mark it up in answer to a question that you have. Repeat for different questions. Eventually when we reach his age we should be able to have a bookcase full of Book of Mormon that contain answers to questions that we have.
I love you all, and I'll talk to you again soon.