North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are your brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. -Alma 31:35

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan. 14th "I'm an Uncle!!!"

Welcome to the world, little Matthew McMurray! Oh goodness, I love my family. By the time I get home, the number of grandchildren in the family will  probably have doubled. That's pretty amazing.

This last week has been pretty amazing, too. Elder Shumway and I performed massive reconstructive surgery on both of our bikes. As in, he did most of the work and I pulled the brakes when he told me to. Such a stud. We've been improving a lot in our teaching, and learning tons of things. We had a Training Meeting on Thursday, which was fantastic, and a superb district meeting on Wednesday. (Have I ever mentioned to you that my District Leader, Elder Merrell, is awesome? Well, he is. The Zone Leaders are awesome, too, and I get to live with them. How spoiled am I?)

On Saturday we helped the Bowie family move into their new apartment. They are a recent convert family, and they are incredible. Brother Bowie is this great big black guy, and he glows. He's one of those people whose testimony is so powerful that he seems to shine; you've all seen them. He gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting this last Sunday, and it was terrific. I love that family so very much, which was why I was glad that we got to help them.

The last few weeks it's been fairly cold here, but in accordance with Murphy's Law, on the day of the move it was a freak 75 degrees and super-humid. Figures. We persevered, however, and got the job done. At one point, Elder Shumway and I got stuffed into the back of a station wagon, so we were essentially sitting on backwards-facing seats in the trunk. Elder Shumway fit all right, but I was curled up like a pillbug. (Pictures will be coming.)

At a stoplight a man on a motorcycle stopped behind us, and we started playing rock-paper-scissors with him. It was pretty epic. The people in the car behind him took pictures. (For your information, he beat us.) Isn't America great? Where else in the world do strangers play games with each other on the spur of the moment? That, my friend, is what my American Government class would define as social capital. Look it up sometime.

We had a definite miracle this week. We were in the middle of a lesson when we got a phonecall from Larry Shaheen. Brother Shaheen was a man Elder Howell and Elder Heydorn (my old companion) taught before I got to Pineville. Because of conflicting schedules, vacations, stomach viruses, etc. we had gone a whole transfer without meeting Brother Shaheen, and then Elder Heydorn left. So I'd never actually seen the man, and since he hadn't been returning our calls for weeks, we'd assumed he'd dropped off the face of the map.  

We returned his call, and he basically said: "Hey. I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I want to start meeting, so I can progress, so I can get baptized. When can we meet?"


He came to church on Sunday, which was funny because I'd never met him before, so I just went around talking to everyone I didn't recognize until I found him. We taught him in a member's home afterwards, where we went over the baptismal interview questions, and he passed all of them. He wants to get baptized as soon as possible. From what I saw, he seems extremely sincere. He's met with missionaries for the last six months, so he's been taught everything, and he's read the whole Book of Mormon. (He likes Moroni best.) Pretty crazy, huh?

It seems like this area is literally exploding with success. The Zone Leaders had a family join the church two weeks ago, and another family is getting baptized this Saturday. With Brother Shaheen and (hopefully) Brother Greene and Brother Johnson, we'll be able to contribute, too. The Lord is really blessing us here.


I've been thinking a lot about the Atonement this week. A lot of Christian denominations are fairly aware that the Savior conquered death and paid the price for their sins, but they see the Atonement as His dying on the cross, and there is really so much more to it that. The Savior had to experience everything, and that suffering took place in the Garden of Gethsemane; this is a view that I'm pretty certain only the Latter-Day Saints hold. It just really stood out to me this week, for some reason.

Think about it. I'm going to tell you right off the bat that this is Elder Fisher's view, and is in no means scriptural or doctrinal. But as the Savior walked into that Garden, I would imagine that every spirit in creation would have been watching Him as that titanic struggle took place. Satan and all of his followers would have been there, filled with anger and hate, probably watching the battle take place with fear and desperation. Every spirit yet to enter mortality would be observing -- some with doubt, some with joy, each according to their faith -- as well as all the spirits in paradise, the prophets and saints of old. In short, I would be surprised if anyone, besides the individuals currently in mortality, would not have been there. You, me, everyone; billions and billions of souls, all watching the Savior fight the battle for us. And above it all, the Father would have been there, watching. What must have been going through His divine mind as He saw His Beloved suffer, I cannot begin to imagine. Prophets have testified, martyrs have died, the War in Heaven was waged. Now, at this moment, it all came to a head. This was the moment where the Father's Plan either succeeded, or it failed. This was the moment where our eternal salvation was hanging in the balance. All we could do was stand back, and watch, and ask:

"Is He going to do it?"

There is only one scriptural account of the Atonement in the Savior's own words, and I want to share it:
"For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men." (D&C 19:16-19)

I testify that the Savior did succeed. Our Elder Brother, the Firstborn, the Only Begotten of the Father, our Lord and Master, did, in fact, succeed. He won the battle. He redeemed our souls. He is our Savior, and He does live. I testify that the Church is true, and that families are eternal.

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

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