This Thursday I'll have a year in the field. So it's another one of those times of reflection for me. I think of the things that stand out the most. Some easy, some hard, all of which have ultimately been blessings. I've met a lot of people in the last year. Most of them (our investigators, I mean) are not married, but live together with someone. Several of them have been together for years. Some have children, some even grandchildren. They've passed generations together without ever taking the step of marriage. They're afraid of it for some reason. To help, we ask simple questions like "do you love her?" and "do you love him?" and "what would really change if you were married officially?" We promise blessings from God. If they still feel no desire to follow the commandments and get married or separate, we make it very simple for them and ask "if God Himself were to appear to you and tell you that this is a sin and you need to get married, what would you do?" You would be surprised how many of them merely say, "I wouldn't be able to change". We ask them if they understood the question and if they're absolutely sure of their response. Often we simply end the lesson then and there, depending on the person. Sometimes we ask if they feel at all ashamed to admit that they consider their own will to be of more importance than the will of their Father in Heaven. To those who respond "no" to this question, a deep sadness comes into the room. I don't know if they feel it, but we certainly do. On more than one occasion we've asked the investigator to kneel down with us and offer a prayer to God declaring that they are unwilling to comply with His commandments. They don't want to. "Brother, you said you weren't ashamed". The fear of God still dwells within them. It's interesting. When someone's life is being overcome by the inspiration of satan, whose face I've seen and whose voice I've heard, they still must recognize the authority of the Priesthood when it's in the room. Satan is not more than God, he's less. So when light pierces darkness, the darkness cannot deny it.
I get really sad over these people. They talk about God because that's what people do. They pray to be heard by others. They read certain parts of the Bible because they think that simply reading the Bible will save them. Yet they go about breaking several commandments everyday. So many people here don't see themselves as someone having divine potential. They show how truly desirable the Terrestrial Kingdom is to people. I, personally, will not be content with such glory. I know that the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms are places where I can't be with you guys, so I do what I can to keep myself from setting my course for either of them. It's my love for you guys that I have had, and have now-and will have in the future for my wife and my own children-that acts as a catalyst for obedience.
I recently re-read the talk "Salvation and Exaltation" from last Confrence by Elder Nelson. He states very clearly how and why "salvation is a personal matter, and exaltation is a family matter". As I said I'm not content with anything but the highest degree of glory, because it is there that I can not only live with God and with Christ, but we can also be together as a family. For this reason, I want you guys to examine your course, as I have, and prayerfully decide what can be changed and/or improved. For example, I was reading in the copy of the 2003 journal that Dad sent me. There is an entry that talks about tithing and how it's a difficult thing sometimes. Now I don't know if things are still the same way since 2003, but I'll speak as if they were. Here in Brasilia, part of the reason that the Church has yet to truly consider building a Temple here is because we lack TITHE-PAYING Melchizedek Priesthood holders. It's no small issue in our Ward and Stake, and in many of the Wards and Stakes around here. If the people would pay their tithes and offerings and do it from their hearts out of joy to have the chance to fulfill a commandment of God, without complaint, the Lord would abundantly bless this area. If anyone has any doubts in regard to tithing, I suggest reading the talk entitled "The Best Investment" from last Conference.
Before I could be ordained to the Melchizedik Priesthood, Bishop Boyer told me I needed to be up to date on my tithing. If you'll remember, my settlement came out to about $900. At the time I had about $1000 in the bank. I decided to pay the tithing, and almost immediately within that same week I got two speeding tickets and crashed my car. Instead of being grateful to have been blessed with a good father that has money and who is always more than willing to help when I'm short, I complained and felt robbed by the Church. I've since repented of that and have made a promise to the Lord that I will always pay an honest tithing. As a missionary I'm not allowed to pay tithing. You may not believe this, but one of the reasons I can't wait to get home is so I can pay my tithing! If you do what you can to live close to the Spirit you recognize every little thing you do that isn't in harmony with the will of the Lord. That's a wonderful blessing. And even though I'm not even allowed to pay tithing, God has given me the opportunity to feel bad that I'm not paying it! And, as I said, I've promised that once I can, I always will. If any one of us is in need of doing the same, I suggest you do it. The blessings of exaltation for each individual member of our family very well may be contingent on that. We need to be an eternal family, together forever. We can't settle for anything less.
I think of times in the past when we may have maybe been a little relaxed on keeping the Sabbath Day holy. I've certainly been guilty of that. Anytime we do anything that maybe wouldn't be right with God, let's think of our exaltation as a family together. We can't let anything we do put our future together in the life to come at risk. WE NEED TO BE AN ETERNAL FAMILY!!! NOTHING LESS!!!
Considering it's the end of the transfer this week, send letters to the mission office. We might be moving next week to our real area. Our own house! No more catching four buses a day. Oh man! Maybe, we don't know for sure. When that happens, I'll let you know. I've been taking a lot of money out of my personal account to pay for our bus rides everyday. Elder Tenorio doesn't have any money at the moment. We're hoping this whole thing ends soon and we move to our house. I asked the Brazilians what they would want in a package from AMERICA. They would like (please): Oberto beef jerky, jelly bellies, pringles (any flavor besides original), and more peanut butter because we're running out. Oh and I told Elder de Sousa that peanut butter m&m's are the best and he doesn't believe they even exist, so please send a bag so he can see what's up. I hate asking for stuff.
I love you guys so so much and I can't wait to see you guys again. I'll be home Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 (since you asked). Go ahead and mark that!!!
Lot's of love,