Monday, September 17, 2012

New investigators, wood and light

Good morning everybody. This week was another busy week; very good. We actually met a couple of new people. We were able to run into a few other people who wanted to listen. So, we are testifying of Christ to them and of the restored Gospel. There is this one lady who was really hesitant about the Book of Mormon. She said that Revelation says not to add to revelation, but we explained to her that John said don't add to the prophesy of his book. So, basically saying don't add to his prophesy. The Book of Mormon contains the same message, I mean it's the same doctrine. Granted, there are some things that have been lost and made unclear in the Bible, which are clarified in the Book of Mormon, but it's the same doctrine of Christ from different accounts from different people. So it's not adding to it at all. It is just another account of that same doctrine. Other people in the world who taught and did the same things and followed the same person. We had a member with us who was a convert to the church, who was able to help explain some things to her. But, it was a really good lesson. I was very happy.

We got to help this one guy build a giant shed. We got plywood and screwed it in on the walls, which was pretty fun. We went up on the scaffolding and did that – and we're alive (haha).

This is kind of a neat story. We were just going down the ward roster and saw a name. We were like, “oh, let's go see this person.” We went to see them. That person wasn't there, but her non-member husband was. We just talked with him for a few minutes and then left. We set up a time to come back. We came back later, and he wasn't there. So, we left a note saying, “sorry we missed you, hope to get back in touch with you.” Yesterday comes around, Sunday, and they show up to church! (haha) So I was so happy! Apparently we just missed them by like thirty minutes. He really excited and says he wants to get baptized. So we are going to teach him and make sure he is ready to be baptized, because you don't want to just jump into that.

We got to help one of the older men chop some wood for the winter, because winter is coming up. It's starting to get colder and colder. We just had a big wind storm yesterday, which blew down a lot of leaves. Most every tree is completely yellow right now. It's kind of stormy, so we are expecting it to rain and/or snow very soon. It's starting to get dark now about 8 o'clock, or the sun is setting around 8 o'clock.

There was another lady who was taking a psychology class, and one of her assignments was to get out of her comfort zone (haha). So, she called up Jerry Cole, one of the members of the bishopric, and told him, “Jerry, I'm coming to church!” So (haha), she came to church. We sat next to her and explained everything as it happened, and answered any questions she had, and really helped her feel comfortable. (haha) She really enjoyed it. She seemed pretty open to having us come back and explain more about the church to her. She seemed to enjoy it even though it was uncomfortable to her. Apparently at first she even felt a little sick, but everybody was really friendly to her.

We might get to cut up a moose today, which would be pretty cool. But, we'll see how that goes. I've never done that before. We got some moose sausage. That is fairly common; everybody hunts up here.

I read this really good talk by President Packer called “The Candle of the Lord.” It was given at a seminar for new mission presidents exactly ten years before I was born on my birthday. It talks about how to recognize revelation and things like that. It's that one that has the story where he talks about salt. He says... well I will just read you the story.

I will tell you of an experience I had before I was a General Authority which affected me profoundly. I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. “You are wrong,” I said, “there is a God. I know He lives!”

He protested, “You don’t know. Nobody knows that! You can’t know it!” When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. “All right,” he said in a sneering, condescending way, “you say you know. Tell me how you know.”
When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.

Sometimes in your youth, you young missionaries are embarrassed when the cynic, the skeptic, treat you with contempt because you do not have ready answers for everything. Before such ridicule, some turn away in shame. (Remember the iron rod, the spacious building, and the mocking? See 1 Ne. 8:28.)

When I used the words Spirit and witness, the atheist responded, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” The words prayer, discernment, and faith, were equally meaningless to him. “You see,” he said, “you don’t really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know.”

I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience! Something came into my mind. And I mention here a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas … and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 151.)

Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”

“Of course I do,” was his reply.

“When did you taste salt last?”

“I just had dinner on the plane.”

“You just think you know what salt tastes like,” I said.

He insisted, “I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.”

“If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?”

“Now you are getting juvenile,” was his reply. “Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.”

“Then,” I said, “assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.”

After some thought, he ventured, “Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.”

“You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.”

After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, “I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!”

As we parted, I heard him mutter, “I don’t need your religion for a crutch! I don’t need it.”
From that experience forward, I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I could not explain in words alone everything I know spiritually. The Apostle Paul said it this way:

“We speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13–14.)

Anyway, I really like that story; how to recognize the Spirit and what it feels like. Because it's true, you can't really explain exactly how it feels. I mean the scriptures do a good job of describing the feelings that come generally. But, it's really a very personal experience that you get for yourself after you sincerely ask; intending to act on the answer you receive with faith that you can receive an answer. If you don't meet those qualifications, you are not going to get an answer to your prayer. Why? If you didn't have those things, why would you get an answer?

I know that God does hear and answer prayers. I know that God does live. I'm thankful for the Gospel and the opportunity to serve as a missionary. I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, Elder Record

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