Monday, August 3, 2015

Weakness and Happiness

Hey folks!

Highlights of this week:

On Tuesday we brought a less active member with us named Bro Dodson to a team up to see two investigators, a former investigator named Frieda and her mom Christine. We taught the Plan of Salvation. We're not sure how much Christine understands, she's pretty old, and a little senile, and very set in her ways. But Frieda is very open (and very lucid). She was taught before by some Sisters, she just had troubles with the Word of Wisdom. But she's willing to try again. The lesson went really well, and Frieda agreed to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Bro Dodson really worked well with them, and he offered to come back with his wife and kids and talk to them more. It was neat. :)

We also had dinner that night with the Jennings, and Phil and Sister Madden came too. We taught them about Family Home Evening. Phil seems to be opening up, he's a lot more friendly than he was when I first came in. And he's finally getting married like I said, which is huge progress for him.

Wednesday was awesome. We drove up to Spring City with our bikes on the bike rack and biked around to all our appointments to save on miles, which was actually really fun. We met with another former investigator, Sean. He's super open and a really great guy, and he's got a cute family. He agreed to read from the Book of Mormon too, hopefully that'll go well.

We also saw Raymond and Tammy. They are on date for baptism on September 19! They've been praying about it and they feel good about it so we're going forward with it. We read from the Book of Mormon with them and with Tammy's mom who was there too, and we talked a little bit about enduring to the end. The Word of Wisdom is going to be a concern for them though...

We visited an inactive family, but the parents weren't home, just the kids and their grandma. We talked with the grandma for awhile, and their daughter and her friend came outside too. They said we could come back another day, and we thought that was the end of it. But then later that day, we were biking in the area and the daughter happened to be walking past. She stopped us and had a bunch of questions for us -- wanted to know what it is we believe. We taught her the Restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon, and hopefully we'll be able to start teaching her. It was super exciting.

We also taught the Restoration to a guy named Ryan who had requested a free Bible from the Church website. He was totally cool with it until we mentioned the name "Book of Mormon," and after that he just closed off a lot. Hopefully he'll read, we asked him to, but he wouldn't make any promises. :/

And all of that was in one day. It was awesome.

Thursday we did some yard work for a member who lives out in the boonies in Oak Dale. We also saw a potential investigator family named the Weavers who we've been hoping to teach since I got here. They are the cutest little family ever. We taught the Restoration. They agreed to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it. If they'll do it, I don't doubt that they'll get an answer.

Friday we had district meeting, then afterwards we went on exchanges. I stayed in Rockwood with Elder Larson the District Leader. It was super fun. I got to drive for the first time in months, and we saw a whole lot of people (we were trying to get return appointments mostly), and got a new investigator named Will. He was at another investigator's house (drinking a beer with her actually) when we came by. We taught about half of the Restoration. He liked us a lot and was super open and wants to hear more (although I think the beer might have had a little bit to do with that haha). He hasn't been to church since he was a teenager and he'd like to learn more about the Savior. Hopefully that goes well, he seems really promising. :)

We also stayed up till almost midnight talking about music and playing guitars. Elder Larson and I have super similar taste in music, apparently.

Saturday Elder Larson and I went with a member of the ward to help clean up a fundraiser put together by some of the sisters in the ward. While we were waiting for them to finish up, he decided he wanted to wander around Flea World (it's like an indoor flea market) so we thought we'd go too. It was bizarre... Like concentrated Southern weirdness all in one place.

After the service we exchanged back, and Elder Merrill and I tried to contact some referrals but they weren't home (again... we've tried them like 5 times now. We decided to just drop them for now).

Sunday we went to the wedding reception of our ward mission leader's daughter, which was fun :) She's moving to Lehi with her husband. And today we helped move an elderly sister from Athens into an assisted living center.

All in all it was a really good week. I hope you all had good weeks too!

My thought for this week is something Elder Merrill told me on Saturday. I was feeling bad because I stayed up so late the night before, and that I hadn't been very productive that day, and I just didn't feel much like a good missionary. He told me that it was okay that I stayed up so late, and reminded me that "men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). He then told me, "if you choose not to be happy because you're not perfect, you're never going to be happy."

He's right; we will never be perfect on our own in this life. I was basing my happiness on a perfect performance, which is unhealthy and unrealistic. Don't fall into this trap! It is a trick of the adversary. He wants nothing more than to make us miserable (2 Ne 2:18, 27) and he will use anything he can to do that. He will even use our righteous desires -- a desire to be obedient and to be more like our Savior -- to his advantage, if we will let him. Don't fall into the trap. Perfectionism -- a refusal to be happy until you are perfect -- is not healthy or helpful or good.

Nephi teaches us that "men are that they might have joy." God did not make a mistake when he made us. He did not intend our happiness in this life to hinge upon a perfect performance on our part. That's why He sent His Son. What's left for us to do is to choose whether we will follow Christ or not (2 Nephi 2:27-28) - and then when we choose to follow Christ, to choose whether to allow ourselves to embrace the peace and joy He offers us (John 14:27; Mosiah 2:41), or push it away because we are unwilling to forgive ourselves (and others) for being imperfect (see Doctrine and Covenants 64:10 and Matthew 18:21-35).

Consider the counsel of Moroni in one of the final verses of the Book of Mormon:

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."

Also consider the Lord's counsel in Ether 12:27:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Be patient with yourself. You are still growing. As you come unto Christ, throughout your life, He will help you to continue to grow and improve, if you are humble and willing enough to let him. When He "show[s] unto [you] [your] weakness," don't despair; it is not a sign of your insufficiency or inadequacy. You are not a failure because you are weak! You are merely human. Choose to be humble and patient. He will help you become strong.

I love the counsel given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in his April 2013 talk, "Lord, I Believe:"

"So be kind regarding human frailty--your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."

I hope we can all apply this counsel in our lives. :) Let us all choose this week to be kind and forgiving of our own imperfection -- and the imperfection of the others around us. Let us all choose to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him" -- and choose to allow ourselves to receive the joy that comes from that. :)

Sorry this is so long and scattered. I love you all!!

Elder Swindler

Fotos and Videos

1. So last Sunday when we ate dinner at the Qualls, Bro Qualls passed around these little peppers. Elder Galaviz and I took one, and hoo boy, they were HOT. But I survived, and I kept a fairly straight face (somehow.)

Well, unbeknownst to me, Elder Merrill took one too. But he hid it in his pocket to eat a couple days later at the apartment, because he didn't want to eat it in front of everyone.

So, naturally, I took a video (with his permission of course) :) The video is 5 minutes after he took a bite.

2.  I made German pancakes and eggs :)

3. I'm seeing the beginnings of the fulfillment of this quote right around me. :) It's so cool to play a part in this work. It's truly a blessing.

4. Saran Wrap: I did this to Elder Merrill early one morning like a month ago and it worked beautifully, but he was in his underwear so I couldn't send y'all the video. And I've been trying to do it again ever since, but the problem is, whenever he is wearing clothes he is also fully awake and can hear me. :/

5. Courtesy of Elder Peterson (cameraman) and our district leader Elder Larson (in the back)

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