Monday, October 12, 2015

Chili and Conversion

Hey folks!

We had a pretty busy and crazy week this week. Monday and Tuesday morning we helped out at the bishop's storehouse in Farragut, which was fun. It was pretty cool to see how smoothly and carefully and precisely things are run there. It was pretty different from the food pantry I helped at back in Rockwood. The Rockwood one was still good, it was just a lot less orderly.

We had another visit with Roger and Mayetta and it went really well. We felt like we should work with them to help them prepare to go to the temple together. Mayetta has been struggling with the Word of Wisdom, and in the lesson both of us felt prompted to bring up the 15-step program and invite her to try it again (she tried it once before and was able to quit, but she fell back into old ways). She agreed, and she told us at the end of the lesson that before we came she had been praying for help quitting. She felt like our invitation was the answer to her prayers. I thought that was pretty cool. :)

One of the perks of having two major hospitals in your area is that you get asked to give a lot of priesthood blessings. This week we got to give two blessings to members from other areas in the mission. Both were pretty cool experiences. The first one was for a member in the ICU. It took us three attempts on three different days to finally get in to see her (we kept missing the visiting hours and catching her asleep). When we finally did manage to come at the right time, her family was there and we were able to talk with them and help them before giving her the blessing. It was a really amazing and spiritual experience and it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been unable to give her the blessing those first two times. Heavenly Father does know what he's doing. :)

The second one was less of a cool story but was just as powerful. It was an older lady who had had an aneurysm and was feeling pretty down. We got to talk with her for like an hour and it really lifted her spirits. And the Spirit was very strong there as we gave her the blessing. It was great. :)

On Friday we ended up having two dinner appointments. The first one was with a family in the ward who live super far away from us, and we were super low on miles this week so we called them and left a message cancelling the appointment because we just weren't going to be able to make it. And then, after we'd already made an appointment with another member for the same night, they called back and told us they'd found us a ride. Both of the members really wanted us to come, and we didn't want to hurt their feelings, so we decided to go to both.

The first member we ate with fed us chili. He is notorious for feeding the missionaries tons of food, and he certainly lived up to his reputation that night. Granted, the chili was possibly the best I have ever had in my life (it was hickory smoked, oh my goodness), but I have never eaten so much chili in one sitting in my life. I thought I was gonna pop. And then, guess what the next member fed us? Chili. I hope I don't eat chili again for at least a month.... :P

My message for the week has to do with conversion. Consider these quotes from Elder Dallin H. Oaks' Oct 2000 talk "The Challenge to Become" (which is an awesome talk, and if you get time this week, I invite all of you to study it):

'From such teachings we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.

'...Jesus’ challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 18:3) was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be “converted,” which requires us to do and to become. If any of us relies solely upon our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, we are in the same position as the blessed but still unfinished Apostles whom Jesus challenged to be “converted.”

'...Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.'

It is not enough for us to simply know that the Gospel is true. The Gospel is a pathway, a way of life that changes our very being if we will allow it. Consider Nephi's words (from 2 Ne 31:17-20):

'...For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

'And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son...

'And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

'Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.'

It is essential that we not only enter the gate to the pathway of eternal life, but that we continue on that path. Otherwise we will never reach our destination. We must not only do the things we're supposed to do, we must become the people we are supposed to become. We must become like our Savior in order to receive all that He desires to give us. We must be converted.

The Savior knows this is too much for us to do on our own. That's why He wrought His Atonement to enable us to repent and do things beyond our capabilities, and that's why He gives us the Gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism to guide us along our path.

I challenge all of you to join me in actively choosing to become more like the Savior. Study His life and example. Pray and ask the Lord "What lack I yet?" (see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/what-lack-i-yet?lang=eng) and choose to make the changes you feel prompted to make. Consider D&C 58:26-28:

'For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

'Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

'For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.'

I challenge each of you to use your agency to become more like the Savior. Humbly ask the Lord what you need to change, and then make the change! I promise you that as you do this He will help you. His grace is sufficient for you. (Ether 12:27)

I love you all!! Make yourselves a great week!

Elder Swindler
 
Pictures:
 
1) Chili and Pot
Post-chili selfie (round one of chili)
 
Spotted in an apartment complex
 

2) Cats
The fattest house cat I have ever seen

The largest house cat I have ever seen
 
 Videos:
1) FOR NARNIA!!
video
 
2) FOR GONDOR!!
video
 

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