Monday, February 24, 2014

week 11: this week was outstanding!

I've felt pretty terrible for the email I sent all last week. I was having a terrible day and well... yeah. This week was outstanding! 

The mail strike is over! I got the package yesterday from President Omer and it made my day! That was a perfect package and I can't really put into words how much I appreciate it. I love the little hand outs you give me. The investigators love them as well. My clothes are becoming destroyed already. The African sun really has a way to kill slacks. 

On Friday I drove us up to Tzaneen (Zuh-neen) for our zone meeting. It was a beautiful drive! You go through mountains, rain forests, and forests like the ones that Oregon has. I almost ran over a baboon who decided to dart in front of the car. On the way back the fog rolled in, that was terrible. It was super sketchy, the roads are terrible and well yeah. TIA (This is Africa.)

The crowning point of the week was the opportunity we had to give a blessing to a young woman that would soon be leaving this world. We gave the blessing with Elder Harward (a senior missionary), and in all honesty when I left that hospital room I was heart broken. For the next few hours that followed I just could not get my mind off of her condition, and it really was hard for me. Later that night we had a meeting with Elder Harward and he shared with us that a few hours after the blessing she passed on. I'm not sure I have ever felt as happy as I did at that moment. I had a peaceful feeling come upon me, and I was no more troubled by the experience. When we left the hospital I thought that I was sad because of her impending death, but thinking back on it now I have realized that it was just because of her state. That was quite a testimony builder of the plan of salvation, and it is something I know that I will never forget as long as I live. I wish I was better with words so that I could better convey the experience to you.

Since coming here I have pretty much given up meat. I can't afford it, and the way Africans cook it is nasty. Oh well haha. I kind of enjoy not eating it, fruit es muy bueno. 

On Friday I had the opportunity to give a sick 4 year old a blessing, it was so bad she was nearly hospitalized. The next morning she was perfectly fine. That was pretty great.   

Yesterday we had district conference and Elder Bricknell of the Seventy presided. This man is outstanding! He is hilarious when interacting with us missionaries. He put one of my friends in a head lock haha. He is a great man. The two key speakers here were him and President Omer (another outstanding man). The topics included the work of salvation mainly, but branched off into most principals of the gospel. 

During one of his talks Elder Bricknell mentioned the time Peter walked on water (Matthew 14: 25-31)
"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

His mention of it yesterday prompted me to study it this morning. At first I was thinking, what the flip. How on earth can I apply this to me? After a few minutes I finally figured it out. At first all is fine with Peter, he walks across the stormy sea without incident, but eventually the storm becomes too much for him, he takes his eyes from the Savior and begins to sink. Luckily the Savior was there with an out-stretched hand to save him.

Let's compare the walking on the sea to our life. Just like the Sea of Galilee there will be times of calm and times of storm. It seems to me that every time we have a great spiritual experience or are doing what we are supposed to (study, prayer, church) it is relatively easy to keep our eyes on Christ, but if we shirk off the things we are instructed to do and put them as naught our faith begins to waver and we are too consumed with the storms of life to remember to keep our eyes on Christ, and without a doubt we will begin to sink.

Luckily, just as Peter did, we have a loving Savior with his had outstretched to us at all times. All He asks is that we cry out in faith, and He is willing to save us from the inevitable. (John 16:33). 

It is, however, a much better idea to just avoid sinking at all. No one I know likes to be spiritually "wet". We have been instructed from the prophets of old as well as modern that in order to brave these storms with strength all we need to do is  study the scriptures and pray. If we do these simple, but important things, it is much harder for the adversary to pull us down to his level.

Elder Bricknell taught that in order to become a spiritual giant of sorts all we need to do is look towards the example of the sons of Mosiah. (Alma 17:2-3). "The three steps to increasing our spirituality is to first- pray like crazy, second- feast on the scriptures, and third- fast regularly... That's the best recipe for spirituality I've ever seen"- Elder Bricknell

Hopefully this can help y'all. 

Last week I read Paul's words in 2nd Timothy where he says:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

I honestly want nothing more than to be able to say this at the end of this mission as well as my earthly mission. Before reading this I had lots of desire to do better, but had struggled with putting that desire into action. This was just the motivation that I needed. Sure I've always worked hard, but I always knew I could also do better.

Kind of running out of things to write. I hope all is well back home. Mission is going swell. 

Love, Elder McClellan

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