Monday, March 14, 2016

I Believe In Covenants


Wow what a wonderful experience to spend time with the Brethren and other Auxiliary leaders. I'm so jealous. Being able to listen to Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Wixom all within one week! Doesn't get more spiritual in then that. The church is true.

I just want to share my thoughts about our baptism this last weekend and how it was a day I will never forget. 

So a couple of emails ago I talked about how we found Brother Randy and how spiritual that first lesson was. Anyway, since that first lesson he has attended church. When we taught Book of Mormon Brother Randy started reading it everyday. He expressed us that he didn't fully understand every thing but he always felt something when he read. Elder B and I made a plan with the ward to have different members every lesson. So that's what we did. Every lesson, different members and then Brother Randy became well known and loved in our ward. He never sat alone at church. We never had to watch or take care of him at church because the members were always with him and soon Brother Randy was more popular then the two white Americans in our ward haha. 

I can't express the gratitude and love I have for those members that made that transition easier for Brother Randy. We taught tithing and we were a little uneasy about it because Brother Randy is not wealthy at all. When we asked if he had any questions about the law of tithing Randy replied,"It's not my money anyway." And he paid his tithing the following Sunday before he was even baptized. 

When we taught fasting and explained the importance and how, Brother Randy fasted the following day. I feel so blessed that I was able to witness this man's spiritual growth and conversion. Brother Randy was baptized and bore his testimony. He testified of his struggle with the Word of Wisdom and how reading the Book of Mormon gave him strength to overcome the addiction he had. He bore his powerful testimony about Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson. He thanked me and Elder B and called us his guardian angels. Not a dry eye in the room. I can't tell you how much I love Brother Randy. His willingness to follow and find out for himself has impacted my testimony and changed my life. As we were teaching Brother Randy, the Lord was teaching me. 

I just want to bear my testimony that I know this work is true. It can't be stopped or hindered. I know for a surety that through "small and simple things, great things shall come to pass." I believe in Covenants. I know God doesn't change. I love the Philippines. I love the people here. I love my Savior. I love you all and I'll see you soon.

Your Valiant Missionary,

Elder Strader   

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Counsel with the Lord

Loved Ones,

What a wonderful week! Prayers were answered, investigators went to church, did some service, was chased by 2 rabid Filipino dogs, taught a minister the Book of Mormon. Solid week.

I'm sad to hear about the Ward changes but I know it's for the best. In the board game RISK we call that "divide and conquer." Okay that wasn't has funny as I thought it would be. 

So this week or the last couple of weeks, I've been really focusing on my prayers and the concept of "counsel with the Lord." I think before my prayers were very generic and repetitive. I say my thanks and kinda of just go with the flow. But as I've learned more and experienced more trials and have been faced with more decisions, I'm praying with more efficacy. The Lord knows and hears our prayers. He wants to help us but He won't do everything for us, if that was the case, there would be no growth or personal progression. We're taught to "study it our in our minds." We use our personal judgement. We study the scriptures and heed the teachings of the Prophets and we make a decisions. And then we ask Heavenly Father. We say, "Father these are the things I want to accomplish, here's my plan and it feels good but what do you think? Is there something else you had in mind? If there is I'm willing to submit to your will." That's called counseling. We've been given agency and we're asked not to "be acted upon." Tell God what you're feeling and what your righteous desires are. Through the Spirit He'll let you know, but be careful, if you're not paying attention you won't notice His heavenly answers. Have faith in Him and His timing. But do your part. Search, ponder and pray. Tell Him what you decided but be flexible because He always knows best.

I've seen and felt the warmth and confidence that comes from true, sincere prayer. As I kneel and pray out loud, the connection I feel gets stronger and it's not a one sided conversation anymore. It's more of an intimate experience then before. But it takes practice. It takes diligence. But that sacred communication is so important. 

I want to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ, that He lives. I know the Book of Mormon is true, because I read it and I've felt it's power. I believe in miracles. I believe in Prophets and Apostles. I can't wait to see you all again. I love you! 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

PS. Here's a picture of the office staff. We have too much fun here. And here are pictures of my carrying water for a member.