Dear family & friends,
We are back from our travels around the mission as we had 2 of our 3 zone conferences in Bloemfontein and Newcastle. The zone conferences were focused primarily about President's vision of becoming consecrated missionaries, working hard and the importance of planning. As part of the zone conference I had the opportunity to share an inspirational story that I received in my greenie area called "Pushing The Rock." That's a story that has motivated me so much when nothing seems to be moving. I would recommend looking it up! We had the first zone conference in Newcastle on Tuesday and we had the zone conference in Bloemfontein on Friday. In between the zone conferences we were able to work with the Zone leaders in Welkom and the Elders in Phuthaditjhaba. As you know those are both my previous areas and it was my last time being able to pass through there.
When I worked with the Elders in Welkom I was happy to see that the work has really progressed there. I remember thinking in my 3 months that I served there nothing was happening but I was so grateful to see that the Elders have kept the ball rolling and a lot of the seeds that were planted have not gone to waste. The branch is moving forward there despite the difficulty of the area and it should be a ward soon enough. We had some great lessons that day and I learned a lot from the young Elders working there.
The branch in PJ seems to be struggling a bit but I was grateful we were able to work with the Elders there to try and help them out. I showed the Elders a lot of members, less actives and potential former investigators while I was there for the day. They are both new to the area so a lot of people had been lost. I was so happy to see that a lot of the people that were baptized while I served there are still strong in the church. Brother L_____is still very active and is looking to get married in the church soon. Brother L_____g is currently preparing to serve a mission and is serving as the branch clerk. Brother B______ is doing great and is progressing towards receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. Both of his younger children have been baptized into the church as well. There's not a greater feeling as a missionary than to see how the gospel can completely change someones life. I'll never forget the converts in that area and the miracles I saw there.
At the end of each zone conference there is a section for the departing Elders to share their testimony if it is their last zone conference. I decided to share my testimony in the Bloemfontein zone conference since I have an affinity for that area and I remember so many great experiences there. It was wonderful as always to be able to testify of the truth but sad at the same time as I recognize this is my last zone conference as a missionary. It was a special experience to be able to share my testimony on this Easter weekend as we have had the opportunity to reflect upon the Saviors atoning sacrifice. I have come to feel His atoning blood in my life as I constantly fall short of the glory of God but through His grace and mercy I can repent and come unto Him. I have spent a lot of time the last few days reading about and pondering upon the Saviors sacrifice. My conversion to His gospel continues to deepen as I realize the majesty of His sacrifice for me and for all of us. As PMG states: "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase." That's a statement I have reflected upon again and again. If my desire to keep the commandments, to share His gospel or to love those around me is wavering then that means my testimony of the Atonement needs to be strengthened.
I was reading in 2 Ne. 2 this morning when Lehi is speaking to his son Joseph about the atonement. He talks about the great importance to make these things (meaning the atonement) known to the inhabitants of the earth. Sharing with those around me about the atonement is something that brings me so much joy that I just want to share it with everyone! It gives me hope to know that because Jesus Christ resurrected we will all be able to reunite someday with our loved ones. Death is something that we cannot avoid, it's a step in the Plan of Salvation but it's not the end. As Abinadi states: "But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the string of death is swallowed up in Christ." (Mosiah 16:8) I have no doubt this is true and that through our Redeemer we will all stand in the presence of God someday. These doctrines are at the focal point of the gospel and nothing else matters until we gain a testimony of these truths. I know that Grandpa is struggling and his mortal journey is about to come to an end but it's part of our Heavenly Father's plan. I have no doubt everything happens in His time and according to His will; that is something I have come to see time and time again. That's the beauty of the gospel, we know it's not the end but simply a beginning. Our lives didn't begin at birth and they will not end at death. Stay strong, move forward in faith and the Lord will bless each of us with the peace and comfort of His Spirit.
I love you all and my prayers are with you.