" And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again."
Alma 5:49

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Becoming a Better Missionary

Well, I just got a new companion today. Elder M. got sent to Ibara (it´s in the mountains close to Quito) to be one of the zone leaders there. My new companion´s name is Elder P.. I haven´t met him yet, but everything I´ve heard about him is that he is a really great missionary and that he has a ton of experience being a trainer. My companion called him "gordo feliz" when he was telling me about him. (That translates to about "fat happy"). Oh, and he happens to be a gringo, which means that I´ll really need to focus during my language study time :)

The baptisms went well. Fortunately, Alexander was one of the two that we were able to baptize. It was an absolutely amazing experience to help him enter the waters of baptism. It is amazing to see the light that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring into the lives of those who accept it. 

This week was a litte different. On Tuesday I did divisions with one of our zone leaders (Elder G.), and we spend the entire day in his sector. On Wednesday we had a meeting with President for all the missionaries in the coast. That night, one of the assistants came with us and spent the night in our house. It was really great to learn from him and also to see that you don´t have to be perfect to be an assistant (even they burn the rice sometimes :). The next morning Pres. and Sis. Richardson came to inspect our house. They were really impressed and said that we were doing a really good job on keeping it clean, etc. We then had our weekly district meeting and then afterwards we left for Quito for the new missionary verification. That was Friday morning (it was more for the trainers than for us), and then we returned late Friday night. Saturday we had the baptisms, so pretty much Sunday was our only "normal" day. 

During the meeting on Wednesday, President gave a message about an article that was written by an old mission president called the "Fourth Missionary". It talks about four types of missionaries. The first is disobidient and is sent home. The second is also disobedient, but he does just enough to stay on his mission for all of the 2 years. The third missionary is obedient, does everything right, etc. The only problem is he does not really want to be doing those things. He is constantly focusing in the past or the future (the times when he doesn´t have to be doing missionary things). As a result, he does not change nor receive many personal blessings from his mission. Only the fourth missionary wants to be there, wants to be working, wants to be changing and improving. He wants his will to be the will of the Lord. He is the only missionary that will personally benefit from his mission. The mission president also reminds us that our most important investigator, our most important project, is ourselves. If we are not changing from the work we are doing, we are not being successful missionaries. 

This message has taught me that I need to always be searching for ways to better appy the teachings and example of Jesus Christ in my life (whether they be about charity, humility, faith, how to teach, etc.).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why I Decided To Go On a Mission

     I imagine that there are some of you who wonder why it is that I have put my life on pause for two years to share a message thousands of miles away from home. I hope that this following post will help to answer a few of those questions. Also, attached is a link to a talk that was given by one of the leaders of my church this past weekend. I think that he is able to beautifully explain why it is that there are 88,000+ Mormon missionaries around the world that are doing the exact same thing I am.

     My purpose as a missionary is to "Invite all to come unto Christ by receiving the message of the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentacne, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." This is my message, as we follow the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which have been restorted by a latter-day prophet named Joseph Smith, we will grow closer to Christ and feel the peace and joy that He can bring into our lives. I am here because I know this message is true. I have felt the joys of living the principles of Christ`s gospel in my life, and I wish to share these same joys to the people of Ecuador. 

    Now I am sure many of you are thinking to yourselves, "I am happy in my church", or "My beliefs already bring me joy". And to this I say, "Wonderful!". I am amazed by the service that the many churches around the world give and how many people have a firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This brings happiness to my soul. I am only here to invite people to find out if my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, can offer them even more. I will attempt to use an example, and if it doesn`t make sense, I apoligize. 

    A family of 6 is on a road-trip, and while they are driving, they see an advertisement for a Chipotle at the upcoming exit. "Buy 1 get one free". The family pulls off, buys 6 burritos (for the price of three) and enjoys what is obviously a nice deal. When they have finished their lunch, they get back into the car, and continue their trip. Not 15 minutes later, they see an advirtisement for a different Chipotle. "Buy 1, get 5 free". The father exclaims, "I wish somebody would`ve told us about that earlier!"

   Obviously, both are very good deals, but something tells me that if you were given the choice, you would prefer the second promotion too. Well, this is how I believe it is with all of the churches in the world too. There are many great organizations that do many great things, but there is only one that is the exact same as the church Christ established while he was on the earth. 

   Again, I would imagine that many of you are thinking, "Elder Bahr, are we just supposed to take your word that your church is the right one?" Absolutely not! I don`t want anyone, whether at home or in Ecuador, to join my church because of my testimony. I want them to do it because they have gained a testimony of their own. As I have been studying and teaching, I have found there are three fundamental ways to learn whether or not my message and my church are true.

   The first is through prayer. In James 1:5 it reads, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and abraideth not, and it shall be given him." Jesus taught in His "Sermon on the Mount", "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." We do this asking through prayer. God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us, and He wants to hear from us. As we pray to Him and ask Him to guide us down the right path, we will feel His Spirit telling us the right way to go. I would invite each of you to pray this evening, asking God if my message is true. I know you will get a response if you ask in faith.

   The second way to learn whether or not my church is true is by reading the Book of Mormon, and again praying to find out if it is true. The Book of Mormon is the "keystone of our religion". If it is true, then our church is true. If it is false, our church is false. I again invite everyone to read, ponder, and pray about the message of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true because I have done these things many times, and each time the Spirit of the Lord has testified of the truth of it unto me.

   The final way is by attending our church services. You cannot say you truly desire to know if our church is true without first attending. I invite you all to find a chapel near where you live and attend. If you have any questions, there will be two missionaries there to help you answer questions, just as I am doing here in Ecuador. 

   I pray that you will do these things, because I wish that everyone could find more peace and happiness in this ever-darkening world. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bless all men in whatsoever circumstance they may be in. Thank you for taking your time to read, and I hope that you at least understand a little bit more of why I have paused my life to serve here in Ecuador.

Elder Bahr

Elder David A. Bednar's address at the October 2014 General Conference.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Learning and Teaching

The attached pictures of our zone´s trip to a local light-house today. The view from the top was amazing, but the hike there and back was quite interesting. There was no trail. We walked for who-knows-how-long through grass that was taller that our heads to get there. (Let´s not forget that the grass wasn´t exactly soft and my companion forgot to mention that I probably shouldn´t wear gym-shorts until after we started). All in all, it was a fun experience that I don´t plan on having again.

It´s been really nice to have Elder C. in my district. He was my district-leader in the CCM (training center in Mexico) and we lived in the same apartment. It´s been nice to talk to someone about the mission and know that I´m not the only new missionary that´s trying to adjust. 

This past Saturday, Elder C. and his companion had a baptism (the only one for our zone this month). It was held at our chapel, and Elder M. and I had the oppurtunity to attend. It made we want to work hard so that I might be able to have that same experience. 

It turns out, that earlier that day, Elder C. was feeling really sick, and that his companion was close to canceling the baptism. Through what I am sure was the help of the Lord, Elder C. found the strength to attend, and he even preformed the baptism. Afterwards, he felt sick again, and because our apartment has better conditions than theres, I did splits (a term to say that we switched companions for a night) for the evening. It made me grateful for the things that I had, and I learned that however hard my mission is, there is someone else out there who has it worse (like needing to use a bucket to shower). (Elder C. is feeling much better, and it was fun to talk with him during our little adventure today).

My apartment is really nice compared to alot of places here. It always has running water, and it ventilates very well. There is plenty of room and we have everything we need to make the typical missionary foods. (Oatmeal, toast, eggs, french toast, etc.) 

I´m really looking forward to General Conference next week. I feel like it will be an oppurtunity to do something different and be filled with the Spirit that only comes from the word of God. I know that we have prophets who live on this earth today, and that their counsel will help us be happy more that anything else in the entire world. (Oh, and it´s a weekend that I get to listen to people talk in English).

I´m really grateful for my companion. He is really patient with me, and I am sure that I do things that just drive him up the wall. He´s a really great teacher, and I´m learning alot on how to teach more like the Savior. He´s also really trying to make me speak, which is helping me in so many ways.

We are currently teaching several people.  One of whom is JC.  He is the 20 year old son of a family that was baptized just a few weeks before I got here. He has a true desire to learn about which church is true, and he told us in our last lesson that he would pray about it. He then thanked us for our kindness. I didn´t understand everything, but I understood that he genuinely was grateful for our willingness to sincerely help him. I felt the Spirit very strongly during that lesson. 

Elder Bahr