Saturday, April 16, 2016

Character of Christ

Family and Friends,

What a kick butt conference! I was so spiritually pumped and reverently motivated. Thank thee God for a prophet. 

Well just a quick update, things are going really good! Elder G and I are having fun. We've found some families and we are seeing progression in the area. We just challenged our mission to get 100 baptisms in the month of May so everyone is pretty excited for that. I feel so blessed.

Well just last week, we had a MLC (mission leadership counsel) this where we gather as Zone Leaders and Sister Trainers in the whole mission. We have a 2 day training and council of what our mission needs. Because I was called as a Zone Leader pretty early in my mission and now I'm assistant I've been going to MLC's for over a year. Saying that makes me feel really old but I love MLC's, it's a great opportunity to be trained by the mission president, the Spirit and to learn things from the other leaders. 

We we had an MLC and I gave a workshop on, "What is the role of a mission leader?" I did my best to prepare and the leaders came prepared as well, we were blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We talked about things in Missionary Handbook, Preach My Gospel, and the scriptures. But at the end I shared one personal experience I've had on the mission that the Lord has taught me a little bit of Christlike Leadership.

This is the time I was in the Mountains of Abra, in Bangued City. I was the Zone Leader and we had wonderful success in Bangued. We were once the lowest baptizing zone in the mission and turned out to be the top in just a short amount of time. I nicknamed the missionaries in my zone the, "Bangued Warriors," and through obedience, hard work, worthy goals, strong follow up's, revelation that zone turned into Zion. 

One night, we were walking the 3 miles back to our apartment. I was going through some personal stuff during that time, I was fasting, tired from the hard day, we got rejected the whole day and I just wanted to go home and sleep. When we got to our apartment we had a a lot missionaries staying the night in the Zone Leader's apartment because the next day, early in the morning, our zone would take a 7 hour bus ride, and drive to Baguio City to hear and meet Elder Anderson from the Quorum of the Twelve. Because of all the crazy things that were going on I had forgotten that all the elders would be there. So we walked in and greeted all the hungry elders. I say hungry because I forgot that I promised the elders a couple weeks earlier that I would cook for them and try to make it a fun bonding event. When I remembered that promise, despite my physical exhaustion and personal inner conflict, I rolled up my sleeves and walked in the kitchen. As the elders talked and socialized in the other room, I started to chop vegetables, boil water and cook for my missionaries in the kitchen (yes Mom I bet you're surprised that I can cook now lol). There were a lot of missionaries with some Polynesians in the mix and it was just me cooking so I was in there well over an hour and half. When I was done cooking, I counted the exact number of plates for each elder and started to dish each plate. As I was dishing up each plate my heart started to soften, and then something happened. When I was finished dishing all the plates I realized that there wasn't any food left for me. Every plate was filled to the needs and sizes of missionaries but there wasn't any left for myself. As I stood there, over all the plates of food with an empty pot in my hand, tears flowed down my face. I felt an overwhelming love for each one of those elders. The feeling was so strong, tangible, that I can't explain it in words. There was no thought that I was not going to eat that night, I just wanted to serve the elders. All the others things that I was going through just melted away.When I finally composed myself, I took each plate one my one and brought to each elder. When I was finished, I walked quietly in my room and wept like a child and got on my knee's thanked Heavenly Father for allowing me to feel Maybe it was charity or it was the Spirit but I've never felt that kind of love in such intense way. 

That's what we call the Character of Christ, that whenever things get bad, He never turned inward. He never thought, "what's in it for me?" No selfish desire. No, He always turned outwards. Even when things were hard or not going well for Him. We learn that when He was on the cross. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." 

Jesus Christ taught His apostles, "He that is chiefest among you, that him be your greatest servant." I get chills when I read where Christ washed the feet of His apostles. He showed the way. He is the way. He is the chiefest among us but He is also the greatest servant that ever lived. I'm humbled to represent Him here in the Philippines. I'm trying to be like Him everyday. 

I want all of you to know that I love you and this gospel. I love the work. I love when it's really hot and when people slam the door in my face. I love teaching families and hearing someone utter their first prayer. I love being a missionary. Don't worry about me. Ingat po kayo! 

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader

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