March 14, 2016 Portalegre, Portugal
Hey Mom and Dad!
This week was pretty good. We’ve been working a ton with M_ and he’s still on track to be baptized this Saturday. All the members are super excited for him. He’s been to church almost 15 times since we found him and the members accepted him well. I guess next week you’ll all find out how it went!!! Pray for M_!
Other cool things from the week: We met up with a super awesome inactive member last week who lives like 40 minutes out of town by car. He’s a young guy and he has a super cool family. The wife isn’t a member, yet 😉 He also practices Jujitsu so he told us to bring some clothes to train in. I expected that there would be some kind of gym or at least a wrestling mat or something, but nope, there was just itchy grass …. So, I came out of there with some jujitsu moves, a new hatred for grass, and some major back pain. But it was a lot of fun, and he was really happy we went out there to see him.
So, last week I told you that Elder M went down to Lisbon for his US Visa interview. Everything went well; he was not apprehended by our beloved America and he got his Visa. It looks like he’ll be headed out to the Provo MTC at the end of this transfer. I think serving here in his own country…. like 2 hours from his house, has been good for him. He’ll probably understand a little better how to help the church here when he gets back from Boston. I just LOVE America 🙂
I gave my talk in church this week on the topic of “Why the gospel is important to me.” The gospel is just so cooool, that’s why!!!! No, that’s not what I actually said (but it is!). What I said was that the Gospel is so important to me because it makes me happy. I talked about how the gospel is perfect, flawless, and fits every person, every circumstance. As members of the church we have an understanding that there will be justice for all of the misdeeds, sorrows, loneliness, and misfortunes the world has to throw at us. It will work out in the end. DON’T GIVE UP! I mentioned how King Benjamin was such a good king. He worked hard, every day. He didn’t live off of the people or rob the poor; he lived off the money he worked for. I imagine him as a farmer, working alongside his countrymen, trying to save money and being frugal. I imagine him as a person who would give to others even if he had little himself – selfless, loving, kind, obedient, humble; a great example. At the end of his life, with all of his beloved people around him, he talks to them, tells them to keep the commandments, to love and serve one another as he had humbly tried to do. He told them:
“Even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you…Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.” (Mosiah 2:14-15) (He’s soooo cool!)
He tells the people of a blessing of following God’s counsel, one that I think is one of the most amazing blessings of the gospel, which is: “a clear conscience before God.” He felt no guilt, not because he was a perfect king. I’m sure he probably lost his temper here and there, or made a bad judgement every once in a while. But whatever it was, he used the Atonement, repented, was forgiven and felt the peace of mind that money can’t buy.
You’ll be happy to know, Mom, that I used another ranch story to illustrate my point:
When I worked on the ranch, one of my most important responsibilities was to move hand pipe, or sprinkler lines. (Mom, you already know this 😉 This includes picking up one 40 ft pipe by the middle, walking 48 even-sized steps, setting it down, and hooking the pipe up with the one before it, in a straight line. Then, walk back to the previous line, pick up the next pipe and repeat the process. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, some of the challenges were the muddy ground and the tall, wet hay, and it was soooo cold!!!
When I started on the ranch I didn’t have my own boots so I used borrowed boots I would find in the “boot graveyard” located in the basement. There were lots of boots, but somehow all of them seemed to be either too big or too small (I don’t know how it was possible!) Eventually, I would find a pair that looked suitable and I would go out to work. Everything looked great until water started getting into my boots–holes–awesome. Every step I took, more water entered my boots. They started to get heavier and heavier and weighed me down. Eventually I ended up with little swimming pools in each boot. Slish, slosh, slish, slosh…the works. I marveled at the fact that water could so easily enter my boots, but it never left through the same holes from which it came. There must have been some kind of one-way-valve action going on, I don’t know….. Anyway, this would happen until I couldn’t take it anymore and I would stop, remove one boot at a time, dump all of the water out, and continue working and accumulating more water.
Life is a lot like my experience with the old rubber boots. There are always experiences or choices we make that weigh us down. We can sometimes end up feeling like victims to so much bad luck. Little by little, more water enters our boots and we have a hard time picking our feet up again. We become so weighed down that we become stuck in the wet mud and lost in the tall hay. The only way to remove the water from our boots is through repentance. There are millions of people in the world who are seeking a way to have that “clear conscience before God” that King Benjamin talked about, but they don’t know where to find it. BUT WE DO! The gospel is so important because we can be clean again no matter what we have done or how far we have strayed. We can stop what we are doing, repent, dump out all of the sins that weigh us down and start over again. Happiness comes through a peace of mind, knowing that we are forgiven. That is how the gospel makes me happy and why it is so important to me. Oh, and for the record, I bought my own boots after the first summer–without holes 😉
Well, that’s all I got for today. Have a wonderful week. Stay warm. Keep cool.