I'm super glad to hear BYU won the game last week. You know, it was kind of funny, our language study time ended around 8:00, and me and Elder Stowell decided to do our additional study outside...by the back fence...within earshot of the game...with almost everyone else in the MTC.
Honestly, it was hilarious. I've never seen a larger crowd of people sitting there absolutely silent, all straining to hear the echos of the announcer from the stadium. On a completely unrelated side note, the chips and salsa you sent me are gone now.
Also, I ran into Garrett, Bracken Stringham, and Spencer Huggins this week. They all seem to be having a great time.
Hadley - I'm glad to see you're still always looking on the bright side of things. More popsicles is always a good thing. I am absolutely ready to go to Canada (I hope), and I'm super excited to go. The MTC flew by, and it feels like I just got here last week. It's crazy to think that two months have already gone by.
Ellie - I'm glad you life is going "swell" :) Your letters always make me laugh. Tell the adults to stop being boring and have some fun for once! Also, I miss you... to the end of Pluto! Ha! I win!
Hayden - Are you trying to top yourself every week by seeing how many times you can say "beast"? :) because I'm getting suspicious. This week the count was 6, and that's only if I cound the super long one as one. Love ya :) What to you mean by an upgrade of a phone?
Ashleigh - Leprechaun's don't have luck on Saint Patrick's Day, that's when they get caught! Duh! And you're gonna spend the week watching chick-fliks? In times like these, I like to take Dwight Schrute's advice and say, "Before I do anything, I think to myself Would a stupid person do that? And if they would, I do not do that thing." Love ya!
Emi - Who's a good dog?! You are!
Just so you guys know, I do indeed have my travel plans. I'm getting up at 3:35 AM next Monday, Sept 21 to make it on an 8:30 flight to Minneapolis. I get in at 12:04 (Minneapolis time) then catch a flight to Toronto at 1:36 (Minneapolis time), arriving at 4:44 (Toronto time). I am allowed to call at the airport, so would it work better for me to call at around 7:30 (in Salt Lake) or around 11 (In Minneapolis)? I'll be able to see your response before I go, because I can check my email on Saturday this week (An extra P-day since we'll be traveling Monday) so if you could let me know what time works better, that would be awesome. It's just me and Elder Stowell on the flight, so it won't be that big of a group.
Anyway, this week's been awesome. For our Tuesday devotional, we got an amazing talk by Gerald Causse, the first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. He gave a talk a few conferences ago, which was also good, but his talk the other night was just amazing. He talked about how crazy it is that God's church gives 20 year old's the authority to represent them around the world, and how if we had a professional missionary force, they would be able to become such good missionaries. He told us that the reason the church does that is because they want missionaries that are young enough and humble enough to see the hand of God in our lives.
He also spoke about how important it is to be bold as a missionary. That doesn't mean being loud and assertive and pushy. It means, first and foremost, being humble. Allowing God to work through you, and then teaching with love, not with pride. It was amazing, and then just to top it off, he ended the devotional amazingly. He said "I've said a lot about being bold tonight, but I think my point is that I want you to do more than speak. I want you to lead by example. So, I will do that same." He then walked off the podium, went to the piano, and played an amazing rendition of Come Come Ye Saints. It was incredible, and I've never wanted to clap so badly for a musical number. It was amazing.
He really just made me want to work hard to become a missionary. We also got to watch a previous devotional by Elder Bednar that talked about how a mission is good for every missionary, but a missionary is not always good for the mission. He talked a lot about how to let your will be aligned with the Lord's, and not just sacrificing two years. We need to give those two years freely. It's not a 2 year homework assignment or burden that you have to bear, it's two years of wonderful spiritual growth. I've only been out 2 months, and I can already tell it's going to be the time of my life.
To the missionary who's not sure if he should come or who's not sure if they'll be good for the mission, I have a quote. It's one of my favorites. It's by Winston Churchill and it says "To every man there comes that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would have been his finest hour."
Don't let the moment that could be your finest hour pass you by. Don't be nervous about going. Don't fear what man can do. Just trust that Jesus cares about you and he always has. In times of trouble he is there to help you, and if you need his help, then use it. He paid for you in Gethsemane and died for you on Calvary and he's not going to give up on you now. You are worth too much for that.
There's a scripture that I love in Third Nephi 4:8-10 that says "And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites, when they saw the appearance of the army of Giddianhi, had all fallen to the earth, and did lift their cries to the Lord their God, that he would spare them and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. And it came to pass that when the armies of Giddianhi saw this, they began to shout with a loud voice, because of their joy, for they had supposed that the Nephites had fallen with fear because of the terror of their armies. But in this thing they were disappointed, for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God, and did supplicate him for protection; therefore when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea in the strength of the Lord they did receive them."
I know it's long, but when you put it in context it means a lot. These Nephites had been horribly wicked a few short years ago. In a few years they're going to get wicked again. But in their hour of need God helped them. When they turned to Him, all of a sudden it didn't matter what they'd done or how perfect they were. They needed His help just like we need it, and even though we're fighting with different weapons, we are still fighting the same war today.
We're not perfect. That's fine. God accepts that. We've all done stupid things, and we'll all do a lot more, but God only cares about us turning to him. There's a quote that says "God is never disappointed in the person who's repenting" and I absolutely believe that's true. Don't compare yourself to other's successes. Just focus on your relationship with God, and he will help you get to where you want to be.
There's a thousand people who have paved the way for you, and a lot of them had problems before coming out as well. Ammon fought against the church. Paul was responsible for killing Christians. Alma was a priest of a wicked king. Yet God didn't turn his back on any of them, and somehow I suspect that your problem is not as big as theirs. Don't lose faith in the infinite power of the Atonement, and it's power to change hearts.
You have plenty of examples ahead of you. Plenty of people who've shown the way, Jesus being the best, but plenty of imperfect one's as well. They made a massive impact on my life, and they'll do the same to yours if you let them.
On another note, I want to say thank you to all the people who've helped me become the person I am today. I know this letter's going all over the place, but I'm in a bit of a rush, and have a few more thoughts to get down.
There's a poem I love that says:
An old man, going a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim
The sullen stream had no fears for him
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide
"Old man" said a fellow pilgrim near
"You are wasting strength with building here
Your journey will end with the ending day
You never again must pass this way
You have crossed the chasm deep and side
Why build you the bridge at eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head
"Good friend, in the path I have come" he said
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way
This chasm that has been naught for me
To that fair haired youth, a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim.
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
I just want to say thank you to all the people who helped me cross that bridge. Mom and Dad, you're obviously at the top of this list. Thank you so much for all the stupid things you've put up with, and you're constant love through it all. To my siblings, you're all amazing and I love every one of you. I think about you guys every day. I know this won't be nearly complete, but there's a whole ton of people I could thank as well. To my good friends, those on a mission and those still waiting to come out, I just want to say thank you for keeping me on track. To my extended family, you guys are amazing examples, and I wish you all the best. To Cameron Stewart, Kevin Stewart, and Bob Lewis, I just want to say thank you for always reminding me how spiritual and how much fun life can be. You've all brightened my life so much. To Bishop Call, you've always been a great example to me. To all of my lacrosse coaches (Weidmire, Freeman, Labrum, Smith, Bursach, Layton, and Dad) you guys are all amazing. You taught me to work hard, and have fun doing it.
Alright, I'm out of time. There's a ton more people, but I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped to "build that bridge" for me.