Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lost Sheep

Dear Family,

This week was a good one. I want to share a few things I learned. 

1. The importance of planning. President put us in charge of part of the zone conference this week and we prayed and thought about what it was that we needed to talk about. As we discussed our ideas with President we came to the conclusion that as a mission we really are not very good at coming home every night and planning really well for the next day. My companion and I studied Preach My Gospel, the District videos and realized the importance of not just putting names down in a time slot. We need to plan important activities for every hour of the day. Even our goals should be so specific that we can fulfill them every 30 minutes - How many people are we going to talk to, how many Book of Mormon copies are we going to give away, what street are we going to talk to about Family History etc. We have seen a huge difference in our companionship and in our effectiveness as missionaries just by being better about planning. 

2. We went yesterday to a members house to follow up about a referral they had given us. We got there knocked on the door but no one was home. We then saw that they were pulling 2 huge branches that they had cut off from a near by tree. We offered to help pull them. We set them down and almost immediately a small group of about 12 sheep came running around the corner. They frantically started eating every leaf in sight. I tried to touch one but it got scared and ran off. To my surprise, the other 11 followed the one startled sheep as if they too were frightened. Then after about 30 seconds, one brave sheep inched toward the branches again. It took a bite and immediately all the rest bolted around the corner without the slightest bit of fear. I realized how much they not only physically stayed together but seemed to share an emotional bond. When one is scared, the others too are scared. When one is happy, the others too are happy. When one is brave, the other too loose all fear and are brave. I asked the member a few things about why they acted like this and he explained that all sheep are like that. And immediately I thought of Christ's parable of The Lost Sheep. 

4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Not only will the man who lost his sheep have a fullness of joy, but also his sheep! This member explained to me that when one sheep is separated from the rest, it cries, and cries, longs to go back, and gets so scared. Sometimes, he said, they even die from being so scared and from crying so much. Christ saves us from such anguish. Not only is the shepherd blessed to have found his one sheep, but also the one sheep will be fill with such comfort that never again will it leave his flock. I realized how often I am the lost sheep. I don't have to be inactive from the church to be a lost sheep. The lost sheep is a representation of the pains and guilt of sin. Every tiny sin brings guilt and sadness which can only be healed by repentance. The joy which heaven feels when they see us repent is the same or even greater than the joy we personally feel when we repent. I love the Savior and I am so grateful for the Good Shepherd that He is. 

And dad, you inspired me to share what I am thankful for this week. 

I am thankful for my companion and the example he is to me. I am thankful for my President who inspires me by who he is. I am thankful for my investigators who teach me patience, love, and diligence. I am thankful for my parents who have never failed to be everything I could ever want. I am thankful for internet that allows me to write my thoughts and feelings every week! I am thankful for the Holy Ghost who purifies, guides, and comforts me even though I am far from perfect. I am grateful for the scriptures that provide and endless source of personal revelation and guidance. I am thankful for medicine that heals me in Bolivia when I need it. I am thankful to hold the priesthood through which I have the duty to serve others. I am grateful for miracles which help me see that God loves me. I am thankful for Jesus Christ who is my example and all that I wish to become. And I am thankful for His eternal sacrifice that provides, as long as I repent, the eternal promise of forgiveness, happiness, love, and, in the end, life with Him. 

Hurrah for Israel!!
Lots of Love,
Elder Gehring

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