Saturday, May 3, 2014

From April 28, 2014: "Almost To the Peak"

I begin my letter that way because of the journey that it takes to realize the promised blessings. I think of climbing Mount Everest, and the days/month it takes to reach that height. The days/months of putting in faithful/diligent service amidst opposition.

I have a word to say about opposition. He has overcome it all. There is no pain, no sorrow, no sickness that the Savior did not go through first (Alma 7:11-12, 2 Nephi 9:21-22, Isaiah 54). "His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n. The keys of death and hell To Christ the Lord are giv'n." (from the hymn "Rejoice The Lord is King".)

Not only did Christ suffer the punishment which is affixed for breaking God's commandments (Alma 42:14-16), but the guilt, shame, emptiness and pain that comes from disobeying God's commandments. Only He can reach us in the various conditions we mortals are subject to: sin, temptation, mortality.

From General Conference, "In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light." (Elder David A. Bednar, April 2014, "Bear up their burdens with ease.")

This is the understanding the Savior has over life and death, which he gained as he, "partook and finished [his] preparations unto the children of men." (D&C 19:19), fulfilling His purpose, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) - He sits, "enthroned, with gloryhonor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting." (D&C 109:77)

We'll be exposed to increasing degrees of opposition as we progress in our journey to the Salvation of our souls and the souls of family members, friends and those within our stewardships and responsibilities. But all the while we have the priceless and essential influence of the Holy Ghost, which can make the journey even during the hardest times a blessing. So while we may not have the power to change the various circumstances we find ourselves in, at least will find joy in the journey. I will not endeavor to expound that process, but I know that General Conference holds many of the keys to obtaining joy amidst its necessary opposite.

This area is really trying us, we've found fewer people to teach than what I've seen in Eagle (12 investigators in the first 12 weeks), but we've been happy with the success we've had. A Catholic woman this week accepted Elder Swann's invitation to read the Book of Mormon after he bore powerful testimony of the Atonement from Alma 7:11-12. We've been serving her for a while, and actually in the pioneer days her great grandmother was in a family that had some devastating illness which caused their home to be quarantined - - only the Mormon Pioneers would deliver food to the house, which was miles out of peoples' way. All of her relatives have been telling her to "let the Mormons in." hahaha

I wish I knew more stories of my ancestors enduring unfathomable trials. There was actually a study that compared the relationship between (I think it was) youth's ability to endure the problems of life with the treatment of learning about similar instances in family history, a good breakfast, and family time. The overwhelming conclusion was that they were bolstered, upheld, and supported much more through knowing about ancestors who went before. (Sorry, I really really wish I had the reference to that, look in NY).

Thanks for the packages! They've really helped us get through the stuff we've waded through recently, Elder Swann's still adjusting to Eagle, where instead of investigators it seems we mostly have service opportunities now. Maybe it's because everyone's spending time camping/cleaning and working during the weekends now that it's spring and not bumming their days inside.

Crystal, our miracle investigator, has had to move now to Kuna. It's unfortunate, because her landlord (or the person who's renting the house to rent to other people) told her she had to get out by Friday. It was a pretty difficult situation, and we hope her future arrangements will better fit the needs of her and her 2 year old daughter. We know she's ready for whatever's coming, she's earnestly converted to the Lord and His Restored and Everlasting Gospel. I had an incredible spiritual experience where I felt that she would be able to endure to the end. 

This life is worth it, the Savior has promised that He would be with us throughout this mortal experience, whether or not we can discern His sustaining influence, and that promise will always remain. I am so thankful for all of the prayers and for your support. Take care!

Much much love!
Elder Szendre

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