Stephen and his family got baptized!

Hello! How’s it going? This week has been great! A lot of good things have come to pass. First off, Stephen and his family got baptized! It was an awesome event to be a part of. So many people showed up to their baptism! They were being taught by the Chinese sisters and us so, they had two wards to back them up. They’re going to be a part of our ward after confirmation so that puts us 3 baptisms and the ward goal is 7 so we’re almost there! 😉
Natalie and her family were at the baptism as well. She’s doing so good! She understands everything we teach her and has really come a long way. We’re going to sit down with her and Johnathan tomorrow to hopefully figure out some wedding plans because that’s the only thing holding her back. We have a temple trip planned with them this Sunday so that is something we’re looking forward to!
That’s so weird to think I got my call a year ago… feels like yesterday! Haha. That was a crazy day opening my call. And yeah I was a little sad to get called somewhere domestic, but I had no clue what missionary work even was back then! The only thing I knew was that I’d be called somewhere to teach people pretty much. Now that I’m here in California and have lived here for some time, my outlook on my call has changed a ton. It’s still a ghetto place haha but, the people here are so amazing. I’ve been able to meet so many awesome people, each with a different story and background. I could talk to 7 different nationalities in 7 different minutes walking in any direction. I love it here! Even though it’s not the scenery I had hoped for 😉
I feel like a lot has changed with me yet I’m still the same. My knowledge of the gospel went from a 0.3 to a 987 since I’ve been here, but my personality is still the same haha. At least as far as I can tell 🙂 If you think about it, missions kinda lock you in place. When I get home, I won’t have to go to church because I might have investigators there and I won’t have to read the scriptures every morning because someone might ask me a confusing question. It’s all up to me! But at the same time, I have no other choice than to continue with this lifestyle I’ve created on my mission. Why? Because it’s not a mission lifestyle, it’s a “life” lifestyle. Everything I do each day is something we should be doing each day regardless of missions or not. I know too much now to not continue with this lifestyle. I would feel like I’m not doing my part as a member of the church. Before my mission I had no clue what was expected of me other than the basic commandments.
I’ve had a lot of people ask questions about why God allows bad things to happen and why he doesn’t intervene when others make decisions to harm good people. To understand this, you need to understand free will and what it is. In my reading I found a section of a book a while back which presents it pretty plainly. Once you understand our free will you can start to understand the character of God and how he works with his children here on earth.
“You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong—only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled
Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World (Satan). And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power? But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, “I’m not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.” Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.
It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight. And for that they must be free.” -C.S. Lewis

Just something I felt I should share! I hope someone got something out of that haha. I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Collings

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