March 12, 2012
Well Mom/Jael that's exciting that you are in Cali. I am excited for you. Play hard visit the beach and go swimming for me okay? :)
I had a really great week with lots of good experiences. I had the opportunity to go to Rego on exchanges with sister Jasso on Monday and it was one of the best exchanges I have ever been on. I absolutely loved it and it was really exciting to be back in Rego. Hermana Jasso and I were laughing all night about all the funny things that had happened to us in the beginning of our mission when were together. It's fun to look back on how much we've changed and how much we have grown. It was fun for me to see some of the members. I even got to go to our favorite Thai restaurant and speak Thai to the people at the restaurant. Mom I ate som dom and it was so good!! Best papaya salad I've had in the states. Pretty darn authentic, and a Spanish member took us sisters so it made it even better because we didn't have to pay. ha!
Friday night we had the great privilege of going to do baptisms for the dead with the ward. We went with Hermano M and A for their first times. it was really special and it was so cool for me to see how much they have grown. Hermano M got to go do baptisms as well and he took his younger daughter. The thing I like about his wife is that even though she doesn't want to get baptized, she keeps going to church every week and she is way involved in the ward. She was waiting for us after the temple so that she could greet her family. One day I know she will walk into the temple with them. That will be a great day when they all get sealed as a family. I am especially proud of A and all of the sacrifices he has made because of his faith. He never had some crazy dream or miraculous experience where God told him to get baptized but he acted off the very initial feelings he had when he started reading the Book of Mormon. He never doubted because of his great faith. He is passing his own trials but the fact that he is choosing to overcome them rather than weigh him down is just incredible to me. I'm so so happy for him.
You know I've been thinking a lot of concerns of investigators and people that I have come in contact with on my mission. It doesn't matter what knowledge they have in the church or how long they spend in the church in the end the most important factor in a person’s conversion is the Holy Ghost. If an investigator does not let the spirit work in their souls and does acknowledge it for what it is, they will never have a lasting conversion. The spirit is what it is. It’s never going to change and it's never going to come about in a different way. The spirit has a purifying effect and has a way of healing us spiritually.
As people read the book of Mormon it testifies of Jesus Christ and it can't help but help you feel better. The spirit will ALWAYS be a more powerful than facts but I still think that these facts are interesting about the Book of Mormon as the word of God and that it was translated by a prophet of God. These are some conditions I think are interesting to think about that would have to be in place in order for someone to produce a similar writing.
1. They would have to start this project between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-four years.
2. They cannot be a college graduate, or even a high school graduate. In fact, they are allowed to have only three years of formal schooling.
3. What they write must be based upon what they know, without any research or background investigations permitted.
4. They would need to write a book with 239 chapters: 54 about war, 21 of history, 55 of prophecy and its fulfillment, 71 of gospel doctrine, 17 about missionaries, and 21 concerning the mission and sayings of Jesus Christ.
5. They would be writing a history of an ancient people in a distant land, covering the period from 600 B.C. to A.D. 421
6. They need to include in the book the history and writings of 2 tribes of people and separate leaders and customs, and would need to describe and carefully follow a detailed history of nations and peoples that nobody has ever heard of before.
7. Their writings should describe the religious and social culture, the economy, and the politics of both nations.
8. they must include in the history the gospel of Jesus Christ and the model of Christian life as it applies both in ancient and modern times.
9. Once they begin this 1000 year book of history and doctrine they mush finish it within eighty days. The copy dictated to the scribe will be the final draft, with no revisions or updates necessary.
10. They would have to announce that the writings are not fiction but are truth. They would claim these are sacred writings of history.
11. When they have finished the writings they must not make any changes in the text.
12. The writing would fulfill prophecies from the Bible with this book. satisfying both the words and intent given in these prophecies: Isaiah 29:24, 11-14, Ezekiel 37;18-21, Psalms 85:10-11 john 10:16 etc.
13. They must publish this book with the intention of spreading it to every nation, tribe, people and tongue.
14. They must include in the writings a promise. If people read, meditate, and pray about he book, they can know that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost.
15. During the next 170 years, millions of readers will testify that they know this book is true because they followed the promise and received their answer by the power of the Holy Ghost.
16. Thousands of great men and women, even intellectual giants and scholars, must become disciples of the book, even to the point of giving their lives for it.
17. The descriptions of the culture and people of these civilizations must include the manner of their written and spoken language, the types of buildings, geographic locations, tools, building materials used, and other items that are were a part of their society.
18. There cannot by any inaccuracies in the history.
19. They cannot make any absurd declarations, or state as fact anything impossible, contradictory, or not in keeping with the historical setting.
20. They must invite expert scholars and all types of people to examine the writing and try to prove its fraudulence. The book must confound these experts.
21. Research, scientific evidence, and discoveries in archeology and anthropology for the next 170 years need to prove that the history is absolutely true., even to the point that descriptions accurately depict the clothing, streets, and weapons of war that this people constructed in ancient times.
22. Evidence of the fulfillment of both external and internal prophecies must occur during the next 170 years
23. 3 witnesses, honest and credible, must testify to the world that an angel from heaven appeared to them and showed them the plates from which this book was written.
24. 8 witnesses must testify that they saw and touched the plates that this translation came from in full daylight.
25. The first three witnesses and the other eight witnesses must testify of the book not for pay but for personal sacrifice; they will affirm their testimonies despite general disbelief and persecution, until the day they die.
26. Someone must finance the publication of the book, and h must know that he will receive no pay or profit for his assistance. The book must be sold at or below the cost of production.
27. They must tell the world that the history they have translated was written on gold plates, at a time when nobody knew that ancient people wrote on such material. It was not be until 100 years later that other ancient records are found to be written on gold plates.
28. Finally after enduring many trials and persecutions for nearly twenty years after writing this book, they must voluntarily give their life as a testimony to the truthfulness of the book and its teaching.
Even with all these situations above until people accept a witness from the spirit it will not be enough.
Former prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said in April 1977 concerning Joseph Smith.
"It is a constantly recurring mystery to me how some people speak with admiration for the Church and its work, while at the same time disdaining him through whom, as a servant of the Lord, came the framework of all that the Church is... of all that it stands for. They would pluck the fruit from the tree while cutting off the root from which it grows."
One of my dear friends gave me this testimony of the Book of Mormon and I just love it.
This is another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is scripture and contains the words of God, who is our Heavenly Father. Far more precious than any of mans inventions, I know this Book contains eternal truth that has the answers to our biggest questions, and the key to a higher level of awareness and understanding. The principles and doctrine in this Book are without exception the most powerful and important learning a person can obtain which must only come with the aid of that loving heavenly Father. I know this Book is God’s word, and its affected me in a tremendous way. The simple truth that this book is truly an ancient history and truly god's work means so much! It means that there really is a God! It means that he loves us! He wants us to be happy and that the sore spots in life will all be only temporary. It means that Jesus Christ is God's own son and it means that he and his gospel have provided a way for us to become completely sanctified and perfected and that our mortal weaknesses and ungodliness are temporary too. It means that in love for us, our heavenly Father gives us specific guidance and current instruction by sending prophets and that the window of revelation is always open. What a privilege and a blessing it has been for me to have been raised with the light of those simple, powerful, truths shining around me. I know I am a child of the almighty God, that he loves me, and he wants me to grow. I know there is a great purpose in life, and I know that there is a more meaningful existence after this one. An existence made possible by our Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I too bear my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. It is a testament of Jesus Christ that bears witness that Jesus is the Savior of the world. He is the only way that we can receive eternal life. I know Joseph Smith is prophet of God. This is Christ's church and it will go to all corners of the earth and every man shall have the opportunity to accept the word, it is our decision to accept the invitation that Christ offers to every one of us.
Love you much. Pray a lot for me these next couple of weeks! See you soon!
Love Hermana Lewis