Monday, January 31, 2011

Better Than Digging Diamonds

Looking back on myself ten or twelve years ago, I wonder what my past self would have thought if I knew some of the things I value now in my life.  One in particular is maintaining a clean living place.  I know for a fact I am able to work harder and more effectively as I keep the things around me clean and organized.  I know the habits I have developed come mostly from the persuasion, perseverance and diligence of my Mom.  Just about every Saturday growing up, before we were allowed to do any other activities, my Mom would give each of us some chores we had to do.  While it is something I value now, it often seemed more of punishment growing up and nearly impossible to get everything done in one day.  Now, I think I could have gotten many of the things done in 30 minutes if I had really just started working on it.  As it was, it usually ended up taking me all of the morning and most of the afternoon as I would drag my feet with everything I did.  I very much appreciate my mother having the patience and dedication to help instill in us these habits.  I am sure it would have been easier for my mom to just do everything herself, but because of her taking time to do the extra work, I have found the value of working

I have found with many things in life, we seldom value things as much as when we have taken the time to work for them.  Learning to develop a habit of working is vital to us finding lasting satisfaction, joy and peace in this life.  In a recent conference address, Elder Christofferson talked about the value we can find in our own lives from work – “Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth.  Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and God.”  I know many times we think how nice it would be if we could just spend a day doing nothing.  But take some time to remember how you feel on those days.  As we take time to do nothing, many times we feel like nothings.  As we learn to work, we learn to achieve, and as we achieve we can find value in our lives. 

With work, I am reminded of the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney Classic Snow White.  As they work, they sing this song;

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Little Tree—It Looks so Green, Yet is so Dead

I have at my desk a little tree.  It is still very green, as you can see in the picture.  I acquired it about a month or two ago.  Some of the seeds from a Maple Tree here at the MTC had sprouted early for some reason, and there were several little trees growing in the ground.  Being the middle of winter, I figured the trees wouldn’t last long, and they would soon be dead.  I had also thought it would be nice to have a plant here with me in the MTC.  How cool would it be to have a tree which I had found on my mission, and then nurtured and grown myself?  I could plant it somewhere, and then come and see it years later.  It could be a land mark for generations.  I could see it in my mind, posterity telling little wide-eyed generations of children “that is the tree which great-grandpa Spencer saved on his mission.”  I can imagine many other such things, most definitely involving a tire-swing of some kind.  But, I won’t bore you with those.  Don’t be fooled, while the tree still if very green, it is about as crispy as a twig in a furnace, completely dehydrated and certainly overcooked.  I haven’t thrown it out, yet.  I do have faith that it may yet revive.  But it made me think a little about how much life is sometimes like growing a tree.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Testimony of Melanie

With every person we teach, I feel I am finding more and more that what and how I teach is not always the most important thing.  I love the verse in the Doctrine and Covenants 42: 14 “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.”  It is the Spirit that is the real teacher.  We need to have it as missionaries, and the investigators need to take time to find it themselves.  In order to understand the fruit of the gospel, it is important to get beyond the peel, but really get into the fruit so we can taste it for ourselves.  So we can see the fruit and the blessings of it in our lives.  Melanie is one person who we were recently able to meet and work with a little.  I feel she was able to see the truth as she took the time to delve into the gospel and taste the fruit for herself.  She was recently baptized just before Christmas, and she was kind enough to let me publish her testimony below.  This is one she wrote just before she was baptized.

Friday, January 7, 2011

♫ ♪ Getting To Know You ♪ ♫

I talked in an earlier post about how often here at the MTC I am able to reconnect with friends and acquaintances.  Another blessing of serving here is the new people I am able to meet and the new friends I am able to make.  I do feel very blessed as I have met so many different people.  One thing I have found interesting is how much my perception of people change as I get to know them better.  It often is not until we get to know each other that our personalities come out and we learn more truly the character of the person.  In the same way, I have noticed how much this applies when talking about the Gospel and Jesus Christ.  We cannot truly know how good it is until we are able to try it for ourselves.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, a perfect being.  But yet, Isaiah describes him like this;

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” -Isaiah 53: 3-5

Christ being the epitome of good was certainly not recognized as being such.  These verses cause me to ponder very much, “How is it that the people could have rejected Jesus Christ?  With the miracles He performed and with the good He was able to do, how could people reject Him?  After all, He healed all the sick and afflicted who came to Him, He walked on water, and He raised the dead.  Jesus Christ was certainly one person who was misunderstood.    Maybe a little more unsettling is Isaiah’s prophecy that “all we like sheep have gone astray.”  How can we be sure we are following Christ, how can we know we have accepted Him?  It is these last questions which I wish to answer now.

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