Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
This coming week we have our transfers (when we move to new areas) and I will most likely be leaving, so if you had any plans on writing a letter this week you might want to wait until next week when I send out my new address.
And if anyone has a General Conference tickets that they could send that would be wonderful. We have a lot of people who we're teaching who want to go but only 10 tickets in total so far.
Last week I mentioned that Mormons are hesitant to share our beliefs and invite other people to learn more. Those of you who knew me before my mission know that I was absolutely like that. Anything more than a few words about religion was typically too much for me. Let me explain a little bit about the why.
To really understand a little of why we typically are hesitant, you need to understand a few basics about our beliefs, which is why this letter is so long this week.
Our faith centers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He was born in Bethlehem and near the end of His life, spent three years preaching, performed miracles, and organized a church with Him at the head and His Twelve Apostles assisting. He then suffered and was crucified for the sins and pains of each of us so that we can repent and be forgiven. Three days after His death on the cross, His body and spirit reunited in resurrection, allowing each of us to have that same opportunity and one day be resurrected as well. As a resurrected being He appeared to His Apostles and other Disciples, eating and spending time with them and continuing to lift and inspire them on the path of the Gospel.
That right there isn't unique to the world. Many others have those same beliefs, but that is the central and most important part of our beliefs so it's what I wanted to explain first. I personally know that He is my Savior because He saves me from feeling hopeless and lost. He saves me from my mess ups (aka...sins) and guides me to what is best for me. I feel forgiven as I turn towards Him and accept Him more and more in my life.
Despite all the miracles and goodness that Christ did while here on the earth, He was rejected and killed. Many refused to believe that the small town carpenter's boy could possibly be the Son of God. And those same people who rejected and killed Him then turned on His Apostles, whom he had taught and prepared to carry on His Church after His death. Despite those Apostles efforts to preach, baptize, and start up new congregations, all but one of them was martyred in the cause. In the hundreds of years following, the Church of Christ slowly changed as the apostolic authority died with the Apostles and the revelation that had once guided the church slowly altered with the philosophy of men. Eventually inspired followers of Christ such as Martin Luther recognized the changes and tried to reform the current practices so they would be aligned with those of Christ's original Church. But without the authority to receive revelation that Christ had given His Apostles, they could not bring back Christ's Church.
Because I don't have a lot of email time each week and (and because writing and talking and english doesn't come as easy as it used to), I'm going to simple copy and paste a description of the next part from a website called mormon.org, where a lot of our basic beliefs can be found. This is from this webpage (http://mormon.org/restoration):
If the boy next door told us he was called by God to restore His true church on earth, would we believe him? Probably not. Neither did many people in Nazareth believe their neighbor, Jesus Christ the carpenter, was the Messiah.
After centuries of spiritual confusion people were in desperate need of Jesus Christ’s original truths. When God selected a 14-year-old boy in 1820 as His messenger, most people refused to listen. Joseph Smith lived in the United States, which was the only country to proclaim religious freedom at the time. His family was deeply religious and constantly sought the truth.
Joseph had to decide which of the many Christian denominations to join. After careful study, Joseph Smith still felt confused as to which Christian church he should join. He later wrote, "So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was . . . to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. . . . In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith—History 1:8, 10).
He turned to the Bible for guidance. He read, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). With simple faith he decided to do just that. In the spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt in prayer. He described his experience: "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17). In his vision God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared. The Savior told Joseph not to join any of the churches. Although many good people at that time believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach His gospel, they didn’t have the fullness of truth or the authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances. This vision marked the beginning of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth, which God authorized to be established 10-years later by a wiser, heaven-tutored Joseph Smith, once again allowing everyone to receive the joy and blessings that come from living it.
The proof of all of this is in the Book of Mormon. And because my email time is up, I'll talk about that again next week. All I can say for now is that I know all of that is true. I know it because I've prayed and asked about it and God has answered my prayers.