March 31, 2014

20 Years Later (March 31, 2014)

I thought a lot this past week about where I have been. 6 months ago I was in Tumbes, Perú learning a new language, learning how to teach the Gospel of God, and following around a 22 year old Peruvian from Mokewa. That felt like a lifetime ago. But to go back just one year, I was sitting in my dorm room in BYU studying for finals and stuffing my face with fast food due to college-life stresses. Now if I go back 5 years, I was in high school with different goals, different challenges, different ambitions, different attitudes, etc.

And now.

I am a Gringo missionary in Capullanas, Piura, Perú serving as a leader of a district of missionaries as well as training a new missionary from Cusco, Perú. I have 8 months in the mission, I am más o menos fluent in Spanish, I enjoy eating aji de gallina and tuna (a red, spiky fruit native here in Perú), and my goal is to help people come unto Jesus Christ. How things change in 20 years! 

To keep the B-day message short, I invite all of you to check out General Conference this Saturday and Sunday. It is a broadcast from Salt Lake City where the living prophet of God (like Moses, Abraham, Enos, etc.) will speak to the world along with the 12 modern-day apostles (like Mathew, Peter, John, etc.). They is literally nothing like it. If you have a question or challenge in this life and you need guidance, write down this problem on a piece of paper, go to conference, and as you listen carefully, you will receive the revelation to answer your needs. Pretty cool, huh? The best part is it works! So, after the awesome party on Friday (wink) I invite you all to watch a session of General Conference.

I hope you all know how much I love you all and pray for you. I pray that you back home will recognize the Lord's hand in your life. He lives and loves His children. That is the fact I know more than anything else in the world.

Muchísimas gracias. ¡Cuídense mucho, amigos y hermanos!

- Elder Dax Rich

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (March 24, 2014)

Well, a lot changed thanks to cambios this week. I am still here in Capullanas with Elder Quispe, but we now are sharing the area with 2 new hermanas, 2 new zone leaders (because Capullanas is now big enough to be a zone), and a new district leader. This guy. Bacan, hermano. Really it just means I get a cell phone. Good times. But yeah, these next 6 weeks will be very different from what I experienced before. I am sure there will be cool things to report. 

There was a lot of stress and running around this week (because of this change), so I apologize that I don´t have any awesome stories or scriptures to share, but I guess it is nice to have a short email once in a while. 

I hope you are all doing well, and I hope everyone is safe! I look forward to hearing more from everyone as time goes on! 

¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

I Like My Baptisms Shaken, Not Stirred (March 17, 2014)

Baptism! Bacan! It was certainly a wonderful night, and what made it even better is that we had a nice mini-earthquake to start off the baptism. Right as the member leading the service began his introduction, the whole church started shaking and Piura experienced a mini-earthquake. It was my first experience with the ground shaking and it was certainly worthy of going in my journal. After everyone calmed down, we continued and had a very spiritual and lovely baptismal service. And now, Alexandra is a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Good week indeed.

To finish off the week, we had one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. To not go too into detail, I will just say that it changed a lot in me and Elder Quispe and really helped me to recognize Jesus Christ in my life as well as his role in this, His church. It was like star-power for my testimony, as I just felt even more sure that this really is the church of Jesus Christ, the same church that He established a little under 2000 years ago. We are very close to another baptism with this specific investigator, and I cannot wait to share it with you all, because I have all the faith in the world that this will work out. But to leave with a scripture; I ran across this scripture and it really just highlights everything in this last lesson perfectly.

In the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Ether, there is a scripture that reads:  (verse 18 in chapter 4) "Arrepentíos, pues, todos vosotros los extremos de la tierra, y venid a mí, y creed en mi evangelio y sed bautizados en mi nombre; porque el que crea y sea bautizado, será salvo; mas el que no crea, será condenado; y las señales seguirán a los que crean en mi nombre."

The señales/signs that follow are real and do come to everyone who accept and live the Gospel. If you want to know if this church is true, visit it! If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is another sacred testimony of the living Christ, read it! It starts with a desire, then an action, then a desire to change, and then baptism and the willpower to endure to the end of your life as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

It is short this week, but thanks for all of you who are reading my blog and keeping Aimee and I in your thoughts and prayers. Much love to you all!

¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

Eres loco, Élder Rich (March 10, 2014)

First off, a shout out to my brother who will be serving a mission in.... well actually I am still waiting his email. But, I do know he will be serving a mission soon and that is awesome to hear, yet also weird. He is still just a little tike! Nevertheless, he will be great in his mission (wherever it is)!

We had an awesome activity this week, the best church activity that I have been involved in. We hosted "Combate SUD" which was a spoof on the popular TV show here: "Combate" with the SUD (santos de los últimos días). We played lots of different games, and yours truly got to host a few of the games, as well as the ultimate dance-off at the end. Yes, I even danced a bit (hence the title), but hey, it was in the name of missionary work! In truth, we had a successful activity and are looking forward to planning more activities like this one!

Scripture of the Week...with a twist! This time, I will send it in English, because everyone should know this scripture. I have it on my wall in my room, and I have it running through my head all the time. In the Book of Mormon, a prophet named Alma sat down with his son, Corianton, the black sheep in the family. Corianton had made some mistakes in his past and as a good father (and a servant of God), his father talked with him one-on-one and taught him some important lessons. One of those lessons is captured in this one line: (Alma 41:10)

"Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness."

It is too true. When we go against the commandments of God, sure we might get some instant gratification, which is also called: "momentary happiness." However, when we follow those commandments and go against what the world says is "better" to follow what our father in heaven says is "better," we get something called "joy" which is also called: "eternal happiness." 

If you aren´t happy, and I mean REALLY happy, now is the time to get happy. Study the commandments. Live them. Repent. Trust in Jesus Christ. The promise from the humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is that you will be happy. Truly happy. You will never know happiness like it.

Thank you all for reading and for your thoughts and prayers. Good luck to Chaz and love to Aimee! ¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

March 4, 2014

¿Comprendes la condescendencia de Dios? ["Knowest that the condescension of God"] (March 3, 2014)

Asu macho, the power of some people´s faith completely blows me away. Seriously, seeing people without anything good going for them turning to the Lord and putting all that they have into obeying and following God completely humbles me and reminds me that faith truly is not faith until it has been tried.

To begin my retelling of my experiences from the week, I will share a very applicable scripture first. In 1 Nephi 11 (the first book in the Book of Mormon) the young man, Nephi had a vision in which he spoke to an angel of God. During this conversation, the angel asked Nephi this question: (in verse 16)
"Y me dijo: ¿Comprendes la condescendencia de Dios?"

Nephi in response said: (in the next verse)
"Y le respondí: Sé que ama a sus hijos; sin embargo, no sé el significado de todas las cosas."

Yo también sé que Dios ama a sus hijos, y es por esto: 

The first story is that of a woman in our ward who has 4 young kids, is single, lives with her anti-Mormon family, has very few friends, is dirt-poor, and barely makes any money from her job. And, what is more, her oldest son has decided to use drugs and is now hanging out with a shady group of boys instead of heping with the family. Yet, almost every Sunday, she walks into church with her baby and daughter, and asks what she can do to help out in the ward. She always tries to help us out as missionaries, and she constantly tries to have us teach her little children lessons from the church. She is like this spiritual rock, and I sometimes think, "Please, God, just translate her into heaven!" Alas, she has a work to do and an example to set, and I am ever-amazed by her.

The second is from the past Monday. Piura is suffering from an extreme drought, to the point that Piura has declared a state of emergency. So, on Monday, the Relief Society in the ward got together, all of them, and they prayed that God would send rain... in that very day. What faith right? Well...15 minutes later we got a HUGE downpour. It even flooded a bit in our room! But it rained extremely hard for 2 hours straight, and it was the first actual rain in months...and it was after the prayer of a group of faithful women.

So, when people say, you can´t tell me God loves us, I say what Nephi said in 1 Nephi 11:17. ("And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.") Yeah, I don´t know everything, far from it! But, I do know God loves his children.

I love you all and thank you all for your love and support. 

¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich