"O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our Brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our Brethren, again unto thee." (Alma 31: 35)
To my dear Family Serving at Home,
I Thank you so Much, for your Examples.
It is amazing, what our responsibilities are. And it is even more amazing, to find out that it is thus that brings us our Joy. Even through the times of greatest trial...somewhere, there Cometh the Greatest Light. Therefore, if we, who know, that these things must be, Shall We Not Do as the Lord Directs?
"Yet Shall ye be patient in long suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and i will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."
Dear Family...I Do not recall...at all...my life in the mission before the past few days. Nor the words I Have said. In fact...i feel quite renewed and refreshed.
I am no longer on Negros, serving in Manapla and Caduha-an. But rather, I am one of a few who have been transferred to the island of Panay. Serving now in the area of LaPaz and LaPuz (spelling?).
Elder Stockton is now the Zone Leader, and he is staying in Manapla. In any case...there are many memories from back during the past month i will endeavor to find some time to write in my journal, for as of yet, i have not written of them, and i have found that after coming to this new land, much is leaving my remembrance.
These scriptures i read some time ago, however, they keep coming to my remembrance. And how Ammon spoke of the lamanites as "those whom he had termed to be His Brethren."
When I Left Manapla and Caduha-an, i had the opportunity in passing to see a few families, and say farewell. And it was wonderful. For many of them I Deemed to Be My Family. But even more so...they Called Me Theirs. I've a Home here, in the Philippines. I've a Home among His People.
(Said of, to name a few, Sister Alagban, Sister Alvez and her Family, Mamma Flor and her Family, The Nolan Family (inc. Sis GiGi), and Sister Pinky w/ Princess)
Glory to the Lord and his Wisdom, my new Companion is Elder Garcia.
"Every Moment, a Beautiful Opportunity. Each. One." I Truly believe this. And thus far, with this in My Heart...It Has Come to Pass. He is a Filipino. And Also Happens to be the District Leader. It has but been three days or so...and yet, We've Become Kin. For He is Passionate...in a very peaceful and pure way, in his testimony. Of the love of God. And, in harmony, we testify not only with eachother, but to one another. And not in word lang, but in deed.
Brother Leslie once mentioned a concept of Pakikisama. I Do not know exactly what that might mean...or if it exist here. But i can say thus...I Love my Brother, Elder Garcia. And in some small way...he too of Me. And as i felt when i heard of the concept Pakikisama...i feel a resonance here with Him. And i am so grateful to have found a friend...whom i know, shall be with me for Eternity. And thus we see, that truly, all people are Family.
To go further with this...I Will Speak on Family.
As I left Manapla...I pondered on the Hearts there. I Prayed to the Lord for them. That he would Care over my Family. And that my Mission, and my Obedience, and my Love and Service to the Lord...just as he Promised to Bless my Family in America as I Go forth, so too would he Bless my Home in Manapla and Caduha-an. And I was able to depart...overjoyed and with peace...for they shall be Well Attended by the Lord. I Have this Faith. For I Feel His Love. And i thank Him.
The first night i arrived here, in LaPaz...we were already moving to kilala the members and investigators. And something profound touched me, at our last appointment at the bishops house. The bishop did not attend, saw him for a moment (not knowing he was the bishop) and he was gone. But as we were welcomed into the House...instantly, the Spirit Came. And friendships were formed immediately. Between two Sister SA's, the Mother of the House, and eventually, All the Seminary Students (as i later learned was going on next door and when it ended, they were all outside and i decided to say hello to some random people and they all eventually entered into the house to chit chat); their number was not a few. the House was crowded. YM, YW, SA, adults...all within the house of the Bishop. And I conversed with them. And there was not a single word spoken that did not grow our immediate friendship. How Strong these Saints! And they might not even realize it...but Great is their Joy! And this is their Strength! For their Strength of Friendship and Bonds with One Another will Bring the Wonders. And Wonders to All Others. Some 25 people that night...
And Yet Again...I Felt at Home.
(Sidenotes: Bishop Madjas House...and I Met a Sister, Sister Daffodelle Panes...apparently she served as a Companion to my teacher at the MTC, Sister Rather. Please inform her of this (Her email was the jessacats email i sent before.) and that her friend is in High Spirits and Doing Quite Well, among the people I admire above)
Saturday...there was a Baptism, for Sister April Joy...i met her the night before to teach her somewhat and BRT her. The elders before me and their investigators have been dwelling wonderfully in the Spirit, and now...i Believe i can aid them in Coming Unto Christ. To Bear my Witness unto them and Love...i Believe many that Those other Missionaries Have loved shall come unto the Fold of God...and damo pa mga less active mieyembro to return unto Him. And April Joy is among the but the first...of this Family of God.
I've met many members now, in but these short few days, and hve met many less actives and investigators...
and through the Grace of God, every single One of these Meetings has been overwhelmed by His Presence...and I Believe Their Lives are forever Changed, even NOW. For I Shall see them in White. And I Shall See them at Church. This i Know. The Spirit Testifieth to Me.
This past Sunday, I Was to Bear My Testimony. And So...Unexpectedly, actually. I Will Remember it is somewhat customary in order to get to know the members to introduce yourself (who'da thought that one! ;p!) But so...there are two wards here. This Sunday there was about 85 attendance in sacrament for Both LaPaz and LaPuz wards. One starts at 830 and the other at about 1000
And i was able to Bear my Testimony twice.
And i Couldnt help it...but i was overwhelmed by the Lord's Love. For I Don't even know these people. But from my last area, from the love i have for my family, and dear friends, and those Special Members i met the night before. And i do not recall what i said...but what was in my Heart: I Do Not Know You, But I Know This. We are a Family. You are my Family. I Testified to them of Love. The Love of God. And of Our Purpose in Life. The Purpose of God. The Purpose: Family. And This Land. Consecrated. This People. Consecrated. I Promised...with All My Heart...That He Lives. And We Shall Go Hand in Hand to Heaven. For To Understand our Purpose...we Must Know that this must Be. This Must Be True. Hand in Hand. And I Could Barely utter these words. I Spoke soft...and i was crying...barely visible. Only discernible slightly from my voice. I Believe only I Knew. But I know angels did attend. And Christ to Hold Me. For a Moment...we All Knew. Even someone like Me.
If He Can Love Someone Like Me...oh How Great the Love He Hath for You! Can You Imagine...Being Held in His Arms? Know that This is True.
Dream a Little. We Are Meant to Dream.
Father...You asked me my Favorite Scripture.
Thus Far, it is Alma 26: 16
And there is A Story, I Wish to write to Brother Leslie of this Scripture. Much I Desire to Say. But I Will Let you Ponder on its Wonder.
Just keep in Mind: "Dream A Little..."
And Yet the Gospel is Greater Still.
God Hath Given Me A Family. Families are Eternal.
I've a Home Here. I Love My Family. God...I Love Our Family.
There is much I've realized since leaving to this, the City.
Elder Stockton was in tune with the Spirit to be my Trainer. The Spirit did Abide with Me. And Though...i did not actively hold study sessions, something i shall remedy...and am remedying even now. But Through every Desire of Obedience that I Promised to Him through my Daily Life... He Hath Granted Unto Me the ability to Speak of My Heart. Even in a Different Tongue. There is Much I Can do to improve. But From Day One...I Spoke from my Heart. And Always...in Ilonggo...no matter how broken. I Truly Believe it is Possible to learn this Language in 2 weeks. To Speak Thus through the Power of God and Love. I Felt that when i First Came to the Field...that Truth. And I Let the Desire slowly slip from my sight. But it is True. And I found that desire again...that even after 3 or 4 weeks of slow progress, even no matter WHERE you are now...the pamangkot: Where do You Want to BE? Is This a Pure Desire? And do you Believe? And if you Do: "Show Me You Believe"
Heaven, and All Power Therein, can Come Down in but a Moment, If We Believe.
Remember This. For all This. And I Too, WIll Remember This...Always. Oh, How I Need this Testimony. But know that also, i have witnessed a minor miracle.
I Spoke fair Ilonggo with Elder Stockton...there were many who thought i was quite smart, or talented. But still...a minor. Great for the time ive been in the mission, sagad gid! (talented!) but...far ways to go from being fluent.
That was perhaps less than 5 days ago.
Something changed...from the Moment I Left Elder Stockton. And I Believed...more fervently than ever...in Him. And in this Purpose.
My first day in Lapaz...testimony meeting...and every day, even up unto this day...There is Someone who comments, that I Sound So Fluent! (Yes...minor things here and there, but quite good Ilonggo)
And then when they speak back to me: i just go..."huh?" or "palihog, liwat? Hinay palihog" (please, again? slowly please.)
When I Am Carried Away in Sharing of My Heart, in Spreading His Love...i Can Speak. Family...Friends. I Can Speak. And it has only Been One Month. Elders quite admire and Members joyfully surprised! I Speak This Gospel, and I Speak to the People in their native Tongue, Ilonggo. And They Understand. How they Understand! And I Do not say this to boast, as Alma 26 states (and no...that scripture is my favorite for OTHER reasons, before i ever knew i was being transferred...but this applies as well!). I Boast of My God. For in Him, My Joy is Full. For I Proclaim from My Heart What Joy Is! And He lends me His Words, which Words are the Same, wherever Ye Be.
I Used to say, with elder stockton and members there and investigators, epsecially if ever they asked, "yes, i understand quite well. its just difficult to speak."
and it was true, then.
but now...its changed.
they'll say: Sagad gid Ikaw!
and i'll reply
"indi Gid, Sister. Mas hapos agud Makahambal sangsa makaintidihan para sa akon"
(much easier to speak than to understand for me)
and its true.
But Know that I Say This, to Proclaim to The World:
Miracles are Real. This Gospel is True.
And if Ye Do Whatsoever, In the Name of Truth, By The Power of God, I Witness, All is Possible.
Nothing...Nothing Shall Stay His Hand.
Therefore, Ask...and Ye Shall Recieve.
If Ye Ask in the Name of Truth. And if Ye Believe.
And Ever After...Show, "I Believe"
Two Thoughts I Mentioned far Earlier:
"Bear with Patience...that Ye May Be an Example In Me."
We Are Everything...for a Moment, to Someone. Never Doubt This. In All Things...In all Joy and All Sorrow, and All Hardships, Bear Witness by Example Unto Him. And I Promise You! Every Moment You Do This: You Have Changed a Life. A Life! Glory to God, They Know Him.
And second, "He termed to be his Brethren"
Who Are our Brethren. And if Ye Say All Men...Do Ye Truly Feel This Way? If So, Bless You, Please Show Your Love.
As for me, I Felt a Testimony of This. But truly, I Didnt quite understand what it meant. But now, I Promise You: These are My Brethren. My Dear, Beloved Brethren. I Shall See You All Again.
Family...the Time is now Far Spent.
And My Time is Precious. All our Time is Precious.
Please, always Remember: If We Know This is True, And We Know these Things Surely Must Be, Then How Shall We Live? It is true...No Man Can Live a Perfect Life.
But in Christ, We Can. And Man Need Not Live Life Alone.
Live Life, Time Being Precious...Live it Preciously.
I Pray, for all of You,
and Testify, as does the Father,
I Shall See You Again. All.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
--Elder Christopher A. Lewis