Monday, August 18, 2014

This is God's plan of happiness

I am having a lot of fun. It is good to be in Texas. There are a lot of good people in Texas.

 This week we found some wonderful brothers and sisters who are willing to listen: Virigina's life has gone crazy since she decided not to go home to Mexico after her vacation here. Her beliefs pretty much consists of astrology, the law of attraction, and psalm 91. Ruth and her children moved here from Honduras just a couple months ago; have haven't found work. Getting their electricity, and Air Conditioning, shut off on Friday was devastating in the Texas August heat. They have been humbled, they are eager to learn, and they need God's love and blessings so bad. Juan Benito is an great man with enormous desirous to do what's right. Just this year he began reading the Bible, leaving drinking and smoking, and attending a church regularly. He prays, fast, repents, and has seen already great blessings for his family. He still wants more though. He plans on getting baptized in two weeks, in the pslam 28:46 church or something like that. He's now eating up the Book of Mormon, and we are pleading with the Lord that we can see a miracle.

In both that church and our's, one is submerged in water, demonstrating their willingness to follow Christ, and their desire to be born again.  There is, however, a profound difference between baptisms performed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any other place. Converts here repent of all their sins, and covenant with God to obey him. This covenant is made with the help of one holding the priesthood authority of God. Converts are sanctified by the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, then are entitled to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as they live worthy of it.  Converts receive the remission of sins and are continually cleansed from sin as the take the sacrament, properly officiated also by God's priesthood authority. Converts in time receive the priesthood themselves, serve in God's church, make more covenants with Him in holy temples and are sealed together as families, again by the priesthood. 

37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto there mission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—

 51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

 52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

 53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

 54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

 55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—

 56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;

 57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.

 58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—

 59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

 60 And they shall overcome all things.

from D&C 20 and 76

God desires these blessings for all His children. That is why we serve missions. That is why we baptize. Anyone wanting to know if these promises are true need only read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know it is true. I love the restored Church. I know that its teaching and ordinances are true and that they come from God himself. I love serving a mission. I pray, work, and hope that Viriginia, Ruth, Juan, and their families will know these truths as well and choose to make the sacred covenant of Baptism with their Father in Heaven.

Elder Decker

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's easy to see why we're trying to make more!

Rebekkah and Khaleb baptism
Evidence (that probably shouldn't exist) of me having to break into the font to fill it up.
Saturday was a really big day for ourselves, and for Javier and Bryn's family. They were sealed 9am Saturday, their kids Rebekkah and Khaleb were baptized at 3pm, and there was a big reception/celebration at 6pm. That morning Elder Poulson and I skipped some studies and got out the door at 9:15. We saw la Hna Medina first, who actually came to church two weeks ago. She asks us how we can obey Christ by loving and serving our neighbor if people on the street could kill or kidnap you. She is worried about her daughter who gets off work late at night. We promised her she'd find the answer searching in the Book of Mormon (which she hasn't read in her many decades of being a member, active and inactive) for only 30 seconds a day, everyday, for a week. We came back to the chapel, filled up the font, and did companion/Spanish study while we waited. When the baptism started, there was a mountain of people. They was tons of support from the ward, the Spirit was strong, and Rebekkah's parents even invited some non-members. We got the opportunity to meet lots of people, have a long conversation about the ward with the Obispo and eat some fantastic fajita and other Mexican food. That night, Hno Valdez taught the Plan of Salvation with us to Tatiana and Jaime. They read in the Book of Mormon! Hno Valdez made Tatiana cry with his testimony about the atonement. They want to come to church and be baptized. They just feel they don't have a certainty yet, to be a part of the church and never quit. We promised them that they would feel that assurance and that desire to be baptized when they've read the Book of Mormon and learned that it is true. We are excited for them.

 I love the members of the church here in Houston dearly. Though they may never remember me, with nine missionaries in our ward and constant transfers, I will always remember them. Monday Hermana Rodriguez washed our clothes and Hermana Medrano gave us Spaghetti, Tuesday Hermano Alvarenga then Hermano Palacios came and worked with us after which we visited (for the thousandth time) Hna Ibarra's father, trying to help him get closer to baptism than he has been in the last 10 years of missionary visits. Wednesday we woke Hno Vivas up early in the afternoon and shared a message with him, and he shared breakfast tacos and punch with us. That afternoon Hna Gonzalez couldn't let us in because her husband wasn't home, but let us take home her spaghetti (and awesome green salsa). That night Hna Lopez helped us teach Tatiana and Jaime for an awesome visit. Friday we visited the Ceron family, Hno Rodriguez and his dad, and Hna Flores gave us some awesome Hondurian food. There were tons of members at the baptism. Hna Gomez, Hna Hernandez, Hna Lopez, Obispo, Hna Reynoza, and many more supported la familia Martinez on their special day. Hno Valdez helped us that night then Sunday we were up early with Hno Rodriguez, Obispo, Hno Lopez, Palacios, Martinez, at PEC followed by 3 straight hours of member-mania church. Hna Medina and her husband came! That's twice in 3 three weeks after years away. After church Hnas Berrueto, Flores, and Martinez joined us with Hnos Diaz, Lopez, and Rodriguez for our Coordinacion meeting (where we are supposed to get help from the members. Which as you can see may be a little unnecessary). Hno Palacios came to find new investigators with us again, and then we ate a mountain of Pollo con verguras at Hna Rodriguez' house (the same Hermana Rodriguez that is right now working on our latest batch of laundry). This morning Hna Lopez had her switch her phone back to Espanol for her, and Hermana Ham (1/2 Chinese) had us pick up the frozen burritos and Orange Drank she bought for us. When the members of the church are such good people, it's easy to see why we're trying to make more:)

My scripture to memorize and internalize for the week comes from Juan 10:

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

I know that Jesus Christ performed the atonement for each of us. I know that he died willingly, that He alone had the power to end his life, and that He did it for us because of His love for us and for His Father. I know that because of the Atonement, we too will have the power to obey every commandment the Father has given us.  


Elder Decker

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Allow Him to do it.

August 4, 2014

Our investigator called us right in the middle of District Mtg to tell us about his baby boy. They had no problems. He is thrilled. The sisters are still visiting him, it was hard to have to give up teaching them, but that's just the way it is. Our struggle is always finding. We've got something great, but nobody to give it to.

 It was a huge blessing to share the Book of Mormon with a couple referred to us by a ward member. They are anxious to read and learn and come to church. We are very excited for them. I love seeing how well the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ fits everyone's needs and everyone's family. We all really do need him, and we as missionaries just share tools to help us get to him (Baptism!)

The Assistants to the President taught us about the great need of faith on Saturday. According to a talk by Vaughn Featherstone, faith is built on evidence:  evidence from the scriptures, the Holy Ghost, other people’s testimonies, and personal experiences. To build greater faith, we must collect, review, and memorize these evidences. This is why we read scriptures, we pray, we attend Church and keep records. It is because the Nephites forgot the Lord that they fell. Elder Poulson and I are working on a project to build our faith that God is preparing people for us to baptize. We are doing this by compiling our own baptism experiences/photos with those from other missionaries, members, whoever, and adding stories and promises for missionaries from the scriptures and modern prophets and putting it all on our wall. Like Moroni says in chapter 7:

36Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

 37Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

I am anxious to have more faith, and getting things really rolling. I know we can do nothing without faith. I know that God can do everything through us, if we just believe in Him, and allow Him to do it. 
Elder Decker