Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week 8, Final Week in MTC

Leaving for Korea in 4 days! I'm so excited to finally be out there teaching and working. 

We had our last lesson with Lee Jaeseung yesterday (not a real investigator, but still very sad). I've really enjoyed teaching him and learning how to invite and follow the Spirit to meet the needs of an investigator. It's such an important thing to learn, because my own teaching ability would rate at maybe a 2 out of 10. Through the Spirit, though, others will never forget the way the felt when we spoke, even if they don't remember what we said. That's why it's the Spirit, not the missionary, that converts people. 
This week has been a great week, especially because of the devotionals that we've had. I've been thinking a lot about what Bishop Causse said about teaching with the Spirit and with power. One of the things we must do to qualify for this gift is to be pure and virtuous. I've been thinking a lot about what this means, and yesterday I was reading Alma 31 and was very impressed by how Alma is completely focused on the Lord. His joy comes from the joy of others as they are repenting and coming unto Christ. His afflictions, as he puts it, come from seeing his brethren in wickedness. The prayer he offers is focused on others, including the missionaries he brought with him. He prays for himself in order to be able to help bring others unto Christ. Alma definitely had a pure and virtuous heart - one centered on Christ. I had the question, then: How do we stay centered on Christ? Distractions abound, and the natural man far too often besets us. I thought of three examples of why we must never lose sight of Christ and our purpose. 
First is Lehi in his vision of the tree of life. At first, he was totally focused on the love of God, desiring for others to partake of its fruit. His joy was undiminished until he saw others looking away from the tree and saw the great and spacious building, and his heart was troubled because of it. 
Another great example is Peter. When he jumped out of the ship to meet Christ on the water, his attention was solely on Christ. He had only one thought in mind, which was to reach Him. Then, he looked away. Seeing the storm around Him, he fell. 
One last example is Lot's wife. Though commanded to look ahead, she looked back toward Sodom, and was turned to a pillar of salt. 
I love at the end of Alma 31 where it says they had no afflictions save they were swallowed up in Christ. When our attention, focus, and efforts are committed solely to Christ, nothing can get us down. The knowledge of Christ and His incredible gift to us is always permeating through our minds. Our afflictions are meaningless relative to our faith in the power of His atonement and his loving suffering for us. We are not even capable of sparing a thought for ourselves. 
I've committed to always keeping this focus and attitude through my mission. Our message is the most important word that could possibly be spoken on this Earth. How can I possibly allow my own insignificant problems to, in any way, distract or hinder it? 
Korean is coming along, and I'm understanding most of what the teachers are saying. I can construct sentences way more easily. I haven't talked much about it, but Korean is basically backward from English. If I wanted to say, "Through praying and reading about the Book of Mormon, you can know this church is true," in Korean, it would be ordered, "Mormon's Book reading and praying through, this church is true if can know." It is also apparently rude to use the word "you" in Korean, so that is always just left out or a different title is used. I'm finding, though, that my mind is starting to more quickly process Korean without having to think so hard about every little part of it. More of it is happening naturally, which is so exciting.
Hopefully not all Korean speakers talk as fast as the native speakers here, though. 
I've also been thinking a lot about the Atonement, and how little I actually understood about how to use it before coming out. The part I've learned about most is having a change of heart. I know now that this means much more than mere desire. We must be ready, absolutely committed, to change our ways when we received forgiveness. The Lord is prepared and wanting to give us mercy and strength to change. First, however, we need to show that we will actually be different. We must do all that we can to make the change we want in ourselves happen. When we are sincerely and diligently working to improve, we will receive what we lack through the empowering grace of the Atonement. 
Thanks for the messages that you've sent! It's so nice to hear how everyone is doing. Also love hearing other missionary experiences. 

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