Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

I am healthy now, yes.  Well, okay, not entirely true, I started getting a cough yesterday.  But that's okay.  It was funny, right after I wrote you all last week, the stomach flu kicked in and I was puking the whole day.  It was awesomely miserable.  I ended up taking my comp's entire P-day, so I felt a little bad, but not too much...because he was sick the rest of the week.  We didn't get out to do too much this week because we were so sick.  But we're alright now and this week should be better.

Thanks so much for the prayers about the ward.  They really did help.  We now have good relationships with the EQP, RSP, YMP, WML, the counselors in the bishopric, and even bishop is starting to get along with us.  They're all starting to realize that missionary work is pointless without the ward, and it's also pointless without the missionaries.  Consequently, we are trying to work together.  It's getting better with the ward.

Satan's been working on our investigators like crazy.  We really only have two that are really legit in interest.  We had to drop one this week because she's not progressing, which is super depressing.  But the weirdest things have happened.  The strongest investigator in our area was actually committed to baptism before I got here and right before I got here (just a couple weeks before her baptism) things got really bad.  She got told she was going to get evicted, her living situation was terrible anyway, she was looking for a new place to go and everything just blew up.  We haven't been in close contact in a few weeks, so we had to move her baptismal date and we'll have to reteach some of the lessons.  It was super depressing, but hopefully we'll be able to get back in contact with her.  Her name is Carla.  Our other awesome investigator got sick the day we had a lesson scheduled with her this week AND her dad was admitted to the hospital in LA.  That and she's considering quitting her job.  So the adversary is working hard because this is something she really wants for her family.  Her name is Reeda.  She's super ready and super new to the doctrine.  Pray for them both please.  They really are doing great, they just need the path to be cleared for them.  I wish we had some sort of way of telling investigators that their lives are about to get really hard for a moment without coming across super weird or evil.

I've been thinking a lot about the story in the gospels about the raging tempest after Christ feeds the five thousand and He and His disciples go into a ship and sail across the sea.  I try and put myself in the shoes of the apostles as I think about how they embarked and their leader, the Savior, goes to the bottom of the boat and rests.  I imagine the apostles didn't mind at first as keeping the boat afloat is something they would do for someone they loved so much.  It probably wasn't a big deal at first.  But as the other ships on the sea left to the shore due to the clouds they saw forming overhead, the apostles must have started to worry.  With direction from Jesus to sail to the other side, they couldn't turn back and go back to shore, but continued to sail on into the gathering storm.

As they sail right into the storm, the situation started to get worse.  A tempest includes more than just rain and wind, it includes thunder and lightning.  Reasonably, they started to fear for their lives.  The boat began to take on water and start to sink.  The stranded apostles had nothing they could do.  At this point it was too late to turn back, there was no option to wait out the storm.  If nothing was done, they would all die, and they one who directed them to sail across the sea and into the storm is down below, sleeping.  This could be the end of their lives, which would leave their families helpless.  The fearing, terrified, confused, and maybe frustrated and angry apostles turn to Christ and ask "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" out of desperation.

This is the part that really makes me think.  After they asked that question, I wonder if they forgot who they said that to.  Perhaps they had forgotten that this Man they were sailing with was the very God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  Perhaps they had forgotten that by His power, the earth was created, the children of Israel were brought through the red sea, the Jaredites were brought to the promised land and countless miracles were brought to pass.  Perhaps they had forgotten that He had stepped down from his throne on high to become a mortal man.  That He began his ministry fighting the same temptations as they do.  Maybe they forgot that just hours before he had fed thousands with only five loaves and two fish.  Perhaps they had forgotten that in just a matter of days, he would suffer all pain, sin, and afflictions that they would ever feel, lose their support while doing it, be betrayed by His own people, the state, and be crucified and die for them.  Perhaps they forgot that after all that would be done, having coming from His throne on high, descending below all things, He would rise again to take place as the Mediator for everything that they had done wrong and make intercession with the Father on their behalf for eternity.

"Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Out of everyone who has, does, or will walk the earth, they ask the Savior if He cares.  There is no one who will ever care more that they perish.  It seems right that Christ then calms the storm and chastises them "Where is your faith?"  Perhaps they had forgotten, and perhaps because they forgot, every scriptural prophet ends his life pleading with us to remember.  Lehi, Nephi, Benjamin, Alma, Heleman, Mormon, Moroni all tell us to remember; because forgetting causes us to lose faith.

Sometimes, we are in a tempest.  Sometimes we feel like we are stranded, taking on water, and are going to sink.  Sometimes we feel like asking if God cares if we perish.  I would challenge you to remain faithful and when those times come remember who is on the boat with you.  Have faith.  For it is by faith that in a similar tempest, Peter was able to brave the storm for a moment and step out of the sinking boat and walk on the turbulent waters.

This church is true.  God is over all and will never let the tempest over take us.  The hardest part about the gospel is enduring to the end.  Everyday reapplying what we know to what we do.  Repenting, becoming clean, trying again, and getting better.  Remember, and never forget that Christ is always with you.  Always.  Thank you for your prayers, they are felt and needed.  Thank you for your influence and examples.  Thank you for being the wonderful parents you are and your testimonies.  Thank you for being the best siblings I could ask for.  Thank you for your support.

Elder Russell

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