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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5/13/13 "I told the truth, Lord!"

"I told the truth, Lord! How am I supposed to learn moral lessons if you keep confusing me like this?"

(paula's note:  this is a character named Philippe the Mouse in the movie "Ladyhawke."

Last week I mentioned that we met an older lady named Sister Norman. We followed up with her this week, and began to explain to her about how the Book of Mormon tells us of the Savior's visit to the Americas. She told us that she knew all about that, and proceeded to tell us about the Savior's life. The account she presented goes something like this:

"So Peter betrayed Jesus Christ so that he got crucified. But when Magdalene came to the tomb, he wasn't there. He was right in the midst of them the whole time, in the middle of this big crowd, and they couldn't see him! But then Nicodemus, he was a real short man, so he went up and climbed a tree and then he could see Jesus. He saw the woman come up through the crowd and touch Jesus' clothes and she became healed, just like that!"
-- an excerpt from The Book of Norman

I encountered a man on the other end of the spectrum of scriptural knowledge. While on exchange in the Lake Norman area with Elder Wilkinson, we came across a man named Matt who was painting his porch. We offered to help, so he put us to work pruning his grapevine. This reminded me of the Savior's remark in John 16 that He is the vine and we, his disciples, are the branches, though of course I wasn't going to bring this up. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when Matt brought up this very same scripture himself.

What followed was a very engaging discussion about the Gospel. Matt decided in his teenage years to read the entire Bible and pray about it to know if it was true or not. After some time, he received a witness that it was. (I figured that he would probably be willing to do something similar with the Book of Mormon, then.) He had some questions for us about why there are qualifications for entering into the temple, and also brought up a few other interesting points. Such as: "If a person had only read the Bible all their life and had never come to church before, would they feel comfortable at your church?" I responded to his question with a firm yes.

Matt was a very polite man, and he listened very nicely. It was a very civil discussion. Near the end he started to get into a debating mood, so at that moment I pulled the plug on our conversation. You honestly can't beat LDS people in a scripture bash -- since we have the truth -- but I have learned from experience that the Spirit excuses himself from the conversation when it gets too pointed. So instead I bore testimony of the truthfulness of our message and we closed with a prayer, bidding Matt a fond farewell and leaving him on good terms.

On Saturday morning we had a knock on our apartment door. Elder Parker and I answered it, and we saw two nice gentlemen in front of our doorstep, one of them a bit older with snowy white hair and facial scruff, displaying a delightful South African accent. Lo and behold, we were tracted into by Jehovah's Witnesses. We had a pleasant conversation with them, where they read us a scripture and we shared with them our testimonies. The younger one was particularly curious about what we believed. Since we, as missionaries, couldn't accept their material, I felt like I couldn't give him an Articles of Faith card. Anyway, this is the first time on my mission that I've ever had Witnesses knock on my door. I had a great outpouring of love for them, since, bless their hearts, I know what it's like to knock on a door. I would've been happy to talk longer, but apparently they figured that they weren't going to get anywhere with LDS missionaries, so I said goodbye and let them go.

As for the temple question Matt asked: the purpose of a temple is to make sacred covenants with God. Their sacred nature deserves a sacred environment, one that doesn't allow for disrespect or irreverence. It also figures that you cannot make these additional covenants if you're not already keeping your first ones: baptism, confirmation, and being an active, faithful member of the Lord's Church. All this is required so that a person will be prepared to understand the ordinances performed in the temple. If a person cannot even accept or agree with the Church on basic doctrines, how could they possibly appreciate something as precious and special as a temple ceremony?

Besides, religions can do what they want. If some religion somewhere said that you couldn't come into their ziggurat or something and play a game of holy checkers unless you were under three feet tall and left-handed, you'd have to deal with it. They would face no obligation to let anyone above three feet tall come inside and play checkers with them. The nature of the qualifications or the activity performed makes no difference as long as it stays within the law. In a man's house, you abide by his rules, and in the Lord's House, you have to meet His standards. He does not have to change them if men complain about them.

I know that temples are incredibly sacred and holy places, places that deserve respect and reverence. I have been inside them, and I know that one of the most joyful moments of my life was when I entered the Celestial Room in the Bountiful Temple and saw my family waiting there for me. I have never felt so close to Heaven then at that moment. I testify that the temples are true, and that they are the houses of God. I strive to be worthy to enter inside them. I wish that I could attend them as a missionary, but, alas, there isn't one in my mission.

I know that someday I'll pass through the veil of this earth life and see my family there, waiting for me. It was all be a grand reunion for us, someday; a day of wonder and light. I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ allows families to be together forever, and that temples are part of His great redemptive work.

I love you and pray for you always. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

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