Sunday, December 20, 2009

Intellect of Man and Footprints in the Sand Nov 7, 2009

Here is some news for you. I am staying in the office for this last move! Crazy huh? I am a little bummed, but at the same time I am really excited to be able to use my talents to serve the Lord. I think I will survive 6 more weeks in the office. Elder Alexander is moving out of the office, which is too bad. There are 2 companionships in the office. So the 4 of us live together which is fun. Elder Evans and Elder Alexander are gone a lot, but it is still fun having them around. Especially since my companion is Taiwanese it is fun to be able to talk with him about Taiwanese stuff and then talk with the other Elders about other stuff. Elder Alexander is a New Zealander, but I have almost got him converted. Give it time and he will be moving to the States.
I think I have told you before but a lot of people think I look Asian. Weird huh? They will always ask me if I am from Taiwan. Lately I have been speaking with a Hong Kong accent so everyone thinks I am from Hong Kong. On the street I always let people guess where I am from and about 3/10 will guess Hong Kong. President Hsu would be proud that is where he is from.
I got my Halloween package! Wow Halloween is great isn’t it? I think I like the fact that it means winter is coming. I love the winter, it is so cold and clean and fresh. Not to mention the snow is just so much fun to play in.
My last 6 weeks in Taiwan. What the heck? Where does the time go? It does seem like a long time since I have been home, but it is still weird to think that my time here is coming to an end. I am sure I said that 4 weeks ago but now the date is just creeping up on me.
We have been teaching a Mr. Gao lately. He is a security guard at a big apartment complex. He loves having us come but last night we had a very interesting lesson with him. He got in a car accident 4 days ago, but didn’t get hurt, which is actually quite amazing since he was riding a scooter and the other person was driving a car. Anyways he told us that he thought the Buddhist god was punishing him for learning about Jesus Christ. I asked him, how do you know Heavenly Father wasn’t protecting you when you got in that car crash? It could have been a lot worse. That reminds me of why it is important to be optimistic. If you think everything is a trial you will fail to see the blessings.
Like Mr. Gao for example, he is so focused on his accident being a punishment that he overlooks the miracle that he was not severely hurt. It is weird how change of attitude can change the situation. When we see ourselves as the victim, then we will forever be the victim, but if we see ourselves as the victor or whatever you want to call it that is exactly what you will be.
So the new office couple is here. Elder and Sister Greene! They are great! Elder and Sister Dowse are leaving in two weeks and the Greenes will take their place. Right now the Greenes are just getting settled in. As a matter of fact I just went over to their apartment to get their internet setup for them. Elder Greene is great, but when he told me he used to be a Highway Patrolmen I started to get a little worried. Hahaha… I think you all know how I feel about the Highway patrol. He is great though and is slowly changing my mind above those highway patrols guys.
Tonight the other Elder Alexander and Elder Evans have a baptism. It is a nice 30 year old guy from Tennessee, named Josh. We don’t usually see to many foreigners get baptized over here, mostly because there aren’t very many of them. About 2 months ago, he came to church with one of his friends. He has a great story, he was in the process of becoming a Catholic Priest, but the more he studied and prepared the more confused he got. In the end he decided to come to Taiwan and work for a little bit to give him some time to clear his head. Well it just so happened that one of his coworkers is a member of the church and started sharing with him. He figured he had a lot of time on the weekends so he might as well come to church. He came, liked it, met the missionaries and started meeting with Elder Alexander and Elder Evans. They gave him a Book of Mormon, he read it cover to cover the first week and said that he had never felt such a strong confirmation from the Holy Ghost that what he he was reading was true. However, for a while he wasn’t sure if he wanted to get rebaptized. Finally, two weeks ago the elders shared with him the importance of baptism by immersion. Josh said that when they shared this with him he knew without a doubt that what they were saying was true. Elders Alexander and Elder Evans testified to him that they are personal representatives of Jesus Christ sent forth to preach the Gospel by the power of the spirit to help those that are willing come unto Him.
What I love so much about this experience is how apparent it is that conversion is not because of the missionaries ability to speak with elegance, but because. So many people think their way out of believing in Christ. Of course it is important to ponder and wonder about the mysteries of God, but when we start thinking that our own intelligence is greater than that of Heavenly Fathers we start to get into dangerous waters. I know that is why Heavenly Father selected 19-21 year old boys to go forth to preach the gospel. In the scriptures it says “That the afulness of my bgospel might be cproclaimed by the dweak and the simple,” I know that this is true. We missionaries are not the most educated group of people in the world. Most of us have not even graduate from college. So why would Heavenly Father call us to take his gospel to the entire world? Well I think it relates a lot to Josh’s story. You cannot be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by intellect alone. The Spirit is the most important factor in the conversion process. We may be weak and simple as missionaries, but we carry a fullness of the Spirit. The power of the Spirit is more powerful than all the intellect of man. In 1 Corinthians 1:25 it says “The afoolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
It is so true! When I read this scripture it reminds me of how Satan will try and convince us that we are so smart. In the Book of Mormon 2nd Nephi 9:28 it says “O that cunning aplan of the evil one! O the bvainness, and the frailties, and the cfoolishness of men! When they are dlearned they think they are ewise, and they fhearken not unto the gcounsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their hwisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”
I have seen this on my mission so much. People want to rely on themselves without looking to God. In the world that we live in now it is so easy to completely forget how much we need Him. We live in a comfortable time, because of our daily comforts we develop a false sense of security. We begin to feel like we are in control of our lives. We begin to feel as if we don’t need anybody else to help us. When this happens people start to turn away from God and it is not until we are brought back down to our knees before we realize that we have needed him all along.
There is that poem that I have always loved.
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him
he looked back, at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The Lord replied:
"My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you,
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

What a comfort it is to know that despite our stubbornness and pride Heavenly Father will always be there to carry us if we are willing to follow him. I hope that all of us will never assume that those solitary footsteps in the sand are our own. But I hope that we may remember that they are his.
Thanks for everything
Elder Craig Anderson

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