Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

Hey Everyone,
   I got transferred. I now serve in the Hermosa Vista stake over the Hermosa Vista and Hillcrest wards. I remember thinking my last area was affluent, which it was, but this area is about five times more so. No large apartment complexes, no one that is compelled enough to be humble enough to listen to us. This will be a challenging area.
   My new companion is Elder Hutchison. He will be my third companion in a row from Utah. He's a great guy though. He's been out six months and is a good companion.
   Saying bye to the Groves and YSA wards wasn't fun, but it had to happen. There's a lot of people there that I will have to go see after my mission ends. I still find it ironic that every time an area I serve in starts to go extremely well, they boot me. It almost makes me want to stop seeing success just so that I won't have to pack again. Almost. President Hinckley once said the only thing common in life is change. I couldn't agree more.
   I got to this area on Wednesday. Since then, not much as happened. I'm at that stage where I'm trying to learn everything I can about the place while my companion knows everyone. I'm not the biggest fan of that part. Things should start to go a lot smoother once I figure it all out.
   Really nothing crazy happened this week. But I did have some good study time. I've been reading a lot in Alma lately. Alma is a book smack dab right in the middle of the Book of Mormon. In Alma there's a lot of wars and contention among the people. One story that caught my attention was the story of Lahonti and Amalikiah.
   So it all starts with an army. It's a large army with two leaders. Amalikiah leads one half and Lahonti leads the other. Lahonti keeps his half of the army in a mighty fortress on top of mount Antipus. Amalikiah, however, keeps his in a valley. Amalikiah isn't exactly the nicest man. He's a greedy man who wants nothing more then to be the leader of the whole army so that he can do whatever he wants with it. He's tried before to do his will but Lahonti has always said no.
   Amalikiah is a persistent man and he plans to get his way eventually, so he tries again. He takes his army to the bottom of mount Antipus and asks for Lahonti to come talk with him. Lahonti, sensing the obvious trap, declines. So Amalikiah leaves a part of his army behind and takes a smaller portion a little farther up the mountain. He asks Lahonti again to come down but to no avail. This continues to happen until he is right in front of the fortress walls with a only a few of his soldiers. He calls to Lahonti. Lahonti looks out and realizes that Amalikiah only has a few soldiers and he decides that he cannot be harmed by that weak of an army.
   So he sends his army out and surrounds Amalikiah. He takes his weapons and forces him to surrender. He then takes Amalikiah prisoner and let's him inside the fortress. Realizing that he has the upper hand, Lahonti lets his guard down and talks to Amalikiah. Amalikiah is a smart man. In fact, this had been his plan all along. Now that he made it inside Lahonti's fortress, now that Lahonti's guard is down, he can do exactly what he came to do. Amalikiah proceeds to poison Lahonti. Lahonti dies, and Amalikiah takes control of the entire army and begins to work his evil desires.
   As I read this it made me think of my own life. How far down the mountain am I letting satan stay? Am I making sure that the gates to my stronghold are sealed shut? Or am I letting my guard down because it doesn't seem like this particular thing can harm me?
   Especially in this day and age, Satan is hard at work. In his genius he continues to make himself seem less and less harmless to the point where he fools us into opening our gates and lowering our guard so that he can poison us. He is persistent, he is smart, and his very desire is to get what he wants eventually, so he'll try again. He'll try again, and again, and again, until the little things lead to big things and until the small, insignificant number of soldiers being held captive turns into an entire opposing army occupying your own fortress.
 He wants nothing more then for you to lose all you have been given.
   However, there is something miraculous in all of this. God loves you, and because he loves you, you don't have to open your gates. And even if you do open them, through Jesus Christ you can repent and cleanse and strengthen the fortress once more. In fact, you can do it time and time again and he will still love you and he will still cleanse you. It is important to remember however, that his mercy is not an excuse to wait. Each time you open your gates and let satan in, no matter how weak his force may seem, you grow weaker and distance yourself from God. My invitation is to act now before hints get worse and before strengthening your fortress becomes too difficult. Satan will damage your fortress if you let him. On the other hand, God and Christ will continue to strengthen it if you let them. "...His hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 5:25)

   Elder Earl

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