Good morning everyone!
I think I owe you a good letter, what do you think?
My new e-mail account is working, so here we go.
Transfers are today, I'm currently in the Family History Center in the Stake Center next to the temple. I am staying in White Plains and receiving Elder Gorringe, who is from Utah.
The last weeks have been very abnormal. Lots of shoveling. Not a lot of ties, if you know what I mean. It's been fun to do a lot of service though. One of our members calls it the "Ammon Principle", referring to one of the missionaries in the Book of Mormon. Meaning that Service comes first, then converting. Our first job out here is servants, and when something like this happens the first priority is helping everyone, so that's what we do. It's been fun.
I've had some interesting experiences lately that have caused me to think, and I'll share some musings.
I went to visit a younger lady in the ward, who joined the church a couple years ago because of her friends. Now her friends are all off to BYU or missions, and she's quit coming to church. We discussed her testimony and she claimed to still have a strong testimony. We discussed her need for the church and the sacrament and she claimed to have an understanding of that. We discussed how God would like her to come to church so he could bless her, and she claimed to understand that. We talked of the Plan of Salvation and the importance of doing all in this life to prepare for the eternities, and how she can start with such baby steps as starting to read the scriptures and pray again. After a good length of some of the best teaching I may have ever done, she looked at me and said "I understand all that you've said, but I just don't want to make any changes right now" All I could do was look at her and say "Sister, for your sake, I sincerely hope you don't understand. Because if you did that would be one of the saddest things I've ever heard." And we left. Defeated.
As I left I was full of anger. I was mad! I wasn't mad at myself for perceived failure, I'd done my best, the spirit had been strong. I wasn't mad at her knowing that I have no right to judge her actions. No, I was mad at Lucifer. That old trickster. I was mad at him. And I realized something in a way I'd never really thought of it before.
We know that, in the eternal run of things, Lucifer loses, God wins. Bad fails and Good prevails. However, the problem is that the war we're in isn't a battle for the whole world, it's a battle for each individual soul, and in THAT battle, sometimes, he DOES win. Sometimes he DOES drag someone down, and that's the tragedy. He can't win the world or any of that, but he can continue to do that which he did before this world ever was, he can continue to satisfy his prideful desire to drag others of father's children down to his own level of misery.
When we realize that the war being fought is for each individual soul, how does that change the way we fight? Well, let's think of one of the teachings of Christ. To leave the 99 sheep and find the 1 that is lost. If the battle were for the 100 sheep, that makes no sense. It only makes sense because that battle isn't for 100 sheep, the battle is for each single individual one of the 100 sheep. If 99 are safe and one is in danger, we are to go right out from the 99 and find the 1 that needs us. THAT is where the Lord needs us to be placed in the battle, THAT is where he wants our efforts concentrated. The 1 that is lost. The 1 that is hangs down weary, the 1 that is about to fall. Place yourselves there, and the Lord will use you to bring his miracles forth.
Those are my thoughts today my friends. Go and be a servant, for you are just as much in his service as am I, you just have more distractions (lucky me!)
I love you all. Please be well.
-Elder Ted E. Bear