Monday, October 10, 2016

"Look down! Look Down! Your standing in your grave!!" - Les Miserebles

Elder Peters and Elder Barr doing some training at Mission Leadership Conference (MLC) I think that Elder Peters is pretending to be an investigator...that's why he's got a 'skeptical' look on his face...
(Dear Family and Friends)

We tugged at the ropes, struggling with the sand under our feet to pull in the boat. Several Ga fishermen were towing in their broken vessel onto the shore and Elder Pohlsander and I decided to help them. I stuck my video camera in a side pouch on my proselyting bag and hit the record button.
they were singing some sort of chant that to me sounded like, "hema yempa, HEAA, hema yeama, HEAA" I don't know Ga fishermen chants, but elder Pohlsander started singing, "LOOK DOWN! LOOK DOWN! You’ll always be a slave, Elder Peters don't you feel like Jean Val jean?" I laughed, it was fun. Later I watched the video and it's pretty sweet. I don't think I will send it home because it’s about 3 minutes long, the internet here can't handle that.

Earlier this week we received an instruction from President Simpson on obedience. The meeting in which it took place was really short and I decided to research it further because I would have to give this same instruction to other missionaries in my zone. I read a talk by President Uchtdorf called "he will place you on his shoulders and carry you home" he gives some really awesome insights that I think can especially apply to missionaries and their obedience. Uchtdorf talks about how steps of faith are obedience. How "obedience is a cherished concept in the gospel of Jesus Christ because we know that “through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

As we increase in faith, we also must increase in faithfulness. I recognized something cool here. Another name for obedience is faithfulness. As we increase in acts of faith, we are obedient. 

"if our faith does not change the way we live—if our beliefs do not influence our daily decisions—our religion is vain, and our faith, if not dead, is certainly not well and is in danger of eventually flat-lining" 

Group photo of the MLC...looks like Elder Mantz and Elder Peters enjoyed seeing each other. (They both ran cross country in Utah, and they went to the MTC together. Elder Mantz is right over Elder Peters right shoulder in this photo.) 
"Sometimes I think we misunderstand obedience. We may see obedience as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end." I loved this part and I thought a lot about it. I asked the missionaries I was teaching if they could share some examples of this. After listening to their good comments I shared the example I thought of. Many missionaries categorize the mission into "Apostate" and "serious". A lot of missionaries fear being labeled "obedient" because it would cause them to be seen by others as a no-fun, rigid, strict, and conformist. Others take pride in their label of "obedient" and strive to shame others for not toeing the line, they abound in self-righteousness. Both of these views see Obedience as an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. As missionaries we are called to SERVE. I can't think of a way to be disobedient if you are always striving to honor that call. Abounding in "steps of faith" leads to greater service, and consequently greater obedience. It is not bad to strive to be obedient, and there will certainly be times when we are asked to do things we don't understand. But when obedience consumes your role I believe it becomes a stumbling block in your service, rather than a stepping stone.

"We may pound the metaphorical hammer of obedience against the iron anvil of the commandments in an effort to shape those we love, through constant heating and repeated battering, into holier, heavenly matter. No doubt about it, there are times when we need a stern call to repentance. Certainly, there are some who may be reached only in this manner. But perhaps there is a different metaphor that can explain why we obey the commandments of God. Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of. We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny. And gradually, the corruption, dust, and limitations of this earth begin to fall away. Eventually, the priceless, eternal spirit of the heavenly being within us is revealed, and a radiance of goodness becomes our nature." I ended with this, encouraging my district leaders to help their missionaries to see obedience more like a treasure hunt to discover what we can become, rather than just open up the white handbook and point out all the rules they aren't following and try to guilt them into change. That doesn't usually work, it only causes resentment. I told them to encourage their districts to pick 2 things they are doing right and celebrate those things, and pick one thing they can improve on and work together on it. (Thanks Jared Ward, I use that after every exchange!)

I love serving the people of Ghana, and I love serving the Lord. May he bless us all as we increase in steps of faith.

Love, Elder Peters

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