Archive for July, 2011

Glory to God on High

July 29, 2011

The hymn for this week is “Glory to God on High”. http://lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollect ion=1&searchseqstart=67&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=67&searchsubseq end=ZZZ The passage is Psalm 117. http://lds.org/scriptures/ot/ps/117?lang=eng

Special news from this week. Today marks the beginning of my twelfth month as a full-time missionary. Last Thursday, Elder P., my MTC companion, arrived in India. He’s serving in Hyderabad, so I saw him Tuesday at district meeting.

It’s been a great week.

I’m sorry for not fitting more of the sights and sounds of India into my letters over the past nine months. The sight for this week is a pushcart full of bananas– the bananas are still on the stalk, and so it’s a group of banana towers, ranging through green and yellow. The cart is flat and rolls on four large wobbly wheels. When you make a purchase, the merchant slices a bundle of bananas off the stalk to weigh them.

The sound is a car backing up, and playing “Fur Elise”. It’s Elder A. who pointed out to me that all cars in India made a sound as they back up, usually a song. It’s Elder T. who asked me a few weeks back why 80% of them play ‘Fur Elise’. Is it representative of an Indian appreciation for classical music?

Almost every time I try to write this letter, I find that I’m almost completely at a loss as to how to capture or explain my daily life. I can’t find words to describe the joy of teaching the gospel, of saying something to someone and feeling the words coming from somewhere else, of sharing a scripture and hearing it take new meaning in the very moment it’s read. I can’t describe the normal fear of talking to whoever is sitting next to me on the bus, or how that fear goes away. I can’t explain how I keep getting up every morning, or how I’ve learned to expect in the past month that every day really can be better than the day before.

All I can say is what I say everyday, and what has never ceased to be amazing to me. I really do know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I really do know that He and His Father spoke to Joseph Smith. I know that God answers prayers, that coming to God and keeping his commandments is a way to a great peace and joy that overcomes the world. I know Christ is victorious over death. The Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us from chains of discouragement, confusion, grief and sin. It is life and light.

I’ll think this week about how to put my daily life into words, and how to put my testimony more firmly into acts.

I love you all,
Elder Westwood

Come Follow Me, the Savior Said

July 11, 2011

The scripture passage for this week is Luke 4 http://lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/4?lang=eng. What struck me in this passage is how Christ uses his power and authority– to resist temptation, teach the gospel, and heal the sick. Christ is our perfect example, and it struck me at church yesterday that I’d never really studied the scriptures to see the example Christ is giving to me, and to seek to follow it. I’m used to thinking about his love and mercy, and I know that following him requires that I show such love, but I’d never before gone to the details of his life to learn how I should live. So I’ve got a new focus now.

I believe strongly that when I was ordained an elder, and when I was set apart as a full-time missionary, I was consecrated by God to do His work. And as I’ve gone about my Father’s business, and done His will, I’ve felt his Spirit guiding me, telling me where to go, putting words in my mouth. I know that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

I know this scripture can be fulfilled in each of our lives as we hear God’s call to us, as we accept the Atonement of His Son and seek to truly become his disciples. That’s the work God wants each of us to do, and I witness that it’s the hardest work and the sweetest work on this earth.

I keep feeling that I’ve reached the hardest point of my mission, that I’ve experienced the challenges and overcome them, and that from here on out there will be smooth sailing. And I humbly say that’s never been the case. There’s always a new challenge, always something new to overcome in myself, something else God points out to me to work on.

My challenges are so insignificant, so minute, compared to what Christ bore for me alone. But I know He cares even for my smallest worries and concerns, that he’s here to carry me beyond myself.

Thursday I was reading from the Book of Mormon with the mother of one of my heroes in India. She’s been hearing about the Gospel for the last five years, since her son’s baptism, but she’d never believed it until she really read the Book of Mormon. But as she read, as soon as she read, she knew it was the word of God.

I helped one of the calmest, funniest people I’ve ever met gain a testimony that Christ is his Savior. There’s nothing in the world that compares to the moment when he told me “I know what He did for me.”

I am glad to be an instrument in the hands of God, to know these children of his, to preach the gospel of His Son.

And the mangoes aren’t bad either 🙂

Love,
Elder Westwood