Sunday, August 11, 2013

Importance of Families - July 22, 2013

It was so good to hear from you and to see all your pictures and just to hear from you. It means a lot to me just to receive a letter when I can only imagine just how busy you are. This last week flew by and the days continue to be full of miracles that are just too much to number in any email that will be of sensible length and not a recreation of my daily journal, however, the Lord did teach me some very important lessons this week: the Importance of families. 

We were able to have a lessons with a new investigator named Vladimir as we are trying to start up this new area and find those who are ready to be baptized, and really enjoyed this man. He was just wonderful in so many ways...but he was focused on the false doctrine that we must focus on ourselves before we can help others, thus needed to fulfill our own desires before we can fulfill others'. His family consists of his wife and 10 year old daughter but in his mind, family is just another way to fulfill his needs...but when he's been home for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, he gets tired of them and luckily can go work in a different city...we lovingly but sternly told him what the Lord expected of him as a father and he took it quite well. We were able to use our experiences in our lives to show just how much role parents play. While Elder Butterworth was talking about his dad's busy schedule and the precious time that was spent with him, I was reminded of dad and just how amazing it was that for how much he does travel, I would never say that neglect was one of his characteristics. Dad is the best dad in the world in my eyes...there is something to say when we can use our fathers as a method to teach a man who really doesn't understand God the relationship that we have with our Heavenly Father. Thank you dad for being the incredible father that you are. Truly the Gospel blesses families. The Gospel was made for families.

So we concluded the meeting with the man realizing just how much his 10 year old daughter needed him, and we committed him to call his daughter that night to just share his love and appreciation for her. Even though it is not text-book Preach My Gospel commitments, we invited him to strengthen his family ties. Parents have a crucial role in teaching their children the Gospel, inviting, and helping them to live it. I saw this in even a bigger scale that a man and his daughter the next day.

We were at a sports night with the zone leaders in Donetsk and were having an okay time playing basketball, but not being very effective in proselytizing. After a while I began to watch the youth that daily gather around our church building to hang out because of the nice grounds our church building has in comparison to the area. I watched their gestures, heard their language, saw their actions, and really it was quite dark. They were doing things that made  you just sick inside and even witnessing it made me feel a withdrawal of the Spirit. I got out of there as soon as we could thinking that I was never going to participate in such activities again because I couldn't handle the direct violations of divine nature and law is such large quantities. But then the thought came...and it's a thought that has come up many times before but not ever with such power: 

"It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole dearth groans under the weight of its iniquity. It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell...Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy. 
"And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart— 
"For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:6-8,10-12).
As a youth who knows the path, the power, and the plan, it is my imperative duty to help. They need the kind of role models that we as members of the church can give. They need the activities and opportunities to grow and learn as we do. 
So I was talking with my companion about my thoughts and just realizing that of all the people I can usually talk with and preach to, the skill to talk with people my age or younger doesn't exist. And of course in His wisdom, upon talking about this with my companion and expressing the desire to develop the skill to talk with youth, three youth stop us, a little aggressively engage us, but miraculously the Spirit filled my heart with calming thoughts and exactly what I needed to say. Although they walked away still a little sarcastic and unchanged, I realized that the principles for teaching them are the same as for teaching all: By the Spirit. We have different ways to reach them...but it is our imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation. And what power parents have in helping the rising generation become who they proved themselves foreordained to be before this life.  I really like the next few verse of the section 123: 
"Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; ...These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints [and youth], which depends upon these things."

 Families are the best place to teach, learn, invite to live, and help each other live the Gospel. And on the other hand, no amount of effort can compensate for failure in the home. Thank you so much for being the best family in the world and for living the Gospel of Jesus Christ...its what makes our family a Family with a capital that is a Forever Family. Doesn't your heart just swell with gratitude to God for blessings of the Restoration?! I love you

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