Monday, September 28, 2015

The Rod of Iron

The weeks just keep getting crazier and crazier!!! As our planners just keep getting fuller and fuller.  Ok, so....we had an appointment with Sebastian and one of the members which gave such a wonderful testimony about the word of wisdom and we left with lots of faith and hope that he could put aside those addictions.  Yesterday he came to church with a huge smile!  Brisa as well came and we have a "lunch date" with her mom this Thursday.  Saturday night, we found a boy names Luiz who is a member but has been inactive for some time and we taught him and his older brother "Juan".  They both showed up to church yesterday :)  The members are super great and greet them like family.  Speaking of members, we had a knock at our door with 4 bags of veggies and fruits from a family in our ward!!  We also passed by the family Romano and taught the Restoration and we found out there are 7 kids, not 4!!  The appointment with them was fantastic and the spirit was sooo strong.  I can't even explain how much I just love them and pray that their progression will get stronger.  We invited them to church and the mom said, "let me have a little time to think about it, but I do love the message you share."  There is hope and there is faith!!!

Ok, so we had noche de hogar with.....president and his wife!!!  Last night and it was a blast, we ate dinner and played games all night.  It was so much fun getting to know them better and it's so hard not to love them as well! We definitely had a few good laughs and I'm so grateful for them and what they do for this mission and for us as missionaries.  This week I had an experience during our zone meeting and one of the Hermanas and I were blind folded.  They grabbed us by the arm and took us to another room and they let me go and I had no idea where I was and what was around me.  All i knew was that I had to get to "paradise", but we had obstacles in our path and not only that people yelling and whispering from every corner trying to tell me to go from one end to the other. "Good spirits" and "Bad spirits".  Well, as I started, I remembered Hermana Risser was there blind folded, so I called to her and we grabbed arms and worked together.  I thought, "2 is better than 1".  As we began, we started going one way and I touched a table with my right hand and I remember there were sooo many voices and I just wanted to cover my ears and shrink down to the floor.  It was stressful and frustrating because I couldn't concentrate.  As I heard one of my leader's voices, I felt the need to listen to it and go towards that direction.   At the same time, I was begin pulled into the other direction by Hermana Risser.  I tried to say, "vamos alla", but she continued to go the other way without hesitation and as I was pulled, I decided to just have confidence in her and as we hit another table, we took of our blind folds.   We had unfortunately fallen into "outer darkness".  I learned a huge lesson from this activity.  Even though it was just an activity, I felt as if sometimes this happens to us in reality.  In the Book of Mormon, in 1 Nephi, it talks about "The Iron Rod", and three groups as they are directed along their path of salvation.

(1) 1 Nephi 8:21-23
 21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
 22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
 23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

(2) 1 Nephi 8:24-28
 24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
 25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
 26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
 27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
 28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

(3) 1 Nephi 8:30
30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

As we are guided to our path to salvation, sometimes we feel like we just need to stop, close our ears and eyes and forget everything and get away.  Who of us have felt that sometimes we find the guidance ("iron rod") and then we get pulled away from distractions? or we end up listening to "the good whispering of the spirit", but don't follow up on those promptings.  Sometimes we are listening to many voices and can't quite figure out what is right.  Sometime we think we can do it together - 2 is better than 1....but what if one has a different path in mind?  Sometimes we need to let go of those and follow our own instincts.  Sometimes we forget our road is solo, that it's our own salvation we need to get in line.  At times, I think we forget that it's our connection to God.  I was truly sad that I didn't make it to the pile of brownies but I was truly happy that I had this chance to learn from my mistakes and that my salvation is by myself and it's my path I need to work on which God has for ME.

Elder Kevin S. Hamilton said, "there was, however a third group that was not only successful in reaching the tree of life, but they afterward did not fall away.  Of these, the scriptures say that they pressed forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.  The rod of iron represented for this group of people the only safety and security that they could fin, and they held fast continually.  They refused to let go, even for something as simple as a Sunday afternoon ride in the country.  The key phrase in this verse is "continually holding fast to the rod of iron"...Perhaps this third group of people consistently read and studied and searched the words of Christ...This is the group you and I should strive to join."

It is so important that we make the right decision in all things because it can lead to our "ETERNAL SALVATION".  We all make mistakes, we all have sinned, we have all fallen.  We forget that the adversary too is very powerful, tricky, and intelligent and can carefully and quickly lead us astray.  But thanks to our loving Savior, we have the opportunity to repent and save ourselves.  In the mist of darkness, he guides us, and leads us, helps until we get hold of the iron rod and press forward until the end.  My words to you is, DON'T LET GO, DO NOT LET GO, CLING TO IT, UNDERSTAND IT, STUDY IT, GET TO KNOW IT, CONTINUALLY HOLD ONTO IT, OF THAT WHICH YOU DEARLY LOVE MOST.

Elder Hamilton also said, "my brothers and sisters, we are a covenant people.  We willingly make and keep covenants, and the promised blessing is that we will receive all that the Father hath.  As we continually hold fast to the rod by keeping our covenants, we will be strengthened to resist the temptations and perils of the world.  WE will be able to navigate this mortal life with all of its challenges until we actually reach the tree with the fruit.  Most precious and most desirable above all other."

I'm so grateful to have this gospel in my life so that I can continually hold fast to the iron road and for the plan and blessing God has waiting for us as we continually press to the end.  Hold firm to an eternal purpose, remember and recognize the things you do now and ask yourself, "where will this bring me to the end of my journey?"  Am I dangling along or holding on with my pinky finger, or am I grasping with both hands?  As we continue in righteousness, we will b e edified together and unified as we are ALL on the same path.

Homework:  Are you holding steadfast to the iron rod?  I invite you to read 1 Nephi 15:8  ;)

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