Elder Curtis Sudbury

Elder Curtis Sudbury

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Mexico, July 26, 2010

Hello World,

We found out last week about a few of the people that we were hoping to baptize last Sunday.  Laura's husband refuses to let up, or even talk to us, so we had to drop her, at least for a time, as an investigator.  Iraís is still progressing, we'll see how it goes.  I have a lot of faith she'll take that step.  Doralicia has been hard to find.  We finally found her last night and set up an appointment with her for this week.  I hope all goes well.  Eleazar is doing well. :)  He has a fantastic girlfriend that is by his side whenever she can be to explain any questions he may have about the gospel.  She is certainly a blessing to him.

Something that threw me off was how one of the teachers in church this week was treating Eleazar.  He continually referred to him as the "recently baptized brother" and continually commented on how he probably didn't know something or other in the lesson.  I have never been an adult new member of the church, but I know how he feels, in part, from another experience.  The first few days of having to talk a completely different language are terrifying.  You don't know much...you know you don't know much, but you really really don't want anybody to point that fact out.  You are doing the best you can and know you will get there in the end, but you want other people to help you without being condescending.  If somebody points out that you probably don't know something, you feel like crap.  You need a friend who will help you along.  I don't think President Hinckley ever said anything truer than that the majority of members of the church have no idea what it feels like to be a new member and have a hard time helping new members.  To boot there was a high priest who always comes into elder's quorum and talks about random things and odd "deep doctrine" stuff that leads the entire class off into the middle of nowhere.  It's very distressing :P.  I hope things get better in that class.

We found a family walking in the street yesterday that we had been trying to teach.  Most importantly, the dad was there.  He had been hard to find but he seemed to be interested, at least slightly.  I hope everything goes well with them.  They're a really cool family that could do a lot of good things in the church.  It was truly a miracle that we found them. :)

Perla and Jacqueline are two fantastic investigators as well.  They are both wives of members.  They have been coming to church a lot and are progressing, but have their own challenges to get baptized.  Neither husband is worthy, due to the way they got married.  In México it's very, very common for people to just hook up and live together instead of getting legally married.  Marriages here are generally extremely expensive...on the scale of 3,000 pesos.  In comparison, the average mexican family usually doesn't make that in a month.  They both are now legally married, but both still have their rights suspended.  Perla knows it's true, but wants to get baptized by her husband.  I don't know about Jacqueline.  She's really cool and seems to really like the gospel, we've just only taught her once so far, so I don't know still :). 

In other news, I am trying to read the Book of Mormon again before the end of the transfer.  I am especially looking for how to obtain revelation and how to be certain that it is revelation.  I have already learned a lot and know I will keep learning more.  There was (I believe) a young women's general president that said that if she ever had a question, she would get a new copy of the book of mormon and read it all the way through.  By the end of the Book, she would know the answer to her question.  I'm putting it to the test. :)

All the family letters were really short this week, so I don't have a lot to respond to.  Make sure to keep writing ;).

I'll leave you with a poem that I've always liked that a fantastic Seminary teacher, Brother Rassmussen, gave me.  I'm unsure of it's name, so we'll just call it:

Believe and be Saved

Believe and be saved, the minister said.
Believe and be saved, and rise from the dead.
By faith we are saved from death and from hell,
So believe and be saved, and all will be well

Then after the sermon back to his posh home,
In his brand new Mercedes all covered with chrome,
He sat in his chair, with thoughts running deep,
Took a quick nap, and died in his sleep.

To the gates of Saint Peter, he arrived with a grin.
"I believed in the Savior, so let me come in!"
"Oh no, not another," said Saint Peter with a sigh.
"The Devil's working hard, and his toll's running high.

"To believe in the Savior means to do as He says;
"Because faith without works is nothing but dead.
"Satan knows Jesus, believes in Him too.
"Tell me, what's the difference between Satan and you?"

I know that we must do what the Lord requires of us.  Whenever we do, we always recieve blessings.  Sometimes, they are not the blessings we expect, but even if it is just peace in this life, it is enough.  I know that God lives.  He hears and answers our prayers.  Sometimes He doesn't give us what we ask, but He always answers.  I know that complete Truth is on the earth again.  I know that if anyone will look with an eye of faith on the Church and ask God to help them know if it is true or not, they will know as well.  I know because I have done it and so have millions of other people.  We are few, but, as Nephi said, "the power of the Lamb of God...descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord...and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." (1 Nephi 14:14)  We are members of the church of God.  He has called us to build up His kingdom.  What a wonderful thought that is!  What's even better is that I know that it is True, completely and totally.  "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God." (title page, Book of Mormon)  I put my trust in God and I cannot turn back.

With All My Love,
Élder Sudbury

P.S. The mission home is about 3 hours away from my area and my zone leaders only go there on Sunday, so I should get the package next week.

Élder Sudbury

Monday, July 19, 2010

I wish to share my testimony of truth....

I know this church is true.  I know that baptism is essential to the eternal progression of each one of us.  I know that God listens to me and cares for me when I let Him.  I know that, even if it should be only one person that I help reach the kingdom of my father, I will have joy with him there because I helped him use his mortal life well.  I have helped him enter into a path of eternal progression and joy that can only be found in the church.  I know that the only way to have true joy is in following the course the Lord has laid out before us.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for His help, for I know that He has helped me get to this point.
With Great Love,
Élder Sudbury

Curtis first baptism day

Curtis' first baptim

Curtis' letter for July 19, 2010

Dear Family and friends,
A week full of miracles, happiness, and sorrow.
We had a zone baptismal service yesterday, during the which a choir sang, two stake presidents talked, as well as my mission president and his wife.  Owing to how cool we knew it would be, we started preparing people we knew were ready but had a little bit of fear.  We thought that it being a big event, it would help them take the step that seemed so large to them.  We invited four people to get baptized.  Two accepted and two said they would come and, if they felt the spirit, they would get baptized.  Out of the four that said they would come, only one got baptized.  His name is Eleazar, the one that I said wanted to get baptized years ago.  That brought me a lot of joy.  The other three didn't come.  That brought me a lot of sorrow.  We felt strongly that they should get baptized this weekend.  I hope they accept again this week.  
Eleazar was truly a miracle.  He was very much prepared by the Lord to be baptized at this time.  He makes me very happy :)
We can no longer do anything ourselves to reach the full goal of 24 people this month.  It would truly just be a miracle of God that would bring it about.  It is in God's hands now. :)
That's really all the news so far.  We spent almost our entire week trying to get them ready.  They really are ready.  They all have prayed and know it is true, but there are just little things that keep them from taking that step.
We had another zone conference this week.  It was much longer, which was nice because I got to know our Mission President a little better.  He is an ex-seminary teacher, really spiritual, and always trying to do what is right.  He has a fantastic family that supports him in everything, and he supports them equally.  Seeing his family, although I know they are imperfect, and reflecting on my own family, makes me excited to take that step.  I know it will be hard, but I'm excited for that day when I can.  We talked a lot about how essential new members are to the life of the church with reference to Jacob 5.  It was a very cool conference.
I've been thinking a lot about the kind of things that I can do to bring about more faith and joy in both my own life and in the lives of my investigators.  Any suggestions?
Well, sorry that this one's a little shorter.  When people write me more, I have more on which to comment, so don't stop writing ;).
All My Love,
Élder Sudbury

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letter from Curtis - July 12, 2010

Dear world,

A lot of you have asked for details about my investigators.  I'm afraid I simply would never have the time to describe them to any semblance of adequacy.  Each soul is so unique and needs something completely different.  Furthermore, I cannot give you name by name details without their permission.  To help you understand why I would not have the time, you should know that we are currently teaching about 45 different investigators, a few of which are in families.  Each of their challenges are very unique, of which I will share a few.

María (I've changed all the names) would very much like to get baptized.  She knows the church is true and has a rather strong testimony of that.  She wanted to get baptized months ago, but her husband ran away when he found out.  She called it off and went looking for him.  Now, months later, she expressed the desire to get baptized again and had a date for this Saturday, the 10th of July.  She passed her baptismal interview with flying colors, however, as we began planning it, we asked her what time she wanted to get baptized so that her husband could be there and she told us by phone that she didn't think she could get baptized, that she didn't feel she knew enough, and needed to go.  We were very confused as she was very, very excited to get baptized just two days before.  We visited her house to try to talk it out with her, as she is always so happy in church and we knew she knew it was true and the right path for her.  She has learned to trust in us because we've shown her how much we care about her and so told us the whole story she couldn't tell us on the phone.  She talked with her husband.  She had spent a lot of time trying to keep that marriage together for her two kids' sake.  Her (abusive) husband apparently was not in a very accepting mood.  He informed her that if she got baptized that he would kick her out of the house and keep the kids with him.  He works 6-7 days a week and so the care of her five year old son would fall on the shoulders of her 15 year old daughter.  She could not let that happen.  She is certain that he would follow through with that threat.  We fasted that day but have not been back due to other responsibilities.  We should be going back tonight.

Rosa is a lawyer who's from an all-catholic family.  She also knows it's true and passed her baptismal interview, but has not taken that step yet because she fears what her family will say.  Apparently her family had a bad experience with someone in the church over 10 years ago and have blamed the church ever since.  She also loves her Virgen de Guadalupe and is not sure she can stop praying to her.

Juan is the father of a full-member family, that is, except for himself.  He also is certain it is true and had a baptismal date for yesterday.  Unfortunately, however, he is not married to his wife and cannot be until the divorce papers finish going through, something that has already taken over 5 months.

These are three of the people that we are working with (of over 25 people that we feel could get baptized this month).  They are unique people that I love dearly, but have unique challenges.  As far as things that we have tried with them, the latest Liahona describes what we are doing rather well.  We are "sharing the gospel with confidence."  We are helping them understand doctrine, applying principles to their individual lives, focussing on the blessings they can have by following the gospel, and, more than anything else, we are bearing pure testimony of the truth of the gospel, the importance of it, and that they can find out for themselves if it is true or not.  We teach them how to pray and how to recognize their answer.  We teach them that God loves them and that we love them.  I have not forgotten the lessons I learned before.  I am always a friend to them, even if they don't want to know anything about the gospel.  We always try to let them know that we love them and want the blessings of God in their lives. 

Allow me to be clear, 24 baptisms is the number that we recieved by companionship revelation (kind of like personal revelation, but there are two of you ;) ).  We have sought the will of God as far as this number is concerned.  At the beginning of the month, when we made the goal, we didn't even have that many investigators.  We have prayed a lot to know if it is God's will because we know that it is a high number and that what is more important than getting baptized is that you'll stay once you are baptized.  We have felt the comfort of the Lord as far as it is concerned.  We know that 24 new people with strong testimonies would change our wards completely.  Furthermore, we know those 24 people are each children of God that we love and care about and need the blessings of full membership in the church in their lives.  There's a talk by Neil L. Anderson by the name of "You Know Enough."  We don't know everything.  If we were required to have a burning testimony about every last thing in the Lord's church, nobody would ever get baptized.  We are required to know some things, that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, understand repentance, and that this is God's church, but not everything.  We learn and grow more quickly in our testimonies once we are within the church and have the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us in our search for truth.  Once one knows the church is true and is willing to follow it, he or she may not know everythinng, but he or she knows enough and should not delay baptism should the situation permit.

As for things I have learned this week, God has talked with me a lot.  I've learned that, as I judge other people (as I need to), I should take whatever I think is happening and go to the Lord.  God will judge righteously and tell me what I need to do.  I have learned (by reading and pondering, fortunately, instead of by experience) to remember that I never have the full story.  I do need to act, many times, but as directed by the Lord.  If the Lord tells me to express my feelings, concerns, and encourage them to change, I will do so.  If he tells me to not do so because I don't have the full story, I will learn to keep my mouth shut.  I will "let God judge between me and thee and reward thee according to thy deeds."

I finally had the opportunity go to the President's house and listen to his instruction to all the new missionaries this last week.  It was a fantastic experience.  Even by mission president standards, my mission president is exceptional and I'm grateful for his example.  He expressed the power of having a vision in your life and that God wants you to know what He would have you do.  I have pondered a lot about what God wants my life to be and I certainly hope I can live up to His expectations.  I know that, should I do everything I can, God will help me and make up the rest.  I know I will fall, in life and in a mission, and have already fallen many times, but I know that Christ suffered for those sins and mistakes so that I can go on being better.  Striving to live the Gospel, even if I fall and come short, brings me Joy. :)

I know Christ suffered for me.  That is my testimony.  It is centered on the atonement of my savior.  There is nothing that can separate me from the love of God and His Son.  I know that, no matter what, God will love me and accept me back into His fold whenever I desire to come back.  He is my God.  I know this is His church for I have felt His power working through me, power that has been restored to this church alone.  I am grateful for everything I have, for I have everything.  :)  I have my God, I know it is true, I know enough.

All my love and prayers,
Élder Sudbury