Friday, July 7, 2017

One Year Mark! (July 2, 2017)

Wow-- my year mark hits this week! I can't believe it. I just wanted to let you all know I love you and say hello before you go to bed-- but we are going somewhere else and so I will have to email in 3 or 4 hours probably. Anyway, feel free to go to sleep!  I just wanted to say hello. I will be on for about 10 minutes.  My new area is by far the most beautiful area geographically! The ocean is right there! It is super cool.  Ugh, I can't get pictures to work today, though, sorry.

This week in 영도 was great. We found two new investigators, one of whom is a young father with a wife and child. Elder A, my companion, and Elder M, the previous missionary serving in this area, had met the man a few times and had built good trust with him. This week one day in morning 전도 we were kind of drawn to his area, and we payed him a quick visit. He ended up sharing with us that he had felt like there were so many churches and he didn't know which one was right. We taught the restoration, gave him a Book of Mormon, and he agreed to take the lessons! A great miracle.

Also, yesterday we had a big schedule of street proselyting while we were fasting. Not easy, but at least the weather was fairly cool, as it often is here in 영도. Nobody really wanted to talk to us. We ate dinner, and then went back out, staying this time on our side of the island. We went down by a college, and then we felt like we should go by the coast of the island, but there were only a few fisherman and no one really to talk to. I was a little discouraged because I felt like I had just followed my thoughts and not the spirit, and there were some spiritually dangerous places down there. We left that little area with a rather heavy feeling. I was feeling discouraged and a little frustrated, opposite of the motivation and hope I had when I first arrived in this area.

We kept walking and talking to people. We met this amazing couple from china, very kind, who agreed to meet again, but seemed more interested in friendship than the church. As we continued on, a young man, 25 years old, stopped us, and asked us to take a picture with him. Of course we agreed, and then he asked us why we were in Korea. We sat down there at the little convenience story and taught him about the plan of Salvation (using the pamphlet :) ). He told us how happy he felt as we talked. He said he wanted to think over the message and then call us to meet again the next meet. He was so genuine and kind. I know that, although Satan tried to discourage us, tempt us, and get us down, as we continued forward, God prepared the miracle there at the end of the night for us. God loves us and wants to help us, but we need to work to get a reward, and that is something I saw yesterday. 

I love this new area! And our new mission president came-- what a kind man. Love you all!

Elder Beckett

Here's my spiritual thought for the week.

In the book of Mosiah, we read the story of Alma, a once-wicked priest of King Noah who converted to Jesus Christ. This changed his life completely. He went from being rich in the wealth of the world, with a perfect job, servants to attend him, and, I am sure, any worldly pleasure he desired, to hiding in the forest from others seeking to kill him. Yet now he had the Gospel, and he had happiness- real joy, the kind that lasts longer than the fun of a video game, tennis match, or a dinner with friends.

 While Alma was in the wilderness, he shared that Gospel that had brought him so much joy. Although it is true that his repentance was, I am sure, painful and difficult, (he said that ""I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance; Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth." It was worth it, and he risked his very life to share that same Gospel which had strengthened him. It is this time period that is depicted in the painting in the front of the Book of Mormon, Alma baptizing at the waters of Mormon. We still believe today that baptism by water, as Christ received, is essential to be truly happy now, and until eternity.

Many people converted and followed Alma. In fact, these people wanted him to be their king, but he refused. He simple served as their religious leader, literally serving and teaching them. These people were such a joyous people, and began to "prosper exceedingly."

However, "the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."

It is that this time that the Nephites' feared enemies, the Lamanites, come into the land. The Lamanites loathe the Nephites, a grudge passed down from their fathers, and their father's fathers. They delight in stealing from, plundering, and killing the Nephites. The people of Alma are devastated. They had worked so hard-- they had repented of their sins, been baptized, kept the commandments, and sought to follow their leader-- and now it would all go to waste. There was no way they could fight the Lamanites. But why? Had they done something wrong? Was it their fault? Did they deserve it?

Honestly, I don't have the answer to that. I don't know why God didn't just let them live there happily. I have some speculations-- but I don't think they are important or 100% correct.

We all have these times in our lives-- why did this go wrong? Why did this hardship come upon me? Whether it is the death of a loved one, a lost job, problems with your spouse, or your testimony, or your schooling, or whatever it is-- life is hard. And sometimes we don't know why.

I have met some wonderful people on my mission. I have met some people whose testimonies were far stronger than mine, people who were purer than me, people who were more Christlike, selfless, patient, understanding than me-- yet whose circumstances were far harder than mine. I love Brother S, who was a blind man in Sangin who sang praises to God at the top of his lungs. I love brother J, who is faithful in the church when all of his family is against him. I love Sister C, whose husband left her and who has a walking disability, but is faithful and kind to the missionaries, and trusts that God has a better plan. 

Why do they have to suffer?

I don't know. But I do know that God knows. And I do know that God is far more knowledgeable than me. "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend." Mos. 4:9

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3:5-6

I am grateful for the hardships in my life. I am grateful for what they teach me. I know that I am so blessed and my "challenges" do not compare to what many other people, better people, are going through. However, through my troubles I have learned the wisdom of a God who I believe in, who I have faith in. I don't understand everything, nor do I pretend to. Wouldn't it be strange if we did understand everything? Wouldn't it be strange if we knew why everything was the way it was, or if we perfectly understood God? There wouldn't be much point of a God if we knew as much as Him right now.

Although I don't know exactly why we have trials, except that it is for our betterment, I do know two things: 1)God helps us through trials, and 2) The best is yet to come.

Back to the story of Alma: Alma's people were protected from the Lamanites; God didn't allow the Lamanites to kill them, but they did become their slaves. The Lamanites were ruthlessly cruel to the people of Alma, and it became so severe that Alma's people would be killed if they were seen doing so much as praying.

It was at this time that God came to them, and commandment "lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

I know that God is with us in our trials. I also know that He understands exactly how we feel. He doesn't send us aimless or pointless hardships. He has a reason for everything. After all, anything we feel, God has already felt. " The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"

As we seek to turn to the Lord, even when things don't make sense to us, even when we feel that we are abandoned or that there is no benefit in our trial, we will see God's hand in our lives. One day, though it may not be today, we will look back with gratitude and praise to God upon those challenges he lovingly allowed to come into our life.

This past year on my mission has been amazing. I have learned so much, and one of the greatest things I have learned is how little I know in this great big world full of knowledge. I am do know that I am in the hands of He who created it all.

As we continue forward day to day, I hope we remember that " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

I love you all! I love the Lord. I love the Gospel. My heart is filled with love. I share that in the name of He whose love is perfect, even Jesus Christ, amen.

That was pretty long! But just some of my thoughts lately.


Elder Beckett

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