Friday, November 20, 2009

The Church, here and there

I found this talk during my Book of Mormon class this week from Elder Ballard and I really liked it.
He reads a letter from a sister missionary in Argentina as she compares the church there to the church in the states.

Small and Simple Things

To illustrate, let me read from a letter written by one of our faithful sister missionaries, serving in South America, to her brother who had just received his mission call. She wrote:

“It’s really interesting with the people from the country—they are so quiet, timid, shy, and embarrassed. You are never sure exactly how much they understand. They will live and die in this small town. They are so poor and so simple and so childlike. They may never see a General Authority, never attend general conference, never go to BYU. They’ll never be Boy Scouts, never play basketball in a huge Church gym, never drive a car to stake conference, regional basketball finals, or anywhere. Many of the things we think about when we think of the Church—and take for granted—they may never see. [Now, the point.] But they have faith, they repent, they are baptized, they receive the Holy Ghost, and they renew their baptismal covenants each week when they partake of the sacrament. They pray and read the scriptures daily. They know God lives and that Christ is our Savior. And, I believe, they are going to the celestial kingdom. I do all the things they never will, but I’m not so sure about my own salvation.

“At first glance, the Church here looks absolutely nothing like the Church in downtown Orem, Utah. I have to keep reminding myself it is the same church and we all follow the same prophet. We have a sacrament meeting in the country each week because the members there really can’t afford to come into town. And as I sit there outside on a wooden chair on the plain ground, with the sun setting and the six people in attendance, as we sing hymns, pray, and partake of the sacrament, I wonder if that isn’t closer to Christ’s church than at home. But I guess it is really the same. The things that matter, the true elements of the gospel as Christ taught in 3 Nephi 11, are the same here as they are in Orem, Utah.” [3 Ne. 11]

The Lord has graciously provided the means for conversion even in the most simple and humble of circumstances. Unfortunately, some of us look beyond the mark and depend too much on buildings, budgets, programs, and activities for conversion rather than on the small and simple things that are central to the gospel. We need not look beyond our own hearts to experience the sweet spiritual feelings promised to those who obey God. That is why a new member in the most humble conditions can experience the gospel as deeply as a lifetime member who was raised in the shadow of Church headquarters.

I experienced what that Sister was saying firsthand, it was something I thought alot about. But I really just liked what she said about finding conversion and faith the way it should be done, through small and simple means. Reflecting on this helps me to see that all of the church programs are a mean to the same end, meaning that they all try to point us heavenward and develop greater faith to God.
I love the church and I'm thankful for the influence the church has had on me, not just throughout my whole life, but especially while I was in Argentina and became wholly converted to the gospel.

1 comment:

Megann said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony. Missions change us in so many ways. Although I served in the states, that article applies to my mission too. I think you just saw more severe conditions than I did.

We're pretty fortunate to have grown up where we did, and to have that gospel knowledge taught to us at a young age.