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, September 24, 2013

9/3/13 "I have learned for myself..."

"Joseph, what's the matter?"
"Never mind, all is well -- I am well enough off...I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true."
-- Joseph Smith's first words after an encounter with the God of all creation

This last week has been incredible. We had interviews with President on Wednesday, and I just want to say that I know that my Mission President is called of God. He is, without a doubt, one of the best men I know, and it was extremely refreshing for me to get to talk to him one-on-one. 

This particular interview was an interesting occasion for me, since I have passed my year-mark now. I still remember the very first time I sat in an interview with him, a nervous missionary on my very first day in the field. I have changed so much since then. Him, not so much, except his hair has a lot more gray in it now.

Elder Richardson and I worked very very hard this week. It felt wonderful. I am very glad that he's so willing to work, and I am also glad that he's so big and tough, since I don't have to worry about getting mugged with him around.

The story of this last week has been us going out and talking to people all day long, every day. That's been the routine thus far: we go out and talk to as many people as we can while the sun shines. In the evenings, we generally go to bed once the spiders start coming out. Oh heavens, the spiders.

We were out finding people to teach one afternoon and a dog rushed across its lawn to attack me. I backhanded it in the face with the Word of God. I know that's not how we've been trained to use the Book of Mormon, but it was certainly effective.

The apartment here in Lakefield has a small whiteboard that is small enough to fit inside a backpack. It has come in handy while teaching. I illustrated 1 Nephi 13 for a person we were teaching, and the other day drew out Jacob 5 when a recent convert asked us to explain it to her. (That was an interesting lesson!)

On Friday the Spanish elders ran into a recent convert family from Pohnpei, who had moved from Brigham City a few months ago and was supposedly looking for the Church here. We got to go and teach them a few times and got them to Church. Saturday evening we watched The Restoration with them and their accumulated friends and neighbors, a total audience of 18 people. True to Murphy's Law, there was a disturbance during the First Vision scene -- something always happens when it gets to the First Vision -- but thankfully it wasn't too distracting.

As I've been on my mission, The Restoration has come to mean a lot more to me. I know that it's just a movie, and that the real First Vision must have been unimaginably more beautiful than how it's portrayed in that film, but that scene still brings tears to my eyes. Simply because it stands for something so wonderful.

There was a time earlier in my mission when I was bearing my testimony of the Restoration to a person. This person interrupted me, dismissing my testimony by saying that "well, the devil is able to appear as an angel of light."

Well, if something like the First Vision -- which stirs something inside my soul every time I hear, watch, recite, or think about it -- comes from the devil, then we are all hosed, since that means Satan can mimic the Holy Ghost to the point that we can't even tell the difference. If the First Vision is a fraud and the feelings it brings to us are false, then there is no hope for us ever getting back to Heavenly Father, since Satan's counterfeits are far too convincing if that's the case.

Thankfully, though, the First Vision is true. Nothing like that could possibly be a lie and still have that kind of spiritual power.

Elder Richardson and I have been discussing Joseph Smith. In a way, people who believe Joseph was a liar have a much higher opinion of him than we do as members of the Church. Nonbelievers see Joseph as a genius with nerves of steel, able to pump out close to 1000 pages of scripture and put up with constant persecution for 24 years. Whereas we, as members of the Church, don't attach any sort of extraordinary intelligence to him and believe he probably endured all that persecution because he was far too scared of what would happen to him if he dared to go back on his testimony.

I think the Prophet put it best: "I had seen a vision. I knew it, and I knew God knew it, and I could not deny it."

I testify that the First Vision is true. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and love us. We are a part of the Savior's church in the Latter-Days, led by a living prophet. The Book of Mormon is true. I love my companion, I love my area, and I love my mission. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

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