This week has been so amazing! Or at least this week since Saturday. Thursday and Friday I was pretty sick and had to miss a few teaching appointments and classes. On Thursday I received a "stay healthy" kit from Leslie (who is awesome). Thanks so much, Leslie! Being sick was no good, but I'm much better now.
I've been doing a lot of learning this week! I feel like I'm beginning to understand faith. On Monday we met with Pavel again. Friday my companions invited him to live the law of chastity, and we followed up with him on Monday. When he told his girlfriend that he wanted to live that commandment, we should just say that it didn't go well. She thinks that he is cheating on her! It's very hard to see because he wants so badly to have a new life but his girlfriend and family (to a smaller but still very significant degree) are turning on him. He's continuing to meet with us and preparing to be baptized, though. It's so inspiring to see such faith, despite the fact that it's a training exercise because our Pavel is based on one of our teacher's investigators and this basically happened to a real person. Our teachers say that the new converts in the Czech Republic and Slovakia experience this sort of hardship and ostracism, more than we would think. It's very sobering to see the hardships that the investigators have and to see that they still press forward.
This is something that Elder Bednar talked about last night, also. You may remember that on Christmas Day when he was here we had a question and answer session, and last night he answered more of the questions from Christmas (we've now had about fifteen of about one thousand questions answered).
He focused on faith a fair amount. He told us how faith is acting on belief, even when there is fear (and often especially when there is fear). For example, teachers and missionaries are promised in the scriptures that our mouths will be filled when we open them, but we must open them before they are filled. Often in the culture of the Church, we feel that we must feel power before we act. That, Elder Bednar said, is exactly what we're not supposed to do. The scriptures also say that we receive a witness after the trial of our faith.
Essentially, faith is walking into the dark, but finding that the Lord will illuminate it.
Elder Bednar taught us that we must not be paralyzed by fear, we must press forward. When the children of Israel had to cross the Jordan River at the end of their wanderings, they were promised by the Lord that they would cross over on dry ground. However, the Lord chose to wait to part it until they had begun to walk into the river and got their feet wet, until they had shown their faith.
These sort of thoughts about faith had been percolating in my brain for a while, and they became more concrete at the very beginning of my mission (thanks, Brent), but it was such a blessing to hear it from Elder Bednar last night. He has a powerful way of teaching clearly and with the Spirit that I find inspiring.
Yesterday during the devotional the choir also sang a beautiful arrangement of "Nearer, My God, To Thee" that had amazing harmonies. At the climax of the song it was so fun to see all the heads turn when we split from unison into five-part harmony. It was so powerful. I'll remember that moment for a long time.
This has been such a strengthening week! I hope that I am able to share some of the spirit of what I feel with you all through my letters.
I love you! I love the Gospel!
|Daniel with Elder Joseph Billings, a good friend Daniel grew up with in Camarillo until high school when Joseph moved to Provo, UT.|