Thursday, January 9, 2014

From January 6, 2014:

Life is good! Thanks so much for your prayers, I've been greatly helped this past week. I was swimming in pretty deep water last Monday, as seems to be our common lot during this time on earth. However when it came to an end I realized how short that trial actually was, and how much help I had in getting through it.

I've been trying to learn patience lately, there's a lot there to learn. I turn to Mosiah 24:9-16 for guidance with trials when we seem to be doing everything right. Here's that scripture:
"For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage."
Elder Holland has noted that the commandment to be of good cheer might be the most broken commandment. As we are among God's covenant people scattered throughout the earth, God will hear our prayers when we petition Him for comfort. He must make our trials bearable, there were spiritual blessings that were given that could not have been given any other way. Alma 31 also has a tremendous example of prayer when we face a task that seems insurmountable.

We had my first two baptisms in my previous area! Michael and Tyler entered the waters of baptism on Saturday and Brandi A. is scheduled for this next Saturday, pictures to come.

We found a Russian babushka and her muzh (husband) to teach! And immediately after I had a pretty big disapointment about some Russians that ended up being snowbirds and will return in April. There may be no others in my area, but some Sister Missionaries found her and found out that she doesn't speak English and so they referred them to us. She was so surprised that I spoke Russian that we had a good half hour conversation in Russian on the doorstep and set a return appointment for Saturday at 7:30. It's in Meridian so we'll have to commute but a Russian investigator's a Russian investigator!

As much as I wanted to be called Russian speaking, I treasure this opportunity to serve in Eagle. Despite the wealth, I can't imagine a better more faithful ward in all the Church. Our fast as a mission yesterday was to hasten the work of Salvation in 2014 and the Spirit was poured out upon all who were in the fast and testimony meeting. Many people came up to us afterwards and many remarked of it in subsequent testimonies.

President Winder knew something that we didn't when he sent us here. When we got here there was no work in the 4th ward, in fact it had kind of been one of the wards in which missionaries seemed to slack. Surprisingly it was chosen to be one of the wards that now has its own set of missionaries, despite the dearth of work. Now we've got several part member families that we're on good terms with, though not teaching, plus two couples who are not yet married. The members are beginning to understand their pivotal role in sharing the gospel with their friends and neighbors. We could tract every door in this area within a month, and that includes having to go back once or twice at a different time of day to really catch everyone. There's only so many less-actives in the ward to work with. We're running out of things to do besides work with members and have them introduce us to their friends.

We are a small part of the House of Israel that the Church is. So many of God's covenant people are out there in our own communities, nations and throughout the earth. I had one experience in Russia where I spent a half hour talking to this Russian who simply had a hard life and was drinking away the pain. When he asked about my career aspirations and I told him about BYU and the tremendous opportunity it was to go there, he asked how he could go. The prospects are so dim and lonely for that man, and the Restored Gospel would help him to improve the quality of his life and help him deal with challenges. A member of the Seventy came and spoke to Priesthood leaders in this area and collectively we're not ready for India and China to seriously open up, and that we need to be praying for foreign countries to open up, and that was true 40 years ago. We are on the crest of this wave that is here, sweeping throughout the earth, the promised seed of Abraham that would "bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations". That day is here. This is us, our responsibility as parents and soon-to-be missionaries is to prepare for the great and marvelous opportunities that the Lord is about to open up unto us. Both sides of my family represent a powerful force of goodness and we need to be ready for the tremendous opportunities that await us. I had no idea what I was getting myself into by being called to Boise. There's such an incredible missionary Spirit here and power to convert thousands. We're all collectively trying our best and need the help of the members. The harvest is good but will be much greater as everyone opens their mouth to share the gospel.

I love you all, there is so much to be enjoyed in this life! Yes our trials are here but they shall be "just a moment." (D&C 121) I wish you understood the depth of your potential as missionaries and fathers and mothers in Zion. This Gospel has a very steep learning curve no matter where we're at, and so let's learn and apply it together and lift where we stand. "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" I love the Lord and His work, there's so much to do and the blessings and associations we make in this life are truly of eternal weight. There's nothing like the joy that overwhelms us in this great and marvelous work.

Much love,
Elder Szendre

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