The Path of Christian Discipleship

The Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, 15 December 2014

Desperate for a Bag of Rice

Anyounghaseo yoraboon!

I see lots of missionaries type some of their emails in their mission language. It is a struggle sometimes to find words in English, particularly missionary-related vocabulary, but it takes much too long to type in with the Korean keyboard. I hope you all had a great week! I had a strange realization a moment ago as I was reading mom's email: Christmas is in 10 days! Crazy. It really doesn't feel like Christmas. There is no snow and I have heard one Christmas song on the street! We have a little tree in our house, though, and Elder Hale has a David Archuleta Christmas CD that we listen to all the time, so I suppose that will suffice.

In answer to some of your questions: I have not yet arranged to skype. I will not lie and must tell you that we completely forgot! I get a computer this week, however, so that will make Skyping not a problem. When we Skype it would have to be morning our time, sometime between 8 and 11, if possible. We can do it on either the 25th or the 26th our time. Let me know what works for you and I will make the arrangements, and let you know next week exact times, etc.

In response to your question regarding faith, indeed, I have had many doubts, as I am certain is the case with most. In high school I was quite apathetic about the gospel, and simply "went through the motions" so to speak. I did have a very spiritual experience at Joseph's Legacy, which was perhaps the first clear and recognizable connection I felt with the Spirit, so my faith was stimulated to some degree as a result of that experience. 

To be completely honest, most of my motivation to participate in the gospel and to serve a mission was perhaps simply to meet expectations and please parents and other role models and leaders. This was sufficient to get me out in the mission field, yet I did not gain a self-sustainable testimony until I actually began my service. During my mission, however, I have experienced my most serious doubts, the overcoming of which (though painfully difficult at times), have solidified my faith. Perhaps my most serious doubt were directly centered on the Restoration, for as I observed Joseph Smith's eloquent writing ability, I considered the possibility that he simply wrote the Book of Mormon (which seems silly, since he only had a grade 3 education, so his eloquent writing ability was clearly a direct gift and blessing from God to further the work of God's kingdom ... but such were my doubts nonetheless).

There still are several questions that I have not been able to find answers to, yet one principle I have learned on my mission and as I have combated these several doubts, is that eternal and spiritual truth cannot be reasoned by logic to create a sufficient testimony. 

Spiritual truth has to be learned the Lord's way, namely through trial and faith. God's ways are, in almost every respect, opposite to the ways of man. Where man first reasons and endeavors to discover before acting, God has clearly demonstrated that if we are to gain the spiritual knowledge He has to offer us, we must first act in faith, then discover. 

Joseph Smith, for example, never witnessed any manifestations, nor received any revelation without first acting and asking. Elder Holland also taught that it is natural to have doubts, yet we can only overcome these doubts as we look to the proper source. If we look to reason and logic, we will find the confusion and uncertainty that characterizes human wisdom throughout history. We thought the earth was flat not too long ago, for goodness sake! The only certainty that we will find is the certainty that comes, gradually, as we seek truth the way the Lord has taught us to seek. 

I have a beautiful example of this principle, which happened this past week. One way a recent convert and less active members in our congregation found a little more certainty is in the feeling that they received after they both helped us serve a man that came into the church looking for rice this week. 

We had set an appointment with one of our recent convert members this past week, after which we planned to meet with a less active member who expressed interest in meeting with us. Our meeting with our recent convert went well, and at the end of it we felt impressed to ask him to stay with us to help us teach the less active member scheduled to meet with us immediately following his lesson. 

Our meeting with the less active member also went well, but half way through our meeting, we heard a knock on the door, which turned out to be a man with Parkinson disease, whose wife just lost her job a few days prior to his visit. Remembering that he had found help a few years back in our church, he again visited our building desperate for a bag of rice. We looked around the church for a bag of rice, and finding none, we headed to the store where each of us pitched in 10 dollars to buy a bag of rice for that man. 

After this act of service, both the less active member and our recent convert expressed how wonderful they felt. Our recent convert member even expressed his gratitude to us for inviting him to stay to teach our less active member. We had all learned about the gospel in our lessons prior to this service, but it was not until we got out and acted as we believed God would have us act, that we were filled with the spirit of His love, and with great feelings of peace and gratitude. :)

I had other things to talk about, but I have run out of time! love you all!

Elder Higham

Friday, 12 December 2014

An Important and Impactful Work

Hello Hello! 

It snowed!!! :) What an exciting time of year! I love winter! It was such a strange feeling to be so late in the year without snow! I am so happy! :)

First, before I forget, I do have some things I would like to share with my priests in Red Deer. :) I trust that the missionaries there taught of the importance of follow-up while extending the baptismal commitment. We extended a baptismal commitment this morning (which is why I am late to email). At first, our investigator flat out rejected us, but after asking a few questions to determine why he rejected the commitment, we discovered that his rejection was based purely on a lack of understanding.

He is Vietnamese and we are American talking about the gospel in Korean, so there are bound to be some misunderstandings :P He thought that we wanted his to get baptized right then, but after explaining that we want to help him learn and understand more first, he was much more open. If we don't follow-up on our commitments, even when we extend them, then we will not be able to teach effectively to our investigators' needs. 

As far as other suggestions, I would have liked to know how to work with ward council and with ward leaders before my mission, as they are the starting point for relationships in the ward, as well as the key to coordinating missionary work with the ward members. I very recently learned (and am still learning) how to work with ward council; it would have been nice to know what ward council is. Also, I didn't even know that PEC meetings existed before my mission. It would have been nice to get a better feeling for how wards work, because I didn't learn that very quickly on my mission. 

I am very curious to learn how the missionaries in Red Deer work with ward members. That would also be something to have the missionaries teach, since, from what I can remember and hear from emails, they seem to work with members quite effectively in that mission. If you could, I would very much appreciate it if you asked the missionaries how they work with members, or if you share some experiences in meeting with them. How often do they visit members homes? How many of those meetings are meal appointments? How do they prepare for messages to members?

I identified in Preach My Gospel this past week three major inhibiting factors in members' participation in missionary work: fear, a lack of knowledge/experience and lack of people to share the gospel with (for members that have been in an area for a long time and have tried to share the gospel with most of their friends). I wonder how the missionaries there deal specifically with these concerns. There is also another inhibiting factor perhaps unique to Korea that I would also like to hear your opinion on: the men here leave for work at 9 in the morning and don't return until 9 or 10 at night, most days of the week. Needless to say, this makes it hard for them to accept visits from us, as well as have family home evening. Thank you!

Anyway, we have not yet set up a computer for skype, but we have a recent convert in mind. He is going to enter his 2 year military service soon, so he does not have a job and has plenty of free time :) Now we just have to figure out a way to use his computer without asking him... 

I have not yet received any of your packages, but I am so glad to hear that you received my package! Did it arrive in good condition? I almost sent it by air; the lady at the counter saw I was a foreigner and tried to get me to spend the extra money to send it by air, but luckily I knew the vocabulary that I unfortunately do not know in English for "to send something by boat." Maybe there is no specific word for a phrase like that, Koreans love to be specific. It would have cost me around 60 dollars to send it by air, but the boat was only 16! I sent about two months ago, so I am glad it got there on time! :) 

I still have not yet found a micro sd card reader, but I my new camera has wifi, so I will see if I can send the pictures directly through email from my camera. 

I don't have much more time, but I will share one experience I had this week. We agreed, rather reluctantly, to meet our investigator at a restaurant for dinner, instead of the church, where we normally enjoy a more peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Despite the noise of the restaurant, we proceeded to follow up on his commitment to read the restoration pamphlet, then began to discuss some simple principles of prayer. Immediately intrigued, our investigator stopped us and quickly finished his meal, with the intention of going back to the church where he could formally learn how to pray.

Such innocent and genuine enthusiasm sparked in me a burning realization of the importance of my calling, which is to invite others unto Christ. I taught a man how to converse with his Father in Heaven. To most, and admittedly for the majority of my mission, this seemed a simple, insignificant reflex of missionary work, yet pausing to contemplate its eternal significance stimulated a fresh appreciation for the trust the Lord places in me to accomplish such an important and impactful work.

I hope you all have a great week!

Love Elder Higham