Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Well, I didn't realize that we would have one more preparation day before the New Year! It's New Year's Eve, but we really don't have too much planned at all, just a couple of appointments. One cancelled, so we're going to have to try and set up another one.
Anyhow, I've had a pretty decent week. We had a couple of appointments, and spent some time with the members. We worked on building a relationship of trust with the Young Men by having lunch and playing basketball with them. At the same time, we had a farewell gathering for Glen, our former ward mission leader, who has headed off to BYU Hawaii for four years. On Friday night, we had dinner appointments with two families. We were only going to be able to make it to one of them. Fortunately, the Assistants were able to go on splits with us. I went over to the Yow home with Elder Perrett, and had a great time there, including doing a short Christmas presentation. We spent Saturday planning, and had a decent Sunday. We went over the the Low family's home for lunch. I was able to give a farewell/missionary work talk, and it was gratifying to feel the Spirit as I bore my testimony about the truthfulness of the gospel. Elder Holland gave a talk about missionary work, that I used in my talk, and that helps me through some of the harder days. He said:
"When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions."
I am grateful to be able to serve my Lord, and as I said in my last message, that these past seven months have been both the worst and best days of my life. But through it all, there is nothing that I would rather be doing.
I also talked about the challenges that we face and missionaries, and the fears that members face as they try to do missionary work. But, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles put it very well in the last General Conference, where he said,
"The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life."
I'VE BEEN TRANSFERRED! I'm now serving in the Clementi Ward, along with Elder Palfreyman from Laguna Beach, CA. He is a wonderful missionary and I enjoy doing missionary work with him. It turns out that my Elder's Quorum President from BYU is in the same home ward as him, so that was definitely a coincidence. Unfortunately (just joking!), he isn't a BYU boy, but studies at UC Berkley. The big thing about this transfer is that I'm now an office Elder. So, instead of tracting/proselyting the whole day, we spend about five hours in the mission office after studies, to do the paperwork and such needed to run the mission. It's definitely fun and interesting, and its definitely been nice not being so physically exhausted at the end of each day.
Well, that's about it for this week. I hope that you all have a wonderful week, and New Year ahead of you, it's going to be exciting!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
In our last Zone Conference, Sister Palmer, one half of the office couple, bore her testimony, and talked about how they had watched batches of missionaries come and go. She made a comment that had me thinking and reflecting for a bit after that. She said every now and then, Elder Palmer and her would see a new missionary and comment "It'll be fun to watch that one grow."
As I thought about that, I started to think about how I have grow and changed over the course of the last seven months as a missionary. As cliched as that might sound, it really made me think just that little bit more about how I have grown, and what I have learned throughout the year.
Over the course of my mission, I've definitely had highs and lows, times of absolute joy, but also times of absolute depression. Through it all, I've come to learn that the most important thing to do, to have faith and trust in the Lord, then be at peace with the Lord's will for you. I've had four companions so far, and I've learned much from each one of them. In retrospect, as I look back at each companion, I have come to the conclusion that they were inspired of President Skelton, and there were things that I could never have learned from anyone else. I love them and will always remember them as wonderful friends. No matter what I've said in the past, I can honestly say that I appreciate each one of them for who they are, and what they have each done for me. It's been a hard thing for me to have to be with someone 24/7, and it can definitely be trying on some days. It's been hard to learn how to budget, and to not have what I'm used to. It's been hard to have to wake up at seven in the morning, to sleep at 11p.m, and to have a set schedule to follow. It's been hard to have to report, to have a standard to constantly measure up to, it's been hard to be rejected time and time again by people around us, and occasionally, to be mocked and ridiculed.
But, It's been wonderful to feel the love of the Lord, it's been wonderful to see an investigator, or more appropriately phrased, it's been wonderful to see a child of the Lord grow. It's been wonderful to enter the waters of baptism with these souls. It's been wonderful to work with people who want to serve the Lord, it's been wonderful to have times of laughter and joy.
Throughout these six months, I suppose that some of the adjectives that I can use to describe the things I have learned are things like faith, hope, charity, love, brotherly kindness, humility, diligence, virtue, knowledge. Now I know that these might just seem like a list of empty words as I list them. But, in one way or another, I truly have gained just a little more knowledge about each of these attributes, and have learned to apply them in my life just a little bit more. There have been times when I have been satisfied at the end of the day with the work that I've done, doing my best to serve the Lord, but also days when I have felt the disappointment of returning home at the end of the day, knowing that I could have done better in serving the Lord. But, there's only so much you can do in this life, and regretting about things in the past isn't one of them. So, without glancing back, I hope to be able to take a step forward to the new year, to learn what I'm supposed to learn, to do what I'm supposed to do, and be what I'm supposed to be.
I've come to understand just how important my family is to me, I miss my parents, and I've come to know just how much they love me and care for me. Aside from the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son, there is no kind of love, that can substitute a parent's love.
Last of all, I've come to learn that the only way that you can serve a mission, the only way that you can live a life filled with true peace, love, and happiness, is to do put your faith and trust in the Lord. He's always there for us, and I'm learning slowly to put my trust in Him completely, and not in the arm of flesh. To know that what you're doing is helping to change the world for the better in just a small way is good enough for me. And, to be able to feel the love o0f my Heavenly Father, and knowing that he is pleased with me, is what gives me much peace. I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas, and a great start in the year 2009. I have always loved this poem by Louise Haskins, and has always been an inspiration to me at the start of each year. I hope that it might in some way inspire you too.
He replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
"So I went forth, and, finding the Hand of God,
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Well, this week has definitely been a week of ups and downs. Had a great first couple of days at the nativity. On the first night, I ran the missionary stand and answered people's questions, along with singing in a missionary quartet. On the second night, I was able to play the part of one of the shepherds and had a wonderful time. Over the past few days, I had been having some sharp shooting pains on the left side of my head, and some pimple-like things had been growing too. I thought that they were just pimples. But, when it started to grow into the side of my scalp, I panicked and went to the doctors on Saturday. It was there that the doctor looked at me funny, told me it was too late, and said that I should have seen him earlier. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I have SHINGLES! The doctor said that it's caused by stress, and it is contagious, since it's in the same family as chicken pox, so I've pretty much have had to spend most of the week cooped up in our apartment. I'll be going back to the doctor's tomorrow to see how things are. I wasn't able to go to the nativity on Saturday, nor was I able to go to Church on Sunday. Elder Tuckfield and Elder Wright went to Church on Sunday, including my home ward's PEC meeting. Unfortunately, someone mentioned that I had been stressed by my companion, and to pray for me, so that didn't work out so well. I've tried to apologize but to no avail. I can understand his situation. Talked to President Skelton about it and he said that he'll work something out soon. The ward that, he sisters have been wonderful, bringing lunch and dinner for the past few days! Elder Taiamoni is the new assistant to the President, so Elder Tuckfield's new companion is Elder Richards from American Fork, Utah. Well, enough of that, on to more joyful things, Christmas!
Well, my Christmas message is centered on Matthew 26:52-54, where one of the apostles cuts of the ear of a man named Malchus, who was part of the group who arrested Jesus that fateful night in the garden of Gethsemane. Christ rebuked his disciple, and said "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
To me, it seems clear that the Savior had all power to fight off the men who were there to arrest him, and who would eventually scourge and crucify Him. But, the Lord knew that the salvation of mankind rested on His shoulders, that only through Him and by Him, could mankind then be saved. I am so grateful for His love, His willingness to lay down His life for us. We all celebrate Christmas because of the joy it brings to us, for the love that we have in our families, the exchange of presents, and of course, the birth of our Savior. His birth was the beginning of His ministry, His life starting so that it would end in crucifixion, that all the ends might be fulfilled. I often wonder how the Savior could ever pay so great a price for us. I can't comprehend it. And so, instead of doing that, I am grateful to celebrate his birth, His birth that we might all live again.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi was asked by an angel if he knew and understood "the condescension of God." Nephi's wonderful reply was, ".... I know that he loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." That reply has always brought peace to my heart. As I have come to understand that scripture just a little bit more, I find comfort and joy in the fact that my Heavenly Father loves me, and knows me personally, and who loves me so much. I hope that we will all be able to remember our Heavenly Father and His Son at this wonderful time, knowing that Christ loves us, that He made the sacrifice that had to be, and whose birth we now celebrate. I am so grateful to be able to spread this message of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in Him, we truly can find, the reason for the season.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, it's been a pretty rough week, but I'm just doing my best to work though it. Spent my last day resting at home on Monday. Over the last week, we haven't been doing much except going to the doctor's, and going to a few appointments. Definitely feeling better now, but just working through some problems right now. I've been on exchanges with Elder Colvin for the past day, so we've been able to discuss ways that we can help our area, and my companionship with Elder Wright, to grow.
Unfortunately, my dear companion has lost all desire to work, so I'm working with mission leaders to try and figure what to do. He is a good person, but unfortunately has lost sight of his goal, and so, we are working together to find a solution. First of all, I've been given the counsel to change myself in such a way where I can help the companionship. I can try my best to change my companion, but the only real changes can come if I sacrifice my comforts and serve my companion. It really is one of the hardest things that I've had to do in my life. It seems that no matter how physically hard something is, there is a point where you can stop. But, with emotional and spiritual heartache, it takes a lot more out of a person. I just wish sometimes that it wasn't so hard. There have been times this week when I've just wanted to quit. I broke down for a bit yesterday, but there's only so much that I can do. I believe that what I've come to realize through and personal reflection that I have to somehow put my trust completely in the Lord, and not in the arm of flesh. I'm just trying to work on that day by day.
Sometime this week, I was reading from the scriptures and a little quote book of the late President Hinckley, and I came across a scripture that has really helped me, which is found in 2 Corinthians 4:15-18, which reads:
"For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
It is comforting to know that our mortal trials are but a preparation for the joy of eternal life. But, I must say that the trails don't get easier. I suppose that I feel comforted knowing that there is a reason for all these things happening, that I can grow and learn from these experiences. Elder Colvin gave a wonderful district training based on President Monson's talk from the last General Conference, To Learn, To Do, To Be. President Monson talked about how we all need to be held accountable for all we do, and so, with the Lord as our guide, we need to learn what we need to learn, take it to doing what we need to do, and finally, to be what we need to be. Over the course of the six months in the mission field, I have been able to, in a way, see the person who I want to be. Of course, that's going to take a lot of learning and doing, to make many sacrifices, to try and give up my human weaknesses and turn to the Lord who can help me become strong. What I've learned, I hope, is that everything that happens in the mission field happens for a reason, every transfer, every experience is helping to mold and shape me into the person whom the Lord wants me to be. I just pray that I can in some measure mold into that kind of person. What Elder Colvin had us do was to write down some of our problems, because we can only change ourselves. We wrote down how we could preliminarily fix the problem, then read through the talk, and through each section, and used the advice and counsel there to write down a final solution. It really did help, and the best part is that we can use it in our lives, for school, for work, for relationships. I think that I'm going to get a "problem book" specially for this :)
We have a live nativity going on this week, where people go to different rooms and view different scenes relating to Christ's birth. I'll be a sheperd for one of the night, and sing in a quartet the other two nights, so that is something that I am definitely looking forward to.
Anyhow, I'm just trying to push onward, and do my best. I would appreciate if you would keep me in your prayers, thanks so much.
By the way, in regard to the hints about packages, I hope that I haven't offended anyone with that. It was a half joke/half sure, why not? I really don't expect any of those, though a Christmas card would be nice. It's been mentioned a couple times to me that my posts seem a little self-righteous or rude and time. I do hope that I haven't offended or hurt any one's feelings. If I have, I do apologize.
The Christmas season is supposed to be a time for joy, hope, and love. It hasn't been too easy doing that, but I'm just trying to get into the Spirit of it, day be day. Gosh, sometimes it is so hard and I wish I could just give up, and say, "I'm done." Some of the missionaries aren't too friendly at times too, but I know that we're all human, and forgiveness is required of all.
We have Zone Conference next week, though we're not sure if it's on Thursday or Friday yet, so I'll be writing on one of those two days instead of the usual Wednesday.
Well, I hope that I haven't put too many of you in a cankerous mood this week. Thanks so much for your love and support. Have a wonderful week, take care and God bless!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Had a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch last week! And, I'm starting to wear contacts now, off with the spectacles!
This week has been pretty uneventful because I've been sick since Saturday. Had some pretty bad cheat, throat and head pains, so I had to go to the doctor. Apparently, I have had some bad muscle spasms and a couple rough asthma attacks but I got some medication. Just roughing it out through a bad cough and throat right now.
On Friday, we had a ward fashion show that we helped out at. Elder Wright did a little act and talk about appearances and modesty.
The rest of the weekend has really been spent just trying to get some rest at home, though I've been getting worse. But, I'm sure it'll get better soon. I'm hoping it does. It's getting tiring to be cooped up at home.
Joseph is still our star investigator. He's progressing well. Unfortunately, our other investigators have really been pretty flaky, so we hope to give them a boost or find some new ones.
Sad to hear that Elder Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away. I loved his talks of simplicity, peace, joy, and the simple pleasures in life. I really enjoyed his last conference talk, Come What May, And Love It. He talked about how to take life as it comes, and he gave three wonderful ways to overcome them. The three thing were to 1. Learn to laugh 2. Seek for the Eternal 3. The Principle of Compensation and 4. Trust in the Father and the Son. A quote from that talk that I really enjoyed was this:
The first thing we can do is learn to laugh. Have you ever seen an angry
driver who, when someone else makes a mistake, reacts as though that person
has insulted his honor, his family, his dog, and his ancestors all the way back
to Adam? Or have you had an encounter with an overhanging cupboard door left
open at the wrong place and the wrong time which has been cursed, condemned, and
avenged by a sore-headed victim?
There is an antidote for times such as these: learn to laugh.
Really not too much to write on this week, looking forward to Christmas! I got our Mission President to approve the movie The Polar Express, so we're enjoying that extra boost to the Christmas season/spirit. Do rent/buy/watch the movie if you have time, it has such wonderful messages!
Well, hope to hear from y'all sometime during this wonderful Christmas season! Oh, there are also Flat Rate Envelopes for $12.95! :P
Thanks so much for reading! Do member missionary work! Oh! We're having a live nativity performance called A Night In Bethlehem where there will be different rooms of different scenes leading to Christ's birth. Elder Wright and I, along with another person, will be the shepherds. We have to sing too! Will have some photos up next week! Take care and God bless!