Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Elder Baird's Last Letter

Hello family! 

It has been a great week! Conference was as amazing as it always is. The brethren made it very clear my purpose after I get home. We went to President's house for the Saturday morning session. President was the second witness to the purpose by telling us what we need to do when we get home. The brethren really want us to go get married! We had a wonderful week full of exchanges and lessons. 

The last thing I have learned most from my mission is allowing the will of God to be your will. I look back on my mission and think how did this happen. Like yesterday I can remember going through security at the airport. As I waved one last time to my family I saw that my parents were crying. On the other hand I was excited, I basically skipped to the terminal where I was to board my plane to Dallas. I knew that serving a mission was what the Lord expected and needed from me. That me serving was His will for me. It was easy to accept what I knew was a duty of mine. Now for some serving a mission in the way I have is not His will. I know this from one of my best friends. Being a full-time 24/7 missionary was not what the Lord intended for him. He was to serve in a different capacity but he served a mission.  Sometimes the will of the Lord is easy to know and to spot. Us obeying His commandments is always His will. Why would the Lord will us to not keep His commandments? We need to be determined to follow His will in our obedience. 

As I went through the MTC, all I could think was how excited I was to go to a foreign country and speak a different language (I still think I end up in a foreign land with a different language. Red neck can be hard to understand at times). Then our reassignments came. I was so excited to serve in the United States for what I thought would be a little while. I was excited cause I knew I could learn the lessons and scriptures as a missionary in English. Then when I got sent to Brazil I would be able to just focus on the language not so much the how to's of being a missionary. As I started to approach my third transfer in Ohio, the Lord started to whisper to my heart. Daily I was fighting within my self what was the will of the Lord when it came to where I needed to serve. One day I felt I need to stay in Ohio and the next day I felt I need to go to Brazil. It was a huge matter of prayer and fasting for me. I was tirelessly seeking the will of the Lord in my life. Yet for at least a month I felt as heavens windows were closed.  I felt like I was not receiving an answer. One day I sat pondering and the thought came to me, "Why would I want you to think about staying in Ohio and pray about this if it was not my will for you?" I knew that the desire to stay was from the Spirit. I felt the Spirit confirm to me that I was to stay. But I knew this was not my decision to make. Randomly one day I ran into President Nilsen at a Chinese restaurant in Columbus. I mentioned to him my feelings about staying and he made mention of those same feelings. Then he began trying to see about my reassignment. The mission department kept saying no. This waiting after I received my confirmation that I was to stay lasted for a few months. Each month I was waiting for a phone call from President telling me of my reassignment. Then there was a day in December in which I got the news. It was right after the mission wide Christmas devotional. We had just arrived to the apartment and I saw that President Nilsen was calling. He said, "Elder Baird! I have an email to read to you." I was super confused! What email would my mission president have to read to me? Then he told me that an Apostle of the Lord has decide that I was to stay in the Ohio Columbus Mission. I was excited! In life we may be confused on what the Lord's will is for us. But when we don't know what to do keep doing what you are doing if it is in line with His commandments. Sometimes we just have to wait and press forward with faith. Lack of knowledge on His will does not mean we have a lack of commitment to our covenants. 

I felt that with my change in reassignment I had a greater purpose in being in Ohio. Yes there were days where I would ask, "But what if I was supposed to go to Brazil"... or "Maybe I stayed just because I asked and that was really not the Lord's will for me.." and many other doubtful, faithless thoughts. But every time these occurred I could hear in my mind the words President Nilsen had read to me, "an Apostle of the Lord has decided." I knew that this was not some random decision. I knew that some secretary to the mission department did not make the decision. My name was brought to an Apostle and he approved of the reassignment since that was the Lord's will. As I continued though I began to see the hidden reasons I was hear in the Ohio. People, places, and opportunities were small witnesses to me of the Lord's will for me to be in Ohio. The one that came to me as a shock was my call as Branch President in a stake. I honestly hate talking about it cause I don't want it to sound boastful or prideful. I think back many times to the day that President Nilsen told me. I was serving as an assistant to President Nilsen at the time with Elder Pike and Elder Housari. That week we had mini-missionaries with us. Elder Housri, our mini missionary Kyle, and I went to Lancaster to a zone meeting while Elder Pike and our other mini missionary Ryan stayed in Powell for a zone meeting. After the meetings Elder Pike called us and said President needs us at the mission home as soon as possible. As soon as possible for us was an hour and an hour is never soon. So Elder Housari, Kyle and I quickly made our way to the mission home. We arrived and saw Elder Pike was already there. We walked in and President told us to sit down in the living room. I saw that a few sisters were meeting with him and I thought we are here to help with an emergency transfer. Then the sister left. He came into the living room and said, "Elder Baird I need to talk to you in my office." I began to try to think of what I could have done to get in trouble, luckily I could think of nothing. Then I was just confused. As we sat down and began he cut straight to the reason we were meeting. He said, "You will need to be in Coshocton by Saturday." I think he could tell the look of confusion on my face as I timidly replied okay. He then asked, "Have you talked to President Birch lately?" I replied with just as much confusion no. He then told me the reason I was going to be moved to Coshocton and then told me to call President Birch as soon as I could. I left his office just as confused as when I walked in. Me a Branch President? But I have never been married, I have never been in a branch, and much more reasons. The hardest part is I could not tell anybody. As I prepared to leave to go to Coshocton I spent many nights praying, and many hours pondering. I received confirmation prior to leaving Powell that this was the will of the Lord for me. Was I scared? Absolutely. But I allowed my faith to overcome my fear. The will of the Lord can come abruptly without notice. This can come in many ways in which we may view good or bad. A calling, a death of a loved one, losing a job, a change in health, and much more can all be abrupt decision of the Lord. His will may come without notice but that does not me that it is not meant to be. 

Our goal in this life is to a line our will with His. When we do this our life becomes extraordinary. When we give up the only thing that is ours, our will, we gain all that the Father has. We best can do this when we understand that we our accountable to the Lord for all that we have done. Understanding our accountability helps us know the will of God. We continually say as the Savior did, "Not my will but thine be done." then we will become more like Christ. And then we will become who we not only need to be but what we want to be. 

The Lord has a plan for all of us. It is up to us whether we allow His will to take place in our life. If we allow the will of the Lord to occur we truly become instruments in His hands. When we are in His service and doing His will is when we learn and grow the most. Christ is the Law. His Atonement is how we become perfected, preserved and sanctified. It is through His law that we receive Him, and when we receive Him we can become to know him. We can know the Lord in a real personal way. Knowing Him should be our goal because to know Him and the Father is eternal life. I know that Christ's church was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know the Book of Mormon is true! I have read it many times and each time the Spirit testifies to me of its truthfulness. Jesus is the Christ. Without Him all mankind would be lost. The Atonement is the law and only through that law can we be saved. God lives. He is our Eternal Father. All these things I have come to know not by any marvelous manifestation. But by humility and faithful obedience to the laws and commandments of God, I have come to know through the Holy Ghost. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Zachary Samuel Baird