Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 55: Repent Ye, Repent Ye

Hey all,

How's life in the States?


For a while now, I've been wanting to train another new missionary, but they haven't given me a second ´hija.´ It's probably for the better though, because I think I've become so accustomed to being in Guatemala that I'm turning into a 'chapina'. I would probably freak out a new American missionary too much.

I've been thinking about this in part because my 'mom', or the sister missionary who trained me when I first got to the field, finishes her mission this transfer. I literally can not believe that so much time has passed... I remember our first days together as if they were yesterday.

But it's true, and I bet if I could stand face to face with the thought-she-knew-it-all Hoosier girl who got here a year ago, I would see how much I've changed.

And not just me: this week, the convert, Yosselin, that I always talk about, was passing through Pajapita and stopped by to visit me. She radiates light and hope and is thouroughly happy. Her grandma got baptized last week and her brother has been going to church. She's working hard in the Young Women organization with her calling as second counselor and gave a talk in church a couple weeks ago. She told me straight out: she's never been as happy as she is now.

I think about how all this came about because one dark night when my companion's back was hurting we decided to rest on a rock and I got up to talk to a man that passed by. He was Yosselin's dad. Now, six months later, his daughter has found her individual worth and is working her own miracles there in San Martin.

The worth of souls is great. Every action has a reaction. And God is so good.

The Second Principle of the Gospel
So I've been thinking a lot about repentance lately, because it seems to be the biggest challenge for all our investigators, and for us as people and missionaries.

We usually think about repentance in really simple terms, like how we teach it to kids: ¨Oops, I yelled at my mom. I should probably tell her I'm sorry and try not to do it again.¨ We repent from having been dishonest or made a work mistake, little things, errors that we don't want to committ again but pretty much keep committing anyway.

But repentance also has to do with big things: recognizing that moving in with your boyfriend isn't the best choice and choosing to move out or get married. Forgiving someone who you've held a grudge against for years and years. Starting the habit of praying everyday when you've never done it before.

Those examples represent the kind of repentance that is more than simply avoiding committing sins or mistakes that everybody recognizes as such.

I like how the Gospel Dictionary puts it, ¨Repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.¨

There are a ton of people who repent for their daily sins (getting angry, sleeping in too much, eating unhealthily) but who are super resistent to making any major change in their lives.

That's why, I think, it's so important to grow faith in Christ first.

The Role of the Atonement

My companion and I have noted two prominent reasons why people don't repent:

- pride
- lack of faith in themselves
People who don't want to repent for the first reason simply don't want to admit that they're wrong. They were afraid to commit to marriage so they just moved in with the guy next door because it was easy and it's true that everyone is doing it. They got offended when they were victims of other peoples' sins and stopped coming to church when those around them didn't handle it right. It makes me sad to write more examples.

But these are people who really need to learn about the nature of God. They need to know - and FEEL - that God is their Father. Who loves them. Who has given commandments to help guide us through this confusing life and get back to his presence. They need to know that living life as He has instructed us is the very best way to be happy. They need to know - and, again, FEEL - that it doesn't matter what we've been through, or what we've suffered, we're not better than the Son of God, who suffered it all. If we humble ourselves and do His will, he will bless us. (See Mosiah 2: 17-26, the scripture that most helped me to figure this out and feel the endless love of God, even if it is a little harsh, it's beautiful and true.)

People who don't want to repent for the second reason are scared. They fear God and know that he lives but maybe aren't familiar with his mercy. They don't want to start going to church or commit to being baptized because they worry that the change wouldn't be permanent in their lives. They feel like the ´natural man´ will get the better of them in the end, that they'd be too lazy to get up and go to church after a few months of being a member, that they'd start drinking again, or that they'd get distracted by Satan's flashy temptations and lose the ground they'd won in terms of their spiritual progress.

I love teaching these kinds of people a lot more, because they just need to know and feel how inclined the Savior is to forgive. He is endlessly merciful with us while we're living in this life. He gives us so many chances, and never holds a grudge. (See Moroni 6:8). I think about the Sacrament, the church's disciplinary process, how even excommunication can be a way to receive perdon and forgiveness from the Lord, in some special cases.

In conclusion, I know that we are infinitely happy when we repent. The Lord loves us and wants us to return to live with him. He gave everything he had for us.

We all need to repent in one way or another. And we will all be happier for having done it - of that, I testify. (Because I've lived it too - missionaries make lots of mistakes, or harbor bad attitudes, etc.)

So I invite you and me, with all the energy of my heart: Let's repent, and let's please not let Christ's loving sacrifice go to waste.

Love you lots! (He loves you more.)

Until next week,

Hermana Victoria Ison
Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission

No comments:

Post a Comment