Forewarning, I wrote a ton in this email, so sorry, but not sorry haha!
Update on the A's, all is well. They are doing just amazing. We finished teaching H the Plan of Salvation, and he asked us what to do when we feel like we can't be forgiven of a sin. So, we explained the Atonement in greater detail. We told him that "Christ payed it all. Every last bit. The price is payed, He took it all on Himself. Not most of it, not all but the last few coins. All of it. It doesn't matter what we have done. It is finished." Then he got this thoughtful look on his face, then asked "so.... does that mean that we choose the right so that we don't cause him more pain?" We were both just amazed. May I just say, there is nothing like seeing a man who looks like he is made out of steel, tear up as he comes to understand the gift of the Atonement and how we can show our appreciation for that amazing gift. I absolutely love that man and his family. I have been so blessed to get to know them!
On Saturday we went to Minot for a baptism for a man named C. He is someone that E. Kane taught while in Minot, and it was so special to go to meet him. He was so happy! This man had quite the testimony, and it was nice to get to hear it.
Alrighty! On to the subject! Hope you enjoy my studies from this last week.
Christ showed us the perfect example in everything. We know He was perfect. He never sinned. But do we truly understand what it means to be perfect? Does that mean that he never dropped something, that he never stumbled or stubbed his toe? Did he know how to play every instrument perfectly? Could he execute every play in a play book perfectly? I don't think so. what we know about His childhood is found in Luke 2; 40, 52. "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." He too had to learn from experience. He had to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. It didn't just come because he was God's son. It came because He worked at it. So with that in mind, what if I were hammering in a nail right next to Jesus, who was doing the same thing, and we both smashed our finger at the same time. That doesn't take away from his divinity at all, but what would make my action imperfect and His perfect? His reaction to the pain. I might start cussing and slapping the table, probably get frustrated, but how would He react? Not too sure, but I've got a vague idea. He would probably react perfectly. Whatever that looks like haha! And with that in mind, we can take His councel to the children of Lehi. "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27)
So how do we do that? Good question. I've got a few ideas. Paraphrasing John Bytheway, one of the ways we can endure our trials and endure them well is to "reverse our 'buts'". Mormon gives a prime example of this in Chapter 2 of the Book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon (inception). To set the stage, Mormon is a young man (I think about 20ish?) who was asked to lead the armies of the Nephites against the Lamanites. The Lamanites way out number the Nephites, and they beat the Nephites in the first few battles. Mormon this whole time is crying repentance to the people, but they won't listen. They are too hard hearted. He begins to see prophecy fulfilled, specifically, the downfall and soon to be complete genocide of the Nephite people. Then, they have their first couple successes. There were many casualties, and the people begin to appear as if they would repent as they lamented the passing of their dead.
"And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die." (Mormon 2:12-14)
What a horrible image! He knows that these people are going to be destroyed because of their pride, and it seems as if there is nothing he can do about it. He knows that the war he is waging is going to end in the death of everyone he loves and holds dear. Talk about adversity. So how does he respond? "And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day." (verse 19) How does he know this? I would guess for the same reason that Nephi did in chapter 4. "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions... Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."
Mormon reversed his "buts" as did Nephi, although it would probably be more appropriate to say they reversed their "nevertheless"s. So when we are tempted to look at our trials and emphasize the bad, we need to look for the good. As a missionary, we run into the same issue all the time. That issue is, someone finally commits, they are progressing in the Gospel and growing from it, then all of a sudden life gets crazy. Family threatens to disown them for affiliation with the church. Work doubles their hours. They get evicted. Whatever it might be, something always happens to get in the way. We can look at it in a poor light, emphasizing all the bad, or we can reverse our "buts" or "nevertheless"s and say "You know, that stinks, but it is evidence that this is the truth, cause obviously there is someone trying to keep it from happening." Adversity is evidence that we are on the right path. So are we going to act, or be acted upon? Are we going to use it as the stumbling block to blame our short comings on? Or will we use it as a stepping stone to become who God knows we can become? The choice is ours to make.
Well, hope you enjoyed my thoughts. It's probably scrambled cause time isn't something I have a whole lot of. Love you all tons! Hope you are a wonderful week!
Elder Carter V
P.S. I promise I had permission to email today. Our P-day got cut short yesterday, so we had to finish emailing today.