Hey, everyone! Another week decided to go by again. It’s getting harder to put the brakes on that kind of stuff. I don't have much time this bright Saturday morning, but I do have some thoughts and experiences I would love to share with you all. A correct title for this week's letter would be "Bitter or Better." These past two weeks have entailed a number of good teaching opportunities and a number of learning opportunities, one of which is from a museum we visited this past Saturday.
One pattern that I have recognized in myself and I am sure others too, is having the courage to let go. Letting go – meaning frankly forgiving others and ourselves. Everyone, meaning every person who has or ever will ever walk this planet (except for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ), will have hard or negative feelings about someone else. Like two little children who have a warm dispute with one another, we still do that as God's little children wandering about the Earth. This past week we had the opportunity to visit the "Corrie Ten Boom" house in Haarlem. It was kind of like the Anne Frank house, but much cooler and has a way better story, in my opinion. There was a lot of hiding going on when the Nazis were terrorizing the Netherlands, and in one Christian home they put six people in a very small stow-away room closed off by a home-made wall to avoid slave labor camps. I won't tell the whole story, but one the survivors lived on (they all lived, by the way, despite being crammed and starved in a little hole for 42 hours) and thanked God continually for the miracle in preserving her life. This girl continued her life, forever scarred, but instead of turning inwards and being selfish shared her survival story, leaving the simple invitation to people to believe in God and His miracles among His children. At one point, the tour guide said that she had the choice to either "be bitter or be better" from the situation. This girl could have had been so bitter and full of hate from terrible Nazi war experiences, but instead she gave the glory to God and "let go" of her tendencies to even hold so much as a grudge. How about true character right there? When people willingly choose to release the hard, natural tendencies in their hearts and replace them with love and good works, something incredible takes place in the heart of the individual – namely, solace, peace of conscience, and true satisfaction. It is our choice. Will we be"bitter"? Or do we become "better"? I invite all of you, if you have any hard feelings towards others, even your worst of enemies (as we are always instructed to love our enemies) to pray about them and to reconcile yourself with God about these feelings. I know that Christ can heal every aching wound inside of us. He knows exactly how it feels after all. I have seen that in my own life – choosing to overcome such feelings allows us to remove ourselves from the gloomy past and see the bright new dawn on the horizon, all thanks to God.
This week has entailed a lot of busy office work and good ol' missionary work, of course. My companion and I were sitting the church building at 8 p.m. last week, waiting nervously to see if our lesson with a newer investigator was going to go through or not. Low and behold, it did. J, a 23-year-old Christian guy showed up. He had read and deeply thought about the pamphlet! We reviewed it and taught a powerful first lesson, with a lot of interaction between the three of us, explaining the pictures of the first lesson. He even had the courage to pray for us, the real step of faith from the lesson. In that prayer he said, "Please bless me as I discover this new path the Elders are showing me." That left such a strong feeling when that line came out of his mouth it was hard to open my eyes when we said amen.
Continue to be great everyone, let me know how you are all doing too! I love hearing from you.
Elder Eli Andrew