Friday, June 28, 2013

So Thankful They Were There

This is a sad and happy, transition time for Elder Rice. LDS Mission Presidents, along with their wife, and sometimes family, are called to serve for three years. They leave job and family and home and go far away to be responsible for many young men and young women between the ages of 18 and 23 who are away from home, in a different state, or different nation. They help our sons and daughters grow in spirituality, in maturity, and in ways that are not forgotten. The president's wife I refer to as their "mom away from mom"...they remind them about hygiene, help them with illness, aches, pains...I have loved ALL my son's Mission Presidents and their spouses. They have been so wonderful to all my boys. I love President and Sister Furniss, and am thankful for all they have done, and now am looking forward to President and Sister Shin, who take over for their three years on July 1.

I received these last pictures from Sister Furniss, on her blog, yesterday and today. It has been the nicest thing to wake up to pictures, searching for my son, or his wrist, or elbow...I stretch trying to see him! Nut mom!
Elder Rice has been plagued with headaches for his entire mission. He has seen doctors, thanks to Sister Furniss, and finally went to an eye doctor, who prescribed bi-focals. He, of course, didn't want to spend any money, so he got two pairs of glasses: reading and far away glasses, as he calls them. He is the the center...with the new glasses on that are probably more appropriate for a Korean complexion...but at least he is easier to find.

Here is a copy of his last letter...

Hey family,
Mom, I have a question: how did dad smoke meat in the freezer? Seems difficult. Sorry that was my joke of the day. (From Mom: in my letter, I told Elder Rice that Dad had smoked some meat in the freezer…apparently I should have said from the freezer…but I guess I gave him a laugh!)  Btw bifocals are 150 dollars, but the close glasses are 35 and the far are 35. so ya bifocals for 70. that was my thought, but its really annoying. Ha ha. So I’m sending my prescription to Jessica and she can order me some for cheaper.

By the way the rainy season started here this week. Sooooo much rain ha-ha. I love it! We use these things everyday that you Arizonans don’t know about. It’s called an umbrella. Ha-ha. So cool. I love rain. I like to just walk in the rain, but all the Koreans yell at me saying my hair will fall out if I walk in the rain. I don’t think that will happen.

On a good note, I cleared up some confusion with the boy that wanted to get baptized. Apparently all our members told him to become a member of our church, you need to get baptized, so he thought because his parents wouldn’t let him get baptized, he couldn’t come to church anymore. It’s all good now.

This leads to my new mission focus that should have been my focus all along.
Its been on my mind a lot on my mission and when I was writing my letter to Jessica, it all made sense. The problem with a lot of people in the church is that they focus on the church more than Christ. I sat in a meeting in my ward and I listened: besides the prayer, Christ was not mentioned once. They love missionary work, but they don’t have the correct focus. This isn’t just my ward; this is a lot of people. We get so caught up in so many things in life and the church that we forget the focus: Christ. The biggest thing that sticks out to me is when people stop coming to church. It could be for a number of reasons. Those don’t matter though. The result is that you distance yourself from Christ:  the very being that gave His life so we can have eternal life. He suffered incomprehensible pain and anguish for each and every one of us. His only desire was for us to have eternal life. And so many people leave Christ and His atonement and all hopes of eternal salvation because of one reason or another. I’m not trying to yell or condemn anyone here. I am just trying to help us all see the bigger picture. I can’t comprehend eternity, and I think that’s really hard for all of us, but I know that there is  eternal life after this and the conditions of that depend on our actions here. We need to realize that, in order to pass the test that this life is, we need to follow Christ by gaining faith in Him and His teachings, learning the commandments and doing our best to follow them. Then, we will want to change and follow Christ and His teachings. We change through a miraculous process called repentance. No one is perfect except Christ, who provided us a way to repent. Repentance has kind of a scary sound to many people. It’s not an easy thing, but the results are so amazing. People see Heavenly Father as a scary being that wants us to be perfect. No! He is a loving Heavenly Father that wants us to have eternal life. He is sad when we sin. And, just like when Christ taught about the 99 sheep and the one that was lost, He rejoices so much over the soul that repents and comes unto Christ and comes to the path towards eternal life. Once we have repented, we have the opportunity to make a huge step towards Christ and eternal life: Baptism. For those that have already been baptized, we attend church every Sunday to partake of the Sacrament and renew that covenant that we made at baptism, the covenant being we promise to keep God’s commandments, always remember Christ and take His name upon us. We promise to do our best, to do these things, repenting when we fall short, and then we get the promise that we will be forgiven. We can have Heavenly Father’s spirit to be with us and we make the first step by stepping through the gate towards eternal life. This covenant is mentioned in the Sacrament prayers. Then, after baptism, we receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a guide to us through this life, because the path to eternal life is straight and narrow and the path to everything else is wide. We need a guide in this life to help us stay on the path and to help us come back when we stray away from it. After baptism, the Holy Ghost it is given to us through priesthood holders. We can have it always as long as we are worthy of it. Through the sacrament, after renewing the covenant and repenting, we can receive the Holy Ghost back in our hearts. It mentions this in 3 Nephi 18:9 that
after they partook of the Sacrament, they were filled with the Spirit . Then, after this is the final step: continuously doing these steps throughout our whole lives until the final day. This is the way to eternal life. Now, the reason church is important; mainly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints is important, is because we have 1) a living prophet which gives us correct doctrine from Heavenly Father. Without correct doctrine, we can’t grow our faith in the right direction.  Through prophets, we learn the Gospel and the commandments that we need to obtain eternal life. 2) Through the first modern day prophet,  Joseph Smith, God restored His priesthood, which is the power and authority to perform saving ordinances such as baptism and the blessing of the Sacrament. Because this priesthood has been restored and is in this church, we need to attend this church so we can correctly do all the things we need to do every week to obtain salvation.

This is what we teach as missionaries. It’s the gospel that Jesus Christ taught. It is by Him and through Him and of Him only that we can obtain eternal life. We have the glorious opportunity to follow Christ in this life, that by doing so, we can have eternal joy and happiness. To me nothing is too big to sacrifice for this. Christ and many others have sacrificed their lives in the hopes of saving others eternally. Next comes the need for missionary work. We do missionary work to help others obtain eternal salvation, by helping them come unto Christ and partake of His gospel and all that accompanies it.

I know that Christ lives. I know that this is His gospel. And I love it. I make mistakes everyday. I’m not perfect, but through Christ, I have the hope to someday live with Him again. So because of that, no matter how hard it may seem, I try my best everyday to follow Him.

I say this as His representative and I do it in His name.

I love you all!  Have a wonderful week. Take care of Jessica.
Love, Elder Rice

I am so thankful for missions, and Mission Presidents that counsel and help a boy become a man that can write such powerful things, for Mission President's wife that makes sure these kids eat and bathe...and makes them the BEST homemade rolls ever! I am so thankful that they were there...

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