Weekly Email: 7/17/13

This will be another short one! Did I say last week that I would write earlier so that I could give more time? Anyway, this week ROCKED! Today is the last day of my 12 week training, and tomorrow I begin training a new missionary! I guess that means that Elder Raffensparger did alright!

I’m grateful for this, I really am. Elder Raffensparger and I have learned so much together. The past two weeks have been replete with learning about our purpose as missionaries. We were instructed by our Zone Leaders to invite people to be baptized. We realized that we had been failing to do so. That night we went out and invited 5 people to be baptized. Two said yes and three said maybe. We have begun working this invitation into our first contacts with people. Our mission president, President Pitt, sent out a letter that stated: “There is an urgency in the work and you were foreordained to step up and carry that urgency forward. Without baptism each person you meet cannot return to be with his or her Father in Heaven.” We realized that if we do not extend the invitation to each person that we meet to enter into sacred covenants with their Father in Heaven, we are not fulfilling our purpose, and we are doing them an incredible disservice. We absolutely MUST invite them to make this sacred covenant, and we MUST invite them to make and keep commitments that will help them along the path to salvation and exaltation. Before we can do that we must be doing these same things ourselves.

This week I learned a great deal about the word Honor. It was a recurring theme in many conversations we had, and I felt to write to you about it. Twice I heard people tell children that God commanded them to “obey” their mother and father. Both times I helped those present understand that the commandment in fact says “Honor thy father and thy mother”. To obey would mean that when your parents tell you to do something, you do it. But to honor means that you do things that your parents would have you do because you want to help them accomplish their purposes. Christ said frequently that he came “to do the will of the Father” and not to do His own will. When we honor our parents, we do their will out of love and respect. In that way, we can become one with them as Christ and the Father are one.

This same principle applies in our relationship with Christ. We are to honor him. To obey the commandments is good, but it is not the ideal. We must honor him in the way we live our lives.

For those who would like to study further regarding Honor, read or listen to “The Meaning of the Atonement” by W. Cleon Skousen. Your mind will be expanded, I promise you.

I love you all, and I am grateful for your prayers and support. Thank you for all that you do. Keep pressing forward! “Courage, brethren, and on, on to the victory!”

Much love,
Elder Williams.

1-4: Elder Raffensparger’s going away cake, courtesy of Shawna Boggs.
5: Zooey, Sydney, and Miranda, three amazing young girls who started attending church with us recently!

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9 July, 2013 16:15

“Don’t stop, walk teach and preach till you can’t, then do it more!”

Vann Childs gives the BEST motivational lines!

I always run out of things to say by the time I finally get here and start emailing my blog. I think I’d like to share for a minute about Charity.

Charity: The pure love of Christ

As I was driving to Ohio from West Virginia, my Trainer asked me, “Elder Williams, what is your goal for your mission?”
I smiled and answered “I want to develop Charity.”

While in the MTC I learned a powerful lesson about charity. There was a day when Elder Hohneke and I had a difficult time. I don’t remember who we were feeling frustrated by, but I do remember that at the end of the day we were feeling laden down by a heavy negativity. That night we talked about charity, and we decided to read from the verses in Moroni 7 when he describes it. He says:

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

In these verses we learn what charity involves: It suffers, endures, and bears all things, it seeks not its own, it is patient and thinks no evil… but the part that stood out to me that night is that it endures forever and never fails. I have always been frustrated by the fact that I am easily frustrated, that I am not patient with others, and that I often put my own desires before those of others. As we studied these verses that night, I realized that when I am filled with this pure love of Christ, I will NEVER feel that way. That love will endure in me forever, through all trials. That night, I determined that over the course of my mission I want to be filled with this love.

I am making progress. It is slow, but it is happening. I have learned that Charity is not something I can develop. It is a gift from God, a sanctifying and purifying of the heart that comes as you pray to see with His eyes. It extends far beyond seeing people the way He sees them, and literally becomes seeing the world: places, people, animals, insects, responsibilities, everything under our stewardship and influence, the way that Christ sees them. The whole world is changing in my eyes, everything about myself, the future, what I want and what I do, it is all changing as I develop this vision.

I’m out of time. =)

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your love.

Elder Williams

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Ok, how seriously adorable are my nieces?!

The first is Tessa and the second is Tatum. I love and miss these girls SO MUCH! I got these in the email today and couldn’t not share their adorability with the world. That’s my weekly word by the way:

Adorability: the ability to be adored

I have about 5 minutes left to email and then we have to jet, but I wanted to share some things I’ve learned this week about missionary work.

1. Many members of the church complicate the Gospel. Elder Raffensparger often says “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple an 8-year-old can understand it.” That’s my weekly quote, by the way, and he’s right. Especially in cases where you’re sharing it, don’t over-complicate it! Nobody cares about the body temperature of translated beings! But EVERYONE needs to know about the Gospel.

2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not begin with Baptism. Repentance must always precede baptism, and faith must always precede repentance. Without faith, properly placed in Jesus Christ, nobody can stand firm in the Gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ MUST be the foundation upon which people build. This includes everyone. Parents, teach your children Faith in Jesus Christ. Missionaries, teach your investigators Faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone needs this foundation before they can build their testimonies.

I’m sorry I can’t write more today, but know that I love each of you, and that I am so happy where I am. I’m grateful and humbled to be a missionary for the Lord. This is His work, and I am amazed to see evidence of that fact every day.

I love you, I pray for you.
Elder Williams

24 June, 2013 15:41

How incredible was that missionary broadcast?!

I felt such a deep sense of gratitude and excitement build as I watched it unfold. When I saw the ward council in India, I don’t know why, but I bowed my head and wept. I just never pictured the church being there, I don’t know why. But to see it, I was so grateful. I left my notebook at home that had all of my notes from last night, but there was one line I want to share, loosely quoted.

“Members should fill the planners of the missionaries so much with teaching appointments that they don’t have time to tract.” When I heard this I fist-pumped in the front pew and everyone laughed. Finding is one of the most difficult areas for young missionaries, especially those growing up in a digital age where many have rarely if ever knocked on a door or picked up a phone in their teenage-to-adult lives.

There were moments when Elder Raffensparger and I were so excited that we fist-bumped cheered silently in the pew, and then there were moments when I was so grateful that I just bowed my head and let the spirit fill me and cleanse and sanctify me. There is no greater or more important work in all the world. This is the “work and glory” of the Father. I love the quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel”.

D&C 18:10 “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”. Remember that what we share with people is not a new church, it is the keys to salvation, the only path by which anyone can re-enter the presence of our Father in Heaven, and it is necessary for EVERY person on the Earth. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored to the Earth again, and we have it in its fullness. We cannot let fear stop the work from progressing.

I pray that each of you will feel what I feel. I hope that you will go to a secluded place, if you have not already done so, and kneel and recommit yourself to seek and find and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with more dedication than you ever have before.

With all that being said, OHIO HAS FIREFLIES!!!! It’s amazing! Elder Raffensparger and I were walking into our apartment the other night and I looked over across the grass and saw little sparkles EVERYWHERE! It was so fantastic.

I also need to share this change that has taken place since I’ve been here. Mom, Dad, remember when we lived nextdoor to the park, and we always had the A/C in the house set to 78, regardless of the season? Well, that’s about how I like it. About the middle of the second night living with Elder Raffensparger, I finally decide to go downstairs and find out why I’m freezing, always. He had it set to 65 degrees. SIXTY-FIVE. I fought him on it and swore I would never be comfortable living at 65 degrees. No more than a month later, I’m miserable if it’s above 70 in our apartment. What has this place done to me?

The other day, we were out to lunch with a family from the ward I hadn’t met yet. We sat down at the table and I was meeting them all and shaking their hands, and as I shook the 9-year-old’s hand he said “I’m Caleb”. I said “Sweet! My middle name is Caleb!” and he said “So is mine!” I said “Awesome! What’s your first name?” “My first name is Benjamin” he replied.

Yes. His name is Benjamin Caleb Walsh. No joke. Most awesome kid ever. I am proud to be called by his name.

Sorry to make you wait for my word of the week, but kudos to you if you’re still reading. I write novels, I know. Anyway, this week’s word also came to me while I was in the shower. I was pondering on the wording in D&C Section 4 and the way it says “…with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.” It lead me to wonder what the real meaning of the word “might” was, as it clearly meant something different from strength. This is what Elder Raffensparger and I came up with:

Might (n) Force of will; faith power; SYN: Willpower

I have been thinking about this concept for over 2 weeks, and it is changing the way that I think, pray, walk, exercise, the way that I do anything. We are commanded often in the scriptures to do various things “with all [our] might…”. Might, in my understanding, is the force that allows you to push your heart, your mind, and your body, to their individual capacities and beyond. It is the switch that you flip that allows you to focus your mind in a moment of weakness or exhaustion and do what you didn’t believe you could do. It is the switch that allows you to run faster, jump higher, and push harder than you ever have before or thought you could. Afterward you think back and say “I didn’t know I could do that”. When you exert the force of your will to focus your mind, sharpen your strength, and _____ your heart, you increase your capacity to exercise your faith, and you increase your potential.

Hopefully I’ve shared for understanding. It’s a difficult concept for me to put into words, but it is an incredible day when you do understand it, and if you apply it each day after, your life will never be the same again.

It’s time to head out, but here are a few pictures. I love you all, take care!
Elder Williams

2. Alex – Sweet 16th Birthday
3. My namesake and myself at the 1st Annual Book of Mormon Festival of the Christ Restoration Branch
4. Elder Thatcher and myself at the end of our exchange
5. Elder Green, Elder Thatcher, Elder Raffensparger
6. George, baptized June 22. One of the greatest men I have ever met. I am eternally grateful to be a part of his life.

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