Monday, January 27, 2014

People can change, and it's all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Dear Family and Friends,

Don't worry. I am still alive. We are getting a lot more snow than we expected and it has been freezing ALL week. -10 celcius was the lowest it got, but despite the cold temperatures we were still able to do a lot of finding and teaching.

Denis is finally out of the hospital! So we got to see him a lot this week. After we went knocking one day (where we found 4 potential investigators and got 2 return appointments all in the same building) he gave us a call and was waiting at the bus stop with SIX cakes. We asked him why in the world he had six cakes and his reponse was, "Well, someone had a birthday and we need to celebrate it." He was talking about himself, and so after sports night, we all ate cake and sang happy birthday to him. He's so funny. On Saturday we had a lesson with him about how he could have his mom see his baptism through Skype and then receive the Priesthood when she gets back to Moldova in the summer. He's still not quite sure what to do, but we'll keep working with him. 
Makin' some red borscht with Nastia, Denis, Natasha, Other Nastia, Paul, Antone, and little Ksusha!

Delicious красный борщ.
We have established a routine with visiting Nastia every Tuesday and Thursday, and then seeing her at English on Saturday then church on Sunday. Just before we were gonna go to Nastia's on Tuesday, Elder Westover and I talked about how we should bring up baptism right away, but Nastia was able to do that for us. That was the first thing she brought up when we got to her apartment and she asked us all kinds of questions about how baptism works and what happens. We told her how it's free, we provide everything, she chooses who comes, who speaks, who baptizes her, and who gives her the gift of the Holy Ghost, and she just thought it was the coolest thing ever. We tried setting a date, but she just told us that she wants to read the entire Book of Mormon first, and know for sure that this is Christ's true church. Good thing we had a great Restoration lesson where me, my companion, and a member got to testify about our conversions and how we received answers. On Thursday, we taught about the Plan of Salvation. She zoned in when we started to talk about the Atonement and how if Christ had never come to earth and did what He had done, then we would never have been able to return to our Father in Heaven, receive forgiveness of sins, and feel peace and comfort in our hard times. I want to share something that I read during personal study this past week that explains the Atonement better than I could ever explain it:

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles referred to the suffering experienced by Jesus Christ as “the awful arithmetic of the Atonement”:
“Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, ‘astonished’! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! 
“The cumulative weight of all mortal sins—past, present, and future—pressed upon that perfect, sinless, and sensitive Soul! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement. (See Alma 7:11–12Isaiah 53:3–5;Matthew 8:17.) The anguished Jesus not only pled with the Father that the hour and cup might pass from Him, but with this relevant citation. ‘And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me’ (Mark 14:35–36).
“Had not Jesus, as Jehovah, said to Abraham, ‘Is any thing too hard for the Lord?’ (Genesis 18:14). Had not His angel told a perplexed Mary, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’? (Luke 1:37; see alsoMatthew 19:28Mark 10:27Luke 18:27).
“Jesus’ request was not theater!
“In this extremity, did He, perchance, hope for a rescuing ram in the thicket? I do not know. His suffering—as it were, enormity multiplied by infinity—evoked His later soul-cry on the cross, and it was a cry of forsakenness. (See Matthew 27:46.)
“Even so, Jesus maintained this sublime submissiveness, as He had in Gethsemane: ‘Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 92; or Ensign, May 1985, 72–73).
One commentator wrote that the Savior’s suffering was the total weight of the consequence of the Fall: “Jesus knew that the awful hour of His deepest humiliation had arrived—that from this moment till the utterance of that great cry with which He expired, nothing remained for Him on earth but the torture of physical pain and the poignancy of mental anguish. All that the human frame can tolerate of suffering was to be heaped upon His shrinking body; every misery that cruel and crushing insult can inflict was to weigh heavy upon His soul; and in this torment of body and agony of soul even the high and radiant serenity of His divine spirit was to suffer a short but terrible eclipse. Pain in its acutest sting, shame in its most overwhelming brutality, all the burden of the sin and mystery of man’s existence in its apostasy and fall—this was what He must now face in all its most inexplicable accumulation”

People can change, and it's all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We're very lucky, as missionaries, to help people understand this. Christ suffered more than any of us could ever imagine, and I am personally very grateful for what He did for me, you, and these people that we get to teach. Nastia and Denis are both making significant changes in their lives and it's because they're accepting this message and applying it. 

As for finding, we're having a ton of fun knocking and meeting all sorts of different people who are showing interest in what we have to say. We hope to get some new investigators this week, and starting the same process that we are using with Nastia and Denis! I love you all very much, and I think about you every day. Have a great week!

-Elder Farnworth
A member's cat. We all thought it was really funny so I hurried and took a picture.

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