Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The True Reason We Preach the Gospel

Dear Mama,
This week has been a very nice week.

It all started last Tuesday in District Meeting. I had prepared an instruction on our purpose as missionaries. For a time I had been asking myself the true reason we Preach The Gospel. I had a mindset that whether or not I taught a person. If they would accept the Gospel they will receive it in the Spirit World. Teaching them now only brings happiness a bit earlier.

But as I posed this question to my District, I was still looking for an answer. But as I thought I was hit with inspiration.  I realized that that mindset I had was predestination. And how that is false. I realized that sure people can accept the Gospel in the spirit world, but any spirit that possesses them when they die will continue to possess them. I have realized that people are gaining these false spirits in this life not in the next. As we teach them now. We are stopping people from receiving those spirits and then help make them a Gospel-accepting person. I have had the Spirit testify to me that these people around us, we have in our hand now, can make them receive Celestial Glory. 

I have realized that if I do not do my part as a missionary, I will stand there at the Judgement bar. And I will watch a person, or entire family even. All being sent to the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom. And then I and them will see what I could have done to help them enter the Celestial Kingdom. We each had the magnitude of our calling sink into our hearts. It is very true what we are doing now will have an effect on us throughout all eternity. So this week I have been trying to take every investigators lessons with great care.

But this past Saturday we had 3 baptisms. A young boy name Alie and his sisters Hawa and Matinda. They are very sweet. Especially Alie. He talks about how he cannot wait to get older and go on a mission. The boy is very impressive  to me. He gets so involved in all Church activities and with all the members.  But is a funny and goofy kid.
Lately we have been chillin with the neighborhood boys. We were sparring in our veranda last Monday. We locked the doors and had a cage match. We just kept making them tap out. I have realized much of the stuff we do here, we get me sued or arrested back home. Oh the beauty of Sierra Leone mission.

 This morning we were drawing on their faces with sharpie. They looked so funny I will just have to send a picture.

So yesterday we had the sweet opportunity to have a Zone Conference in which Elder LeGrand Curtis of the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us. It is so sweet to hear from strong priesthood leaders. I am always astounded by the knowledge they have and how they can help you to feel as if you are learning so much when you think you cannot learn more.

But you are in my prayers, I hope the family is doing well. I am really going to try to get letters out this week.  I have really enjoyed the package. I am still slowly using my chocolate pudding which is the best. I have a request for another Angel Moroni tie pin. I am going to give it to my companion. In future packages you should send small things like that in 2. One for me and one for my companion.

Mama I love you with all my heart.

Love your son,

Elder McDonald

This is a drawing of the very first Stake Center in Sierra Leone.  The 3000th Stake in the church.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Holdin up da bank na salone

Elder McDonald and Elder Hovley

Finally a picture from Scott

Dear Mama,

I am not going to have as long as a letter today, I am trying to get pictures on. But I hope all things are going ok.
So I got the packages! It is very wonderful I have been eating myself sick of chocolate each night.
I have really enjoyed them. So this week, has been nice. But I want you to continue to look at everything positively.
We have had many good lessons. We had 1 baptism this weekend. He is a young man named Ganda. He is a very sweet guy. The thing he was most excited about was receiving the priesthood. He wants to do missionary work with us and help a person to be converted and have the opportunity to perform a baptism.
Sorry that is all I have time for today, I hope these pictures go through!
Love you,
Love Elder McDonald
PS. only one worked. the one of Elder Lokpo and I.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Laughter and Yagba

This letter has touched me so deeply and I know Scott is filled with the Holy Ghost as he writes. I have never seen someone grow as much in such a short amount of time as I have seen Scott grow. He has a clear vision of his purpose in Sierra Leone, and I know without a doubt that the Lord is always with him. He is teaching me so much and bringing me closer to our Savior through his simple love and abundant faith. As a mother, I could never ask for anymore in a son than this. I am going to follow his counsel and laugh more. He has always been able find humor in everything and make me laugh. I need to take on his attitude of "what about this situation can i laugh at?" I know he has shared some great counsel for all of us, especially in his example of how to be a true disciple of Christ.

Dear Mama,

One of the first things that came into my mind, was the time I broke the car window. And how I could not help but laugh. One thing I do not want you to forget while I am gone, is how to laugh. I am sure you haven't, but I guess that is what has really always helped me throughout my life. Is always look for something that can bring a smile. I have had a lot of time to think this week. I have truly tried to place in my mind what my desires are. Lately I have been really trying to figure out how I can improve. I have been trying to become as Christ-like as I can. I feel I have figured out the key in bringing the spirit into almost everyone lesson. And that is to feel genuine love for everyone person. One person I have always imagined teaching was Breck. And how I would teach him, I feel that it would be one of the most spiritual lessons. And I have realized it is because how much I care about him. The same has gone for Amy, Jaron and the kids as of late.
I am trying to learn to love with all of my heart, and I think that means I also need to continue to know how to laugh. One thing I have learned about mission is that I feel it has trials and blessings and experiences that all represent your life from 21+. You find so much happiness, but you can feel so much stress. You have moments where you are so proud, times of extreme disappointment. In Krio it is called Yagba, the ups and downs of life.

One thing I admire in you so much is how you rely on the Lord completely while still always trying to fulfill your part. You have set an example for me, lately I have really been trying to do the same. I have been trying to figure out how to really increase my faith. I am trying to figure out how to really increase my Testimony. One thing I know is that everything in this Church is true. No matter what a person says, no matter what a person does, I know it is true. But I want that Testimony to ring through my entire being, I want to be as Nephi in which people could not help but believe on his words. I was reading the other night from the teachings of Wilford Woodruff. In which he spoke of Oliver Cowderey. And that when this man bore his Testimony, it seemed as if the ground would shake. These are the desires of my heart at the moment. It has honestly been a long time now since I have cared about numbers here on mission. I just want to know I helped these people in a way that money, food or anything worldly could ever do. And I want to strengthen my spirit as much as I can while I do.

Last night, I felt as if I should begin to write poetry again. So I sat down, nothing good came to mind. So I decided to do it how I did back home. Where I lay down and go to sleep. Sometimes while I am laying there, or I will wake up and I feel I have something good to write. I do not have much yet. But something will come.

Mom, keep doing what you are doing. But look at these issues and find a reason to laugh. Find a reason that will show you it is not too bad. It is there.

I will share a little bit of the proselyting endeavors we have had this week. We had a lesson with the man Henry this week. We extended him a baptismal date. He was very hesitant. He said not yet. He got up a moment and came back with some money. He tried to offer it to us, we told him that we would never take money. But I was worried after the lesson. I truly want to see this man progress. We stopped by his home yesterday to say hello. He expressed that he does not have the clothes for Baptism. We explained he does not need them. And he has accepted to prepare for baptism. Here in Sierra Leone, most of the Christian churches will make you pay money one way or the other for baptism. It is sickening.

In fact, another experience is running into a Pastor for a Church in Freetown, it can amaze me how a man like this can read the Bible every day. Do nothing but things that involve his Church, and be further from coming to the truth than a frequent sinner.

But it is a wonderful thing to find someone who is accepting. We found a young man this week, named Joseph. We gave him a book of Mormon and yesterday we sat down to talk about it a lot more. He had been looking through it quite a lot. He had been told by many people including his Pastor that the book was very evil. But as we read through the introduction for almost an hour talking all about the Nephites, Lamanites and the Jaredites. He was so intrigued. The most powerful moment was when he wanted to read the Testimony of the Three Witnesses. As I read it my mind continued to reflect on these mens testimonies. Joseph was exclaiming to us about how happy he was with the message. We read the last 2 paragraphs of the introduction about praying and receiving an answer and he said I am going to read this book until I get an answer. I feel he will receive his answer very quickly. But, I believe our Heavenly Father will do what is best. But I need to go.
I hope this next week will be full of blessings. I love you Mama.
Love your son,
Elder McDonald.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

A beautiful view of Bo, Sierra Leone, where Scotty is living now. 

Today is New Years Eve, and the greatest thing to end the year of 2012 is to read these words from my precious son who has dedicated two years of his life to serve his Savior, Jesus Christ.  I have to say that I am very proud of him and know that he is filled with the spirit of the Holy Ghost.  Since he has left, my testimony of this gospel has grown, and I will continue to study and pray as I know Scotty is.  I want to be worthy of all the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me and my family.  A heart filled with gratitude just does not seem to be enough for all He has done.  

Scotty is now living and teaching in Bo, Sierra Leone, which is about a three-hour drive East of Freetown, near the Liberian border.  There is more electricity there but the area is more rural than anywhere he has been.  Below are some pictures of the chapel in Bo that he attends.  The chapel is rented, but hopefully soon, they will have their own.  

Dear Mother,

     I really enjoyed this letter. Do not feel it was too spiritual or preachy. It is a wonderful thing to hear. It was nice to talk to everyone. But I feel like I never got to say what I wanted to say. But the thing is I do not know what I want to say. This week has been an interesting one. I have been trying to grow in my spirituality and it has been driving me into deeper prayer and deeper study. At this moment the biggest thing I am trying to do is strengthen my testimony and my faith. I have been reading a lot. Especially from the teachings of the Prophets and from the History of the Church. It is a very interesting thing. I have thought about what it is that members have lost their testimony on. So that is where I am strengthening my own. On the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had some interesting lessons this week. The most spiritual pertaining to the Restoration. We met with this man we have been teaching a bit named Brother Kallon. This week we had a very good lesson. But the best part of it was when my companion and I had not spoken for around 20 minutes. We sat and listened to this man read the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I could see, hear and feel the spirit testifying the truth of it into this mans heart. He was continuously exclaiming to us about how the spirit was arousing his spiritual emotions. He was all amazed at the testimony. It was a very enlightening experience. 

      The other experience has to do with a man named Henry. Henry was a man who was partially intoxicated when we contacted him last week. He overcame a life long addiction to smoking and many hard drugs including cocaine about 5 years ago. But he is still addicted to Alcohol. So we taught this man the Word of Wisdom small 8 days ago. He was partially buzzed for the lesson. I gave him an assignment to be completely sober for Wednesday when would come again. When we went again he was completely sober. So we continued to help him set goals for overcoming the addiction. But he also had a pamphlet on the Restoration. So we told him to continue to go over it and we would come again Saturday. So Saturday when we saw him we went. We asked him about his drinking and he had not partaken of any Alcohol since that first lesson we had with him the last week. I was so happy. We continued to lead into the Restoration. He particularly enjoyed the First Vision. This man has been Roman Catholic his entire life. And he almost never misses his Church on Sundays. But he asked us "When will Church be starting tomorrow?" We said 9 and he said I will be there at 8:45. He came to Church and attended every meeting. He got readily involved in the Elders Quorum as they prepared a play for the Branch end of the year party we will be having this evening. He is a heart warming experience.

      I also got to speak yesterday in Church. Right before Sacrament the Branch President asked me to be the first speaker. Any topic I want. I felt inclined to talk about the Bringing up of Children. Out here child abuse is a  very common thing. You see it everyday within most families. It is greatly lessened in the Church, but still nothing that would be tolerated back home. I guess I kind of admonished them. I read Matthew 18:1-6 and explained that no matter what will the floggings and beatings be justified. That these children need to be taught the light and truth. Just like the prophets of the Book of Mormon. How most of them were taught by their families. It is the very first message of the BoM in Nephi 1:1. But it was a nice day.

      I hope all will continue to go well. Continue to share your spiritual experiences with me. It helps me rekindle mine as you can see in this letter. But I love you with all my heart.

Have a Happy New Year.
Love yo Son
Elder McDonald

Bo Chapel.  The white area you see is outside.
President Roggia looking at it from a different perspective.  You can see the classrooms off to the right.
A classroom at the Bo Chapel