Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from Costa Rica!

Spencer said he really enjoyed several delicious Christmas dinners with members =)

With Elder Guirola

Temple Trip just before Christmas

Skype with the family on Christmas Eve =D
His English is quickly going away! He spoke Spanglish and couldn't remember some English words haha

​We invited his best friend over too.  Coby will be serving in Texas beginning in March, Spanish speaking!

In 2 days, I have the opportunity to dedicate every single day of a whole year to the Lord.
I've been reflecting a lot lately. And learning a lot.
I thought this week was really rough, but then I realized 2 of the days were Christmas (24th is super celebrated here) so I guess it was just Thursday that I was really down. But I was really, really down. Our numbers were low, we weren't seeing miracles, it was tough.

Friday, that changed. We saw miracles as I was willing to do things against my nature, and against 'my way'.
Saturday followed with miracles. Sunday as well. Yesterday too.

I want to focus on Thursday, and Friday. I was feeling so down, just unworthy to be training Elder Guirola and I felt like I had too much responsibility. I felt burdened down.
The Lord has made my burden light. Actually, it's a scriptural promise that as we follow his will, he will make our burdens like and our backs strong enough to carry them.

In Mosiah 24, there is a people who Followed Alma into the waters of baptism. They had been living in peace for a little while, when the Lamanites came and took overpowered them. The man who was, specifically, in charge of the People of Alma outlawed prayer, with the penalty of death.

This people, who had left their lives behind to follow the Lord, were now being constricting in their ability to praise that very same Lord. I can not imagine a burden harder to carry. In verse 12, it says:

And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
They did all they could. All though they couldn't raise their voices to the Lord, they did pour out their hearts and asked, begged him for help. They shared their worries with the Lord, and asked for him to come and relieve their burdens.
In the following verses, it says:

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

God does not forget his promises! He never leaves us alone. In whatever circumstance we might find ourselves in, we have his promises through obedience to his commandments. Later in the chapter, they were indeed delivered out of bondage through a miracle. But look at what the Lord says, look how he always gives us more than we expect, and look at why he gave them so much more. Verse 16 says:

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

Because the people were satisfied with what the Lord gave them, and willing to endure faithfully until he fulfilled this promise of deliverance, their day of deliverance was move forward. Because they were willing to sacrifice, they were blessed. this is a principle that we see many times throughout the scriptures. For example, Abraham. He didn't have to sacrifice anything (besides some time walking up a mountain), but it was his willing heart that qualified him for the blessings of the Lord. The Lord knows the intents of our hearts, and when we have learned what we should have learned from our challenges he will complete them.
They continued to prepare faithfully, and then were delivered. Once they safely arrived in their land, look at their response! They did not say "Finally, I can rest for a bit!" Or "Man, that sure was a hard trial!" Instead, they immediately gave thanks. Verse 22 says:

And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God.
They gave thanks. All their men. All Their women. All that could speak lifted their voices.
This scriptures is far more easy to apply in our individual lives then it seemed when I first read it. Even though we are only one person, we can give thanks to God for our blessing with all.
We can thank God with all of our thoughts, all of our actions, and all of our words.
Most of all, we can thank God by repenting of all of our sins. Small, Big, Serious, or Trifle, they are sins.

As we start a new year this week, we have the opportunity to set goals. Each of these goals (generally) is an action plan for repentance. Maybe it's to start reading the scriptures every day. That's repentance. Maybe it's befriending somebody we've insulted. That's repentance, for sure. Or maybe it's returning to what we know is true, but have long left. That's repentance.
Let us repent. Let us change. Let us follow through with our Commitments, our promises, to God this year. Let 2015 be the best year of your life, by giving your life to the Lord completely. By dedicating Every single day to the Lord.
I love you all so much. Have a wonderful new years. Remember that you are children of a loving God, and he's there to deliver you from your tribulations!!!
-Elder Henry

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