Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Epistle - 7.28.10 (Omega and Alpha)

I can't believe two years are nearly over....enjoy Elder Bear's last epistle from the field!

Omega and Alpha.

The end.

And yet, the beginning.


Yes it's that time. Time to step on the gas, burn up whatever is left in the tank, and see how far I can push this thing before they take it away from me.


Some would say it's the end. In a sense they're right. The end of a name tag. The end of a title. The end of a period.


But also some would say it's the beginning. They're right. The beginning of a new life. The beginning of a balanced discipleship. The beginning of a new period, to bring with me every single lesson I've learned out here, and apply it to new scenarios, situations, callings, assignments, relationships, and jobs.


Just like in a track race, isn't it funny that the finish line and the starting line are, in fact, the same line?


So as I finish this lap, the lap with the name-tag and full time assignment, I have in mind the next lap. I see in my minds eye a path, the path that I would walk. I am often reminded of the words, penned by the late Gordon B. Hinckley in his hymn, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (LDS Hymns, #135)


"Oh give me thy sweet spirit still,

The peace that comes alone from thee,

The faith to walk the lonely road

That leads to thine eternity."


The lonely road stands ahead. The spacious building stands all around. Distractions await and pitfalls lie before, but God shall be my strength and my deliverer. In Him I shall trust and never fall. My fear will be consumed by faith in my Savior, in my Jesus.


For the last time to you, as a set apart and titled missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I bear you this witness:


I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father.


I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the saviour and redeemer of the world.


I know that in a grove of trees in the year 1820, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the 14 year old Joseph Smith Jr., and commanded him to restore the true and authorized Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.


I know that within this church, the true and living priesthood of Jesus Christ is alive and well, performing all of the sacred ordinances necessary for our salvation.


I know that through that sacred authority, Thomas S. Monson is a living oracle of God. A Prophet and a mouthpiece of the Lord, the 16th in our dispensation.


I know that The Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. Written by His ancient prophets, and translated by His modern prophet for our benefit and blessing in our day.


And to you I leave this witness in the name of my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.


-Elder Ted E. Bear

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Epistle - 7.21.10


Good Wednesday Everyone!


I think the highlight of this week came on Monday. I was asked to do a baptismal interview for a young man who is supposed to be baptized this Saturday. After this interview I think I understand a little better what it feels like to be a bishop. Interviews normally last about 30 minutes to an hour, depending how prepared and understanding the candidate is. This one lasted four. I've never heard of one lasting that long, but that's what needed to happen, so it did.


He told me that he had woke up that morning with a "bad" feeling, and now he wasn't even sure why he had agreed to be baptized. I told him that was to be expected, sharing with him the account of the first vision from JS:H. We discussed why Satan would want to stop him from taking this step closer to God, and keep him from being happy. We discussed God's love for him, and how he knew what he had been taught was true. He got impatient and said "But I want an answer now!" I asked him if he remembered about the Priesthood, he hadn't heard that name before so we reviewed how the authority of Jesus Christ had been given to his apostles, lost, and then restored to the prophet Joseph Smith. I asked him if he would like a priesthood blessing of counsel. The spirit whispered to me that the blessing would answer his concerns and help him. He declined the blessing, and again said "I just want an answer right now!" I told him (Because the spirit was telling me), "Eric, that's the very point of the blessing. To give you your answer." He finally agreed, but warned me "If I do this, and something weird happens, I'm done". I said that was perfectly fine, and proceeded to give the blessing.


In the blessing I promised him the spiritual affliction he was under would end, and he would be filled with a feeling of peace. Never before has it been harder for me to give someone a promise from the Lord. If I spoke those words and they were not fulfilled, I would look like a fool, and his budding testimony in the restoration might be shattered. But I spoke them as directed. At the end of the blessing I once again sat across from him. "Eric, how do you feel?" "...Better. The bad feeling is gone. Most of my questions have been answered now".


We continued to talk for quite some time. Every question he asked was quickly answered as the spirit gave me utterance. It was probably one of the most spiritually draining things of my mission. We did nothing physical that day but when I went to bed that night I had large bags under my eyes.


However, that being said, I know that I was but an instrument. I made no promise. I answered no questions. I bear my witness that I was doing nothing other than act as a mouthpiece and servant for the Lord to that young man in his time of need.


I testify that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. We have that blessed opportunity to live in a time when the priesthood of God is alive and well.


I love you all. Thank you for reading all of these e-mails for all this time.


Next week will be the last one sent from DC.


-Elder Ted E. Bear

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Epistle - 7.14.10

Good Wednesday Everyone!


We had an INCREDIBLE lightening storm last night. Probably averaged 40 flashes a minute for a while, and whenever a bolt struck it would hit again 3 or 4 times. Really cool. And of course since it's a MD storm it only lasted about half an hour, then blew over. It's a funny place!


Today our whole district is going to go to Red Robin for lunch to get my favorite burgers. I'm pretty excited. It's a bit pricey for missionary fare, but every once in a while we can fit it in to our budgets, so we make room for it.


We have a new mission president, and we got to meet him last Thursday. President Matsumori really impresses me. I don't see the mission going anywhere but up, which is saying a lot since President Mansell was such an incredible man. One of President Matsumori's great assets is going to be his wife, Vicki F. Matsumori, recently released from the Primary General Presidency. She's traveled the world training the leaders of the church in the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to teach it in simplicity, and I think the mission will be greatly benefited by her wisdom and knowledge and skill. Besides which they both have a great sense of humor and are really easy to get along with.


Sadly we didn't get anyone at church this week. Gloria's schedule shifted, so she'll be there THIS week, Claudette was checking out of the hospital Sunday morning (Apparently she goes in a lot..) and Charles slept in, and his wife refused to wake him, even though he'd said he wanted to come. So, we'll still get 'em all!


This Sunday Elder Peterson and I will be doing the musical number at the Why I Believe fireside. We'll be doing a song that he wrote before his mission, which will be really neat. We finally got it written up yesterday so I can start learning it for Sunday... Crunch time! Plus with preparing for CDM and all it's a very busy week. But busy can be good when you're in well-doing. And who can do more well than the work of the Lord? I know I can't!


So, until next week my friends,


Elder Ted E. Bear

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Epistle - 7.7.10

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

I think this week held the most incredible (in a non-spiritual sense of the word) experience of my mission. The 4th of July in Anacostia. Wow.

Until about 11:30 at night there were non stop explosions, crackles, booms, lights, EVERYWHERE. It sounded like the middle of a war zone.

Now, part of this is fueled by the fact that fireworks are illegal in Maryland, so people living close by come to find some parking lot in DC to light off their fun stuff. So, end of story is, it was crazy. Insane. Beyond anything I thought it would be. Pretty cool!

But before that, we had church! We haven't had any of our people come to church for a couple weeks, so it was really neat that Gloria, Claudette and Clarence all 3 came to church this Sunday! Yay!

Gloria is a fun one. When we first went to teach her we weren't sure what to make of her, she didn't seem happy we were there, and yet she is the one that set up the appointment. But after church on Sunday and at our appointment yesterday she was a totally changed person. Happy, outgoing, totally different.

Claudette and Clarence are also cool. Claudette lives in a van parked out front of Clarence's sister's house (Because Clarence lives in his sister's house). They are planning on getting married, and are the funniest coupld I've met in a while. We haven't even really taught them yet, we just talked to her on the street, had a great chat about the gospel and her life, they got themselves to church on Sunday, then came to the 4th of July party on Monday. They're great! We're taking them to the Visitor's Center on Friday. Fun =]

A mission is a funny thing. In so many ways it is a mini-version of life itself. With its inclusive ups and downs and every way arounds. And yet, in one way it is so much different from life. It is different because you know exactly when it will end. Exactly! From the day you arrive here, you know the day, you know the hour when it will end.

In movies, when it is made known to someone that they only have so many days or weeks to live, they are portrayed as becoming hyper-active. Forgiving, begging forgiveness, telling family they love them, fulfilling everything they had always hoped to do, making sure they could leave this life with not a single regret.

And yet, in the mission, there is an unfortunate phenomena called "Trunkiness". Which has reference to someone being emotionally all packed up in their trunks (or luggage) and ready to go. Their heart no longer in it. Why does this happen, when the end of a mission draws near? Why does this end bring lethargy when in the movies an end of life brings hyper-activity?

Well, obviously the source can only be selfishness. It is more difficult to sow, when you know you will never reap in this life. It is much easier to plant a seed when you know you will be there for the fruit, than to labor over and weep over a seed, knowing that by the time the fruit comes you will have moved away forever.

A similar situation occurred in the early church. Some people were told to live in a certain area and create farms, but they had the question, "Well, how long are we going to be here this time? 2 months, 2 years, 20 years? Should we build real farms? Or live in a tent?" In response to this the Lord gives some interesting counsel.

D&C 51:16-17
  16 And I consecrate unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence;
  17 And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good.

Regardless of how long or short we are going to be somewhere, we should act unto that stewardship as for years. Whether we will be there to reap what we sow or not, we should be sowing! We should be laboring. Whether we will die, or no, the Kingdom of God will continue on with or without us, and we must build for the future just as much as, if not more so, than for our own generation. Those who follow us should not have to begin anew. If that were to happen with each generation than we would never get higher than one lifetime's work. But, if we leave the generation to follow a foundation to build on, which they do, and leave that to their followers. Then, then we can accomplish all that God expects of us, and commands us to accomplish. Oh the things that we could do.

So we will labor, as if we would be here to see all labors come to fruition, knowing that some we won't, and some they won't bring fruit anyways, but we labor. Because He did.

I love you all. Carry on.

-Elder Ted E. Bear