Monday, December 7, 2015

Weapons of Rebellion

Thank you for the email that sent I really enjoyed the stories!
I hope everything is doing well over there and the family is doing good. I'm excited to Skype y'all again on Christmas.
I'm not sick because my body is tough like an ox. The language is not a problem and I love the people here.

Things here are good! I'm really trying my best and having fun. I'm the oldest zone leader in the mission but I still have the fire of a new missionary. I love the missionaries that are in my zone. I do my best to serve them and and help them in anyway that I can. Our zone is still continuing our legacy and the Bangued Warriors are the best zone in our mission. What a blessing.
Something happened last week that really changed my life. Here's the story:

I learned that there was a certain elder in my zone that was being disobedient and had a secret cellphone. He had some members buy it for him and he was using it to keep in touch with his family and of course, his girlfriend back home. When I found this out, I was deeply saddened because this is a good elder. He is really good in the language and is a good teacher. This isn't my first encounter with disobedience before in the mission but I've gotten wiser the longer I've been out in the mission. A different leader's first instinct would probably be to chastise the missionary and most likely call President. But I've learned better approaches that I feel have a more lasting effect. So, when I confirmed of what the elder was doing I conducted exchanges with him. I didn't say anything I just acted like it was a normal exchange.We worked hard and had a good day. I tried to get know him more and I asked a lot about his family and he opened up about how certain members in his family have died while being out in the mission. I learned other things of what he's gone through that brought more light to me. 
We went home and I cooked him dinner and washed his clothes. The elder didn't really know how to respond to that but he was grateful. When we went to bed, as we laid in our beds. I was direct and asked the elder why he had a phone. It seemed almost out of nowhere. I didn't yell or get loud, I just went strait to the point. The elder's face went red and he had tears in his eyes. He stuttered and tried to give me some excuses. I listened. He expressed how he's been wanting to get rid of it but never got around to it. When he was finished talking, I paused a long time. Then I expressed my love for him and how grateful I was that he was in my zone. I then expressed how I felt disappointed and knew that he was better then that. I told him that he needed to repent so he can feel the Spirit more in his life. He said he wanted that. 
So I gave him two options. We either tell President or we get rid of it. He agreed to get rid of it but when I told him that I meant in that very moment, he was a little shocked. He asked if he could send it home or give it to a member, because it was a really nice phone. I explained that he couldn't chose the consequences, he has no right. (sounds familiar? I sounded like dad haha) So when he asked what we were going to do, I went to the scriptures. We read from Alma and read about the people of Ammon. We read about the change and the covenant that they made with the Lord. And when we read the part that they buried their "weapons of rebellion," the elder stopped and realized what I was hinting at. I looked at him and asked, "Are you willing to bury your weapon of rebellion?" The Spirit entered the room and with tears in his eyes the elder said yes. And that's what we did. 
Went outside and dug a big hole, the missionary gave me the SIM card and I destroyed it and I watched as this missionary literally buried his weapons of rebellion. We filled the hole again and placed a big stone on the top. As we both stared at the ground I asked if he would be willing to say a prayer. I've never felt the Spirit so strong in my life. It was one of the most sincere prayers that I've ever heard that really came from a broken heart. He asked for forgiveness and strength to overcome the temptation in his life. He asked a special blessing for his broken family back home. He thanked Heavenly Father for me, as his zone leader, for standing up for what's right. After his prayer we embraced and both cried together. It will be a moment that I will never forget.
Sometimes we judge people because of their sins or past actions or things they've done. What I've learned is that's not how God see's us. Remember Alma the Younger? He was destroying the church and was a very wicked man, but what did God do? He sent a angel from the heavens. How ironic. A wicked man gets a visit from a heavenly messenger. Maybe that's all we need is an angel to come and wake us up. I was the angel for this missionary and now he is truly converted and is doing well. I've seen many angels in my life, most of time through my parents. Maybe there are weapons of rebellion that we need to bury in our lives. I know that I have plenty. We are all sinners. We all need to repent. We all need His love and saving grace.
Mom, please tell the family that I love them so much. More then ever. Thank you for the prayers and know that you're in my mine. I'm grateful to be a missionary. I love the Philippines. I love this gospel. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll see you all soon.
Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader

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