Week 5: It Feels Like Texas Desert

Family, Friends, and Fans,

Today marks my 1st month in the mission! 23 months na lang! Malapit na! I’m so excited to go home.

Thank you again for the e-mails. Mondays are the best part of the week because your e-mails are like my windows to the outside world. Sometimes it gets dark here in Lucena and I miss home, and then your e-mails just make everything bright. Lace, thanks for the worldly news! I’m trying to be a “consecrated missionary” but cut me some slack, okay? Thanks as well to my CDU friends. We’re gonna hang out A LOT in two years. See you soon.

I’d like to start by giving a brief message to the Cagadoc family. It’s truly a great blessing to send your son to a far, far away place to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now is a perfect time to feel like Mosiah (and his wife) when they sent out their four sons to preach the gospel to other people. Perhaps it was bittersweet for them to send their sons to their missions. I know that Elder Cagadoc will be like Ammon in Cagayan de Oro. I will pray that he will serve the Lord with all his heart, might, mind and strength in inviting people to come unto Christ. Please don’t worry about him. Heavenly Father is taking care of him more than you could possibly fathom. The MTC is the safest place for the missionary to be in. There he will be strengthened and prepared to meet and teach actual people in Cagayan.

My week hasn’t been really that great because of the challenges here in my mission. As I have told you, there’s like a huge percentage of less actives here in Lucena. We only have 2 investigators. We’re doing our best to find people. We spend more time knocking on doors (which is ironic because most houses here don’t have doors). On evenings most doors are locked because there’s been news of aswangs in town. Members are not really keen on giving referrals. Hearts of men are hardened. No ward missionaries are called and set apart to work with us which is a really huge problem.

As children of our Heavenly Father, we are all accountable to each other. We call each other brothers and sisters for a reason—it is because we share the same Heavenly Parents and the same plan of salvation. When we are in church, we shake hands because we recognize each other as sons and daughters of God. We nourish our spiritual countenance with the words of Christ. However, we unconsciously forget about our brethren who need help in nurturing themselves spiritually.

My main message is that we need to combine efforts—both coming from the members and the ward leaders—for reactivation and retention of our less actives and new converts. President Hinckley had said that a new convert needs 3 things: a friend, a calling, and affiliation to the Church. A new convert is like a sprouting seed. If the gardener forgets to tend and care for the seed, growth ceases. There will be no progress in the growth of the seed. It will not mature into a fruit bearing plant. If this continues, the seed will die.

We, as missionaries and official representatives of Jesus Christ, aim to bring people to the Church, by finding them, teaching them, baptizing them, and fellowshipping and strengthening them. However, we can’t do this alone. We need help from the ward members and leaders. We need your help.

We, missionaries, can’t always reserve our appointments on teaching recent converts and less actives. We need to focus on bringing more investigators to the Church. But the usual pattern is we baptize investigators, we strengthen them, and then they go inactive. This should not be how missionary conversion works. We need to change this. We need the help of ward missionaries and home and visiting teachers, to strengthen and nourish them spiritually. There is absolutely no point in doingmissionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. Missionaries are useless if members don’t look after their fruits. Can we imagine how it would look like if every less active in our ward just come to church one Sunday? Imagine the view from the pulpit. We actually need to use more than half a loaf of bread for the sacrament.

Each convert is a precious soul brought back a step closer to God. They are so important and sacred, as important and sacred as our duties to lead them within the flock. Let us be like Ammon, who gathered King Lamoni’s flocks. We members are the shepherds and the new converts and less actives are of our fold. Let us guide them diligently.

I know and I’d want to emphasize again that we are all sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. This is my exhortation to take it upon ourselves our sacred duties and responsibilities on feeding each other spiritually. I know that as we act on these duties and responsibilities, we will be blessed for being accountable to each other. I want to close this letter with a declaration from our Prophet Joseph Smith: “Let the Saints remember that great things depend on their individual exertion, and that they arecalled to be co-workers with us and the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the great work of the last days.”

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
PS: Raissa, e-mail me back. I miss you.
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