Friday, May 15, 2009

"I Have Overcome the World"

I’ll have to admit that I slacked off on writing my weekly email/blog last week. But, my two excuses are that 1) I was exhausted, and 2) There never seems to be a response to any of the emails or letters I write. I suppose those are rather excusing excuses, but, I have repented, and I’m writing one today that will make up for last week. By the way, who asked me on my blog where last week's one was?

Well, the highlight of last week was Velmurugan’s baptism on Saturday. We had been meeting with him so often, and the only setback was that his boss only let him go to Church once a month. Fortunately, President Skelton approved his baptism even though he only came to Church twice before it. Brother Kumar, our wonderful member, was able to perform the baptism. Brother Kumar has been instrumental in helping Velmurugan to understand all that we’ve been teaching him by helping us to translate what we teach from English to Tamil. We had the Assistants and another set of missionaries there, and we were privileged to sing When I Am Baptized, just as we did at Joe’s baptism. I absolutely love that song. It helps me so much to remember the child-like view that we have to have about life, about the concepts of repentance, and know that our sins really can be washed away, that I really do want to be the “best I can, to live with God again.” After his baptism, Velmurugan bore a wonderful testimony about the challenges he had to overcome which we had no idea about. Through Brother Kumar, he told us that during the time we were teaching him, his work permit in Singapore was about to expire and his company was not going to renew it because of some family problems he had. But, as he met us and learned about the gospel of Jesus Christ, about praying to a loving Heavenly Father and studying the scriptures, he was blessed and his work permit was renewed. What a wonderful tender mercy from the Lord. I was able to confirm him the next day at Church, my first time!

Speaking of tender mercies, I had been reading an article entitled A Quest For Joy, which talked about the joy that we search for and teach as missionaries. I had been having a rather tiring week, with a lot to do, and just being physically and spiritually exhausted. There was so much in that article that gave me a boost, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. A part of it that really stuck out to me helped me to understand the joy that we are supposed to feel as missionaries, that sense of the Lord’s love for us. As the author, Barbara Workman so eloquently stated “Missionaries may not wake up each morning bursting with joy, but they are out the door on time anyway. ‘Hard’ isn’t negative when you are a missionary. Why? Because when your feet hurt and you’re really hungry and the dogs are especially vicious and you are surprised to discover that you are happy anyway, you accept that gift of joy as a blessing from your Heavenly Father, thanking you for doing His work.” She goes on to talk about what joy truly is, and ends with a scripture that I will mention later.

We had our Zone Conference this past week, which was absolutely amazing. Sister Skelton gave a wonderful talk on the restoration of the gospel, about the First Vision, and how those words uttered by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith were the most marvelous words heard since the angel said “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, for he is risen.” President Skelton gave an amazing training on the last days. We went through the books of the Old Testament, the Book of Revelation, and the Doctrine and Covenants, and the prophecies fulfilled, and those yet to be fulfilled. He tied that in with our attitudes during these last days, about our attitudes as missionaries, and whether or not we were in the right mindset, if we really were seeing the plan of salvation as a plan just for the saints, or really for all the children of God. He made some wonderful remarks about the blessings that will come, but more about the calamities and suffering that the Saints and the world will have to endure before Christ’s second coming. It was mesmerizing, to be honest. Elder Judd, Elder Stone and I wrote a song for the conference, dedicated to President and Sister Skelton, entitled Isles of the Sea. Elder Judd came up with most of the lyrics, I added the bridge and the end, I came up with the melody, and Elder Stone came up with the accompaniment. It was a privilege to perform it. I really do enjoy it, and I really saw the hand of the Lord helping and guiding us through it. We only had fifteen or twenty minutes each night for a couple of weeks, but somehow, it all just came together. If you want a copy of the sheet music, just let me know and I’ll send it to you. President Skelton has allowed us to make it the mission song, so that makes me really happy. They enjoyed it too. :)
These are the lyrics to the song, we’re doing a recording of it, so just ask for a copy if you want!

Isles Of The Sea – The Singapore Mission Song
by Elder Shiloh Dean Judd & Elder Ee Chien Chua

1. Amidst the Oceans here we stay,
How long, we do not know.
The waves they break and throw us down,
The force traps us below.
But we fight on and carry through,
Our purpose, it is clear.
We journey through isles of the sea,
To draw our Savior near.

2. The winds blow fierce, a storm is nigh,
A threat’ning cloud appears.
The Savior is our only shield,
And strength despite our fears.
He strengthens us and moves our feet,
Along the seaside isles.
No enemy can stop us now,
Nor rocky ways or trials.

Bridge: It’s the people who we love,
It’s the people whom we serve.
Through the jungles and the streets,
We ride on though.
Lands and people we didn’t know,
Thought we’d never go.
But as we love and as we serve,
That’s all we know.

3. We love the Lord and walk His path,
In all His ways we’ll tread.
We’ll follow Him through raging storms,
When all His friends have fled.
We’ll stand by Him and waver not,
Although the tempest run.
Our mission, we ever know,
We’ll fight until it’s won.

End: The waves will guide us,
The storms will cleanse us,
We’ll be who he wants us to be.
Purified through rain and fire,
By the people whom we love,
Through the isles of the sea.

Unfortunately, Elder Stone fell sick soon after that, so we spent a couple of days letting him to get some rest and to recuperate. On Sunday, we got to take the mission van because Elder Stone was certified and he still wasn’t feeling too well, so we got to take the van for our appointments! We’ve been teaching Phoenix’s wife (Ban)! She’s absolutely wonderful and learning about the gospel. If you don’t already know, Phoenix is one of our wonderful Burmese members who helps us with everything. He went back to Myanmar, got married, and now his wife is here, so it’s wonderful! He is so happy! :) When we went over last night to teach another investigator, Ban came out of her room and asked us how to pray properly. T’was a great feeling.

For the days that Elder Stone was sick, I went on splits with the Assistants. Elder Perrett and I taught Ajay on Friday night, one of the wonderful referrals that we were given by the sisters. We were able to teach him more about the plan of salvation, and to bear our testimony of true and living prophets on this Earth again today. He had some questions and concerns, but we were able to talk to him about it because he is one who is really sincere and seeking to know the truth. We might even be able to play Badminton with him next week! :) Ajay is one of those people who we try to find day after day, those with a sincere desire to learn and to draw closer to God. The next day, I went with Elder Taiamoni and Tun Naing to a couple of appoints who both cancelled when we got there and were waiting for them. It’s so discouraging sometimes, and it didn’t help that I hadn’t had dinner. But, as I said before, there was a scripture quoted in that article mentioned earlier that has given me a new perspective of the absolute love and understanding that the Lord has for us. The Lord showed His love for me when I read that. I felt His love as I read Christ’s words as He told His Saints, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I know that Christ will always help us, In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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