It's been a pretty okay week. We have had a few challenges with some of our investigators arise, but that's okay. We are working really hard with sister Eva and her kids and they are making some good progress with the Word of Wisdom. It is always a miracle for me to see the spirit work with people as they overcome addictions. Things that seem impossible to overcome can be conquered, and in the case of a few of our investigators this week, they have gone from 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day to 1-2 cigarettes a day. That is a miracle for me because they made the change in only a couple of days. We had to re-extend their baptismal date to February, but that's okay. They have really started to read and pray and it's been amazing to see them change.
As for me, I've had a few hard days this week, but there have been other days where I've felt much stronger than usual. It's still very up and down but I am still able to work.
I have been reading a lot in Alma lately about the sons of Mosiah and Alma and their mission. They preached to two groups of people - the Lamanites, and the Amulonites/Amalekites. The Lamanites were a 'wild and ferocious' people who worshiped idols and followed the false traditions of their fathers, but when they were shown the power of God; when they felt the spirit - they immediately were able to accept the fullness of the Gospel and became so devoted to the Lord that they would rather die than go back on the covenants that they had made. The sons of Mosiah had huge success with them. The Amulonites/Amalekites on the other hand were proud, and taught false doctrines that people wanted to hear. Things that stood against what was written in the scriptures about the Savior and his arrival on the earth.
Of those groups of people, they only baptized 1 person.
I've been noticing a lot of similarities here in the Philippines. Although there are not really any wild or ferocious people here, they are all very influenced by the traditions that the Spanish brought here so very long ago, and like the Lamanites, they have an idea of a god. Most of the successes here occur when a person is willing to give up their traditions to know the whole truth; to really take their own believe and love for God and add unto it all of the restored truths of the Gospel. I've noticed too lately that there are a lot of other groups and churches here that preach false doctrine...things that people want to hear that are not at all in line with the scriptures or even the character of God. The successes among those people are few and far between, and it makes me so sad. A lot of them are forbidden to listen to any other sects or even to read the bible (because they might read something true in there), and it's drilled into their heads that only they will be saved (like the Zoramites). They lift themselves up above everyone else and publicly tear down other churches through the media. There are people like Nehor who teach that it doesn't matter what we do in this life...that there are no consequences. There are churches here that literally worship their founders, others teach that Jesus Christ is only a person, or that Mary is a god. And all of them are so hard to reach because they just wont listen and because they are taught not to search for themselves or listen. I wish I could do more for them.
I wish I could help more people understand that the Gospel will take nothing away from them. It will fill in all of the blanks in their lives without effecting their values or beliefs. It will strengthen their families and protect them from the dangers of today's depraved society. It will help them prosper in every aspect of their lives...they will be healthier, happier, and more trusting in God. They will develop a knowledge that their family can be eternal. Eternal. Forever. Without end. They will be able to know these things for themselves I wish more people would think about that.
I am so glad to be serving here. I love the people and I love being around them. I have been having a rough couple of months but it hasn't changed my love for God and for this work. I am so thankful for the Gospel in my life.
If there are people reading this letter who are not of our faith, or not of any faith - people who have probably seen missionaries or have had weird 'Mormon' friends who invited them to church but never accepted the invitation - I invite you to try talking to the missionaries. If they show up on your door, let them it. You won't lose anything from it - they aren't there to sell you anything or debate with you - and the things you could gain from it will change your life. I promise.
I love you all,
The Church is true.
P.s: Thank you so much to the Noads, the 2nd Ward Young Women, and to anyone else who's letter hasn't gotten here yet for the Christmas cards. Thank you also for the prayers and support. I feel them strongly and am so humbled by them.