Why Hello! =]
The time has finally arrived. 6 weeks has passed here in the MTC since I have left and I am finally going to be leaving to NY on Tuesday. We leave at three in the morning, and then we have a layover in Detroit, and then to NY (should get there around 4 on Tuesday). I am so ready to leave. The food here is horrible. The MTC isn't the real world, so I am extremely grateful to be going to the epitome of the real world. I may regret this later though. Haha.
The language is still difficult but It will eventually come.
So my teacher's name is Hermano Savio (brother Savio in Spanish). He is one of the most amazing guys I have ever met. He served a mission in Panama and he told us this story that is amazing. He is the only active member in his family.
He was teaching a lady on his mission. In their culture (Panama), the women are taken at age 14 to get pregnant and give birth with older men. It is a tradition in that culture apparently. At the time, she had fallen in love with a boy her age. She ran away from the man with this boy, and they created a life together. Well, Brother Savio and his companion ended up finding her, and teaching her, and she truly saw the truths of the Gospel and she wanted to take the first step of eternal blessings and enter the waters of baptism. Only problem was she couldn't. She was living with her boyfriend and they wanted to get married in the temple so they could be sealed together for eternity. But legally, they could not get married because this woman ended up getting an STD from this older man when she was 14, and the only way you can legally get married in this area in Panama is if you have a doctor clear that you are healthy and clean. For years she would go to the doctor and get tested, hoping that somehow she would be healthy and clean again so she could get married. The woman and her boyfriend wanted to enter the waters of baptism, and wanted to be sealed together through all time and eternity in the temple, but they couldn't, because legally they were not allowed. Hermano Savio was teaching them a lesson one day, and all of a sudden his companion felt prompted to say the following. He told them that if she were to fast and pray with all her might, mind, and strength, she would be clean again, because this is what God wanted for her, and he promised her that she would again be clean. They (the woman, her boyfriend, and two elders) fasted and prayed continually for 24 hours, and the next day, she had a doctor's appointment. She called Hermano Savio crying because she said that the doctor said she was all clean and clear from any disease. She went back to the doctor and told him that she has been here many times and the 20 times she has been tested, it has come back with bad results. So he ran the test again, twice, and nothing came back that was negative. He was astonished. He said it was a miracle. This story was amazing. It is a true testimony to me of sincere praying and fasting. When we truly want to build our relationship with God, He will talk back, but only when we first reach out to Him. James 1:5. When we do, we can work miracles.
One thing I love about The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints is that it's not just a church. We claim it to be the eternal truth. We have no creed by which we are limited to. Anything that has been revealed, or that will be revealed that is true, is a part of the gospel. EVERYTHING. We have the blessing to have the authority of God to act in his name to bind things on earth, that will be bound in heaven (like eternal families for example). People often wonder (no matter the religion) what it's going to be like in the next life, and how God will judge us. This sums it up perfectly. "The final judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts - what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts - what we have become. What is it that we are trying to become? Well let's look in the bible - Matthew 5:48. Christ says we are supposed to become perfect just as God is perfect in Heaven. We are supposed to become like Jesus and God, but why?
I heard a parable this week that I think really answers this question.
'A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:
"All that I have I desire to give to you - not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I HAVE, I can easily give you, but that which I AM you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours."
This parallels to the pattern of this life, it's meaning, and the next life/heaven. The Gospel Of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life (living with our families, in the presence of God, remaining in a state of happiness forever), the fullness of God, or our father in heaven, and what I love most is that is shows (the Gospel shows) the laws and principles by which it (eternal life) can be obtained. It is the answer to eternal happiness!
I have a very analytically driven and scientific mind and it is because of this that I have come to see why we need both science and religion (religion literally means man's connection back to God, or to tie back). I have come to understand their roles. Religion tells us why, and science shows us how things HAVE happened. See "happened" is the key word - it is of the past. Science alone cannot "observe" the future because when we observe, it is something that has already happened.
C.S. Lewis explains both of their roles perfectly. This is what he said:
"Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, "I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 a.m. on January 15th and saw so-and-so," or. "I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so." Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science - and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes - something of a different kind - this is not a scientific question. If there is "Something Behind", then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is such a thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them . After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, "Why is there a universe?" Why does it go on as it does?" "Has it any meaning" would remain just as they were?" Think about that.
This is why with science alone, I am not satisfied with all of the questions I have. I need more than what was observed to inform me of the future, not just in this life, but in the next. - The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us this.
I want to share something with all of you. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the ultimate hope. One thing I have found interesting is that throughout all society, the main goal in life usually is to live happy having a family. Most of those people can only hope that they will be with our families in the next life. But people in the gospel know for a fact that we can be with our families for eternity, but not only that, we know how to obtain that great blessing! What greater joy can we have? This life would be a tragedy if we didn't have this knowledge. Just think of all the time, money, blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, all the joy, etc, you have put into your family (and for some of you will put into your future family)! It's your everything! It would be a tragedy spending your whole life creating your family just for it to go to waste when we die. It reminds me of the Shakespeare play entitled "Hamlet", where an intense, beautiful, and sorrowful story takes place, just to have everyone die at the end. Sad right?
If this was God's plan, well wouldn't it be a senseless one?
Whenever God acts, there is always a reason behind his action or commandment(s) that He gives us. For him just to send us here and create a family just for it to go to waste, I cannot accept. I just can't. And luckily I don't have to! We have all the answers that are needed right now and we also have the very plan from God on how to obtain the blessings our souls yearn for! That's why I love this Gospel! It makes us eternally happy! Eternally means forever. That includes today! Jesus even said it himself (talking to us [Matthew 11:28-30]) "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." If we truly live the Gospel, it gives us peace literally forever, today, tomorrow and forever! I have seen it in my own life and countless of others.
If we decide before we come unto God, that he isn't real or His FULL Gospel isn't true, we are cheating ourselves and remain stuck, because God himself said you can't know him unless you come unto him first. Then you will know by the power of His spirit. You will feel a greater peace you have ever experienced.
I just love the peace I now feel in my life. I want everyone to partake of this peace because it will change their lives forever.
Get ready for some crazy stories in New York. I am sure there will be some crazy ones. Next time you hear from me, I will be in New York! I am VERY excited!
I apologize if some of this grammar didn't make sense. I am forgetting how to spell and talk in English. Haha. Lo Siento.
VIDEO'S OF THE WEEK:
I love you all so very much!!! Have a GREAT week. =]
- Elder Austin Celaya
P.S. Love Life. We Only Get One Chance To Do So.