Week 23 – Talihau/’Utungake

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20. What better message could Christ give the disciples before ascending into heaven? The work did not end with Christ’s ministry, in fact it had just begun and they had a lot of work to do before their service would be complete. The call to go and teach all nations must have been daunting, but Christ who has all power in heaven and earth, promised that He would always be with them. Sometimes missionary work is discouraging but when I read verses like those I’m reminded of our Savior who leads and guides us in the work. All power is given Him, and we can access that power according to our faith. On the account of Peter walking on the sea, Matthew 14:29 says:

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

While studying these verses I realized that it was Jesus’s command along with Peter’s faith that allowed him to walk on the water. In most of Jesus’s healing of the sick or casting out of unclean spirits He uses only the power of His word to perform the miracle. The simple order “Come.” is what empowered Peter. When Christ commands the disciples and us missionaries to teach and baptize all nations, He gives us power through His word to do so. Because the Lord has commanded it, it must be possible and the Lord will help us accomplish the work according to our faith. ‘Oku tau fiema’u pee ke tui mo falala ki he Eiki pea te ne tokoni’i kitautolu. ‘Oku malava ‘ae me’a kotoa pee ki he Otua. Emeni.

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Week 22 – Talihau/’Utungake

I wasn’t able to post last week’s blog update so I did that just now. Go back and read it.

I finished reading the Old Testament this week. Some of it is slow, some of it is repetitive, and some parts I will probably never return to unless I read straight through again, but overall it is amazing scripture and valuable context for the rest of God’s revelations. I’ve received so much insight into the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and even the hymns. There was one time Elder Hopoate and I were singing hymns in English and I read the line “our shadow by day and a pillar by night” in Redeemer of Israel. I have played, sung, or listened to that hymn probably hundreds of times and the meaning of that line finally hit me. It’s really cool how a lot of hymn lyrics are inspired by ancient Israel, you can almost imagine marching to battle with them while singing Hope of Israel. My favorite books in the Old Testament were Isaiah and Daniel because of the clarity of their prophecies, especially given latter-day revelation to help interpret them. Daniel’s interpretation of “the stone… that filled the whole earth” is so relevant to our day and missionary work especially.

I got kind of sick again this week, all because I ate a bad banana. Part of it was mushy and dark which I was a little suspicious about but I decided to eat it anyway because that’s what a Tongan would do, right? After experiencing some weird symptoms like foul banana breath and a constantly bloated stomach, I’ve realized that no, Tongans are just as picky about not eating rotten food as anyone else.

Christmas is coming up soon! One family has lights up around the house. I’ve noticed that most of the American Christmas traditions are absent but the feeling is still the same. Hopefully you guys get to enjoy some snow back home. Ofa atu!

Week 21 – Talihau/’Utungake

I had a pretty cool experience with receiving revelation this week. I’ve been wondering how God can know everything, have a plan for each of us, and yet we still have our agency to do what we want. Do we really have control over our lives if our agency is limited to following God’s plan for us or not? If God already knows beforehand what choices we will make, does that affect his plan for us and are we condemned/destined to make those choices?

I searched the scriptures one morning to find an answer. Some verses helped a little, but I was still puzzled. Later while we were walking to ‘Utungake I was pondering over my questions when an analogy came to me. It was really interesting because the analogy came as a way to teach me, not me trying to think of an analogy for a concept I already understood so I can teach someone else.

In this life we take a test in which the teacher already knows how we will score.  We don’t know how we’ll do, so the benefit of the test is only for the students and not the teacher. At first it might seem kind of hopeless knowing that the teacher already has a score in mind for you. But he’s not just giving the score to you, you still have to take the test and earn it. Maybe the teacher throws in some questions that he knows you’ll miss. But when you get the test back and look at your answers, you’ll learn from those mistakes.

The premortal life is like all your education before your first semester in college; it’s huge in comparison, just as our time on earth is dwarfed by the length of our prior existence, as well as that afterwards. Because of the veil we don’t remember who we were or what we did before, but God does. Imagine if you had to decide for someone else what college they should apply to and what major to study without knowing anything about their education background, their high school career, their test scores, their interests, or their ability to pay for school. It would be a complete shot in the dark. This life is just the same; we know nothing about who we were in the premortal life and even little about ourselves now, but God knows all our talents and abilities, our accomplishments, and our strengths and weaknesses. He knows exactly where to put us so we will learn and grow the most. He is the best counselor you could ask for. Why would we want to divert from His plan for us when he knows us perfectly?

I am grateful that God knows us so well and provides us with personal revelation through the Holy Ghost so we can learn things for ourselves. Whenever you have a question, study the scriptures, pray, and fast to find the answer. There is no one set way in which Heavenly Father will answer you, but He always does.

14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.

 15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;

D&C 8:14-15. Peace out, have a good week.