Indonesia, Jakarta Mission 3/13 - 3/15

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 6 -(posted out of order- April 14 follows)

So, ya, glad to hear that you are all doing well!  Things here are great!  It has been a  pretty exciting week I guess.  Not that all that much crazy stuff has really happened, but I have learned and grown a lot!
So no, we have not yet had the opportunity to go teach a congregation of Pentecostals, but we will work on it again and try to set up a time to get out there.  But ya, for the most part our visits have just been normal stuff this week!
So, actually for the last few weeks it has felt like all of Manado is kind of in a slump.  The work has seemed to be going really slowly and we have been having a lot of appointments fall through and stuff just not going as well as it sounds like it used to be here.  And that has been hard on all of us.  We have been trying to figure out why things are going so slowly, why we are getting in so few appointments, and why we have just been feeling confused.  We have all felt like we are working hard and doing our best, but the results just haven't been happening.  But we did realize that we are hopefully preparing for a breakthrough, and that just like running, when you hit a wall, that's when its the most important to keep going, because when you keep going and break through that wall, that's when the strength comes and growth happens, and that in the Lord's work, that's when miracles happen!  So we have just been striving to keep going.  And, towards the end of this week, it has seemed like we have started to begin to pull out of this slump.  We have started to have more appointments happen, started finding some good new investigators, and stuff like that.  SO that has been good.  Still not quite to the point we are hoping to get to, but we will keep going and working for the blessings!
So this week I had a really cool experience in answer to fasting.  I have really been wanting to get more faith and charity, and so yesterday for fast sunday I fasted for that.  Well, it was one of the quickest answers to a fast I have ever received!  I was talking to Elder Giolas, and we were just having a mini testimony meeting during lunch yesterday, and we got talking about the conversion story of Alma the Younger.  Alma himself was not seeking to repent, however his Father had great faith and desire for him to repent and come unto Christ.  He gave himself to prayer and fasting for his son, and cried unto the Lord for him.  Now, Ama's father nor the Lord has power to take away Alma's free agency, or to force him to change.  But, what can happen is the Lord can step in and give experiences and work a change of heart that drove Alma to choose for himself to realize the error of his ways and to repent.  It is the same for us as missionaries.  Here in Manado there are many people caught up in a church that is a major social organization that has a strong hold on them, and even those that realize the truth and see the error of their ways, often have a very hard time leaving the church they are in.  But, the same as Alma's father, or the earthly being that had Priesthood authority over Alma, who prayed mightily and called down a blessing from heaven to work a change in his son's heart, we have that same ability here.  We are the authorized leaders over those whom we serve amongst.  We have been given stewardship over them.  And we have every right, if we are living worthily, to call to heaven in mighty prayer and call down a blessing to be poured upon them that will bring about a change of heart.  We can create experiences like that of Alma the YOunger for those who we serve amongst.  But it requires our faith and obedience, and the will and timing of the Lord.  So that has driven me to pray more meaningfully for the people of Manado, and individual investigators, and I feel like it really will help them.
I was also talking to the senior couple, and he was talking to me about the importance of listening to promptings and thoughts, and being willing to follow all of our righteous thoughts when with investigators and stuff.  He said that too often we have a thought, but are shy and brush it aside as just a thought, and not as an actual prompting from the Holy GHost.  But he said that in his experience as Bishop, most commonly it was those simple "thoughts" that were answers to questions and prayers of others or himself.  So, he said that we need to follow each of out little simple thoughts, and that doing so will bring a greater power into the work, and will help us see how much power we truly have--that it is beyond our imagination.  So, yesterday after hearing that, I tried to do it.  I can't say that there were any miraculous miracles or anything exceptionally different that happened because of it, but I truly did feel a greater power in what I was saying as I followed each little thought of what to say to investigators, even those that rejected us.  I just felt a greater power and peace to my testimony, and felt that I had said all the Lord desired, and that I hadn't left anything out.  It was a great feeling, and all these experiences helped me recieve a great increase in faith that I have been seeking!  ANd I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers and fasts, too! 
So, it has been really cool in that regard!
Well, I am loving the mission and am so glad to hear from all of you and that you are doing well!  I know that the church is true, and that the Lord answers prayers and guides us!  I love you all so much!  Hope you have a great week!
Love Elder Wood

April 14 - Favorite Conference!

So, this week was pretty good!  Actually it was awesome!  We got to watch Conference this week on Saturday and Sunday!  And we got to watch it in English!  Or at least we got to watch some of it in English, and listen to the rest of it in English.  The internet here is too slow to stream it, and too slow to download it all, too, so we got some video, but then we had to revert to just streaming audio because video was too slow.  But the audio was kind of cool, too, because then we could read along with the text as the speaker read the talk, and it helped to better understand.  But Conference was awesome!  I definitely got more out of this conference than I have out of any  Conference before.  I wish I had been better at actually paying attention and trying to get something out of Conference before, becuase it truly is amazing and has so much strength and counsel for each of us individually.  I mean, I guess that would make sense, seeing as it is the Word of God given directly to us...that puts a new perspective on it for me.  But I can tell you that my questions were all answered very clearly, and I can't wait to read and review all the talks!  (Will you send me an English Conference Ensign when they come out?  Last conference we never got the English version here... Thanks!)

I will share some of my favorite thoughts from this conference.  And sorry, I will not quote things very well and will probably leave a few things out, because I forgot to bring my study journal with me today with my notes in it.   But, to me, one of the most powerful messages of Conference was Elder Packer's talk.  He is interesting, because he rarely talks about anything other than the Savior and the Atonement.  And this year was no different.  But his closing testimony was so powerful.  When he read Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon's testimony "That He lives!" and then said that their words are his works, and he said "I know Him" was one of the most spiritually powerful moments of Conference to me, because the Spirit came like a wall and confirmed his words, and testified that they were true!  He lives, and I know it!

I also really liked President Monson's talk about not worrying about what the world thinks.  "We must do what is right, because it is what is right!"  We need to be courteous to others, but we need to stand for what we believe.  I loved one of his closing lines that went something like, "It is impossible to stand firm if we are rooted in the shifting sands of popular opinion and public approval."  Well, that's dropping a bomb!  It was powerful, and so relevant to each of us!  And it reminded me of his quote from last conference that says, "Dare to be a Mormon, Dare to be alone, Dare to have a purpose firm, Dare to make it known."

One more that I really liked was Elder Eyring's talk about being a Proper Priesthood Man--a good Priesthood role model, and how important that is to those around us!  It was just a cool talk!
Well, there were a lot of other amazing things that I learned, but for now that's about all I will write.  But Conference was amazing! 

The rest of this week has been pretty good!  We have a new investigator, and yesterday we gave him the Baptismal commitment in our second lesson, and he accepted it!  He was so prepared and placed in our path, and he wants us to work with his family now, too!  So that is super exciting!  And we have one other investigator that has a commitment, and 3 others that we have extended the commitment to that are praying about it!  So that is exciting!  The Lord is hastening His work!  The guy that has been teaching a congregation out of the Liahona that lives far away has been avoiding us lately (I have actually never met him yet), but we are praying for inspiration to know when to go out there to meet with him and find out what is going on.  And the rest of the work is going well, too! 

I am realizing how fast time is going by, and it is kind of scaring me.  I am realizing that even though I still have a little over a year left, I don't really have that much time left to be a full-time missionary.  Hopefully I will be a missionary my whole life, but there really is something special that I can feel being here full time, and I really enjoy it!  I guess that is good motivation to make the very most of it while I still have time! 

Well, I am glad that you guys are going somewhere fun for spring break!  Costa Rica huh!  That's pretty sweet!  Haha mom, stop worrying about it.  You don't need to feel like you have to put vacations and life on hold for 2 years for me.  My life sure isn't on hold here.  So go have fun and don't worry about it.  Sure, I'd love to be there.  But, and sorry, I'd rather be where I am right now...I love you though!
Hope things are going well and that you are all healthy and having fun!  Thanks for the Easter package, too!  It was awesome and I have been loving it!  The talks are awesome and I have already listened to a lot of them!  And the pictures are awesome too!  And I'm excited for the birthday package :)  You guys are spoiling me!
Thanks for everything!  YOu guys are awesome!  I love you so much!
Love, Elder Wood!