Monday, January 12, 2015

Begging For an Answer

Okay, well.... 

This week went by SO SLOW for me.  

Not a bad thing, by any means.... but WHEW it is WEIRD finally writing! 

Thank you to everyone who wrote me this week (Lara, The Merit Missionaries, Mariano, Blythe, Mikaella, Steph (I TOTALLY understand about the typing in spanish thing), Lizzie, Dad, Assael, Joy (Love the glasses, dearie.), Alisse, NEYSA, Bishop and Kailey), I love you guys and I appreciate your words SO much.  They give me an insight into the world back home, if only a little, and it reminds me I'm still on earth.  Cuz it does NOT feel like that, once in a while.... 

Well, unlike other times.... I know EXACTLY what I want to write about today.  So.... To preface, I want to ask a few questions.  Questions regarding personal testimony.  Yeah... I know that some of you may not be members of the Church, or may be struggling with your testimony or things of the sort, and so I ask that you let yourself be open to these questions, that you may build what you may believe isn't there. Really allow yourself to think about the questions as well. I don't intend to give answers to your questions... But only to share what I've learned this past week. Here goes....

Do you understand what prayer is, and more importantly, if it matters?

Do you feel that God answers your prayers?

Do you feel you recognize answers to these prayers?

Alright.... So, now that you've read all these, I want to relate a few experiences during my mission and this past week that helped me to find a personal answer to these questions. 

First question.... As a missionary, serving in an area where EVERYONE 'draws close to God with their lips but their hearts are FAR from Him', I have had more than a thousand conversations about what prayer really is.  It is very common to have the person offering the prayer (before we explain) begin to yell 'Oh LORD we are GRATEFUL Lord for ALL Lord that YOU Lord have Given LORD!', or to begin the prayer in a rather... flashy, 'LOOK I'M PRAYING' kind of way, or simply to say the exact same things every prayer, thanking for... 'el aire, el agua, el sol, el pan de cada dia, los alimentos....' (in that EXACT order). 
So... What have I learned from this?  Well.. How to explain HOW to pray.  And yeah, we all know 'how'.  Address God, express your thoughts, end in the name of our Saviour.  Easy. Right? 

I thought so too. Until I came to this realization... The reason they don't know how to keep it sacred and sincere, is because They Do Not Know Who God IS. They worship an IDEA, not an actual person.  That is why they don't know how to Just TALK to Him....  Because although God is all powerful GOD... More importantly.... He is Our FATHER.  He LOVES US and He WANTS TO TALK TO US.  Once I came to this.... We watched the investigators' lives change.  THAT is the ground breaking truth.  GOD WANTS TO HEAR.  

So now, do you think it matters if we pray?  Well, we learn from James that if we need anything, we can ask Him and He'll answer.  But in the Book of 2nd Nephi, we learn that we must not do ANYTHING WITHOUT talking to Him about it.  So... Not only is it an opportunity to get help from someone LITERALLY PERFECT, and someone perfect who WANTS to help, but IT IS A COMMANDMENT.  And why???  BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS US.  We recieve specific blessings based on the commandment given, right? Then literally, we should talk to Him about ALL things! And why?  Because THEN He can BLESS us in all things.  Easy logic, right?  Well... That brings us to question 2.

When I began my mission, I had a lot of questions.  I would ask, and frankly... I never got a clear answer.  That is where I have been a good amount of my mission.  I have faith that I WILL recieve eventually... But it has been a long wait.

Then came this week.

Story 1: 
One investigator woman (A's Mom).  In a nutshell, she does NOT like to listen.  She is very set in her ways, and she does NOT like being told she is wrong.  She gets mean.  But she claims to really know God.... So, hard mix.  To describe her personality, we brought a few members.  Note, she had NEVER met these members before.  But during this lesson.... She had the nerve to YELL at our members, telling them they were WRONG and we DO worship Joseph Smith and EVERYTHING we preach and believe is blasphemy. The lesson ended bad.  She was mean.  We gave up on her, certain that she WOULD not change. This same thing had happened with us alone a few times as well.

Story 2:
A family of menos activos (K and E) that I have been looking for for FOREVER just happened to run into us on the street.  They invited us over, asking for a blessing on their house, saying they had had some... 'bad' experiences.  We went twice, first to get to know them, and the next to actually give the blessing.  During our first visit, it was made VERY clear why there are bad things in the house.  They were not living any standards and there were many things in their house that would bring in some bad things.  So... For the second visit.... Elder Tuft and I had NO idea what we needed to share, unsure of how to bring up the uncomfortable truths and not knowing how we can help if they aren't trying to help themselves.  We were very worried and totally lost.  

Then... With both of these situations.... I need to say how hopeless it seemed.  We were ready to drop both situations, knowing that there was nothing we could do of our own knowledge and experience. So.... In both situations, in different times, we decided to offer a really specific prayer before visiting either of them again.  And....

Story 1:
We go to visit again, ready for all wrath and hellfire... And.... This woman invites us in, and reveals to us that she wanted to know more, honestly, about Joseph Smith.  Well... In this lesson, many other people came into her little house to listen, as the lesson was INCREDIBLE.  And, as we went, if someone asked a question about our beliefs, THIS WOMAN began to be like 'Ohhh no no no they don't worship Joseph Smith.  He was a PROPHET and he translated this book, and through this book you can know if he was a prophet, cuz if this book is ture, their church is the true church!'  
....... Like, HOW?  She is fighting FOR us now!  Freaking defending us and teaching with us and BAHHHHHH How???
....Well... I think I know how.  What's best, this woman was one who offered very generic, general, repetitive prayers.  Well.... At the end, we asked her to pray.  
In all honesty..... Her prayer made me cry.  She asked all the questions she wanted to know.  She TALKED to him and said 'Lord, thank you for sending me these missionaries. They have touched me and I have never felt as I do today.' 

Story 2:
After our prayer before leaving our house, we walked to the house of these members very nervous.  We didn't know what to expect.  We talked a bit to the fam, sang a couple of hymns and then prayed to start the lesson (the blessing would be at the end).  As we finished praying, we still just sat so unsure. So... I opened my mouth.  And in that moment.... Something started guiding my words, and I knew that what we needed to talk about... was families.  And I had never had an experience like that.  Feeling something guiding each word.  So.. families. Why they matter, and what we are willing to do to make them eternal.  The lesson went well after that.... And with that, we were able to address all issues without ever saying anything outright.... But THEY told them to US. Amazing as that was, that wasn't even the BOOM.

Then came time for the blessing.  They asked Elder Tuft to give it, and then we offered to do so while kneeling.  Okay.... As he started praying.... Something insane happened.  For one thing, the room got heavy.  REALLY heavy.  I didn't dare open my eyes a squint for fear of what we might have seen.  It was like pure darkness, enveloping in a circle around the four of us - like something walking around us, unable to enter the space we knelt in.  

Then came one of the most unreal moments of my life.  This experience remans sacred to me, and it is dificult to put into words.  As I felt this darkness pervade, I began to recieve words in my head... I felt as if I MYSELF was offering this prayer on behalf of the house.  And then.... As I would see this phrase in my head.... Elder Tuft would say it word for word.  As if he was reading off a screen in my head.  And this continued for the entire prayer.  I remember feeling chills the entire time, thinking to myself 'how is this possible?  How is this happening?  He is saying the words I am thinking for WORD, AS I think them.  Is this even real?'  And, as I live and breathe... Yes.  It was real.  And as the prayer continued... The power got weaker and weaker, until the statement in my head came out of Elder Tuft's mouth, 'we therefore cast out ALL evil that resides in this house, and dedicate this house to the Lord.'  And.... Peace.  Total peace.  And... The mother was in church yesterday.

But this story STILL isn't over. After the lesson, Elder Tuft related to me a story... That during the beginning of the lesson, he also didn't know what to say.  Then, before I spoke the words, he knew 'we need to talk about familes.  Oh Elder Huff, PLEASE talk about familes...'  And, what happened?  Well... You already know!
Finally, during the prayer, Elder Tuft never felt the darkness.  As he started praying, he told me that he felt as if he was alone in a room of white.  Totally at peace, totally calm... And he was saying the words as if someone was putting them in his mouth (as far as I understood it).  Sounds familiar, right?
Which now, brings us to questions number 3.

I had questions when I started my mission.  I had a hard time recognizing promptings in my life, and I was worried about preaching something I didn't fully understand.  Well.... My dear friends and family.... I got my answers this week, when not only were the prayers answered about these families specifically, but also as questions I have had for months, YEARS even, were answered.  

I now know with a surety I can't put into words that God Exists.  He wants to help us.  He DOES answer prayers, even if it is in His own time.  Frankly, I wouldn't have appreciated it if I had had it sooner, nor would it be as clear as it is to me now.  So yes. He Answers.  I KNOW this is true. And how do you recognize them?  Well.... First you need to trust Him.  And then... You need to be patient.  Then you need to be open and ready.  And then... In the moment you least expect it...  You will know.  It will hit you like a ton of bricks, and you will NOT be able to deny it.  You Will Know.

I testify of this truth.  But now... How does this now apply to you? 

Talk to Him.  Sincerely.  Learn how much it matters.  Learn by practice.  Have Faith.  Trust Him.  Be Patient.  Be Ready.  And most of all.... Don't forget it when it happens.  Because THAT is a testimony. EVERY moment that made a difference for you.  Don't forget them.  Cherish them.  Remember them.  Share them. USE them.  DO IT.  JUST DO IT.  I PROMISE, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Because it just changed mine.

Love you all.

Elder Kristian Huff

Song of the Week - Ellie Badge from Up

AND ALSO... I'll respond to all of you next week!  LOVES!

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