It is truly amazing how the Olympics bring the world together. Ugaasa. It’s huge in America, but witnessing it from the other side of the world is something else. It’s amazing to see every Mongolian in the country get revved up for the participants they're sending. From what I hear Mongolia has won a silver and a bronze, but there’s some upper weight class, open wrestling guy who’s supposed to be lights out. Also how great is the Olympics for small talk conversation starters. Everyone’s got their two cents.
So the sad news this week is that I’ll be saying goodbye to Elder Robbins this week as he heads to Khailaast with Elder Quinton. It'll be tough to part after we had such a short time together, but we've had a great 5 weeks or so.
Who's my new companion . . . well, he's coming from the Philippines. That’s where the MTC is for Mongolian Elders. Although I don’t know quite exactly who I’ll be training, I know pretty much everyone in the group coming in and they are all fantastic guys who will make superb Elders. That all happens on Friday. Elder Boyd will also be training a new Mongolia and Elders Stranski and Lloyd will remain the zone leaders for the city. I’m looking forward to two months with whomever I’m with. It’s great serving with another American, but what an opportunity of a life time to live with someone from halfway around the world. Plus it never hurt anyone’s language skills to work with a Mongolian.
As for this week . . . the non spiritual highlight goes to being fed five days in a row. First by a returned missionary who served in Australia, then the Farmers who are actually from my home stake in St. Louis [find their blog (firstname.lastname@example.org) and there should be a picture], then by Elder Robbins' sponsor, next by my sponsor, and finally by a church member (first time I’ve had broccoli in almost a year. Wow! is that stuff is underrated).
I feel like I neglected telling you anything about Elder Robbins who is from California, was at BYU the same time I was, likes the outdoors and weight lifting. He’s a fantastic missionary with great spiritual insights, huge into healthy eating, and not immune (reference last week’s email) to the difficulties of cultural eating adaption. His one flaw would be not being a sports fan, but what can ya do?
This week I’ve seen the Lord place people in our path on several occasions whether for their good or ours. The spontaneous meeting of people interested in the Church has resulted in receiving quite a few great referrals and even better gospel conversations. One was my first ever Bible Basher in Mongolia. Another was after a long day of English teaching while we were eating yogurt and super kontics (best combo ever) we were approached by a young girl probably about our age. She introduced herself as Munktenger and told us that she had been a member of the Church about a year ago. Not passing up a good opportunity we began to discuss what had brought her to leave the Church. She told us that she had always had great faith in the Bible and it had been a wonderful source of truth for her. Although she felt she had received a testimony of the Book of Mormon, under the pressure of her friends and family she had slowly drifted and stopped coming to church. She wasn’t sure if what the Church taught was true anymore. One of her comments had striking similarity to the Father of King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon. She said "if I knew it was true, if I absolutely knew, I’d give up everything, my family, my school . . . I would put everything I know in correspondence to my faith." She continued to ask questions that bothered her like the last verses of Revalations and why the Sabbath was moved to Sunday instead of Saturday. We answered slowly and simply the best we could to all the questions she posed. Ingrained in my mind were the words out of Preach My Gospel that that at the root of all doubt and disbelief is a lack of understanding or a lack of testimony in the Book of Mormon. As we continued to calmly answer questions we made it clear that there was no possibility, even if we answered every question, to prove to her that what we were saying was true. The truth of the Gospel and a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon comes only through personal study, pondering and asking God our Heavenly Father for ourselves if the words in the book are true. While the doctrine may seem demanding or confusing at times, the answer for a personal testimony in any facet of the Gospel comes though the instruction given in the last two paragraphs in the introduction of the Book of Mormon
“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.”
The best part of the Gospel is that you truly can know for yourself!
Have a fantastic week!
Enjoy the Olympics (Kevin and John, watch it twice for me)