Monday, July 20, 2009

Faith is work

I don't know if another week can go by without being informed of a new addition to the family! Congrats to Leslie and Eric! It's gonna be exciting to see all these new faces, and also see how much everyone else has grown! I always remember to thank the Lord each day for the many ways that everyone back home is growing, especially spiritually. Hard to believe that Kenz is done with another semester of college! She's definitely a lot more diligent about learning another language than I was! I just find it remarkable how quickly missionaries at the MTC are able to learn another language.

I'm sure it's no different anywhere else, as long as you have the faith and the desire to accomplish it. The work in Wilmington continues to move forward, and great are the blessings we have received thus far. I don't know where I'd be without faith! It's not a stretch to say that every good thing is based on faith! Everything! This is a topic that is brought up every day, particularly in missionary life. The Lord's thoughts and ways are not like ours; the key is to trust Him enough to know He will always open a way for us to do His work, but on His timetable. That's an attitude I have tried hard to develop lately, and it has definitely shoved doubt and discouragement aside. Those two D's are tactics of Satan designed to make us think only of ourselves, which will absolutely kill missionary efforts if we allow it to fester. I have received assurance multiple times in the last few weeks that God answers the prayer of faith, but only after we do our part. The teachings I've learned from Alma 32-34 will help tremendously in the days and weeks to come! The scriptures are so rich with eternal truths, I'm just getting started!

Another aspect of faith I've understood more lately is that faith isn't really valid until it has been tested, as Dad pointed out today. In regards to our investigators, we are finding and teaching many who are receptive to the gospel and have no hesitation to ask any questions that are on their minds. This, I believe, is a way to know that investigators have real intent because they aren't shy about asking questions or bringing up any concerns they have. They really want to know the right way, and we have the sacred obligation of making sure they understand our message...but also that they don't MISunderstand. I am once again excited to see what lies in store for this week, and I will continue to put my faith and trust in the Lord to see His purposes fulfilled in their season. Missions aren't about seeing people get baptized, although that is important. The greatest successes in the Lord's work is seeing people develop and then exercise faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance. In short, it's seeing people change, even if they don't join the Church. That can be especially difficult to understand why they would do that, even if they've received a spiritual witness that the Church is true. People have their agency, and we need to always respect it. If I can know at the end of each day that I taught so clearly that people couldn't possibly misunderstand, then I know I've done the best I could. From Alma 32: 41 (surprise), I learned more about what exactly enduring to the end means: "But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life." From this verse, I came to the conclusion that enduring to the end involves exercising our faith, and being diligent, patient, and optimistic. When we do this, then our faith becomes firmly rooted, or in other words, our TESTIMONY becomes anchored deep within the gospel soil. All of us that have joined the Church, even some who haven't, have gained a testimony that it's true. The rest of our lives are then spent weeding out our brains of doubts and fears and continually GROWING our testimonies.

I know I've covered a lot and hope that this makes sense to all who read it. I guess to sum it all up, true conversion is something that takes all of our lives to try and accomplish, but the Savior has promised us this from the scriptures: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13) I pray with all my heart that each of us will seek to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and one of the best ways to do this is by living it and then sharing it with others. Every day I ask the Lord to give you missionary opportunities, and I hope that your prayers on occasion ask for the same thing. May this week bring continued happiness and success for each of you! Have faith, things will always work out the way they're supposed to!


Ging said...

Love this boy. He is amazing and handling the disappointments and triumphs of missionary work with grace and faith.

Kathy said...

I haven't read Elder Livingston's letters for a while, so it was especially great to read this one and see all the growth this young man had made. Wow! You must all be so proud of him. He is so obviously a servant of the Lord. His faith and courage just shine in these recent letters.