Hey! It's been a good week!
Sad news, Elder Prestwich and I have parted ways. :(
I'll miss him a lot, but that' just the life of a missionary I guess.
My new Companion is Elder Barnes! He came out with Elder Prestwich and is hilarious! He's just the ultimate homie. Super down to earth, super down to work hard, super funny, super nice. But the weird thing is he's 6'6 and about my build so he makes me look kind of like a little guy. But if nothing else, we can just intimidate people into taking the lessons, haha! (I'm staying in Barstow, btw)
So we had the worldwide broadcast this week, and that was really cool. I think the craziest part was that Elder Oaks said "Umm", haha. For those who don't understand that, Elder Oaks ALWAYS speaks so smoothly and never mistakes, so when he all of a sudden he stopped in the middle of his sentence and said "Umm..." Elder Prestwich and I looked at eachother absolutely shocked!
But on a more serious note, I really like the changes. I also loved the doctrine shared. They talked about our need to have a bedrock understanding of the Doctrine of Christ. That really stuck with me. The Doctrine of Christ is a very simple 5 step process of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the end. That's a pretty simple concept and we teach it quite often, so in the back of my quite prideful mind, I guess I thought I'd learned everything I've needed to know.
Holy cow was I wrong! All week I've been focusing my studies on just the doctrine of Christ, more specifically just Faith and Repentance. I've learned so much.
One cool story that comes to mind is we felt prompted to drop by this house that we knew was empty, because we knew where the Less Active who used to live there had moved. We knew he was gone, but for some reason we just went and knocked on it, and he was there! He was cleaning up some stuff. After a brief chat, we shared this scripture:
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. (Mosiah 24:15)
After we shared that, he told us about how he'd been going through a lot at the time and how he had come back to clean up some stuff from his old house, but was just overwhelmed and stressed and kind of called out mentally to God for help, when all of a sudden he heard a knock at the door. We talked about how we can all do better at "[Submitting] cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." That's something I've been pondering a lot. Our willingness to endure that which the Lord throws at us.
Linked with that, one of the things that has really been on my mind is a story that a member told us. He told it as a joke, but it really hit me hard!
A man was walking near a ledge, when all of sudden a huge wind came and blew him off the ledge and he began to plummet to his doom. In this chaos he reached out and grabbed a branch that was sticking out and began to hold on for dear life. In fear, and seeing his impending death below him, he cried out to God.
In that instant, he (We'll call him John) heard a voice. "John, I am your Father. Do you believe in me?"
John cried out hastily: "Yes Lord, I believe!"
"Do you believe that I control the wind, the very wind that blew you off that ledge?
"Yes Lord! I believe!"
"John, do you believe that I am He who caused that branch to grow many years ago, knowing that someday you would fall and need something to save you?"
"Yes Lord! I believe!"
"John, do you believe that I have the power to control that wind and have it blow you back up to safety?"
"Yes Lord! I believe all these things!"
"Then let go."
When he told that last line, it hit me like a brick wall! I think there are many lessons we can learn from this small parable, but something that I've thought about is why? Why would God allow that to happen if he was just going to bring him to safety again? Why would he allow similar things to happen to any of us? We have all experienced being blown out of our comfort zones into trials full of fear. Why?
At first, the thought came that God wanted to test John's faith. He wanted to see if John would let go in faith. But isn't God All Knowing? Doesn't he know John perfectly?
Perhaps God wasn't trying to learn a lesson about John, but rather he was trying to help John learn a lesson about John.
So, when you feel discouraged about all the trials that seem pointless and you feel like you're just running around in circles, rather than being frustrated with God and holding onto our branches that seemingly "Save us", have the Faith to let go, have the humility to learn the lesson, and have the courage to keep walking by ledges.
Well, sorry this was so long! There's so much I wish I could fit into this, but If you ever want to burn an hour, just ask me after my mission "Hey, what's a cool story from your mission?"
Missions are great!
I love you all!
Church is true!