Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 12, 2015

Four months, three fast Sundays, two transfers, one tired elder.....

What a week. MLC was on Friday. We went to Nairobi on Thursday. We counseled a lot about how to help a lotof the branch presidencies in the zones that we represented work better with the missionaries. So often, missionaries, and members, will feel the Spirit strongly and truly have a desire to repent. But when the rubber meets the road they flake out, or they go back to their habits. I've been there. We've all been there. You've been there when you have said, and meant it with all your heart, that you are going to change. Commitment, good sincere commitment, is good. Most people who desire to repent will commit to do so, and really want to follow through with that commitment. But NOTHING replaces a firm determination.

If we realize that we are not where we should be, He gives us the opportunity to change and to repent. There is no such thing as being forgiven when you have been "selectively obedient." Christ never taught that doctrine. He preached that His gospel is an all-or-nothing gospel. Take it or leave it, but you can't be a halfway Christian.

The great test of life is obedience to God. "We will prove them herewith," saith the Lord, "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abraham 3:25). The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it. The great commandment of life is to love the Lord. "Come unto Christ," exhorts Moroni, "...and love God with al your might, mind and strength" (Moroni 10:32). This, then, is the first and great commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30). It is the pure love of Christ, called charity, that the Book of Mormon testifies is the greatest of all-that never faileth, that endureth forever, that all men should have, and that without which they are nothing (Moroni 7:44-47). "Wherefore, my beloved [family], pray unto the father with all the energy of [your] heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become
the [children ] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him" (Moroni 7:48). Why is it so hard for people to understand that God comes first? The first commandment God gave to Moses was "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That preeminence that was
commanded of us still applies today. Why should our own interests take precedence?

I don't mean to preach to you, or to call anyone to repentance, I just feel the urgency of such messages. "There stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto
those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

"And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever." (Abraham 3:24-26.)

I echo President Ezra T. Benson's words: "I wish that every Latter-day Saint could say and mean it with all his heart: 'I'll go where you want me to go. I'll say what you want me to say. I'll be what you want me to be.' If we could all do that, we would be assured of the maximum of happiness here and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God hereafter."

Why would anyone choose do selectively obey God when they know the consequences of such a choice? Why is it such a hard thing for people to keep their "favorite sins" to themselves while giving everything else up to Jesus Christ? It is so stupid and dangerous. Please don't do that. Just fulfill your promise. If you aren't sure that you will be happy, if you aren't sure if Jesus promise that you can be happier by following Him than by following anyone else is really sure, then just test it. Test me. Just try following Christ 100%, no breaking the little commandments, just one hundred percent following Him. I promise you won't regret taking the test.

You may not believe it, but you will actually be happier by following Him than by doing your own thing. Can you imagine? You can be out of this world happy just by doing what Jesus asks you to do. Without reservation I promise that it is the best decision you can ever make. Make it. And if you choose to stray, or to not follow Him fully, and we get to the next life and you are sad and miserable (and you will be forever, with no family, no friends, no fun, no nice things), don't
come crying to me saying "Oh, Jacob, why didn't you tell me that I could've been happy? Why didn't you save me?" I tried! It's not my choice to save you, it is yours. If you want maximum happiness, maximum joy, maximum blessings, just take the road that goes there.

I have four months to go. I miss y'all so much. I bet this is how Papa feels. Just sitting and working and waiting for us. I bet that is how y'all will feel when you pass over. Just waiting to be
resurrected, praying that we can stay faithful, silently rooting us on as we struggle through this war, trying to help others along the way.

I love the administrative genius of the Church. It is such a perfect system, with imperfect people, of course. Imagine if every business worked the way we are taught to, with delegation and stewardship and accountability. Every successful organization that comes to my mind works in a similar way with managers (bishops), corporate employees (general authorities), and a board of directors with a leader. The one difference between worldly organizations and the Church of Jesus Christ is the principle of revelation and the guiding authority of priesthood keys. In a worldly organization, if a decision made by the CEO is unpopular with the Board of Directors, they can overturn the decision, or change it. In the Church, no matter our opinions, which we may be called upon to give, we also have a responsibility to sustain and follow those who lead us with priesthood keys. That is how the church can stay together and be led by Jesus Christ (the absence of these keys is the main reason so many churches were formed
during the great apostasy).

I'm excited to be home.

I love y'all.


MLC picture

Laptop selfie :)

December 29, 2014

I know, I am a bit crazy. But they need crazies in leadership every
once in a while or else people would just be lazy and disobedient all
the time, and no work would ever get done!

I am still taking videos and pictures, but this computer has so many
viruses on it. I will not plug in my camera. Or my iPod.

I'm trying so hard to focus this last little bit. Y'all have no clue
how hard that is to do. I just have to pack my day full of stuff so
that I am busy. Whenever I am not busy my mind says “Hey, Jacob, did
you forget? You're going home in less than five months! What're you
gonna do?” So I try to shut it up as long as I can during the day by
really planning out what we are going to do. This isn't always a
super easy thing to do, but it is always well worth it when I get home
and I realize how much we've done. I am trying so hard to work hard!



Christmas Day Skype call with Elder Dick

December 8, 2014

Hello everyone,

The hills where we are are sometimes like small mountains. Yesterday,

Sister Mary (Kyambeke) came up to us and asked if we would teach her

husband. He is a kibarua (daily worker with no set job, but tries to

get money by finding work each day), so he does not have a set

schedule of when he would be home. We said we would come by in the

evening. We didn't know where she stays, only that it is near to this

less-active family we visit frequently. We went to the less-actives

home, but the parents were not there. We played with the children a

bit and read from Book of Mormon Stories. Elder Mukonda was talking

with their second-oldest daughter, but she is retarted so it was hard

to really have a full conversation. He was actually testing her power

of comprehension to see if we could teach her so that she could be

baptized. She is 16 and in 4th grade. She couldn't even count. So

we can't teach her. The other four kids were with me. None of them

spoke English, so I did my best telling the story of Nephi getting the

brass plates. It was alright. But one of the girls didn't have any

pants on. She was six. Sometimes, here, people are too poor to get

enough clothes.

After our lesson with the kids, the mother showed up. We asked her

where Sister Mary stays. The less-active family stays at the bottom

of a mountain. A fairly steep mountain. The less-active mother

pointed way at the top of her mountain to a house way up high. We

asked where the path was and she sent two of her kids with us to show

us. We CLIMBED. Straight. Some people do zig-zags up a mountain.

Not Sister Mary. And she is old... So we climbed straight up the

face of this relatively steep mountain. About as steep as Y mountain

in Provo, but without the switchbacks. Just straight up. Her husband

was not there, so we rescheduled for later this week. Coming back

down was different. It was almost just as hard because it was tough

on the quads. Once we got low enough, the ground started to be less

steep. At this point it becomes very difficult and very tiresome to

control yourself, so usually we just start running. It is actually

real easy because all we do is figure out where to put our feet and

the gravity takes us down and forward. Well, we started getting

faster and faster until I realized that I couldn't stop sprinting even

if I wanted to. We would bound over ditches and cut corners like

olympians, but then I saw something dangerous, almost deadly. Elder

Mukonda was in front of me, sprinting just as fast down the mountain.

We got to a spot where there was a ditch, but the other bank was a lot

higher than this side. I say a lot higher, I mean about six inches.

The ditch was only two feet across, not a big deal. But IMMEDIATELY

after the ditch we had to make a 90 degree left turn. Elder Mukonda

hit the ditch, banked left hard, and barely made it. I knew I

couldn't manage that same feat. So I jumped over the ditch, going at

a sub-5-minute-mile pace, planted two feet on the opposite bank, and

tumbled down into the maize field that the path cut through. I just

couldn't make that left turn! It was too sharp. I was down and out.

I only took out a few stalks of maize, but I rolled a bit. Elder

Mukonda was doubled over laughing. I quickly recovered and we started

to walk the rest of the way down.

I also learned a valuable lesson that y'all probably figured out a

long time ago. The other day, I was feeling less spiritual. Not like

I was doing anything bad, I just didn't feel like I was where I needed

to be. No idea what to do, so I just did my thing the whole day.

Finally in the evening, I popped open my Book of Mormon. The Spirit

came flooding back, as if the Lord was saying "Finally, you figured it

out." I understood that when we tell people to read their scriptures

daily, go to church, say their prayers, and have FHE, that it is for a

lot more than being obedient. They need the Spirit in their lives!

And it will come.


Anyways, I love y'all so much.

Never forget. Fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight, and

bull-strong. Set your defenses against the adversary carefully.

Other wisdom...

People die in bed. So does ambition.

Opportunity is often missed because it comes smelling like sweat and

dressed in overalls.

I work out daily now. Twice a day, actually. Just small workouts.

Pushups, situps, and curls. But I do it! Also, I practice singing

bass. I can hit all of the low notes in the hymn book, but I am

working on getting SUPER low... Progress report when I get home.