June 25, 2014

Building Some Faith (June 23, 2014)

So, I ran into quite the book this past week during my two days with a Gringo companion. It is a book called "The Day of Defense" by an LDS author, and it basically defends the LDS church with every possible counter-argument that other churches could use. It was pretty good: but I would say the last part was the real hook, line, and sinker. It´s called the "Challenge of the Book of Mormon" where basically it defends the divinity of the Book of Mormon by showing how literally impossible it would be for Joseph Smith to write the Book of Mormon in his situation. It is a 33-part challenge and I included it at the end of this letter if you´d like to check it out.

Then, I got to meet my new hijo! His name is Elder Villalba: a brand-new 18 year old from Ecuador and he is quite the go-getter! We contacted for just about 3 days straight and ran into 3 families, gave one man who had recently lost his 18 year-old daughter the baptismal challenge, and had a total of 10 new investigators in 3 days. It was very, very crazy, but quite exciting. I am excited to train this new elder and get some good done! I really look forward to changing this area a lot more than anyone else has done here in over a year. Good stuff to come!

Also, during a study with Elder Villalba, I ran into a great scripture in the Book of Mormon. In Mormon chapter 9 verse 19, the American prophet Moroni also gives a defense on the Book of Mormon. He says to everyone who doesn´t believe that God would give the world another set of sacred scriptures:

"Why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles."

 I certainly see just how powerful God is and full of miracles He is as well. God is and will always be God, and He will always want the best for His children. That is why He gives us modern revelation and more of His word as time goes on. This knowledge has certainly help build my faith in God and my faith that in one more year, I will be back home yet a changed man. #esperanza.

Anyways, hope all is going well for everyone back home. Love you all and hope everyone knows that. I also hope to come home and sing the hymn: "Love is Spoken Here" with my family for a meeting or for some event. It is just a winning hymn.

¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

"The Challenge of the Book of Mormon"   Review the list below to see if you could write a book similar to the Book of Mormon under conditions comparable to those experienced by Joseph.
  1. You must be between twenty-three and twenty-four years of age.
  2. You cannot be a college graduate. In fact, you can have only three years of formal schooling.
  3. Whatever you write must be on the basis of what you know and not what you learn through research.
  4. You must write a history of an ancient country, such as Tibet, covering a period from 2200 B.C. to 421 A.D.
  5. You must write a book with 102 chapters, twenty-five of them about wars, ten about history, twenty-one about prophecy, thirty-two about doctrines, five about missionaries, and nine about the mission of Christ.
  6. You must include in your writings the history of two distinct and separate nations, along with histories of different contemporary nations or groups of people.
  7. Your writings must describe the religious, economic, social, and political cultures and institutions of these two nations.
  8. You must weave into your history the religion of Jesus Christ and the pattern for Christian living.
  9. When you start to produce this record covering a period of over twenty-six hundred years, you must finish in approximately eighty days.
  10. When you have finished, you must not make any changes in the text. The first edition must stand forever (this does not include grammatical errors, etc).
  11. After pauses for sleep and food, if you are dictating to a stenographer, you must never ask to have the last paragraph or last sentence read back to you. You must start right where you stopped previously.
  12. Your history or record must be long, approximately 777 pages with over 500 words per page.
  13. You must add 180 proper nouns to the English language (William Shakespeare added thirty).
  14. You must announce that your "smooth narrative" is not fiction, but true—yes, a sacred history.
  15. In fact, your narrative must fulfill the Bible prophecies; even in the exact manner in which it shall come forth, to whom given, and its purpose and accomplishments.
  16. You must publish  it to  every nation,  kindred, tongue, and people, declaring it to be the Word of God.
  17. You must include with the record itself this marvelous promise:  "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
  18. Tens of thousands must bear record to the world for the next 178 years that they know the record to be true. Because they put the promise to the test, the truth is manifested to them by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  19. Thousands of great men, intellectual giants, and scholars, must subscribe discipleship to the record of its movement, even to the point of laying down their lives.
  20. There can be no flaw, whatever, in the entire book (except in grammar, or other errors of man in transcribing, etc.).
  21. Your descriptions of the cultures in these civilizations, of which you will write about, is not known when you publish your manuscript.
  22. Yet, you must not make any absurd, impossible, or contradictory statements.
  23. Even so, many of the facts, ideas, and statements given as true in your record must be entirely inconsistent with, even the direct opposite of, the prevailing belief of the world. Yet very little is even claimed to be known about these civilizations and their thousands of years of history.
  24. You must invite the ablest scholars and experts to examine the text with care.   You must strive diligently to see that your book gets into the hands of all those most eager to prove it a forgery and who are most competent to expose any flaws in it.
  25. After 178 years of extensive analysis, no claim or fact in the book is disproven, but all are vindicated. Other theories and ideas as to its origin rise and fall, leaving your claims as the only possible ones.
  26. Thorough investigation, scientific evidence, and archaeological discoveries for the next 178 years must verify your claims and prove even the minutest details of your history to be perfectly true.
  27. Internal and external prophecies must be confirmed and fulfilled in the next 178 years.
  28. Three honest, accreditable witnesses must testify to the whole world that an angel from heaven appeared to them and showed them the ancient records from which you claim your record was translated.
  29. You must hear out of heaven the voice of the Redeemer declaring to you and those three witnesses that your record is true, and that it is their responsibility to bear testimony of it—and that they do.
  30. Eight other witnesses must testify to the world that they saw the ancient records in broad daylight, and that they handled them and felt the engravings thereon.
  31. The first three and the second eight witnesses must bear their testimony, not for profit or gain, but under great personal sacrifice and severe persecution, even to their deaths.
  32. You must talk a friend into financing your book with the understanding that he or you will never receive any monetary remuneration from it. This person must mortgage his farm to have it printed. You must sell the book at cost or less.
  33. Finally, after suffering persecution and revilement for twenty-four years in the process of producing and defending this book, you must give, willingly, your own life for your testimony that the record is of God.

June 23, 2014

Gotta Train ´Ém All (June 16, 2014)...no letter on the 9th

Out with the one companion, in with the new hijo. I am now the District Leader in a grupo familiar who is a training a new missionary. Talk about a lot to do! I am with an Elder in my district for the next two days and so Wednesday I will go to get my new companion. Therefore, next week I will send you all the great details.
As for this week, well it was quite the adventure saying goodbye to my old companion and getting a 2-day party in Lima. So, a Little about Lima. We flew to Lima and did some paperwork one day, and for the whoooole afternoon we sat and ate 8 pizzas (for 10 people) and then walked the streets in Lima. The people literally just dropped us off at our hotel and said they would see us the next day, so we decided to go on some adventures through Lima (pictures next week). We saw some great sights, ate some great Chinese food, and then the next day we were terribly lied too as they promised to take us all to the temple (which would have been my first time since the CCM in the temple). Needless to say, we were all quite angry, especially the sister missionaries. Girls.

We also had a party on our last night as a district, and we all got over our emotional goodbyes, in preperation for our new assignments. I certainly felt like I had grown a lot in my testimony in this one transfer of 6 weeks. I felt like I grew in my purpose as a missionary, and I felt a stronger sense of meaning, hope, and faith. I hope that as time goes on the work I do here can translate into blessings for all of you back home.  I know the work is true and I know that this is the only true church of God. It is something that no one can deny to me and something I hold quite dear and true to my heart.

I hope everyone back home enjoyed their Father´s Day, and that everyone felt the importance of their family during this important holiday. Families are central to the plan of God, and more than anything else He wants us to be with our families forever. (Just another reason why I wanted to get to that temple in Lima!) I hope everyone marks on their calenders the opening of the Hartford Temple so that you can all be there when it is open!

Thanks to all and my love to everyone! ¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

June 2, 2014

Pensamiento Espiritual [A Spiritual Thought] (June 2, 2014)

So just a quick little something to send your way:

This week I read an awesome little scripture in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon and I thought I would share it with you all.

In Alma 5:62, the prophet Alma ends his discourse to a group of people by saying, "I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life."

I thought that was an awesome way to sum everything up. Our purpose in life as children of God is to come unto Him and to have eternal life with our families. It doesn´t matter who we are, of what faith we are, or where we are in life: the invitation is for all to come unto God, be baptized by His authority, and enjoy the fruits of eternal life.

Hope you all have a great week! Love to all!

- Elder Dax Rich

See Scott Grow (May 26, 2014)

En serio, I think C. Scott Grow has the best name in the quorum of the 70 in the church. Anyways, he spoke to the whole mission and all of the leaders in Piura and Tumbes this past week. It was one of the best and one of the most different conferences of the church I have ever been to. I truly hope I can talk to an audience one day with the same spirit and ease that this elder in the church did. 

I will share with you all some of what he said. He talked about three things specifically: faith, personal revelation, and the power of the Atonement. I could not believe some of his stories and words on faith, but wow did it augment my faith. He talked to us about how we could and should set high goals on baptisms and seek the Lord´s help not only to make a goal, but to carry it out. He talked to us about how when he was a mission president, missionaries with real faith prayed and received the revelation to plan things like 23 baptisms in one month. What was crazier, is that all of those missionaries who faithfully prayed and trusted in God, accomplished those goals! I was blown away, but now I certainly will do my best to increase my faith and trust that this is the Lord´s work, not the work of Elder Rich.

He also gave us one piece of advice that he said would be the key to life after the mission and for the eternity. He said the secret to this life is to show your family you love them, specifically your wife (or husband). He said that we can say we love our families as much as we want, but when it comes right down to it, the true key is if our family can say that they feel our love. Certainly something I will remember and something I will remember to apply now and until the end.

Anyways, not much else to share in this short time so I will just wish you all the best and tell you all how excited I am to come home next year and eat BBQ. Seriously, I miss that more than my box collection of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

Why Do I Need Jesus Christ? (May 19, 2014)

It is my line-catcher, "Why Do I Need Jesus Christ?" For various reasons, this week I decided to dive into chapter 1 of the guide, "Preach My Gospel" which talks about the purpose of missionary work. I thought nice and hard about that and read a little on the subject, and I thought the best thing I could do this week is just write about what I learned and felt.

And it all starts with a story in my favorite book, "The Book of Mormon."

A guy named Alma was pretty bad. Like...really bad. He went around beating up members of the church of God, was a delinquent, and did not really believe in God. What made the picture worse was that his dad was the prophet of the church. Awkward. 

To use his own words, I will tell you a bit of what happened to Alma...and in English, no worries. In Alma chapter 36, Alma writes his story and tells how an angel of God appeared to him. The angel explained that God sent him because his loved ones had been praying very hard for him and the angel was on the errand of the Lord to tell Alma to repent. Alma said that after this visitation, he was, (as he writes) "racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments."

It was a suffering like he couldn´t even write, but afterwards he writes, "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!"

Thanks to Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice for every single one of us, Alma received the freedom from the depressing chains of his sins and errors, and was brought into a state of joy and light that surpasses all understanding and explanation.

What I like about this story is that Alma didn´t realize he needed God...but boy, did he need God. He might have been happy living his life, but he could never have been TRULY happy, because he didn´t know who he truly was, why he was on the earth, and what he was meant to do. That is why I am a missionary. To help people who don´t even realize they need to be forgiven of their mistakes, to fill in the gap they cannot see in their lives, and to realize their divine potential.

I am very grateful to be here on the mission, and I pray that all can come unto Jesus Christ and be freed from the void of darkness that envelopes this sickened world. Gracias por leer el blog, y ojalá que todo sea bien con Uds. ¡Cuídense mucho!

- Elder Dax Rich

Mother's Day (May 12, 2014)

To be frank, the highlight was yesterday: calling home. It was great to see everyone and talk to friends and I am just blown away at how much everyone has grown! Almost at that one year mark!

So the week. Well...maybe just Saturday and Sunday. Those were full of the action. Saturday was an activity for the mothers in our area...all 4 of them. Since there aren´t many mothers in our area, the whole district from 40 minutes away came down with their branch of members and we made it a whole big event (with more like 10 moms haha). Anyways, remember how I said I was in a very, very, very different place than any before? Yeah, well I got to prove that during the activity when 5 minutes before the activity, the leader of the group called and said he wouldn´t be coming and that we were on our own for the program. So, in 5 minutes, I made a 2 hour program for the mothers to enjoy. It ended up silly, sweet, and well...special, but all in all, everyone left quite happy. Good times.

The next day furthered that proof when I was sitting with the 4 active members of the group waiting to start church, and a random man entered the house asking for money. We explained we were about to start a church service and when he found out we were "Mormons" he began his attack. He tried to trick up this clever Gringo, and he threw down the big "What do I need to do to be saved?" card. Luckily, in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ has explained the answer to that question in 5 steps: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I explained it to the man and referenced this scripture here:

(from the words of Jesus Christs to the inhabitants of Ancient America in 3 Nephi 27: 19-20) "Y nada impuro puede entrar en su reino; por tanto, nada entra en su reposo, sino aquellos que han lavado sus vestidos en mi sangre, mediante su fe, y el arrepentimiento de todos sus pecados y su fidelidad hasta el fin.

 Y éste es el mandamiento: Arrepentíos, todos vosotros, extremos de la tierra, y venid a mí y sed bautizados en mi nombre, para que seáis santificados por la recepción del Espíritu Santo, a fin de que en el postrer día os presentéis ante mí sin mancha."

It is just that easy. If we have faith in Christ, if we pray, read the scriptures, and cultivate our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, then well we can start down the path to repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end of our lives as dedicated servants of the Lord. You want to be saved? Come unto Christ.

That is one of the best parts of being a missionary: I get to see how coming unto Christ changes lives. I hope and pray it can do that for everyone back home as well. The world promises happiness, but Christ promises joy (an eternal form of happiness), and that is what I get to share with people every single day. I invite everyone, here in Perú and back home, to take the challenge and see what is it like to come unto Christ.

Gracias a todos y cuídense mucho,

- Elder Dax Rich