Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Geliebter Brüder und Schwestern,

This week, this week. To be honest this week wasn't that great. And I am sure that any return missionary would understand this kind of week. Where everyone that you made out an appointment with fell out and even people who you found the week before who seemed to have great interest don't answer any of your phone calls or texts. We even got a media referral from the office and then when we went to the address of which we were given. His name wasn't written anywhere on the building or on the doorbells. We still managed to meet with people but it just really felt like a down week. I am also not too keen that my last two companions and the general group of missionaries I am around are either leaving this transfer or will be the next transfer. It is hard to keep the faith and hope I had at the beginning when I am around missionaries whose fire or passion for the work at least to me seems a little stale, for lack of a better word. Now don't get me wrong I am around a lot of cool and good missionaries. But sometimes other side effects are attached to those who are wise and experienced. But nonetheless all is good and I will never give up no matter what comes my way. Because as much as I want to have an astounding conversion in Christ and be better in so many other ways right at this moment. It will not be so. For amongst those few astounding conversions like Alma, the sons of Mosiah, Enos, and Paul. Whose absolute conversion to Christ was right then and there and went on to prove it with their words and deeds and with all their might, mind, and strength. There are hundreds of thousands of others whose conversion to Christ and acquiring attributes of Christ that come line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little. So I know that if I look forward with an eye of faith and a brightness of hope in Christ. I will become the disciple and person I need and want to be.  

And now I wish to share with all of you a talk that I really like by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. It is called “Why Not Now?” It is pretty short but very powerful. I would invite you to read it and also based upon what you'll observe, learn, and feel.. what will you do now?


"My brothers and sisters, I should like to speak of and to a particular group of important individuals. These are they who fully intend, someday, to begin to believe and/or to be active in the Church. But not yet! These are not bad individuals, but good individuals who simply do not know how much better they could be. Such individuals often stay proximate to—but do not participate fully in—the Church. They will not come inside the chapel, but neither do they leave its porch. These are they who need and are needed by the Church, but who, in part, “live without God in the world” Eph. 2:12

To such individuals, in the brief, imploring invitation which follows, be assured there is a real craving for your companionship and a genuine need for your unique strengths.
There are reasons for your commitment to be made now, for as the rush of hours, days, and months grows stronger, the will to commit grows weaker. Events to transpire soon on this planet will dry up the options for the lukewarm, for the issues raised by Jesus are irrepressible issues!
If, however, you really do not wish to commit now, then let me warn of the following:
Do not look too deeply into the eyes of the pleasure-seekers about you, for if you do, you will see a certain sadness in sensuality, and you will hear artificiality in the laughter of licentiousness.
Do not look too deeply, either, into the motives of those who deny God, for you may notice their doubts of doubt.
Do not risk thinking the unthinkable, lest you find yourself drawn with a deep and powerful pull toward the reality that God does exist, that he loves you, and that finally there is no escaping him or his love!
Do not think too much about what you are teaching your family, for what in you is merely casualness about Christianity may, in your children, become hostility; for what you have not defended, your children may reject angrily.
Do not reflect on the practicality of gospel standards such as abstaining from alcohol; for if you do, a surf of statistics will wash over you, confirming that abstinence is ultimately the only cure for alcoholism that is both preventive and redemptive. You will also see that the living of one protective principle of the gospel is better than a thousand compensatory governmental programs—which programs are, so often, like “straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Do not think too much, either, about other doctrines, such as the importance of love at home; because if you think about them very long—in a world full of orphans with parents—you will be grasped by a reality that will make your teeth chatter.
Do not think, either, about the doctrine that you are a child of God, for if you do, it will be the beginning of belonging.
Do not dare to read the Book of Mormon seriously, or you may suddenly realize that it is inlaid with incredibly important insights from a millennium of sacred history.
Do not overpack the luggage you plan to take with you when you leave this world, for we simply cannot get most mortal things by celestial customs; only the eternal things are portable.
Do not pray, for you will get answers from a listening and loving Father.
Do not think too much, either, about the possibility that there are living prophets in the world today. Think instead about how those who are so sustained seem quite ordinary in many ways. Forget that other prophets were fishermen and tentmakers—ordinary enough to scarcely be noticed—except for what they said and what they did! For the winds of tribulation, which blow out some men’s candles of commitment, only fan the fires of faith of these special men.
Do not let yourself reflect too much on the social, political, and economic indicators that suggest the gathering storm, lest you realize that there is an inseparable connection between the keeping of the commandments and the well-being of society.
Do not read what the holiest inhabitant ever to live on this planet said about the necessity of certain ordinances, or you will see that he allowed for no exceptions, including himself.
Do not search the scriptures to see if good people still need the Church, for the best being who ever lived organized the Church—because random, individual goodness is not enough in the fight against evil.
Do not, if you have been offended, recall that while you may have been bumped by an ecclesiastical elbow, the chip was on your shoulder long before the elbow appeared.
Do not be fully honest about the hypocrisy of those in the Church who may pretend to be better than they are, or you will soon realize that there is also another form of hypocrisy—appearing to be less committed than one really is!
Yes, brothers and sisters, it is best to avoid all such things as these if you wish to continue to delay deciding about Christ and his church.
However, Joshua didn’t say choose you next year whom you will serve; he spoke of “this day,” while there is still daylight and before the darkness becomes more and more normal. (See Josh. 24:15).
When Jesus called his first disciples, the scriptures record that they left their ships and nets “straightway.” They didn’t ask to join Jesus after the fishing season; they didn’t even delay their response in order to make just one more catch. They left “straightway”! (See Matt. 4:20)
Act, my brothers and sisters, for once the soul is tilted toward belief, and once there is even a desire to believe, then marvelous things begin to happen! Once one leaves the porch and comes inside the Church, then one not only hears the music more clearly—he becomes a part of it.
Act now, so that a thousand years from now, when you look back at this moment, you can say this was a moment that mattered—this was a day of determination.
Never mind, therefore, that you have made an investment of self and time in inactivity. Never mind that there is an accumulation of pride that will make it difficult to acknowledge that you have been wrong, for it will never be easier to do than it is now.
All must know that feeling which is associated with a broken heart and a contrite spirit—by which we are cleansed by the hot, holy fire of a special shame, so that we might, thereafter, have a more pure love and a greater capacity to serve both God and man. Hearts “set so much upon the things of this world” D&C 121:35 are hearts so set they must first be broken.
Indeed, one of the most cruel games anyone can play with self is the “not yet” game—hoping to sin just a bit more before ceasing; to enjoy the praise of the world a little longer before turning away from the applause; to win just once more in the wearying sweepstakes of materialism; to be chaste, but not yet; to be good neighbors, but not now. One can play upon the harpstrings of hesitations and reservations just so long, and then one faces that special moment—a moment when what has been sensed, mutely, suddenly finds voice and cries out with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24)
The truth is that “not yet” usually means “never.” Trying to run away from the responsibility to decide about Christ is childish. Pilate sought to refuse responsibility for deciding about Christ, but Pilate’s hands were never dirtier than just after he had washed them.
The past of each of us is now inflexible. We need to concentrate on what has been called “the holy present,” for now is sacred; we never really live in the future. The holy gift of life always takes the form of now. Besides, God asks us now to give up only those things which, if clung to, will destroy us!
And when we tear ourselves free from the entanglements of the world, are we promised a religion of repose or an Eden of ease? No! We are promised tears and trials and toil! But we are also promised final triumph, the mere contemplation of which tingles one’s soul.
My friends, there are footprints to follow where we must go—made not by a leader who said, safely from the sidelines, “Go thither,” but by a leader who said, “Come, follow me” Luke 18:22 And our mortal leader is a prophet who is showing us how to lengthen our stride.
Yes, for those in the Church’s courtyard or on its porch, ask not “for whom the [Church] bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” (John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII.)
And, if you sense that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord [see Philip. 2:10–11 and Mosiah 27:31] why not do so now? For in the coming of that collective confession, it will mean much less to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up!
Meanwhile, may we be different in order to make a difference in the world. And may God hasten that time for all our sakes, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." 

So hopefully you read all of that. But oh what inspiration do I draw from this talk. He is truly a disciple of the Lord. Even though this week wasn't the greatest of weeks it only fans the flames for my faith.  It only makes me want to try harder than I ever have before. Not as a kamikaze effort but to simply be as Mormon and simply stand up and boldly say. "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." 3 Nephi 5:13 I have found while being on my mission that the more honest and sincere I am about showing my love to those I teach the more bold I can be. To recall an experience this week. While me and Elder Collins were in Bad Falling Bostel this week. We taught an old investigator from the Elders that came before us. And from what I could tell from the teaching record they had put a lot of effort into this man and by that I mean probably a little bit too much when it came to him getting baptized. That I think he actually didn't want to be taught by them anymore or had to take a break. But he let us in when we stopped by his place and was quite happy to see us. You could definitely tell he liked talking to the missionaries. So we were having a good discussion and it was going in a good direction. So me being me I thought well hey I am never going to stray away from my purpose as a missionary and the importance of baptism. So i kind of started the idea of why does he think we are missionaries or what does he think we try to accomplish as missionaries. And then I got the point where I said something about where it is not enough to simply teach about eternal life but we invite people to be baptized so that they can partake of it. And of course the moment I mention baptism, he raises both arms in the air with fists balled and in an exaggerated voice says "Baptism!" It is actually quite funny in hindsight when I picture him in my head doing that. But as he was explaining a little about his reaction a scripture popped into my head and of course I had to share it. So I shared it and gave my testimony and explained how much we care for people and for them individually and never wish to take away anyone’s faith but only wish to give them more. And he had actually calmed down and was actually completely silent. And then my companion asked a great question and the discussion went right back on track and I think progress was actually made with him. I left a lot out of that story out but just to give you a quick background on this guy and why he is so hard is this. So he is a devout Catholic and has been in it his whole life so obviously it is really hard for him seeing as it feels like home to him. He has no problems with what we teach other than his only concern is which church has authority part. Which I am actually kind of confused about it because he has been taught a lot of things that are totally not in harmony with catholic doctrine. And that he believes the Book of Mormon is 90% true. Which also doesn't make sense because you can no longer even make a decision at that point of whether it is true or not. So basically his only concern is the authority of the churches. But yeah great guy wants us back over and is actually going to make dinner for us next time too. But essentially that experience for me really helped me to understand that if I show my love then I can be bolder about the truths that I have a testimony of.  

Other two random events that I want to share are about Saudd the recent convert from Iraq and Kim who is the Sisters investigator but is going to be baptized this October. So first Kim who I only know through the Sisters and have seen and talked to at the Knabe eating appointments and at church. She actually asked me herself if I would give the ansprache (talk) at her baptism. So I guess you never know the effect you can have on people. But now it just makes me really nervous to give a talk. And now the other event with Saud: So Saud has only been a convert for a couple weeks now. But in fast testimony meeting yesterday the bishop invited him to come up and give his testimony. And Saud doesn't have the greatest German soooo luckily we had another investigator Najeem who is from Syria and knows Saud and speaks English as well as Arabic. So basically what happened was that three people were standing at the pulpit. Saud talked in Arabic, Najeem translated into English, and then the first counselor translated it into German. It was a sight to behold for sure and was really cool. And of course the best part was the testimony itself. It really set the pace for the entire meeting and you could feel it. So amongst the not so fun parts of the week I still l experienced tender mercies of the Lord that just make me even more excited to be a missionary.  

Well that is all for this week I hope you enjoyed the letter and the talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. I hope all is well and i pray for you all daily.  


Elder Foster


No comments:

Post a Comment