Monday, November 30, 2015

Winding Roads, Temples, and Repentance

Dear Family,
This week on Monday-Friday we traveled to Tarija and to Bermejo. We helped President with a Conference down there. It was cool to see a few members of my old ward there in Tarija. We got to eat with the Bishop and spend the rest of the day visiting investigators. We then in the night went to Bermejo. Its about a 3 hour drive on very very curvy roads. I usually dont get carsick but after about 2 hours or so I was feeling pretty dizzy. A member who lives in Bermejo drove us. He works for a minivan company that drives people all day long. He is know as the driver that speeds the whole time. We were going about 75 the whole time. Way too fast for the car we were in and the road we were on. In Bermejo we were able to help the District Leader prepare for the conference President did the next day and we also did divisions in their area to help them find more people to teach. It turned out really well. The whole three days we traveled in the night to have more time with the missionaries during the day but after 3 days of not sleeping very much, we were pretty worn out. On the flight home early in the morning Thursday, we sat next to a Brazilian in the plan. My companion was pretty good at talking to him in Portuguese. I tried to talk to him too but then he responded in English. Turns out he spoke 4 languages, conoce todo el mundo, and loves God! It was really neat to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and the power it has in our lives. He read 3 Nefi 11 right there in the plane. Even though we werent in our area during those 3 days, I feel like God was looking out for our investigators. 

Thursday-Sunday were wonderful days. The members offered to help us more and more and on friday we had a great coordination meeting with the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries. We planned how to help the investigators attend church, how to help them progress and everyone got pretty excited. On Saturday night we made a few calls to remind the ward missionaries of their assignments. Sunday came along and it was raining really hard in the morning. When it rains here, no one leaves the house. The Cabrera Family (ages 62 and 60) committed to going to church but the mom (Aida) is a little sick and its hard for her to leave the house and even worse if its raining. We changed around the plans a bit and in the end, the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric picked them up in his car and brought them to church. It was wonderful to see them there. They have a baptismal date for the 19 of dec and its wonderful to see them progress. Their main goal is the Temple. We have talked so much about the temple with them. They just want to be married forever. 44 years ago they got married and in 1 year they will be married for the eternities.

As I studied this week, the topic of repentance came up a lot. I think because I have to do it a lot. I've always studied that its the 2nd principle of the Gospel, it makes us clean, its hard, etc. But I have never realized how essential it is to our eternal salvation until I read a talk by Elder Christofferson from the Oct. 2011 General Conference. I just want to share a few parts that I liked a lot. 

- Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.

- Repentance is the necessary condition, and the grace of Christ is the power by which “mercy can satisfy the demands of justice” (Alma 34:16).

- The invitation to repent is an expression of love.

- With repentance we can steadily improve in our capacity to live the celestial law, for we recognize that“he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory” (D&C 88:22).

- For our turning to the Lord to be complete, it must include nothing less than a covenant of obedience to Him. We often speak of this covenant as the baptismal covenant since it is witnessed by being baptized in water (see Mosiah 18:10).

- “The choice to repent is a choice to burn bridges in every direction [having determined] to follow forever only one way, the one path that leads to eternal life.”

- Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual “I admit it; I’m sorry.”Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgment of error and offense to God and man.Sorrow and regret and bitter tears often accompany one’s confession, especially when his or her actions have been the cause of pain to someone or, worse,have led another into sin. It is this deep distress, this view of things as they really are, that leads one, as Alma, to cry out, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death”(Alma 36:18). 

- With faith in the merciful Redeemer and His power, potential despair turns to hope. One’s very heart and desires change, and the once-appealing sin becomes increasingly abhorrent. A resolve to abandon and forsake the sin and to repair, as fully as one possibly can, the damage he or she has caused now forms in that new heart. This resolve soon matures into a covenant of obedience to God. With that covenant in place, the Holy Ghost, the messenger of divine grace,will bring relief and forgiveness. One is moved to declare again with Alma, “And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I [do] behold; yea, my soul [is] filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36:20). Any pain entailed in repentance will always be far less than the suffering required to satisfy justice for unresolved transgression. 
I know it was a lot but all these paragraphs were important to me. 

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Gehring

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