Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Week 102 - The Last Letter

Hey Guys!

I was feeling pretty restless during last week. I still feel restless, but that’s part of finishing the mission.

In the last three months, I think I have given more service with Elder Cardona than in all the rest of my mission. We've built houses, we've dug wells. we've cut wood- you name it, we did it. We also had many miracles this past 3 months, loving people, receiving and bearing strong testimony that Jesus lives, and that this is church. It's been a very lively time on my mission. These last few months have been a spiritual explosion.

I was thinking today about the value of a testimony. This week we had a church activity where we bought 2000 matches and put them in a pot. We taught our members about the value of a testimony.  The activity was something like this:
I explained: "Our individual testimonies are like this individual match."
We turned out the lights, and I lit the match. It lit up the room.
I explained: "Now, when we are with 2 or 3 others, the light we give off becomes even brighter."
I lit 3 matches at a time, and it gave off a greater light.
I then explained, " Now, imagine 2000 people together that have this testimony."

I then set off the matches in the pot, and it literally produced a 6-foot column of fire. I honestly was not expecting such a big flame. The members reacted very well. though.

That's had me thinking about testimonies and the importance and the value of a testimony. There is a point that we can get to, where we no longer have faith in a certain thing, but we have a perfect knowledge in that thing. I do not know everything, and there is much I have to learn, but there are some things, concerning which, that I feel that I have gained a perfect knowledge of them and that I know that they are true.

I also realized that as much as I have shared my testimony to this people, I haven’t really shared my testimony with you.

I know that Christ is my Savior. He literally died for us and took upon Himself all of our sins, so that we can be clean. I know that this is His church today, because I have seen too much to not know. I have received many confirmations that this is all true. I was not there to see, but I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Son. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and though hail falls, though the earth shakes, and though I am made as Job in my afflictions, I know that all the work that has been done in this last dispensation is truly the work of God, and that I will never fall away. I know, with all the surety of my heart, that God loves me, that I am His son, and He desires that I gain eternal life. He also desires this for all his children. I am a disciple of Christ, and He has commissioned me to serve and bear my testimony of these things to all. This is my testimony to the world, to all those who have been within the sound of my voice, both through internet, or literally, here in Guatemala or there in the States. If you ever have difficulties, or your faith is failing you, remember that you know someone who knows that its true. I know.

I love you all. I have many imperfections, and God, through his great mercy, has shown me what I am now. He has also shown me what i can become, and I am sure He will show me more.

See you in 8 days!

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Week 101 - Don't Know What To Title This Email

Hey Guys!

Life here's pretty much the same. We're still in the coordination stages for all the cool things we want to do our last week. It's a long process, but it's coming together piece by piece. We're going to, on my last Saturday, have 5 baptisms, and then we're going to go to the temple with all the recent converts to do baptisms for the dead. There's a lot of coordination that has to be done, but it will be done.

You know what I feel like right now if you've been in my position before. 2 weeks before you go home, you feel like everything is just a blur, but at the same time, you can't help counting days and just waiting to go home. This week we got to know the new mission Presidents, President and Hermana Christensen, and we had short interviews with them. When they interviewed me, they basically just thanked me for te work that I've done here on the mission and told me that when I get back home, I won' t be able to find many people who really understand what I've been through or the way I think. 

I have no idea how things are or what it will be like when I get back, but we'll see. You might think that I act differently or weird when I get back, but that will be for 2 reasons:

1) I've been living in a very different culture for a long time. It will take me some time to adjust to being an American again.

2) Spiritual growth is a purifying process. When gold is purified, the purest part of the gold stays the same, but the little imperfections are slowly burned away. Much of the mission has been a process of purification for me. When a person grows spiritually, their personality and the inner essence of who they are basically stays the same, but they become more intelligent, more profound, and more focused on things that matter most. 

I really don't have too much to say. There are great things happening, we're gonna have 5 baptisms on my last Saturday, I feel time passing by, and I'll be returning from the unfamiliar-made-familiar country of Guatemala to the once-familiar-made-unfamiliar state of California.

See you all soon! Time goes by much faster than what you expect.


Elder Jeffrey Reed

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Week 100 - Working Hard to the Very End

Hey Guys!

My companion and I have the baptismal goal of 6 for this month, and we already have 5 of the 6 planned and committed to be baptized on the 22nd of July, my last Saturday in the mission. That week, we will also go to the temple with all the recent converts of this year and last year. (We were gonna go this week, but it got canceled because of temple remodeling and management, so we had to put it off for a little bit later. That gives more time to our recent converts to look for names. Luckily, I'll still be with them to go to the temple) In short, we've got a lot to do, and not enough time to do it. Life goes by fast, especially the mission.

I've never thought so much about my life and what will become of my future as I have been thinking about it this week and the past couple weeks. It's not that I'm worried or anything, it's just the most prominent thought in my mind Much of my last couple of weeks in the mission has been learning more about the basic principles of repentance so that I can go home being the best person I can be. I haven't ever felt such an itch just to be good. To be loving to others. To serve.

In the mission, as I have read and served and learned, I have almost accidentally learned a lot more about myself, even though that wasn't the initial goal. The initial goal was to bring salvation to others. Before, I was a young high school graduate without any real direction in my life, but now, I feel as if there is a clear path laid down before me and a clear path that the Lord wants me to take. Actually maybe the path isn't too clear, but the entrance to the path is, and I plan wholeheartedly on taking action and moving forwards and upwards as I get back. There were days when I worried that God was pleased with my service and that if I had become the kind of person He wanted me to become on the mission, but I don't worry about that anymore. I know, through revelation, that the Lord has accepted my service (or rather, will accept my service after I finish in 3 weeks) and I know that i have given all my effort and my might in these last 2 years to His kingdom. I have learned and grown, but I should not expect the learning and growth to stop here. If it does, I completely missed the point. But it will not. We all, no matter where we're at in our life, we have to continue growing upwards and onwards. And it can be a very joyful experience.

I am at peace with my God and with Guatemala.

Elder Jeffrey Reed