Monday, June 20, 2011

Spiritual feast

2011 June 20
Dearest Mommy,

Happy birthday!!! I hope you have an awesome day... your *ahem* present is in the mail... the other part I'll attach on here so that you can see Ella Rose, the classiest lady on the planet. She really is like the sweetest lady ever! There's also the one with Yolanda our maid in it so that you can get a feel for how spoiled we really are here... I love it!

This week has been kinda hectic, but I wanna be brief in what I write on here, because the spiritual stuff is what was cool about this week. Monday we had sort of a "meh" p day with nothing too exciting going on during the day... we wandered around Ross, but that was about the extent of our excitement. However, we did have a couple of awesome appointments that night. First was with a family that we ate with where we were able to teach a sort of short lesson with them, and I apologize if I repeat myself on what was cool about it.

So to start off, I have to say that it all ties in with the "revolution" that elder Van Hook and I started in Beaverton. We spoke to them about the importance of sharing the gospel, but how it's hard in American culture to do so sometimes because white people are prideful and also don't like to talk about religion openly. Anyway, we told them about Eduardo the Brazilian guy from the Beaverton ward that was always hooking us up with people that he'd met and talked to about the gospel. The scripture that relates to Eduardo's attitude is found in Helaman 15:5-7 it starts out where Samuel the lamanite is preaching to the Nephites from the wall, and here he's talking about how the Lamanites have been able to have such great success as members as well as missionaries, and here's what he says (with a little editing):

" 5And I would that ye should behold that the amore part of them are in the path of their duty, and they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments.....
"6Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are doing this, and they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.
" many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth... are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—
8Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are affirm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.
Kind of the trick I suppose is coming to know that the holy scriptures are true, and most importantly the book of Mormon. If you have a solid knowledge and testimony of the book, you're gonna be rock solid in all the other aspects of the gospel... it brings about the "change of heart." Now, the thing about this is, how do you get that answer to really know? It's a fallacy amongst the members of the church that you read the whole flippin' book of Mormon, and once you read Moroni 10:3-5, THEN you ask God if the book is true. Well, you can do it that way, but it's about 100 times easier to read a little bit every day and pray about that little piece. You can't just expect your flash in a pan one lousy time to last you for a lifetime. The question I would ask is this: When is the last time you prayed to know that the book of Mormon is true? If you're like me the first time I was asked that, it had been almost a year... sad, right? I found one of the magical answers to keeping a strong testimony is to simply read every day, and talk to God about what you read... he'll give you calm, steady assurance that what you're reading is right. Every. Single. Day. Do that, and I promise you that you'll get that change of heart you're looking for, and be more inclined to share the gospel.
Okay, off the soapbox. Tuesday, there was "pandelirium" with elders Cox and Wohleben (new greenie), where elder Cox was about ready to kill him for not believing the rules he was telling him about and wanting to do things "the German way", so we had a little sit-down therapy session during district meeting... Dr. Feelgood strikes again! I tell ya, it could be an interesting show haha. After that, we went on an exchange with them to help both of them cool their jets, and I ended up with elder Cox in Tigard... it was a blast! After venting about Wohleben for a good hour or two, I helped get him focused on other things, and it turned out to be a blast... gosh I love elder Cox. We really have become best friends while we've been out here... actually, we're gonna have to take a trip up here for the wedding of that missionary who changed my life and his girlfriend who elder Cox baptized like two weeks after I get off the mission haha... it'll be a double-duty! Hopefully Coxey and I can ride together in his car and stay at Ella Rose's place for it... to kinda cut down the cost, ya know? Anyway, we kicked butt and took names... he's a great missionary and knows how to get stuff done!
Wednesday, I read a really cool scripture. Right now I'm in the middle of Mosiah, and what I read that morning is in Mosiah 4:5-15 King Benjamin is fixing to end his talk, and this is what he says to the people after they've believed the words he's spoken and received "a knowledge of their surety by the power of the Holy Ghost:"
4And king Benjamin again opened his mouth and began to speak unto them, saying: My friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people, I would again call your attention, that ye may hear and understand the remainder of my words which I shall speak unto you.
5For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—
6I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
7I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
8And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.
9Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
10And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
11And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
12And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
13And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
14And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the devil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
Holy Moses that was a lot of scripture to throw on here and highlight, but it's AWESOME!!! If you're looking to be a good parent, be worthy, and not have a crappy life, this is the way to do it. The four main points in here are to 1: obtain knowledge (believe, know, etc.), 2: remember/retain that knowledge, 3: act on the knowledge you've received ("see that ye do these things") and 4: teach it to others.
What an awesome formula for spiritual success not only for yourself, but for all those around you. King Benjamin is officially my favorite.. again haha.
Okay, moving on because time is short. Thursday we had a lesson with the kid Nick that we knocked into the other day, and it turns out that he's sweet! We had him over at the neighbor member's house and we talked about the restoration and priesthood authority. We extended a soft baptismal invitation, and he accepted it and said that he'd love to come to church! Sweet right??! Things are finally starting to happen here and I'm stoked!
Friday, we had one hour to kill before an appointment, so we decided to do some contacting in the big park here in town, and it was kinda comical. I tell ya man, I can't shut up. We had one contact the entire time... we talked to him for the full hour before we had to go haha. We didn't set up a return-appointment, but he's golden. His stepdad was LDS, so he got hooked into it when he was like eight, is baptized, but after his parents' divorce at age 12, he went inactive. The nice thing? He's looking to go back to church, and is trying to get his fiancée interested.. we're gonna drop by and start teaching them hopefully. He told us where he lives and we'll see what happens this week.
Saturday we had the Mormon Portland choir concert that turned out to be absolutely grand. We helped set it up in the morning, and still had a bushel of extra tickets, so we asked Hna. DeLong if she wanted to go, and she said absolutely and that she'd invite friends. She ended up inviting two non-members to come, and it was awesome! She is such a sweet little member missionary, I love her. Unfortunately we didn't get to introduce ourselves because we were ushering the event, but hopefully we'll meet them this week or next.
Sunday, I read another interesting scripture in Mosiah 7:29-33, and it reminded me a lot of what we see when we visit people that are less-active or part-member families. Usually the houses are in disarray, family life isn't good, and there is a lot of financial and social stress that goes on. I finally realized why when I read this:
29For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.
30And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison.
31And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction.
32And now, behold, the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and ye are smitten and afflicted.
33But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.
Speaking of the East wind, I was a little confused when I first read that, because I didn't understand, so I did a little investigation, and found something interesting... this is what it means. In every instance where the East wind is mentioned, it is speaking of the chosen people of the Lord (those who have made covenants with him) turning away from him and being disobedient to what they know is right and have promised to do... actually in one of the cross-references, the Lord says "I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity." speaking, of course, of himself. When we don't want the Lord in our life anymore, he lets us make that decision, but like the scripture says, it brings immediate destruction (or distress) to our lives. Just food for thought... I thought it was interesting anyway.
The thing that's comforting though is the "but" that comes in that last verse. God is always willing to help us if we trust in him and serve him... all we have to do is turn back to him and there he will be.
Okay, the last one that I wanna talk about before I go is another scripture that spoke to me as I was reading in the D&C. It's actually an Ephesians scripture, and it's oh so popular amongst the Mormons... it's the "armour of God" found in Ephesians 6. We all know about the breastplate of righteousness, the loins girt about with truth, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, and the helmet of salvation, but the one part I have NEVER understood is the part about having your feet "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." It never made sense to me, but I had a revelation. I was sitting there thinking about it and trying to decipher what the heck Paul was talking about when he spoke of that, and I read an interesting quote from someone whose name escapes me that actually talked about it! It was a devotional given at BYU eons ago, but he said in essence that our feet are what take us places, they could be likened unto our direction in life, our goals, etc.. The thing that struck me is that when your direction and goals are properly "prepared", you will find the success that the gospel of peace proffers you. Then it clicked. That's exactly what a mission is! The mission is the "preparation of the gospel of peace" that is going to point me in the right direction and aim me toward the right goals in life! That's what it's talking about... and it's interesting the effect that it can have on you. I dunno, it seemed like a huge epiphany at the time, and it made me think even more when a girl in sacrament meeting right after that spoke about making spiritual goals a part of our life along with college, career, family, etc.. It makes me realize that I have a lot of preparation to do in my life to not be an utter failure!
Well folks, I'm officially getting off of this soap box, but I hope that you received some insight from some of the direction that the Lord has pointed out to me this week... I know I definitely need it so I'm not a screw-up, and I just hope it helps you feel the Spirit and gain a little stronger conviction that Jesus is the Christ. I love you guys so much and I hope that you have a great week.
All my love,
-Elder Kurt Mooney

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