Friday, January 18, 2008

Free Agency

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated January 16, 2008

Dear Mom,

Thanks for the letter. There isn't a whole lot that I can say about it, just that I hope and pray everything works out for the best.

One of the things I've been learning is not to worry myself about things I have no control over. That mostly comes from recognizing what it is I can't control. It's a fun process.

The best way I get by is to focus on goals for things I know I can accomplish. For instance, I know I can keep the apartment clean, take car of all my laundry and shopping and stuff like that. I also know I can teach so many missionary lessons in a day, how many scriptures I can memorize and other things like that.

Now, the gray area lies in things like my companion waking up on time every morning. I could try forcing him to wake up every morning to accomplish that as a goal. But I know that wouldn't be in keeping with how the gospel requires everyone to make the decisions for themselves. But, at the same time, that doesn't mean I have to give that up as a goal. That's where D&C 121 comes in. The parable of the sower is a good one too.

This isn't meant for advice in reply to your email, so much as a reminder for myself in case I ever forget, which I usually do.

There are some exciting things going on out here. I tell you as more develops.

Thanks again for everything.

Elder Freeman

Monday, January 14, 2008

Daily Miracles

From Elder BJ Bernards, dated January 7, 2008

Hello Family,

This week was super good. In this area we have basically "white washed" it. Meaning that we have started from scratch and are building things in our own way. Elder Hill had only been here for six weeks before I got here and they had the task of finding and moving into an apartment. The missionaries before I had got here had been living in a member's home and the members were leaving for the holidays and the rules say that missionaries shouldn't be in members' homes that aren't going to be around for long amounts of time so we moved into an apartment.

Our apartment is really nice, we have a little gas fireplace and a nice kitchen and good looking furniture. It hasn't had the long-lived-in-cluttered-to-the
-brim-with-furniture-rotting-and falling-apart-feel of a normal missionary apartment.

W have a car! Yah! This is good because we have a lot of members to visit and a lot of people to meet and a big area to cover. I am happy to be warm during this cold season.
and focused.

This week we met with the bishop of the ward who has caught the missionary bug that's been spreading throughout the Omaha Stake. I have never seen a bishop more excited about missionary work on my mission. We have a great Elders Quorum and a great Relief Society. Every day it seems we make more friends and greater connections with these wonderful people. We are just getting ingrained into the ward and working really hard and trying every day to be more diligent and obedient. With this close connection with the members we get to share good experiences and faith promoting stories and teach about principals and doctrines and share our limited knowledge of Preach My Gospel.

We still have our challenges and I am glad and happy to have challenges because where would the miracles come from if we didn't have opposition?

Phew I am glad its preparation day though. I like our new preparation day schedule. We work real hard during the week and put all of our focus on Sunday, then crash on Monday! It's good. I have been seeing the effects in our area. It's really hard work, but each day we are seeing miracles and having prayers answered.

For instance, last Friday we showed up to an appointment we had made with a young man we taught while he was sitting in his car the day before. He wasn't at the appointment so we used our back-up plans and found another guy who wanted to hear more, but on a different day. So we tract his street and found this guy who was outside working on taking down Christmas lights and said to us, "It's really strange that you guys would show up today. Because my brother just passed away yesterday." He was just barely holding back the torrent of emotions going through him. He said," I'm really sad about it too because I don't know if he has accepted Jesus."

We told him a little bit about the spirit world, and told him that that was why we were here. We were there to tell him about the Plan of Salvation. Immediately as I brought up the spirit world I felt a powerful movement in the spirit. It burned brightly in us and in him. I knew at that moment that his brother was there to help us and him out. His brother was being taught by missionaries and wanted his brother to know more about it.

This man has talked to a lot of missionaries and probably bashed with us a lot before. But his heart was soft and broken and we didn't bash but discussed and testified of the truth and how all of the doctrines of the church fit with ancient scripture.

All of us grew in a greater sense of understanding and left feeling uplifted. I know that we were led to him. I know that we have angels watching over us who are truly ministering to these people here in the Millard ward. I know they are preparing all of God's children. All of His children who will be saved will be saved. The only reason for no miracles on the earth or in a ward or in a family or in an individuals life is because of a lack of Faith. (Moroni 7)

God is calling His children home. He is doing it through the faithful. Let us all rise to a new sense of commitment this week in proclaiming this gospel to the ends of the earth. We are surrounded by people. All are children of God. All have the Light of Christ. All are eligible for our invitations.

There was a paper put out by the stake that we are circulation throughout the ward. It has a bunch of good tasty doctrine that builds our faith to find people to teach. They use a story that I wish to share:

"Imagine that you invite a friend over for breakfast. You have a great meal spread out and you place a great glass jug of cool orange juice. Your friend notices it but doesn't ask for any. Their glass remains empty. You go about talking and eating and finally towards the end of the meal they ask you for some orange juice. you stammer a quick apology excusing yourself because you were not sure if they wanted any juice or not so you didn't offer any."

Many times we are like that host with our peers. How do we know unless we ask them?

As I have been meeting people here in the ward, I notice how ready people are to get connected. They are looking for someone to connect with them. We can be that link. We can be their source for love, truth, and light, because if we have an eye single to the glory of God we will be full of light and will not be able to contain it and it will spill out into the world.

So the work goes on. We grow and go.

I love this work with all my heart. We are taking steps closer toward the top every week. We are rallying the members, we are pushing back the darkness, we are seeking out the Faithful.

Thanks for you Love, and Prayers. I feel them carry me through. I love all of you. It is a pure and eternal love. We will be together for for ever!

Elder Bernards

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Back in the Saddle

From Elder BJ Bernards, dated January 7, 2008

Dear Father,

I love you. Thanks for being my dad. I read through some old letters from you and gleaned great support from them. I love your testimony and your example as a father.

It was great to talk to you. Thank you also for the spending money. It has been a great support to me. I promise to take better care of it.

We have been seeing miracles here.

Let me tell you of my special calling I've been given. I feel that I have been called here to raise the moral and the spirituality and obedience and the faith of the missionaries here in West Omaha. My companion is Elder Hill who is from Burley, Idaho, and a great man. He lacks faith in himself, and gets discouraged. We have been working hard and have been seeing these miracles and been raising our bar. Before I was here this district was in shambles. We have a good new district leader who is from Sacramento, California, and some great elders here. We have the best wards in all of Nebraska in this district. We are going to see wonders here. We have an abundance of returned missionaries and strong priesthood leaders here to go forth proclaiming the gospel.

I have been able to see the growth that I am contributing and am fulfilled in my service. I know that even though I am not baptizing yet, we are doing a work that eventually affects that. Every week we have been getting stronger and stronger. I feel a fire that is unquenchable in my bosom that won’t let me rest or falter. It is the Love of my Savior. It is the seeds of the fruit of the Tree of Life that swells within me! It is a well of living water that quenches my thirsty soul and it floweth forever. I am grateful for your dedicated service for my behalf that has brought me to this gift. I am grateful for your righteous lifestyle of keeping covenants and upholding your priesthood oaths which have granted me access to the atoning blood of Christ.

I just wanted to say I love you and pray for you and apologize for my horrible teenage years. I am sorry for showing the kids such a bad example. I have made it my life goal to rectify those choices and show and be the best example to everyone I see. I never want to lead into unrighteousness again! I love truth. My heart rejoices in it! I cleave unto it and my understanding of it grows and grows. One day we shall sing in praise of our God and His righteousness and our praise will last forever and ever. We shall obtain the fullness of the stature of Christ by and by. We have great reason to rejoice because nothing shall separate us from the Love of Christ Jesus (Romans 9) That is one of my favorite chapters.

I also am grateful for Joseph Smith who I know is a true prophet called for us in these latter days.

Elder Bernards