Monday, September 16, 2013

"Shall Be Your Minister"

Dear Family, This week has been very special and full of tender mercies. I tried to attach a video of Elder Ayala and I doing the Spalding sounds during language study today, but the file is too big. He knows the whole alphabet and we are working on the other sounds. It is a blast. I am thinking of Spalding Bingo during lunch someday. On Tuesday this week, I was on an exchange with Elder Gray (my MTC companion and best friend in the field) in his area. I have been waiting more than a year to spend a day with him again. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. We had a blast! He is an incredible missionary and even though he has the smallest area in the entire mission, he has baptized weekly for the past 3 weeks. We just saw miracle after miracle and his faith was contagious. He taught me so much about how to be a good missionary. We had an appointment with a man that had come to church on Sunday and it was the first time he had ever been taught by missionaries. We taught about the Book of Mormon and bore testimony of it and then invited him to be baptized on the 28 of September and he accepted. We were there for ten minutes and yet he felt the Spirit strong enough that he wanted to be baptized to have that feeling with him always. I learned from that experience that it doesn't matter what we say or teach that helps people to be baptized, it is how they feel. The other thing that made the exchange so fun was that Elder Evertsen (my first trainee) is Elder Gray's Zone Leader companion and they live in the same apartment so I got to talk with him and see the type of missionary and leader he has become. After such a wonderful experience on Tuesday being with extremely good and powerful missionaries it was frustrating to go back to my area and have my companions not be the same exact way. I was still a bit frustrated when we got to the office Wednesday morning for our weekly study with President Ashton. He asked what we should study and we explained our frustration and asked if we could study for our companions and how to help them. He concurred and suggested we begin in Mark 10. The following hour of study was one of the most humbling experiences of my entire life. We read about the apostles thinking they were great and powerful and Christ teaching them the eternal truth that he that is great should be a servant and that Christ himself came not to be ministered unto but to minister. We read about Bartim├Žus (the blind beggar) being hushed and "put into his place" by the crowd and the disciples only to receive the long desired and sought after mercy and healing from He who is the Master Healer. We read about the rich young man that kept the commandments from his youth but was not willing to give up his wealth in order to enter into God's Kingdom. And throughout all this reading, the Spirit was teaching me, prompting me, and chastising me. My intent of studying my for my companions was to change them and help them to be the type of missionary I thought they should be. I was focused on myself and my own wants and desires. But I am thankful that Heavenly Father understood the real need and lack. He knew that I was the one that needed to change and give up pride and humble myself. After that experience, everything has been different. We had our companionship inventory on Thursday and as I apologized to my companions for my lack of patience and humility and helpfulness, they cried and said that they had been praying for me to have a change of heart. That was another humbling moment. On Friday I was on exchanges with some other Zone Leaders in my last zone. Keeping in mind what the Spirit had taught me we had a miraculous day. I was able to help them learn how to pray before and after teaching appointments and follow the promptings of the Spirit to find everyone at home and ready to listen to the Gospel. We taught a lady for the first time in a couple months about the Restoration and by the end of it she was so excited to be baptized! She accepted a baptismal date and kept talking about how important the authority is. I have never seen someone understand the Apostasy as well as her and that is what made the lesson so powerful. We also taught a returning less-active about indexing and family history. As we watched the new indexing video that the church recently released, I felt the Holy Ghost very strongly and received the prompting to ask the man about deceased ancestors that have been on his mind recently. He said he had been thinking about his mother constantly. The Spirit than gave me the words. I looked at him and said, "Heavenly Father just told me that your mother has accepted the Gospel on the other side of the veil and is waiting to get out of prison. She needs you to do her work so that she can be released. The reason that you are coming back to church is because she has touched your heart and helped you turn your heart to the Lord. You need to go back to the temple and have her work done". That man felt it. He knew without a doubt that the words were from the Lord and I could see in his eyes that he had the conviction to follow and obey those feelings. On Saturday morning, during our companionship study, we were taught fully and completely by the Holy Ghost. There were two really big factors that played into the experience that we had. The first factor is that I received a letter from Sara McGill that had a number of Jane's emails home. As I read through the experiences she is having and the faith that she is demonstrating and he love of the Gospel and Savior, it brought the Spirit and reminded me just how true this work really is. The second factor is that Dad sent me a letter about ministering angles and miracles in Moroni 7. So Saturday morning as we began companionship study I felt like I should bring Dad's letter with me. We had a really good study for the normal hour and then right as we knelt down to say the closing prayer, I looked at the letter and asked if I could share something with them. I explained the letter and the verses in Moroni 7. We opened the scriptures and began to read: 30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according tothe word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strongfaith and a firm mind in every form of agodliness. 31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance,and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father,which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the wayamong the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ untothe achosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. 32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that thearesidue of men may have bfaith in Christ, that the Holy Ghostmay have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof;and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenantswhich he hath made unto the children of men. 33 And Christ hath said: aIf ye will have bfaith in me ye shall havepower to do whatsoever thing is cexpedient in me. 34 And he hath said: aRepent all ye ends of the earth, and comeunto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved. 35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that thesethings are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will showunto you, with apower and great glory at the last bday, that theyare true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? After the first verse, the Spirit came. I know I always say that it was the most powerful or something I have never experienced, but this time, it really was unique. A flood of thoughts and scriptures rushed into my mind and my understanding was enlightened. I don't know how to explain it other than that. For the next hour we read from scriptures all over the Book of Mormon about angels participating in this work. It was a wonderfully sweet experience. The Spirit was so constant and taught us all that this really is the Lord's work. I was overwhelmed by the power of what we were learning and feeling. As we then went and proselyted, I understood in an entirely different way the importance of this work and the joy it is to participate in it. There are too many miracles to describe them all. Please keep praying for Marcelo. He is progressing and understands really well but doesn't want to change. Please pray that he will have a change of heart. Please also pray that Marta will understand the apostasy and restoration. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth and that this is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that angels minister to men in our day. I felt them minister to me in a very real way this weekend. I know that as they minister unto us, they give us our testimonies which then allow us to "bear testimony of him" to the entire world. I know that God loves us, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world to suffer and live and die and live again, so that we can be saved if we will repent. I know that this is God's very work and that it will, as Joseph Smith said, "go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime,swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of Godshall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done". What a wonderful time to live in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. Love, Elder Case

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