Monday, October 3, 2016
Week 59 - October 4, 2016
As I wrote this weekly e-mail, one of my companions, Elder Andrus, just informed me that one of the people we worked together and baptized in Philly, his name is Robbie Scott, died this week due to internal bleeding. He was 34 years of age, such an incredible man with a great heart.
I had an e-mail typed out but not really what I should say at this point. I guess we did have a very good week and an incredible time listening to the Prophet and the Apostles speak to us. I'm grateful for the Plan of Salvation, I'm grateful for the knowledge that I have that we will all live again. I'm grateful for the Savior who broke the bands of death. I'm grateful for the gospel.
Last night we were speaking with a young boy who is 16 and he doesn't have a belief in God. He is the son of a member. His best friend died a few months ago and he has wanted nothing to do with God or Christ or the church or the gospel - anything. As he showed his frustration and resentment last night when we were at his house, I asked him if we could meet with him to which he said yes because he felt pressured. He later e-mailed us that night and told us that he did not want to meet with us anymore. I copied a bit of the conversation here which he said to us:
"I'm gonna be honest. I don't wanna do this learning thing for the month. I regret agreeing to it and I felt pressured. I felt like I was being attacked by four people at once. And I really do not want to do this. I appreciate you two wanting to teach me and whatnot but through my 16 years, I have not felt even slightly passionate towards the church. The reason why I have no feelings or belief towards the church is because you people claim miracles that He can do, but April 25th, 2016, after my own and countless others prayers, he failed to save one girl's life who many treasured and cared about. One person who hundreds cared for. That's why. I've never had a prayer answered and He failed to save a very close friend's life. It is not my disbelief in Him that caused my feelings of apathy towards Him and the church. It's His fault that he couldn't save her and that's why I have my disbelief in the church and for the most part, Him. Again, thank you for trying, I appreciate this, but it will never happen."
to which I replied to him:
"Thank you for the e-mail. We appreciate your honesty. We are not here to pressure you. That is the last thing we want you to feel. We understand - we are trying to understand where you are coming from. I've never lost a family member before or a best friend, so I can't express those same feelings of sadness that you are trying to at this time.
Let's forget about the Church and all this Joseph Smith stuff and the Book of Mormon and all that for the time being. We would love to just sit down and talk to you face to face, young man to young man and share personal experiences and maybe we can help each other out.
At the beginning of my mission my dad lost one of his best friends and what he sent to me in an e-mail has always touched me:
'On a bit of a sad note, I don’t know if you remember Marc and Jen Mangum. Marc was a good friend of mine growing up and they lived in Virginia the same time we did. We’d been to their house a couple of times and they’d been to ours as well. It was a while ago, however. In any event, Marc went in for a medical procedure about six weeks ago and there were some complications. He went into a coma and has been in that state ever since. We found out this morning that he passed away. Really sad. He was such a great guy. Just a reminder that life is so fragile and how grateful we should all be for each day that we’ve been given on this earth. You never know which will be your last. That being said, I am sure that he will keep on living his life in the Spirit World and will have an opportunity to do great things there. That is the beauty of the gospel – the understanding of the importance and significance of the Plan of Salvation and what lies beyond the grave.'
"Life is definitely fragile, life is definitely hard, unfair, even sometimes ridiculous.
Again - we would love to just sit down and talk to you, no preachy and churchy stuff. Just talk.
Before you rule us out, we want you to remember that we are both 19 and 20 year olds who left their family for two years to go to a place they've never been to help people be happy and find peace and answers.
We are here to talk."
Again I express my gratitude for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the understanding I have at this point to know that yes life is fragile, but this life is just a small time, and then we can all be reunited. I know this is true.