Wow this has been quite a week. We had Brandi A.'s baptism this last Saturday, which has been really tough since I haven't been allowed to contact her or her family since I left. It's one of the most difficult things to have gotten so close to someone and then totally end all communication with them. But it is super important to follow our leaders, I've prayed about it and it is going to be alright for the A. family. I felt such intense joy at that baptism, all there really felt it.
I met with Galyena and Yuri and was able to teach them in Russian the whole time. It was so
cool to finally teach in Russian. However it just felt like a regular lesson, which was kind of disappointing because I guess I had an image of Russian lessons being super special. The Spirit's the same in no matter what language you're speaking, and so is the challenge to hear and follow the Spirit's promptings. It was pretty hard to teach and think in Russian, since I've placed them so far apart in my learning. It was really good though. I felt the Spirit strongly afterwards, and at Church I realized that I might've just taught members of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and the Spirit confirmed it strongly.
We met with all the ward missionaries and we're implementing a plan given by Elder Martino of the Seventy, where we as a ward mission pick 10 less active names to go and visit and then continue to visit. In Acts Peter heals a man that has never walked before and then helps him walk. As good as ward council visits are, they're spread pretty thin between all the less actives in the ward. This will be a powerful force for good in our work, as the testimony of members of how the know the Book of Mormon to be true has a greater effect than missionary testimonies do, since that's kind of expected from missionaries. (Alma 10:12)
I love the Lord, He is there for us and loves us more than we can imagine. There was a family that we visited yesterday who isn't coming out to Church. They work crazy hours and have been feeling like they're done for because they're too lazy to come to Church. They don't understand grace. We can't do this alone, no matter our talents and abilities. "The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability” (Ezra Taft Benson, seminar for new mission presidents, 25 June 1986).
We can't do this alone, in a lesson last night with the family that fed us dinner, my mind was unlocked as I gave a discourse about the work of salvation hastening for both the living and the dead and the great importance that member missionary work has on generations of our dead and those yet to come.
A young woman a few years ago invited a friend of hers to hear the missionaries, he accepted, was baptized and then served a mission himself. Not only can we not succeed in our callings, but just to get through this life. We have not even "come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." (2 Nephi 31:19) That's just entering into the straight and narrow gate of baptism, much less enduring to the end. We cannot return to "the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."
Lorenzo Snow taught that the requirements that this gospel makes on us to further this work of salvation requires divine strength and help. We truly can't do this alone. Like the pioneers in the Willie and Martin handcart companies, we know that the force behind us is greater than the trials and tasks that lay ahead. This is a chosen day for this Kingdom, one where soon the Rock cut out without hands, the Kingdom advanced without the sword, prophesied by Daniel and Joseph Smith will fill the whole earth.
This work is true and is going forth nobly, boldly and independent as far as we are inspired and work obediently and diligently. Surely "Faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God qualify [us] for [our labors]." (D&C 4:6) "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" (D&C 121:22). Thanks for all the love and support, I hope to get all the letters and thank you letters out today.