Monday, March 11, 2013

Excuse my failure to write.....

March 10, 2013

Dearest Family,

Well, I apologize for not writing quite as faithfully as I should, but its been pretty busy!  This week has been full of all sorts of experiences, but I want to start with a few things from last week.  Last week was a really interesting week, as we had the chance to give lots of blessings.  In two days we had the chance to give 4 different blessings.  It made me realize the importance of always being prepared, always having consecrated oil, always being worthy, and always having the Spirit to be able to pronounce a blessing from our Father in Heaven.  It is an amazing blessing to have the priesthood in our lives, and I have realized that we should be more prompt to use this sacred power. 

Last Friday, we were able to go to the Temple.  It is amazing how much you appreciate the temple when you don't have the chance to go whenever you want.  I hope that I can always maintain that desire to enter the house of the Lord for my whole life.  What a blessing it is to have the temple 10 minutes away from our house.  We, the zone of Azua, and San Cristobal, went to the temple together.  As we were waiting to enter the Temple, I found the missionaries that are currently in Madre Vieja Norte, and began to ask them how our converts were doing.  Agapito and Mami are doing great, and preparing to go to the temple!  (I'm going to call them tomorrow to see the date), and also Santo and Flor!  Seba and Feliz are both still active, and doing great!  My heart filled with joy as I heard that they were active and strong.

I then asked about Besy, and the response left me speechless.  The missionary told me, "Oh, you don't know what happened," with a concerned look on his face.  I immediately asked what had happened.  He then told me that the father of Ashley (Besy's little girl, that is in the baptism pictures), had poisoned and killed Ashley.  The missionaries explained that he was angry that Besy had separated from him, which she did to be able to be baptized, and for some reason he wanted to get back at her.  Tears swelled in my eyes, and a stream of emotions entered my heart.  Honestly, at first I just felt anger--how could anyone do that?  How could he take the life of such a precious little girl?  But it seemed to suddenly flow into peace, as the words of Mormon, in the book of Moroni, filled my mind.  I felt peace--peace and comfort--although my mind was struggling with such terrible news.  I entered the temple, somewhat in a whirlwind, but as I quickly found myself in the Chapel where I read the words....    "And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.......For behold that all little children are alive in Christ. 

I found myself profoundly thinking about life, about family, about little Keagan, about struggles, but everything returned to Christ and His Atonement.  With whatever trial we face, we must return to the atonement.  What comfort it is to be able to participate in the power of the atonement.  In a way which we can't understand, He can comfort us.  In our most tragic moments, He can and He will comfort us.  I know that the peace I felt in the temple came from the Spirit, sent by a loving Heavenly Father to help me in that very moment.

An older member of our branch, Hermano Ortiz, has been a member for 27 years.  All of his children, and the majority of his grandchildren, have been baptized in the church, but only 3 are attending currently.  That leaves about 47 less active members in his immediate family.  Well, one day he gave us the "assignment" to rescue his family.  He told us that he was praying for them, fasting for them, and that he knew we would be able help them.  When we talked to the other members in the branch, they told us we were crazy.  "Everyone has visited them- ellos no estan en eso".  Well, repeatedly I thought of Alma, praying for his son.  Praying that he would stop trying to destroy the church and return!  I have repeatedly read this scripture...

"And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith." 

I feel as if we have been entrusted with a similar responsibility.  Well, at first it seemed somewhat helpless.  But now, we have been able to share with each and every one of the families, and even many grandchildren that live in our ward boundaries--about 23 of them--and we have committed 10 of them to go to church.  Last night we shared a Family Home Evening with one family and Hno.  Ortiz about repentance.  It was a special experience to see his eyes fill with tears as they shared that they had been waiting for us to come, waiting for the invitation, and that they have made the decision to return to church.  I feel privileged to be able to watch as the Lord works miracles.  It humbles me to see His mercy, and His love for His children.  It feels me with joy to know that I have had the chance to work in His vineyard. 

I am grateful that I have been called to be a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for tender mercies of the Lord.  I am grateful that I was born into a family that lives the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for challenges that allow us to grow.  I know without a doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ lives.  He sits at the right hand of our Father, and at the head of His restored church.  I know that one of the greatest truths is that we can become like Him.  Just as we studied today, as man is God once was, and as God is man can become.  It is my prayer that we all have the goal of becoming as our Father is.  I love you all! 

Elder Riley Ted Reeder   

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