Thursday, September 19, 2013

From September 4, 2013: From the Ashes

Well hello my loves.
I must apologize for my letter last week.  First off, pretty sure it was short.  Second, it was pretty weak.  I just wasn't exactly in a place to lift others or write anything because of how shot I was.  A lot was going on that just made for chaos and stress and so I apologize for that. Last week was probably the hardest week of my life.  Lots of growth through trials.  That's what I get for praying for opportunities to be patient a few nights before leaving the MTC.  Prayers are answered. Haha, but really.

Well, it's 120 here.  So like there's that.  But you know what, I love it.  Biking in it and sweating 'til your white shirt is brown is somehow excessively satisfying.  It makes you feel that you're getting things done, even when people aren't answering their doors. 
We had transfers yesterday and I got a new companion named Elder B.  He's ready to work hard and I think we can get a lot done and I can learn a lot from him.  And they left me in the same area, which means after a full week of being in the mission field, I get to take over an area!  Yeah!  Right?!  Just as I start to learn my way around, too.  Well, that's a lie, we are still gonna get lost a lot.  But wait, it gets better.  Elder B. finished his training... drum roll... yesterday!  Which means we have someone who's been out a week and someone who has been out two transfers basically whitewashing (palewashing) an area.  That's a lot of faith the Lord has put in us and we aren't going to let Him down.  I figure they put us together and put us here because we are both young enough to not know any better than to succeed.  And succeed we will.
Tambem, I have decided that the best measure of a missionary is commitment.  Everything else follows.  Everything.
I have seen miracles this week.  And I've learned so much about how a ward is supposed to function.  So I may be violating copyright by echoing Sister (Tess) Huntington's (another missionary from our ward) letter from a couple weeks ago, but I return to the point because of how vital it is.  The ward is a machine and you are each its cogs.  If you are not moving forward and thereby furthering the work, you are hindering or breaking the machine.  This is not acceptable.  The missionaries need people.  They need people to host lessons, go to lessons, and set up lessons.  Prophets, men we esteem as the closest to God on this earth, CALLED of God, have been telling us for decades to do our part by inviting our friends and families to come unto Christ.  But somehow it still doesn't sink in.  The importance of it really sinks in when you're on the other side looking at the members.  We have a great ward.  Super solid leaders and really willing to help.  But I'm looking back at myself and saying "Why did I never help the missionaries?"  It's truly a team effort.  So let's get down to that. 
Turn to 1 Nephi 8 (Book of Mormon) my friends, for we are going to work today.  That's right you scriptorians, we are on Lehi's (a prophet from the Book of Mormon) dream today, skewed and brought to you by the wonderful land of Elder Molinaro's mind and perspective filter.  Free of charge.  Translation: we are looking at Lehi's dream focusing on Lehi as the main character.  Read the first bit and then let's go to verse 12.  Once Lehi partakes of the fruit and is like "WOW!", what's the first thing he wants?  His family to partake.  And what's his family doing?  See verse 14; they're standing around, not knowing which way is up, standing as if they knew not whither they should go.  For all we know, they weren't even aware there WAS a tree.  They are at a crossroads and they are waiting for... something.  They aren't quite sure what.  These are what we call potential investigators.  Meaning EVERYONE. 
So they aren't sure what to do.  What changed that?  Someone beckons to them.  But then again, it's not just someone and he's not just beckoning.  It's their father and friend who calls to them with a LOUD VOICE to come to him and to the tree and to partake.  Now look here.  As members of the church, we have hopefully partaken of this fruit.  We've had it.  And once we have it, we better be calling out to others.  Are you looking at your family and friends and saying "WHOOOOOAAAAAAAHHHHH.  Hey.  This is the most important, most amazing, most delicious thing in the world, and actually it's the reason you are here.  Come partake of it WITH me!" ?
Now picture, along with me, Lehi eating the fruit.  He bites.  Eyes widen.  Lips quiver.  Eyebrows raise.  He looks around.  Chews.  Swallows.  Sees the people he loves.  And now, let us pause.  Does he look at these people he loves and he knows God loves and has sent here to receive the message he just received and say, "Hey like so fruit and like I don't know and like if you have time, and like um I go church will you please go with?"  No!
I picture him waving his arms and going, "Over here, over here, I found it, I found it!!  Guys this is it, you have to try this!!"  And then what happens?  Well, they come and partake?  Not all of them, because Laman and Lemuel (two of Lehi's sons who are disobedient) are comfortable not knowing which way is up, but still. 
Now let's put this back into practical application.  Which of the following is more effective in getting someone interested in the gospel? 

Me, in all of my zeal, pedaling up to someone and spouting off about prophets and scripture and prophets and them thinking "Whoa I think he said something about Ezekiel and whaaaaaa?"
You saying to your friend, neighbor or family member "Hey, I know you're having a hard time.  This is what has helped me through my hard times."  Saying, "Hey, you've got a great family.  My family means everything to me and I know we can be together forever.  I want you to know that, too."  Some variation of the normality that flows from friendship.  And then you invite them over to your house to talk about it.  "Bring your family," you say.  And then you call the unsuspecting missionaries and say, "Well hello.  I have a nonmember family coming over this Tuesday at 7:00 to talk about the gospel.  Care to join?"  And then you wipe away their tears of joy and begin the process of reclaiming one of God's children for Him. 
I tend to think the latter of those options is most effective. 
And so I ask you, in this war of eternal proportions, what kind of soldier are you being?  Are you thumb-twiddling?  Or are you being all you can in the fight?  This is something you can know.  This is something you can KNOW you're right about.  And if you know that, how dare you keep it to yourself.  How selfish to let our friends and families perish in unbelief while we partake of the REASON WE ARE HERE. 
And so I leave you with this.  Who do you love enough to bring them to the best thing that exists on this earth?  If the answer truly is no one, that's really sad.  But I don't think it is. 
Study Lehi's dream and ask yourself who you are in that dream and why?  I want to be Lehi.  And I want you to be, too. 
Your assignment:  I don't care who you are or what you're doing now.  Get involved and get more involved.  Make time.  Every one of you has a  name in mind of someone, anyone, you can save.  Talk to them and set up an appointment.  Refer them to the missionaries.  If you don't know the missionaries number, refer them through 
Nothing changes unless we change it.  So change it. 
I, for one, am glad Lehi didn't eat the fruit and then just sit down and say "MAN that is good stuff."  Because if he and all those like him did, where would we all be?  Likely boppin' around, not knowing which way is up, waiting for SOMETHING that we can't quite put our finger on, a purpose, a reason, a way.   That's what we have to offer.  That's what YOU have to offer.  So don't be a lazy Lehi.  Go and do, for the Lord truly HAS commanded it. 

Also go out and teach with the missionaries.  You know, 'cause you love us. 

But now I must go.  Coolest experience of the week:  When we found this referral who was super-prepared and AWESOME in all ways -- and then were locked in an apartment complex.  I look down and there is a key on the sidewalk.  I pick it up and it opens the gate to the outside world.  Miracles happen.  Pray for them. 
I love you all.  Make it a great week and do that which the prophets have instructed you to and what I have reminded you of.  The work is hastening.  Get with it.
Elder Molinaro

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