|Baptismal Dinner Round 4!|
Here is the basic rundown from the week though followed by commentary by Elder Rivera! Enjoy!
Thursday: October 13th, 2016
We had exchanges with Reading today and it went super well, however... some unexpected events caused the exchange to be altered quite a bit with a teach with the Ashpole's and also a very late night phone call about some things that were found involving some missionaries.
Friday: October 14th, 2016
I really don't want to write down everything of what happened today... to say the least, I found out what it truly meant to be an Assistant to President Gubler... Elder Cloward and I (Elder Tunnicliffe was Exchange in another area) traveled to some areas and well... "gathered information" and shared some feelings on the decisions that were made. The fact that we didn't get to sleep until roughly 2am the night before due to making late night phone calls to President and telling the missionaries we were paying a visit and then also gathering other things together for president, I wasn't a very happy person at this point. If you want to know... again, ask me after the mission as it would not be fair to release such information regarding the matter but to say the least, these missionaries messed up. I learned a lot today and learned what I meant to minister as Christ does with love and patience.
Saturday: October 15th, 2016
|Alessia and the Three Englandites|
Sunday: October 16th, 2016
So, didn't want to mention that I got food poisoning on Friday night and so the last 2 days were rough... had a good day at church but due to a huge headache, I rested it up for a bit before we needed to get some power points and other necessary items ready for the week.
Monday: October 17th, 2016
Well! We had the end of transfer Baptismal dinner again and his time we were actually invited haha. It was another super good dinner with Gubler Roast and also a delicious Berry Cobbler.
Tuesday: October 18th, 2016
Well... the hardest part of every transfer is saying goodbye to fellow missionaries who have finished their service as a full time missionary... enough said there.
Wednesday: October 19th, 2016
With new missionaries coming in and with a new transfer, I decided to make a new power point for our "Welcome to the Mission" slideshow and we had a good time doing it! The new missionaries are stars... there was one Elder in particular that stood out to me that I wish I could have trained... I told President that jokingly and he just smiled and said putting his arm around me, "Your chance will come but not for a very long while." Smiled again and left. Wow. Haha, Guess I'll have to wait to til the New Year to even think about training.
Thursday: October 20th, 2016
Today I had the chance to finish up a bit more of my college application and we also started driving to Plymouth which is out west in the mission for Specialized Zone Trainings. Crazy to think we are doing them again... haha, this transfer will fly by due to these.
Anyways, here is the where the meat of this email begins so I hope you take time to taste of it and can digest the words of which I will share which are of personal experience.
As you can tell by the subject line... We have come to yet another close to another amazing transfer! We were able to accomplish a ton of things throughout and we even had a baptism! Super good things happened but as every good transfer comes, there must be an end and that is where we are. I can't express how weird it is to think that I only have 5 transfers left in England. Weird huh? That's only just under 7 months... what? Are you ready for me? Anyways, am I excited to head back? Of course... I get to see family again and I also get to see my friends (all married and such...), I am actually also excited for school (never thought that would be possible) but it is just strange. I really can't wait for it because I know I'll be ready for it. Not trunky or anything but I'm ready. I'm ready to apply everything that I have learned in the mission field and to put it to the test of life. Playing basketball is still a big hope and dream for me as well and I'll do anything to ensure that I prepare myself mentally and physically when the time comes to earn a spot on a college roster if that is a part of God's plan for me following the mission.
I am beginning to feel the "Missionary Fatigue" that gets to you around this time of the mission (as so expert missionaries used to say so in the past) and it is real. I thought basketball was rough on the body... wow was I wrong. Every day is harder to wake up and get going but I still do it because I know why I'm doing it and for who I am waking up for. Each day the Lord and I go to battle alongside each other and it is amazing to win the fight each day, bruised and bleeding... but victorious. Trust in God always and you come off conqueror.
Missions are not easy things at all... trust me and the thing is... if you have never served a mission, you WILL NEVER be able to even comprehend or come close to relating to that statement or fully to any return missionary. They are hard. Not only are you put to the test mentally, physically, and emotionally... but your biggest test comes spiritually. I have learned so many things being out here in England so far. I can't begin to express the "Spiritual" knowledge I have gained out here. I put "Spiritual" in quotations because some people may think that "Spiritual" is the same as "Intellectual" and it isn't. Does it play a part in it? Of course. But there are just some things that are IMPOSSIBLE to learn and maintain intellectually and must be maintained and nourished only through Spiritual things. Let me explain by using the following verses taken from 1 Corinthians 2:9-14:
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Now, the reason I share these things is because I have truly learned things from God. 16 months of praying, studying, teaching, baptizing, and rejoicing have brought me the greatest feeling I could have never experienced anywhere else than in the service of God. I don't care who you are or what you have done in the world... if you have never seen someone change and discover Jesus Christ in the way that I have by entering into a sacred promise with him and being baptized and starting a new life, your accomplishment is nothing compared to it. Walking into those waters and seeing the smile and joy on that individual changes you... forever. Those that have served or are currently serving missions will completely understand this sentence. Why do I share this? Well... I only have 7 months to experience this first hand as a full-time missionary for Jesus Christ. I am a "Walking Billboard" for Him right now. His name is on my chest, my heart and on my lips 24/7. Am I ashamed? Nope. For they that are ashamed shall fall at the last day. But proudly, boldly, and diligently will I proclaim His name to the world that He lives and that He speaks today. I cannot testify of this enough... this is something I know. I know He is real and speaks to the children of men in His own way and by His own will. There are experiences that I have had in the course of my mission that have witnessed this very reality to myself. I will do everything for Him because my loyalty is first to the Lord, then to the person next to me. God is everything to me. He has taught me more about myself and my weaknesses over and over again but as he teaches me of my weakness, he grants unto me a new strength to combat that weakness and make me stronger spiritually than ever before. God will also entrust you to make your own decision for growth and to show your own faith and confidence in making personal decisions before he lets you know the next step.
Who am I?
People always wonder what the answer to this question is... my answer? Open your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror. I have looked and I have found who I truly am. Yes physically I know that I am Zach. Great. That's wonderful. But I have come to know someone even greater. I know who I am spiritually. I know without a single drop of doubt in my mind that I am a son of God. But... it doesn't stop there. Over the course of my mission I have heard words... two in particular that have been shared over and over again but I have finally come to understand who and what I am... These two words are "Noble" and "Great". Let me use some doctrinal evidence to depict the identity of not only me... but you.
53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
54 Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.
55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
(Italics added for emphasis)
Guess what? Newsflash. This is about who I am and who you are. You are not some mediocre person or average individual. You are as the scripture states: Choice, Reserved, Noble, Great Ones, Chosen, Rulers, Prepared. Does this not make any sense of relevance to you? If it doesn't, look at it with your spiritual eyes. When you look at the world today, what do you see? Physical sadness, pain, suffering, killing, arguing, suicide... should I continue or do you get the picture? Among the physical is the spiritual battle... and our Heavenly Father knew... HE KNEW that in the last days before the Second Coming of His Son Jesus Christ that there would be hardships... there would be killings... sadness...pain... chaos everywhere. He knew it... so what did he do to combat it? He sent you! A choice... preserved and prepared son/daughter of God. God doesn't make mistakes... you're here for a reason and believe it or not... you chose God's perfect plan before... that is why you're even on the earth right now. But more than just choosing... you defended it and you chose to come here to accept it once again and to defend Him and His Son Jesus Christ in these the last days when Satan and all hell would break loose on the earth. You're in the midst of it all and sadly... our brothers and sisters... choice and reserved sons and daughters of Deity that PREPARED to fight AGAINST this evil... have joined the other team. I love what Elder Holland, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, says about this. He said, "“The FUTURE of this world has long been DECLARED; the final outcome between GOOD and evil is already KNOWN. There is absolutely no question as to who WINS because the VICTORY has already been posted on the SCOREBOARD. The only really strange thing is all of this is that we are still down here on the FIELD trying to decide which TEAM’S JERSEY we want to wear!”
I invite all of you to look down and find out which jersey color you're wearing and all those wearing white, fight back. The world will only continue to get darker... and darker... and darker. But you know what the greatest thing of darkness is? It's always darkest before the dawn! Where will you be when dawn strikes and the Saints of God will rise up with "the only true bright and Morning Star"(Rev. 22:16), who is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God? Will you be wearing white or will you be wearing black? "Choose you this day whom ye will serve."(Joshua 24:15) for "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."(3 Nephi 13:24; Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13)
Who is He?
When one comes to discover the answer to "Who am I?" then another step is to find and discover the greatest mystery in the world. That is... "that [you] might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."(John 17:13) Discovering who I am has put me on a quest and a journey to come closer and build an even stronger relationship with Jesus Christ, my Savior and my older brother.
Jesus Christ is everything... without him, you and I might as well not live because there is no life without him. When you look around you and you see the sadness and the discouraging faces and tears of sorrow rolling down the cheek... it is very clear that they have not yet found him and I mean really, sincerely, and wholeheartedly found Jesus Christ. With and in Christ there is JOY! But where you do find your JOY? Is it in J:Jesus; O:Others; or is in it Y: Yourself? If you first find joy in Christ, then you will find joy in yourself and will have the greatest desire to help others find that joy also! Christ is the first and the last, Alpha and Omega. If you find Him... you find yourself. "For whosoever will save his life, must be willing to lose it for my sake; and whosoever will be willing to lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."(JST Luke 9:24) I am willing to do anything and give everything for Christ for the promise is that by so doing, "every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."(Matthew 19:16)
Missions are the great test and prepping session for the rest of your life on earth and eternity. It is the refiner's fire. So much goes in and so much more comes out of it. Missions and the gospel are like an input-output table: What you put in is what you'll get out of it. Think of it this way and I love this quote(can't remember who said it so please forgive me) "You've had eternity to prepare for your mission, You have 2 years to live it, and You'll have the rest of eternity to reflect on it. I can say so far, I have made experiences that will last with me forever. I would never trade this experience or the time that I have spent here in England for anything else. Nothing else is worth it. It has taught me everything I need so far at this stage of my life and I know even greater things have yet to come. All those that embark on this journey and stay on the strait and narrow path living all the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will one day receive this promise: "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am"(D&C 93:1)
All those who read this or didn't read the whole of it and just skipped down to the bottom. The things of which I have shared are true and they will stand forever. I know God is real and He loves us. We are indeed His children and His whole purpose is to help us and prepare us to become like Him. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that if you read it, study it, and pray about it, you can come to know these very things for yourself. I leave with you my witness that Jesus Christ is the very Son of the living God and that He lives and I leave this with you in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.