Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Whether the Book of Mormon is True

Dear Family, Thank you so much for your prayers and your faith. I continue to feel them and see the needed blessings come to the lives of our investigators here. The Maria and Mijail Del Castillo were confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday in Sacrament Meeting! It was a wonderful experience. We taught them Friday morning and followed up with them about the Word of Wisdom and some other commandments and they were completely ready to go. It was interesting though because Mijail said that throughout the week he had been tempted a lot and that he felt that Satan was trying extra hard to get him to sin. He said that when that happened he prayed and asked for strength and that he could feel of our prayers. I know that he felt of your prayers as well. Thank you. Mijail didn't want to baptize his daughters despite our explaining to him that in a few years it will be the most special memory but the good news is that his three youngest daughters (Erika, Kathryn, and Karla) will all be baptized this coming Saturday. Please pray for each of them by name that they will be ready and have the desire to be baptized. Mijail and Maria want them to be baptized so badly. It is wonderful to see the Gospel being lived by a family in their home and to see all the blessings that have come as a result of it. Julie Tovar was baptized on Saturday! She came out of the bathroom in her white jumpsuit and said she felt like a big fat marshmallow. I told her it wasn't that bad but that it was embarrassing to be wearing white after Labor Day. She said I need to be more original and not steal jokes from a 10 year-old. Pretty funny girl. She and her mom slept in yesterday and did not make it to church for the confirmation though, so please pray that they will be there this coming Sunday to be confirmed. We are still trying to work out the divorce for Mirna and Rodolfo so that Mirna can get baptized but haven't made much headway there. We have been teaching the Tzoc family. An older couple from Guatemala that I think I mentioned last week. We stopped by this week and finally taught them both together for the first time. We asked Cristina to read the paragraph in the pamphlet about Joseph Smith and she was about to start reading and then said, "Is this just going to explain how he was a young boy and didn't know what church to go to and went to all sorts of churches and then read in the Bible and went to ask God and then Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him to be a prophet? I have seen the video." We were shocked. She has been prepared by angels. She wants to be baptized but said that the 15th of February was too quick. We are going to help her prepare for that date though still. Quick funny story, we were eating with the Tzoc family last week and in one of the dishes there was chicken feet that had been soaked and boiled in vinegar. Elder Nielsen when I wasn't looking put one of them onto my plate and then made a big deal about how I wanted to eat it. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever put into my body. I had to break the bones and then pull the skin off the tendons. I wanted to throw up. Elder Nielsen and Elder Larson thought it was the funniest thing that has ever happened. Also, I used to write a lot about la familia Padilla. By a miracle we saw the kids outside their apartment on Saturday and invited them to the baptism because they are good friends with Julie. Eva and Ramon both want to be baptized as soon as they can and Tony wants to learn more first but there dad hasn't let them come to church or participate. They told us that if the Bishop invited their dad to the baptism that he would go. We talked to Obispo, and they all showed up. And what's more, Hermana Perez (WML's wife and my second mother) showed up at church with all the kids (the dad was working). They all loved it and one of the speakers talked about faith and bore his testimony that when we ask in faith that God answers our prayers. He said he had been praying for a long time with much faith that the Padilla's would come back to church and there they were. It was a special moment. On top of all that, we showed up at the investigator devotional last night and they were there walking inside. They felt the Spirit very strongly and afterwards Tony came up to me and said that he has never felt closed to making the decision to be baptized. He said he was almost convinced and that in just a little bit more time he will be ready. Please pray that the heart of el hermano will be softened and open to the blessings of the Restored Gospel. On Saturday we found a new family that are former investigators. They are ready to be baptized really soon and are really good people. We walked out of the house and asked who they knew that we could teach and they pointed at a lady in their front yard and said, "her". We talked to the lady, Juana Mendez, and found out that she was baptized in 2000. She has been less-active for a number of years but is completely ready to come back. She came to the investigator devotional with us on Sunday night and when we walked in she was sitting with one of her old friends that she knew when she was baptized. What a tender mercy of the Lord. Also, after the devotional, I was talking to Eduardo and Kimberly Colon and we set a temple date for their sealing! They will be sealed on May 17th! They are really excited and feel prepared. They are about to begin taking the temple prep classes. We are being richly blessed and are able to see and recognize the hand of the Lord each day. The Spirit guides us so much. We are told where to go, what to do, who to talk to and then what to say and when to say it. This is God's work. It has to be. A few weeks ago we found a man named Juan Cruz. We have tried getting in to teach him dozens of times because he is on our Ward List but they always tell us that they want to take their names off the records of the church. We talked with him and he explained that they were baptized about 17 years ago. They were extremely active for seven years and sealed in the temple but then Juan found a quote in Doctrine of Salvation that he disagreed with. He studied more got involved in anti material and eventually he and his wife walked into the Bishop's office and turned in their temple recommends. They haven't heard from or spoken about it with anyone for ten years. We finally taught them last night and it was quite the experience. He had lame doubts and strange questions that multiplied every time we answered one of his questions. He eventually told us that in his study he came to a point where their was two paths he could choose from, the Book of Mormon or the Bible. He said he chose the Bible. At that point, Elder Nielsen explained that all his doctrinal disagreements would be resolved if he knew that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. They tried to testify that Joseph Smith was not a Prophet of God. At that point I explained that the only thing we do as missionaries is invite all to come unto Christ and to pray and ask God and then believe the answer they receive. Then the inspiration came. The thought came to my mind to think about the baptismal interview and temple recommend questions, both of which ask if you believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I then testified to them that I had a sure knowledge that even if they didn't currently believe that Joseph was a Prophet that at least in two instances in their lives they had said and testified that they did. They were confounded. The hermana tried to lie and say that she couldn't ever remember saying that but the hermano was honest and said, "No, he is right. We both said that. We both testified of that." At that point we had to go but they said they would let us back. It was a powerful experience and made me think of two things. The first is the quote from President Benson in Preach My Gospel: “We are to use the Book of Mormon in handling objections to the Church. … “… All objections, whether they be on abortion, plural marriage, seventh-day worship, etc., basically hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation. … “… The only problem the objector has to resolve for himself is whether the Book of Mormon is true. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was his prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is being led today by a prophet receiving revelation. “Our main task is to declare the gospel and do it effectively. We are not obligated to answer every objection. Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand” (A Witness and a Warning, 4–5). And the second is D&C 135:3 which says, 3 Joseph Smith, the aProphet and bSeer of the Lord, has done more, csave Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the dfulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own eblood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not fseparated! As we left that lesson last night, I read D&C 135:3 out loud to my companions and the Holy Ghost witnessed to me so strongly that it is true. That Joseph was a Prophet, that he saw the Father and the Son, that They did in reality speak to him, that They through Joseph restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth in these last days and that Joseph Smith held all of the Priesthood Keys that have ever been given to man. I remember when I gained my first real testimony of Joseph Smith in the MTC. I wrote in my journal that I would waste and wear out my life testifying to the world that Joseph Smith was a Prophet and that he saw God. I have done so and I will continue to do so because I know that it is true. I love you, Elder Case

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