I would like to start this letter out with a warning. The following letter should not be read in the same manner as my other letters. The tone and timbre of this letter will be one of reverence and quiet peace. A few factors this week has lead me to make that choice. Please accept my apology for the change, but I do rather hope that you will enjoy nonetheless. Let us begin.
Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists a bi-annual church wide conference in which all members, active or in-active, as well as non-members of our faith our invited to hear and learn from the words of the men we believe to be called of God to be Prophets and Apostles of the Church. During this meeting many topics are discussed and much can be learned by the penitent and open hearted listener. That was my focus for Saturday and Sunday of this last week; to listen to a Prophets voice and feel the confirming Spirit of God; I feel that I have been well fed spiritually.
In this meeting a few things really touched me. I cannot remember perfectly ALL of the talks nor all their varied topics. But I remember that I truly felt something inspiring and remotely different. You see, it is my opinion that man has been given a larger capacity to feel and sense the world around him than we understand. In the complexity of this universe and life we all have, I find it hard to believe that only 5 senses were put in place by the Master to discern the mysteries and divine truths that also have been put into action. I am of the belief that man, deep down within his soul, is able to feel within his heart many other things; rather than just sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. These senses are what moves us to action when we see a young child starving. These feelings are what connect us to our loved ones. These feelings of the soul are what allow us to remain inseparably in tune to our Maker, and it is through these feelings that He has revealed all truth to man, up to this point in time. Yes, it is my personal belief that man is moved upon by God himself through something deep down to fulfill the promises of the Prophets and complete His perfect plan.
During this past conference I felt (I use the verb feel, though truly an adequate verb to describe what I experienced does not exist in English, nor Portuguese) that God himself revealed His truths unto the sons of man and continued to fulfill His promises found in holy scripture. These truths were quite variegated and the promises fulfilled were many. But the feeling was the same; the feeling and undeniable trust that what was said was sent from our Heavenly Father to feed the hungry souls of his children.
In particular, I had a wonderful experience listening to a talk by Elder David A. Bednar, one of the 12 Apostles of the Church. He spoke to the men of the church Saturday night and I was quite moved. But he said one phrase that touched something within me; one of those unseen senses of my soul. The phrase " Rise Up as Men of God", penetrated my entire soul. I felt entirely overcome by something grand and glorious. I was enveloped in the Spirit of my Father who testified to me of truth and I could not deny it. Memories of my mothers kind words and a BYU t-shirt came to mind. Mom had sent me this special football fan shirt because it simply said "Rise Up" on the front and she knew that I love that hymn. Memories of a 3-time state championship Men´s Choir from my high school days also came to me, as I remembered that we won my senior year with a stunning version of the Hymn "Rise Up, O Men of God". Memories of a giant poster of a basketball star in Portland, Oregon which simply read "RISE WITH US" came streaking through my memory as well. I felt that a personal message from my Lord had finally been realized in my heart; a calling from my Master as plain as the calling given to Lazarus of old. RISE. RISE UP. RISE UP, MAN OF GOD.
This conference was something very special to me. I learned many plain and precious pearls that I hope to treasure for my lifetime and I pray that I will be able to apply these truths to my life, and to my work of saving others. I urge you, please, to listen, watch or read just ONE talk from this General Conference. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2012/04?lang=eng. If you already did, DO IT AGAIN, and this time pay a little bit closer attention to what happens within your heart. These messages are truly things to be guarded, heard, and felt by all. That is my testimony that I wish to share.
I would like to now thank my neighbor Jorge Rodriguez for his wonderful package. I loved the Wiener birthday card, the scented candles were a blessing to my nose and house, and the food has been well received in my belly. Reed Perkins, I thank you for "packy the care-package", whose letter was extremely funny and lifted my spirits. Swedish fish are amazing, as well as the fantastic other snacks which have almost already been completely consumed.
Chloe Litchfield. IF you are reading this, THANK YOU! If you are not, then I now invite EVERYONE WHO KNOWS HER to tell her to read this. Thank you for the wonderful letter. I had actually been thinking to write you but I did not have an address. Now, thanks to your wonderful letter, you will be receiving my reply in the near future. Thank you Maryam Aurich for the the scripture reference. If I remember right, its Proverbs 3. Anyways, I read it and I loved it. For you to know, my favorite scripture right now is in 2nd Peter.
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us aall things that pertain unto blife and cgodliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us dto glory and evirtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious apromises: that by these ye might be bpartakers of the cdivine dnature, having eescaped the fcorruption that is in the world through glust.
5 And beside this, giving all adiligence, add to your faith bvirtue; and to virtue cknowledge;
6 And to knowledge atemperance; and to temperance bpatience; and to patience cgodliness;
7 And to godliness abrotherly bkindness; and to brotherly kindness ccharity.
8 For if these things be in you, and aabound, they make you that ye shall neither be bbarren nor cunfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and aelection sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never bfall:
This week was the last week of the transfer and my district has had a goal to baptize WEEKLY. For those of you with no frame of reference; as a missionary it is very hard to find, teach, and baptize people. Most of this world has become very hardened to our message and daily failure and rejection is common. So to baptize weekly is quite frankly a dream for most missionaries. Well with serious faith, obedience, and blessings my entire district accomplished this goal; 6 baptisms in 6 weeks. It was quite the experience and I KNOW that we received the help of angels.
As for my other experiences this week; the President came to our house this week and decided to buy me a new mattress because I slept in a hammock. So he brought me a HUGE, VERY SOFT bed. I love it. I love it so much that my first night on it I slept through my alarm (first time in months). He also brought us food and a rack to put our materials on. Relating to the president, I love that man. He is a man inspired from God. He leads this mission as though Christ were leading it. I would like to close with a final call that I heard at conference. Elder David E. Evans spoke about how a REAL LETTER can bless the lives of missionaries. That's just a thought for anyone who prays for blessing for me.....please write me! haha ;)
Eu vos amo!
Elder Asa Laws