This week. What can I say about this week? Maybe I will start with some more things about the area and people and I can find something to say. So I work in pretty much 3 cities. Ribeira do Pombal, Ribeira do Amparo, and an outskirts kinda country area called Baixa da Berlémga. So the work doesn´t stop ha. We are always running around trying to get people to come to church and trying to open a house in one of the towns so we can have meetings there on Sundays. And I'm pooped. ha. But it is way great we get to talk to people about the gospel that have never even heard anything even close to what we teach. Here in Pombal it is really different than in the city where I was. Everyone invites you in and talks to you. One sad thing about this little branch here is that we have about 80 to 120 members that are coming to church every week and we have over 700 inactive people on the records. Isn´t that incredible? I feel so sad when I hear and look at that number. 700 plus people were baptized and left the church and are back in the world again. I don't know what exactly happened with each of these people I just know that we have a ton of, "lost sheep". And we are lacking Shepherds.
The Savior spoke a lot about Sheep in his ministry here on the earth and used many parables using sheep. One of my favorites that I recently found is in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 34. About Shepherds and their flocks.
The first thing that the Lord says to the Shepherds is this:
2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"
The Lord chastens the Shepherds for they are not feeding the flocks but they are only feeding themselves. And why is this verse so important? Before my mission I am not afraid to say I did not feed my flock and I did not:
"The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost;.."
I did not understand the importance of my roll and purpose as a home teacher. And how vital and critical the roll of what home and visiting teachers do and teach. I was worried more about myself and what I wanted to learn then what I needed to do to fulfill my calling or what I could do better to be a better son of God. But all of that comes with Serving one another. When I look in the mirror I see myself, but when I look in the mirror as Heavenly Father sees me I see what I can be. And what I missed while I was at home was the fact when I looked in the mirror I should have seen a dedicated home teacher that knows and loves his "flock." And what happens when the Shepherd forgets to take care of his, "flock?" The Lord tells us in verse 5 and 6:
"And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered." (6) "My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them."
Why do we have many members who have "wandered through all the mountains,.." or are "scattered upon all the face of the earth?" Because it is us that need to take care of them. It is us that need to protect them and love them. I need to do better with this because there is nothing more important for the salvation of our brothers and sisters then to continue in the Church of Christ and be "nourished by the (good word)" Moroni 6. But we have defects. We are not perfect and how grateful I am to know that and see my weaknesses and short comings because I know we can rely on the Good Shepard to come and find us.
11 "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out."
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.
15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.
16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick:.."
I know that the Lord, Jesus Christ, is our Good Shepherd. Just when we think that it is us who are watching over the lost sheep it really is Him who is taking care of His "flock." I know that my Shepherd will come and find me when I am lost and alone. I know that he has repeatedly left the 99 for my sake to come and find me when the night clouds are gathering together and the night is falling. How grateful I am for my Shepherd who wears the prints of where nails were driven into his hands and his wrists and his feet. Who cried and shed sweat and bleed for me because he loved me enough. Oh how Amazing is our Good Shepherd.
31 "And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God."
I am sorry if my email seems to be derogatory or you feel as if I attacked any of you personally because it is not intended to do that. It is for me, and the ones that struggle with the reason we make those visits to the strong ward members that on the outside appear not to have any problems but are really aching inside and needing to talk, or the member who hasn´t come to church for years that is waiting for you and will come back to the fold with time and patience. The greatest miracle we can witness in this world is the conversion of a soul, and how great will that miracle be if it is our soul we are converting. I know and testify that as we do our "little" Priesthood and Relief Society callings and visit the "found" and "lost" sheep we will find more happiness, peace, and heavenly treasures then we can imagine. I love you, and say to you the reader, whomever you may be, Sejamos um Bom Pastor.(Let us be a Good Shepherd.)