Dear Friends and Family,
Never Hath there been a Greater time in our Lives, than the time at Hand Now. The time that has gone before us, for these very moments. The time that shall come after us...to prepare for His very Coming. This is a Chosen Generation. I have heard this all my life. And in a way I've never quite seen before...I Know This is True. This Generation shall be the Herald.
Can we think of a time when Ever Our Purpose has ever been so clear? "To Invite Others to Come Unto Christ"
All we're asking, my Dear Brothers and Sisters, all that i being asked of all of us, is to be a friend to our friends. And share what you know is true. Your Testimony. Not to teach. Not to Preach. Just show that we care.
It's amazing...in all they say...our friends are asking for our Testimony... their thoughts on their family, on a death occurred, of a new born child, of love, of God, marriage, Church, something they've found and felt...something they've thought is missing. Difficulty with their teenage children. Struggle. Lack of Peace. Contention in the Home. Financial difficulty. A Yearning to be together. Questions, questions. There's a reason our friends are our friends. And why they enjoy being so. And all the while...they are waiting...for a few kind words: our testimony...that spur the question: How Do You Know That?
Brothers and Sisters, How Do We Know This? For one, it might have been through a tragic experience. Through another...the scriptures, and revelation. And yet still others, from another's testimony.
However it came, Remember This: It Came. From God. And through his Holy Spirit. How Do You Know?
Can I Just Say One Thing More:
Regardless of How...You Know. I Cannot Believe...in 2 short months...even in not but one month in each area...I have established stronger relationships with mere acquaintances than most other people in my life.
I am in Awe...when I Think on Who I Know.
There's a word in ilonggo for getting to know someone: Kilala. And i can say, though I may have met these people several times or even but once...for those Moments, I Knew them, as The Savior Has. I Can Say, Nakakilala ako sa ila.
A Woman. Strong Member of the Church...two daughters, batas sila, but maybe a couple months and a 2 year old, who lives in among the most humble conditions I've ever seen: perhaps a 10 foot by 10 foot room. And her husband has of yet, not become a member...despite various elders attempts. Nor does he come to church. Yet she makes the trek, by herself.
An SA Male, with no real strong income, salvaging what he can to serve a mission, while at the same time finding time off from work to serve with the missionaries. He makes the equivalent of maybe 150 pisos a day..and he WORKS for it, with his might. thats perhaps $3 or so...to save so that he can go on a mission. He's already older than I. And he looks forward...that perhaps in a year or two...he can serve a mission.
A Single Mother, Long time member in a church, whose progress has seemingly fallen backward...despite 7 years of missionary work. And herself...among the strongest and most enduring, of the very last beacons of hope for her ward, has begun to fade away.
A Young Father, Member, Medyo Active Siya, two girl batas...one preparing for baptism...who has not as of yet seen his Wife for two years...perhaps she will return this year Home.
A Bishop...no counselors. no support from YM or High Council...no real leadership. Save it be for perhaps two, both of which have not been see for quite some time...and all affairs fall upon Him. And He Can Padayon no further...
A Councilor in the Bishopric...two in fact...who all i ever see, when i see them, are Pisan gid sa simbahan. Pisan, ever pursuing how to help the missionaries and move the work forth...And how for granted i take them... until i see them, pedaling & pedaling their little carts all the day long, just to make enough to barely support their extended families, who live all together with their own immediate family. And yet...in every spare moment of rest, which are few, they Work in the Service of God.
A Mother of three...who works every day, save it be sunday now...so she can make a journey, the farthest of all the investigators i've known in Manapla, to Church...perhaps 3 tricycle rides and perhaps a Ceres as well...which would cost her her much labored income which already is not enough to bring them all to church...so she would WALK. And she does this...with a hope... that maybe, just maybe... this church can help her find her Husband, a bit of a drunkard, eventually led to suicide...but her husband whom she loved nonetheless.
An RM...who did not complete her mission...who had somewhat of an affair, much gossip by church members and has since been "shamed" out of the church...taking some baby steps back to the some lil corner of comfort she had once felt within the chapel walls...
I Have Seen and Felt, through the Hearts of Others, Time and All Manner of Experience pass away...
and I Cannot Explain...for I Am Still Broken...every time i see a Filipino Cry. It is Different. It is Hard. They do not cry...Until they are Absolutely without.
And Yet...in that Very Moment...though all Has Passed Away...there is One who Has Not. And Somewhere...They Feel This. For though they Cannot, They Padayon. They Continue Gid.
Believing in Something. Something. Brothers and Sisters...This is Real. I Promise You. There is a Piece of Them Left, even after they are All Broken...and it is the Savior. They Believe. For He Hath not Forsaken Thee.
I ask Us...to Remember. Not only for Ourselves...but for those Who Need Us. The Greatest Thing you could ever do for Yourself...is Sharing Your Testimony with Someone Else. For When You Do This...they feel it: You are Saving Them. But what You Feel: He is Saving You. The Savior.
Stop. Just Stop. Sometimes...we Don't Do This.
The World is So Loud. Can we Take a Moment...Just One...and Remember: Why Are We Here?
I Promise You, Brothers and Sisters...I Have Known People. I Have Known People...Greater Now, than Ever in My Life. And This is What I Have Seen:
There are Those, Amidst the Worst, Who Still Believe.
And there Are Those, amidst the world, Who Believe they Cannot.
But What We Know: We Can. We are Never Alone.
This is Perhaps one of the Most Impossible Things to Believe...for We Say That There is Always Hope. How Can This Be? It Cannot Be...
And Yet, Once You Believe It, You Know, That This is True.
"Some poor fainting, struggling sea man, you may rescue, you may save."
Someone, of your friends, even them all. Are waiting. For You. Not for a lesson. Nor the missionaries. A teaching or a preaching. But the kind words of a dear friend, a testimony, with conviction of heart, that testifies: I Know.
And finally...let them know how you know.
Believe in your Testimony. Believe in God. Believe the Very Promise of God: They Need You. Believe that we are One Family. Believe that the Missionaries Shall Testify with his Very Own Power. Believe... and Remember all that Ye Believe. And Please. Know That I Believe.
This is a Choice Generation. Because there is a Work that Must Be Done Now...that Shall Forever Determine the Future. And, Blessed are We...We Are Here.
And if Ever You Doubt. EVER. Remember This: There are countless concourses of Angels...many of which in the form of Saints on this Earth...Praying for You. Because They Believe. So when Ye Feel Ye Cannot...Remember, They Believe. And Their Prayers Shall be Answered...for You.
Because I Have met those angels. Because those people I Have Mentioned, who's trials and opposition have come amidst the worst which can be called forth...still Believe...and Pray for the Cause with which We Have Been Entrusted as Members and Missionaries: The Gospel...Families Forever...Life Eternal...Joy Ever More.
Praying for You.
And Don't You Dare. Dare.
Think that He Wouldn't Answer Their Prayers.
Don't You Dare Be that Selfish. For I Have Known these people. And their Faith, despite the Devil lashing at their backs. And yet, they suffer the whip, and pray on for you.
Ye Shall Be Saved...even for Their Sake. Because they have suffered for You. So amidst the discouragement, or fear, or sadness, or pain...or all the world coming down upon you...Remember: They. Waver. Not. Because they love you.
We're a Family. And as the scriptures say so tragically poetic:
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; *and with His stripes are we healed*."
"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him." (Mosiah 14: 5 &10)
I Have Seen Christlike...and what it means to, in some small degree, walk the path of Christ. I have Seen these People endeavor to do so. And I Know...like Christ, oh How they Cry. Not because the pain is too much to bear. But because, for at least this stripe, Ye Didn't have to Bear. And for this, The Great Weight of that Tear of Pain...forgotten, swallowed up in the Tear of Joy that followed with It. And Thus, we See, "By [their] stripes are we healed."
We Will Do Anything. For Our Family. Because We Love One Another. Remember Them. Remember Your Friends, in the World. And Remember Christ.
Yea, Remember...Remember. The very Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
--Elder Christopher A. Lewis