One thing a mother hates to hear or think about is that one of her children is cold or might be cold. It's as if there is an inborn mother instinct to want to keep kids warm. The thought of cold kids does strange heartbreaking things to a mother, she can't help it. Maybe it's the way a father thinks if he sees that one of his kids is in danger and the protection instinct goes into full gear. Ian is not a child anymore, he's a grown man but I still feel a twinge of sadness in my heart to hear that he's cold. I guess I can't help it. I remember being just as cold on my mission. I tried to tell him about the cold before he left because my mission was the same latitude as his. I tried to explain to him that there was no way to get warm if you were not in the direct line of some sun. I told him how we would hang our wet clothes on the line and they would still be wet and somewhat stiff three days later. The cold was a damp, biting cold that just stayed with you down to your bones. It was such a contrast to the blazing heat of the summer that it was hard to believe that you were in the same country. As hot as it was in the summer was as cold as it felt in the winter, except without snow. Ian was always someone that I couldn't get to wear a coat, even here in Utah which is snow country. He hated to wear any heavy winter coat at all. Some days I'd just throw up my hands and send my teenager off to school with a light jacket in the dead of winter. And getting him to wear boots in the snow was another matter all together. So for Ian to say that he's cold is a telling sign...he's cold... and he can't get warm. And it's just the start of a month of cold, cold, cold weather. He has no winter jacket, just two sweater vests and his suit coat. He'll just have to go buy something and do the best he can. I sympathize with him, I really do but as they say, "this too shall pass" but unfortunately not for a while yet. It's supposed to be 88 degrees here today-hot and dry-but my son woke up freezing.
Just as summer has finally hit there, I think winter has finally hit here. It was cold for about two weeks a while ago, then this last week it was hot-ish again and then yesterday it started to get colder and today we all woke up freezing! You wouldn’t think it gets so cold in Brazil, but it does. I remember Mom saying that the cold was inescapable in Taiwan, I understand why now. No one has heaters here so you go to bed cold, you wake up cold, the only time you are not cold is when you are working in the middle of the day.
Despite the challenges, we are having a lot of success here!...We found some more great people that we are now working with, this week we started teaching a new man. One day a few weeks ago we were starting out from one of our most distant areas to go to the center of the city and as we were walking a man on a motorcycle stopped us and asked if we were the elders, the Mormons. We told him we were and he said that he needed us to go to his house, that he had gotten to know the church a little bit and found many answers there. It was a little weird and I didn’t know what to think of it but he gave us his address and we went there another day, he wasn’t there but him mom was. She explained about when he was usually home and it looked like it would be impossible for us to go there. This Thursday was a holiday here and remembering this, we decided to swing by his house to see if he was there. He was, we started talking to him and he already has a huge testimony. He really, really wants to be baptized. One day he was just walking down the street and a pass along card of the Book of Mormon floated down in front of him. He picked it up and asked for a Book of Mormon. The elders delivered it but for some reason didn’t teach him very much. He ended up getting a Gospel Principles book later on down the line and he said that it changed his life; he found so many answers there. For some reason, he was never formally taught by the elders, but his time is now! There are a few problems to be worked through but he has a lot of desire and a huge testimony, we marked his baptism for July 17....
Unfortunately, I couldn’t take out the package because I didn’t have enough time before the deadline that they set. They should have already sent it back to you, you can ether repackage the stuff into 2 packages with values less then $50, or just send one with a value of $50, or just not send it at all...I am out of time. The church is true; Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I love you all."
He's cold but he sounds happy. I feel bad that his birthday box is on the way back to me. I mailed it in May so it would get there in time for his birthday because he didn't get his Christmas box until after Christmas so I wanted to make sure he got this one in time. Ian's birthday is in about a week and a half. He won't have anything from us for his birthday after all...the work moves on regardless. Just as I said in yesterday's post, there is power in the Book of Mormon. I like the story he shared this week about the man who read it and recognizes the good in it. He also mentioned that the man read the Gospel Principles book and said it changed his life. I also read the entire Gospel Principles book before my baptism. I felt the same way about it. It is an amazing book written simply and with such clarity. And it's powerful because the teachings in it are powerful.
Well, my son is cold and he won't have a birthday box but he's happy and I'm happy for him. Cold or not, birthday box or not, many other missionaries have also expressed joy as they served God. Alma was one of them and this is what he said about the work:
“Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them;
yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling,
I went to my nephew's missionary homecoming this morning near Ogden. He just returned home this week from a mission in Washington State, Tacoma I think. I was struck by what a blessing it is for men who serve missions. God takes nineteen year olds and makes men out of them. He spoke plainly and clearly about the blessings of missionary service for him as well as for those he served. Missions are not just about those who embrace the message of the restored gospel but they are very much for the missionary as well. That was clearly evident as he spoke. He said at the end of his talk that God teaches missionaries how to become better husbands, better fathers, and better leaders. You could tell that that was exactly what happened with him.
He spoke about the power of the Book of Mormon. He gave a few examples of lives that changed because people read the Book of Mormon and because they knew it was God's word and because they embraced it. I love those kinds of stories because they happen a lot. I often wonder why more people don't read the Book of Mormon. It really is powerful and beautiful.
I loved the wonder of watching a brand new returned missionary. My nephew just arrived home on Tuesday. He still looked a little like a fish out of water. Now he has to figure out how to return to normal life and lay aside his two years of dedicated service. His message was sweet and gentle. You could tell he was so happy to have served. He mentioned how the work was hard and how many people rejected them, slammed doors in their faces, yelled at them, etc but he said "nobody ever pulled a gun at me." How can you help but just smile at that? That was about 20 seconds of his talk yet I'm sure it was something he faced everyday. Instead, he talked about the joy of serving God and serving God's children. He said how he dedicated his mission to being the best missionary he could. It's just so great to see the blessings of missionary work all the way around.
His talk reminded me of one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. It is so good, I want to just copy the whole chapter here. It was written by a great missionary who lived before Christ was born somewhere between 90-77 BC. His name was Ammon. He was an amazing missionary. I love this chapter.
Alma Chapter 26 Book of Mormon
" 1And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when weastartedfrom the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?
2And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
3Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, howamanyof them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been madebinstrumentsin the hands of God to bring about this great work.
4Behold,athousandsof them do rejoice, and have been brought into the fold of God.
5Behold, theafieldwas ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in thebsickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of yourcsheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
6Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when theastormcometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
7But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of theaharvest, and they are his; and he willbraisethem up at the last day.
8aBlessedbe the name of our God; let usbsingto his praise, yea, let us givecthanksto his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.
9For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla, these our dearly beloved brethren, who have so dearly beloved us, would still have been racked withahatredagainst us, yea, and they would also have beenbstrangersto God.
10And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.
11But Ammon said unto him: I do notaboastin my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, mybjoyis full, yea, my heart is brim withcjoy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12Yea, I know that I amanothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I willbnotboast of myself, but I willcboastof my God, for in hisdstrengthI can do allethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
13Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains ofahell; and they are brought tobsingredeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?
14Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from theachainsof hell.
15Yea, they were encircled about with everlastingadarknessand destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlastingblight, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.
16Therefore, let usaglory, yea, we willbgloryin the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of hiscmercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
17Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, andapollutedstate?
18Behold, we went forth even in wrath, with mighty threatenings toadestroyhis church.
19Oh then, why did he not consign us to an awful destruction, yea, why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us, and doom us to eternaladespair?
20Oh, my soul, almost as it were, fleeth at the thought. Behold, he did not exercise his justice upon us, but in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlastingagulfof death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls.
21And now behold, my brethren, whatanaturalman is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there isbnonethatcknoweththese things, save it be the penitent.
22Yea, he thatarepentethand exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth goodbworks, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know thecmysteriesof God; yea, unto such it shall bedgiventoerevealthings which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
23Now do ye remember, my brethren, that we said unto our brethren in the land of Zarahemla, we go up to the land of Nephi, to preach unto our brethren, the Lamanites, and theyalaughedus to scorn?
24For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of theaincorrectnessof thebtraditionsof their fathers, ascstiffneckeda people as they are; whose hearts delight in thedsheddingof blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning? Now my brethren, ye remember that this was their language.
25And moreover they did say: Let us take up arms against them, that we destroy them and their iniquity out of the land, lest they overrun us and destroy us.
26But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.
27Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about toaturnback, behold, the Lordbcomfortedus, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear withcpatiencethinedafflictions, and I will give unto you success.
28And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
29And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and theirasynagoguesand taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have beenbstoned, and taken and bound withcstrongcords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
30And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that ourajoywould be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
31Now behold, we can look forth and see theafruitsof our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they arebmany; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
32For behold, they had ratherasacrificetheir lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they havebburiedtheir weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.
33And now behold I say unto you, has there been so great love in all the land? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, there has not, even among the Nephites.
34For behold, they would take up arms against their brethren; they would not suffer themselves to be slain. But behold howamanyof these have laid down their lives; and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin.
35Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has allapower,ballwisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is acmercifulBeing, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36Now if this isaboasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are abbranchof the tree of Israel, and has beenclostfrom its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us,dwanderersin a strange land.
37Now my brethren, we see that God isamindfulof everybpeople, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
I love that chapter. I love the work of God and I love the missionaries. And today, I miss my son...