Well... I am somewhat in shock... I just read my family attended a Raiders vs. Vikings game... I don`t know if I am more in shock for the fact that I have waited 19 years to see them play and I missed it or the fact that the Vikes actually won! Haha! ;) Just messing! I am glad you guys had a good time!
How is everyone?! Special shout out to the ‘Ville... what a great run you guys had! Get fired up for next year! Congrats to all of the players, fans, coaches, parents, and SHS as a unit.
Last week was a bit nuts so I didn`t write... we got permission from President Riggins to visit Panorama so we spent PDAY down in Duran last week. It was so great to see the families again! Love them so much! They are all the bomb! And are doing so great. La Troncal is going well. The Mexican Elder just got transferred so we are waiting to see who Elder Neciosup from Peru picks up. Maybe I will speak something other than Spanish or Portuguese! ;)
The past two weeks have been LEGENDARY. Nothing less! We found a really awesome woman... she is actually a member but has separated herself a bit from the church for quite some time now. We had a visit with her the other day and started it off with a question: “ What is your biggest worry?” Not knowing the answer we whipped out the triple and flipped open to Doctrine and Covenants 6. The verse that stood out was 36, “ Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Not yet hearing her answer we were certain this verse was the one! Then came the response! “ I fear the future. I doubt my abilities. I doubt my potential. I am scared of what comes and scared of not having anyone to trust.” I was first struck with sadness for a daughter of God who feels like this and second struck with gratitude for the Holy Ghost`s leading spirit that led us to Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 which told her exactly what to do (look unto God in every thought) and exactly what to stop doing (doubting and fearing). How grateful for the spirit I am. How worthless we are in this work without it. This incredible woman left her job to come to church yesterday. How cool it is to see someone look unto God in every thought throw out all fear and doubt.
Another cool experience we had is really similar to the last. We went to visit a family in a branch that is having a hard time. Fights between the husband and wife, children, financial problems, etc. We have tried just about everything with them. We felt at a loss as to what we should teach and share. I said a silent prayer in my heart, and I am sure my companion said the same, with a desire to read their hearts and feel their souls to find what they needed. We flipped open to Matthew 4. We marked the first 2 verses that tell us that Christ was fasting... so that’s where we went. We randomly taught a lesson on fasting and the blessings that come. When we finished the lesson the mother of the family said, “Thank you so much for sharing that. This is my biggest struggle as a member of the church. I have never been able to complete a fast. Will you help me?” So we planned a day to fast with the family and it went great! She completed it!!!
Which leads me to my next miracle!!!
Two weeks ago I felt such a heavy tugging on my heart. I could not figure out what it was! It was really starting to bother me. Finally I knelt before my Father in Heaven and asked. Without delay... a picture of my hero popped into my mind. The coolest 11 year old to walk the planet. He has long, beautiful, blonde hair. Plays football like a champ. Wrestles like a warrior. Runs like none other. And woos the girls like no Noll has ever been able to! I felt like my little brother Al was in need of my help. I turned Mama Bear on. I felt like raging. Nothing hurts more than knowing that someone you love is suffering while you can`t do anything! But I didn`t know what was going on with my little Homie. So I decided to fast. Last week the first thing I read was this:
“Poor Al is still not doing great. His fever is gone and most of the symptoms as well, but he has something called thrush - it is a yeast infection in the mouth - he has HUGE canker sores and yucky yellowish stuff. His bottom lip is about 3 times it's normal size!! I hope this passes quick.”
There is no doubt in my mind that my little brother was in need of a fast. And the spirit of the Lord spoke! Love you Al! I don`t feel so heavy now so I take that as you are doing a lot better!
A couple more highlights of the past two weeks!
We got to bless a newborn baby. What a miracle. What perfection in such a small body. What purity in such a tiny soul.
An experience a little different...
I really had to go to the bathroom so we passed by a members house real quick. Just a number 1 emergency so you all know. BUT... when I entered the bathroom someone before me had left a little surprise... okay... a giant one. When I went to flush the toilet (by filling up cups of water and dumping them in the toilet until it flushes by itself because that is how they do it here because they don’t have the little knobs) it would not flush. I did not want them to think that I left the surprise though so I could not give in. I moved on to a small bucket to flush the sucker down... still no luck. As I looked in the dark for something bigger (because there was no light), I came across a HUGE bucket/barrel thingy. I filled that animal cup by cup until it was all filled up... then with every ounce of strength I had I power-cleaned the sucker and dumped it into the toilet... VICTORY! The surprise left by someone else moved on... it probably would have been better to just leave the surprise in the toilet and let them think what they wanted to think because I came out sweating bullets with wet shoes and driblets of water all over my tie... but hey... that`s life.
Another experience for the books... everyone and their brother sells bananas in the street here. So I went to buy a banana one day and I was feeling around and observing to see which one I wanted. The banana man went NUTS! “STOP SQUEEZING MY BANANAS!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????!!!?!?!!! IF YOU KEEP SQUISHING AND DAMAGING MY BANANAS I AM GOING TO STRANGLE YOU!” Then he started throwing all of the bananas at me. I felt so bad! I didn`t mean to harm your bananas mister. I apologized from the bottom of my heart and left him with a good tip ;) I passed the following day and he sold me one without any trouble so I think he has forgiven me. Gotta be careful with those banana men. Dangerous.
Hang in there brothers and sisters... this weeks’ message is a little longer than usual... but I hope it will touch someone... somewhere.
I was taken back as I read 2 Nephi 5:27. “ And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”
- Where on earth did that come from, Nephi? TWENTYFIVE verses ago the anger of your brothers led them to “seek to destroy you.” How did your life go from nearly death to “living after the manner of happiness? How does a family, a friendship, or a people go from seeking to destroy lives to living after a manner of happiness? How can we obtain this happiness as a family?
So I went back from the beginning... and I came across TWENTY-FOUR things that occurred among this people in order for them to come to the life that we all long for in verse 27.
I would like to share with you those twenty-four things and how we can apply them in our lives:
1: “I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God...”
- This is vital. A family that lives after the manner of happiness is a family that cries unto the Lord in united family prayer.
2: “I, Nephi, did take my family...”
- All things... spiritual and/or physical... should be done as a family.
3: “ ... those who believed in the warnings…”
- TEENAGERS: (I can point you out because I am one of them too) Let us give heed to the warnings of our parents. Let us submit ourselves to their protecting guidelines, standards, and limits that will lead us to live in a manner of happiness.
4: “... believed in... the revelations of God…”
- The Lord works through revelation. Our Heavenly Father is so loving and so caring that He has called a Prophet today to give us revelations. Listen to him. Go out of your way to read the General Conference talks and read the church magazines as a family. It is a required action if we desire to live after a manner of happiness.
5: “... they did hearken unto my (Nephi`s) words...”
- A happy family requires hearkening, listening, and understanding.
6, 7, 8: “... did take our tents... and did journey into the wilderness... and we did pitch our tents...
- “WE. WE. WE. OUR. OUR. OUR. This is the physical aspect. Spiritually speaking we must take are tents and journey forward. Progress. Improve. We much pitch our tents as we take steps forward... NEVER moving back. There cannot be returns to solved problems. Forget the past and journey forward. Pitch the progress. If you don`t pitch it... keep with the progress as a family... never settling.
9: “... take upon them to call themselves the people of Nephi...”
- This is more on a personal level. All that we do as individuals represents our families name. Represent your families name with honor so that you can obtain the manner of happiness that you strive for. Never do anything that would lower the level of excellence.
10, 11, 12: “… to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things...”
- The foundation of happiness is obedience.
13, 14, 15: “… for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we did raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.”
- To sow, reap, and raise are all things that show growth. They are all words that are results of edification. EDIFY. EDIFY. EDIFY. Edifying seeds of compliments will reap happiness in abundance. Raise flocks, herds, and compliments of every kind.
16: “... brought the... plates of brass...”
- A happy family studies the scriptures.
17: “... and also the ball, or compass...”
- The happy family has a functioning Liahona. It functions through “faith and diligence” and ceases with “slothfulness.” Let us be spiritually diligent and faithful. Avoid spiritual slothfulness. My mom is going to kill me for this one... we must also avoid physical slothfulness. We must maintain a clean home and work TOGETHER to do so. The spirit cannot dwell in an out of order, messy home. Live after manner of cleanliness to live after a manner of happiness.
18: “... did take the sword of Laban and make many swords after its same manner...”
- Your sword is your testimony. Parents especially have the calling to help their children make their swords. Parents and older siblings have the obligation of helping children and younger siblings find their faith and obtain their sword.
19: “... teach my people to work in all manner of precious substances…”
- Family members must help one another to develop their talents and work with their “ special substances” that the Lord has blessed them with in order to live after of manner of happiness. The home should be a home of learning and teaching. I bet you Nephi did a whole of his teaching on Monday Nights... (hint hint)
20: “... did build a temple...”
- A happy family will visit the temple regularly. A happy family will ENTER the temple as frequently as possible. Strive also to make your home “constructed after the manner of the temple.” Sanctify your homes. Make them holy.
21: “... did cause my people to be industrious...”
- Cause that your families learn and live principles and values of how to save, earn, and manage money. Cause that your families pay tithes and fast offerings and participate in monthly family fasts.
22: “... and to labor with their hands...”
- Happy families have to work hard. Look for chances to use your hands. SERVE! Work. Developing homemaking skills and lending service brings happiness. Make us children work. Make us sweat.
23: “... I was desirous that they should have no king...”
- Nephi did not seek attention nor fame. Humility and equality are crucial in creating a happy family.
24: “... did consecrate...”
- This happiness cannot be obtained in the home without the Priesthood. God`s ordinances are needed. Fathers… search for opportunities to use your Priesthood. Give blessings! Ordain your sons! Magnify your callings!
Brothers and sisters, I know that these twenty-four things bring peace and joy. IT IS A LOT... I know! But little by little, through our Savior and His everlasting Atonement, and though His sacrifice that enables us to progress, we can come to live after a manner of happiness as we desire.
I want to thank my amazing parents for the manner of happiness they strive for and for all they have taught me while obtaining this manner.
I love you all and share these things in the sacred name of our older Brother, Jesus Christ, the giver of happiness. Amen.