This email... is but to describe a small, personal experience.
As of late... as my thoughts have been turning, more and more...
to my departure of this area, I have been wondering: have I given them my heart?
Soon, stewardship will pass... love will continue, and the work will go forth.
But my time, here... as hereto called... may be approaching its final days.
It has been on my mind much... this last transfer, as I have been acting Senior,
for I know my area. I know this flock. And as keys have been granted unto me...
for care of this vineyard... I have come to ponder, our unique role, even as Christ.
These dear people... and the power I possess, even the calling, to change their lives...Have I endured worthily of my charge? "What more could I have done, for my vineyard?" (Jacob)
And, in these past two weeks... I've come closer... so much closer... to what it means "All Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength" of finally... caring for someone else.
I would not profess to know the meaning of such the word, to "care." To love. Yet, I know, in some small way...
I've come closer.
There have been many deaths here, as of late. For investigators, and members alike. There have been hearts... full of emotion.
There are, as of now, so very many burdens on these People in the Philippines. People who wish to return to the church... but "can't." Investigators, who have tasted of the truth... but, the world would stop them. Even their own emotions, unbridled, would stop them. We have given so many blessings. Consecrated by oil. But consecrated in heart. We have blessed and anointed the sick and the ailing, those who are failing, young children, women who are without... and I know the Lord has heard, and will continue to hear and answer, every single one.
I am so happy. I have so much joy, for these, my people. Our people. For even if but in passing word... we are pronouncing blessing. Words have become so sacred to me. Time. People. Even if only but a minute, for a passing word...
Ours in the power... to give Meaning to Life. Meaning in every Minute. And in these People... I See It.
I See the Lord. And I See the Way. I Do not have much time left here... but I Promise... come the day when I must leave...
I will have given them, even all that I hath. I promise. I haven't yet. I've two weeks more to give... and for that I am so thankful.
I know these people, so personally... in a way, that only Christ could know. And has granted me this tender mercy, that I might be acquainted... with this special relationship. Even His relationship, with all His children. In some small way... He has granted me this minor miracle. And I am so Happy.
It came to me, as it does often, but in particular, with fire, just the other day...I have grown up, been raised, here, within the Gospel of Jesus Christ, within the Church. In safety. In peace. With knowledge. And Spirit. Always, abounding in love. These are the conditions, unto which I was born. And yet... it pains me. This is one of the greatest blessings of my life... to have known such miracles, all my life. Even if I never truly understood... they were known unto me. Even unto this day... wherein, always, all my life... I have known Joy.
But there are people... yes, even these very people... who have never known. Never known any, even unto the least of these, this Work and a Wonder, the very Beauties and Miracles and Purposes of God. There are people... who have not known this Joy.
Yes... I know in their Heart, their Spirits do recognize... yet, only now, they are coming to a knowledge of why. Why is it their Hearts do burn within their Families. When a child is born. Just watching their children. Being a mother, or father. The great desires of the Human heart... they finally are coming to know why. Oh, how Great the Love of our Lord, even such that He doth never forget His children. That He would have them come to a knowledge of Him, and of Happiness! And oh, how Great the mercies of the Lord, that He doth suffer... to send me, even I, oft unworthy... that we might together, bring some soul unto repentance. That their hearts "might rejoice." To bring to pass the Immortality and Eternal Life... of their Families. That He would send me!
And I can only reflect on those words...and that Broken Spirit, that shall e're flow from those words
"Oh it is wonderful, that He should care for me..."
"Oh it is wonderful, so wonderful... to me."
I know not why He would love me so. Suffer it to be so. Yet, even as Nephi replied, of all things...of one he was sure, "I know not...save I know the Lord God loveth His children." I know He doth. I know His purposes. And if I know such... I am Happy...to have been called. I shall honor this great Calling. I shall love... these great People.
An active Seventh-Day adventist minister, with whom I've come to gain such a great friend, recently responded to our Testimonies, as witnesses of all we know to be True. He is a searcher of that Great Light and Knowledge. He is a searcher of Truth and Happiness. But in His great searching... though He believes these wonderful scriptures of the Bible... he has yet to do that which he must to gain everything... He must open his Heart, and His Mind... and search these things... and Pray. And Ponder. Then will he feel that familiar Spirit... which I know, he shall recognize, as the very Spirit of God. Then shall He know... all we say to be True.
In response to our Testimonies -- after giving all he could for scripture, and questions, and cross questions, eventually found himself, bereft of any more to ask or say... save it be a small statement... to this extent, to which you could feel the exhaustion of his soul.
"Please... please, give us a minute. You must try to understand... you are asking us to believe in this book... of which we know not, of which we have never known..."
And a few more words... which meaning went on to say something as thus:
That we are speaking to them, as if to say we expect them to believe everything we say, and all which we testify, coming from a book from which they've neither read nor ever heard of, us professing this to be the very word of God... and telling them, in essence, that all that they've ever experienced in their entire lives... all they've ever searched for, and all the answers and all they've ever learned... basically that all they've come to, in their search, their entire lives... and they still have not found that Truth...which we Profess we have, from something they've never known or heard of before.
And I realized... oh Great the words and Testimonies are of which we Give. That before, in every testimony I ever gave... I always fully expected every person who heard, to believe and know of the truth, which of a surety, I had affirmed. I am so grateful for always having this expectation... for I truly did believe. Yet, know... I am even more grateful... for realizing how hard it ought to be for them to believe in my words. How great things they truly are of which we testify. Of this great Miracle, that happened to a boy, and this Book, which was hid, and came forth by power of God. The fullness of the Gospel... being able to affirm, that even without the Bible, the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ would still stand, because of this Miraculous record, the Book of Mormon, which is the very word of God. I am asking them... to believe in a Miracle.
And no one, in their right mind, by any sense, ever ought to believe in any of this...
...save it were true. And the Testimony of Joseph Smith... be the only answer... to this Work and a Wonder, which has now come forth... being called, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I will continue to bear my testimony, in full faith, that every word I say, shall be recognized by the Spirit of every Man...
as divinely inspired, coming from that Source of Truth, even the very God. Because, it does. I Know.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
--Elder Christopher A. Lewis