"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
-- Alma 26:12

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lift up thy Head and Rejoice

My family!

I love you so much. I can't believe this is my last email that I will send in the mission field. What a miracle and a blessing the last 2 years have been. Of course as you know, it is very bittersweet to be in this spot. Looking that next week at this time I'll be with you, but at the same time be leaving behind the people and places and experiences that have changed my life completely. Alma 8:15 "Lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God". That's what I have to remember. I have been so blessed to be here, and I have found so much purpose and fulfillment in life through the Gospel. What more could I ask for?

Briefly, I'll tell you how our week went. We taught Gabriela Talamantez a couple of times, and things are going really well with her. I have such high hopes for her. We had committed her to read the Book of Mormon the last week, and we asked her this week if she had read, and she said yes. We asked where she was, and she had read 135 pages of the Book of Mormon. What!!!??? That was awesome. We asked her to come to church, she said she would, but they had a camping trip this weekend. So, she didn't come yesterday, but she committed to come to church this Sunday. We're going over on Friday for a lesson so we can fellowship her with someone from the Relief Society, and she wants to make me choco flan for my birthday! Woot. We taught Pati Vallesteros a quick lesson on Thurs, her little boy gets really out of sorts and cries a ton all the time, so it was hard to teach her. We biked from Commerce City to the northern part of Denver that's in our area on Thursday as well (It was like 100 degrees out too. Crazy! Sympathy for LV missionaries). And we taught a former investigator named Lilia and her daughter Liliana. They are great, and they've only really been taught by one other set of missionaries. Lilia said she has no intention of changing religions but she loves listening. And so we taught her and her daughter. She said her daughter really liked what the other missionaries taught. Lilia actually opened up to us a lot. It's amazing how the Spirit can work in lessons, even when I can't speak the language that well, to help get the feeling of the questions I'm asking across to the investigator. And she opened up. She told us her sister died last month and she has questions about the afterlife, and she is sad she never got to say goodbye on good terms to her sister. We will teach the plan of salvation the next time we go. We taught Sergio that night as well. We're hoping to continue teaching him and help him realize the importance of the restoration. We found an awesome new less active family. Familia Valero. Gilbert and his wife se retiraron de la iglesia a long time ago, but he wants to get back into it. He has several teenage children. And one time we went over there this week, his daughter Jenny was there. She totally shot down all of her dad's concerns about going to church. She was so interested in the church, and the sad part was that I don't even think she remembers anything about the church. How much gets lost when parents choose not to set the example. Anyway it was so cool that that night we were there for Jenny. We got her contact info for the YSA elders, and she is super interested in  to church and improving her relationship with Heavenly Father. We are teaching the Platas still, we've lost a lot of contact with Jessica, I hope we can get it back. No news on Azucena and Marcos, we also need to get in contact with them. We're praying we'll be able to help  people this week to progress, and not just listen. It's a fight, but it's the Lord's will that he has people that will progress.

Riding with Brother Bermudez (Ward Mission Leader) in his 2 seater truck!
The sisters are in the English ward that covers our area!
The sisters--some of the best missionaries I know!

In closing, at the end of my mission I want to share some of the lessons I've learned:

1--Charity is the only way. Without it we are nothing. If I try, and try, and try, and I have not charity, there is no point. I can try to do the Lord's work my way, but in the end, I'll find no value in it. Charity is the only true way of a disciple of Christ. In charity, there are times when we walk alone, and times when we shoulder the burdens of others. Charity is a taste, a miniscule sampling, of what the Savior went through and how he expressed his love during the atonement. Charity is everything.

2--Work. Work makes everything easier and so much more fun. It makes life more interesting, it makes us more useful, it gives us happiness that nothing else can. We do not labor for that which is of no worth. Worthwhile work is the key to a successful life. 

3--Smile. A smile is such a powerful tool. If we smile, it can turn every situation into a comfortable one. 

4--Being happy, and a positive attitude is a choice. If we choose to be positive, everything is great!

5--Loving without judgement is the only way to win someone's heart and friendship. Judging shuts everything down, and pure love softens and opens the hardest hearts.

6--There is something remarkably powerful in unity. The zion principle. One heart, and one mind become the most powerful thing that a group of people can do.

7--Commitment is a step to conversion, and a gift of power to us. Commitment is a measure of success. Commitment is the only way of a disciple of Christ.

8--The scriptures can become our best friends. We have to get to know them, but then they will become the Lord's counsel to us in the moment we need them.

9--Desires are so powerful, and an essential part of our life. If we can learn to sacrifice, control, and shape our desires--if we can ultimately learn to give them up, we become instruments in God's hands. Desires are a part of the way we will be judged.

10--Love, pure love is not an easy task. It is work, and it takes work every day. Sometimes self-sacrifice is the only way, but when we can learn to love someone, we can learn to succeed. Love is the way. The only way. Pure love (charity) is painful, it's lonely, it's hard, but it is the ONLY way we will find success and be able to return to God and have him say to us, "Well done thou good and faithful servant".

Above all, my testimony has been magnified powerfully of the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. He is the source of all blessings, comfort, and power we need in this life. He sacrificed all. He bled from every pore. He suffered body and spirit. He felt the pain I feel, and every single other person feels. He paid the price for sin and felt every ill feeling of guilt or shame or separation from God that we do. And He didn't deserve any of it. I will forever be grateful to my Savior Jesus Christ for His atonement. And for my God, for allowing His only begotten son to condescend and suffer infinitely for the rest of His children. The atonement is everything we teach. The atonement is the fount of every blessing. The atonement has saved me. Christ has changed me. I have become someone who may not know the most, or may not be able to do the most, but I have become willing to submit to the will of my Father. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the power of Faith, the gift of Repentance, the miracle of Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and the marvelous and inspiring principle of Enduring to the End. I love the perfection of the Plan of Happiness, it is such a perfect plan. God in his infinite wisdom gave us a perfect, fool-proof way to find happiness. All of it centers on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Without Him we are nothing. I am grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a blessing. It is true. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, he had a literal mantle placed upon him to restore the keys of the priesthood and the church of Jesus Christ once again to the earth. 

I love God. I know beyond anything, and more than anything that He loves us. That is a fact. It is something I will never be able to deny. I have felt his love, and it has changed my life. I love the blessing He has given me to be a missionary. I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I have been set apart to represent Him and as such I testify in His Holy Name that He Lives! I know it. I will forever be changed by the knowledge He has given me, and the opportunity to represent Him. I love Him!  With all that I am and with all I can give, I will forever serve Him, my Maker, my Savior, my Friend. 

Elder Logan Bryan

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