Yet another week down; another group of people, hopefully, brought closer to the Lord, and another 60 miles clocked in on my crocs. This week wasn’t one to change lives, but it did have small seemingly unimportant (to other people, but not to me) reminders as to why I am serving the Lord. I really don’t have any stories that would make the New York Times, but I can share small things that happened.
First off, you need to realize that missionaries have something called “the pool.” This refers to the not yet progressing investigators-those who are not yet past the first lesson (the restoration). Every week, the pool empties and fills back up with different people. One of the drops that made up the pool this last week was a man by the name of Felix. Felix is a devout Jehova’s Witness and wont change. We met him one day when we were tracting and got a return appointment with him. His brother had been taught and baptized by the missionaries before he died, but as of now he has no ties ( blood or social) to someone of the Latter-Day Saint faith. He does have a book of mormon,given to his family, from 1977 though-and its way cool!! It has all these cool inserts and stuff and different pictures in the front of plates and tools that were found in persia and stuff. Anyways, De Leon and I had set the lesson as principles 4,5,and 6 (Christ’s earthly ministry, the apostasy, and the restoration of the gospel). Well, as could have been expected, we got to the apostasy and hit an enormous roadblock. The bible is complete and that is all that we need-the apostasy didn’t happen because the bible was still here after the death of Christ. No big deal-this is the problem of a lot of people and it is a big stumbling block. The bible is the most read book in the world-to say it was changed and is now incomplete would basically be smacking billions of people in the face…or so they think. There are ways to get around this small hurdle-verses that reference non-existant books (I have actually offerred money to people who can find the prophesy referred to in Matthew 2:23. Although there is speculation that it COULD be reffering to a scripture in Isaiah, it isnt proven and is too vague of a passage to be considered), historical facts that illuminate the fact that councils gathered together and changed the primeval bible into what we now know as “the bible,” and, of course, the testifying power of the third member of the Godhead. Good ol’ felix, after we pretty much proved that the bible, as much as he might like to think it is, is NOT complete, refused to consider anything. This is where De Leon comes in. De Leon gets intense when he gets angry. I was sitting there wondering what kind of Mr. Clean could soften the grime that had hardened over his eyes when I hear Felix say “even if you have evidence that the bible is lacking, for me, it is still complete.” De Leon looks him right in the eyes and goes “well then you, my friend, are thinking wrong.” Small side note-things that sound good in Tagalog sound retarded in English. It is hard to get a direct translation with the same impact. The guy was taken aback and, after a good 20 minutes of bible bashing between De Leon and Felix I interjected and was like “You know what, Brother Felix, we arent here to say that you are wrong. We arent here to bible bash with you, or to throw out scriptures that counter your claims. To be completely honest, I have much better things to do with my time than to sit here and bible bash with you-its not why we are here. We are here to tell you the truth and to give you the opportunity to accept it or to reject it, but before you reject it, we ask that you pray about it. It is not that hard of a thing to do. I am a simple person and being such, I could be lying through my teeth to you right now about Joseph Smith, about his contributions to religion, about the apostasy, about everything…but the Lord cant lie to you. I am telling you right now that if you pray sincerely with the 3 items listed in [Moroni 10:4] that you will find out for yourself that in 1820 the Lord took a young boy by the hand and, together, they changed the face of contemporary religion forever. All it takes is that one step of faith.” All he had to say was “The bible is complete. I pray everyday.” It was kind of sad because this happens quite often. People don’t want to accept that there is something different. Their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and wife are a certain religion, so that makes them a certain religion. Many people belive that if they “accept” christ than all is well. Done. Complete. No more (although to accept Christ, you need to accept his doctrine which definitely does NOT imply no action. People look at 5 verses in the bible and assume that because it says it there that it is the full doctrine. Fail.). Felix is a good guy, but unfortunately he wont let his big fat head shrink down a little bit and allow a new idea enter. How hard is the concept of prayer? “Pray about it and if you are told its not true we will leave you alone.” Not difficult. The Adversary is, unfortunately, the smartest guy on the earth right now-not because he is the devil, but because he is old and knows tricks to throw people’s exhaltation in the trash can. Hopefully Felix will be considered one who was “blinded by the craftiness of men” and given another chance. It’s not the coolest feeling in the world to see how much the gospel can help people…if they would only give it a chance. Sad day. But, on a good note, the seed has been planted. Hopefully it will grow into something that other missionaries can help. That was one of the more exciting things that happened this week-yea not an exciting week (except for Saturday and Sunday.)
Saturday was the cultural event at Cebu, so we got the opportunity to go to the stake center and watch it. It was interesting to see because it included dances from mindanao (the southernmost island that is full of Pilipino culture) to swing (because when the americans came over in world war 2 they introduced swing dance). It was a cool thing to watch, but the real diamond in the rough was Sunday.
Sunday was a day that I was looking forward to for a LONG time. Ever since I was told in February that the Cebu Temple would be dedicated in June I have been counting down the days. Elder De Leon and I had practically gone to every member’s house in Calamba trying to get them ready for the temple dedication. Well, Sunday finally arrived and we arrived at the stake center. All the doors are shut and locked and have curtains over them except for the furthest back set of doors leading into the extension of the cultural hall. Being a zone, we entered into the doors and the only way to describe it is feeling home again. The second I heard the music playing, and looked up and saw the pictures of the different places inside the temple a flashback of all the temples came into my head. The sessions I did in the Provo temple while in the MTC and the archives of information that I uncovered; getting endowed in the Draper temple and having no clue what was going on; going to the Ogden temple with my mind filled with problems regarding my mission, my future, and choices that I had to make. It has been SO long since I have been in the temple, I had almost forgotten about the solemn feeling of guidance from on high that you get. The spirit is different within the walls of the temple-almost as if in the purest form cause there is no physical impediments that halt your receiving of the spirit (is that english right?). When I walked in the stake center I got that feeling again and it almost brought me to tears. The feeling that you are literally in the Lord’s house. He is there in the room with you and is constantly whispering guidance in your ear…you just need to listen. The feeling that you are 100% safe from EVERYTHING. You can stay there for as long as you want (well, until the temple closes down) and seek the guidance of the holy spirit of the Lord. I miss the temple SOOO much. I took having like 8 within an hour of the house for granted before I left on my mission-something I will never do again. That feeling that I got hit with is indescribable. Eventually, on the screen, the picture slideshow stopped and I went live inside the temple to the room that they were staying in. Amazetastic. 100% amazetastic. It was gorgeous inside. When the general authorities walked in it only added to the feeling that electrifies every one of your senses. The temple dedication proceeded; talks were given, songs were sung, blessings were offered, and it came time for President Monson to speak. That man may be one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. He is everything every righteous man and woman want to be. He gave an amazing speech which relit that deep burning fire within all who heard it, and proceeded with the dedicatory prayer. Never before has something so magnificant entered my ears. We finished the dedication and left the session. Because of a split second decision, we decided to attend the 3 o’clock session also. Those who attended (which couldn’t have been more than 30 or 40) were blessed to hear a talk from President Monson which will go down in history. He spoke for a good 45 minutes and it was one of the best talks I have ever heard in my life. He said something to the effect of “The Lord will cradle us in his arms and love us like we have never before been loved, if only we do what he asks us. He is reaching out to us-let us take his hand and never again let go” obviously that isnt a direct quote, but it shed a new light on obediance. There were a lot of talks given about the importance of entrancec to the new and everlasting covenant and some words from the sealing ordinance were quoted and it made my arm hairs stand up. It also reorganized my priorities in life. Obviously the Lord and his church are first, but it reorganized my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., priorities. I made a commitment to, because I will be within 15 minutes in roy, and 2 minutes in Logan, attend the temple more than twice a week when I get back. The temple is the beacon that we can all look to for light. It also shed a new light on starting the eternal companionship within the walls of the temple. What a blessing it is to be priviledged to enter into the house of the Lord, and be sealed for time and all eternity-with him sitting right there next to you. That is one of the things that I regret most in my life-taking the temple for granted. I could have run to the temple in Ogden every single night…and yet I didn’t. It made me think about the contrast between the saints that have the blessing of a temple within 1 hour of their house, and those who don’t. Oh, the blessings that we take for granted (like hot water in the shower…). I have decided that that is the first thing I want to do when I get back. After I get released by president Jensen, we (as in all who can come) are going to the Ogden Temple. The bad thing about the temple dedication was the temperature. The airconditioner within the cultural hall are BEAST…and were set at 16 degrees celcius…which is 60 degrees farenheit. I came in sweating and spent 4 hours in the cold…and now I have a runny nose and a cough. I guess that is the Lord’s way of saying stop complaining about the heat:/ Let me say this-because its not cold my nose runs like a faucet. You have to realize that there are 2 kinds of people in this world-nose blowers and sniffers. I am a sniffer: I sniff and sniff until I get a sinus infection and have to blow my nose. Tsk tsk. Such is life.
That is life in Calamba for right now. The Lord continues to provide people for us to teach. Weather here is really weird. Until noon it will be baby blue skies with no clouds and then all the sudden, BAM-crazy weather and torrential downpours that flood everything. Luckilly the water in the streets only gets like 7 inches deep so we just take off our socks, roll up our pants, pull an erkel, and continue on our way. Is Brady really 5’6”? What in the world is that kid doing, taking growth supplements? I didn’t hit the good ol’ growth spurt until I was like 15. If that kid passes me up in height…oh well. Please tell brady that it doesn’t matter if you are 5’ flat or 7’1”-you are always taller on your knees. If he doesn’t understand please explain it to him. That is crazy about the weather. I have decided that I will stick with the 120 degree 100% humidity weather over cold freezing utah anyday after my 4 hours in the cold and the sickness that resulted from it. I hope you are all doing well at home. Next week I might skimp on the email, im not sure. All the americans that go home in 2011 are taking a bus to Manila next week to get fingerprinted for their visas or something (and eating at subway WWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Love you all-