Hello and Good Morning!!! Time just keeps going faster and faster and faster and so on. I didn't even have time to think about this week before I ended up back at the same computer I email at every week writing to you guys! It's a good thing I write everything down and have a good enough memory to remember the small details. I think that is kinda one of my faults as well though, I remember all the small details that don't really matter to the story but I still try to tell them so that you can see the whole picture, and not just the main point. I've also realized that is how I like to learn about things. A lot of my books get into some deep doctrine. Speaking of books, if you really want to get me a new one, I would love "The Savior & the Serpent" by Alonzo L. Gaskill. I don't know how expensive it is so if it is too much, that is fine, don't worry about it. What we could do instead is this: I have my doctors appointments in Tucson about once a month. At D.I. they have a book section specifically for LDS books. And there are a LOT of them! If you want to, it would be cheaper than buying new books and sending them to me, you could just send me some cash or put some money on my card and I will just buy books out here. What do you think? :) Anyway, back to my learning patterns, Elder Gilson always tells me that some things I read about and question about are not going to help me be saved anymore than a false baptism will. But that isn't entirely true. I have a lot of questions when I read those books and some of them get pretty complicated. Like, if Adam and Eve were actually as "little children" and knew as much as "little children" then why were they punished for trespassing against God's commands? In D&C it tells us that little children cannot sin and if they pass away before the age of accountability then they will be saved through the Atonement of Christ and not be punished for their trespasses. The difference between a sin and a trespass has to do with intentions and knowledge. If you have no knowledge of the Word of Wisdom, you aren't sinning by partaking of alcohol or cigarettes, but you are transgressing because we know that it is harmful to us and it is a commandment, even though they don't know it. But it becomes a sin once you know about the Word of Wisdom and go against it anyways. Article of Faith number 2 says that "Man must be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression." So if he was like a "little child" and committed a "transgression" then the atonement should have covered their mistake of partaking of the fruit and they shouldn't have been punished. But their is a lot more that goes into it than what is being described and I don't have the time to tell all the details. The book "The Savior & the Serpent" is all about the Fall and what actually went into it and the little details that help the story make more sense. Elder George let me borrow the copy he had but he got it from the library and had to give it back. But from what I read in it, it describes how much they actually knew in the Garden of Eden, things they couldn't have known, and why they were punished even though it was a transgression and not a sin. It is an amazing book that I would love to finish reading. But it is just little details like that that I look into. I know the church is true and the doctrine is perfect. I know that we don't have all the answers but I like to and want to look into all the options I can before deciding there is no actual answer at this point. One more thing I am curious about that I don't have an answer to yet is did Adam and Eve have scriptures in the Garden of Eden? Were they words from the Lord directly like the 10 commandments with Moses or possibly revelations given to Adam that he wrote down from God? I noticed that it mentions it in the Temple video. I don't want to talk about the video at all but next time you go, listen for that and also notice that the commands to the 3 apostles to go to Adam and Eve are also for their posterity. Do they mean their children or are they talking about us being descendants and posterity of Adam, or both? Just so many things to think about!!
I don't know what happened out here but I am literally falling in love with books about the church. I have NEVER liked to read. I have always hated reading from text books and trying to gain knowledge that way. I have never really liked reading the books in any of my English classes because I didn't understand what I was reading or it just wasn't interesting to me. But with these books, I am gaining so much knowledge and understanding and I know that a big part of it is because of the Holy Ghost! This week, Elder Gilson and I have been listening to Truman G. Madson (Madsen?) giving his lectures about Joseph Smith the Prophet. In these 5 lectures, it talks all about Joseph Smith in every angle possible. Right now he is talking about the characteristics of what a Prophet of God needs to have and then gives examples of how Joseph Smith has all those characteristics. One of my favorite parts is when it is talking about his sense of humor and how he could be serious and then switch to joking in a blink of an eye. He was also into games and sports. One game is that you draw a line in the sand then have to jump from that line and see who can jump the farthest. Now-a-days I think we just call that the standing long jump. Well, one story tells about these 2 preachers who go to Joseph and try to stump him with scriptures and questions. Joseph Smith accepted their challenge and not only had scriptures to back up what he said, answered all of their questions perfectly, but then also asked them lots of questions that they couldn't answer. They stood up to leave probably feeling like they failed in proving him wrong. As they stood and walked towards the door, Joseph Smith ran in front of them, drew a line in the sand and jumped as far as he could past it. Then looking at the 2 preachers said, "Well gentlemen, you haven't bested me at scriptures, let's see if you can best me at this." Talk about a slap in the face!! He was such an amazing prophet. There are so many stories that show the kind of man he was and the kind of Prophet he was. One of the things that hit me though was something that he said. Joseph Smith basically said, "If you want to gain knowledge and understanding, don't go to books, go to God in humble prayer." I have gained so much knowledge from these books but it made me think about what things I could have learned that would have been of more importance and had a greater effect on my life if I had turned to my Father in Heaven in prayer first. This is very difficult for me though. I have a very hard time receiving answers to prayers if I don't have a question to ask. If I am content with my knowledge and understanding, I don't know what to ask for in my prayers to help me gain knowledge. I don't know if as I'm praying being taken over by the Spirit into a vision to give me knowledge I don't need yet. On the other hand, as I'm reading those books, it brings questions into my mind and new ideas that I had never though of before. I guess I could get better about asking those questions before I read that section of the book. Or maybe I could pray after I finish reading to make sure that what I have read is all true. I think the reason why we are supposed to pray and ask God for that knowledge though is because it will be the Spirit that answers us, not just a man and his opinion. Anyone can tell me truths and I will try to remember them but I will have a very hard time doing so. But when the Spirit testifies and teaches us about truth, it is literally engrained into our Spirits and we cannot forget it without trying to. So that is something that I am going to do this week is do better at including my Heavenly Father more into my studies and my questions so that I can know true doctrine and remember it forever!
This week was pretty good. We went to the Temple and I loved it!!! We went as a zone and had a total of 52 people in the session!! Elder George, my district leader, had some family names that he wanted to do in there and gave me one to do. Actually it was kinda funny how we got them. We went on the 11th which would have been Thursday. Well, on Wednesday the 10th, he told me that he had some names that he wanted to try to get printed off to take to the Temple the next day. On Wednesday we had Tori's baptismal interview, which I will talk about in a sec, and so went on a 3 hour exchange so Elder George could do that interview then print off those names. Well we tried all night to find somewhere to print these names but had no luck. The library was closed and no one had keys to the church library and the people that we talked to didn't have printers hooked up either with a wire or wireless to their computer. It was actually kinda ridiculous. So we exchange back and Elder Gilson and I get home around 9:30. Every night at 10 p.m. we have a mission wide prayer where all of the companionship's kneel down and say a prayer for the missionaries and the mission as a whole. Our district does a 3 way call and we pray together as a district. We give the person praying that night some names of people to pray for an what to pray for and they include those people in this prayer as well. Well after the prayer, Elder George says I need to be at his apartment at 7 in the morning to pick him up for the Temple. We needed to be at the Temple, dressed, and in the waiting room place at 7:30 for the session at 8. So we show up at 7 and he isn't there. We call and find out that he ran to the Library on EAC campus since they live right next to it. So we go and meet him there but he is just sitting on the benches outside the Library. The Library was supposed to open at 7 but it was about 7:15 and they were still closed. This wouldn't be a problem except we had to be at the Temple in 15 minutes. I swear, satan didn't want us to get those names printed off! Well to finish the story, they finally opened about 7:20 and we got the names printed off. We got to the Temple about 7:35 and all the missionaries were sitting in the waiting room at the entrance to the Temple without their Temple clothes on. The Temple wasn't quite ready for us yet. What a miracle for us! As we sat down, Elder George smiled and asked me to do one of his family names. I took the name and looked at it. The name of his ancestor was William Harris. Coincidence? I think NOT! But it was great! We saw the new movie and I absolutely loved it! Well, all except for satan. He actually reminded me of the elders quorum secretary in the Pima 1st Ward. He is bald just like satan in the movie and speaks so "matter-of-fact"ly and dully, just like satan does in the movie. It was hard not to laugh when I saw him and heard him cause I could totally see this member in this role! I loved everything else in the Temple though! Especially the actor that plays Peter in this new movie. :) If you don't know who it is, go back and watch again a little more closely!
We did a really cool act of service this week too. We have been working really hard with the Wittenbrakers, a now active family in the Pima 1st Ward. However, they are struggling to get on their feet with finances and food. So we decided to try to help them out. Every 2nd Wednesday of every month, we help out with commodities. People drive up who are struggling to make enough money and then we give them food according to the number of people in their families. We give out a lot of food and in lots of varieties. The missionaries also get free food for volunteering. Most of it is food that missionaries don't normally use though. In our apartment, we had 2 or 3 cupboards full of cans of corn and beans and tomato paste and about 15 small containers of peanut butter. So we talked to the missionaries in our district who also had cupboards full of this stuff and collected it all into boxes. We packed 5 or 6 decently big boxes with all this food and dropped it off on their porch so they would find it when they got home. They came to church and asked us if we did it or if we knew who did it. To make it more special for them and to help them know that more people love them than they think, we told them it wasn't us and didn't know who did it. I was worried about lying about it but then though of it like how parents tell their kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, the lie is to help them grow and this helped them grow with humility and love for both the ward members and our Father in Heaven!
Well I do need to get heading off! Thank you dad for all those pictures! I love that way of looking at pictures! I love you all so much and want you to know that I am praying for you!
I LOVE YOU!!!
~Elder Kyle Harris