Hello beloved family, I have another few minutes so I will tell you about another experience I had this week while doing splits with the Elders in Kofu.
We sat down with this new member named H and started teaching him but the lesson was going nowhere. We could tell that he wasn't feeling the Spirit. We were letting him talk, bearing testimony, reading scriptures (a lot of them) and I was praying...HARD! I was feeling the Spirit, but I couldn't figure out why he wasn't. After awhile we started getting somewhere, but we had only set aside an hour to teach him, so I was about to end the lesson when I could feel the Spirit saying "No, don't end the lesson". We decided to continue, and from there the lesson took a meandering stroll through various subjects until the missionary that I was on splits with got a phone call from a member. He ignored it, but H asked him who it was. My companion told him and H scowled. From there he replayed a story to us of how he had let that specific member down. He used the word uragiri, which means backstab. He told us how he had tried to apologize and make it right, but still had an awful feeling. That feeling was causing him to stop wanting to come to church. He felt like he couldn't please the members, couldn't become friends with them, and certainly couldn't love or be loved by them. We talked to him for a long time. Through the Spirit we were able to determine that the hinderance he felt was not forgiveness from the member. It was H's personal forgiveness. H could not complete repentance because he could not forgive himself and therefore could not forsake his sin. He couldn't forgive himself because he hated himself. When I realized this I remembered an experience I had. I too had hated myself and I couldn't forgive. I couldn't love those around me because I couldn't love myself. I was able to relate that experience to him, tell him what had helped me to finally love myself enough to forgive myself. I was able to bear a testimony that I didn't know I had because the Spirit helped me to remember specific experiences. I have a testimony of repentance and the ability it gives us to learn how to love ourselves, even though imperfect, which in turn gives us the ability to love others. I have a testimony that one of the purposes of the atonement is to allow us to have faith to repent
15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
To allow us to love orpurselves again and so allow us to love others. I have seen that happen in my life. I wasn't a very loving person before the mission, in fact there were very few who I could bring myself to love, but I have been blessed to change and to love the people here.
By the way, good luck in school Gremlin (he means Grace)!! Can't believe it's your senior year!!
Elder Sterling Siebach