Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hey hello
Happy Easter!
I will not type in chinglish today. It was a good week. I continue to enjoy myself and we continue to see cool things happen. Generic week. I will try to write more specifics.
On exchanges I taught this man from Shanghai with weird Chinese, I could still communicate but he sounds funny. And he has always been Buddhist and loved reading scriptures, including the bible, just loves that stuff, really loves searching for truth. And one night he had a dream, where he saw a pillar of light, and saw two things descending, and it was two books, one was the Bible and the other he couldn't recognize but he could see it was blue. And not long afterwards, he ran into missionaries and as they talked, one pulled out the Book of Mormon and he recognized it immediately, and was shocked and excited, and in the past month has read the whole book, and is currently most of the way through D and C.  As he reads he is keeping a written log of all the different and new doctrines revealed in these two books that he has found no where else. He has no doubt the book is true.
I was pondering why one man might be so miraculously prepared by God to accept this message, while others may not. Had no answer at first. But I realized that is false, this man is not more prepared. He is prepared in a way that is impressive to human understanding, and that may lead to him being able to believe in this life, right now. But I think that God's plan for each one of his children is just as intricate and perfect, and will lead to just as perfect of an opportunity to accept the truth, at the right time and in the right way for each individual. The plans are already in place, and I think it is comforting to know that He doesn't just give everyone crazy dreams to help them believe, but instead does exactly what is needed in the eternal scheme for each of us.
Was also up in Longtan on exchanges. Interesting fact: That area has had about 40 baptisms in the last two years. Yet for the past decade, the number of active members on Sunday is about 60, and that hasn't changed at all. This is a widespread problem but in this case especially bad. What to do?
My real desire is conversion, I have seen it happen and I know it is possible, and it really doesn't matter if it happens in investigators or members or missionaries, I just want to see people believe in Christ with a faith that will secure their lives, see people develop that determination to never give up. There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like you were a tool used in the generation of real conversion.
And look at 徐弟兄. He is the 16 year old that has the parental un-permission problems. Not been baptized, yet this week I asked him what he feels about Jesus, and he says "I don't really know much about him, but I feel like I know him, and I know he is my savior." And it hit me, this kid 2 months ago had no concept of God and now has a faith in the Savior. But here is something cool: He has never read the Bible. Thinking about it, he is like a blank slate, never heard the stories of Jesus or anything. Doesn't know what Jesus did in Jerusalem, about his miracles of life or anything. He came to his savior entirely through the Book of Mormon, which is how we taught him. And he knows that Jesus is the Savior. We haven't touched the Bible yet. I am not saying that we shouldn't, or that the Bible isn't of value. But the fact that someone who is not religious at all has developed true faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior, and has done so through no method other than the Book of Mormon, is, to me, proof that this book brings people to Christ. I am confident the Bible could have the same effect, but that wasn't the case here. This is a book from God, if it weren't there is no way this kid could have felt the spirit or experienced this level of conversion.
Having said that, we have started teaching him the Bible stories, because they are invaluable. I just thought that was a cool little experiement.
For easter I read about Christ with his apostles after his resurrection. Thinking about how it must have started to dawn on them how this man they had spent years learning from and living with had actually conquered death, it had actually been done. And when they sat at the sea of Galilee and he tells Peter to "feed (his) sheep" and later commissions the 11 to tell the world. So there are 11 people, told to tell the whole world about Jesus. They didn't even know how big the world was back then. They must have thought it sounded impossible, to convince anyone at all, let alone go to every one of the different places, peoples, cultures, languanges, etc., and convince them of a "new" god, who had conquered death and sin.
And now there are missionaries in nearly every country, speaking nearly every languange. But in 2000 years, the charge and the message have not changed, we preach the resurrected Christ. It is happening. I do it every day in a place those apostles never even knew existed. Taoyuan county on the island of Taiwan off the coast of China seems pretty remote when you think about them sitting there at Galilee thinking "okay, sure, the whole world. Whatever you say." Isn't it amazing that this has happened, and that people believe it?
And last night, I stopped on the way home to talk to a high school student, and he was interested, so we taught him to pray and said one with him, and the spirit just came. He felt it and said he has never felt that way before, he used "warm","miracluous",and "indescribable", and then standing there on the street corner he said his first prayer ever, and thanked God for letting him feel that He is watching him. This is why people believe at all, even in a place where the majority of people are very set in the traditions of their fathers that they have been raised in. Because God confirms it to us one by one, in a unique way, to each person willing to try, and the confirmation is so special. 
I love being here. I know that the Savior has risen and that we all will as well. I love telling this to people every day.
Hope this email was better than last week's. Thank you so much for supporting me, and for the easter package, and for registering my classes. SO MUCH LOVE.
Elder Braithwaite

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