The package came! Thank you so very much. The pictures are wonderful and I love the little book. I can really see the progress of this big family of ours and especially those babies. Connor is a huge little flubber! I loved the package and the pics were so awesome. Also, I got the package the same day that I mistakenly put my old expired debit card in an ATM. The ATM said that it would keep my card for security purposes. Ugh! At least I have the new card.
I’m doing a lot better since the email I sent last week. It had been a rough week, but I talked with the President and he helped me out a lot. Now, I’m fine! Thanks so much for your ideas of reading on the Atonement. It’s something that I really need to do to strengthen my testimony. I’m gonna work on that a lot more this week.
There was a party right outside our room that lasted from 10 at night until 7 in the morning. There aren’t any laws here (or at least they don’t get enforcepublic intoxication or for disturbing the peace with music and stuff. The people here blast salsa music as loud as it goes and just start drinking. The drinking continues until they run out of money or the stores run out of beer, whichever happens first. The party really sucked. I woke up at 5 and couldn’t deal with the music, so giving up all hope, I started reading. Oh man, I was so tired the next day, it was Sunday and I had to give a talk. My talk yesterday was about being converted unto the Lord and not to the church or a person or a missionary. I thought it was a really interesting thought. There are a lot of people here that say that when they see someone who claims to be a member of the church, or someone who has given themselves to God and they see that person doing something dumb (contrary to good things) then other people use that as their reason why they don’t wanna give themselves to God, change, or get baptized. They claim that for the bad example or it’s other peoples fault they won’t join the church. The ward that I’m in has so many gossipy people, a bunch of talking behind peoples backs. A couple of young guys who went on their missions and came home in a couple months, there is a ton of talking and gossiping. We have met a lot that say they won’t go to church if they find out that a certain person is going to be there. It makes me remember the guy who freaked out on us when we sat in "his bench" at the homecoming. That really upset me, but it’s not something that I’ll stop going to church over. I thought of the example of Judas, Christ’s disciple. In his time, the membership of the church was fairly small. All the people knew the disciples. When Judas sold Jesus for a few silver coins everyone would have known about it. Was there a falling away for the acts of that disciple? Did the apostles get shaken in their faith or stop preaching, going to church because one time there was a follower of Christ who did something bad? Did the members decide that Christ wasn’t the way to salvation or that His church wasn’t true anymore because Judas? NOOOO! They stayed true to the faith because they were converted to the faith, not just converted to Judas. They stayed in the true gospel because they knew that it was Jesus’ gospel, men were free to choose, and the actions of men who claim to be followers of Christ are not indicators of the truthfulness of the work. It made me think a lot too, just planning the talk. Am I converted to the gospel and to Christ? Or, am I converted to the tradition of the church? Do I do what I do because I choose and I know it’s true? Or, is it because that’s what I’ve been taught as a kid. It’s an interesting thought for me. It reminds me just how fragile our testimonies can be.
We talked to 2 less active guys this week. Augustine was sealed in the temple, a high priest, and an active member in the church for 12 of his 14 years of membership. He has been inactive for 2 years. He says that it’s his own decision. He says that he now believes that religion is made to enslave man. He believes now that our reason for preaching scriptures, and the same principles again and again is to program the minds of the people. He really believes that we brainwash people or something. He doesn’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, just an honorable man worthy of recognition. The same goes for Jesus, that he isn’t the Savior, just a good man and teacher, and worthy of recognition. He believes that God isn’t personal, just a passive all powerful being of some kind. He said that he wants to wake up from the dream that he has been living for the past 14 years of his life. Hearing what this man told us, it scared me. Honestly, I was shocked at what he told us. He even said to us "I will talk to you guys, but not to the members. I don’t want them to deviate from their path, but I tell you guys because I know your stronger and more firmly planted." Well, to be honest, that man shocked me with what he has decided. It really got me thinking. How can we help him? He has lost his faith, and it has been converted into a lie from Satan. He said that the church didn’t make him a better man, he has always been a good man. He continues to be a good man. But, he did say that he doesn’t believe that the word "sin" should even exist. It should just be "mistakes". Interesting conversation with him. Oddly enough, I felt calm with him. He was very respectful, not wanting to contend, argue, or prove his point to try to change our beliefs. He just shared what he now thinks. I believe that there is hope for him but its gonna take a long time. That’s what got me thinking on the conversion topic. Now I’m a lot more focused on my own conversion.
Then we met a less active man who has been bishop 3 times, a pioneer in the church in this area, and he was recently released from being stake patriarch. He is great, but has also deviated from the path for dumb mistakes and carelessness. He came to church and talked with the bishop to get it worked out. That was awesome! He’s a good guy. I’ve felt a lot more compassion for the less actives here lately. They all have a reason. It’s not like they wanted to go inactive, it just happened for one reason or another. It’s something that I’ve noticed lately, I have more compassion for them.
I love you family. I hope that all is well at home. It’s crazy to think that Jimmy is gonna move far away. It shocked me when I finally got that letter. Good luck to them though. My love to all and a million thanks again for the package, the pics, the book, and everything. Have a great week. The gospel is true!!!