February 29, 2016 Portalegre, Portugal
Hey Mom and Dad!!!
This week was just great. Actually, it’s been 2 weeks since I wrote last, but they passed so fast that I’m not even sure what happened, so I’ll just kind of start a typin’ and see what happens (oh, the library FINALLY has internet after almost month!)
Yep, I’m still here in Portalegre with Elder M. His training is going really well. We’re still working on getting his Visa deal worked out, but the US consulate here is having problems with their system….go figure.
We are passing (looking up) a bunch of people from the area book, trying to find some new people to teach. It’s been fun. We’ve found some really nice people, some JW’s, Adventists, people who believe in God but don’t want to learn more about him, and even a guy that studies about all kinds of religions, but won’t go to any of them. This guy is an older guy (60 years old). He let us in the first time we went over there, and he kind of gave us his spiel. I’ve met a lot of similar people that I’ve found really annoying, but this man was actually fascinating. He started out Catholic, then got baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness, then stayed in an Evangelical church for a while, then studied to be a 7th-day Adventist, but they rushed him and he decided not to get baptized. Then he studied a bit with the Elders and went to church a few times, but has just stuck to his own principles. Very normal for someone who has found follies with other churches. Here were some of the things he said:
1. He believes in God, the creator–a lot. He has great faith in Him, but he believes that in spite of everything the Savior has done for us, he is only our brother, not our God, and we should not worship him. He believes there is but one God, who is the creator. Well, after some additional study, I reaffirmed the reason we worship the Savior. In the first chapter of John, we find out that it was Christ who created the earth:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God. (14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.)
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Obviously, Christ created the earth, while in the presence of God. He is a God, being the Son of God. When we believe on His name, we may become the sons of God. Christ is also “the gate” (2 Nephi 9:41) by which we must enter. When we pray, we pray to the father, but in Christ’s name, for He taught us “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13) We worship Christ and His example because of His sacrifice and because we understand that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him].” (John 14:6). I didn’t really have a good answer for J_ last time we were there, but I told him I’d look into it and come back this week with my findings. And these are just out of the Bible. If he lets me open the book of Mormon, watch out; he won’t be able to deny worshiping the Savior.
2. I actually really appreciated some of the things J_ said. He told us how he admires so much the youth of our church (specifically the Elders, because it’s all he really knows so far). The fact that we live our religion so well, exactly how we should. We go out and we preach, we invite, not annoy people. We show that we believe these things to the core. His main problem with our church is apparently adults. He thinks that adults are all prideful, greedy, just-in-it-for-the-money people. I KNOW this to be false. I have the wonderful example of you and Dad. In a letter once, you guys told me about how you had decided to [do a particular thing], and I figured that it would be a little inefficient and a hassle, but in response you said, “We wouldn’t do it because it is beneficial nor convenient for us. We would do it because we want to help…in whatever way we can…as a way to serve God and our fellowmen rather than ourselves…to be an instrument in the Lord’s hand…It’ll be a bit of a hassle, tax-wise, and I’ll have some other tasks because of it…But we don’t really mind.” Wow! What cool parents I have!!!! 🙂
3. He also discredited much of the doctrine of the Old Testament on the grounds that “that doesn’t sound like a loving God and Creator.” Of course we also know that the Bible is only true as far as it was translated correctly, but that does not give us license to decide which parts are true and which parts aren’t true to fit our personal and moral beliefs. It doesn’t work like that! The Bible, each part, each story, is either true or it’s not, and we can’t do anything to change that simply because we don’t agree with certain parts. Anyway, he said that a question he has never had anyone answer was “Why were there TWO cherubim on top of the ark of the covenant?” I have no idea why he asks that or if there is an answer to be had, but maybe you guys know.
We had a couple of wonderful lessons this week with a dad and his son. They’re progressing really well, and reading the Book of Mormon well. We hope to be able to get them to church this Sunday because they’re SO cool. The dad had respectfully told us he was not ready to pray in the first few lessons we had, due to something that had happened in the past, but he has been helping his son pray with us and at night. It has been just fabulous! This last lesson, we had him pray to know if the church has been restored and he prayed with us for the first time, with tears in his eyes. It was just awesome!
We still haven’t given up on good ol’ M_. This week we created a plan for him to start quitting coffee, which he accepted. He has also gone down from 0.6 nicotine on his electric cigarette to 0.3, which is progress. I think he’s going to know more about the gospel than most of the members before he gets baptized, at this rate. But we hope he will follow our plan and can be baptized at the end of March.
This weekend I got to give the Seminary class lesson on Genesis 13-14, then I gave the Sunday school class lesson on 2 Nephi 11-26 (yeah, I’m not kidding it was pretty difficult because there was so much material), and gave a talk in sacrament meeting as well. I have been really busy these past few months.
Anyway, I love you all! Thank you sooo much! See you later.