Dear Family and Friends,
As maybe you know or don't know, the Thailand Bangkok Mission has gone Facebook friendly. AKA, we can take care of all of our recent converts, members, etc etc via facebook while still a missionary. Thailand's kind of a place where people move, change phone numbers, go visit other cities at the blink of an eye, so being able to keep up with them without fear of immediate disconnect is a relief. It's teaching me how I'll take care of those I love from afar once I'm no longer present here. Technology can be a grand weapon for good.
I feel like my emails are always sit down "coming to terms" with everything I've observed in the week, summarizing it up, and streaming it to anyone willing to hear me.
You're probably wondering to yourself... why is Sister Painter always talking about Baptism?
So to answer that question, I want to talk about the magnificence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be layered down into 5 steps and these steps cycle upon each other.
Oddly enough, the "purpose" of a missionary reads as followed: "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."
The Gospel of Jesus Christ... is exactly that. Those 5 steps. All we do as missionaries is help people develop their faith, help them see how to build it themselves, help them to change-- quit those habits that damage the ability to hear, see and feel through spiritual perspective. We help them see why they'd want to throw those actions away and leave them underwater.
Baptism is a symbol, my friends. It's a cleansing and leaving behind of what once caught us by the heel.
But the thing I want to focus on today is the last step. The Epilogue. The Afterwards. The what comes next.
You've done all this: you've developed faith, you've repented of your sins daily, and now you've been baptized and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You are now a disciple of Jesus Christ-- the world is your oyster.
.......The crickets chirp, life ensues, challenges and temptations come at you to try you and the bubble of thought billows over your head: "What... do I do now?"
My dear friends, I send this message with love and tenderness.
I echo Elder Holland's words: "I wish to speak directly to the young people of the Church—young in years of age or young in years of membership or young in years of faith. One way or another, that should include just about all of us."
Discipleship isn't over when church is over. Discipleship isn't not a sprint or a marathon so much as it is, as the apostles would say, a "migration". I got to meet Bishop Gary E. Stevenson just months ago, and just a few weeks after that meeting he gave these inspiring words at the pulpit for Conference: "Before you were born, you existed as a spirit. In the presence of a loving Heavenly Father, you trained and prepared to come to earth for a brief moment and, well, perform."
This is your endurance race! The Holy Ghost is your mortal-life coach. If you listen to him, and you will perform to your best ability every time. There are promotions everywhere campaigning for your attention-- trying to lead you this way or that. "Enduring to the End" is "Fighting your Fight": standing firm to what you believe, and glorying in it.
"After ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?" (2 Nephi 31)
The words that follow in this scripture could not say it any better:
"NAY. For ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in Him."
Ye have not come thus far to meet a little road bump, and jump ship.
Ye have not come thus far only to turn around-- back to the same old road you came on-- back to where you came from with moping arms hanging.
If any of these things have happened to you, I urge you with all my love to dust yourself off, and fight for what you do know, "even if that ground is limited" (Holland).
Our endurance race is a fight.
"In any fight, it's the guy, who's willing to die, who's willing to take the hits, that's going to win that inch."
I want to bear my firm testimony of a fight you can't lose. I have had the indescribable opportunity to fight the Lord's fight as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
"And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion."
They have nothing on us.
"The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion"-- we are winning because we reside on the Lord's side, and we fight for his cause. I have seen His hand change hearts, open doors, and entirely guide my mission.
"Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall." - Doctrine and Covenants 50:44
The Sword of Laban from the scriptures is unsheathed here in Thailand. Christ is at the Helm. His fight has become my fight.
Now, it's personal.