Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Doctrine of Christ

Mote con huesillos on top of the hill after a long ride
So today we actually had a p-day so we went biking through Santiago to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal for about 4 hours. It was awesome, quite possibly my favorite pday in Chile. A less active member named Alejandro Cancino took us. He´s mainly inactive because he rides his bike so much haha.  He made it quite the experience for us!




It snowed in Chile this past weekend. It didn't really hit our part of Santiago too hard, but it was freezing which made the work a little bit more challenging. Everything's good though. 

Snow covered mountains
It snowed
As the teacher of religion that President Meservy is, you can imagine that he shared a lot of scriptures as part of his first meeting with all the missionaries. The subject of his presentation was so simple, yet so profound and interesting. President Meservy talked with us about the Doctrine and in this letter, I’d like to talk a little bit about what I learned.

He prefaced his remarks with a quote that I’ve always loved ever since I began to study Preach my Gospel. Boyd K. Packer said that “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” There is real power in the Doctrine of Christ and it’s something I’ve felt to varying degrees throughout my whole life and is something I see every day (again to varying degrees) in the people here in Santiago. This power is accessible to everyone, but as the quote says, it does depend on the truthfulness and understanding of the doctrine.
       
In 1829, Hyrum Smith was desiring to preach the gospel, but the Lord taught him the following: “Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you my know of a surety my doctrine” (D&C 11:16). At this time, the church still had not been restored and the doctrine was still in that same process. 90% just doesn’t cut it. It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now. If we start filling in the gaps of incomplete, or incorrect doctrine with our own knowledge there is no power, the spirit will not testify of it, and we are participating in the same process that led to the apostasy of the primitive church.
      
Some years ago, Elder Holland was analyzing the scripture Moses 1:39 with some missionaries which says “this is my work and my glory –to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” He asked the missionaries which was the most important word in that scripture and the missionaries gave their answers. “My” he said “is the most important word.” This is the work of God and unfortunately so many of us try to go about doing His work and teaching His doctrine in our way. Elder Holland then told the group “If you plan to go out and serve, but in your own way, take off your name tag right now.”
        
This kind of “my way worship” is probably the most common type of religious thinking that I’ve seen here in Chile and it’s so sad because it is so apparent that that kind of thinking has gotten them nowhere in their lives, not spiritually not temporally.
         
Paul had to use some pretty strong language in talking of our day. “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving head to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” There is a great opposition to an even greater work and a perfect doctrine. Jesus Christ and His Atonement are at the center of this doctrine and He has chosen 18-19+ year old men and women to teach and defend it.
            
President Meservy told us that many years ago he was in the Provo MTC for a conference and he was in the cafeteria when he noticed a woman sitting down with her tray of food began to pray. As she prayed, a young missionary grabbed everything off of her tray (the drink, the salad, the main course, desert, everything) and handed the food to other missionaries who hid the food under the table. When the women concluded her prayer and opened her eyes in order to begin to eat, she found her tray empty.
       
This moment was a cause for serious spiritual pondering for the observing President Meservy. He began thinking of the Atonement, of Jesus, His doctrine, the Restoration, the state of wickedness, confusion, and unhappiness in the world. “With that” he said, sarcastically referring to the young missionary who hid the food, “God has placed the responsibility of being the instruments to bring many to the knowledge of these things. It is incredible to me that he has placed his trust in 18 and 19 year olds to bring to pass this marvelous work. It is just as incredible to me the trust He has put in me as someone who hasn’t spoken Spanish in 30 years and has all the weaknesses that I do, to move the work of Salvation forward here in Chile.”
     
I love this work, I love this doctrine, I strive every day to learn and appreciate it more and more, but more than anything I love to share the joy it brings. I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ, that He lives and loves us. I know we can all participate in this love through living His Doctrine.
         
As for the week itself, we finished up the tour of Santiago on Friday so the only place left on the tour is Easter Island (we aren’t invited). This week we’re going to check out some more houses and then next week we’ll be waist-deep in Zone Conferencias. The Meservys have adapted well to Chile and the mission and seem ready for the challenges that wait them. With every meeting the Spanish of President got better and better and when he got here he was speaking well, so it’s just a matter of time before he’s speaking like a Chilean. Sister Meservy’s Spanish isn’t quite there, but she got her personal translator (me). Translating is pretty hard by the way because many things don’t really have a translation and as soon as she pauses I need to already be talking. Super fun experience though I hope I get to continue.
         
As for me I’m doing well, with over 5 more months to continue getting better at this mission thing and to serve the people here in Chile. I’m excited to keep going, I’m not ready to go home.

Talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Birrell


P.S. I am an internationally licensed driver and I haven’t touched the wheel in almost 20 months. Watch out world.

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