Friday, January 20, 2017

Jan 17, 2017- Lay your burdens at His feet

Well, it’s official, at least one more change here in Dorsal with Elder Dussan (no surprise) and we’re going to do everything in our power to have some success this change. We’re working with some really cool people, but anything can happen, so we’re trying to be better and better every day.

Remember the De La Cruz family from last week? Well, yesterday we had a great lesson with them and they opened up to us quite a bit. So, apparently the night that we found them, the wife was literally getting ready to move out- they were going to be separated. After that visit, things calmed down and since then things have constantly gotten better. They said this past year has been the most difficult of their lives, but that ever since we started sharing with them, they’ve actually enjoyed life again. They said they’ve finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. They still have problems, but things are just different now. Obviously, we as missionaries did relatively little in this change, but this is yet another testament to the power and peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There’s a convert in our ward named Fabian and he was baptized in June, but had been investigating the church for 3 years. He’s just 20 years old, but he’s really smart and he knows a lot about the gospel. Where he works, there is a culture of rejection of the “Mormons” and at times it can be pretty hostile opposition. At first, Fabian didn’t know how to respond to all of the questions people would ask him, but then he got studying. Now Fabian can respond to all the questions- and with really good responses, better responses than I can give to the questions and doubts people have about the church, doctrine, policies, and church leaders. Is this a good thing? Yes, it’s a very good thing to understand the things that seem to trouble others. But we shared this scripture with him-  Jacob 5:47-48. In this part of Jacob 5 the author talks of a vineyard that needs to be destroyed and burned. It wasn’t because the vineyard wasn’t nourished, nor because it wasn’t cared for with great effort. What was the problem?

“Because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots.”

The branches are kind of like the knowledge that Fabian has. We should know these things, but only as fast as we grow our roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Aided by daily prayer and scripture study and weekly church attendance are the roots of our personal testimony. Without branches, our testimony isn’t as complete and we need to work on that too as our roots grow. Having our roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ helps us see things with far more clarity, we see things for what they really are, we understand what’s really important in life.

Early Sunday morning the mother of Evans passed away. Due to the difficult circumstances in Haiti, she wasn’t able to get the help she needed. Prayers for him and his family would be very much appreciated.

I’ll close with this thought/experience. This is by no means a political or social commentary; this is simply a testament to the infinite power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is an active member of our ward here and he is attracted to his own gender. On Saturday we had the opportunity to eat lunch with him. When he was 21 he had plans to serve a mission, but he acted upon a certain attraction, felt too embarrassed to tell anyone, confess, repent and move on so he could serve a mission. Instead for 20 years he decided to stay away from the church he knew to be true. He said he lived in darkness, and what made that worse is that he knew where the light was, he just felt too ashamed to go there.
His mother was a faithful member until the day she died and always loved and supported her son, regularly asking for his advice on lessons she would teach and always letting him know he was loved. After his mother passed away, he was in her room looking through her old notes, books, journals, and scriptures and he got an undeniable impression from the Holy Ghost. He needed to come back to the church. In that moment he decided to come back and take whatever steps that were needed to become the worthy priesthood holder he once was. He told us it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but that he knows the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. He’s never been happier and the burden he’d carried for so long has been lightened. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to live with this attraction, or how hard it is for others. I don’t have that attraction, I don’t know. Jesus Christ does understand and I invite everyone, no matter what burden you may have, to lay it down at His feet.

Have a great week!


Elder Birrell

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