Favorite Scripture

Alma 36:21-22
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon His throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Purpose of A Missionary . . .

. . . Is to help others come unto Christ through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. How I have come to understand that out here.

Did you know that when Christ preached to the Jews many were offended and believed not. They were offended by the very teachings of our lord and savior! It shouldn't be that big of a surprise. They did crucify him in the end; so one should assume from that that the people didn't always take his teachings well, but it showed me something. I'll start from a short example.

In T3, in our contacting or door knocking (aka. walk up to the sheet metal they call a gate and yell "Com licensa!") we would often find people who told us "Oh, I already have a church. I already have accepted God in my life. The word of God is the same, it doesn't matter what church you belong to, God is the same god in all churches. After all, he loves all his children." Sounds nice, full of apostasy and teaching of men mingled with scripture, but it sounds really nice and tons of people use it on us, that God is the same god in all churches. They literally say "I accept anyone who talks of God and Christ." But they don't see that all the doctrines are against one another. Frustrating.

Anyway, back to the example, they'll tell us that they already have their church. Well, I remember doing something real stupid some of these times...I would tell them, "Oh, we're not here to rip you away from your church, we just have a message of Christ." WRONG! In all technicality and reality, the message of the restoration is exactly that: we are trying to pull people out of apostasy and help them know that God has called a prophet in our day to show us the true way.

The thing I have learned from this is that I need to be bold and not fear bearing my testimony. We are told every day that we are searching for those who are ready to receive the gospel. If a person is not ripe and ready for the picking leave them to ripen. They won't listen and obey until then.

I had a lesson yesterday with Elder Coombs. The man is pretty strong in his church. He was extremely nice (like most Africans are. It is so nice. I have yet to have a door slammed in my face.) and sat us down in his house and we started talking. Well, we got into the lesson and starting talking about prophets and Joseph Smith and how all the churches that were created after Christ and the apostles dies were created by men and not under the direction of God(nor his authority or power...all this in a polite manner with scripture). I testified powerfully of Joseph Smith and how he should pray to know whether Joseph Smith was a prophet, then E. Coombs testified strongly and asked him if he'd pray. Man, I know I felt the spirit and there was no way he didn't, but the thing is he was so brainwashed and led astray by the teachings of men that he was able to deny the feelings. I never truly believed that one could deny those feelings. Even when I don't want to believe and follow the promptings of the HG back home I at least acknowledged them.

I learned from this lesson (and many others) that we will offend people. Check that, the gospel will offend people. They have been led away in darkness for so long that the light hurts. Many churches teach things only because they know the people will like how it sounds and accept it for that. Saying that God only has one church and one gospel and that not all the churches are correct makes people say, "God loves all his children. The word of God is the Word of God, end of story. I have accepted Christ, I got baptized, I have been trying to do as my church said and now you tell me that it isn't teaching truth?!" They run from the truth for it is hard unto them.

So, lesson for all: when preaching the gospel not all people will accept it nor like you as the messenger. What we must remember is to preach and teach with clarity and power. Do not dress up the gospel to make it less "harsh" or more "nice sounding." If one is ready, the Holy Ghost will testify and they will recognize something different. The change comes when they try it. THEY PRAY! When they pray they feel that feeling they cannot deny and they see that this path, though difficult and not without challenge, is the true and only way to lead to happiness.

SO...SAY IT! Don't be rude and bash their religion and long held beliefs, don't be stupid but do teach clearly. There was a general authority who said once (paraphrasing) we don't teach so people can understand, we teach so they can't misunderstand.

The field (mission field baby!) is white. It is ready for the harvest. Our purpose is to find those who pertain to the field. There are many unripe grains; don't rip them up, they don't accept. We are called to find, teach and baptize those already prepared by our Lord to receive us. As Preach My Gospel and somewhere in Doctrine and Covenants states: Find those that will receive you.

One thing missionaries do (guilty) is they worry that if they are bold in finding and teaching the people will take offence and they will end up with no one to teach. True, you will have less lessons, but the lessons missing are because you aren't teaching those who aren't ready. Often, in the initial contact you can tell whether the person will progress or not (not every time of course, so don't judge too hastily) and then you know not to take their number. The first lesson reveals a lot about whether one shall progress in or reject the gospel.

Well, I must say that Maputo has not been the most successful part of my mission. We have few families and spend a ton of time contacting on the road, but I have learned a lot about being bolder in my teaching. I have also learned that I need to watch and pray especially hard when times are rough. The Lord has a purpose to me being in Maputo. He wants us to baptize. He has prepared people. Don't lose that thought. The adversary would have you get down and believe it is hopeless when you don't have much success. DON'T DO THAT! THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING TO DO!

A. it is 100% false.
B. it makes life miserable and you start counting your days till home.
C. your comp. and area suffer when you do that.

Ok. Now, I shall better get to answering things and talking about other stuff or there is no time.

I am still going crazy about my bro getting engaged. Nuts.

Y'all are sick! Ick. I actually had a day where my head hurt and stomach didn't like me, but it passed real quick.

YES I LOVE EMAILS! Sheesh, yet sick of them. All right, come to Africa and see if you get sick of hearing from your family. It will never happen.

Update. We had 2 full families at church yesterday! WOOT! Eight investigators in total! WHOOP! A little low for Munhava, but this is showing a lot of improvement in Maputo.

A day in my life. I see pavement now. Weird, I know. Maputo has pavement and actually roads apart from the main ones. It still is chuck full of sheet metal houses and dirt/mud road. Well, so did Beira and T3, but the city itself is closer to what you guys might call civilization. Let me just tell you, I'll be another pesky "children in Africa" guy, but America is freakin blessed. The promised land is not a joke. Be grateful, there are many people here that eat beans and rice(and a flower based mush called Xima {Sh-ee-ma}) as their only food, and then they don't have that in abundance. I wish I could take pictures of everywhere for you all but two things are in my way:
A. Pres made a new rule that the missionaries aren't allowed to walk with cameras (not that I have one anymore anyway)
B. the handbook tells us not to look like tourists. This makes sense, try telling a guy of Christ after taking all sorts of pictures like a weird tourist.

Crimeny, well, seriously, I am out of time, gotto go.

Get some sleep. Get that brother of mine a license (without having him crash the car). Love life.

Love ya'll more that root beer  (another American luxury-small but makes a difference ;)

 Elder Christopher Wartena Africa

PS. "Extend a buttons" are beautiful things. They are also in the list of things I did not bring and would like. They along with my leatherman would be absolutely wonderful to find in a package some time in July or you know, whenever it wants.

PPS. I shouldn't be asking for another package already really, I haven't even received the last one you sent, still waiting for it to arrive. Just remember to add those two things to a little wish list for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Well, if you must know...I had lasagna for my birthday! HAHA! I had forgotten to get something special for my birthday to eat (besides cauliflower with cheese that I will eat tonight!) but Elder Ostler (who happens to be from Orem as well) came through and made lasagna for the house. Oh, yeah! No idea how he knew, but it was good.

In addition to that, we had a division(also with Elder Ostler) and it went quite well. We found many new potential investigating families and taught 2 great lessons. It was a good day.

Mom, telling a missionary about aunt Kari's Guacamole is mean. AAH! Man, I could use a good burrito with Guacamole about now. hehe, kidding. I'm eating fine over here. I eat oats for breakfast (a little Nesquick mixed in every once in a while makes it quite yummy), sandwiches or chicken or whatever for lunch and a smallish dinner each day. And guess what...I entered the MTC at128 lbs and now I am 145. Hehe...YEAH! So BIGGY!

All, right, guess what, you Americans are spoiled rotten. Our blasted washing machine decided to die this past week and we have yet to find a mechanic who knows how to fix it. So, it looks like hand-washing has become a necessity. I can't complain though, that is what nearly all natives here have to do. How do they do it? They scrub the clothes on their hands and then pound them silly on a rock, rinse. Fun to watch but it'll kill your hands. I have decided that when I am back in America I will never complain about things like walking to church or winter. We Americans are picky and sometimes complainy. I need to work on that.

How's the comp and the work? Well, it's moving along fine. We have found some new families to teach this week and are working hard to get even more. Our past weeks have been full of contacting and walking but it looks like it will start paying off here soon. My comps great, he is working hard to make his last two transfers count and it helps me too. Find, teach, (marry) baptize.

Well, gotta be moving on. Love you all a ton and wish I could just drag you threw the computer to show you Africa.

Crap, I almost forgot to say: my mind has now exploded. Josh is engaged...Holy crap. My bro is gonna get himself married. Well, just tell him I approve (the photos of this Hannah are acceptable) of his choice and holy cow. This cardboard cutout missionary in the reception line is going crazy over the fact that he is about to be a brother-in-law. Phew.

Well, Preciso sair para os outros ou eles vao zangar comigo,
Elder Wartena

P.S. Thanks for worrying about me.

P.P.S. Man, the tradition to give people kisses instead of handshakes(like the french) is awkward  Yup, your boy got kissed this week. Only the cheek. Hehe, during a lesson one of the daughters of the family walked in and said "boa tarde" to us. Well, before I knew it she had done the funky kiss the cheek thing with me in place of the usual handshake. Let's just say that I pulled away fast and replaced the face with the hand real quick.