Monday, March 17, 2014
Aidukaitis Devotional 4 March 2014
Bold but Loving
Marcos A. Aidukaitis and his wife Luisa were the speakers at the March 4, 2014 MTC Devotional. During the past year, they also spoke on March 5, 2013 and then again on November 19, 2013. Elder Aidukaitis is a delightful speaker with a huge grin and a contagious laugh. I believe they said that he currently is serving as the Assistant Executive Director of the Missionary Department.
In his talks last year, he urged the missionaries to make “the BIG decision” – to choose which Kingdom they wanted: Telestial, Terrestrial, or Celestial – and, to write their destiny of choice in BIG letters in their journals that night. Writing it in big letters signified a bold decision, not a timid one. “After you make the BIG decision,” he said, “all other decisions are easy and simple.” He also told the missionaries that if the Celestial Kingdom was not their destination of choice, then they were “doing too much.” (Logically, the criterion for admittance into the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdoms requires little or no effort.)
At the March 4th devotional this month, he expounded several missionary scriptures, iterating the promises and the requisites listed for each scripture. The promised blessings always follow the missionary’s faithful obedience to the requisites, he said. Take, for example, Alma 26:22:
Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
In this scripture, the missionary is promised the blessing of bringing thousands of souls to repentance. The requisites are that the missionary is repentant, he exercises faith, does good works, and prays without ceasing. By doing these things, he may know the “mysteries” of God—such as where to go to find those thousands of souls, and what to say to them to bring them to repentance.
Elder Aidukaitis told them that it did not matter that they may have been called to a very difficult mission where converts traditionally have been very few. The promise stands: if you do the requisites, the blessings will follow. Especially now, in this day of the hastening of the work, any missionary can exercise faith in the promises of that scripture, and baptize every week!
Elder Aidukaitis also admonished the missionaries to be a “trumpet” and not a “timid instrument.” He explained the need for the boldness of a trumpet because of the confusion in the world—for there is a war going on—a violin or flute would not be heard above the noise and confusion. “Be bold but loving,” he said. He demonstrated those qualities throughout his talk.
We departed rejoicing.
MY HUSBAND'S TAKE
The Cheerful Reaper
As my wife stated above, Elder Aidukaitis has an infectious laugh and an ebullient personality. I believe that it would be virtually impossible to sit through one of his talks without smiling… a lot. It would take a somber soul indeed to not chuckle at some point. He has, as the prophet Joseph Smith said of himself, a native cheery temperament. He exudes enthusiastic optimism. In his address to the missionaries in 19 November 2013, he quoted from the Gospel according to John: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He is the living manifestation of one who has completely embraced that commandment.
In concert with the Savior’s instruction to have not fear, but believe joyfully, Elder Aidukaitis also cited Doctrine and Covenant 31. As a Branch Presidency, we use this section with the newly arrived missionaries on their first Thursday with us.
Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation. You shall declare the things which have been revealed to my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun. You shall begin to preach from this time forth, yea, to reap in the field which is white already to be burned. Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live. (D&C 31:3-5)
We review with the Elders and Sisters the promised blessings for faithful missionary service. Paramount is the commandment to rejoice, because the subsequent blessings can only lift up our hearts. One’s sins may be remediated while aiding others to put off the natural man and partake of the divine nature. We point out to the missionaries in addition that their families will be blessed while they serve the Lord.
In the first two talks we had the opportunity to listen to, Elder Aidukaitis spoke of the three degrees of glory and the blessings that attend exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. How does one receive a fullness of joy, the sort of happiness that God the eternal Father experiences in eternity? It is when we find ourselves in complete harmony with His will that we begin to know Him, that we begin to perceive the nature of eternal life.
As he spoke, I was reminded of another wonderful passage in the Doctrine and Covenant, this time in Section 18.
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (D&C 18:10-16)
To the ancient Israelites, the time of the harvest was a joyful hour; great celebrations were held throughout the land of promise when the crops were gathered in. The harvester enters into the field and encircles an armful of wheat stalks and then quickly cuts them near the ground with his sickle. He then uses another bit of stalk to tie the bundle together. This constitutes a sheave. Many sheaves would indicate a bounteous harvest, indeed.
In his talk a few weeks ago, Elder Aidukaitis spoke of the sickle itself, the effective instrument of the harvest in the hand of the harvester. He testified that it represented nothing less than the Book of Mormon itself and that the Elders and Sisters needed to hone the edge of their comprehension of that book in order that they might be at their most effective in teaching the principles and ordinances of eternal life.
I had always thought of the Book of Mormon as the key to conversion, but it had not occurred to me before that evening to consider it as the sickle itself. I was delighted at the thought; I pondered it over and over in my mind and in my heart. By the time he finished his address I was completely convinced that he had spoken the truth of the matter. No one in this dispensation will attain to everlasting life and salvation without a witness of the Book of Mormon, a book, by the way, that provides the means by which one can know of its surety.
I have been reading the Book of Mormon for more than fifty years. I have studied it from every angle, comparing it with the other sacred works of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No one man could have composed that text on his own; there is no way that it could be false. The world has been compelled to discredit the Book of Mormon and has tried to do so since it first saw the light of day in the spring of 1830. They have utterly failed to do so. It cannot be explained away. It stands a bright and burning witness of all that Joseph Smith said from the beginning of his ministry is true. No one can come away from a reading of that book without being stunned at its consistency and clarity, its indisputable continuity as a narrative. For a missionary, it is the means by which the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be taught. For the investigator of the truth, it is the very key that opens an otherwise inaccessible fountain of divine truth and light. ~ PNH