First off, I just want to say thanks to everyone who's written emails and letters to me! They really make a difference, and I love reading them, even if I don't have time to respond to them all personally.
So, this week's been pretty average for the MTC, and by that, I mean it's been freaking awesome. We had a member of the 70 come and speak who's name is Larry J. Echo Hawk. First off, coolest name ever. I can already see that being the title of the next Marvel movie. Someone make this happen.
But really though, he did a great job. I think that in order to speak at the MTC, there's a pre-requisite that you have to talk about exact obedience for at least 5 minutes, so he did that, but then he started telling the story of his conversion, and that was very touching. He grew up in poverty on an Indian reservation, and when he spoke about how grateful he was to the missionaries that came by his house, the Spirit just washed over the whole room. I think every missionary's goal now is to convert someone, and have them go on to become a member of the Quorum of the 70.
Mom, as far as your concerns about my health go, I'm doing fine. Our district was a bit under the weather this week, but I think Elder Jackson got the worst of it. I had a cough, but it's getting better now, so I think I'm in the clear.
So, this week, I've been reading some conference talks (thanks mom!) and there's one by Elder Holland that I especially love called "Safety for the Soul." It's always been one of my favorites, but it had new meaning to me when I read it the other day. There's a point during the talk where he speaks about the faith that Joseph and Hyrum must have had in the Book of Mormon in order to endure until their deaths.
He says, "Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be "house less, friendless, and homeless" and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor. Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as impostors and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."
I know it's a long quote, but it's also really good. For me, after reading it, I realized something. We give Joseph Smith a lot of credit. We talk about him, we have hymns dedicated to him, we make movies about him, and he deserves every bit of that credit. But what about Hyrum?
Before going to Carthage, Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were out of town, getting ready to leave Nauvoo. They knew the mob was after them and, like any sensible person, they decided to get out of town for a bit. However, as they were about to get on the ferry to cross the river, some members from town caught up to them. They called them cowards and chastised them for leaving the town in its' hour of need. They said this all to the very man who had been dragged out of his house, tarred and feathered, chased from city to city, and persecuted and mocked since the age of 14 for this church. They disregarded all that, and in their moments of anger, they attacked and accused a prophet of God.
Had any normal man been in this situation, I'm sure he would have ignored their complaints and continued across the river. But Joseph and Hyrum were no ordinary men. Hyrum turned to his older brother and suggested they go back. Joseph in tears said the famous line "If we go back, then we will die or I am not a prophet."
They went back. Hyrum followed his brother to his death, knowing the whole time what was going to happen, and yet his faith never wavered. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been.
I don't think we give enough credit to Hyrum. To be able to follow a man, knowing that you'll die if you continue in this course, knowing that your wife will be a widow and your children fatherless, and yet continuing in your course because you don't fear what man can do.
Our district motto is "Fear no man" which comes from D&C 30:11 (Look it up!). We've basically taken it to mean that, as long as God is with us, we should not fear what man can do. I think Hyrum really understood that message, knowing that as long as he stood with his brother, he would be okay. He was no Laman.
We can't all be prophets. We can't all restore a dispensation or have God manifest himself to us, but we can all be Hyrum's. We can all work a little harder not to fear what people will do or think or say. We can't all be at the top of the pyramid, but we can all have faith. Sometimes it's hard to work under a bishop that you feel is too young and inexperienced or to obey the commands from a prophet who can't possibly know your personal situation. I'm sure for Hyrum it was hard to accept his little brother Joseph as a prophet of God, but he did it, and God bless him for it.
Someone once said "Some men will get results if kindly encouraged, but give me men who will do things in spite of Hell". Hyrum followed his brother, and he did it without the glory or the calling of prophet, but he followed God and he got results. He did it in spite of the whole world telling him what a fool he was, and he had no evidence to give them other than a little book his brother translated.
Anyway, there's my spiritual thought for the week. Hope everyone back home is doing fine!
Dad: Thanks so much for sending me that email. It really meant a lot, and I printed it off, and I'm going to keep it in my dorm. I hope you're doing well, and I just wanted to say thanks for all you've done for me. I couldn't ever thank you enough.
Mom: Most missionaries can listen to music as long as it's hymns (In some cases they can listen to EFY type songs) but our branch president discourages it. It might change when I'm out in the field. I haven't taken many pictures, but I'll try and take more in the future. Sorry! And no, I don't think there's anything else I need, but thank you for asking. By the way, those Dunford donuts you sent were very popular with the other elders. I think I could feel my arteries clogging as I ate them. Also, thanks for the quotes! I really love hearing spiritual thoughts from all of you!
Hadley: Tell Emi to get better soon! Also, I'm so glad to hear you're starting first grade! You're going to love it. My favorite food at the MTC is probably the food that you guys send me :) the food at the cafeteria isn't too good.
Hayden: I'm glad to hear you "merged" and became one of them. Are you sure you didn't just make friends with the Borg? If you don't get that reference, ask Dad about it. He's old enough for sure! I am doing great up here, but the food is just okay.
Ellie: There are about 40 people in my zone, but a lot of them leave today, so it will be about 20 for a week and then we get more coming in next week. They are all learning Chinese, and a lot of them are much better at it than me. We have to go to bed at 10:30 every night, and wake up at 6:30, even if it's P-Day.
Ashleigh: Tell Mrs. Allen and Mr. Seastrand that I say hi :) They're both fantastic teachers. Glad to hear that the Lehi football team has finally won a game. I think East Germany was still part of the U.S.S.R when that happened. Remember, no kissing boys until I get back. You'll just have to give them high-fives after the date.
Thanks everyone for writing and reading my updates! You are all amazing!