Monday, June 17, 2013

Elder Facer: Signing Off

Who would've thought we'd make it this far this fast.  Two years has seemed like nothing, while at the same time it's seemed like forever.  I've forgotten what a life outside of missionary service is, but I'm about to be thrown right back into it.  I've tried not to think about it too much, but now it's right here and I have to think about it to be prepared for it.  I suppose this is what you call being between a rock and a hard place, or as the Spanish say (and I think it's better) entre la espada y la pared (between the sword and the wall). 

I've been joking with some other Elders that mom was going to have a harder time with me coming home than I was because she'd have nothing to do on Monday mornings, and I just realized how true that is.  Writing weekly letters has become a big part of my life and my connection with all of you.  It sounds like everyone had a busy week.  So many things have changed.  I haven't written to Brett yet, but I'm going to every week when I get home.  That's weird to me that mom's seen my friends so much and I haven't for so long.  I'm glad to hear they're doing well, though. 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.  Being a father is an incredible gift, and I'd be just a shell of who I am were it not for the example of my righteous father.  I love you Dad. 

By the way, I had a thought that if we can, I'd like for Dad to release me outside the Salt Lake Temple.  I don't know how far it is from the airport or if that would be a huge hassle, but if we can work it out, I'd really want that.  If not, we can just do it once we get to Betsy's house. 

I started preparing my homecoming talk yesterday and realized I have so much I want to say that I won't be able to because of time, so I think it would be an appropriate time now to share some of the biggest lessons I've learned on my mission. 

Lesson 1: We can be happy at any time, in any place, and in any situation.  Happiness and peace are not dependent on circumstance.  We have been given the power to act and to change our circumstance.  God made us in His image so that we could act, and not be acted upon.  Some of the hardest times in my mission have helped me learn that as long as I'm doing what I know is right, I can be happy (see Phillipians 4:11). 

Lesson 2: The gospel can solve our problems if we will just apply it.  There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this earth upon which all blessings are predicated, and when we receive any blessing from God, it is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.  If we lack blessings in our lives, it is because we aren't following the law upon which that blessing is predicated.  If we obey with faith that God will fulfill His promises, He will do so and we will receive the blessings we need.  There is no substitute, for God Himself is bound by that law. 

Lesson 3: Eternal life is worth any sacrifice we have to make or sin we have to give up.  What will a man give in exchange for his soul? I can't suppose there's anything that would be more valuable to us than having eternal progress, continuation of seed, all power, all things being subject to us, living in eternal families for the rest of eternity, and being gods.  Can you? 

Lesson 4: Understanding who we are is absolutely essential.  The last three or four times that an apostle/70 has spoken to our mission, they have told us "you need to know who you are".  They don't worry about the methods we're using or our teaching or finding efforts.  They are concerned that we know who we are.  I've begun to understand what they mean.  When a person knows that He is a child of God, there comes with that knowledge great power.  Understanding what it means to be a child of God allows us to overcome even as Christ overcame.  It gives us understanding of our personal place in God's plan.  Although His plan is for all of His children, we each have a special part in it that our Heavenly Father wants us to fulfill. 

Lesson 5: No matter who we are, what we've done, what we're suffering, or how far off the path we are, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal us.  I've made the effort throughout my mission to have a real relationship with Christ and understand more fully His Atonement.  I've achieved a very special, personal understanding of it, but I still understand very little of what the Savior of the world did for us almost 2000 years ago.  I love the talk given by Sister Burton in the October General Relief Society Meeting.  We need to have the doctrine of the Atonement written in our hearts; it needs to be part of who we are.  We need to know that everyone, righteous or sinner, needs the Atonement, and all can apply it at any time in their lives, especially when we suffer.  I have come to love the Savior more than life itself.  I am nothing without Him. 

I bear you my witness that Jesus is the Christ.  I testify that God is our Father.  Both of them love us in a way that we can only begin to comprehend in this life.  I know that we, as children of the covenant, are children of both God and Christ.  There is no greater work for us to do than to declare these truths to all nations and invite them to come unto Christ and be saved.  I don't know how anyone who has a testimony of God's plan for us could withhold that precious knowledge from anyone who doesn't have that in their lives.  I'm so grateful that the Lord sent me, the weakest and most simple of all men, to share His gospel.  I am a living proof that this is not the work of any man, but of the Almighty God of Heaven.  I could not do this without Him, nor could any other 18-25 year old young man, or any other human for that matter.  This is a divine work, inviting God's children to come unto Christ and helping them receive the witness of the Holy Ghost that the gospel has been restored.  I know that these things are true.  I witness them before you with all the energy of my soul.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Elder Facer

Monday, June 10, 2013

2 weeks

This week went a little better.  We had a couple of people in church, but it was just two kids without their parents, so there can't be progress there until the parents get involved.  We at least taught more and found more, so that felt good, but it's always nice to see the results of your hard work.  Things were better than last week, but we still have a lot of progress to make in my area and in the district.  I gave a good district meeting on Wednesday about being Christlike as opposed to just doing Christlike things.  I think it's a distinction we don't make enough.  I also spoke on Sunday in church.  I had 12 hours of notice, but it went well.  As shy as I was before, it's hard to believe that one of my new favorite things is teaching and speaking in church.   

Everyone's always surprised when I say it's hot in Utah.  I'm excited to come home to that, though.  Utah heat is a lot better than Mexico heat.  Thanks for sharing home/visiting teach stories.  I always like hearing how things go as we try to minister to our brothers and sisters.  I like a quote that says home teaching is just missionary work among members and missionary work is just home teaching among non-members.  It's so true.  That's why everyone should study and apply Preach My Gospel.  That's too bad that things are going rough for Brigham.  He was sure excited when we talked to come home with a bunch of money and live it up at least a little.  I told him to remember what's important and be thankful that he has it, but that I hope he makes bank (I already got an iPad out of him being rich...).  I think the bookstore would be too tempting for me as a job if you get good discounts.  If I thought Bert Murdock was bad, all I want to do when I get home is find some awesome church books and institute manuals and learn more.  I love learning from the scriptures and PMG, but I love other learning resources as well.  That's weird that Tara's all grown up now, though.  I know I've changed a whole lot being out here, and I don't plan on going back to how I was before.  I'll just have to apply the principle of grace here: do all that I can and let God do the rest.  

I don't think I could've got a better speaking topic than D&C 59:23.  I'm sure excited to prepare and give that message.  I would also love to speak with Bishop Lesser if they don't go with Bro. Jordan.  

There really wasn't anything else outstanding this week either, so I'll go ahead and finish up. 

I know that God knows us perfectly and individually.  I know that His greatest desire is to make us like Him.  I know that as we keep His commandments and live the gospel, we can begin to achieve that and obtain true happiness in our lives.  I know that Jesus Christ makes our salvation and exaltation possible.  I know that He will succor us in our times of need if we seek Him.  I know that we can be cleansed from sin and receive peace in our lives as we live the principles of His gospel and strive to become like Him.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored and we are in it.  I know that we are guided by a prophet, authorized of God to exercise His eternal power in this earth, Thomas S. Monson.  I know He is inspired of God, and His counsels will allow us to live a happy, full life.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is also a prophet of God, through whom the fulness of the everlasting gospel was restored to the earth. 

Elder Facer

Monday, June 3, 2013

3 weeks

This was a bit of a disappointing week for the whole district.  We were going to have five baptisms, but only two of them really happened.  Really everything was just difficult for all of us this week, so I'm trying to be strong and uplift the elders and sisters.  It has, thankfully, been a good opportuinty to receive some revelation for my missionaries and I think I have a good game plan for the district meeting to help them out and keep them motivated.  I guess I shouldn't expect the end of my mission to be easy, but it would be nice to end on a high note on more than just an internal level.  We'll keep working and doing all that is within our power and then stand still and see the hand of the Lord revealed (D&C 123:17). 

Aside from that, we had mostly just a normal week.  I'm trying hard to meet my goal of finishing the standard works one last time before I go home, and I think if I make a solid effort, I'll make it.  Right now I'm in Jeremiah, but the other books of scripture are much easier to read and don't take as long, so I think I can do it.  I've been working out a lot more vigorously in the mornings, too, so I should come home at least a little more ripped than when I left.  In Mexico, a nickname for someone who is really cut is a "mamey".  Fun fact for the week.  You can also say that they're "ponchado".  I don't think there was really anything that exciting this week other than that, though. 

Here's the late ward letter: 

Windsor 7th Ward, 

I've always been moved by the end of long sagas or other such stories.  When I get involved in the lives of the characters, their struggles and successes, it's difficult for me when everything ends and "normal" life resumes.  I feel like I'm in that boat right now, but thankfully I have a special perspective that lets me see beyond "the end" and "the beginning". 

The gospel of Jesus Christ provides us with an eternal view of God's plan for us and a sure knowledge that the end of this life isn't the end for us.  While the world fears death and what may or may not come afterwards, we understand that our spirits are eternal, that we lived with God before this life, and we can live with Him after this life if we are faithful.  I've come to understand and love the plan of our Father in Heaven and especially the role that His Son, Jesus Christ, plays in that plan.  Because we have the gospel, we know that we will live again after we die.  We will have the chance to be with our families eternally through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We can become even as God is if we will simply live the gospel in this life and do all that He asks of us.  I know that these things are true.

Many a time I have wondered, as Job, "if a man die, shall he live again?"  The Spirit of God has led me to the resounding conclusion that we will all live again.  We will all one day stand before the bar of God.  If we have been faithful and if we have truly loved Him, we will be "encircled in the arms of His love", and never have to leave them. 

To those of you who are struggling, who have lost loved ones, or suffered other difficult losses, I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes right anything unfair in this life.  Perhaps the blessings won't come in this life, but the Lord never breaks His promises to the faithful.  I know that Heavenly Father is aware of you and loves you.  He will absolutely not allow you to suffer anymore than is absolutely necessary.  As we stay faithful through our trials, having an eternal perspective and understanding of God's plan, we will "overcome... even as [Christ] overcame", and will be brought to sit on the Father's throne with Him for all eternity. 

I love you all, and look forward to seeing you all and being able to speak to you. 

Elder Facer 

I know that this is the Lord's work.  It's not for nothing that He sends the "weak and simple" to do it.  It is just another demonstration of His majesty and power that any 21 year old kid like me could do what He has called me to do.  I'm absolutely sure that Heavenly Father knows us perfectly.  I don't understand a lot of things, especially the trials He has asked me to pass through, but I know that all things are part of His plan.  Everything will work together for our good if we will just endure it well and trust in God.  I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  I feel God's love as I apply it in my life, and I know that we can all be cleansed and comforted through that wondrous sacrifice.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and will help us come closer to God if we will read it and apply its teachings, especially regarding the Atonement.  I know that families are central to God's plan, and that He has provided the way today for families to be sealed together eternally.  I love you all so much, and am so grateful that I'll have the chance to be with you again soon.

Elder Facer

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

4 weeks

                                                The District

Well this week went a little better, but still not quite where we need to be.  I was surprised on Wednesday when President Call called me in the morning to say that he and Sister Call would be coming to my district meeting, then a few minutes later finding out that the zone leaders (which meant one zone leader and one assistant because they were on exchanges) would be coming as well. Pressure no longer affects me, so everything went fine, and I actually got several really nice compliments from all of the special guests.  Just another success story.  Other than that, I would've liked to have taught some more and had a little bit of success as far as people in church, but everything happens in the Lord's time, I suppose.  I know everything will work out fine.  E. Gutierrez and I are working hard and trying to do all that we can, so I'm happy with that.
I had a special reminder this week about the importance of the sacrament this week and the blessings we can receive as we worthily partake of it.  I had been hoping and praying for a spiritual experience during the sacrament, and I made a special effort to make sure I had repented completely before Sunday.  Sure enough, the Lord didn't fail me, and I felt very powerfully God's love and approbation as I partook.  I love that every week we can have that experience and know that we are forgiven of our sins and cleansed through the Atoning blood of Christ.  Afterwards, I felt a desire to study John 17 and 21.  The Spirit that came during the Sacrament helped me to understand much better those two chapters and learn a lot more. 

That's great that Ryan got home and had a great mission.  The closer that moment gets for me, the more I analyze and try to determine what the Lord needs me to do in these last weeks to have that same approbation, and I feel like He's happy with what I've done so far.  That talk by Elder Holland is one of my all time favorites.  I read it every time I need to remind myself what's really important and stay focused and it certainly does the job.  That story in John 21 is probably one of my favorite chapters of all scripture.  I was so happy to hear that you're helping out your friend, Lexie with her gospel journey.  I'm worried that being back in Orem, Utah I won't have as many missionary opportunities as I would like, so it's great for me to hear that even in the Windsor 7th ward there's missionary work to be done, and I want to be a part of it.  That's nice that Lys got back fine.  I talked to a Peruvian sister in my disctrict today, and she told me that the Peruvians would just make fun of my Chilango accent, but that's probably fine.  That Canyon has just grown up a whole lot in these last two years.  It's fun to hear all the changes that the grandkids are making.  

I'm going to wait a week on the ward letter because I haven't thought of what to write yet.

I know that God knows us perfectly.  I know that His love for us is also perfect and the He is ever present to help and guide us.  I've been so blessed to be a witness of His love to His children here in Mexico.  They need it, and it's so beautiful to have a personal testimony and witness of that myself.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He effected a perfect Atonement for the exaltation of all of God's children that live His gospel.  I know that the principles and ordinances of the gospel will bring us closer to Christ and make us more like Him.  As we faithfully do so all of our lives, we will become even as He is.  I know that God's plan is perfect and applies to all of us.  If we live it and follow it, He will give us all that He has.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and contains a fulness of the everlasting gospel.  Time and time again the Spirit has shown to me that it has the answers to all of our problems today.  I know it is true, and I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. 

Elder Facer
Short note from Sister Call:
We went to Elder Facer's District Meeting last week.  He did so well.
He is a natural.  I told him upon returning home that he needs to teach at the MTC.  He would also be an outstanding seminary or institute teacher.  Great things are in store for him.  I am also so grateful for his piano playing abilities.  I have called upon him many times to help me out when teaching the missionaries a new song or how to lead music etc.  We are sure going to miss him.  I have come to love "my little deacon"!  Elder Facer will have to tell you the story behind that one!  Thanks for raising such an awesome son and sharing him with us. 
Adios........Hermana Call

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Weeks

Well being a district leader is a lot more busy than just a normal missionary.  There really isn't even that much more to do, but it's just exhausting.  This week we did interchanges twice, I had two interviews, one of my own investigators, and a near crisis.  I suppose that's just all part of the whole leadership thing.  Unfortunately, we had lots go down in the district, and almost all of our baptisms fell through.  Two decided to postpone their wedding, one needed a special interview and didn't show up, and one hadn't really quit smoking.  Great.  We ended up with just one baptism, and will probably end up with 9 as a district in May, which is fine, but not nearly what we could've had.  Also, a new elder in the district who is also new to the mission was feeling really discouraged and wanted to go home on Wednesday, so I helped him a little and President Call did the rest.  He's doing fine now, but it was sure rough while we were going through it.  It's true what our missionary manual says that leaders are much more sensitive to the needs of the elders they serve. 

Aside from that, we had a mostly normal week.  Working was a little hard, but we have some promising referrals for this week, so that'll be nice.  Ward choir is improving a lot, thank goodness.  My first district meeting went over well, and I feel like my teaching is continuing to get much better all the time, especially when we go and teach members.  I think I'll be a pretty good home teacher because it's just easier for me to teach members the gospel.  I'm continuing to improve my chess game and more importantly, gospel knowledge and understanding, so things are going well on my end, even as difficult as they are. 

It's strange to think that Tara will be graduated before too long.  I always thought that that was the last big happening before I get home.  I guess really it's Father's Day, but still, it's just so close. Crazy friends like she's dealing with are really just better off left alone.  I discovered that myself.  You still have to be nice to them, but you don't have to hang out with them and struggle through date planning and other such calamities.  So Scott sold his truck, huh?  I think that's a Mexican thing that they find a car they like and they just keep going until they get it.  I've met several people here that tell me the story of how they got their car, and it always seems to involve falling in love with the car, searching for years to find just the right one, and selling everything they have to buy the car.  I hope Peru goes well for Lys and Manuel.  I'm imagining this will be their last trip before I'm home.  I still doubt a little that Manuel's family will accept my Chilango accent.  Brigham's really wasn't that noticeable compared to mine. 

I know that this is the Lord's work.  He directs it and guides those who participate in it.  I know that it is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ.  His Atoning sacrifice is the only way for us to be saved in the Kingdom of God.  I know that as we live the gospel, we will receive the blessings that come through the Atonement.  I know that the Holy Ghost can always be with us if we are worthy of His companionship.  I know that He will lead us into all truth, give us the words we need to say, and inspire us to use the talents and gifts that God has given to us for the benefit of all of God's children.  I know that the church has been restored in these latter days.  We are so blessed to have grown up where the gospel was taught freely.  So, too, must we freely share that which we have received.  I know that doing so is an absolute prerequisite for our eternal happiness.  I love the gospel, and I love the Savior.  I love this work, and am so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to take part in it for these last couple years.  I know that He has used me as an instrument in His hands to bless His children that needed me. 

Elder Facer

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Final Countdown (enter sweet keyboard riff)

Well it was sure great to see and talk to everyone last night.  It felt different from the other calls in that it used to feel like "well now it's over until the next phone call", but now it just felt normal to talk to everyone.  It's just starting to hit me that I'm in my last transfer and I'll be home before we know it.  Thanks so much Sister Shirley for letting me borrow Alyssa for a while.  Happy Mother's Day to you and mom and all the other mothers out there.  It was really fun to see all those neices and nephews.  There's a chunky little baby here in Tequex, but he's got nothing on Alex.  He's huge!  Avery's really cute, too, but I prefer quiet babies that like cuddling.  It's ok, though, I'm still excited to meet them in person and be a real uncle instead of just a vague, distant, fake uncle. 

It was a decent week for missionary work.  Finding is still difficult, but we're working hard.  Elder Smith basically knew he was getting changed, so he got lazy the last couple days, but I did my best to keep him going.  Now I'm with Elder Gutierrez.  He's from Chiapas, has been out for 7 months, and seems like a cool guy.  He's been a member all his life and his parents were converts.  He finished high school, worked a little, then came on the mission.  He had been in San Juan del Rio (by Tequisquiapan) for his first 6 1/2 months. 

It feels a little different now finishing up and being a leader.  I feel the responsibility, and it motivates me to keep improving.  I think it's also really humbling for me to realize the trust that the Lord has in me to put me in this position.  I know most missionaries see it as a form of going up levels and being "above" others, but I feel just the opposite.  Just like Christ, it came to me that this is so I can better serve others, not so I can be better in my own eyes or those over whom I am now steward.  I'm excited for this responsibility and the opportunity to finish with the trust of the Lord and His approbation. 

I know that the Lord knows us and loves us.  I know this is His true church and gospel.  There is no greater knowledge or doctrine in all the universe, and we are so blessed to have it so freely today.  I know that obedience will bring us all the blessings we need.  God wants to bless us so much, but He requires our obedience to His commandments in order to receive those blessings.  I know that living the gospel and dedicating ourselves to this great cause bring us true happiness.  If we don't do it, we simply can't find that joy.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and contains the fulness of the gospel.  We need to have a testimony of it in order to overcome the trials we face today. 

Elder Facer

Monday, May 6, 2013

Psalms 27:4

Well we finally had someone in church this week.  His mom and sister are both members, but he and his brother and dad haven't wanted anything to do with the church.  The last couple of weeks his girlfriend broke up with him, he got really depressed, and his parents kicked him out of the house.  Needless to say, he had been humbled and prepared to receive the gospel.  His name is Erick (I don't know why they spell it that way in Spanish...).  He's quitting smoking and drinking, and he's just progressing really well right now, and it's fun to see.  We also have some good prospects for this week for new investigators that look really good.  Things are starting to turn up a little, so that's fun. 

We had an excellent temple trip on Tuesday.  It's been a year and a half since I've been, and there was so much that was so good to remember and learn.  I just have such a strong testimony and love of the temples, but I'll write about that in the Ward letter.   

It's starting to hit me how close it is to the end.  There's one week left for the last generation, then I'll be the missionary with the most time in Mexico out of everyone.  6 weeks more and I'm gone.  It's nuts.  At the same time, though, it feels right.  I feel like I've done what I needed to do up until now, and I've made incredible strides in myself as a person, so I'm satisfied thus far.  I need to just give my all these last 7 weeks and that'll be enough. 

Skype will be on Sunday at 5:30 your time.  Be there or be square.


Here's the Ward letter: 

Windsor 7th Ward, 

This week we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Mexico City Temple.  It's been a long time since I've been to the temple, and it felt just so good to be back in that sacred place.  I came to understand several things more fully while I was in there including the following:

1.  The temple is literally the Lord's house.  It is one place on earth where the resurrected Savior can appear unto all of His faithful saints.

2.  The temple is a place of instruction and revelation.  As I sat in the Celestial room, I prayed for several personal matters for which I wanted further guidance.  The Spirit flowing in that room was so thick that I could feel it.  The Lord answered my prayers and enlightened my mind, bringing a profound peace.

3.  The temple is a refuge from the world.  Missionary work isn't easy.  I'm quite constantly extremely tired or busy.  Entering the temple, I felt all the weight of my calling fall off my shoulders as the Lord carried them for me for the hour and a half we were in there.  I wish I could explain to you the sweet feelings of peace and relief that came with that.

I know that the same blessings and more are available to all of you.  Most of you may not really understand the blessing of having 2 temples within 15 minutes of your house.  If you want to live up to your full privileges and blessings as a member of the only true church on the earth, be worthy of a temple recommend and go often to the temple.  I testify that there is no holier place on the face of the earth than in the temple.  I know that your lives will drastically improve as you make regular temple attendance a priority instead of a commodity.  I love the temple, the convenants we make there, and the Spirit that abides there. 

Elder Facer

I know this work is the work of God.  I know that He has prepared me and strengthened me to be able to do it.  I simply can't without Him.  I know that He sends the weak and simple to do this work so His mighty hand is manifest to all the world.  I testify that God is our Father, and Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  I know that His Atonement covers all pain, injustice, and sin that will ever befall us.  I know that we unlock the blessings of the Atonement through repentance and the ordinances and covenants of salvation.  There is no other way.  Nor is there another way to salvation and having an eternal family.  I know that the family is central to God's plan, and we are so blessed to be in a family that has the gospel.  I don't think I can think of a greater blessing in my life besides the Atonement.  I'm so grateful for your love and prayers.  I need them, and I feel them.  I love you all, and look forward to seeing you son.

Elder Facer