Sunday, March 16, 2014
I am glad that President Lattin has done such a good job staying in contact with you during these trying times for Ukraine. Just so you know how I am doing, here is a little update about me. In L'viv (and pretty much our whole mission) everything is pretty quiet. We are still allowed to wear name tags, teach, and preach. We have been told to be careful with contacting and many people are very tense with the things that are going on. I am safe. I have plenty of money and food if anything were to happen. So don't worry about me too much. I am doing great! We had one day this week where we were confined to our apartments, but that was during the time when the brethren in Salt Lake were trying to asses the situation and gather all the information on what was going on. The told the mission presidents that each of them could now choose to do what is best for their respective missions as each mission is in different parts of the country and has different factors influencing them.
I want to tell you about a choice experience that I was blessed to have.
With the situation in Ukraine the way it is, it is causing a divide between people. Both members of the church and non-members. There are many different political views and opinions that people have and differences in views and opinions have become thorns in the relationships of many people. We have one brother in the branch who does not share the common political view here in L'viv. It is hard to see people say bad things about him because of his views. It became particularly hard for him, he didn't become bitter, but he distanced him self a little bit from these people who were hard on him for his thoughts. We met with this brother this week and just through talking with him we could see his countenance lighten up and a part of the weight he was carrying seemed to be lifted from his shoulders. Over my time in L'viv I have became very close with this fine brother.
I wasn't sure if he was going to come to church as from my view it might have been a little awkward for him. But he came and we were very happy to see him. It was fast Sunday so we were privileged to hear many strong testimonies. One of which was by President Lattin, in very fine Ukrainian if I might say. Toward the end of the meeting I felt a prompting that I needed to stand and bear my testimony. I felt that I should share a few words of the Savior from the Bible. So that is what I did. This was my testimony:
"I think sometimes it is hard for God to see conflicts among his children as he is the father of us all. He loves each one of us the same and wants us each to be happy. It pains Him when His children do not have love one to another. In the book of Matthew in the fifth chapter the Savior gives each of us counsel:
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Brothers and Sisters, I ask each of you to follow these words. If someone says something bad about you, please say something good about them. If someone Doesn't love you, please love them, for that is what our God does. I know God loves each of us, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen." I went back to my seat and sat down.
At the very end of the meeting this brother stood up and expressed his love for everyone in the church (in L'viv) and said that his prayers are with them. It was a very special moment.
The meeting ended and I walked over to his side of the chapel where he was, and he walked up to me with tears in his eyes. He gave me a big hug, then looked up to me and said "Thank you." I could see the joy and happiness in his face that only the love of the Savior Jesus Christ could bring. He understood the words of the Savior and he followed them. I am so grateful for his example and for the example of our Savior.
This fine brother learned that "When He (Christ) tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself" ( https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/wilt-thou-be-made-whole?lang=eng).
Moments as strong as that are rare. But when you have them, the only thing you can do is thank God that you were allowed be there and witness first hand that God's power is real. I know it is. He has the power to soften hearts, to stop the rivers of pain, and to mend any rip or tear. He is our Father. He loves us. He is always there for us.
Have a good week!
Elder Mitchell Gregory Hadfield