Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3rd Week in Wigan--learning about Charity

This week I've learned the value of listening to the Spirit and remaining positive! We are facing challenges with Ralph and particularly his testimony. We do have hope he's still going to make it, we just recognise that it is a bit out of our control (D&C 123:17). He is living the Word of Wisdom (miracle!) and he still wants to be baptised on the 29th but he isn't really wanting to get involved in the ward. It is a big life change and he's just resisting a little bit. We moved him to the 5th of August. We are praying that he has the desire to really commit to the Lord.

On the other hand, Jonathan is progressing rapidly! I didn't tell you too much about him last week. He tried a career in acting and since that isn't panning out he wants to join the army. He's never really had faith in God but the prospect of going to war has motivated him to find faith. His testimony is growing and he loves that we are following up with him each day with his Book of Mormon reading. On Sunday at church he seemed to be expecting us to ask him something. I finally asked, "So, how did you enjoy chapter 12 last night, Jonathan?" He beamed and proceeded to rehearse a verse that he liked! He memorised it and gave it like a dialogue. I could just see the trailer for the next Book of Mormon film (deep epic voice: "Jonathan Hillborough as Nephi..." Jonathan: "I will go and do the things the Lord has commanded..."). Guess you'd have to know him to see why that was so funny in my mind! He is beginning to identify the Spirit as he prays and reads, which is what we have been praying for. Wonderful!

Tom Lewis came to church and enjoyed it! We think he'll be making progress this week.

Sylvester is changing and softening. It's a miracle to see the gospel change people!

The work is brilliant! We had lots of funny moments this week. The days seem to come in themes:

Tuesday was bus-drivers-love-us day.
Wednesday was are-you-from-Finland?-day.
Thursday was bus-drivers-hate-us day.
Friday was dog-slobber-day (don't ask).
Saturday was every-member-that-ever-married-the-elder-that-taught-them-come-up-and-tell-us-in-front-of-our-investigators day (they were the first three people that have told me that on my mission and they all came in the space of an hour; so much for trying to explain rules and regulations to our investigators!)
Sunday was the-Wigan-ward-is-simply-wonderful day.

Sister Maughan and I are discovering that we are incredibly similar! We are joyful!

This week my studies have been revolving around charity. There were two scriptures that have always puzzled me a bit. Paul teaches us in 1 Cor. 13:1, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

How is it that we could do all of those good things and we are still nothing without charity?

Moroni says the same thing, though, in Moroni 7:46-47, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

Again, though we may do many good things, without charity we are nothing. As I pondered on this I discovered the key in the last phrase of Paul's: it profiteth me nothing. Surely doing all of those good things without love behind them will profit others and further the Lord's work, but it will leave us empty. We can be obedient to God's commandments, but unless we are doing it out of love, unless we have pure intentions, the service cannot be fully effective. Without charity it cannot change us; we cannot become like Him.

It reminds me of Elder Bednar's talk "Clean Hands and a Pure Heart."

Also, our previous mission president gave us a document he had compiled titled "The Sacred Missionary Document." It describes three categories of missionaries: social, honourable and sacred. We are all striving to be a sacred missionary. A social missionary doesn't work (dirty hands), an honourable missionary works but perhaps with the wrong motives (clean hands and impure heart) and a sacred missionary works with charity driving her (clean hands and pure heart.) In the end, the sacred missionary is the only one who was truly happy and truly changed from her mission because her heart is in it. She learned to love God and love the work. The honourable missionary does good works and she can make an impact on others but her actions don't make an impact on her because she wishes she was doing something else. What she did was honourable and the Lord is very grateful, but He wishes for her sake that she had really consecrated herself. She has become as a tinkling cymbal. As Elder Bednar says, "Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire for sin."

As I look back on my mission I realise that it became joyful and natural when my desire caught up with my actions. I think the most beautiful part of this is that the desire to be obedient, the love that will drive you to action, is only a prayer away. From the mouth of Moroni, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure."

If you find that you are doing what the Lord wants you to do, but deep down you want to do what you want to do, pray and ask the Lord to educate your desires. He will. I know because I've experienced it!

Miracles are happening here; and Satan is doing everything he can to keep us from accomplishing them! But I know he will not succeed as long as we remain humble and obedient.
Thank you for your prayers! We both feel them.

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