As you can see by my subject title, I'm pretty excited :) He got baptized and it was super awesome! I'll attach some pictures I got from it.Anyway, that was definitely the highlight of the week. Also, I got to go to the Toronto temple for the first time with all the other new missionaries, and I got to see Elder Stowell again, which was great.
My email might seem a bit rushed this week because he's getting moved, and so with all the packing and things we need to do, I don't have as much time today.
Anyway my ponderizing scripture for this week is 2 Nephi 31:19 which says "And now my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."
I really liked this scripture, because for me I think enduring to the end is one of the most important parts of the gospel, and even though a lot of people talk about it, I don't think people try as hard to see examples of it in their life and in the scriptures. We're always able to point out the people who didn't endure to the end like David, Solomon and Judas, but when we talk about stories of successful endurance it gets a bit more vague.
I think that's partially because it's harder to detect. We all know Nephi endured successfully, but we don't pin that down as one of his defining qualities because we assume it was easy for him. We say that he was courageous and bold and fearless and super ripped (according to the vintage photos). We forget that for people like Peter, Paul, Ammon, and Moroni, endurance was never the easy way out.
Then, when we come across it in our own lives, we ask ourselves why God is forcing us to endure something that is so hard for us. We read the scriptures every day (hopefully), but too often we read them as stories, and not as people. Half of Nephi's family became apostate. Aaron was wrongfully imprisoned. Moses left behind a throne. Peter and the apostles were (almost) all killed for their efforts. Moroni's entire civilization was wiped out.
So as I was reading in Personal Study this week, I was trying to build off my ponderizing scripture from last week (2 Nephi 4:26) which is also a little bit about endurance. I was thinking about how, as righteous as Nephi is, he still claims that he's a wicked man. I found myself thinking "Dude, you're Nephi! Like the most righteous guy in the whole book!" the whole time. How could he think of himself as a wicked man?
I read the next verse in 2 Nephi, which is one of my favorites. It says "Awake my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."
So here are my two conclusions. 1 - When God tries to teach me with trials, quit whining. People died for this gospel, and if I'm not willing to put forth the same effort as them, then what makes me think that I deserve to get the same blessings? If I want miracles like Moses, then I've probably got to go through the 40 years in the desert. There's a quote that says "The pathway to salvation always goes through Gethsemane," and I think I'm learning that that's true. The member's out here are so faithful and amazing, and I think the reason is that some of them had to cut family ties and leave their old world behind to be a member. 2 - Why can't I be like Nephi? He obviously made mistakes. He admits it in this chapter, and even if he didn't, we know that Jesus was the only person ever to be perfect. However, here's what I think is keeping most people from being at his level. They attribute their success to themselves. The amazing thing about Nephi is he doesn't say "Having much strength." He says "Having received much strength of the Lord" (1 Nephi 4:31). He acknowledges God in every success, and admits his own shortcomings. He knows he need's to progress, and so he never stops.
So there are my conclusions, and here's what I'm going to do about them: I'm going to try my absolute best to be the man that God wants me to be. One of my favorite quotes says "Couldst thou in vision see thyself the man God meant, thou never then would be the man thou art, content." God see's us for who we can become. He knows what's best for us, and he knows exactly what trials or tribulations he needs to put us through. It's okay to feel down sometimes, but when you're going through a trial, just remember that this is the wilderness part of the journey, and the promised land is still ahead. God's shaping you to be the best you can be, and he will never put you through something intended to bring you lower. I'm going to acknowledge God's hand in all my successes, and know that "As to my strength I am weak (Alma 26)." I don't have everything, and at times it will feel like I have nothing, but that's probably what Nephi felt when he had to leave his home and go into the wilderness.
Sorry, that's super long, but I thought it was worth sharing.
Hayden - We didn't have any more experiences with Sam yet :/ He was busy this week, but we're meeting with him this week, and I'll let you know how it goes. I'm glad to hear Durango was super dope :) As a joke, I translated "super dope" into Chinese, which is "Chaoji Dupin," which literally means "super drugs," and started saying it around the house. There were some confused looks, but it's catching on. BTW it's pronounced "Chow-gee doo-peen"
Hadley - I should have known it was you praying for me! Who else could make Frank get baptized! Keep em coming Hadley :) I hope the flu wasn't too bad :/ Also, I don't know if that was a typo or just something that I'm not cool enough to know about. What's "honking"?
Ellie - Booyah indeed :) You should definitely come back with me sometime. Then I can beat you up the ladder! I will talk to Mom and Dad about a hot tub.
Mom and Dad - You know what would really help our home to be more gospel-y? A hot tub. You should get one
Ellie - They said yes.
Emi - What! You're lonely!!! Hold on!
Ashleigh - Go give Emi a big hug!
Hayden - Go give Emi a massive hug!
Ellie - Go give Emi a super duper big hug!
Hadley - Go give Emi the biggest flipping hug you've ever given!
Emi - Better? Good :)
Ashleigh - Well, I was going to write a letter, but I can see that I've been replaced by Maddie already. That's okay. It's fine...I'm not bitter! No, no, you guys go have fun! Go sit in bookstores and have fun together! ;) Love ya! And the haters haven't gotten me down yet, although they have tried really hard.
Anyway, I gotta go pretty soon here. I love all of you so much, and just want to say that everyone's support from home has meant so much. Love you all!
P.S. Mom, Dad, I have no idea how much it would cost, but do you know that electronic dictionary things? That would be super awesome to have one if they're not a gazillion dollars. Could you let Santa know?
Elder Sabin and Elder Stowell (MTC companions):
My zone! The Sister's thought we were doing crazy faces so that might explain Sister Westerlind's face:
Eating dinner at a buffet with some awesome members and investigators: