Sunday, November 1, 2015

Grateful for the Opportunity to "Change!"

Dear Family,

So this past Thursday, we were supposed to go to Murun, but it was pushed back to Friday.  Elder Murat and I ended up driving to Darkhan first with Brother Batbold in the Mission Land Cruiser (I thought they were way comfy....wrong.)  We got there, gave some water filters to missionaries, and went to Erdenet for the night.  Then we got the word that the trip to Murun would  be pushed back until November 11th. That was a bummer for my companion because he will be an RM by then.  The 4th floor of the Bayanzurkh Building had a lot of welding done on it, and it made President Benson's home smell terrible and all smoky.  So he took his family to a hotel and just couldn’t  leave them alone if they were not at home.  So the trip to Murun was pushed back. Instead we worked with the Erdenet elders for a day, and I was able to meet my old companion, Elder Munkhbold’s, family!  They knew exactly who I was when I walked in.  The next day we took a taxi back to Darkhan to hit the train to Selenge, Mongolia to do splits with the Zone Leaders up there. So we got here Saturday night, went to church here, and will leave tonight around 9 p.m.  It is a 9 hour train ride back to UB….not looking to forward to that one.  

Here in Selenge, we have met some great people, and done some great work. Today for P-Day we took a taxi to a little city called Altan-Bulag, which is literally right on the Russian border. It was awesome!  I definitely walked right to the border fence, and stuck my foot under it and touched the Mother Land Russia for a great picture! Just on the other side of the fence is a really old church in Khyagt, Russia. It looks pretty cool, and maybe you can find it on Google or something and see just where I was. Anyway, there were watch towers and guys marching with AK's and large guns off in the distance, so taking pictures with your back to Russia was pretty scary to say the least.  I now have been to South Korea (stopped there on the way to Mongolia), Mongolia, and Russia (haha) on my mission, and soon I will go to China (on my way home)!  So much for saying three years ago that I didn’t want to go to Asia on my mission!  What was I thinking?!   

Mission life it great. I am tired, but that is okay.  I love what I am doing.  I love my Savior, and what he does for us.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity for change. Change means everything. It is our purpose.  A prophet said that our purpose is to go from bad to good, and from good to better.  Elder Bednar said that is more or less putting off the natural man, then becoming like a child. How I pray for us all to change, to love our neighbor, and to become who Christ suffered us to become.   When the times get rough, or you think you are never good enough for the change that God and His Son's perfect Atonement has in store for you, remember that He will make of you a masterpiece. You will make of yourself merely a smudge. 

I read this in Personal Study today.  I love the early brethren of the Church. They really understood the word “change."

"As you know, the Brethren used to announce in General Conference the names of those who had been called on missions. Not only was this the way friends and neighbors learned of the call, more often than not it was the way the missionary learned of it as well. One such prospect was Eli H. Pierce. A railroad man by trade, he had not been very faithful in Church meetings.  His mind had been given totally to what he demurely calls “temporalities.” He said he had never read more than a few pages of scripture in his life and that he had spoken to only one public gathering (an effort which he says was no credit to himself or those who heard him). He used the vernacular of the railroad and the barroom with a finesse born of long practice. He bought cigars wholesale—a thousand at a time—and he regularly lost his paycheck playing pool. Then this classic understatement: “Nature never endowed me with a superabundance of religious sentiment; my spirituality was not high and probably even a little below average.”   Well, the Lord knew what Eli Pierce was, and he knew something else. He knew what I’m pleading for today. He knew what Eli Pierce could become. When the call came that October 5 in 1875, Eli wasn’t even in the Tabernacle. He was out working on one of the railroad lines. A fellow employee, once recovered from the shock of it all, ran out to telegraph the startling news. Brother Pierce writes, “At the very moment this intelligence was being flashed over the wires, I was sitting lazily thrown back in an office rocking chair, my feet on the desk, reading a novel and simultaneously sucking on an old Dutch pipe just to vary the monotony of cigar smoking.” (For my friends in the English Department I would just hasten to add that the novel reading was probably a more serious transgression than the pipe smoking.)  He goes on. “As soon as I had been informed of what had taken place, I threw the novel in the waste basket, the pipe in a corner [and have never touched either to this hour]. I sent in my resignation . . . to take effect at once, in order that I might have time for study and preparation. I then started into town to buy [scripture].”

Then these stirring words:
Remarkable as it may seem, and has since appeared to me, a thought of disregarding the call, or of refusing to comply with the requirement, never once entered my mind. The only question I asked—and I asked it a thousand times—was: “How can I accomplish this mission? How can I, who am so shamefully ignorant and untaught in doctrine, do honor to God and justice to the souls of men, and merit the trust reposed in me by the Priesthood?   With such genuine humility fostering resolution rather than defeating it, Eli Pierce fulfilled a remarkable mission. His journal could appropriately close on a completely renovated life with this one line: “Throughout our entire mission we were greatly blessed.” But I add one experience to make the point.  During his missionary service, Brother Pierce was called in to administer to the infant child of a branch president whom he knew and loved. Unfortunately, the wife of the branch president had become embittered and now seriously objected to any religious activity within the home, including a blessing for this dying child. With the mother refusing to leave the bedside and the child too ill to move, this humble branch president with his missionary friend retired to a small upper room in the house to pray for the baby’s life. The mother, suspecting just such an act, sent one of the older children to observe and report back. There in that secluded chamber the two knelt and prayed fervently until, in Brother Pierce’s own words, “we felt that the child would live and knew that our prayers had been heard.”  Arising from their knees, they turned slowly only to see the young girl standing in the partially open doorway gazing intently into the room. She seemed, however, quite oblivious to the movements of the two men. She stood entranced for some seconds, her eyes immovable. Then she said, “Papa, who was that . . . man in there?”  Her father said, “That is Brother Pierce. You know him.”  “No,” she said, matter-of-factly, “I mean the other man.”  “There was no other, darling, except Brother Pierce and myself. We were praying for baby.”   “Oh, there was another man,” the child insisted, “for I saw him standing [above] you and Brother Pierce and he was dressed [all] in white.”   Now if God in his heavens will do that for a repentant old cigar-smoking, inactive, swearing pool player, don’t you think he’ll do it for you?  He will if your resolve is as deep and permanent as Eli Pierce’s. In this Church we ask for faith, not infallibility." (Elder Holland (For Times of Trouble) March 18, 1980)

-Elder Marc Harris

My comp, Elder Murat, and I in Altanbulag border port.

Me with my foot touching Russian soil!

This is where we were, right on the Mongolian-Russian border.

A long-time member here in Selenge, Sister Enkhsuren. She always feeds every missionary when they come into Selenge! She made us some amazing tsuivan! 

Elder Bat-Erdene and I on a split in Selenge.

SNOW! It was cold too! 

Chasing pigs!

A Burger King in Mongolia!  And a Double Whopper in my mouth! 

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