“[Scripture study] without [personal application] is dead.”

This post is from a letter dated 3 January 2017 (Sorry, I got a little behind posting :).

     So many miracles happened this last week. And actually, most of them happened over the last few days. Lets begin with Thursday. I’ll just take an excerpt from my letter to our mission president, since he asked me to share this experience with him:

     On the previous Saturday, Elder Harris and I had received a promoting that we needed to organize a dinner for all the Haitians adults in the Branch. This would consist of an active-member wife and non-member husband), a less-active husband and non-member wife, and a recent convert wife and non-member husband, as well as the home that we hoped to have the dinner at).

      We anticipated that because two of these families had crazy work schedules, this was likely not to happen for a couple weeks. However, when we asked everyone for a time that would work, by some miracle every single one said that Thursday night would work. Quite honestly, we were a bit shocked. In fact, as we got closer to the dinner and we started reminding people, there were hardly any problems. The only bump in the road was when one of the sisters called us and said that she didn’t have anyone to watch their kids that night, so she wasn’t sure if she would be able to make it. After we told us how much we wanted her to be there, who would be there, and how incredible the food was going to be (Sister Amedee is an incredible cook), she said that she would try to get her mother to watch her kids for her. That night, she called us and said that she would see us on Thursday.

     When things began to pan out, and so quickly at that, we felt that we needed the help of the Sister Missionaries to create an environment where a Gospel message could be effectively and powerful given. With permission from the Zone Leaders, we asked the Sisters in our District to join us for the dinner, which ended up being the catalyst for an incredible Thursday night.

image2      When Thursday night came, everyone was there pretty much on time. The food was ready and delicious. Everyone was enjoying each other’s’ company. AND to make things even better, Sister Albanese’s (one of the Sister Missionaries) native tongue was French, one of the national languages in Haiti. When it came time to share our message, we shared a video–in French–on the Atonement. We (the Elders and Sisters) each bore our testimony. When Sister Albanese bore hers, she bore a powerful witness in French, one by which everyone was visibly touched.

     We finished up the dinner and before everyone headed on their way, One wife asked the Sisters to start visiting her and her husband told us he wanted to be able to baptize his 8- and 10-year old and take his teen children to the temple. Another sister told us she was going to do a session the coming Saturday and her husband said he would be in church this coming Sunday. And while the other brother didn’t have much to say, it was clear he at least was touched and was more interested in his wife’s newly found religion than before. Sister Amedee thanked us profusely for bringing her people to her–this was the fellowship she needed.

     This whole dinner was the Lord’s will. I don’t know how many times I prayed for the dinner, asking for it all to work in accordance with His will, and I don’t know how many times we thanked Him afterward in prayer. AND to top it all off, the same day we found two previous investigators who wanted to be baptized, but the difficulties and tragedies of life had cut our contact with them. THIS is the Lord’s work. It’s on his timetable, and regardless of me, it will move forward.

     There is just so much that happens here. I never imagined how real the ups and downs on a mission could be. Just this last week, I’d had the chance to talk with a few other missionaries about what we’ve learned on the mission. New York has opened my eyes. The Lord truly knows where we need to serve. I have a testimony stronger than ever before that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Atonement is more than a fancy idea that we talked about in seminary—it is everything. 3 Nephi 27:13-22 puts the gospel of Jesus Christ in incredible focus: on the Atonement. He says, “Behold I have given unto you my Gospel.” And what is this Gospel? “This is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father.” And what was the will of the Father? “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross” and “after that…I might draw all men unto me.”

     Christ’s whole gospel, his whole message, his whole purpose was 1) the Atonement and 2) helping us use such a gift.

     I say from personal experience, just going to seminary or reading the Book of Mormon just isn’t going to cut it. Ever heard of “faith without works is dead”? When James wrote this in chapter 2 verse 20, he wasn’t just giving a nice sermon, he was teaching us about the laws of the universe. Why did we come to earth? One main reason was to learn by experience.

     In the Pre-Earth life, I’m sure we could have gone to class after class, listening to instructors telling us how to succeed in our mortal life. We could have read volumes on “How to Succeed on Earth and Avoid the Dark Side”. The WHOLE POINT of us coming here was to act: To gain experience, personal testimony, all by choosing to use our agency, choosing to act. We have to not only study the scriptures deeply, but apply them directly to our lives. It’s not just enough to ask for forgiveness in prayer or learn more about the Atonement, we need to use the Atonement to change our very natures. I might change James proclamation to “[Scripture study] without [personal application] is dead.”

     Okay, so I’ll step off my little soap box. I hope I’ve at least adequately shared my personal testimony of the personal nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

     I hope you are all doing well! Love you all! I hope that the New Year is off to a good start. 🙂 Have a good one!

Elder McConkie

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