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