Monday, February 27, 2017

Faith and the Fine Art of Gut Busting

Dear Dad,

Sound like I have a game I need to watch when I get back home. (Manchester City beat Monaco, 5 - 3, in a Champions League match.  Sergio Aguero scored two goals, and assisted on a third.) Aguero will always have a special place in my heart and it sounds like he is still the same Aguero we've come to know and love at City. 

Sorry  about having to clean up a dead mouse. (A mouse was raiding our compost pit.  I dispatched him.)  I'm sure it's not fun. I didn't tell you all this but my first week in my house we had a huge rat in our apartment. I was praying when I heard a noise that I knew wasn't my companion. When I finished my prayer there was a big rat in the corner of the room. We got rid of it though and haven't had any more experiences with any creatures in our apartment so everything is good. 

I'm glad you enjoy the letters and I'm glad to make you proud. I will give your best wishes to my companion. It will be interesting to see what happens at transfers tomorrow,  and to have a new companion for the first time in the field. 

As far as things go here, they are pretty good. We had a baptism this past weekend and are going to have another one this upcoming weekend. I told you a little bit about the guy that got baptized in the past email. His story isn't the happiest, but I'm glad he has chosen to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I'm glad to have had the chance to meet him and teach him. 

Work this week wasn't the best. My companion is pretty sure he is going to go to a new area so we have kind of been doing a victory lap, visiting all the members he has befriended and all that. Not really good for missionary productivity.  

We also had zone conferences this week and my mission president emphasized the importance of faith in our lives. It has changed my perspective on how I should think about doing missionary work and how I should react to difficult situations. As members of the Church, we have to have faith that the blessings and promises of the gospel and of making and keeping covenants are real. If we do not have faith, we cannot progress. Faith is the first principle in the Doctrine of Christ for a reason. 

We have to believe that when we keep the commandments and follow the promptings of the Spirit we will be blessed. If we have the mentality that blessings will not come, they will not come. We have to believe in our Savior. This was was something I hadn't been applying in my work. I'm trying to change that now. I believe that if I do all I can, the Lord will provide.

I believe that all of us can be provided for, if we do all we can. 

I've been watching the Bible videos that the church made a couple of years ago. They aren't perfect, but I think a couple of them are pretty good. I like the one where Christ talks about searching for the kingdom of heaven. I think they would be good to show in Seminary. Speaking of Seminary, how is the class going? How is the study of the New Testament going? I hope it is going good. I hope everything is going well in general with work and church and life. I miss you dad and love you so much. I pray for you and Mom and Sam and Naomi every day. 

I'm trying to become a better missionary. Please pray for me so that I may become the missionary the Lord wants be to be. The days seem shorter and shorter as the weeks go by. It is a bittersweet feeling. I've decided from now on, I'm gonna bust a gut everyday. And if I don't, I'm going to repent and try even harder the next day. The isn't much time left for me to spread this wonderful message. There isn't much time left to change. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, we all can change. I hope you have a wonderful week, Dad. I love you so much.


Elder McMurray 

Miracles in MIdst of Opposition

Dear Dad, 

I thank you as always for your emails and counsel. I love the things you said in your last email regarding deep doctrine: learning how to be with our families in the celestial kingdom is the real deep doctrine. Learning how to have the Atonement in our lives. Learning how to understand the teachings of the Savior. I'm trying to do better and improve in those aspects of my own life. 

I love your words about our relationship with our God and our Savior. We keep the covenants because we promised Them we would. We owe everything to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and as a token of our gratitude, we keep these sacred covenants. And for this reason we must always try to keep these covenants, we must always show them the love we have for them, a love that pales in comparison to the love they have for us. We must always humble ourselves to change, to be better then we were the day, week, month, and year before. We must always have faith in Christ, that through Him and His Atonement we can receive the Grace to become different, to be different people with different desires and different perspectives. 

This week I went to the mission offices with my companion to have practices with the mission president. The focus of these practices was changing the way we teach the second lesson in Preach My Gospel,  The Plan of Salvation. One thing our President wants us to change is to not spend so much time talking about our Premortal Life or our life after mortality, but to have the focus of the lesson be the Atonement. In Preach My Gospel, the Atonement is the longest portion of chapter 2 and it is the Atonement that makes the Plan of Salvation a literal Plan of Salvation. Without the Atonement we have no hope for great things after this life. 

Our president also wants us to start inviting people to be baptized after we talk about the Atonement, instead of at the end of the lesson I was very grateful to take part in the practices and to see the power that this new way of teaching can have. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to testify of the power of the Atonement and the significance it has in all of our lives. 

This week we visited a man we had started teaching earlier in the month. He was really strong and really excited about the gospel and wanted to baptized when we first started teaching him. The problem was he was living with his girlfriend and their little girl and his girlfriend didn't want to get married or baptized. We tried very hard to teach her but eventually we determined they wouldn't be able to get baptized this month. 

When we saw him this week though, he tearfully told us that his girlfriend left in the middle of the day while he was at work and took their little girl and all of his things with her. He didn't have any information: he has no idea where they went.  He has a feeling they went back to their home in another major city in Peru. He told us though that he doesn't always understand the things that happen in his life, but the one thing he does understand is that he needs to get baptized. After passing a interview with our Zone leaders it was determined that he would be able to be baptized. It was very exciting news. I'm grateful I get to see someone who has a true desire to follow the gospel. He plans on tracking down his daughter when he gets more money, because at the moment he has none, and he hopes one day she can be baptized as well.

As always, Dad, I hope you are doing well. I love you and miss you every day.  I hope you have a great week. If you get a chance, watch City's champions league game and let me know how it goes. William says they are looking lethal right now. Give Lucky lots of love for me. Again, I love you and miss you and cant wait to see you, Mom, Sam and Naomi again. Have an excellent week. 

Elder McMurray 

Trials and Blessings

Dear Dad,

As far as things go here though, they are ok. 

Our area isn't doing too great. We haven`t had a baptism since December and we might not have a baptism this month, either. My companion has been discouraged, which has been somewhat difficult. I get along with him well. He has taught me a lot and I admire his commitment and his desire to stay faithful to the gospel, but he doesn't want to be in our area anymore, which has been hard. He will be leaving when this most recent change ends, which will be 28 February. I will be sad to see him go because he has been a good companion, but these last couple weeks have been difficult for him. He is also the leader of a district where several of the missionaries struggle to get along, which has been stressful for him as well. He is also afraid to go home because no one in his family is active and he doesn't have friends in the Church in his hometown, so he is worried that he will not have the support system he needs to be active in the church after his mission. It is sad. I feel bad for him. I hope he doesn't go inactive and if he does, that he finds his way back sooner rather than later. 

As far as the week goes for me there wasn't anything too special I have noticed, though, that I`m just kind of coasting, which is very dangerous. I`m not trying as hard as I should be to find and teach. I`m putting in the minimal effort and getting no results as a result. I didn't even really notice it right away, but suddenly I realized I was just kind of sitting here in Peru, letting the days go by. I`m trying to change that. We can`t progress if we don't act, and the more we act, the more we will progress. Also I can't invite people to come unto to Christ if I`m not working as hard as I can to help them understand the gospel and understand what they need to do to receive the blessings of the Gospel in their lives. I`m hoping this week I can change. I know we can't expect change to be instant, but for me, when I think like that, I sometimes feel like I can just put changing off until later. We can't though. We can't wait to change because we need to spend ever day we have on the earth trying to change. We can't become like the Savior if we don't spend every day trying to change.  

Here's a cool story from my district. Two sisters had a baptism scheduled on Saturday. The wife of the old man, a somewhat physically handicapped man (he has a hard time getting around), does not like the church and said that if the sisters tried to help her husband go to the church to get baptized she would call the police. She also apparently said a lot of other rude things too, but that happens. Anyway, the mission president said that the sisters shouldn't try to contact the man, that if he wanted to get baptized he would contact them. I know about all of this because my companion is the district leader and the week before he performed the man`s baptismal interview. I saw the man and he looked like any old Peruvian dude. When I heard that he would need to contact the sisters I thought that wasn't gonna happen. I didn't think he would put in the effort. 

A few hours later, he called the sisters , crying, saying that his wife left the house and he wanted them to come pick him up for his baptism. He was baptized. It was humbling for me and gave me a new perspective on the people around me. I don't get to decided who is going to accept the Gospel and who isn't. I don't have the right to do that. No one does.

As always, I love you and miss you. Please work to find strength in the scriptures and in prayer. They will help you have strength when you feel like you will be weak.

I hope your week is great. It has been around 4 months since I have left, which is crazy to think about. It doesn't feel like it has been that long. It is going by very fast. I look forward to seeing you again. I love you and miss you.

Elder McMurray