Monday, April 6, 2015

E-mail: April 6, 2015 "Goodbye India :( "

Wow, just when you think you've finally settled in and everything is going normal the Lord throws a curveball at you. Ever since India has opened up for missionary work the missionaries who serve here have had to be smart and pay special attention to a few rules and regulations because of the diversity of the religious spectrum that dominates the country. This week we received word that due to several new laws which were just passed here openly spreading christianity is now prohibited and, until further notice, all missionary work has come to a halt. The church will be transferring most of the current India missionaries (including myself) to the Philippines where we will likely be finishing our missions. Our mission president has been vigorously trying to get things sorted out and has done everything he can to let missionary work continue here but unfortunately this is the situation for now. We will be heading to the Philippines within 2 weeks (if everything gets figured out and they're ready for us by then) and hopefully we'll be able to get back into missionary work soon.
They informed us of these changes last week on April 1st.

We had an excellent zone training last Saturday with President Berrett where we felt the Spirit testify to us of the things we need to do better and the changes we need to make to allow the Lord to work with us more abundantly. Among many challenges he gave us was to read a new copy of the book of mormon in 62 days (in time for the next zone conference) and mark with different colors every reference to the Gospel of Christ, which are faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. As we finished the meeting I made a small wager with my companion: last one to finish the Book of Mormon treats his companion to a Krispe Kreme doughnut. Elder Thompson told me that he wasn't much of a reader before his mission so I thought this would be an easy way to win a free treat from him. Imagine my chagrin when I looked over his shoulder today to see that he's already 75 pages and I'm barely through the first couple chapters of 1 Nephi. I guess that's what I get for making a bet on a scripture challenge, however the challenge itself is an excellent idea and I encourage anyone who wants to join. If you start now and read 9 pages a day you can have the book of mormon completed by June 8th, and if you want a little extra challenge and feel like pitting yourself against Elder Clouds he might send a postcard to anyone who can beat him. ;) If you're up for the challenge then start reading from the beginning (including the introduction and testimonies) today and email me each week with where you are and I'll reply with where I am. You don't have to mark it up like we are, just read it. Oh, and since I started today that'll give you two extra days after I finish to still win.
Are you up for it? Do you want an awesome spiritual experience and a postcard from India? Do it, I dare you. ;)

This last week we had an awesome time being able to share the message of Easter with those we visited. There's something special about the story of Christ's Death and Resurrection that brings a special spirit to the homes and the hearts it penetrates. An interesting insight was made in Gospel Principles on Sunday when the Elder teaching the class asked us to think of someone we loved and if we would be willing to lay down our life for them. Throughout the class there was a unanimous yes as the participants thought about their friends and families, but then the missionary asked us all to think of someone that we disliked and whether or not we would be willing to die for them. As we all envisioned the one or two people that we either knew personally or knew of that we didn't particularly love no one was able to honestly say that they could give up their life for him/her. The Elder went on to explain that that's exactly what Jesus did. The Savior not only died for those who loved him but also for those who despised him. He died for all the people who mocked Him during HIs ministry; He died for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him; He died for Pilot, who let an innocent man be condemned to death because he feared the people; He died for the man who pushed the crown of thorns onto his head, the man who tore his flesh at the scourging post, and the man who nailed his hands and feet to a cross. "Greater love hath no man than this, than he who would lay down his life for his friends." Yet in order to truly become like the Savior we must be willing to not only do good to our enemies but love them enough to sacrifice for them. Do something this week for someone whom you have a hard time loving and watch as your bitterness or resentment towards that person melts away into Christlike love. I testify that it works. I testify of the Savior's infinite love for us. I testify that it was because of that love that he chose to suffer more than is possible for any of us to even comprehend so that we could be forgiven and cleansed if we will only choose to follow Him. But most of all I testify that He lives, and because of His life and His sacrifice we will all have the chance to live forever in exaltation.

Until next week-
Elder Cloward

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