September 15, 2008

I will certainly say Hi to Brazil from all back home. Speaking of back home, I don't know if I've already mentioned this a few times, but do you guys have any idea if people in our Ward remember who I am? I have dreams that I'm home and I have trouble speaking English and people have trouble remembering my name and who I am. I know Bishop Boyer knows me. People from our neighborhood maybe. Jeff Whiteman (is he still quorum president?), maybe a few others. I don't know. All I know is that when I'm home in 9 months I'll probably be bald and no one will recognize me. Frustrating.
This week I had yet another chance to hear The Reckoner by Radiohead, in a member's house. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. AMAZING. I left floating out of the house. Seriously. Why is that the only Radiohead song I hear in Brazil? (twice now)
You know something, I'm beginning to see the trend that my mission is taking. I'm beginning to recognize it's form, and how I'll speak of it when it's all over. One of many things that I believe my mission to be is a test of persistence. I've noticed that there are missionaries who baptize everybody, and then there are missionaries who suffer and whose only success is persistence in the absence of success. I honestly believe my mission experience to be that of the latter. I'm not sad about that. I don't think I'm a bad missionary. I don't title myself a failure. The experiences I've had have been essential to my spiritual progression. But one thing I can certainly say is that I count myself among those who have come to know Satan very well. My mission at large has been an experience of recognizing the other side and the power that exists there. I can honestly say with all the fervor of my soul that Satan and his angels who work round the clock in Vila Planalto have incredible influence, and that I have no choice but to testify of it's reality. It requires strict obedience to combat. I know that the forces of Satan are real, and I know all the more that the power of the Priesthood is real as well.
This week in our Elders Quorum we learned about the Plan of Salvation. Rather than going into depth about the spirit world and degrees of glory, we reviewed quickly the basic doctrines and began to discuss what needs to be done by each of us to obtain celestial glory. The man who used to be the Stake President here was teaching our class. He mentioned that there were several occasions during his ten years as Stake President that he had the chance to be trained by Apostles. At least once a year there was a training given by one of the Apostles to all Stake Presidents and Mission Presidents in the area. This man told us that the most impressive training of all of them, for him, came from Elder Richard G. Scott. He said that in this training Elder Scott taught a lot about the Priesthood and the importance of magnifying it. Part of magnifying your Priesthood means overcoming obstacles. Elder Scott asked those present if they would like to know one of his weaknesses. What he said was impressive and touching to me. He told them that every time he has to travel to another place in the world to have meetings or trainings or whatever else, when he checks into the hotel, the first thing he does is he takes a towel from the bathroom and puts it over the TV, and then places a framed picture of his wife on top. He said, "I do this because I know I am a weak man". He went on to say that he had already known a number of general authorities who had fallen because of situations as simple as this. They get to the hotel and are watching TV after their meetings and something pornographic just happened to come on and they ended up losing control. An example of the power Satan has, and that his influence is real. Even amongst the general authorities. Their level of testing is significantly greater than mine or anyone else in our family. It must be unbearable, but somehow they pass the tests. If they didn't, the Church would be in ruin.
This week in my interview with President Pizzirani, I was telling him about some of the difficulties we've been having lately. he taught me something interesting about Satan. He asked me where Lucifer is at this very moment. Not "the Devil" or "Satan", but the literal spirit of Lucifer. I said I didn't know. He told me "walking alongside Thomas S. Monson". He, Lucifer, concentrates his best efforts on the ONE that he knows if he brings down, he brings down the Church with him, and wins. Lucifer walks alongside the Prophet. President Monson is personally tempted by Lucifer himself. President Pizzirani went on to tell me that Satan literally has a quorum of twelve, seventies, bishops, mission presidents, missionaries. The same organization. One to tempt each one. Imagine the tests given to the Apostles. President also told me that when an Apostle is called, part of his calling is to NEVER sin. Imagine that. NEVER sin. Imagine President Monson. Imagine the horrible things he has had to see. Why do you think they have their meetings in the Temple? Satan cannot enter. He has no influence there. Imagine also the indescribable blessings as well for the fact that these men overcome. That's what is happening in Salt Lake City right now. That is what goes on in the Church of Jesus Christ. How can it not be TRUE? I would doubt it all if I hadn't had experiences for myself that testify of this. And I'm forever grateful for the Prophet and the Apostles. I'm so excited to see them speak in three weeks. I hope everyone else is too. Amazing.
I love you family.

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