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

5/20/13 "Is it poison, Nanny?"

I say...we're getting up there in the numbers of emails, aren't we?

We had a very blessed week. It started on Tuesday, when we knocked on the door of a sweet old Canadian man named George. (I'd like to say real quickly that I've yet to meet a Canadian that I haven't liked.) He opened up the door and we asked if we could talk with him, and he said sure, I went to your church last Thursday and really enjoyed it. And I've been meeting with you over the last few weeks, as a matter of fact.

Elder Fulton and I exchanged glances over this, since we definitely hadn't seen anyone at church and Elder Fulton, during his six months in Huntersville, had definitely not taught this man before and the LDS definitely don't have church services on Thursday anyway. The sweet old man had gotten Mormons and JWs mixed up, bless his heart. He thought the JWs teaching him were Mormons and that he had gone to the Mormon church, but we patiently explained that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints = Mormons =/= Jehovah's Witnesses.

I helped solve his confusion by holding up a copy of the Book of Mormon and asking, "Did they use this book at that church?" When he responded that no, they didn't, I said, "Well, they probably aren't Mormons, then."

The other funny part of this conversation was when a telemarketer called George right in the middle of it. George, this otherwise very kind, very accepting, very open man, simply tore this telemarketer to pieces over the phone. "I've told you people in the past not to call me and I've told you I'm not interested in anything you have to sell, so I don't know if you're deaf or just stupid. Goodbye!"

We have done a lot of service this week. I mowed two lawns, moved some furniture, held a guinea pig, helped washed some windows, biked, biked, and biked some more. It's been a very busy week. The real blessing, though, was the Stevens family. On exchange last Friday Elder Fulton and Elder Parker, our district leader, knocked on a door and the woman inside exclaim, "Hey! I was in Temple Square three days ago!"

This is Sister Stevens, whose father is a member. Elder Fulton set a return appointment and we taught them the first lesson on Thursday. I feel very good about them, since both Sister Stevens and her husband have a very sincere desire to learn more and to act on the answers they have. Best of all, they're backyard neighbors with one member family and very good friends with another member family. They were invited to church and came this Sunday, and I think they had a pretty good experience. The only issue might be that it was Ward Conference, so we may have to explain why there was all this hand-raising at the beginning. However, it was fun for Elder Fulton and I to represent the males in the ward and sing in the Ward Choir during the first meeting.

A member in Texas called up our bishop and asked him to host a funeral for their relative, who lived in our ward boundaries and had just passed away. The bishop recruited me to play the piano for the funeral, which was a bit interesting since the audience was predominantly nonmember. That ruled out most of our hymnbook, since they wouldn't know the songs. The bishop gave an incredible talk on the Plan of Salvation after the eulogy was given, and we told him afterward that several of the people in the audience were ministers of other faiths. He really did a fantastic job. What a stud!

Side note: It's always fun to see how, though every bishop in every ward is different, you can always tell that they are the one the Lord has called to direct the ward.

My thoughts have been turned this week mainly to the Plan of Salvation, and the glorious sense that it all makes. I've been making long discourses on it in my study journal, little notes that grow into large essays. I feel sorry for other Christians, because they only have 1/3 of the Plan of Salvation, the middle third from the Fall to the Spirit World. They don't know about the beginning third (pre-earth life) or the ending third (kingdoms of glory), so of course they can't answer all the questions they might have.

I had a thought occur to me as the sacrament was being passed last Sunday. I've said it once and I'll say it again: a lot of us think about the redemptive and saving power of the Atonement, but we often forget about the enablingpower of the Atonement. The sacrament reminds us a lot about that if we really think about it.

How often have we really thought about the sacrament. I mean, really thought about it? Why is it bread and water?What do they represent?

When we take of the bread, we remember the body of Jesus Christ. It represents the body which was whipped, crucified, and ultimately died for us. It also represents, however, that same body, which rose again, glorified and immortal. Because the Savior lives, all men will live -- this is the first, and possibly greatest, message of the Gospel: that death has been conquered, and families can live together forever. This glorious truth is something that we can remember when we take the bread on Sunday: that we need not fear death, and that there is such a thing as an eternal family.

When we take of the water, we remember the blood of Jesus Christ. It represents the blood that the Savior shed for us when He was in the garden of Gethsemane; the blood He shed when He took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and afflictions of eternity.

This suffering in Gethsemane is the second great message of the Gospel: that sins can be forgiven, and that we can become clean again, no matter what we've done. When we drink the water during sacrament meeting, we can remember that, while we are imperfect, the Lord loves us anyway. He has freely forgiven, and He will always forgive. It is not the Savior that will need to be convinced to let us into the Celestial Kingdom; He has already opened the door. We must repent so that we will allow ourselves to walk in.

This leads me to the second thought which came to me during the sacrament. Bread and water represent food and drink, two things that all humans must have in order to survive. We do not just eat when we are starving, near the point of death, and we don't just drink when we've gone without water for days. We eat and drink all the time, in small amounts or large, sick, tired, or in perfect health. Any fitness instructor can tell you that if you get thirsty during exercise, it means that you're already dehydrated and should've gotten some water sooner.

It is the same with the Atonement; it is not just some reserve energy supply that comes in when we've exhausted our own strength -- we rely upon it at all times, in all places. Sometimes in the midnights of our soul we need the Savior's love even more, but we rely upon Him even in the happy day-to-day moments. Just as we need food and drink in order to sustain life, we require the Atonement at all times to help us pass the test of mortality and return home to our Father in Heaven -- to gain eternal life.

The Spirit is what links us to that power of the Atonement, and, if you listen to the sacrament prayers, you will notice that we are promised that the Spirit will be with us.

We need his company, because his is the power that sanctifies us, making us more Christlike. We need to have the Spirit with us so that we will accept the Atonement, when the time comes. Do not underestimate the power of the Holy Ghost! He is extremely skilled at keeping a low profile in his work, to the point that you might not even notice his help in your life until looking back years afterward. I testify that he is real, though, and he is helping you. We may not get to see Heavenly Father and the Savior in this life, but we are entitled to always have the third member of the Godhead with us, and that's nothing to be scoffed at.

One of the greatest signs of growth in myself during my mission is that I've come to greatly appreciate and look forward to the sacrament. I ask each of you to really focus on the great blessings that come to you because of the Savior, His Atonement, and His gospel this next Sunday.

I love you and are grateful for you. I need your prayers and I'm very thankful for them. I love my companion and I love my mission! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

P.S. -- Transfers are next week; we're getting transfer calls on Saturday. Even if I don't get transferred, the Huntersville missionaries are moving to a new apartment (one that's actually in our area, thank goodness), so either way, my address will be changing. To all those sending letters to me, unless you get them out around Monday to Wednesday, you'll probably miss me. I'll know by next Monday what the plans are.

No comments:

Post a Comment