This past week there have been a couple really good devotionals. We had Tad R. Callister come and speak on Tuesday. I think Elder Callister gave a good talk in the most recent general conference as well. Elder Callister spoke to us very plainly about the apostasy of the gospel. He went through and gave 10 reasons why we know there was an apostasy. It was very informative, and he also brought the Spirit. I am going to mention two of the points he brought up. He brought up the fact that the manner of prayer has been altered since Christ's time on the earth. He pointed out that Christ showed how to pray, and said to pray to the Father in His name, not through patron saints or anyone else, but always through the name of Christ. Elder Callister also brought up the fact that prayers shouldn't be memorized as this is insincere. He told us that in war the enemy will try to break the line of communication from the soldiers to the General. Likewise in our day Satan has tried to corrupt the true order of prayer such that we don't pray to our Father in heaven. It reminds me of the scripture in 2 Nephi 32 that says we must pray always, for the evil spirit teaches us not to pray. The second point I really liked from Elder Callister was that Christ's church bears his name. He showed that no church on the earth had the name of Christ in 1829. The first church since the time of Christ to bear his name was in 1830 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized. It reminded me of another scripture in 3 Nephi where they are disputing what to call the church, and Christ tells the 12 apostles to call it the Church of Christ. An interesting point Elder Callister brought up was that Martin Luther told his followers they were to be called Christians, and not Lutherans. Martin Luther wanted his followers to understand that they follow Christ, and that Luther was just another man. Because we follow Christ, our church is called the Church of Jesus Christ. Everything we do is in his name, not the name of any prophet or man, but in the name of Christ the Son of God.
On Sunday there was another wonderful speaker. Richard Heaton, who oversees missionary work and preparation at the Missionary Training Center, spoke to us. Brother Heaton spoke about tithing. He spoke about tithing because he was asked to by the leaders of the church. He said too often missionaries do not teach effectively the law of tithing. He made a very bold statement about tithing. He said "The best way to tell if someone is enduring to the end is if they are full tithe payers" Brother Heaton said tithing is not a principle of giving money, but rather a principle of faith. We need to have the faith to pay our tithing. He quoted Malachi 3:10 which says we will be given more blessings than we can receive if we faithfully pay our tithing. Part of the reason I include this in the letter home is because as a missionary I don't pay tithing. I will need to teach it to investigators, but don't need to pay it. It is you, my family and readers of this letter that need to pay tithing now. Brother Heaton told us that we should want to pay tithing, and be glad we get to, not dread it or see as something we have to do. He also made the statement to us missionaries that we need to marry someone who is fully committed to paying tithing so that we can better endure to the end.
I have a great Branch Presidency here at the Missionary Training Center. My Branch President is President Stott, he is a great man, he is very spiritual and knowledgeable about missionary work. What is funny is that neither he, nor his counselors speak Tagalog. We do our Sacrament talks in Tagalog and the Presidency doesn't understand us. Our talks are for our benefit to practice Tagalog, and for the benefit of other missionaries in the congregation. I spoke for a while with Sis. Stott, and she said that she knew Grandma Merrill. She asked if my Grandma was a teacher and if she was Mrs. Merrill. I guess Sis. Stott worked at the school or something, I don't completely remember what she said. Anyway I thought it was a neat connection and decided to mention it.
This week I got my travel plans. Most missionaries going to the Philippines fly to Hong Kong and then to Manilla, but I am flying in through Seoul South Korea instead. I am going to leave on Nov. 28th. It is so very exciting to be leaving the training center. It will finally be real. I am so excited, the church is true and I know it. I can't wait to share the gospel with people in the Philippines.