July 31, 2014

That Awkward "After the 1 Year" Mark (July 21, 2014)

My one year was Thursday. And now here I am: a veteran in the mission. A lot has happened, and while I will save the good stuff for the homecoming: I will write about the biggest highlight of the week and well also one of the biggest of the mission: My return trip to Lima. 

Thursday, I got sent to Lima. So, I got to be in the exact same spot that I was literally one year ago. At 10 PM July 17, 2013 I entered the Lima, Peru airport....and at 10 PM July 17, 2014 I again entered the Lima, Peru airport. It was one for the journal. I also compared pictures from one year ago, and saw I have lost a lot of weight. #winner. But, what made the trip even better was that the next day I got to go back to the temple and do the entire service in Spanish (without help, whaaaat). It was insane. I received answers to one of the biggest problems/questions of my mission. I cannot tell you all because of the sacred nature of it, but man was it something I will never forget. 

To sum up a lot of my year, I decided to share parts of my personal study from this past week (it is crazy how everything I read in the Book of Mormon applies to my everyday life). I have been reading the words of the American prophet, Alma to his wild, rebel of a son Corianton. Alma talked to his son about the importance of missionary work and said:
" Behold, I say unto you, is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?"

I thought about that and realized it really is how I feel too. I wish everyone could come to know God the way I know Him (if not, even more than I know Him)! God loves each and every one of His children, and wants to save them all. However, many people are kept from God only because they don´t know where to look, or just don´t want to. It is my prayer that all of my friends and loved ones can come to find God through prayer, scripture study, and binding covenants with Him. There is no greater joy than this.

However, Alma also cautioned his son with this one phrase that will forever be impactful to me:

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

The world justifies sin. God does not. God knows that ALL sin makes us sad... and maybe not in the moment, but on the eternal perspective it does. I see so much iniquity in the world, and the worst part is that people accept much of that iniquity to be part of life. They say that the alternative, namely choosing the right, is incorrect or even stupid. As a missionary, a representative of Jesus Christ, and as a child of God, it hurts me to see just how sick the world is. However, my joy is that Jesus Christ will come to earth again and cleanse the world in preperation for its exaltation. My only wish is that all those important to me can be on Christ´s side when that day comes.

That is why I will continue doing my best for one year: with the hope that I can help many people in Peru and in the United States (and maybe in other parts of the world, who knows) come unto Jesus Christ and find the perfect joy that I find everyday in Christ´s Gospel. I look forward to that homecoming talk and to waffles the first morning!

Mi amor a todos, y gracias.

- Elder Dax Rich

July 15, 2014

That Awkward "Almost 1 Year" Mark (July 14, 2014)

My one year is Thursday. I don’t get to write on Thursday (1 because I have a meeting with the President and 2 because it isn’t P-Day yohoho) so I have decided to split my one year email into two emails: one this week and the other the following week.

The missionary manual says that we shouldn’t come out on the mission with the expectation that we will change, meaning we shouldn’t come out here looking to see the world and find ourselves. That would be selfish. We are here to serve other people. Also, as I have seen, we change all on our own out here, and whenever you take a second to stop and look around; you see how much you have changed and how much this world has changed as well. 

I feel like if anything, I have become more of a "Jonathan Edwards" in that I am quite forceful with the doctrine of the Gospel. (However, I still think "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is super dumb; sorry, Johnny.) I certainly feel like the Gospel of God is very clear and we, as humans, are the clowns who decide to say "no" to something as wonderful as "eternal happiness." For that, I don’t mind burning people with my words and scriptural citations. 

However, I’m not saying I have become a priest or a Pharisee or something like that. I just finally understand what Jesus Christ said when He said the only scripture I memorized in Seminary: "If you love me, keep my commandments."

I can’t lie and said I was super good at keeping the commandments before my mission (nor can I say that I am perfect now), but I see the difference in STRIVING to keep the commandments and saying "meh, no pasa nada con los mandamientos (basically that the commandments mean nothing)." The commandments keep us happy and safe, as said in one of my favorite hymns (also from Seminary):

"Keep the commandments: in this there is safety, in this there is peace. He will send blessings. Words of the prophets: keep the commandments. In this there is safety and peace."

Truer words have not been spoken (er...sung). God ALWAYS blesses us, even when we outright deny God. It is crazy how much He loves us. None of you can even fathom how much He loves each of us. I did some bad things before, and yet God ALWAYS blessed me. I’m here now, and I get to see the joy of living every day as a servant of the Lord. It is unexplainable. Sure, at first it was insanely hard, and I wanted to go home, but as I kept the commandments, I received that safety and peace.

I want nothing more than to help each and every one of you who reads this to come unto Christ. He told us how: faith, repentance of our sins, baptism by immersion with the CORRECT authority, the receiving of the Holy Ghost, and working hard every single day to be the best you that you can be. It is hard, but the prize is an eternal family in the kingdom of God.

The best part is, I don’t need to convince you. Just pray. Another of my favorite hymns is "Did You Think to Pray?" Any question, fear, problem, etc. that you have can be resolved if you get on your knees and pray. That is what I have learned and it will forever bless my life.

I will write more the next week too, but for now I want to express my love for all of you and my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom established once again on this earth. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who saw the Father and His Beloved Son. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today who sees and talks with God. And, the Book of Mormon is the most correct of ALL the books on earth. No other book will bring a man closer to God than this sacred text. It changes life: it has changed mine and will continue to do so until the day I die.

Gracias a todos y gracias por ser parte de mi familia. [Thank you to everyone for being a part of my family.]

- Elder Dax Rich

Just Look! (July 7, 2014)

First off: MY BROTHER FROM PANAMÁ GOT CALLED AS A DISTRICT LEADER! Two thumbs up to my amigo: Elder Benitez. Super happy for him.

 Well in other news, I am closely approaching that one year mark! It was super weird on the 4th of July remembering what I was doing one year ago. Crazy where life takes us!

In the world of Elder Rich, I have been working like a fireball here in my little Pueblito Nuevito. We keep running into families who just are so prepared to hear this message of a restored Gospel. It is pretty humbling and awesome. We also have had lots of spiritual experiences, like with one brother who just went through a divorce and is trying to get over his alcohol addiction while at the same time win back his wife and 6 year old daughter. It is sad, but super cool to see how the Gospel is helping him become the man he wants to be. We talked about eternal families with him, and woooow was the Spirit strong. Not a dry tear in the house. It was an experience worthy of the journal. I certainly am thankful for the blessings we receive as we work on the Lord`s work of salvation. 

Now, as full of joy as I am for running into families, I also am quite frustrated, for you see we run into people, explain something SO important, SO revolutionary, SO impactful, and the people just go "meh" I have the Bible. I am saved already. As I studied the book of Alma this week, I found that I was in the same boat as Alma. You see, Alma said in chapter 29:

"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

It truly is joy beyond words to be the means through which the children of God can find reconciliation with Him and therefore be brought to a higher level of being and happiness. It is something of which I too glory. However, when Alma ran into a group of hypocrites called the Zoramites, he talked of their state as one similar to the people in the time of Moses. Alma said that Jesus Christ was the symbol that Moses raised up in the wilderness (the serpent on the staff), and that just as the people wouldn’t look at the serpent, these Zormaties wouldn’t believe in Christ. Speaking of Christ, Alma said:

"Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.

But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them."

I share Alma’s frustration but just a bit more fuerte: WHY WON`T YOU PEOPLE JUST LOOK? Literally it is as easy as let the missionaries come into your house, share a 30 minute message, and afterwards pray to God. Literally your entire life changes. It is sooo easy, but people are just like those in the times of Moses: "meh, I don’t wanna look." It drives me crazy, but hey that is partly why this work isn’t a cakewalk.

I am very grateful to be a missionary and to serve in Piura, Peru. I know this church is the true church of God: the same that His Son established a little under 2000 years ago. We have a living day prophet, 12 apostles, and the power and authority of God to do all that His Son did as recorded in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The work is true, the people are great, and God just never ceases to amaze me.

Disfruten su semana y gracias por leer mis cartas. Mis oraciones están con todos de Ustedes. ¡ Cuídense mucho!  [Enjoy your week and thank you for reading my letters. My prayers are with all of you. Take care!]

- Elder Dax Rich

Pueblo Loco (June 30, 2014)

It is the new name we came up with for our area. I can’t tell you all the things that are going on here, because #rules but maaan oh maaan, I am learning A LOT. Things have happened here that have caused me to really be a leader, to really solidify my faith, and to learn how to teach, but in a whole new way. I am pretty much going through another training myself! But, I cannot thank the Lord enough for the chance I have here to do some good. We have come into contact with a between 9 and 14 families in just 2 weeks, and have invited many of our investigators to be baptized. My faith is augmenting a lot, and I can honestly say that my God is a God of miracles. You will all see that one day, if you haven’t already, I promise every last one of you that. 

Speaking of training: today is my companion’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Elder Villalba! I just kind of feel bad, because there is literally nothing to do in Paita besides the beach. Oh well.

And then, well just a bit on my personal studies this week. I was reading about an American missionary from like 2,000 years ago and his testimony about God. He said, "Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." It hit me pretty hard, because it was kind of what I feel. I have learn to appreciate God and His Son, Jesus Christ beyond words, and my faith in them has grown to exceed anything I would have thought before my mission. This missionary named Ammon, then said,

"yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.

Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land."

Poetic, yet also very much how I feel. I love God and I love that He restored His church on the earth. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord´s kingdom established on the earth and that only this church has the power of God to unite families beyond the bands of death. I pray that everyone who reads this will one day come unto God and receive the life, light, joy, and salvation that Ammon and I speak of. 


- Elder Dax Rich