Thursday, September 26, 2013

This has been a sweet week. 

We had a general authority come by, Elder Martino from the second quorum of the seventy. We got some really valuable instruction from him and President Winder about member missionary work.

We were taught the Amulek principle. It stems from Alma 8-10. Alma goes to Melek, baptizes thousands, and then tries the same approach at Ammonihah. They get very angry and reject him. An angel appears to Alma, and tells him to go back. Amulek goes back and he finds someone who has been prepared to accept him. The person is a less-active member of the Church (see Alma 10:6). Alma prepares the member to bear testimony of the things that he will teach (Alma 8:27). Returning to teach the people, they are astonished when Amulek bears testimony of the things that he knows to be true.

I've seen this, as a missionary there's some people that it doesn't matter how I phrase what I know to be true, they just don't trust me and won't act on what we say. It was the same way with Alma, that although he taught with power and authority, they would not accept his testimony. We're going to be looking for Amuleks now, for all of our investigators: people who can get through to them so that they will act on our invitations.

It's so exciting to be here in this mission. Elder Martino has told us that 200 baptisms a month for our mission is within our potential. We have an incredible opportunity to work with members, and even though there will be one set of missionaries per ward, many hands make light work.

Elder Martino mentioned that the most pain you will probably ever see in your life is on your mission. He said that most of Christianity doesn't understand that Christ suffered very personally all of our pains and sicknesses in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12).

I know this to be true, in some of my most difficult moments I've felt His comfort and hand outstretched. I was able to share this with a older woman and her son who is still enduring grief from a very tragic event in their home over a year ago. I hope they will follow our invitation to them to seek God in prayer and use the power of His Atonement to find healing.

I met a family where the father is American and the mother Ukrainian. It was the coolest thing to speak Russian with their kids, because I guess I never spoke with children in Russia. I continue to meet more and more Russians every week.

This work is true! "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing." (Standard of truth), however we can stop the work from progressing in our own spheres of responsibility. Diligence is needed, not just obedience. I'm out of time, but please stay true and continue to read the scriptures.

Elder Szendre

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This week has been absolutely incredible. Thanks for all the mail, it's great hearing from you. I only just found out that the library is closing in 15 minutes, so it might be a little short this time around. 

I got to eat dinner with the Allens'. They invited a long-time friend over for dinner and we were able to speak in Russian for a good 45 minutes. A very incredible conversation about our pasts and the miracles in them.

We've been getting an incredible amount of food from the members. Right after emailing last week our ride gave us groceries so we didn't need to go. We stopped by and got a good 3 pounds of lasagne from a ward party. Add about $70 worth of groceries and some kvas, pechenyas and cured beef from Little Russia and our fridge is packed to the brim (Malachi 3:10).

One family that has been very inactive for a long time except when the Church was financially helping them has just been going through an incredible amount of trials. Their daughter's cancer is coming back and amidst other things it would seem as if their time with the Church is done. Their Church attendance was closely tied to financial assistance from the Church. With how much chaos is at home amidst other things it looked unlikely that our efforts with them would be fruitful in the least. The father loves us but has short term memory loss. However, while pondering about that family in Sacrament meeting I was overwhelmed by the Spirit, and the perfect knowledge that they will receive salvation washed over me. It's incredible knowing that, because otherwise we would have gave up on them. We really can't give up on others.

There was so much I wanted to write about but can't due to time constraints, and the thing of greatest worth I can share is my testimony of our Savior. Like Moses as of last night I can say that man is nothing. Christ's might and triumph over sin and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross is beyond description. My love for Him is growing every day and feel duty bound to share this knowledge with whoever will hear it. "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6) Truly let us remember Him always. 

I love you all and pray for you every day.
God speed,
Elder Szendre

Monday, September 9, 2013

Played the organ for a Missionary Zone Conference, and played this German hymn: "Christ lag in Todes Banden" (Christ lay in death's bonds)." Here is a recording of that music.
Wow that first transfer went fast. Thanks so much for the letters and for the Idaho Potatoes, Grandma! I'll cook these tomorrow probably for lunch and compare them against Oregon's. I've only ate potatoes twice since I've been here, eating at least 5 times each week strangely enough.

Who did BYU play and what was the final score?

It's sad to see Elder Dearborn go now to Meridian West because we really became friends in that last week. I'm with Elder Sumrall now and am looking forward to the next 6 weeks, I'm coming to love these people more and more.

Recently I've been studying Ukrainian, and only after 4 half hour study sessions I can read a surprising amount from the Book of Mormon. It's just relearning Russian. I can get a surprising amount of words from context/my knowledge of Russian. It was really cool, because a member approached me last night after the Stake Missionary Fireside and told me that she'd love to have me teach some Ukrainian immigrants. By the way you should ship me the Ukrainian MTC manual that I gave dad, it's on his bookshelf, it should have the Message of the Restoration as well as anything else I'll ever ever need.

I forgot to mention that I got to speak with a Bulgarian woman a few weeks ago in Russian for over an hour. It was pretty cool. It was difficult because she is a philologist and studied ancient texts, in particular the Bible and analyzes translations and compares them to the original languages. Not being able to see the original texts is something she can't get past. However we talked about many other things as well, and it was good to know that my Russian is staying.

Let me say a few words about this. The Book of Mormon alone and other scriptures are incredibly profound and make up incredible evidence in themselves. There really is no other explanation than the one Joseph Smith gave. There's twelve witnesses that personally saw the plates, the three, eight and Joseph Smith each gave testimonies in the front of the Book of Mormon and stayed true to the end to their testimonies to the end of their lives. It only takes 2 or 3 witnesses to convict a man in absence of sure evidence. There's twelve. However convincing that is, more so is the witness of the Holy Ghost. From D&C, "what greater witness can you have than from God?" The gift of the Holy Ghost is real whose presence I can almost always feel while on my mission. It's pretty cool. It's incredible how much evidence we have to present to the world so that they will accept the message of the Restoration and enter into the Church.

We hardly got anything done last week, since Elder Dearborn got a concussion on Monday. We've stayed in since Wednesday, when he got elbowed twice and hit with a basketball. Brutal. However the work goes on. It's incredible though to see the sheer determination and grit that Elder Dearborn has had though. He has definitely endured it well.

We're continuing to work with Willie, the quadriplegic who plays wheel chair rugby without being able to use his hands and triceps. He's incredible. I was able to ride in his friend's rugby chair, it was way fun. We're trying to find a time to teach him in a member's home right now.

The work is hastening and I'm feeling a great urgency to give my all to this mission. I've received greater and greater blessings through obedience than ever before. However missionary work is, "not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world." D&C 84:48. I absolutely love the Book of Mormon and it's contents. Out of time, but I love you all and pray for you every day.

Elder Szendre

P.S. Anyone else reading this, My email is, and (free) also works well.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

This could be my last week in this suburb of Boise. I hope not, the work here is exploding, in one small cul 'de sac we just found 5 potential investigator homes with members to work with fellowshipping them. We're meeting, every day, incredible people and having trouble keeping up with it all. We have to rely on members to make friends with and gain the trust of the nonmembers. It's so much better that way because the chances that a member will be able to make that friendship is so much greater than a missionary's. There's just so much good we can do here.

I absolutely love this time of my mission. The field truly is "white already to harvest". It's the people that have made it what it is. We met a quadraplegic who can only breathe, move his biceps and some of his shoulder muscles. It's absolutely incredible to see his faith and how he finds joy in the absolute simplest of things. He competed in motorcross and rode for 15 years before his accident. He was out with his brothers and a friend and he hit something wrong and flew over the handlebars into a tree, breaking his 4th vertebrae in his neck, killing the nerves in his central nervous system that control movement in much of his body. I almost threw up hearing him talk about it and seeing how dramatically it's affected his life.

I felt the Spirit of the Lord very intensely at that moment and knew that the Savior had been there for him and had undergone it all, "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:11-12). I love how the Savior underwent what he did so he could know how we feel in those moments when we don't think anyone can.

Our investigator on parole can be baptized sometime in the next 6 months, depending on when the First Presidency (yeah it had to go to them) gets back to us. He just knew the first time Elders met with him that this Church he could believe in. Right before he interviewed with the Mission President we asked if he had felt like he had repented of what he did. I got the thought to ask him if he felt guilt over what he did. When he answered that he's racked with guilt I turned to Alma 24:8, "I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son." I asked him how much more guilty the Lamanites felt than he did, and he answered at least 10 times as guilty. Then I was able to explain to him that he would continue to "look upon sin...with abhorrence;" (Alma 13:12) but that the guilt could be eventually remitted by looking to Jesus Christ. We committed him to continue to read from the Book of Mormon and to ask in prayer for his guilt to be taken away.

One thing I've loved about my mission is the opportunity I have to study the scriptures for 2 hours a day. It's absolutely incredible when you unlock the scriptures for yourself, no one can give you the incredibly rewarding education from the scriptures. You have to go and get it. Read Ether 3 and 4 and think about the grand purpose of the Church's first mandate, to preach the Gospel, we will accomplish and what we hopefully will unfold in our lifetimes. Think about how important it is for us to repent and exercise faith in Jesus Christ and continue to build and grow.

We got to watch the new temple film, it was absolutely incredible. The Spirit was strong and there's a peculiar feeling you have during the endowment. During one part of the film I felt the Spirit incredibly strongly that I was "called of God, by prophecy . . . to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof" (A o F #5). I can get overwhelmed quickly with the task of being one of only two persons for 2000 people who can invite them to repent, be baptized and live such that they can return to their Heavenly Father's presence. However God knows the end from the beginning and we're only on the very frontlines of this great work of Salvation. The work is true, and God is depending on us to go and rescue His children. If you lack a testimony read the Book of Mormon, live the gospel as best you can and pray about it, it will come in its own way and time.

Elder Szendre

P.S. Can you ship me some Idaho potatoes? jk, but seriously no one can buy them here, you have to know a farmer to get some. Oh, and people here do cookies in snow covered parking lots, not doughnuts.