Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 28


We have had another good week this week!  We have seen the Lord's help as we have been striving to help others come unto Christ.   We have had some success in helping people come out to church, but a lot of the less actives are still off and on.  But we're working on it.  We are seeing improvements in the branch as we work hard.  It's good!

One thing that has really helped me this week was from a book by President Eyring called To Draw Closer to God.  It is a great book, I would highly recommend it!  One of the biggest things that I have learned from President Eyring in that book was about the Spirit.  Over and over again President Eyring talked about how important it is for us to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and that we can obtain it.  Not at some later date or time, but today.  It all comes from us being ready and willing to hear, and ready to follow whatever the promptings are.  It takes a measure of humility on our part, and a measure of being ready to do things different that we would normally do it.  Just like Nephi in building the ship, sometimes God's way is different than our way, but we know that God's way is always better than our way.

So this week I have been striving to be ready always to hear the voice of the Spirit. As I have kept that peace and quiet inside, and done my best to act on the promptings of the Spirit, sometimes even if I'm not sure if they are from the Spirit, that is when I have received the confirmation that what I am doing is God's will, and that I am blessing others lives.

Each one of us can feel the Holy Ghosts guidance and influence in our lives, if we only make ourselves ready for it.  So to make ourselves ready for it, there are a few things that we can do.  The first starts with simple obedience.  Humbly submitting our will to God's will, and following His commandments.  The second step is found in our prayers.  We can pray sincerely and with gratitude.  Giving thanks for blessings received is often more important than asking for added blessings.  The third thing that we can do is look for opportunities to turn outward instead of inward.  As we try to find opportunities to serve those around us, we will see the influence of the Spirit in our lives.  The final thing that we can do to feel the Holy Ghost guiding us is to follow through courageously on every prompting.  The Holy Ghost is rightly called a 'still small voice' and so often, if we are not ready to hear the Spirit's voice, we will miss the promptings that are given to us.  But if we follow through on all promptings, big or small, we will show our dependability to our Father in Heaven, and He will increase the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life.

When we have the Holy Ghost guiding our lives, we cannot expect to see huge miracles happening every day, but what we can expect is an increased sense of peace in our lives.  We can feel God's love in our lives more fully.  We will do much good, but for most of the good that we do, we will not be recognized for it, and we may not even know ourselves what good we have done.  But despite that, we will never regret living a day guided by the Holy Ghost.  The blessings of quiet discipleship are real, and they are available to all of us, if we just make ourselves available to the Holy Ghost.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Childs

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21

Hello Everyone!

We have had a great week this week.  We have seen some progression in a lot of the investigators that we have been teaching, and hopefully there will be some baptisms coming up here in the next few weeks.  One investigator that we've been working with lately is Jessabelle Areola.  She is really good.  She really wants to know where God's church is, and she's been searching.  We met her just a couple of weeks ago.  She has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, and she says she feels like this really is God's church.  Our goal for her baptism is the end of July, but the way her progress is going, it may end up being sooner than that.

Another one of our investigators is a sister named Jessa Umbay.  She has actually come to church a lot, but I guess the other missionaries thought that she was already a member or something, because she has never been taught by the missionaries before.  She is really receptive as well, and always comes to church with her boyfriend, who is a member.  She is also pretty close with the branch president here, which makes things a little bit easier.  Our biggest challenge with her is finding a time that works for her.  She plays volleyball, and they are competing in a tournament right now, so she isn't around a lot.  But hopefully these coming days and weeks we will be able to share a little bit more with her.

And then there is Alden and John.  These two are friends of one of the YSA here that is going on a mission.  They are both super nice, and receptive.  The only problem is John's family.  They are really active in the Seventh Day Adventist church, and we're not sure how excited they would be about John being baptized.  So pray for them that his families hearts will be softened.

Those are our focus as far as investigators go.  We also have some less active families that we've been working with, and a couple of them were actually able to come out to church!  It was good to see. There really is a change in these people's lives when they start to make themselves worthy of the Holy Ghost again.  They just seem happier, and more at peace, which are two of my favorite fruits of the Spirit. Hopefully more and more will keep on coming back so that they can receive all of God's blessings again.

And that brings me to what I've been pondering about this week.  I actually gave a talk about it yesterday.  Obedience.

Some people look at us members of the church and say, 'You are so restricted!'  They see the commandments as a big prison that keeps us from having joy.  But as members of the church, we understand a little bit more.  When God gives commandments, it is not to restrict any of our freedoms, but to allow us to exercise our agency to the fullest.  Remember that in the beginning, God's plan was to give us freedom of choice, and Satan's plan was to take it away.  To this day, those plans have not changed.  When God gives commandments, it is to keep us away from traps that will take away our ability to choose, and our ability to enjoy this life.

Following Satan's temptations may seem fun at first, but after time, the true color of those temptations will show, and we will be disappointed. Remember that Satan does not love us, and does not want anything for us but misery.  Our loving Heavenly Father on the other hand, wants nothing for us but to be happy.  He wants us to become like Him and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.  As it says in Moses 1:39, God's "Work and [His] glory [is] to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  Everything He does, every commandment, every action, every trial, is to move us towards that goal.  We just have to trust in God and follow Him.

But is the only blessings of obedience found in the eternities? Do we have to wait for eons to feel the joy of following the commandments?  The answer is no.  We do not, because God's promise is that he will bless us every time we follow His commandments.  There is never an exception to that.  Just like 1 + 1 will always equal 2, obedience to God's commands whether large or small will always bring blessings.  Time and time again I have seen people here with nothing, who wonder if their children will be able to eat three times a day, who decide to change their lives around, and put God first.  And every time that they do this, they are blessed.  Opportunities start coming out everywhere for them, and they receive not only enough, but more than they need for their family.

A perfect example of this is the Tapaoan family.  Sister Tapaoan is a single mother, with two children studying currently.  For a long time their family really struggled financially.  Then one day, the missionaries showed up at her door.  She let them in, and in the following months she was baptized. After she was baptized, she found a job selling fish from door to door.  As time progressed, there were other women who also wanted to sell fish, and they wanted to get their fish from her. Sister Tapaoan now is a successful dealer of fish, with more than enough for her family.  Whereas she used to always need to ask for help from her family, her family now comes to her when they have financial problems.  Some people may say that this is just a coincidence or the result of hard work on sister Tapaoan's part, but I don't thinks so.  I know that it is blessings that come from a child of God, following their Heavenly Father, and I know that these same blessings are available to all of us, in equal proportion to our obedience to the commandments of God.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Childs

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10

This week has been a good one.  Sorry we're just emailing.  We had Elder Bowen from the Seventy come visit our mission this week, and so we were in Laoag Monday until last night.  We thought it was going to be on the 23rd, but it got moved up for some reason.  Whatever it was, it was a really good couple of meetings.  Monday afternoon we got there and went and bought some stuff that we needed that you can't find in Sta. Ana (Shaving cream, a new long sleeve shirt, etc) and then we had dinner, then went home for the night.  Tuesday morning we spent getting ready for Elder Bowen to make it.  We helped out a little bit in the office in the morning with some stuff they needed done, and then at 3:30 we had a meeting with President Bowen at the mission home.  He gave a lot of really good advice for us, and addressed some of the problems in the mission.  But one thing that he kept on repeating and focusing on was 'Honor, Integrity and Character'.  He talked about how those three things are what should always be present in our lives so that God can trust us.  He talked about how each one of us missionaries had made sacred covenants to the Lord, of our own free will, and it was our obligation to follow through on them.  He shared a scripture that I really liked.  It was in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

    4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
    5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

I think that it is so very important that we follow through on our promises to God, so that he can follow through on His part.  The promise is sure that if we do our part of the promise, the Lord has said that he is even 'bound'.  But when we do not follow through on our promises, God cannot give His part.  We talked a lot about covenants and the importance and power of them.  It was really good.

Then the next morning (Wednesday morning) we had a meeting with Elder Bowen again, this time with 3 other zones of missionaries at the stake center.  It was also really good.  He is definitely inspired.  He shared a scripture from Abraham Chapter 2:8  It reads, "My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee." And then he asked the question, why is it important that we know that God knows all?  The answer is so that we can trust Him.  If God did not know all, His promises would no longer be sure, because there may come a time where He learns something new, and our covenants to Him would be made void.  But because God knows all, we do not need to worry that there will be any changes of rules, and changes of promises.  When God promises, we know that it will happen, because He knows all.  He knows the end from the beginning, and He will be true.

It is so important that we understand the true nature of God, and what he does for us.  This is the only way that we can obtain real faith in Him.  Much of the Christian world believes that God is a mystery, incomprehensible and unknowable, but we know that through knowing God, we shall be saved.  I have seen so much joy and peace come into the lives of those we teach because of them coming to know the nature of God.  As we understand who God is, we will understand who we are, and as we understand who we are, we will have a greater desire to follow God and His laws.  I know that that is true.

Other than that, I don't have tons to talk about.  We have some really good investigators here right now.  Hopefully we will be seeing some baptisms in the coming weeks. I'll try and tell you a little more about them next week.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Childs