Monday, April 29, 2013

The Second Great Flood

Dear Family,

Hope y'all are doing well. Hopefully you enjoyed having Dad up there in Utah. Sounds like everyone is happy and healthy. What a great blessing that is.

We have had a terrific week. Elder Woodland and I saw many miracles and the Lord is continuing to bless and prosper us. On Saturday night we were heading to the church to do visits with the ward and stake since Ward Conference was on Sunday and all the roads were flooding from the downpour we received. We arrived only to find out that it had been cancelled. So we met up with Elder Nottingham and spent 5 hours driving around Houston in our truck rescuing stranded missionaries. Only two mission cars were damages but a number of them were abandoned on "high ground" and then we would pick the missionaries up and drive them home. It was wild. We saw so many cars halfway under water with completely dead engines. There were a few places were the water was 3-4 feet deep. Luckily all the missionaries were safe. It was unreal how hard it was raining. I don't think I have ever experienced anything like it.

Anyways, it got me thinking about Noah's flood. He was under the prophetic commission to call all people unto repentance and so am I. There is an MTC talk where Elder Holland says that we will never be more apostolic than on our missions. It is humbling to know that as a missionary I carry that same charge and burden of declaring the Gospel of repentance to all creatures. President Ashton said that in the Mission President's Seminar in Phoenix, Elder Nelson got up at the end and said that as an apostle, he was to call all people unto repentance. He then explained that it was awkward for him to call a group of mission president's to repentance but that we would do it anyway. I thought that was pretty impressive.

As I think about repentance, I think of what I learned this week from President Ashton about charity and the Atonement. We had a study with him on Wednesday that has changed my perspective and I know already it will be a turning point in my mission and my life. He taught us that when the Savior suffered in Gethsemane He did so one by one and that He literally took upon Himself each and every one of our individual trials, hardships, weaknesses, disappointments, heartaches, sicknesses, sorrows, and afflictions of every kind. We know from Alma 7 that He did this so that He would know how to succor us or rather, how to rush to our aid. What President Ashton then taught me is that when we help others receive the Gospel and find joy in this life, when we ease someone's suffering, when we lift up the hands that hang down, we lighten the Savior's burden. He said that yes charity is the pure love of Christ towards other of God's children but even more so it is the pure love of Christ for Christ. He said that if we have a hard time loving those around us enough to help, we can at least love the Savior enough to ease the burden that He has already taken upon Him.

Now as I am talking with someone, I think of them not having the joy of the Gospel and I think of the suffering of the Savior of the world in the Garden and I can see them in a new light. I can love them as I love Him. In D&C 18 we read:

 10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

 12 And he hath arisen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!

 14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.

 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

We also had an hour and a half long companionship study with President Ashton this morning in preparation for the Mission Leadership Council tomorrow. He is incredible. It is such a blessing to be able to council together with him and learn about how the Holy Ghost works.

Another really good scripture that Elder Woodland shared with me this week is Mormon 9:13

 14 And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.

Elder Woodland read this to me and then said, this is why it is so important that everyone is baptized and receives the Gospel as soon as possible. All of us have to start learning how to be eternally happy in this life so that it will carry on with us into the next life. This helped me to better understand that "man is that he might have joy".

Thank you for praying for the Columbuses. They will be baptized. We still don't know when. We began teaching 4 new families this week. It has been such a blessing. One of the families, we found as after we knocked on the door of a less-active. We were walking back to the truck and the neighbor was watering her lawn. We began talking with her and she recognized us as missionaries and said that her husband was very sick and that her neighbor (the less-active member) had told her that the bishop could come by and say a prayer for him sometime. We suggested that we could say a prayer for him and give him a blessing. She loved the idea and after the sacred experience of ministering to this man, they told us that we were welcome back into their home anytime. They are from Costa Rico but have lived in the states for 40 years.

I have been trying to keep better track of of the Lord's hand in my life. I came across a wonderful quote today that shares what I continue feel:

“Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but … the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.”  - Joseph Smith Jr.

I love you all and know this Gospel is true.

Elder Case

P.S. I forgot to tell you that yesterday in our meal appointment, the member brought half of a pepper over. It looked kind of like banana pepper, so I was about to take a big bite when my blessed companion stopped me and told me it was a habanero pepper. I then took a small bite and nearly died. It was the hottest thing I have ever eaten. It made my tongue and upper lip numb for 45 minutes. The member thought it was hilarious to see a gringo sweat from eating the pepper!

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