Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sprouted cedri (and faith): May 17, 2006

Dear Family & Friends,
This last week has been fun... even though the time from my last email is only a few days back. Va bene. Everything has suddenly begun to fall in place - we have hit the miracle stage. I'll begin with a little story.
You remember when we went to the Amalfi Coast - that really famous place that's absolutely gorgeous beyond imagining? Well, when we went we bought an Amalfi Lemon - these huge lemon-like objects that are about the size of a bowling ball (maybe a little smaller at times). They are obviously not normal lemons. Inside, they are not pulpy like other citrus fruits, but instead have a thick white layer... there is the same layer in a normal lemon between the skin and the juicy pulp part. It's thick and dense and tastes a bit bitter and a lot like a lemon. In the middle, there is the equivalent of a tiny lemon interior. Well, there are also seeds inside. And those of you who know me well know that I love to experiment, especially with growing things. So, I planted a few cedro (they are called cedro - singular, cedri plural, pronounced chedro similar to ade-row) in a little glass cup with some dirt inside and tried watering it for a while. In the meantime, our Basilico was growing and I saw lots of results... but the cedro looked like absolutely nothing was happening. I kept watering it, almost every day... and then almost lost hope after many weeks went by. It's been a long time! Then, a few days ago, I went out to water the plants and saw a sprout - a type of plant I had never seen before - with a thick little base and two thin, serrated leaves. It was a cedro! It was much easier to water now that I was seeing its success... and two days later another cedro popped out of the soil as well! What miracles - for weeks and weeks my efforts (and the sun's and rain's) go unnoticed, and then bam! everything falls into place. Missionary work, and much of life, follows the same pattern.
We spend much of our time preparing or maintaining things - planting seeds and watering their unseen husks, storing food and money against unseen emergencies, praying to an unseen God... everything we do, in fact, is a result of an internal belief that causes us to act. When a belief is founded in something that is true and good, it becomes faith. Hence, the difference between watering dead soil and watering seeds planted long ago. Between talking to a wall and talking to a friend... and often it seems that there is a type of "activation energy" even with faith. For example: it took many weeks of faithful effort and care to help my cedro simply sprout. In the same way, an investigator in the Gospel may listen for many weeks and then finally make the commitment to be baptized or to come to Church - they make the visible changes that we have been waiting for. Extraordinarily, the day the first cedro germinated a family finally committed to be baptized - we had taught them for weeks and weeks without real signs of fast progression and then we invited and pop! the feeling changed... they are now progressing towards a common goal - to be baptized in the true Church of Jesus Christ so that they can receive the blessings of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in this life and eternal life in the world to come. Wow - it was a miracle - and it was a little thing. The next time a cedro came up, another man, this seed planted by someone else very long ago, made the same choice. He had read the Book of Mormon with missionaries in the past and knew it was true. He explained, "I believe the Book of Mormon is true because when you read the book it doesn't tire you... it contains an energy that fills your soul - an energy that you can't get from reading a normal book. It's like the Bible - you can read it over and over and over again and you feel a connection with the supernatural that tells you it is true." He explained perfectly the Holy Ghost - and now he knows, as we know, that God speaks to man today. We can hear His voice. We can feel His power. We can have His peace. Let's tell it to everyone! This is how we are the people that we are - through the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I'm grateful that our family is broadening its "area of effect" so that we can better help our communities and friends to come unto Christ. They are looking for it... they are waiting for it... they are searching for it! Sometimes, it only takes simple actions. Inviting people over for dinner (we pray before dinner), or for Family Home Evening, or to meet the missionaries, or to have a part in a Relief Society Group or a youth service project. Once we know people and they see us, let us reach out and invite them. Preach My Gospel says something that has always made me think - people are not likely to change unless invited to do so. I know that this Church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that we are all missionaries. Let us pray for our own efforts - not just missionaries with the tag abroad. Then the Lord will consecrate our efforts for His own good. I love you all!
Anziano David Peterson

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