Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to Basics!


Well... I'm doing Great! I've finally found out why I've been so heavy as of late. And interestingly's not anything in particular... its actually just a lot and lot of build up of small things! Especially Prayer, i had for a time forgotten the miracle of this great communication... how great the wonders come from even the smallest degrees of faith. And my language... i've stagnated a bit... still fairly well off... but my progress hasnt been as I know it could be. I haven't really been helping it... and when my stresses and pressure that I mention cultivated in my gaining a fever... i realized that the Lord had also withdrawn the ability to speak from me. I could still understand everything
I hear... that hasnt left. But the Lord, even up to now, is humbling me... and its been a bit of an effort to work my way back to the language consistency. I believe he's trying to help me develop a habit to master the language... its no longer just going to "come"

But in all actuality... its not just those things! Surprisingly... when I decided I was going to change to become a Missionary again...I realized as I listed what needs to be done, that its a very... odd list! I want to brush my teeth twice a day! (not a habit yet...sorryy); want to shave every day! (a rule... ive been doing only every 2 days) I want to wake up before 630am... much before. Because there is much I would like to get done... writing, stretching (especially stretching... id like to start that every day), shower twice a day. BED SHEETS! I never realized how much not having a pillow or sheet or blanket of any kind affected me. Or sleeping on just an old mattress! I havent had bed sheets or a pillow since the MTC! so went and got some last week. makes a world of difference.
Updating the Area Book always. Shining my shoes. doing laundry, once a week! (i usually go as long as I can without... and i can make it stretch! sometimes 3 weeks! but all that laundry is stressful to do all at hand) Writing in the Journal, everyday! (ill start next week!) (and just...writing. not thinking "oh this will be exhausting, some great thoughts need to go here..." no. just write whatever! what happened!) And writing letters! Weekly!

There's so much more as well. A list of seemingly menial tasks... lots of them. But all have been weighing on me for a long time. I can't wait... to get them all straight xD!

And, these stresses being out of the way, focusing again, on these People. It's been a wonderful week. We had lost a lot of investigators two weeks ago; when I arrived in this area there were perhaps 3 children investigators, 12ish... who we ended up dropping rather quickly for there was not enough desire. So everyone that is an investigator now are people recently found. Some unfortunately...we had to let go... others... moved. And others, schedules have changed so much we are not sure if we will be able to continue. But the Lord has been gracious unto us... and there are many people we expect among our Investigators who will soon find their way to Repentance and Come unto the Fold.

Basta... I'm very excited for the Area again. I believe in Miracles again. I believe in Christ again. For truly, if He is there. If we are His children. And If He loves us. And If this truly is His church... His very Gospel...

If He loves us... He will do everything and all manner of miracles without overstepping our agency, to bring His children Home. Having this Faith again... is such a joy.

I do not know how or why I forgot this...

Basta, I'm ready to Change. I'm ready to listen, and once more, Be a Missionary.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

P.S. wow these kids are very loud in this internethan... shouting and screaming and World of Warcrafting...
gotta love the philippines... funny thing is... all these kids (12/14 yrs?) are on "lunch break" for an hour and a half... 1200 noon
in about one hour... they'll be back in school... and they decide to spend all their break at the internet... pffttt =P!
That's the culture!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lil' Rough Spell

Dear Family,

Another week in the Philippines =P! kind of an exhausting one... i'll tell you guys about it (although the rainy season will be over in august... and it was nothing like I imagined it would be...floods and hails of wind and rain all the time, palm trees tossed about like madd, always kind of a grey lurk to the sky...every hour all day rain rain rain. That's what I had in my mind... and I was thinking... ohh deaarr...but its actually not that bad... lil grey occasionally... strong rain, but in spurts. Only a lil colder. and theres often the sun around at least once in the day. If not, meh... its just kinda like a fall day here without the color. Lot's of rain spurts though. yup. (place sure looks wet.)

I'm fine =P It's interesting, I keep hearing about those things happening across the way, but no... they haven't touched us. i hear them long down the line after they are over, kinda of like an "oh really, that happened? huh..." afterthought....because here, apparently in Negros...

we're smack dab at the perfect spot to not got storms, nor floods, nor earthquakes, nor any other of the such. shucks =P!

Thanks Mom for the write. And dad, good to hear you're around. Bumped up, wow. Dad's got class now. I'll have to shine his shoes for Him when he gets home. He'll be too busy =P! Next thing you know he'll be wearin' cuff links. Have fun in shang hai!

Sooo... for my interesting week...
and please don't take this contradictory to my other email, both emails absolutely true... just this one more of a realization of a lurking feeling of mine, that I had time to reflect on. Soo... about Wednesday evening, randomly, all of a sudden kind of got a large pain in the head... and went to sleep and had perhaps the most uncomfortable sleep of my life. Woke up the next day, pretty much knew it was a fever... went out anyway and worked. Tiring day. Came home and that was pretty rough as well. Couldn't think straight for planning... couldnt get the Spirit (though it would come for somewhat in teachings) to help guide the plans... rough. Frustrating. And hadn't been able to get studies in that day either...tired and couldnt focus. (hurt to much). Went to "bed" waking up pretty much every hour... already dreading it because i knew what that night would be like... the EXACT night before... no possible comfortable position (on bed or couch or floor or chair or table), large pain in the head and chills...couldnt get warm even though I was burning (kinda felt like my blood was getting drawn... that cool sensation... but then I could feel it come back so it would get hot again...just kind of an uncomfortable weird sensation of chills.... AND so... even WHILE sleeping, my mind was messing with me so much, that every time i went to sleep i thought i "HAD" to teach someone a lesson in my dream... and every time it was a horrible exhausting feeling of defeat as I woke up a few minutes later....

just a very rough night. next day same... couldnt do planning, still couldnt do much reading or anything at all else accept try and wait out the time and the chills... best thing felt at least walking around outside going about the missionary day (wicked tiring, cuz my body was exhausted, but anything to get the pain off my head) (dont like the house.) Elder made us come back... apparently I had a 104.4 fever =P! Gone now... but mannn... i sweated it out! Done to shorts and my top and just sat and sweat for hours...I feel better now.

Anyway... i had a lot of time to reflect and think and whatnot... and I realized very shortly that I was quite sad. While sweating it out, I realized how many investigators we had. how many started good. how few were now progressing... because we just cant find time to teach them (and in essence... a desire issue), and my many, many small things holding me back. I realized, to my great saddness, in a large way, I had stopped being a missionary, and had been doing something else. Not entriely... but yes, much so in a way this transfer. And I take this as an opportunity that God would have to teach me... to remind me what it does mean to be a Missionary.

This area... its only been two months... and yet I grew a little too comfortable with my calling. I stopped looking for other people. I stopped believing in our investigators. Started doubting. Not all in a big way... I never noticed. But little by little... in some regards...
I stopped caring. (not intentionally... but yes, it "happened"... because I didn't constently nourish and seek after "caring for them")

And it made me so sad. Because I knew it was true. Because I know the promises of God. And I know this is His work. He loves His children, so much Greater than I, and will do everything for them. If this church is true, and If this truly is his Gospel, and If He truly loves His children... He will do everything to bring a child from without the fold, within. Everything.

And I, in some way, lost sight of why I am here. A little bit. Because it was no longer caring. Finding a way to get them at church. Or baptism. Or lessons. Or any other goal, that started out righteous... little by little I forgot the true purpose...and little by little... it didn't matter that I stopped doing the smallest of Missionary activities that help us focus on the real intent: a person. Whether it be in praying or studying or pondering... I let some things get away from me.

It was very sad, for me to have to admit it. But it is true. And it was so necessary. I am Happy the Lord taught me this lesson.
This area, I may have only 2 weeks left. I grew very tired here, and I don't know why. And I'm not entirely sure what I am to do with that time. But... I hope the Lord will permit me back to His work... if it so be I humble myself enough.

It's forget caring about someone. I hope I never do again.
Pray for me. I hope I have something more to offer this area before I leave.

But All is Well. I am Happy Again.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yup Yup!


Well... mmm, thanks for all the input! I enjoyed reading all of your stories! And yes... i really do need to start some new goals...
in terms of Check-List things and whatnot...I can't tell you how much I've come to enjoy Studying.

Scriptures, Investigators, Lessons in my Head... just spending time thinking. I really do believe it is quite possible, and quite necessary, opening up that full joy that can only be experience by the "humble seekers of happiness" live "all heart, might, mind, and strength"... focused on His Purposes.

Not to claim in the least that I have come anywhere close to this...
but even for me, I see the challenges set forth to us as missionaries.
Just by being missionaries, much time is set aside as "consecrated & devoted" (in essence, it should all be, but much is somewhat of a 'given', if one is even only somewhat obedient) but that challenge... to consecrate all of it... to give up a little more... and there always is a lil more
that can be changed.... lets just say I see it as an interesting & exciting challenge...which I am honored to have signed my name
saying I would so strive.

A friend of mine, Elder Theolbald, once remarked to me (we often have many discussions, drawing us both nearer to our God)concerning the use of our time. Concerning the Spirit. Concerning the rules. Concerning how we adapt according to needs o investigators. I have always been intrigued by that "grey area" in between what is inherently right and obedient, and what is inherently wrong. Between what is good. What is better. and what is best. This is more than being obedient to divinely inspired commissions. It is rather, ourselves, becoming divinely inspired. For should thus the Lord speak to us, then there can be no question as to what must needs be done, or what is truly best. And no one else can say otherwise, no matter what, for if ye spoke with God concerning the matter, ye know of a surety. And he will consecrate you. Thus Elder Theobald invited me to embark on one of His own journeys, with the declaration: Define Success for You. What is 'Success'? For if ye can ponder, and define this... ye will never have to wonder concerning any such thing ye so do... if that True Success is what you believe, all your actions will follow.

So for me... again, I have not answered that question yet, and have not given it enough pondering, to my discredit... however I do hope to do so. Yet for me... I have come closer. Praying. Studying. Pondering and Role playing and teaching in my mind. Coming closer with my companion. Devoting more of my heart and my thoughts to Him and His people. It brings such great joy.

No... I may not always take that hour for lunch... perhaps 10 minutes only. Or laugh as hard at certain things. Or spend the time comfortably chit-chatting where ere the wind may take us. Nor sing or revel in songs which are good... but not quite hymns of praise. Grouping together with other large assemblies of missionaries... finding american elders to chat with. Spending more than 300 pesos on food a week (we're allotted 700-900), for i truly would have no need of it. Sleeping more so (unless it is felt necessary); certain practices in teachings; if needed, changing the lessons. Straying from the plan. Using things not typically used. Re-evaluating How we plan. How we do anything. Changing the seemingly "common" practices... that I feel, never were the visions of them who did give unto us our Guide; who did extend unto us with Great Power, our Call. For what we do, as missionaries sometimes, is not always as we speak when bearing fervent testimony of those same principles. We can be a better Man. We can be a Better Missionary. The Lord be our Guide.

So much more. So many little things. So many... I marvel at the moments when that phrase comes to mind.. "what is better? what is best?"

Not to say I am any more than another, but just to say

I may not do quite as other missionaries do... But I do know when I am with my Father. And there is the place, in which I pray I may never leave. For I am so Happy. And I let that be my guide. He will speak to me. And thus, I doubt not what I do.

Ay gali! I've strayed! sorry...
all I actually wanted to say...

as far as all that goes in Being a Missionary, I feel, at least for myself, the time is well spent.

I do, however, believe I will make some goals for some other items, however. Such as exercise in the morning, namely push-ups... and stretching! (soccer in a year and a half...wouldnt it be awesome to FINALLY be flexible??); writing in my journal (its been about 5 months...); writing letters, sending letters, and improving my language. I believe I can do these things. And my happiness shall increase xD!

I will write LALA!!

Thanks Amanda, Mom, Dad!!

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day!!

Dear Family,

Nothing too extraordinary to say. I'm finding words to be a very special gift from the Lord. In a day, I wish I could remember all that is said and heard. But I know enough of it...if I truly am listening, finds its way into my heart, and cannot be forgotten, so long as I keep listening to the Spirit.

That has always been a dream of mine... I wish I could remember everything.

But I am always amazed... somehow... is really is never forgotten.
At far as testimony wise, that is. Or spiritual learning. It doesnt leave.
But it never quite stays the same. But that same Spirit.

Said and felt in so many ways... I feel it such a joy, to dwell in the Presence of God. Seemingly as one man so poetically stated, "These were days never to be forgotten sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom!"

I solemnly profess... that 'these days' of which Oliver Cowdery captured in such Simple of a feeling, every one of us may embrace, when enraptured by the light and the fire, even the Third Member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. Directed by this voice...dictated, inspiration from Heaven, in the very Presence of the Father, I do believe Oliver Cowdery captured, in term, the very essence of our lives.

And I do believe, to some small extent, I've lived and pray to continue to live, within this moment of which he hath spoken.

I have oft had the opportunity to reflect on two points of doctrine... in particular, I believe it has become yet another turning point of my life. I do not profess to understand perfectly this thing, only that now I understand somewhat more fully than before. It is a fire I hope to cultivate in my being, a manner after which I would have become my life.

The first... is so simple. It is perhaps exactly as you have all heard, exactly as you all know. We have always heard this. We have always believed this. But do we understand? It is a question... in humility, we must find the courage to ask ourselves. Do we truly understand... so simple a thing?

The first revolves around the truths of which we all hold dear. The very core of who we are. Whatever they be... can we trace them here: There is a God. There must be. He loves me. And I am His child. He is the worker of miracles. He is the maker of dreams. There is nothing beyond him. There is a God. And He loves me. And if He loves me... and can do any miracle, because he is able, doesn't it just make sense... that He would love me enough, to hear my prayer... and Answer Me.

I have gained such a witness... through seeing the Spirit awakened in man once they know... and seeing another, remain...never having found the faith to ask. I have seen, questioned, asked, promised, prayed... pondered enough in my own heart concerning this promise, to know... this simple truth, to be of the Greatest. I say this, day after day, moment after moment, and I am so Happy... because I believe now, that I finally believe. He will answer. He will always answer.

And the second, revolves around those things which we deem as "what matters most" To such a manner of life, to such a pursuit of happiness, to every man, woman, and child that undertakes this life... I echo the promise of Mosiah:

"And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep His commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you." (Mosiah 2: 22)

This is perhaps one of the greatest truths of which I know. It is perhaps one of the Greatest truths of Life. We cannot live this life, and become who we must become... and find the Happiness reserved by God for His children, unless we come to a knowledge of this simple phrase. These are the words that resonate, in my being... these are the words, from which I recall the Power of the Priesthood. These are the words.

No matter what. No. Matter. What. If it is a commandment of God... we shall be able to do this thing. As Nephi had promised us concerning commandments of the Lord. In Ilonggo, the term is "ipasarang": "ipasarang niya Kita" "He will make us able" ("he will cause us to be able"; "he will enable Us"); I love the meaning in Ilonggo. That simple phrase.

For every possible obstacle. He will provide a way. And he will grant unto us a Happiness countless-fold. For keeping his Commandments is Happiness. If we want to live this life... lets do it the right way. The One Way. His Way.

I often tell people... another truth, of which I've come heavily to rely... 'No, I apologize...I don't know what will happen if... [..] ... I only know, that I can promise you, of a surety, what will happen, if [we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ]'

I don't know the answer to anything else... save the one certain promise... if we live His way. And that is enough for me.

(A note for myself: future reference ... this second principle came in particular strength to me this week in overcoming all obstacles of the Less Actives (LA), of all obstacles to Investigators coming to church or keeping their commitments, and also in particular when explaining, truly for the first time, at least from my heart, while on my mission, to someone I had barely met, the subject of Fast Sunday, Fasting and Offering, and Tithing) ( P.S. 82 in attendance up from 65... aiming for 100... we can do this. For the miracle, is for someone else. It will be His miracle. And these LA's, and the Vision of this area, I know...
is Divinely Inspired, for this time.)

I know now. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

--Elder Christopher A. Lewis

P.S. Happy 4th of July!!!!
My companion and I have been chit chatting all about it, and are celebrating later and spoiling ourselves with chicken and ice cream and the works!! (and Pledge of Allegiance and other wonderful songs and anthems and good ol' American Pride!!) xD!! Thanks for the stories. God Bless America! (please xD!)

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