Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

Hey Everyone!
   This week was nothing short of miraculous. Literally. I'll just go ahead and say it, we set six baptismal dates. The ward baptismal goal for 2014 is ten. We are on track right now to have that complete by mid-March. We set one with a 91 year old woman. She's awesome. She has been coming to church for years now but we finally were able to commit her to be baptized on February 22nd. We are very excited for her.
   We also have continued teaching this family of seven this last week. When we first started teaching them they were pretty gung-ho on going back to the salvation army's church. They smoked and drank coffee nonstop. Their kids had tons of problems. They didn't exactly have it all going for them. Just over the course of this last week there have been enormous changes. We showed up for a lesson to find ourselves waiting for her to get back from finding an alternative to coffee. They are both trying to quit smoking. We brought the young woman's president from the ward and she talked to their sixteen year old daughter about the youth program at the church. That girl has read the entire strength of youth pamphlet (a book for the youth explaining standards and values and why we have them) and is now continuing on with the Book of Mormon. They already have family night every Friday where they watch a movie and have pizza. This last week they didn't have a movie to watch so we brought them Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration to watch. They not only watched that but they also watched a few other church movies from the DVD we gave them. They also read the Book of Mormon as a family and best of all, they will baptized on March 8th.
   I really appreciated the lesson this family taught me this last week along with a letter from my dad. The first time I invited this family to be baptized it was kind of iffy. But the mother simply and honestly said, "the problem is, we are afraid to fail". The simple honesty and humility of tap hat confession definitely made an impact on me. As I thought about how to portray my answer in our oncoming lesson on Tuesday I read a letter from my dad. He was talking about my little sister's basketball game about a week ago. He said, "The game went about as expected. They played well and won handily. It looked as if her team is finally pulling it back together. I did notice something this week, though, about her team. Her team has a problem with trust. Some do not trust anybody else on the team to advance the ball or score. Most of the team does not trust 2 or 3 girls to be where they are supposed to be. One does not trust herself. Many of the others do not trust their shots, so they are reluctant to put the ball up. Until they begin to trust each other and themselves, they will not be able to play to the level that they are capable of playing at."
   As I read that I finally came to the answer that I needed, and ultimately the answer that this family needs to hear. The question we need to ask ourselves is simple. Are we willing to trust ourselves enough to play to the level that we are capable of playing at? If not, we need to start. The fact of the matter is that we have so much given to us that if we simply use it, it is impossible to fail. We have a Father in Heaven that loves us enough to have given us scriptures to edify us, prophets and the Holy Ghost to guide us, repentance for when we don't use His gifts as we should, and above all His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for us to be able to play to the level that we are capable of playing at.
   One of my favorite verses says it as plain as it possibly can be. In Philippians 4:13 it says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". I can add my testimony to that simple statement and honestly say that we can trust in Christ. However, we should not only be trusting in Him. We are all literal children of a Father in Heaven who loves us very much. Because of that love we have the potential to come back to Him and be more then any of us can pretend to comprehend. We have the ability, the right, and the obligation to trust ourselves enough to follow His commandments and take the opportunities He gives us to come back to His presence through Jesus Christ. That is the level you are capable of playing at. The game starts now.

   Sincerely, Elder Earl

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