I have been pondering often the power of repentance, and the miracle of forgiveness. Please indulge me as I speak for a moment in general terms.
In our work, we have focused much of our efforts on families that have wandered from the path. They generally recognize the loss of the Spirit in their home. They understand, at least in part, the effects of their current lifestyle on receiving the blessings that God wants to give them. And you know, that pains them. It weighs on their hearts and, more often than not, leads to embarrassment, fear, or regret.
This is a sharp, saddening contrast to the JOY of the Gospel! The joy of strong families, the surety of Christ-centered direction, the peace of being clean. How true is Gospel! How great the love of our Father and His Son! What a blessing it is to serve good, honest brothers and sisters who so desperately want these things. What true joy it brings me to sit with them, talk with them, and deliver hope. Good, true, real hope. Often, their eyes glisten with tears of acknowledgement and tears of hope. Tears of hope.
What is this hope I speak of? Moroni wrote, "And what is that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised to life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise." Moroni 7:41.
This is the promise, as given by Christ Himself. "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." D&C 58:42.
We must have faith in this promise. These brethren I work with have started, once again, to repent of their sins. We teach them the Gospel. They become more active in the programs of the Church, which are designed to save us. To use the words of Alma, "And those priests (or prophets, or apostles, or leaders in the Church, or any worthy priesthood holder, including you and me) were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption." Alma 13:2.
And so we have done: we bring this hope, we teach of the promise, and the Spirit bears witness to those we teach. The individuals act, repent, and families have been changed forever.
You know of the Obrado family. They are one example I have introduced through email. I don't know if I have to send another picture to get the message across. No matter what, no matter the past that has come and gone, the promise is sure. We can always return. The events of the past are insignificant when we are made clean by the atonement. The Obrado family are testimonies of that promise. I love to visit with them, because the Spirit has transfigured their truly humble home into a temple of the Most High. His Spirit resides there not because they are perfect but because they are repenting. Temporal blessings have not been withheld from them either. Brother could not speak Tagalog very well when we first met him, but now converses just fine. They are currently living on borrowed land, but many more land-owners have come offering better land to take care of and live on. These are miracles for them.
Because of their righteous living, many more have asked about the Church and who we are (us, missionaries). We have met sister Kai, who, after being invited to be baptized, said, "YES. 100%." When asked if she wanted to do anything before being baptized she responded after some thought, "I will need to repent first."
As we repent, the Lord will keep his promise and forgive us. I cannot imagine greater joy and peace than that which I have felt personally and witnessed first hand in those I teach. The Gospel is true, the promises are sure.
Elder Trevor Todd Brown
picture - this week they harvested the coconut trees next to the mission home. with great skill, this man cut 2x6 boards with a chainsaw all day. that is amazing! and all the pictures for the next.. next week again.