Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Change of the Heart

Dear Family,

I shall speak but in brief. For I've but a few moments.
Yet, this is all e're I do need.

There must come a time, in every man's life... when he knows, and cannot doubt, the True and Living God.
But not all men feel they can believe. Not always. They feel. But are not certain. They want to believe.
But how can they? And yet, the Lord doth say, "this is enough."
For, saith He, "even if ye can no more than desire to believe" (Alma 32: 27) this shall be enough.
Such, who have even the desire to believe, which desire is inherent within us all, being the very offspring
of God, whose very essence can be seen within ourselves, are they who shall one day Accept Him.
And such, one day, are they who shall Be Received. And there shall be a Great Many. Even Countless.

Yet, what of Us? Who do believe? Who knoweth the light and the truth. The very children of God, unto whom Alma saith,
"And now, behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love,
I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5: 26)

Let me say this, very reverently, very tenderly.
In words that are, in and of themselves, not my own, but of those... I know ye all have felt.
And of those... my heart has known.

"Yea, we believe...all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts,
...that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 2: 5)

Brothers & Sisters, this is a Child of God. And we are they. And thou knowest who thou art. Remember, always.
For unto me... in no special place, no unique moment in time, no wonder or miraculous particular passage of scripture...
Nothing. Save it be, the small... overwhelming touch... in a moment, when my Heart was open... of the Savior.

Years, of my life. All I know, and all I am. And, in particular... even while on my mission. After studying. Praying. Reading. Pondering. Observing. Teaching. Testifying.
Applying. Living. Loving. Delighting... in the Words of Our Savior. Be they through His prophets, His sacred scriptures, His servants here on the Earth, each and every one of us,
by His angels, which I promise, do attend us all, even God and the Savior themselves, who Come to Walk Among Us...
Through Consistency. And Earnestness. And Diligence. Of Hope. And Love. And Joy.

In One Moment... I Received My Change of Heart. And I Can Say... even as they Have said... that I Do Desire to do no more evil, but to do good continually. To stand as an ensign to the world. To be His child. To consecrate my performance unto Him; to Glorify our Father, which is in Heaven; to serve Him with all heart, might, mind, and strength; to labor all my days without ceasing; to waste and wear out my life...

I know, we all have felt this Song. We all Have known The Love. It is within Us.
Nothing else, nothing, is greater than this witness we have received, which we must honor
and uphold. For in a moment of doubt, or fear, or weakness... we may forget.

But remember... it is not a moment, that has made you a Child of God.
It has been an Eternity. And it shall continue to be.

Diligence. So we may Never Forget. Let Us Live as Disciples.
He Shall Never Forsake...He Shall Never Forget...
(1 Nephi 21: 14-16; 3 Nephi 11: 14)

Let Us, as well, Always Remember.
Our Change of Heart.

We know what must be Done.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

(Mosiah 18: 21-22; 3 Nephi 18: 7)
(3 Nephi 27: 21)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Always and Forever, the Family

My Family...
It has been such a wonderful opportunity, unto the nourishment of my Spirit, to share with you the passions which
have oft come to overwhelm me. I have loved this. And continue to do so. However... as I have thought on these passions...
and the people from and for whom these tender mercies have been made manifest unto me, there is such great desire,
to help you all see, in a new way, The Testimony here, in the Philippines.
It would be my greatest joy, to take a moment... to Introduce you, to those who have Touched My Life, for Good.
Brothers and Sisters... this is Our Family.

Brother and Sister Loreno... a young family, of perhaps their 30s or so. The mother, a somewhat inactive member of the Church. Her husband, not a member. And constantly busy
with work or other doings. They are living with two other somewhat inactive members... the parents of Sister, both tigulang (elderly), the father a former bishop. And, in old age... somehow became more or less inactive. They are among the first people whom I met when I arrived. The Loreno family consists of a young daughter, Sister Lalane Loreno, 9 years old... with perhaps one of the greatest testimonies I've known of a youth her age. She knew Him. But in such situations... it is hard... for a family, seemingly too busy, too much work, no time for the luxury of church or the gospel...
And with another daughter, but a few months old, now long in care at a hopsital far off, unsure of the situation... sometimes...
But the gospel can work wonders. It does work wonders. It Changes Lives...for Good. And Forever.
Just this past sunday, Their sick infant was blessed, and given a name. And the name... Celestial Joyce Loreno Ladoa. And the father, Brother Loreno... asked me, to pronounce the blessing and name upon His child. This family, now, I promise you, is closer and stronger and more eternal now, than ever before. Greater than anything of mere temporal worth. The Father has been baptized... the daughter as well... the Mother's passion rekindled... as well as the tigulang bishop and his wife. And soon... they all hope to be sealed together, for time and all eternity, as a family. All because... they could feel the tender mercies of the Lord, pierce their hearts. We welcome them, with open arms.

Jonah Caboverde...an 18 year old girl. Just beginning college. At first, a mere referral, the Sister of an Active member of the church... quite humorous and free-spirited the Brother, Marvin, and his entire family (His wife, and two children (Boy and Girl, about 10 and 8, Chester and Shane)). They have found great place in our hearts. And they have for the most part, been quite active. But truly... now, they are seeing that the Gospel, once again... is the True Plan of Happiness for His Children. For Jonah, who we have been seeing for the past month and a half, is ready. To be baptized. In the next few days...
we are excited. For we do believe she shall soon enter into the covenant with the Lord... to seek a new life, a life of everlasting Joy, with Jesus Christ. She has come to church... every sunday... for the past 5 or 6 sundays... even on her own. And that family... so humorous. so loving. She can see why this is a gospel, for Families. We welcome her, with open arms.

Sister Aguirre, whos eccentric nature is astounding! Such love and life, even though sometimes it may seem like she doesnt understand... I know she does. Her one large question... as it should be...
"what does it mean... to endure, to the end?" Rather hesitant, she asked this. And all her worries... could be answered... with the person in whom all doubt ought flee: Jesus Christ. Who is He? Who are We? If there is infinite hope and love in Him... what does this mean? We are here in this life... to improve. To discover our true desire... and that be our lifelong journey. And that almost all mankind may be saved. Because He loves His children. She was recently baptized... and is endeavoring that her children (disinterested seemingly... two young rambunctious boys) might be baptized. (Her husband, a somewhat less active member); she has, since her baptized, proven of great worth to her father in heaven... in sharing her love for the gospel, with all she meets. Eccentric, yes. A little crazy, of course. But of such pure intent of heart... I love this woman. We'd welcome her, but her arms were open first. =D!

The Lentoco Family...
the father, a member. His wife working abroad, who hasn't returned for the space of over a year, perhaps 2 if I remember correctly. However, the will of the father is so strong. And the love of His children... so evident. Sister Shane (9) (recently baptized in our time here) and his other daughter (8), filled with such love and gratitude for their father, who works all day as a tricycad driver (bicycle with a side car)... and yet somehow... he always finds time... so much time... even while working, to play with his Children. Despite seemingly that he ought have no time, for his low income and laborious travels. His smile is among the greatest I have ever seen. And I see this man daily. Daily. He knows... despite all else... that Happiness is Family. And, even if only this, it is Enough. He knows we are One Family. We embrace him, our Brother. And his wonderful Family.

The Jenneth family. A young family. All members... less active. Still in a struggle. Sister Jenneth, Brother Jenneth, and their two children 12 and 8? (Son and Daughter); despite their simple means... despite the inactivity of the Brother... they love one another, so dearly. The father, still a boy. And sometimes...the Mother, feeling so... alone. But she is not alone. And they have come to see this. The wife... depsite all obstacles... somehow determined... and her efforts do not go unnoticed. I am proud to say, the Gospel has once again found center in all their lives. And the priesthood responsibility and blessing... we hope soon to help Brother realize the magnitude of the calling: Father. How sacred. They have once again, found their way back to the fold. We shall continue, to nurture them.

Sister Reya...
She, in the past, was known to be a strong member of the church. Came and loved sundays. And somehow... someday... stopped coming. Her sister still comes all the time. But as for her and her daughter... they just stopped. Time passed away. Her daughter became involved with the Baptist schooling... and slowly... church became somewhat of a memory. And for missionaries and members and going to church... it seemed as though it was too embarrassing. Or she was too shy. Or things of like manner. But finally... one day... they were home... and they welcomed us into their Home. The result... after many subsequent visits, was thus: She could not deny, the Spirit. And the promise...to be welcomed back with loving arms, at church. From the first sunday, that she returned, she has not missed a sunday. And her countenance has completely changed. I am so happy for her... for truly, it seems as if she never left. And I have hope, and pray, that she shall never find herself too shy... to come see her Family. We love her.

Brother Jun Jun Jadulos... and his family. Wow...there are many, many of them. All of them members... except for the mother (all 8 of the kids are? some come to church regularly, the others dont... mostly the younger ones come) (the 18 and 20 year olds dont) However... after two FHEs, they are such exciting and fun loving people. The Brother, Jun Jun, a recent convert, though less active, so strong... and attempting to help his fiance become a member. And in the next few weeks... we may just see this come to be. The first steps. But all in all, Jun Jun (20?) and his brothers and sisters (5 to 22 years old) (8 of them or so), we are excited for the day they ALL come to church.

Sister Martos, an elderly woman, suffering from a sickness of tabacco (so now, she has a tube in her throat to help her speak), who had seemingly lost her testimony... entertaining visits from other religions, including the 7th day adventists... having now been long time inactive... we found her at a time, that I can give thanks for. For when we arrived to see her for our second time in my time here in this area, the 7th day adventists were over to share a small message. From the bible. And it was wonderful, for both parties, missionaries and them, were here with Sister Martos. And the other couple (50s, a man and woman (married)) shared their message (we had introduced and chatted a little bit before and found out the wife's father was a very strong endowed member of the LDS and her family as well... it was a very fruitful visit) (and they said we could share if we wanted... but instead, the spirit seemed to direct to allow them to share); it was on the bible, and the importance of scripture study. And it was all wonderful. So true! and after their message was over, we, the missionaries, took about 5 minutes to testify of the truthfulness and spirit of their message... and then... expounded... just a little more. Those simple truths, which can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And sister began crying. And all were edified... for there was a Spirit of Harmony. And i do hope... i may see all parties present at that time, one day, at the church. We are waiting, to welcome them all.

Sister Conchita, a very elderly woman, who, in her time, never missed a temple trip to manila, despite being quite far and expensive to go. And, through sickness and old age, eventually found herself seemingly forgotten in the history of the church. It is hard... No one wants to be forgotten. And i could only help but think on Sister Mormon, and for those sweet opportunities i may not ever have truly realized, which father and I were able to share with Sister Mormon. I love her, and her Spirit shall live on, with me, for I do remember her. And sister Conchita as well, shall well be remembered. And is. And has found, as of the past few weeks... that this, her family, shall never forsake, nor forget her. Family is Forever, that shall never be forgotten.

I Shall continue perhaps in the next email, next week, with more on the people of Whom I Know.
but for now, let me close with thus, something I've come to find has brought all these people... to a remembrance of Our Eternal Family.

Truly...I am ever so grateful for this Church. And the opportunity we have, to see one another every Sunday, to remember Our Family, and its Divine Design. Jesus Christ doth visit us all, every Sunday, at Church. He doth come within the very midst. And always, His Presence doth reside in all our temples. "Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord." They have been called the beacons to the world, An ensign, The place of purity and peace, the closest place to heaven on earth. And Yes, this is all true. This is the closest place to heaven on earth. Within his holy temples. And attending Sacrament, every Sunday, to testify unto the Father, "that we do always remember Him," these are two of the closest places to Heaven on Earth. But there is One More. And Perhaps the Greatest. It is answered in a Primary song, as well.

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you here and answer every child's prayer?
Some say that Heaven, is far away...
but I feel it closer round me as I pray.

The Sacred Gift and Power of Prayer...of a prayer offered in Faith, in Humbleness of Heart, in Love, to the Father... this is the closest one can come to Heaven on Earth...
For His Very essence doth shine all around us...

"And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white
as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof."
(3 Nephi 19: 25)

Now image... this is Us. Every time we pray, in pure, fervent passion. This is the closest, to heaven on Earth.
For all miracles, and all majesty, that has come to the Earth, even unto the Restoration of the Gospel and the vision unto Joseph Smith,
did come... from one pure prayer.

Prayer. And to add to this... consider the words of Thomas S. Monson
"there is nothing more beautiful in this world... than the sight of a family, on their knees, praying together."

We are meant, to be so close to Him. We are of Him.
We are a Family. Let us ever, continue... to have his countenace round about us.
For unto this reason, are we here.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

Monday, March 1, 2010

Heirs of Happiness

Dear Family,

I have but a small thought today, with which I have entertained myself often.
And for which, I am ever so grateful. It is, in particular, the very essence of the Plan of Salvation... that Great Plan of Happiness for which we are all Heirs.

I speak on Faith... the first Principle of the Gospel.
And call on us... to ponder why. And ponder on all that Faith is.

Grabi... sometimes... If we could Only See. With The Infinite Eyes of One like He.

There's a song, of which I'm sure some of you are familiar. It is from a film, the Prince of Eqypt, a depiction of certain historical and biblical events, of the Life of Moses... and, as we know of our readings of this scriptures, of The Love of the Lord for His People.

The song is called, "When You Believe," sung by Mariah Carey. And I do believe that the words they sing, though they be beautiful, may be much more inspired than some might realize. The lyrics tell us of a story, even a plea, of the Father unto us... of Faith. Faith on Him. Faith... in something, that perhaps... we don't know. And yet, there beith nothing surer than He. And He is asking us... believe. Just believe. Have faith in Me. And Ye Shall Know that I am.

There Can Be Miracles
When You Believe...

Who Knows What Miracles
You Can Achieve
When You Believe...
Somehow You Will
You Will When You...Believe.

The melody only magnifies the Presence of Him who's promise this Be.
Brothers and Sisters... even unto the smallest that we do... we are instruments of God, and he is so thankful. For if we but believe on Him... He will, by His very Hand, work Miracles among all those around us...even though us.

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"
"And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"
(D&C 18: 15-16)

Brothers and Sisters, I Am so Thankful... for every moment... that one of us realizes, in some new way, or of some remembrance, the Love of the Father, unto all of Us.

I call us to reverence for a moment, to marvel at the world all around us. And all therein. And all the Creations of God, the Miracles. For all things do Testify of Them. Let us open our Eyes...and see the Creation of the Father. Even as a child doth open her eyes for the first time... let us be as such.

And as a child...just by being, is a miracle of the Father, let us, just by being, having been reborn of His Spirit... from the moment we open our Spiritual Eyes, be testament of the miracles of the Father.

All this I say...because for some reason, this week I have gratefully been witness of many very small, very tender mercies. Be they blessings for the sick, blessings for those down of heart, a small sharing of the gospel with a friend, members becoming a little more of a family, those without the fold...returning into His loving arms. And acquaintances...we've but just met...somehow... feeling the Truth of the Gospel. Knowing nothing else...save that the words we speak...they've known before. All... evidences of Faith on Him. And for every one...evolving from Faith, to Believing.

It doesn't matter where we are on this walk of life...
wherever we be, there is a miracle, waiting to come forth.
And even before that, a miracle which is now happening.
And even before that, a miracle, which has just taken place.

We are, in all we do, an evidence of The Miracles of Him. And for that, my dear brethren, I thank you, for all you do, for all you may never notice, but rather, for who you inherently are, the Child of God you all are, which doth always Glorify the Father in Heaven.

And I challenge us all... to do, and find, and relish even in that which the children do, as directed by this Primary Song:

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by a lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.
He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations, of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

'For all His creations, of which I'm a part'
'Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.'

Take a Moment. To Remember...the Spirit of these words.
There's a Reason, the Lord doth call us... to become as a child.
And He doth love the children. He doth love us all.

I Testify, and Pray that we Do, ever, Strive to Become Like His Children,
of whom we inherently Are.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

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