Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 34

Hey Guys!

 Right now, I'm talking with Jacob, and he asked me a couple questions that I want to answer.

>Jacob: What does the Gospel mean to you?
> Elder Reed: Everything. That's not just something casual. There is nothing- Nothing- more important than this Gospel. My Savior, Lord, and King died for me more than two thousand years ago, and though I have never seen his face or touched the prints in his hands, my heart has felt his touch, and I know more than I ever knew now. Because of Him, I can repent, and because of the Restoration of the Gospel, I know How to repent. I have found new life in Him.

> Jacob: How would you best describe the Spirit of those who give something they love for the God they love even more?
> Elder Reed: In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf (paraphrased) "There will be times when we must sacrifice good things for things that are better, or even excellent." I had never known what it means to give up something that means so much to me before the mission. I don't know how i would describe the spirit of a missionary who left everything behind for God, but i do know this: I love my family more here than I ever did when I had them in front of me. Every single of you guys, my little brothers and sisters, and my older sister, and my mom, and my dad, are more than my family. They are more than my friends. Words cannot describe the love I feel, or the love I have learned to feel for you. You mean everything to me. Never lose sight of what is important.

> Jacob: Have you any experiences for sharing?
> Elder Reed: Sir Jacob, at this point in time, I do not believe I have any experiences for sharing, but I wouldst like to share a thought. The thought is this: The strongest spirit depends the most on his Savior. I am nothing- I was never anything- except it was for the blessings which my God has given me.

I love you all! Thank you for writing me Jacob!

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week 33

Hey Everyone!

This week, I've got a story to tell. This happened about 3 or 4 weeks ago.

One day, I was going around contacting in Zacapa, like normal, when we heard someone shout: "Hey! Hermanos!" we turned around and saw a kid with messy hair about 20 years old running towards us. (For all you who haven't been missionaries, this isn't normal. The only people who try to talk to us are the drunkards who think we have money or the members.) When he got to us, he asked us what we were giving out. We talked with him a little bit, and learned that his name was Erick. We showed him the pamphlet about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and asked him if he would like to listen to our message. He said he would like to, and we set up an appointment for 2 days later.

When we got to the house, we saw him there, with his family of about 6 brothers and sisters; he had been waiting for us to come. When we got to the tin house where he lives, he saw us, smiled, and said: "Come in! I thought you weren't gonna come!" After talking to him, we learned that he has had a lot of problems in his life, and wanted to listen to our message. We invited him to read, and to be baptized. He accepted. We told him that it would be hard to repent, but he could do it, and that because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ paid for us, He can help us, in every challenge we face.

Since that point, we have seen a transformation in him unlike anything I've ever seen. He's grown, literally overnight, from a kid who smokes every day, messy and unkempt, to someone who prays earnestly; someone who goes to Institute to learn more; who gets to church himself, before the missionaries do. 

What is the Atonement? What is it that Jesus Christ did for us that night, in the Garden of Gethsemane? What is the pain that He felt, as He shed drops of blood from every pore? What is it He saw, as he carried his cross outside of the city of Jerusalem, to the hill Calvary? How can we imagine, or ever comprehend, the pain and anguish he felt as the executioners drove the nails through His hands and feet? what kind of agony could have caused him to cry out, as he hung there in that final hour, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" 
We cannot know, we cannot tell what pain He had to bear,
but we do know IT WAS FOR US He hung and suffered there.
He was lifted up on the cross, that He would know how to lift us out of our sin. Elder Flores have done nothing. We've only watched, astounded, as this man grew. We watched as Christ touched his heart, and pulled him out of darkness.
Christ broke the bands of death, that we might be free.
It was for us. All of us- the good, the bad, the dejected, the cast off- Everyone who has felt deception, disappointment; everyone who has ever wondered how they could possibly go on.
I know it was for us. I did not see or feel the same pain, but I know exactly what he can do now.
Let Him do the same in your lives. Let Him lift you up from agony.
Elder Jeffrey Reed

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 32

Hey Guys!

To pick up where I left off the last time, we've got a basically brand-new
zone. Whenever people leave a zone a new people arrive, you always feel the
difference. This change, the zone is a lot calmer. Things are still the
same in my ward with Elder Carter and elder Cortes (I'll get you guys a
photo of us this week; my camera died and I forgot to charge it) but
really, everything outside of that has changed.

It's March, and iguanas are in season! I didn't know that people ate
iguanas, but apparently they do. I can't imagine how they catch them
either., because the iguanas here are monstrous and mean. I still haven't
tried it yet, but Elder Vasquez says its good.

We're approaching the Holy Week down here! Every Friday, a bunch of
different Catholic preachers gather these groups of people and go around
from house to house. They stop wherever there's a picture of the Virgin
Mary, and they sing a bunch of songs there. I was kind of disappointed
when I didn't see any Christmas carolers this December, but apparently
they put more stress on Semana Santa and Pascua here.

It's been a harder week for me as a missionary. As I've mentioned before,
there's a lot of people down here with a lot of problems, but many of these
people don't want to give up their problems. They love the familiar
problems they have rather than the new but liberating opportunity they have
to be freed from those problems. I've been thinking about this and the
parable of the Sower. These people have spiritual weeds in their hearts.
Many of them believe, and know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only
thing that can bring them happiness, but they care too much about the
things of the world to give place for the seed of the Gospel. These things,
(like drinking habits, greed, problems with people, etc.) have stopped many
many many people in Guatemala from accepting the Savior and his doctrine.
As I've thought about this, I've realized that I'm not perfect either; that
sometimes, I care more about the things of the world than I care about my
Savior. So today, in this minute, to everyone who reads this, I invite you
all. Look inside yourself. What things matter most to you? Are some of
those things that you don't want in your life or things that really don't
matter? If these weeds exist, cast them out. Give a little more room for
the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your life. Follow the Savior's example, in
thought, in word, in deed, and in habit. To help you guys study, read
Isaiah 52:11, and after that, read 53:3-5. Remember that Jesus Christ
always kept what was most important in mind.
Elder Jeffrey Reed

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 31 - more Zacapa

Hey guys!

We had our changes this week, and I'm still staying here in Zacapa. I've now lived out here in Guatemala 7 months. Everyone I knew when I arrived here in Guatemala is now gone. Everyone is a new face except for Elder Flores, Elder Carter, and Elder Cortes. What happened to the time? I'm still living in August of 2015. 

After 7 months (almost a third of the time I'm going to be out here in Guatemala) I've seen a lot of the world. I've known pains beyond pains. It's very different to be a missionary. I've lived in a country seven months. Every day, I think, I read, and speak in another language, and the people see us. Some hate us for the message we share, others love us. Some reject us, others listen. I've found myself talking with people and helping people solve problems worse than I could ever imagine 7 months ago. I've seen people grow in faith, and I've seen others reject faith and become harder and colder than ever.

As I think back on the time I’ve spent out here in Zacapa, I realize that being a missionary is so much more than walking around with a tie and a Book of Mormon. It means helping everyone at every corner you turn. It means mourning with those who mourn, and comforting those who need comfort. It means being a leader. People look to us to help them find peace, to bless their lives. This mission isn't about me. No matter what I thought before, it NEVER was about me. It's about Guillermo, Erick, Rosa, Leandro, Indira, Silvia, Jose, and every other person I meet here.

This week has made me think very hard because we've met a ton of people who have problems with their lives: Destroyed families, drugs, addictions of every kind, fear of other people, you name it. And I learned something: Every person suffers. Everyone has hidden pains and sorrows that they don't show us. But there is someone who sees all of those. There is someone who personally took upon Himself all the pains, all the sicknesses, and all the hurt. This person was Jesus Christ. we can't imagine what he felt. There have been times this week when I've wondered how a person can carry so much weight and pain in their life. Jesus Christ personally suffered for every single human being. He saw you all, in every moment of your life. When He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, He saw you. He saw me. He saw every single one of these people that I've met. And he loves them. The pain he endured, and the things he suffered are unimaginable. But there's not one pain in your life, one hurt that you've felt, that He didn't see. He knows when a sparrow falls, and are ye not much greater than a sparrow.
You are not alone.
You are never alone.

I love you all! Keep writing!

Elder Jeffrey Reed