Monday, August 19, 2013

Late on Our End

Hello again,
I just finished reading all of my e-mails and want to express my gratitude for the thoughtful words of advice. As you encouraged me to read more from the Book of Mormon, I could tell that it was something that I really needed to do (and need to do). Don't get me wrong, we are constantly reading the Book of Mormon with our investigators and teaching from it (most especially when it comes to the great Plan of Salvation and child baptism) and we are always encouraging our investigators to read from it. If we make it an assignment for them to read from a chapter and they don't follow through, then we read it with them. In this way, I have read from 1 Nephi-2 Nephi more than 10 times. I definitely need to continue past it though, and I will start on it as soon as I get back to the apartment. This past week I read to 2 Kings, Romans 3, and I finished all of D&C, so my reading is progressing really well. As you said though, I need to focus on the Book of Mormon though so that I can root myself more firmly. The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of this gospel. If the Bible was taken away, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would exist. If the Book of Mormon is taken away though, then it would never have started.
Mom, I can not tell whether I am losing or gaining weight. At one point, I thought I was starting to gain weight, but now it seems as if my pants are getting bigger. The only way I would be able to truly tell is if I had a scale, but I haven't seen one of those since the time I left the MTC. I personally like most of the food here so I eat whatever meals are offered by both members and non-members, and I have a good supply of food stored in the apartment. We just cooked some stew on Saturday from scratch using tomato paste, bell peppers, onions, fresh tomatoes, and chicken (chicken is only $2.50 per pound or so) and we have plenty of rice to mix it with. Rice is a staple food here, so I haven't had a problem with eating at all.

As I promised, I will now talk about my companion since I have plenty of time. He has been a member since the day of his birth, but I don't know how old he is. He sticks with saying that he is 28 or 29 years old, so I have no idea if I will ever find it out. There was a time where he sort of fell away from the church because he left his family to live alone when he was 17 or 18. At that time, he found a job and worked as a drug prescriber, but a member of the church brought him back to the church. She (the member) walked into the drug store one day with a Book of Mormon in hand and asked my companion if he would be interested in joining the church, and he stated that he was already a member. She didn't believe him at first, but then he started to attend church, applied for his mission, and now he is already 7 months on his mission (and he hasn't transferred from this area yet! He has been here in Mampong since the start of his mission). From what Elder Ag--- has said, his family doesn't miss him and he doesn't miss his family, but I don't know if these are his true emotions. He comes from the Igbo tribe, and he lived in Port Harcourt for a while (I don't know if he was born there or not). He is very well versed in the Bible, and he has had 10 baptisms so far. All in all, he is a really good trainer and knows his Preach My Gospel, so I feel that I will be ready to train someone else as soon as my own training is done.
The branch I am in has been struggling for a while because the members live scattered out of our proselyting area. It is hard to find members to teach investigators with, but we as missionaries are doing everything we can to work hand in hand with them. Last week we emphasized the great importance that members have in building up the branch, and we finally saw people bring in friends to church this week. We have a separate class specifically set up for investigators, and it was actually full on Sunday. Missionary work is impossible without the help of the members, so we use them as much as we can.
As for my favorite scripture, it is Revelation 21:4. There is another scripture that has been on my mind though, so I would like to share it with you. Any time I read 2 Corinthians 12:2, I feel chills run down my spine. Its words are simple, but powerful. "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the third heaven." Someday, I hope to attain to this same level of exaltation and hope that I can help others along to reach the same state. The scriptures say that salvation is personal, but I know that exaltation will always be a group effort. We can't receive exaltation if we only focus on ourselves. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and without it, there is no way that we could live in the presence of God.
My mind is opening more and more every day to the greatness of God, and I feel more and more grateful for this opportunity I have to be a servant of the Lord. His plan for us is truly the best plan, and it is only through his grace that we can brought back to live in His presence. Yes, we need to work to keep the commandments and come closer to Christ every day, but in the end, it is only through his grace that we are allowed to return to live with God. I can't even begin to imagine the great love that God and His Only Begotten Son have for each and every one of us. It is my prayer and desire to show my dedication and gratitude for His mercy through my daily conduct, righteous thoughts, and charitable efforts. Even if you aren't wearing a missionary tag on your shirt, seal the title on your heart. Remember, every member is a missionary.
Elder Twede

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