Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Day! From Maranguape!

Hey, everyone!

So, this week, we were able to teach some new people, and I'm really excited to be able to work with them. One day, we were over at a less-active members house, and we had gone there because of another member who brought us there. The less-active member's name is Lucia, and she wasn't home. However, a neighbor was there, named Thatiana. So, we were thinking about going somewhere else to visit, but we ended up staying, and talking with Thatiana. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel, and how this Church is totally different than other churches, and that we find the complete truth in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of the message, she told us that we had been attending the Universal Church, a rather common Evangelical church in Brazil, and that she had felt something missing. She had felt like her needs were not being met by her current church. So, we had come at just the right moment, to someone who was looking for something more, searching for the truth! We will go back there this week, and I pray that we can help them to know for themselves that these things are true.

As I ponder about the things that we teach every day, I have realized that we receive power to influence and teach others insomuch as the things we are talking about have truly impacted and changed our lives. When we bear our testimony, it has as much power as the changes it has brought about in our hearts. If we want to teach about the Restoration with the power of the Spirit, our lives need to have been truly changed by it. As we testify of the effect of the Atonement in our lives, we will help others to feel the Spirit as we speak from our personal spiritual experience, and as the Spirit has changed our hearts. This gospel is not about accepting the truth and being saved, it's about accepting the truth and being changed. That is our purpose here on Earth: to gain a body, to be tested, and to learn and grow through our experiences. As we seek to strengthen our own personal testimony of the truth, and to change our lives, and to awake in ourselves the desire to know the truth, we will have a greater capacity to help other people in these areas. If I have never felt the influence of the Spirit, how am I going to help someone else to feel the Spirit? If my life has not been changed by what happened in the Sacred Grove, and the account that Joseph Smith told, how is my retelling of his words going to help the lives of others to be changed?

I like what President Monson said during the Priesthood Session of this past General Conference. He said, "There is absolutely nothing in this world that will provide more comfort and happiness than a testimony of the truth. Although to varying degrees, I believe every man or young man [or woman or young woman] here tonight has a testimony. If you feel that you do not yet have the depth of testimony you would wish, I admonish you to work to achieve such a testimony. If it is strong and deep, labor to keep it that way. How blessed we are to have a knowledge of the truth."

Every one of us has our own testimony, to varying degrees. What we seek is that our testimonies can become strenghened to the point of being "steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works" (Mosiah 5:15), and President Monson tells us that each of us can get to that point. So, if you're struggling, please follow the advice of Kriss Kringle in "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town": "Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walkin' 'cross the floor, just put one foot in front of the other, and soon you'll be walkin' out the door!" As we seek to continue to move forward, even pressing forward with a "steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men....wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:20).

He will help us, as we seek to "keep moving forward" (Meet the Robinsons), get up after we've been knocked down, and seek always to have our will be submitted to His, for He can make much more out of us and for us than we can even imagine:)

I love you all so very much! Have a wonderful week!

With love and hugs and kisses and more,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

Hello from Brazil! Crazy, I'M IN BRAZIL, AND HAVE BEEN FOR MORE THAN A YEAR!!!!!

October 22, 2012
Hello, all:) I hope that you have all had a wonderful week!

So, this week was a bit difficult. Many of our appointments fell through, and a bit frustrating. But, at the end of the week, things brightened up significantly!

So, a few men from a state called Bahia are living and working here in Maranguape, and they have been coming to the English class. We decided to ask if we could talk to them about the Gospel, and they said sure. We taught them this week, and they were understanding really well. Then, after English class on Saturday, we were going to teach them again, but this time at their house. We went over there, and lo and behold, they live with 7 other men from Bahia! We sat everybody down, and taught them all the first lesson. I have never had an experience like that before! Teaching 8 or 9 men who are tall, black, and could probably pull my arms off if they wanted to! But, it was nothing like that! They were incredible! Nearly all of them have families back in Bahia, and are working here far away form their families to support them. It's almost like us here out on the mission!

Anyway, we invited them to go to church the next day, and they said that they would go. One of them said an awesome closing prayer, and we all felt really good afterward.

We went over the next morning to walk with them to sacrament meeting, and five of them went with us! It was very cool to walk over with them, joke around with them, and answer their questions, and sincere desires to learn more. I really love these guys! Then, that night (which was last night), we went over to see how they had liked church, and if they had prayed about everything. They had liked church, and a few said that they were excited to go back next Sunday! One will even started coming to the English class with the two others. Unfortunately, most of them said that they hadn't prayed about everything, but we expained to them how to pray again, answered their questions, and invited one of them to say the closing prayer. He said that he didn't really know how to pray, but his prayer was perfect! I hope and pray that these men will continue to learn and grow, and that they can feel the Spirit, and become converted to and through the Gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ, even more converted than they already are! I believe that many of us are more converted than we imagine, just as the Lamanites who were converted, and "they knew it not" (3 Nephi 9:20).

As we seek to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and to act, and not simply be acted upon, He will pour His Spirit upon us, that we might have this mighty change of heart, and be purified and sanctified, even as He is pure. If you aren't sure that you're converted enough, don't worry or fret too much about it, because even those Lamanites didn't realize that they were converted, and they had been enveloped with literal fire and ministered to by angels! So, if you want to become more converted, seek to have a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, to be humble to Him, and willing to submit your will to His will. As you do this, He will show you the paths, and even the steps that you need to take to a deeper conversion. His servants have spoken to us in General Conference. Read and listen to their words again, seeking after this mighty change of heart. I know that I really need to re-listen to Elder Bednar's talk about testimony and conversion, so that I can learn what I need to do to change!

I love you all so very much! The Lord truly is hastening His work here on the earth! A family member of mine told me in an email that the Church receives, on average, 600 applicatons a week for perspective missionaries. Last week, they received around 7,000 aplications!!! What a wonderful miracle! In one week, the increase in applications was 11 times the size it had been before, and, if all of the applications were sent through, this would result in a 12% increase in the number of missionaries in the field (if my calculations are correct...)! IN ONE WEEK!!!! Imagine in the weeks, months, and years to come! Now, we all need to discover the will of the Lord for our personal circumstance, and realize that not everyone can or should serve a mission at these ages, or even may not be able to serve for other reasons. But, the Lord is hastening His work, calling upon His children to serve others in the mission field, in family history and temple work, and in serving, inviting, forgiving, and extending a hand to others, especially those who have fallen away from the Church. Please stay firm, and don't miss out on being able to participate and assist in this great work, wherever or whatever that might be!

I love you all so vey much! Have an awesome week, and don't forget how blessed you really are!

Love always,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Days, and Happy Transfers! from Maranguape

Hey, everybody! We received the transfer call last night, and Elder Langfoss and I will be staying another transfer here in Maranguape! That means that Elder Langfoss will have spent the first four transfers of his mission in the same area, amounting to six months of his whole mission here! Congratulations, Elder Langfoss!
This week was a little bit slower with our lessons and with the people that we're working with, but it was still a great week. We had a bit of a disappointment when the mom of a young man we were teaching, the mother in fact being an inactive member of the Church, said that she wants him to wait to be baptized. That was a bit discouraging, but we kept moving forward, and we look ahead to helping him be even more firm in the Church and in the Gospel.

We talked to a couple of people this week that went miraculously well. Romário, who is the brother of a member, is still excited about the Gospel, even though we haven't talked to him for weeks about it. He still feels that the Church is true, and that he wants to marry his girlfriend and be baptized. We are excited for him. Also, we taught another young man named Fabrício, and he really wanted to know if the Church is true. He was really excited, and I felt the Spirit so strong when we were talking to him.

As we learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how He speaks to us personally and through His servants, the prophets and apostles, we learn and feel and are amazed and thrilled by His enormous love and concern and care for each and every one of us as His children. He wants us to be happy, and because of that, He has given us the support system that we need. That is why I am so excited for this weekend, where we will hear His word through His servants in General Conference. After all, the Lord has said to us that "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:37-38). So, as we listen to His servants, we will hear His words, for the Lord speaks even in our day as He did of old.

Let us never forget the marvelous and glorious blessings we all enjoy and share, as children of a loving Heavenly Father, who wishes the very best for us, and fights and commands and cheers on our success. For when we are happy, He is happy; when we are sad, He is sad. And through it all, even in our imperfect state, He loves us, and wants us back. Because of that love, He has prepared a way that it may be possible through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by Him (see John 14:6(5-6)). If we are willing to follow Him, obey Him, and do what He asks us to do, we will live again, together with our families, with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and we will come to know them in a way that is now for us not just impossible to comprehend, but incapable of our imagination to even grasp (see John 17:3). That is why we are here on earth, to return to Their presence, and enjoy and truly know the joy that they experience. We are here to become more like Them, and to help others as well along the way:)

I love you all so very, very much! Have a wonderful day, wonderful week, and a wonderful General Conference! If you want to watch it, just go to http://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng. It will be something that you won't want to miss:)

With all of the love in my heart,

Elder Reid Powell Empey