I'll share that story about the horses at the end... but, what a great week it was! We had the opportunity to have stake conference, and specialized training, back to back days. I loved it. On Saturday we went to the Sevilla stake center and met with President Clegg for a specialized training. He was just in Copenhagen for a mission president's seminar and so he was there with David A Bednar and was able to relate some stories that he heard. Bednar said that some of the biggest miracles he has ever seen in his life, have been the assignments of missionaries and their locations. He knows that it is based purely on revelation.
He then told a story of this kid who sent in his application who said he would be happy staying in the USA and speaking English. His bishop and stake president agreed with that and wrote that in their recommends. When Bednar saw it, he thought, okay, we'll do that then... but then he just didn't feel right about it, so he put it aside, and said he would come back to it. At the end of his session it came back to the same elder who wanted to stay in the states. Elder Bednar really just did not feel like that is where he should go.... he was assigned to go to the Far East learning Mandarin Chinese. Quite the change, eh? Turns out, Elder Bednar really wanted to follow this missionary to see why he was assigned there, so he followed him his whole mission (without the missionary knowing) and just would check up on him, to see how he was doing. Well, he didn't learn the language very fast, but he was a hard worker, and he tried his best. He wasn't Ammon or an amazing missionary, but he served honorably. Now, he is sealed in the temple, and living his life. Elder Bednar, is still following him, to see what the reason was for him to go to the Far East, because he knows he was sent there for a reason. Anyways..... that just gives me a lot of ánimo, knowing that I was sent to this mission, at this time, for a reason. I honestly still haven't found it yet. There hasn't been anything that has happened to show me, "yes.... this is the reason, why you were sent here at this time." I am still looking, and I might not find it, or realize it until after my mission, but I receive great comfort that I was assigned here by the Lord, and not by "man".
In my personal study this week I was just reading through the Book of Mormon (I finished yesterday!!!), and while I was reading 3 Nephi chapter 6, something ran into my mind, actually it was what my branch president told me in the MTC. He was always telling the missionaries, make the MTC a great place, and it can be a great place, if you choose it to be so. Basically, the MTC is the same place for everyone, but some are happy, and others, not. You can apply that to any situation, and any place in life. For example, look at 3 Nephi 6, right before the Savior comes to the Nephites, the Nephites were prospering a lot, and there was a division of classes among them. However, just because this happened, doesn't mean that you have to be lifted up in pride. Read verse 13:
13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.
Others were exceedingly humble. They choose for themselves to be humble. Whenever I am called on to give a Spiritual Thought on the spot, I always use a certain scripture in 1 Nephi 17, that talks about this very thing. It is allllll based on your ATTITUDE. You decide to be happy. You decide to murmur. Sure, the things around you can have an effect, but you still decide how to react. Read 1 Nephi 17:20 and the attitude of Laman and Lemeul. Now, read the attitutde of Nephi, on verse 2, of the same chapter. The same chapter, the same situation, the same family, but different attitudes, and look at their life. Anyways, that is what I learned this last week...
Well, our investigators are progressing really well. We had four people come to Stake Conference. I don't know why, but when I see the investigators walk into the building I just get filled with some of the happiest joy. It just makes me so happy to see that they used their agency for good and decided to come to church. We had Soraya, the investigator who is trying to stop smoking and is in the wheelchair, Unai, the little 8 year old kid, Daniella, a 20 year old girl from Venezuela, and Pepé, the brother to the bishop. When each one of them came in I was so happy. All of them are progressing at different speeds but I am so happy to see them come to church, and they came to a great session. President Clegg and Sister Clegg spoke, as well as the temple Presidents, President and Siter Moore of the Madrid Temple. They shared some great stories, and one in particular, was the analogy given by President Moore that I want to share to end.
Setting: Olden' day, before cars and and all that....
Okay, so there was this rancher who was packing up all of his things and it was time to head out to a new home. He loaded his wagon and his family and sent them off, while he took care of the last things. He realized he forgot two things in the house: Sponges (don't ask me why), and firewood. So he grabbed two horses and and put on one horse's back, all of the sponges, and on the other, the firewood. As they were walking the dusty trail he looked back, and the horse with the firewood was really working hard to keep up, you could say he was getting tired, while the other horse with the sponges was merely... walking. As if there was no weight on his back at all. Then, they came to a river. The rancher crossed then looked back to check on his horses, expecting the worse for the horse with the firewood, but then he saw something very interesting... The horse with the sponges... well, the sponges started to absorb all of the water, and the weight was too much to handle, and the horse sank, and died. The other horse with the firewood started to cross the water, and then.... the firewood started to float, and the firewood supported the horse, and carried him across the river.
At time, the faithful of God look as if they are burdened with carrying the commandments, and it isn't as easy going through the trail of life, with all of these "burdens" on your back. It isn't as easy as the person who has no commandments at all to live by. But in that day when the challenges come, and you need to cross the river, the thing that was a "burden" is actually what will save you in the end, and help you cross the river, and overcome the challenge, while the person with no weight when the trail was easy, is suddenly overcome too fast, and will flounder.
In the 9 months of my mission, I have seen this is so true. I know that the people who are in the Church and living the commandments, are actually living the life God wants them to live and are happier. I, myself, can say that before I joined the church it was technically "easier" since I didn't have any commandments to "burden" me, but now I know for sure, that I am 10000000 times happier, and that the commandments are what help keep me, and all of us afloat. I know that the members in this church are sometime laughed at because of all of the "rules". But in the end, it is the rules that keep us safe and alive. I know these things are true, and I hope everyone takes this time to reexamine their attitudes, and their obedience in living the commandments.
Elder Steven Card