Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hold Steadfast to what you know

September 22, 2013
We got typhoon'd yesterday, so Z.'s baptism will be postponed until next week. Tomorrow I'll have my first baptism in International that I personally found and pulled back to the church - L. She's super smart and a very thoughtful person. She grew up a Catholic and has a very strong relationship with her family, especially her mother. Her father passed away from cancer a few years ago, and she grew very close to her mother as they struggled through the family loss. She was always very strong in her religion and her family is rooted deep in Catholicism, but after reading the Book of Mormon thoroughly, sincerely, and every day like she promised, she gained a testimony for herself that it was true. When we finished teaching her the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we asked her if she believed everything she'd been taught, and she said, "Yeah of course I do, why do you think I keep coming here? This would all be a big joke if it weren't true." Ain't that the truth. Life would be a pretty big joke if all this weren't true. When L. told her mother she'd been meeting with us here in Hong Kong, she asked her how she felt about her being baptized. Her mother responded that if it were up to her, she'd say no, but she'd give Lea the choice to choose for herself if it was God's will that she get baptized. Lea passed her interview the following week, trusting that the Lord had answered her prayer that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I'm so excited for her.
I got a lot of emails today filled with long awaited updates from good friends and family. Thank you to all of you who wrote to me and shared with me your thoughts and the news, good and bad. Things seem so different from the way they used to be, especially because of the new lens of perspective my mission has given me to wear. I feel like I've learned so much, but one of the biggest things I've seemed to learn is just how little I really know or understand. My experiences, my emotions, my desires and my prayers all seem to point back to the basics, that God is there, He is wary of all of us, we are His children, Jesus Christ is the Savior, and we have a lot to do to learn and grow and make it back to Them. For those who struggle with their testimonies or their faith, do not be deceived because wickedness seems to be prevailing. The key to pulling the plug on that deceptive device is by expressing sincere gratitude to God for the things that are good -- and I testify with all my heart that this world has a lot more good working in it than it has evil, no matter what your television or local newspaper would have you believe. The things to be grateful for far outweigh the things to be depressed about.
The Spirit is real, my friends and family. If any of you think that I or any other sincere missionary say the things we do simply because we're too drawn out from the world and sheltered from reality, let me speak for myself at least and say that doubt, fear, and struggling with faith is just as hard or harder for me as for anyone else. Missionaries are the targets for all the anti-Mormon, anti-God and anti-good filth that exists in this world. If we don't struggle with faith sometimes, then we never have opportunity to let it strengthen. But we must hold fast to what we do know and what the Spirit has told us. There's always going to be tolerance in this existence for an enemy to tempt us, and the very definition of resistance requires that we exert effort, and that sometimes means an exhaustive amount. But no matter how much effort the Lord requires us to exert, no matter how powerful the force of the adversary, and no matter how much you feel like you don't know, if you are motivated by love, the truth you do know will pull you through.
The Spirit gives that truth to us. So I say again and emphatically the simple truths that I do know and that unfailingly pull me through: God lives. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Savior of mankind. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God because the Book of Mormon is true, and the Book of Mormon is true because God said so, and He said so in my heart by the power of the Holy Ghost. I cannot deny that.
Hold steadfast to what you know.
Elder Hazen

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