So, a lot has happened in the last couple of months and I apologize to my devout followers for not posting. There are seriously so many things to talk about that I could go on forever and ever and still not even share everything. Anyways, I will try to do my best:
A little before school started back in August, I was assigned with another young man waiting to go to Brazil as well to assist teach early morning seminary. To be completely honest, when I was extended the assignment, I felt absolutely overwhelmed and completely inadequate. Nonetheless, I accepted the assignment with faith and knew that the Lord would provide me with the necessary attributes and abilities to best serve the freshman class and empower them spiritually if I but do what He asks. One of the many things that I have learned from teaching seminary came to me while preparing a lesson one evening and it was so profound that I seriously had to Google what I had received to see if anyone else had quoted it before, and it was this: Action without preparation is a waste of energy. Preparation without action is a waste of time. To me, this was very comforting because I could be "preparing for my mission" for the remaining months but not actually applying what I would be preparing. I am so grateful to have inspired Stake leaders who recognize a need and are able to give me the opportunity to both prepare and act on almost a daily basis. I am going to be teaching quite a lot while in Brazil so why not begin now and prepare by doing just that: teaching.
Another thing that I have learned is how to teach with the spirit. I am not perfect at this yet but I am beginning to do all that I can and then relying on His arm to guide me in presenting the material that I have prepared. Sometimes, I will find myself spending hours preparing for a fifty minute lesson, which is great because I just combine it with my daily scripture study, but other times I will only have about thirty minutes to prepare and I sometimes doubt my abilities the following morning. However, nearly every single morning that I have taught, I feel as though I am inspired to share something or ask something that comes to me in the moment and every time this happens, the lesson goes far better than I could have ever imagined. My only regret about this is that sometimes-- and it has happened a couple of times--I will get home from seminary and within the hour, find something that would have worked wonderfully with the lesson. Anyways, to use a Spanish phrase which has a similar meaning in French: El ingenio de la escalera or L'espirit de l'escalier. This is used to describe a situation in which either a retort or some other thought comes to you when the opportunity to share it has passed. But not to worry, as long as the spirit is felt--which I can say that it is there almost on a daily basis--there is no need to worry about opportunities passed. To use a Brazilian expression "Águas passadas não movem moinhos" which basically means that "passed waters do not power mills" and one should not be too caught up with the things of the passed that they dominate the future. This is beautiful to me because it is a perfect illustration of repentance. Once one has repented and left their old life behind, they should "look not behind thee".
This past Tuesday, September 3, 2013, I got to attend my first transfer meeting and I'm not even in the mission field yet! Anyways, it was bittersweet to see all of the missionaries that left the Augusta area while welcoming in the new ones. New to our area is Elder Sato from Japan. He went to BYU-Hawaii for about a year to learn English and while there he submitted his mission papers and was called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta Mission which as I understand it has been acquired by the Georgia Macon Mission recently. Nevertheless, in sacrament meeting today, Elder Sato gave a talk and then bore his testimony in Japanese and it was simply beautiful. I could feel the conviction that he has for the Savior and the way that he reveres the prophet Joseph Smith. I hope that I will one day be able to have such power when I speak in Portuguese.
On another note, I have been pondering blessings and how we can better align our view with that if the Lord's. To quote something that I shared on Facebook I said:
"'When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'
Truly inspired words! I have recently come to the conclusion that this is the way that the Lord intends for us to look at the blessings He gives us. Borrowing the logic from Sister Lowry that "you don't HAVE to, but you GET to" do things, has greatly influenced me as well. We are told that if we serve others, we are only in the service of our God and this is exactly the point that I have to make:
When we serve and do the will of the Father, we are promised to be blessed, but I submit that "being blessed" is far more than just good health, security for us and our loved ones, getting a job that we so desire, or even getting that much needed raise. I admit that these ARE blessings in and of themselves, don't get me wrong, but I also think that if we take the quote made so famous by Wayne Dyer (above), we will realize how much more we are blessed. Blessings also come in the form of further service as we are being continually converted and sanctified in the Lord. Not only do we receive blessings of health and safety when we serve others (and ultimately the Lord), we also receive more opportunities to serve, which are just as much blessings as the much needed raise or the promise of good health.
That being said, I know that I will definitely look for more of these blessings as blessings and not as things that I HAVE to do but that the Lord invites me to do, in order to be strengthened and benefited."
In closing, I must say that fewer things are more difficult than having to say goodbye to a family member that I will not see for two full years. I said goodbye to Addison today, who leaves for BYU-Idaho on Tuesday. I wish her and Chandler all the best as they go off and begin adult life together: