Monday, August 22, 2016

brand new, out-of-the-box...

Another Monday has come, and they just keep coming faster. Transfers are upon the Kansas Wichita Mission, and I bring tremendous news. Elder Andrasko will be leaving. He's going to serve in Junction City as a trainer. I will remain in Rolling Hills as District Leader. My companion is a brand-new, out-of-the-box, mint-condition, green missionary. I am a trainer! The new missionary's name is Elder Alexander Wood. I couldn't be more excited for what the future brings. I am honored to be entrusted of the Lord this portion of Kansas to lead, and even more humbled to know He has trusted me in training one of His chosen servants. I'm in such stupor of unbelief, all I feel is sacred responsibility. I am not frightened, I know the Lord is with me. Here to guide me, here to lift me up, here to give me the help I need. "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me." For that I am so eternally grateful.

I had a wonderful time Monday evening with the Grant family. The last time we had dinner with them, they showed us their 'foam-pit', a corner of the basement they have piled a great amount of foam. Somebody threw foam at somebody and a foam fight that lasted about half-an-hour ensued. It all ended because my nose started bleeding. Of course, now it's just a running joke the Grant family tried to kill me. This time, however, after dinner their little boys wanted to play slaps. Oh how they had no idea what they were about to begin! I have been brutally, cruelly, been crippled in the beautiful game of slaps by uncles who loved to win and had no intention of allowing me to win against them. This is the Michael Jordan principal: Michael Jordan was the very best basketball player of all time. He would play ball with his older brother, and this older brother would beat him every single time. Because young Michael was always receiving a challenge, he was always pushed to be better. Needless to say, I dominated in slaps. Thank you Michael Jordan. Of course, when the five-year-old played with me, I had to let him win. So it turns out I'm not as competitive as my uncles. In a solemn manner, I testify to you the Michael Jordan principal is truly called the atonement of Jesus Christ. I have learned so much of the atonement and the enabling power thereof. The atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT just a redemptive power, but a power that helps us to CHANGE. Change is good, change is Christ-like so long as the change is helping us to become more like our Savior.

I have studied some interesting chapters in the Old Testament. My favorite story within it's pages is that of Elisha (not to be confused with Elijah) healing the highly-respectable Namaan, the leper. I did some peering around this story found in 2 Kings and became familiar with chapters four through six. Within these chapters I learned of very serious repercussions of famine. The people, in order to survive, would eat the head of a donkey (an unholy animal, the head being the most inedible part), dung of Dove for what small nutritional value it offers, and even resort to the eating of forbidden flesh. The things people would do in order to quench the pangs of hunger! It brought me to think of the forty-day fast of Jesus Christ before His ministry. It brought me to think of that miserable Satan who temped our Redeemer in His weakest time. I encourage those who feel weak: don't give up! Our Savior is there, and He knows what it is like to be tempted in moments of weakness.

Here's a funny story. Elder Andrasko and I were talking to this young woman with a high-energy puppy named Oscar. Oscar was so excited while we were speaking to this young woman who's name is Bailey, we found. So excited, in fact, Oscar blew her dress way, way up. Elder Andrasko and I averted our eyes, in sync, at just the right moment to avoid building the awkward moment to be awkward. That dumb Oscar. Now I wouldn't dream of Bailey contacting us about reading 3 Nephi 11 because of what happened. Oscar is lucky he's cute.

We had the amazing privilege in participating in a baptism of a sweet young girl named Maren Crosby. Maren has just barely turned eight years old and has decided to become baptized. This event sparked many memories of my baptism. I would like to share my recollection. When I had recently turned eight-years-old, my parents asked me, "Do you want to be baptized?" It did not take long for
me to answer, "Yes, I do!" My answer was an affirmative one because of a few reasons. One, I thought being baptized was cool! Two, I just assumed everyone who went to church was baptized eventually because it's the true church. Who would ever deny that it is? Three, I knew it was the right thing to do. I wanted to follow the example of the Savior who, at the time, was a legend my parents told me often. A mythical man that lived long ago, died for me, suffered for my sins. Of course my wonderful parents taught me the Savior lives, but I believe I've not had quite a strong testimony that He lives and He breathes and He is there! I remember stepping into the water of the font in the Stake Center in Hyde Park. The water was warm. I thought, "Wow this is something really special." I felt a colossal aura of anticipation belonging to my wonderful friends and family surrounding me, watching through the glass. I remember going into the water and coming straight out, surprised at how fast it all had happened. My father's misty eyes met mine and I knew he was proud. I knew my Heavenly Father was proud too. I remember the confirmation that followed. I remember shaking everyone's hand that participated in confirming me a member. I reached my hand out to shake my father's hand and he batted it away, stooped down, and gave me a huge hug. I remember how loved I felt. I am so blessed to have experienced this. This memory flooded to me as Maren had her special day. She is blessed too. We all are blessed to have wonderful families to support us. If you don't have that family to support you, you are that family. Continue in your valiant work in constantly building others up.

I love you, all of you! You have my eternal gratitude! Thank you again for your prayers.

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