Dearest Family and Friends,
This week I would like to take a few minutes to talk about two things in particular. First, an experience I had this last week. Serving now as the district leader, I have the opportunity to meet with and talk with each person that makes the decision that they want to be baptized and make the covenant to follow the example that Jesus Christ gave us. It is a special time, when I am able to sit down and we are able to talk about what they have learned, how they have felt, and how they came to know that the message that we share is true. It lifts the spirit of both me and the interviewer and also the person who is able to share their feelings and commit to follow Christ.
This last week I was privileged to interview a mother and her two daughters. They have a pure and powerful testimony of the love of God and of the Restoration of His church. It was a special experience for me, being the first time, and really gave me an extra boost of encouragement and energy.
After leaving the interview I received a call from one of the Elders that has been helping these good women. He said that one of the daughters had requested that I baptize her. What an incredible opportunity (though it came as a bit of a surprise). And so this weekend I was able to get dressed all in white and enter the waters of baptism with Montserrat. It was a very powerful evening and all present were edified by the experience. I could feel the love that the Lord has for these women as they take this important step in their lives and let go of their past, whatever it may have held. And now, with faith and a vision fixed on the promises of the Lord, this family, and all those that have made this sacred covenant with the Lord will press forward, relying on His tender mercies in those difficult times and circumstances.
I also wanted to take a few minutes to address another topic.
This past week Elder U. and I had the opportunity to visit with many people for the first time. In these first visits very often people sense that they can trust us and begin to relate to us their feelings, their challenges, and the things they have suffered in their lives. We always listen carefully, hurting at the pain that so many have suffered. In several occasions we have left with a heart nearly broken, wondering how it could be that one person could have suffered so much. But time after time after time, this suffering and heartache, physical, emotional and spiritual comes from one primary reason. It comes from the infidelity, abandonment, or mistreatment by men. Husbands who decide that their lives would be easier without the burden of their wife and multiple children. Men caught up in the vices of the world, addicted to the lustings of their carnal mind, unwilling to listen to that voice of truth and reason granted to every man and woman.
I must admit I am somewhat unsure of how to communicate how I felt, how I feel after leaving the home of a woman that described a life of loneliness, sacrifice, and pain because a man decided to leave her with 5 children. The faithfulness and love of a mother to her children is the nearest we will ever see or experience in this mortal life to the love that God has for each of us.
A scripture from the Book of Mormon describes the situation so well as to what we have experienced. In his time, a prophet that lived here in the Americas, when teaching his people spoke to the men and called them to repentance. ¨Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.¨
And so I will leave those thoughts there and raise a cry. A cry for men of valor and courage. Men who understand what it means to be a man. For some this will require repentance, a change. For others this will require preparation. For those of my friends young like me with all the future before us, let us prepare ourselves now to be the kind of man and husband that our children will require. Prepare to put the family before the things of the world. Before work and money, before friends and outings. The man that stays at home on Friday evening to be with his wife instead of doing whatever else there is to do out there.
Do I sound a little exasperated, a little desperate? Let me tell you why. There are people suffering, children both young and grown, suffering because there was a man who was not willing to sacrifice. And so the woman and the children take the burden, and so often they break. They are crushed by the burden that was designed to fall on the broad shoulders of a man.
Amongst all this there is a beacon of hope. There are men that are good and loving. Men who have realized their errors and repented in humility, doing all they can to replace and fix the damage they have caused. Let this be a message of encouragement and hope. It is never too late. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can change, we can be forgiven, and we can become the person we always hoped to be. Yes, it truly will take the infinite Atonement of a perfect Jesus Christ to change, to escape the consequences of the present. But I promise that it is possible.
And so I finish today with the plea for men of valor. For men of courage and sacrifice. Not men of the world, we already have enough of those. We do not need more ¨successful men¨. We can see the results in the world today of putting success ahead of family. Today I commit, however far away from you I may be, to be this type of man. I would invite, and plead that you would do the same, my good friends of all ages.
With love and hope,
With the ever-present limitations of time, this is completely unedited. But enjoy the rawness and realness of it.