Dear Mom and Dad,
Today marks my halfway point through the MTC. I literally feel like I am in the army of Helaman. The lord is hastening his work, and I have been called out to the front lines 🙂 During my personal study this week, I focused a lot on Faith and the Spirit. I often find myself frustrated because when the Spirit is not burning like a fire within me, I feel like I am doing something wrong. I have tried to humble myself and have found great comfort in Galatians 5, where we learn the fruits of the Spirit come in joy, peace and comfort. I have DEFINITELY felt those a lot here at the MTC, so I have to be patient with myself and recognize that those are gifts of the Spirit as well :).
We do role-play teaching here and TRC, where real members come in to be taught for one reason or another. I pray a lot for my investigators. It is so real. The teachers often emulate real people they know, and take the ideas we use in our lessons to help them. I have stopped worrying about Portuguese. My first couple weeks here, I tried to study nothing but the language, and realized as a missionary and as a member of this church, the most powerful language we can speak is that of the Spirit. I know enough Portuguese now to be able to have a full hour long discussion about the Gospel and understand and comprehend, and answer. Sundays and Tuesdays are my favorite. Taking the Sacrament each week I feel that renewing of my Baptismal Covenant and love feeling clean and exercising faith to become better next week. Faith is a product of desire and action, and faith without works is dead. I am constantly trying to build a desire and act on things I want a strengthened testimony of. It is amazing the many ways that God answers our prayers. Through my teachers, family and friends, I have received direct answers to some of my prayers.
I love personal study and reading the Book of Mormon. The most powerful resource we have is the Book of Mormon. In 2nd Nephi we are promised that the words of God and teachings of the Prophets within are enough to teach ANY man. I wish back home I would have shared the Book of Mormon with all my friends. I used to be pretty wishy-washy about my Faith, because I was scared to offend what others believe. I know without a shadow of a doubt that we are here on this Earth to prepare to meet God again, and I have a sacred responsibility to share that with all of the people that I know. I would be heartbroken if I got to the spirit world and I saw people I knew, and they would ask me why I didn’t share with them the truth.
We should not be scared to share the message of the restored Gospel with everybody. God has reached out again in love and restored the gospel of his son Jesus Christ in these modern days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. As members and missionaries, we are accountable for all those we could have shared the gospel with. Keep in mind that EVERYBODY on the Earth accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan once already. All we have to do is remind them of that. We are promised in the Book of Mormon that after this life all people will know with a perfect exactness the sins they committed, and that God and Jesus Christ exist. We are not a hundred percent sure how eternal progression works, but long story short they will want to have repented and come unto Christ in this life VERY BAD.
In class, our teacher, Brother Belchoir, had us write letters to our family as if we were going to die in five minutes. I put my soul into that letter, and then he ripped all of our letters up after we gave them to him. We are all shocked, because literally those are the things we would want our Family to know. That is how Mormon and all the prophets of the Book of Mormon must feel when we do not take advantage of the Scriptures. Many wars were fought against the people of God in the Book of Mormon, and many people died in memory of their God, their Religion, and their Families. Moroni put that on the title of Liberty because in our lives those are the things that count. We should strive to fight for those same things.
I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that is the most correct book on the face on the entire Earth. I promise anybody reading this e-mail who does not yet know of the truthfulness of the Book for themselves to read the Book of Mormon, and follow the promise in Moroni 10:3-7. If your read it and do not pray, you cannot come unto spiritual knowledge for yourself. We are told that only through prayer and diligently searching the words of God can we come unto a knowledge of the truth for ourselves. This life is a time to prepare to meet God again, and we cannot afford to waste time sitting between two masters. If God is God, then we should serve him with all of our heart, might, mind and strength so that we and our families and friends can stand blameless before God at the last day, and Jesus Christ in his mercy can plead with the Father on our behalf, and the demands of Justice and Mercy can be satisfied. We can return to the presence of God and live again with those we love. We are not here on this Earth to but live and die. There is no greater happiness we can have than doing the things which would please the father. If we do not know of a surety that these things are true yet, now is the time to do so. The work of the Gospel is hastening on Earth. Once we truly strive to not rely solely on our testimony and become converted unto Christ, the Book of Mormon promises us that we will NEVER fall away. We have a sacred responsibility to share this message with all of our brothers and sisters, and prepare as many as we can for the second coming. I have wasted too much time in my life focusing on Earthly things, and now I can been so blessed to get a glimpse at the real work we are here to do. Even as the prophets in the Book of Mormon dedicated their ENTIRE lives to spreading the Gospel, I know we can have the same happiness it brought them when we do the same.
God lives, and hears and answers our prayers. We should not be afraid to invite all those we know to read the Book of Mormon and pray for a knowledge of it’s truthfulness. It is the keystone of our religion. We teach nothing save it be from the Scriptures and the doctrine within. I know for myself that If I strive to abide by it’s precepts I can come closer unto God, and that same promise is shared with all of us. Our testimonies will be key in helping others come unto Christ. You CANNOT convert someone past your own conversion. Once we seek to become converted unto Christ, then can we begin to share that with others. I love this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the spiritual growth I have had while I have had the opportunity to join the army of Helaman, and march forth with my brothers and sisters to share the message of the restored Gospel. I am grateful for the promise of Eternal Families, and that someday I can start my own Eternal Family and spend forever with my wife and Children. I am grateful that I have made the necessary changes in my life to repent and come unto Christ, because all of us need to repent and come unto Christ. The gift of the Atonement is infinite, and we can receive a remission of our sins if we but lift the burden of sin and come unto Christ.
Thank you to all of you who have been a righteous example in my life, and I cannot wait to get to Brazil and meet my brothers and sisters I promised to share the Gospel with in the pre-mortal life. If I sound like a different person than Jonah, that’s because I am. We joke around here that those are our Gentile names now, I really feel like Elder Sanders is somebody different. If we want to feel the Spirit more abundantly in our lives we should thirst and hunger after righteousness (3rd Nephi) and then we will be filled with the Spirit of God.
This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love, Elder Sanders