Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17th, 2016: Getting Permission to Give People Heaven

This week was great lesson wise and we had a ton. All of our lessons were quick and powerful lessons and our investigators were asking lots of questions. I'm so grateful to be part of this mission and be the steward of this area of His vineyard. One thing that is a hard thing to overcome in this area is getting permission for people to get baptized. We have so many people that are so ready for baptism but because their parents are very against the church we can't baptize them. One road especially is very bipolar. We have about 12 people that want to be baptized in this one road that have cried and begged their parents to be baptized. They have such strong testimonies and they truly are prepared. Most are under 18 but the few that aren't have been told by their parents that if they are baptized they have to change their last name and move out. I would like to invite all of you to think about and realize what a blessing it is just to be baptized, to have the blessings that one has with baptism and realize the blessing that it is. There are probably millions of people in the world that would love to partake of the sacrament each week and have it be the saving ordinance that it is. As I have seen one of our investigators cry, and pour out her heart to her mother begging her mother to give her permission to be baptized, my heart just broke. I see the joy that we take nonchalantly and we don't realize the joy that comes from the fullness of the Gospel. Like I have said before, I'm so grateful to be born of goodly parents who support my decisions and have raised me to be the person I am. I am grateful for this perfect Gospel and for the perfect joy it brings. I would like all of you to think of all of the most spiritual experiences that you have all had. Think of a baptism of your child, friend, and spouse. Think of the birth of your first born child or think of when you read the Book of Mormon or prayed and felt the love of God in your heart. Think of all the joy that all these things have given you in your life. Now think if all but one of those things were taken away. If you only had a taste of the Spirit and you tasted it for just a short time. Think of how thirsty for it you would be and how much you would want to feel it again. That is what these people feel, but because of Satan’s firm grasp on other people they cannot receive that thirst quenching Spirit. Do not take the Spirit for granted. Do not take the Sacrament and your Baptism as something we are entitled to. They are blessings that God has graciously given us and has blessed us with a way to receive those blessings. Now think of your friends that have not yet felt the Spirit as you have, think of how much and what you know that could help them in their lives and how much their lives could change with even just the knowledge of where that precious baby came from. Do not be afraid to share the joy and blessings of this Gospel. That is when we become Disciples of Christ, when we give Christ to all those that thirst for happiness and let Him fill their well with the never ending waters of this Gospel. There can't be any negatives from an invitation, especially when that invitation is to be happy. Share the Happiness, share the love, and share the things that mean the most to you, just as God has shared with you His Great Plan and Blessings which flow from it. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Hanson

April 10th, 2016: Baptism

This week we had our first baptism in this area. First I would like to say that there is a lot that happens behind the scenes that people don't realize to prepare for that. It was especially stressful because at the same time I was trying to prepare for the baptism I also have to continue to see our other investigators and help them work towards baptism. It was definitely a stressful week but it turned out wonderfully. At the beginning of the week I was a little bummed when our investigator chose my companion and I had been praying really hard to have my heart be softened and to feel the joy because we were helping a child of God progress towards Heaven. After a couple of days of me really trying to change and feel the miracles that were happening, God blessed me with another miracle. One of the member families that we teach in Pehleng told us about their daughter, Julia, who had turned 8 but wasn't baptized yet. We told them that we would talk to the Branch President and start working out a baptism. As we continued to talk I started talking to Julia and then we asked who they wanted to do the baptism, out of nowhere Julia chose me. I told her that her father would probably want to baptize her but he even insisted that I do it because they like to have missionaries baptize. Of this I testify, if we show God that we want to change, if we pray to him with a broken heart asking for help he will answer our prayers. I had asked Him to help me soften my heart so I could feel the joy of baptism. He did just that and on top of that He blessed me with my own soul that I could save. I testify that God will always answer our prayers. It may not be the answer that we see with our mortal eyes, it will be the answer God knows will bless us far more than our answer. At the baptism I was stressed because I was in charge of everything, but as soon as I put on the white clothes, that is when my heart broke. When I realized just how truly amazing our Heavenly Father is and the blessing He had given me. Then when I saw Julia it burst open with the Spirit. God blesses us far more than we realize. As I stood in the font, and lifted my arm to the square, I looked up to Heaven and said a quick "thank you". Though I will never be able to repay my Father in Heaven, I can use the blessings that He gives me. Baptisms are supposed to change the person being baptized but I never realized how much they change the person performing the ordinance. I realize now why Lehi said the fruit was desirable above all other things. This Gospel, is that fruit, it is the perfect Love of God and it is perfect and restored to the Earth today. Those of you who have ever stood in water, raised your arm to the square and said, "having been commissioned of Jesus Christ" I ask you are you commissioned today, this hour, this minute. Are you the servant that your Father needs? The father your family needs, the mother your children need? If not, pray for a change of heart, pray for help to know "what lack I yet" and be willing to change. I love this Gospel and all that is included. I hope you all strengthen that sacred bond between yourself and your Heavenly Father. If it is strong, reinforce it, so that no matter what life throws at you it will be strong and unwavering. I love you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

April 3rd, 2016: A Baptism in the New Area

This coming week will be our first baptism in this area. When we first came into this area we didn't have much to work with but now this area is looking up. If all goes as planned we will have a baptism every week in April. I don't know if I could ask for a better birthday present. This week we really helped Johnny prepare for baptism. We are reviewing everything with him and helping him prepare. It was a cool experience to have him tell us about when he told his Mother and Sister. His Mother lives in America and is a member. He is actually the last person in his family to be baptized and he was always the most disobedient and always got in trouble. He told us that when he skyped his Mom she started crying and told him how she was so glad he finally let God into his life. Even though he is a 40 year old man she said, how she was glad that "her little boy is coming home". It was actually really cool to see him tell us about that because before we met him he had done a lot of things that he regrets. Just like Andero, he had taken the wrong road so many times he finally realized the right road. What was even more cool was when he got to skype his sister, who is from this area, who I also got to meet in Guam when I went to train, and is now serving in Guam. She also cried when he called and she told him that he had to come give us a big hug because she wasn't there. It's cool to see the "black sheep" of the family come home and to help him "become white as snow". It's amazing to see the power of the atonement working in the lives of our investigators and to see them change for the better. I'm so grateful to be able to come to this mission and to help my brother and sisters return back to our ETERNAL HOME. One thing that has really helped our members to help us out is to help them realize that we will come and go, but they will stay in the area till they die. We are not there to lead the work but to help them with THEIR work. I promise you that if you want a safe, Holy place to raise your children, and you show it through your missionary efforts, God will give you the peace and comfort you want and need. The world is a sick place, and we have the cure. It only makes sense that we share it with all those who want it or even with those who might not realize they need it. I know I didn't comprehend the greatness of this Gospel until I saw it work on my investigators. Now I realize, that the Gospel is the cure to every illness and sorrow of this life. It is the antidote for fear, sorrow, pain, and fatigue. It helps us keep going and know our goal. So I would ask you, what is your end goal? How do you plan on getting there? And, are you working towards it now? If not, start NOW.
Elder Hanson